Pewsitter News Pewsitter News en-us Sat, 27 Feb 2021 08:57:22 GMT Sat, 27 Feb 2021 08:57:22 GMT none <![CDATA[ Poll: Can the Pope Change the Catechism? ]]>
Poll: Can the Pope Change the Catechism?

By Andrew Parrish

... ]]>
Wed, 18 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ New “Our Father” Book by Pope Likely To Contain Surprises ]]>
New “Our Father” Book by Pope Likely To Contain Surprises

By Andrew Parrish

(ROME) – Over the weekend, the Spanish Catholic website Religión Digital announced that the Pope has been working on a book about the Our Father. Scheduled for release in Italy on November 23rd, the work has been co-authored with the chaplain of a Paduan prison, Marco Pozza. Pozza is a well-known media figure in Italy who hosts religious television programs on the national network TV2000. If history is any guide, this new book is likely to contain some surprising statements from the Holy Father.

“Our Father” is, according to Religión Digital, a joint meditation between Francis and Pozza on the Gospel prayer of Jesus. It will echo the content of a special series airing on TV2000 on the 25th of this month, which is supposed to be presented officially at the Vatican tomorrow by Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat of Communications. Jesús Bastante, writing for the site, reports that Pozza will be presenting interviews with nine Italian celebrities, evidently including the Pope, putting forth their view of the significance of the Our Father. “In 'Our Father', Francis and Pozza try to answer the great questions of Jesus' prayer, whose words resonate in different episodes of the life and mission of Jorge Mario Bergoglio and, with him, in the anxieties and hopes of millions of men and women from all over the world,” Bastante writes.

This personal approach indicates that the TV miniseries, and the forthcoming book, will likely touch upon incidents in the Pope's life and his reflections on the Our Father as mediated by those experiences, rather than a purely theological approach. Personal confessions of Pope Francis tend to lead to the unexpected, as in the latest book-length interview, “Politics and Society,” still awaiting English translation. In this work, the Pope surprised the world by admitting to French interviewer Dominique Wolton, among other things, that he had consulted a Jewish psychoanalyst between 1978-1979 and that his political views had been deeply influenced by the Communist activist Esther Ballestrino de Careaga. Three years ago was Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words, in which the Pope discussed his complex and controversial relationship with the military dictatorship of Argentina in the '70s. In light of this trend, “Our Father” will probably contain a surprise or two.


... ]]>
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Celestial Harmony and Marilyn Manson ]]>
Celestial Harmony and Marilyn Manson

By Fr. George Rutler


October 8, 2017

By Fr. George W. Rutler

    When a mathematical problem stumped Professor Einstein, he played Mozart on his violin to put him “in touch with the harmony of the cosmos,” and often the solution followed. It does not require genius to sense that all relations in the creation are harmonious. Only because of celestial harmony is there a human intuition that wrong is wrong and right is right.

   “Music” first meant being charmed by what Greeks like Hesiod called the Muses. To climb up to their mount, Helicon or Olympus, was to be “amused,” and to return from that peak was to bring happy harmony to a dissonant world. Wanting to be amused is a desire to become part of the cosmic harmony. In physics six centuries before the Incarnation, Pythagoras discovered how harmonies issue from the ratios of vibrating strings, concluding that music, based on ratios of numbers, is the definitive principle ordering the world. Two centuries later, Aristotle figured out that the planets and stars, arranged in harmonic ratios, produce the “music of the spheres.”

   The Eternal Ratio, or Logos, is Christ, and the noisy darkness, to paraphrase St. John, has never overcome him. Union with Christ is, in reality and not myth, like climbing the mount to meet the Muses: “But you are come to Mount Sion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).

   Although Plato did not think in terms of evil, he did think of ignorance and confusion as the opposites of harmony. In the sixth century after the Resurrection, Boethius said in Platonic terms that morality is harmony with the music of the spheres. In the Eucharist, as the Second Vatican Council taught, the song of the Heavenly Jerusalem is brought to our earthly altars, like the singing angels ascending and descending Jacob’s ladder (Sulam Yaakov). Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Liturgy presupposes . . . that the heavens have been opened . . . If the heavens are not open, then whatever liturgy was is reduced to role playing and, in the end, to a trivial pursuit of congregational self-fulfillment in which nothing really happens.”

   Last week as we celebrated the feast of our patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, in the Hammerstein Ballroom just a two-minute walk east of our church, a “Heavy Metal Anti-Christ Superstar” who calls himself a “Priest of the Church of Satan,” screamed noise, for which the audience paid up to four hundred dollars to be amused. Now a bit long in the tooth, he said in 1996:  “Hopefully, I’ll be remembered as the person who brought an end to Christianity.” A collapsing stage set ended his performance by knocking him unconscious.

   I do not play the violin as well as Einstein, but as a priest, in contrast to the “Honorary Priest of Satan,” even my faltering voice can bring the song of the Heavenly Jerusalem to our altar in Hell’s Kitchen.

... ]]>
Mon, 09 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Ignorance, Taking a Knee, and Islam ]]>
Ignorance, Taking a Knee, and Islam

By Fr. George Rutler


September 24, 2017

By Fr. George W. Rutler

   The current mania for tearing down statues and stifling free speech by cultural ingénues ignorant of history and logic, has reached a stellar absurdity in demands to censure “The Star Spangled Banner” on lame claims that it is racist. If ignorance is bliss, then those who indulge their revisionism must be in Nirvana.

   Francis Scott Key penned the words in 1814, later set to the English song, “To Anacreon in Heaven”—a tune that is a challenge to singers, as even Renée Fleming confessed after performing it at the 2014 Super Bowl. It is often mutilated by rock stars calling attention to themselves by “interpreting” it. Key wrote the words after watching 19 British ships fire more than 1,500 cannonballs, mortar shells and rockets on Baltimore. Key was a slave-owner, which was, sadly, not in contradiction to common practice. But he ordered the manumission of his slaves, and in 1820 he embarked on a seven-year effort pleading before the Supreme Court for the liberation of 300 African slaves captured off the ship “Antelope” along the Florida coast. He also worked with John Quincy Adams in the “Amistad” case to free 53 slaves.

   Key’s poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry”—which, re-named “The Star-Spangled Banner,” became the national anthem in 1931—was based on verses he composed in 1805 to celebrate the victory over the Muslim slave-trading pirates on the Barbary coast (“the shores of Tripoli”). “And pale beam’d the Crescent, its splendor obscured / By the light of the Star-Spangled flag of our nation. . . . And the turban’d heads bow’d to its terrible glare . . .” John Langdon was a Founding Father who, as the first President pro tempore of the Senate, administered the vice-presidential oath of office to John Adams. In 1805 as governor of New Hampshire, he set aside a day in thanksgiving “for the termination of our contest with one of the African powers; the liberation of our fellow-citizens from bondage…”

   Islam, which means “submission,” has never had abolitionists like the Christians Bartolomé de las Casas and William Wilberforce. Muhammed was a slave trader, and the Qur’an devotes five times as much space to regulating labor slavery and sex slavery as it does to prayer. Nearly 200 million slaves, white and black, were sold by Muslim traders over fourteen centuries, and almost all the Africans sold to European traders for export to America were enslaved by Muslims. Muslim slavers even raided Ireland in 1631. So many Eastern Europeans were enslaved that the word “slave” itself comes from “Slav.” While lip service is given to abolition in Islamic lands, slavery today is blatant in Sudan, Niger and Mauritania and was not abolished in Saudi Arabia and Yemen until 1962 under Western pressure. Where is the indignation of protestors here?

   If revisionists would burlesque the past and mute the voice of reason, they should first recognize that the value of life is secured best by the standard of the Cross and not the Crescent.

... ]]>
Mon, 25 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Demagoguery in High Places ]]>
Demagoguery in High Places

By Fr. George Rutler


Church of Saint Michael, New York City

The father of an old friend had contemplated a political career in 1912. In his idealism he traveled to Chicago for the Bull Moose Convention of the National Progressive Party. Its delegates announced that they were “battling for the Lord” and that the campaign would be a new Battle of Armageddon. The spectacle of many hundred portly men smoking cigars as they marched into the hot convention hall singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” was so unsettling to his acute instincts that he chose instead to become a clergyman.

Sure ingredients for demagoguery are politics as religion and religion as politics. The exploitation of one by the other demeans both. In 1950, the young evangelist Billy Graham met with President Truman and then held a press conference, histrionically kneeling on the White House lawn as he recounted what had been a private conversation. Truman used his vernacular vocabulary to express his indignation. 

While demagoguery is rampant among those who distort the “wall of separation between Church and State” to promote a secularity never intended by our nation’s founders, one has to be cautious about sacralizing politics and politicizing religion. That feeds cynicism and fosters rebellion. When church leaders spend more time addressing public issues of a subjective nature, than teaching objective essentials of faith and morals, they can be as self-satirical as Bull Moose Progressives. As the bishops were preparing a pastoral letter on war and peace in 1983, Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans, spoke out. He was the only bishop there who had served in World War II: a chaplain in the 80th Airborne Division in the Ardennes Offensive. Invoking Trumanesque diction, he told his episcopal brethren that they did not know what they were talking about.  

Those who inflate themselves with assumed moral superiority while skipping lightly over hard facts, tend to be uniform in notions of enlightened thought. One recalls an Irish bishop who refused to shake the hand of President Reagan whom he called inhumane, and there was an American archbishop who declared Reagan’s economic policies unprincipled. Later, the bishop was exiled for having fathered a child, and the archbishop was found guilty of embezzlement and other transgressions. Self-congratulatory moral posturing called “virtue signaling” can be a semaphore for hypocrisy. It is condescension from below.

The Church’s prophetic voice is also hoarsened when it agrees to remove religious symbols in its schools in exchange for government funding, or when its social agencies rely on significant federal subsidies for staffing its charitable programs.

A cleric will have his personal views on prudential matters, but he becomes a clericalist when he stereotypes those who disagree with him as “un-Christian” or “un-American” or, mirabile dictu, both. Clericalism politicizes a sacerdotal charism in order to intimidate. To sanctimonious politician and priest alike, Samuel Johnson speaks from the grave: “My dear friend, clear your mind of cant.”

... ]]>
Tue, 12 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Controversial Priest, Fr. James Martin, to Speak at Gala for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre ]]>
Controversial Priest, Fr. James Martin
To Speak at Gala for the
Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre

By Andrew Parrish

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Eastern Lieutenancy of the United States, has announced that the keynote speaker for its Investiture Gala Dinner in New York City on October 21st will be Fr. James Martin, SJ, the highly controversial Vatican advisor who is an outspoken supporter of homosexuality. The event will be preceded by a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan. 

Fr. James Martin is still embroiled in controversy over the contents of his book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. Fr. Martin has been heavily criticized by many, most prominently Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, for taking a too lenient attitude towards LGBTs and not mentioning the objectively disordered nature of their acts and lifestyles. Speaking from a prominent position in the Vatican, Fr. Martin has emerged as a spokesman for a powerful lobby in the Church which evidently seeks to redefine homosexual acts as moral behavior.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a military order founded in the 11th century, is headquartered in Rome and its current Cardinal Grand Master is Edwin O’Brien. Michael Voris of Church Militant has previously alleged that Cd. O’Brien is the center of power in a network of homosexual priests and bishops in New York Archdiocese, implicated by the testimony of a gay prostitute and other sources. Given these widely known and potent rumors, the decision to invite someone of Fr. James Martin’s notoriety is unfortunate. It may only add to the appearance of the Church hierarchy officially approving the homosexual lifestyle.

Our sources indicate that local staff of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre may be unaware of this invitation or of its possible significance. To contact the Eastern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order, please email: HOLYSEPULCHRENY@ARCHNY.ORG


... ]]>
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Open Letter to Bishop Barron Regarding Martin Luther: I Am Who Am Not? ]]>
Open Letter to Bishop Barron Regarding Martin Luther: I Am Who Am Not?

By Andrew Parrish

Your Excellency,

You have long had a reputation as a stalwart defender of the Catholic faith. The apologetic work you have done explaining the Faith to both the faithful and the non-Catholic has been an inspiration and a great enlightenment to many. We take this opportunity to thank you for your service, as so many others have already done.

In the light of your theological expertise, it is troubling to see a number of questionable remarks on the subject of Martin Luther appear in the media in recent months, attributed to you. These comments have the potential to be very misleading and need to be addressed.

In particular, we address the column that you wrote on June 17th for, “Looking at Luther with fresh eyes.”

It is possibly true, as you say, that Luther’s experience was one of a blinding insight, a taste of the breathtaking freedom made possible by divine forgiveness; but surely Luther’s love, as evidenced by his words and actions, was a tainted and unhealthy one. Not all loves justify the lover; not all the things which a human can love are worthy of praise. Luther’s love caused him to leave the Church, to whom he was espoused as a priest, and take a human wife, an ex-nun; is this not precisely analogous to the love which causes a man to abandon his wife and live with a mistress - the terrible love of Anna Karenina? Tolstoy knew better than to praise such love, no matter how sincerely and powerfully it was felt.

Luther, you say, was a “mystic of grace”; meaning, presumably, that he intuited or experienced in a mysterious way the power of God’s grace to forgive his sins. As you describe, “at the core of Luther’s life and theology was an overwhelming experience of grace. After years of trying in vain to please God through heroic moral and spiritual effort, Luther realized that, despite his unworthiness, he was loved by a God who had died to save him.” But, your Excellency, the Catholic Church also teaches that we are loved by a God who died to save us. As you acknowledge, Luther struggled for many years with his scrupulosity, a psychosis which plays on an erroneous understanding of the Church’s, and God’s forgiveness. Despite attending Confession, he did not believe he was forgiven.

But it was not God or the Church that tortured Luther. It was Luther. It is generally conceded that he was not a spiritually or psychologically healthy man. His revelation could not be one which would improve upon that of the Catholic Church; healthy loves infused with the true truth do not spring from unhappy hearts desperate to justify an escape from self-imposed psychic prisons. Even if he was in love, his trajectory out of the Church shows that he did not properly understand the subject of his love. God does not reveal Himself as a logical contradiction, “I am who am not”. The church Luther founded stands in contradiction to the one he left.

Luther’s delight in the new bare minimum of “grace” led him to rail against virtue, confession, the Pope, the priests, the Mass, the Church, parts of the Bible, and Christ Himself. The Council of Trent did not condemn him because he loved grace so greatly; it condemned him because he relegated the entire Catholic Church to the waste bin, and encouraged thousands of others to do the same. Luther is an unrepentant and excommunicated heretic, responsible not for a trifling disagreement over Greek words but for a terrible schism that has torn the One Church into tens of thousands of tiny shreds. How are we Catholics to consider him at the same time a “mystic of grace,” or as Pope Francis referred to him, a “witness to the Gospel”? Is his excommunication to be considered lifted, or no longer valid? Or is there no longer considered to be any substantial difference between Lutheran and Catholic theology?

Such statements also make the dialogue which is their purported aim more difficult. Is not the purpose of ecumenical dialogue to convince the peoples of other faiths of the truth of our religion? If this is the case, is it not necessary to be clear on the differences in what we profess? Your response to these questions would be of great value to many ordinary, faithful Catholics who simply do not and cannot understand the apparent contradiction between your appellation, “Mystic of Grace”, and Trent’s “Excommunicated Heretic”.

... ]]>
Mon, 10 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ AL Questions Linger in Wake of “Cardinal Mueller Report” ]]>
AL Questions Linger in Wake of “Cardinal Mueller Report”

By Andrew Parrish


(ROME) – In a just-published book-length interview, Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, gives his opinions on a range of the Church’s most pressing questions. While echoing the 1985 Ratzinger Report in format, Cd. Mueller must address issues not present in his predecessor’s time – most obviously, the unresolved crisis of Amoris Laetitia. Cd. Mueller was interviewed last week on his book by Edward Pentin for the National Catholic Register.

Wasting no words, Mr.Pentin asks: “Parts of Amoris Laetitia are criticized for being geared too much to compromising on the Gospel, trying to be too much with the times; is the document, especially Chapter 8, of great concern to you?” The Cardinal responds in full:

“I have said it many times, and I repeat it here again: Matrimony is instituted by God the Creator and is elevated as a sacrament by Jesus Christ. By his mystery of salvation, it means that matrimony between Christians is a sign and instrument of the deeper unity with Jesus Christ and his nuptial relationship with the Church as his Bride.

Jesus established clearly, and without doubt, the indissolubility of valid matrimony. This is what we must preach, declare and explain to the Catholic faithful. Recognizing the indissolubility of marriage is a responsibility for all Catholic people. Marriage takes part in the new creation that is brought about by Jesus Christ and is a high, noble and mature choice for the Christian. We should help people who find themselves in a situation of marital difficulty, but not only with pragmatic reflections, according to the spirit of the world, but according to the Holy Spirit, with the means of the sacraments and the internal and canonical conditions for the reception of Holy Communion, which necessarily includes the confession of all grave sin.

Contrition, confession and reparation are the three necessary elements for absolution. These are the immediate conditions for receiving the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ, who is the same divine Person who forgives us.”

Cd. Mueller’s strong remarks come alongside a new development in the “dubia” story: Cd. Caffarra, on behalf of all four original signers, has publicly released an unanswered letter asking the Pope for a private audience to address the concerns they raised in November of last year. In this letter, Cd. Caffarra laments the state of “doctrinal anarchy” which has arisen:“And so it is happening — how painful it is to see this! — that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: “Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank.”

(This precise situation, scarcely paralleled in Church history, is the grounds for the petition, addressed to the Holy Father, to remove the scandalous and confusing situation of a One and Catholic Church divided into warring geographic denominations.)

As Cd. Caffarra notes, the official pronouncement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith appears to have had little or no effect. Thanks to the deliberately decentralized process of implementation, the bishops are still going their own way on the reception of communion by the divorced and remarried without an annulment.

In addition to this practical problem, however, Cd. Mueller still has not attacked the central issue head-on. Why cannot the divorced and remarried without an annulment simply go through the three-part process of “contrition, confession, and reparation” which the Cardinal mentions, proceed to receive Communion, and go right back to living together in sin?

Isn’t there a significant likelihood that those who go through this process, informed that they are on a “discernment journey” and that “grace” is “operative” in their sinful relationship, will fall back into the same adulterous behavior? When they do, then what?  How can such a couple promise a firm purpose of amendment, or how can a priest issue absolution, knowing that they are living in a situation which makes it impossible to avoid the near occasion of sin?

One would ordinarily presume that “reparation” would include an amendment of a perpetually sinful state of life, and that a valid absolution would not be granted without the intent to so reform. This is the fair interpretation of the Cardinal’s words. But could not a sympathetic confessor fail to impose such a condition, overlook the likelihood of a lapse, for ideological reasons? It is precisely this sort of vagueness, intentionally melting down the hard categories of Catholic theology, which is making Amoris Laetitia such a problem.

By all accounts Cd. Mueller is a good man, of impeccable orthodoxy, placed in a difficult and unenviable position. He attempts to be precise and firm, but his statement falls prey to the same shifting interpretation as Amoris Laetitia because the underlying erroneous methodology which has now been set loose on the Church has not been corrected. His words can be twisted to support the opposite of his (presumed) intention because of the belief that Amoris Laetitia voices a “mercy” which is not subordinate to “rules.” Conceiving of “mercy” as an annihilating force which breaks through the “rigid” and “strict” categories of justice, in a dialectical opposition, opening an ethical vacuum for people to do whatever they desire, is the fundamental mistake. To the contrary, the justice of the Church is her mercy; her mercy is her justice.

It is only within the strict and categorical justice of the Church, for example, in following the logical sequence established for confession, that mercy can be dispensed. The mercy of God in offering us a chance to escape our fate is located in Christ’s choice to expiate the sins of the world, which simultaneously answers the demands of justice that the guilt of sin be punished. Mercy is not metaphysically opposed to justice; they are united in God. It is this error which those who support a liberal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia are promulgating, and this error which must be corrected before attempts like Cd. Mueller’s to clarify the situation are given any heed.

... ]]>
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Planned Parenthood in St. Paul States Willingness to “Break the Baby’s Neck” if Born Alive ]]>

Planned Parenthood in St. Paul States Willingness to “Break the Baby’s Neck” if Born Alive

By Debra Braun, Education Director, Pro-Life Action Ministries

June 27, 2017 – Planned Parenthood abortionists in St. Paul, Minn. would “break the baby’s neck” if the child was born alive, according to a new video just released by Pro-Life Action Ministries.  This would be a violation of both federal and Minnesota law. 

In the video, a former Planned Parenthood client says that when she went to Planned Parenthood earlier this year for a late-term abortion (at 22 weeks, 1 day), she asked the two abortionists, “If you guys were to take him out right now while he’s still, his heart rate is still, you know, going, what would you guys do?”  According to the woman, one of the abortionists looked at the other one, then looked back at the client, “and she told me that we don’t tell women this, and a lot of women don’t even ask this question, but if we was to proceed with the abortion and the baby was to come out still alive and active, most likely we would break the baby’s neck.”

This would be a clear violation of Minnesota’s “Born Alive Infants Protection Act,” which, similar to  federal law, requires that, “All reasonable measures consistent with good medical practice  . .  .  shall be taken . . . . to preserve the life and health of the born alive infant.”

The video also describes how on the first day of this two-day procedure, the abortionist searched for the baby with a long needle to inject digoxin and how the baby survived that injection.  The woman had started to have a change of heart following this injection, after reading the information given to her by Pro-Life Action Ministries’ sidewalk counselors on her way into Planned Parenthood.  That information included the story of another woman who changed her mind, stopped a late-term abortion and gave birth to a healthy baby.

In the new video, the woman said she requested an ultrasound on the second day to see if her baby was still alive and when it revealed that he was and she learned what PP abortionists would do if aborted alive, the woman demanded that the dilators be removed so that she could go home and keep her baby.   “The more I was telling them no,” the woman said, “it was more like they were trying  to sell me something, like a seller that pushes you and pushes you until you buy their item or their product.  That’s how it felt, as if they were trying to sell me this abortion.”

Since the video was recorded, the baby has been born at full-term.  He is doing very well.  The woman’s identity has been concealed so that she will not be subject to retaliation from Planned Parenthood.

 “Planned Parenthood in Minnesota must be investigated,” said Brian Gibson, Executive Director of Pro-Life Action Ministries.  “How many other laws are they willing to, and most likely, violating?  We have no idea since there are no inspections, no compliance checks and no investigations when these ugly realities come to light.”

Gibson continued, “This video adds to the considerable evidence that Planned Parenthood must be defunded.”

These St. Paul abortionists are not the only Planned Parenthood abortionists willing to kill born-alive infants. In a recent release by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) another PP abortionist strongly implies that she would kill a baby born alive if she could get away with it.  DeShawn Taylor, former Planned Parenthood Arizona Medical Director, was asked by CMP undercover investigators, “Is there any standard procedure for verifying signs of life?”  Taylor responded, “Well the thing is, I mean the key is, you need to pay attention to who’s in the room, right? And like, you know, because the thing is the law states that you’re not supposed to do any maneuvers after the fact to try to cause [fetal] demise. So it’s really tricky. It’s really tricky, so most of the time we do dig [digoxin], and it usually works.  And then we don’t have to worry about that because Arizona state law says if any, if there’s signs of life, then we’re supposed to transport them. To the hospital.”


... ]]>
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Planned Parenthood Executives to Speak at Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Convention Center (UPDATED) ]]>
Planned Parenthood Executives to Speak at Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Convention Center

By Andrew Parrish

June 20th, 2017

UPDATE: We have been informed by Church Militant that the Archdiocese has decided to cancel the conference as of June 20th.

(LOS ANGELES, California) – On Friday, June 23rd, the Center at Cathedral Plaza in Los Angeles will be hosting a conference at which two representatives of Planned Parenthood will speak. Entitled “Uncertain Times: Charting the Path Forward for Women’s Health”, the conference is hosting “two of California’s leading women’s health advocates,” Kathy Kneer and Sue Dunlap.

The provided biographies of the two women leave no doubt that by “women’s health” they mean “abortion.” Kathy Kneer has been President and CEO of the California Planned Parenthood network’s public policy office for more than twenty years. According to her bio, she has been responsible for legislation expanding contraceptive access, developing school sex education, and defeating parental notification proposals three separate times. Sue Dunlap, also employed by Planned Parenthood for two decades, is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, “one of the largest … in the country.”

The center where the conference is to be held is part of the complex of Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, seat of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, overseen by Archbishop Gomez. Booking and events at the conference center are managed by a third-party company, Levy Restaurants. However, the center is part of Cathedral property and those who buy tickets to this event will be parking their cars inside Cathedral grounds. The Archdiocese should not be, even indirectly, supporting an event which could potentially be described as a council of war of the Church’s enemies. If you would like to contact the Archdiocese to raise this issue to their awareness, please contact them by any of the following methods:


Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241

213 637 7215


... ]]>
Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Fr. Pavone on Trinity Sunday, and what it Teaches us About Ending Abortion ]]>
Fr. Pavone on Trinity Sunday, and what it Teaches us About Ending Abortion

By Fr. Frank Pavone


--Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

As the church celebrates the feast of the Holy Trinity, it is an excellent time to meditate on how the church is called to share in the mystery, the life, of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- and, as evangelists, to fight the lies that seek to contradict it.

Just as the Father shows Himself to the Son, the Son reveals the Father to us. We read in Matthew 11: 27: "All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him." This knowledge, of course, is the eternal life (see Jn. 17: 3) which is Christ Himself.

The Holy Spirit is sent by both the Father and the Son. "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth" (Jn. 14: 16-17). "If I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you" (Jn. 16: 7). He is sent by the Father and the Son because He proceeds from them both. The giving of the Spirit to us in history reflects the Trinitarian life of God beyond history.

The Trinitarian life is a family. In fact, the book of Genesis uses plural language when God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.”  

We are made in the image of the triune God, and that image is not simply a personal reality, but an interpersonal reality. In other words, I’m not simply the image of God when I stand alone; I am the image of God when I relate to others, when I love and receive love. God is a community; by sharing His life with us, he makes us a community.

Moreover, the second Person of the trinity, Jesus, took on flesh. The incarnation teaches us how to live God’s life even in our bodies. In His flesh, Jesus shared in our humanity and showed us the way of love by laying down his life. And His risen body points to what ours will also be. This giving of self is the ultimate sacrifice. It is the pouring out of self. This is how love is done.

Therefore in our human flesh, we are to reflect the pouring out of ourselves. We many not be called to crucifixion - although some are. But life gives us many opportunities to pour ourselves out in love. In the creation of new life, a man is called to responsibility, love and protection. In pregnancy, a mother gives of her body for the good of the child, protecting him and nurturing him. Then she suffers great pains to bring a child into the world. After birth, both parents continue in the care of each other and in the upbringing of children. The family is a unity. Again, the image of God, the Trinity, shines forth: a communion of persons that gives life.

Our enemy knows the privilege we have as children of God and seeks to destroy the human reflection of the trinity in every way possible. Abortion is a direct attack on the Trinity. The link here with the abortion struggle is this: We do not find fulfillment unless we give ourselves away in love. The very existence of the Persons in the Trinity is defined by their mutual self-giving. The same is true, in an analogous way, with us. To see the abortion debate as simply a conflict between the rights of the mother and the rights of the child is to underestimate the depth of this controversy. The abortion debate goes deeper. It is about the question, "Can mother and child find their fulfillment apart from each other?"

Abortion is a complete distortion and rejection of communion and self-giving. There are no two human beings closer than a mother and her unborn child. Abortion disrupts, denies, and distorts the union of these two persons, and in doing so, further destroys family and societal unity. Abortion breaks up marriages, disrupts a mother’s ability to have relationships with men and to bond with future children, and impairs her ability to trust and make decisions about her future. Abortion is not only a separation between mother and child but between man and woman. It takes back the promise that is made in the act that created the life to begin with. It is a lie.

If Christ came to give His body and to suffer that we might have life, what a horror that we crucify our children for our own sakes. Christ says, “This is my body given up for you.” Abortion says, “This is my body; therefore you must give up yours.”

How do we fight against these contradictions? Standing for life and protecting the unborn means fostering the communion we see, in its ultimate form, in the Trinity. As Pope Saint John Paul II declared in Evangelium Vitae, life finds it deepest meaning precisely when it is given away in love.


Priests for Life is the world's largest Catholic organization focused exclusively on ending abortion.

... ]]>
Fri, 09 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Fr. Frank: A Pentecost Culture of Life ]]>
A Pentecost Culture of Life

By Fr. Frank Pavone


-- Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the apostles as a roaring wind and tongues of fire settling over each of them. When the Spirit filled them, they were empowered and left their hiding places to boldly preach the gospel. The Spirit gave His gifts to the apostles, equipping them to start their public ministry. We have received the same Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation.  The saving work of the spirit becomes our work as pro life Christians who share in the Divine nature. He who is Truth, Love and Creator makes his dwelling inside us so we can be Christ to the world. He who is our Advocate, transforms us into advocates, too.


An advocate pleads our cause, takes our side, and conducts our defense. When we dare not approach the God we have offended, the Advocate speaks words of pardon and mercy.

As people of the Holy Spirit, we do not only have an advocate; we become advocates. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you," the Lord said, as He breathed the Holy Spirit upon the apostles.

Our age needs an advocate more than ever because of the culture of death. We need to be the advocates, not only for our unborn brothers and sisters who have no voice, but for their parents. who need assurance that abortion is never necessary, and that there is no sin of which we repent that is beyond forgiveness.


The Spirit of Truth  helps us to see created things for what they really are. We need a proper knowledge of creation, so that we may neither despise it nor worship it. The Holy Spirit gives us a proper understanding because He is the Spirit of Truth. He frees us from the lies that lead to abortion and from the blindness that distorts our knowledge of God and ourselves. The conviction that the unborn child is not worthy of protection reflects ignorance of our dignity as humans,

In revelation, Christ proclaims, "I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne" (Rev.3:21). We will not only worship before the throne of God, but sit with Him on the throne! If that is the destiny of the human person then great is our worth, including those in the womb. This confronts the lie of abortion, which throws human beings in the garbage. Such an action in itself contradicts the Gospel.


The Holy Spirit is visible not only on Pentecost. In a very real sense, He becomes visible in the crucifixion because the kind of love He inspires is the love that gives unto the point of death.

That's what love does. It gives itself away, and that is why abortion is the opposite of love. Love says, "I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person." Abortion says, "I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself."

The end to this tragedy of abortion will happen only when, through the eternal Spirit, we too lay down our lives for our preborn brothers and sisters.


The Bible begins by declaring that when God created all things, "a mighty wind swept over the waters" (Genesis 1:2). The word "wind" here is the same as "spirit" or "breath." On the first Easter night, when He appeared to the apostles, the Risen Christ "breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22), and on Pentecost, the Spirit came with "a noise like a strong driving wind" (Acts 2:2).

In the beginning, the Spirit brought about creation. Through the Paschal Mystery, He brings about the new creation, pouring forth eternal life. The movement of the Spirit gives life, restores it, elevates it, and will raise it from the dead.

Abortion, therefore, cannot come from the Spirit, but from the enemy who brings death and destruction of life. Some choices can never be reconciled with the movement of the Holy Spirit in our soul. Abortion is one of them.

We might be tempted to think that if we don’t participate directly in abortion, it is not our problem. But the taking of life grieves the Giver of Life, and if we love Him, then it grieves us too.

We are the People of the Holy Spirit, and therefore we are the People of Life. May that Spirit bring us quickly to a Culture in which Life is in every way victorious!


Priests for Life is the world's largest Catholic organization focused exclusively on ending abortion.

... ]]>
Fri, 02 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Will Cardinal Rivera and Cardinal Vallini Be Replaced? Personnel Decisions for Mexico and Rome ]]>
Will Cardinal Rivera and Cardinal Vallini Be Replaced? Personnel Decisions for Mexico and Rome

By Andrew Parrish


( – ROME/MEXICO CITY) – reports on rumors that Cardinal Rivera Carrera of Mexico City and Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini of Rome will shortly be replaced by the Pope with new cardinals more favorable to the Holy Father’s agenda. This continues the widely-acknowledged process of replacing “conservative” cardinals with “progressive” ones, in the hopes of influencing future Papal elections to cement Pope Francis’ remodeling of the Church’s direction.

Cardinal Carrera will turn 75 on the 6th of June, necessitating his resignation from the College of Cardinals. He is not a figure in good standing with the Vatican, having sharply criticized the “badly advised” and “improvised” address of the Pope to the assembled Bishops of Mexico in February of last year. Carrera critiqued Christophe Pierre, then apostolic nuncio to Mexico, as a “poor counselor”; Pierre was shortly afterwards promoted to the important position of nuncio to the United States.

There are two possibilities for the replacement: Monsignor Carlos Aguiar Retes, whose elevation to Cardinal on November 19th was predicted by many Mexican Catholics because of Aguiar’s “Bergoglian orientation”. Msgr. Retes seems to have been groomed for the position for some time. Francisco Fernandez de la Cigoña, a well-informed Latin American observer, has now also pointed to Monsignor Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, former Bishop of Papantla. Msgr. Wong has close ties to the favored Christophe Pierre.

In Rome, the Pope’s Vicar, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, has much less friction with the Vatican, raising no objection to the promulgation of Amoris Laetitia or, as notes, to the Pope’s controversial comment that the majority of Catholic marriages were “invalid”. Nevetheless rumors persist that an even more amenable Cardinal Vicar will shortly be announced, though no particular candidate seems to have emerged.

Translated from the original German with the aid of Google Translate.


... ]]>
Tue, 23 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: Was the Pope's Visit to Fatima a Success? ]]>
Poll: Was the Pope's Visit to Fatima a Success?

... ]]>
Wed, 17 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Appeal to Holy See, controversy over church teaching on divorce ]]>
Appeal to the Holy See
Controversy over church teaching on divorce

Pewsitter News Alert

From: Bai Macfarlane
Mary’s Advocates
Rocky River OH

An appeal to the Holy See to resolve a controversy about church teaching on civil divorce was delivered to the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States in Washington DC yesterday morning, May 16, 2017. With the non-profit organization, Mary’s Advocates, Bai Macfarlane has been working for thirteen years to reduce unilateral no-fault divorce. She says, “I found the canon law to protect faithful spouses and children was being wrongfully disregarded.” Others argue that Macfarlane is misinterpreting canon law, so she is bringing the controversy to the Vatican’s Congregation for Education. 

The controversy broke out when Macfarlane asked her diocese for an imprimatur for a 1300-word trifold flyer she wrote. For Catholics, a publication is not supposed to be distributed in churches unless the publisher’s bishop, or author’s bishop, has granted permission to publish, and thereby assure the publication does not “harm correct faith or good morals” (canon 823, 827). If the permission from the bishop was granted, priests could lawfully display Macfarlane’s trifold flyer in their church’s book rack.

The statement Macfarlane made about Church intervention before divorce is causing disagreement:

“In the United States, the permission of the Bishop or his mandated delegate, is required before a spouse can approach the civil forum to obtain separation from bed and board. In other words, before a spouse files in the civil court for divorce or civil separation, he or she must have permission from the Bishop.”

Her own Bishop will not give his permission to publish this because the Bishop said Macfarlane’s statements are contrary to the interpretation of canon law written by Cardinal Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. Macfarlane, in her appeal to her Bishop, shows that Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s interpretation is a private opinion that has no weight as an authentic interpretation of canon law.

Cardinal Coccopalmerio made headlines recently due to his opinion about Anglican Orders; see article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker. Earlier, his opinion about giving Holy Communion to adulterers was criticized; see article by Fr. Gerald E. Murray, a canon lawyer who regularly appears on EWTN. 

Macfarlane uncovered the canon laws that she publicizes after she became disappointed about the number of Catholics who abandon their marriage and seem to believe they have done nothing wrong. According to Church teaching, separation of spouses is only justified if the other did something grave, like adultery or dangerous abuse.  

Mary’s Advocates’ website shows that the Church, not the state, has competence to judge what should be the parameters of a separation plan.  Additionally, it shows that a party must have permission from the bishop before filing for civil divorce.  Macfarlane summarized her findings when she gave a paper in Rome on “The Current Marriage Crisis in Light of the Original Creation and the Code of Canon Law.” The symposium for which she spoke had a welcome letter from His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke.

Macfarlane’s controversial statements were affirmed two days ago when Fr. Dean Perri, a canon lawyer, said that according to canon law, a Catholic must go to his bishop before he can seek a civil divorce. Perri works for the Diocese of Providence Rhode Island and was a guest on the Download Show. Last May, Colin Donovan, the Vice President of Theology at EWTN, said the bishop’s permission is required before filing for divorce, and so did David Anders, host of “Called to Communion.” 

In the 1970’s, civil legislatures enacted unilateral no-fault divorce laws, wherein the civil forum makes no distinction between a spouse who reneges on the marriage promises and the spouse who is counting on those promises to be upheld. The courts don’t care and don’t ask to learn the reason for the break-up of a marriage.  Consequently, a spouse who abandons a marriage for no morally legitimate reason is typically relieved of his obligation to provide his full share of support to the marital home. Innocent children lose everyday access to a parent who has done nothing wrong.

Macfarlane says that if the Congregation for Education gives no decision after three months, she can take her controversy to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Anyone interested can read the 100-pages of correspondence, thus far, in the case HERE.


Bai Macfarlane

Mary’s Advocates


... ]]>
Wed, 17 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ St. Francis and Pope Francis: Not in Agreement on Ecumenical Dialogue ]]>
St. Francis and Pope Francis: Not in Agreement on Ecumenical Dialogue

By Andrew Parrish

April 25th, 2017

With the Pope’s visit to Egypt looming large in the headlines, the UK Catholic Tablet has today published an article by Christopher Lamb comparing this trip to another, previous Francis’ visit to the Middle East. As documented in the Life of St. Francis, St. Francis of Assisi – the Pope’s namesake – undertook a journey to the court of the Sultan of Jerusalem, the most powerful Muslim leader of the time. Unfortunately the author of this piece subscribes to a fairly common misconception – that this early meeting between Catholicism and Islam represents a primitive example of the “ecumenical dialogue” approach which is common today. The text of the Life, however, indicates that this was not the sort of dialogue of which modern proponents would approve, and the differences in approach between St. Francis and Pope Francis are worthy of note.

With regards to the Pope’s intentions, Mr. Lamb says, “The main focus of Francis’ short trip will be dialogue and diplomacy, a moment where a global Christian leader travels to the cradle of civilisation and a city known as “the mother of the world.” More than anything he says, the Pope’s presence and appeals for peace in such an important Islamic country will provide a powerful counter-narrative to the idea that religions are the cause of violence or that Islam and Christianity are involved in a clash of civilisations.”

The Pope has indeed frequently rejected attempts to identify religion as a cause of terrorism, saying that arms dealers, poverty, and inequality are more likely culprits. In his video message to the people of Egypt, which was released today, the Pope also rejects the idea that Islam and Christianity are in any way fundamentally in conflict, declaring members of the two faiths to share a common identity as “children of Abraham,” and his own aim to be “reconciliation with Muslims”. However, the Tablet‘s portrayal of St. Francis is not similarly accurate.

“During the sweltering heat of an Egyptian summer,” Lamb says, “a pair of humble friars wearing rough robes and walking on bare feet ignored the scoffing of knights on a fifth crusade to the Holy Land to cross to the Muslim forces and appeal for peace. One of the friars was St Francis of Assisi, the famous founder of the Franciscan order, and his meeting with Islamic leader Sultan Al-Kamil of Egypt has gone down in history as a powerfully [sic] moment of Christian/Muslim relationships.” Unfortunately, this description of the official history omits the most crucial details, and it is only just that it be corrected.

St. Francis made two trips to the Middle East, according to his medieval biographers: the first to Morocco via Spain, and the second to Syria. The reason for his travel was not to “appeal for peace”; somewhat to the contrary, St. Francis so strongly hoped that the Muslims would murder him for proclaiming the Gospel to them that, as St. Bonaventure writes, “…the thought of dying for Christ meant more to him than any merit he might earn by the practice of virtue… he took the road towards Morocco with the intention of preaching the Gospel of Christ to the sultan... his desire bore him along so swiftly that even though he was physically weak he used to leave his companion behind and hurry ahead.” (Major Life of St. Francis, Chapter IX)

Prevented by an illness from realizing this plan, St. Francis’ desire for martyrdom remained so strong that he undertook a second trip to Syria several years later, while a Crusade was ongoing. He successfully navigated a battlefield with a Franciscan brother, as Mr. Lamb correctly states, and made his way into the presence of the Sultan, the Muslim forces’ commander. As St. Bonaventure recounts, “[Francis] proclaimed the triune God and Jesus Christ, the Savior of all, with such steadfastness, with such courage and spirit, that it was clear the promise of the Gospel had been fulfilled in him”; Bonaventure continues: “When the sultan saw his enthusiasm and courage, he listened to him willingly and pressed him to stay with him. Francis, however, was inspired by God to reply, "If you are willing to become converts to Christ, you and your people, I shall be only too glad to stay with you for love of him. But if you are afraid to abandon the law of Mahomet for Christ’s sake, then light a big fire and I will go into it with your priests. That will show you which faith is more sure and more holy." (Major Life, Chapter IX) The sultan refuses this repeated entreaty for a conclusive test, and Francis, stymied, eventually leaves in peace and returns home.

While there is always room for discussion about the most effective way for Catholics to interact with the faithful of other religions, this discussion cannot be carried on effectively if the facts are obscured. The purpose of interacting with those of other faiths is to convince them to convert to Catholicism, a point which Francis did not forget. Contemporary apologists would be well advised, perhaps, to remember the fiery and uncompromisingly dogmatic spirit of the saint of peace, a man willing to undergo diplomatic awkwardness, torture, and even death for the sake of a clear and unapologetic Faith.


... ]]>
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: Will the Lay Conference on Amoris Laetitia Affect the Controversy? ]]>
Poll: Will the Lay Conference on Amoris Laetitia Affect the Controversy?

... ]]>
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Cardinal Burke on Jesuit General’s “Tape Recorder” Remarks: “A serious mistake that needs correction” ]]>
Cardinal Burke on Jesuit General’s “Tape Recorder” Remarks: “A serious mistake that needs correction”

By Andrew Parrish

April 11th, 2017

(ROME / InfoVaticana) – Speaking in his apartment yesterday with the Spanish Catholic news site InfoVaticana, Cardinal Burke has given a wide-ranging and frank interview, offering his opinion on a host of controversial current topics. One of the issues he tackles is the recent and highly disputed interview given by the new Jesuit General, Fr. Arturo Sosa, in which Fr. Sosa questioned the historical accuracy of the Gospels and particularly Jesus’ words on divorce in the Mosaic Law.

“At that time, no one had a recorder to take down his words,” Fr. Sosa now-infamously said. “So then, there would have to be a lot of reflection on what Jesus really said…What is known is that the words of Jesus must be contextualized, they are expressed in a language, in a specific setting, they are addressed to someone in particular... That is not relativism, but attests that the word is relative, the Gospel is written by human beings, it is accepted by the Church which is made up of human persons.”

With these words in mind, the InfoVaticana reporter asked Cd. Burke his opinion.

“This is completely wrong,” Burke said. “In fact, I find it incredible that he could make these kind of statements. They also need to be corrected. It is unreasonable to think that words in the Gospels, which are words that, after centuries of studies, have been understood to be the direct words of Our Lord, are now not the words of Our Lord because they were not tape recorded. I can’t understand it.” In response to further questions about the gravity of these remarks, he declared, “It is a serious mistake that needs to be corrected… I would say [by] the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope’s organ for safeguarding the truth of the faith and morals.”

The full interview can be read here. Donald Trump, the “Alt Right”, the Maltese scandal, the Pope and the dubia, Guam, and Vatileaks are among the other subjects that the Cardinal addresses.

... ]]>
Tue, 11 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ New Study Links Shroud of Oviedo, Turin; Reveals Spear Wound ]]>
New Study Links Shroud of Oviedo, Turin;
Reveals Spear Wound

By Andrew Parrish

April 2nd, 2017

(MURCIA, Spain) – A new scientific study conducted by researchers at the Catholic University of Murcia in Spain has confirmed that the Shroud of Turin and the Shroud of Oviedo were wrapped around the same person, following up on previously unpublished medical and forensic research. Furthermore, the study has identified a spear wound made in the corpse, which according to the study’s authors “agrees with what is reflected in the Gospel of Saint John.”

The study, led by forensic medical researcher Dr. Alfonso Sánchez Hermosilla, took up the lead of previous research from the same university which had identified a pollen grain on the Oviedo Shroud. This grain, upon examination, was confirmed to belong to the plant Helichrysum Sp., material from which had previously been discovered on the Shroud of Turin. While developing this line of investigation, the research team made an exciting new discovery: the existence of a previously unknown spear incision.

“The bloodstains … have always been there, but no one had studied them,” said Sánchez Hermosilla. “Previously they had been attributed to marks caused by flogging wounds.” The wound was determined to have been made after death, while the corpse was in a standing position, passing between two ribs near the spine in an upwards direction. The forensic team were further able to declare that the wound had been made by “someone with experience,” because the blade had not scored the rib bones in its passing. A Roman soldier tasked to execution detail would plausibly have had this skill.

This story translated from the original Spanish by Pewsitter with the aid of Google Translate. To read the full story, click here.

... ]]>
Sun, 02 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Bombshell from Vatican: Benedict and Francis "in complete disagreement", "never talk to one another" ]]>
Bombshell from Vatican: Benedict and Francis "in complete disagreement", "never talk to one another"

By Andrew Parrish

(ROME) – Speaking at a March 16th conference in Limburg, Germany, the long-time Vatican correspondent Andreas Englisch has delivered an explosive allegation: In contradiction of public appearances, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI “are in complete disagreement” and “never speak to one another.” The Pope Emeritus has apparently stated that he only appears in public “at the explicit request of Pope Francis.” What is shown on these occasions, Englisch continues, is “only the pretense of friendship.”

No official transcript of the press conference is yet available, but Giuseppe Nardi, another well-known Vaticanist who was in attendance, says that Englisch continued his statements by describing Pope Francis as a “strong personality” who “gets what he wants,” and that he has little in common with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI but “uses him when necessary for the optics.” Englisch concluded his dramatic remarks with a remarkable statement: that, in addition to the pressure put upon the Pope Emeritus to resign, “different ecclesiastical forces” are putting pressure on Ratzinger in a different direction: “to return.”  

Translated from the German with the aid of Google Translate. 

For the full text of Nardi's report, reprinted from, click here

... ]]>
Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Vatican Op-Ed Attacks Critics: Pope Has Last Word on Amoris Laetitia ]]>
Vatican Op-Ed Attacks Critics: Pope Has Last Word on Amoris Laetitia

By Andrew Parrish

Pewsitter publishes the following editorial, which appeared in the March 17th Edition of L’Osservatore Romano under the title of “The Last Word”.  This is a rough translation from the original Italian.

(ROME – Fr. Salvador Pie-Ninot) – In confrontation with the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which collects the reflections of the 2014-2015 Synods on the Family, some critical public voices have been raised in the form of “dissent,” and therefore it can be important to reflect theologically on this sensitive issue. For guidance we turn to the document published by the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, Donum Veritatis, On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, published in 1990 by Cardinal Ratzinger; Ratzinger discusses “the problem of dissent” in the chapter of that name (nn. 32-41).

Recall, to better frame the whole issue, the type of Magisterium involved in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which is ordinary and not definitive. As defined in Donum Veritatis, such an exercise seeks to propose: “a teaching which leads to a better understanding of revelation in matters of faith and morals, and the moral directives resulting from this teaching ... [that] although it is not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, is not devoid of divine assistance and [a] call for the adherence of the faithful" (n. 17).

Notice how this precise description is realized in Amoris Laetitia; therefore "the desire for genuine consent to this teaching of the Magisterium on the subject in itself is not beyond reform, it must be the rule," keeping in mind that involves "prudential judgments", although Ratzinger noted carefully that this does not mean that "it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission" (Donum veritatis, n. 24; see also the article by this writer on the magisterium of Amoris Laetitia in L’Osservatore Romano of August 24, 2016). It should also be noted that Amoris Laetitia (no. 3) recognizes a plurality in practice, since there are "different ways and consequences" because "in the Church is required a unity of doctrine and practice, but this does not mean that there are not different ways to interpret some aspects of doctrine or some of the consequences that follow from it. This will happen until the Spirit will bring us to all truth (cfr. John, 16, 13)."

It is in this context that some formulations appear - that perhaps may have sparked some criticism because of their unusualness - such as the decisive principle in Amoris Laetitia of "gradualness in the exercise of prudential free acts in people who are not in a position to understand, appreciate or fully practice the objective requirements of the law" (n. 295). In its approach to ''prudential exercise" the encyclical reminds us of Donum Veritatis, speaking of the interventions of the ordinary, not decisive, magisterium, says they are "prudential policy" and involving “prudential judgments" (No. 24). It is therefore this principle that is decisive in making possible a practical result that had already been expressed in the final report of the 2015 synod, in the key number 85.

Well, because this result is the fruit of a prudent decision that does not lead to a plurality of practices, of a relativistic or purely subjective type, [which are] the result of "wrong messages" (Amoris Laetitia, n. 300), there is an urgent need for a "pastoral discernment" that will pass through a dual attitude (cfr. n. 312): first the faithful living in "complex situations" must approach with confidence the representatives of the Church - pastors or lay people, prepared by keeping in mind [that] “what they propose are the faithful ideal of the full Gospel and the doctrine of the Church"  (n. 308); secondly, these representatives of the Church are called, not to legitimize everything, but to understand the situation and to "get into the heart of the drama of the people and [...] understand their point of view, to help them live better and to recognize their place in the Church" following "The way [...] of Jesus: of mercy and integration" (n. 296). It will then be just this kind of pastoral discernment that seeks to "discern the will of God" (Romans 12:2), to allow advisors to "avoid the serious risk of wrong messages, such as the idea that a priest can grant quick "exceptions", or that there are people who can get sacramental privileges in exchange for favors" (n. 300).

It should however be noted that this practical application and plurality should not become - as it seems to have been for some, definitely in good faith – turned into an opportunity to express a certain "dissent" in the form of public criticism, the objective of which would lead them to decline [the formulation] that "the consequences or effects of a rule need not always be the same" (n. 300). Amoris Laetitia, however, in order to understand delicate situations [such as being divorced and living with a new partner], brings the aforementioned decisive principle, which does not involve a "gradualness of the law" but a "gradual exercise of prudential free acts" (n. 295). [Using this principle of gradual exercise of free prudential action it confirms] the need for a "truly formed conscience" (n. 295), which, to avoid falling into subjectivism, must be "accompanied by a responsible and serious discernment of the shepherd" (n. 303).

In this context, and with reference to possible "dissent" in the form of public criticism to the Magisterium, Donum Veritatis recalled that "Dissent is generally defended by various arguments, two of which have a more fundamental character. The first is the order of hermeneutics: the documents of the magisterium would be nothing more than a reflection of a questionable theology [...]. In opposition to and in competition with the authentic magisterium is thus a kind of "parallel magisterium" of theologians [...]. (The theologian) has hermeneutical rules, which include the principle that the teaching of the magisterium - with divine assistance - is beyond argument [...] [and] which he serves" (n. 34). In fact, it is clear that "the Magisterial interventions serve to guarantee the Church's unity in the truth of the Lord. They help to "abide in the truth" in the face of the arbitrary character of changeable opinions and are an expression of obedience to the Word of God" (n. 35).

In this respect it is stressed that "the right conscience of the Catholic theologian presumes not only faith in the Word of God whose riches he must explore, but also love for the Church from whom he receives his mission, and respect for her divinely assisted Magisterium [...]. If you separate from the shepherds who watch over and keep the apostolic tradition alive, it is the bond with Christ which is irreparably compromised" (n. 38). In this area of ​​reflection, it is also important to bear in mind the precise theological distinction between the contribution proper to the magisterium and that proper to theology, already announced by Saint Augustine: "what I understand, therefore, I owe to reason; what I believe, to authority" (De utilitate credendi, 9).

In fact, it is understood that the contribution of theology from this perspective is the scientific value of its thinking and the scientific arguments on which it relies. On the other hand, the contribution of the Magisterium is not based on scientific arguments - although it can use them secondarily - but on the value of the testimony of faith that [supports it], because the ultimate reason for the faith is not argumentation but “the authority of the same God who reveals, who can neither deceive nor be deceived" (Vatican I, Dei filius, ch. 3). Keep in mind that for the Catholic faith the comparison between the magisterium, in this case the Pope, and a dissenting theological interpretation, is not a simple conflict between two opinions, as the magisterium of the Pope is not a theological opinion [as such], but comes from a testimony of faith as the "authorized interpretation of the Word of God" (cf.. Dei verbum, n. 10) by the person who, as the successor of Peter, has the primary ministry of "confirming his brothers” (cfr. Luke, 22, 32; Dei filius; Lumen Gentium, n. 25).

Finally, on the specific characteristics of papal primacy, with regard to the magisterium, it is appropriate to recall, as stated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the document on primacy (1998), signed by Cardinal Ratzinger: "…That only the pope - or the Pope with the ecumenical Council - has, as the successor of Peter, the authority and the competence to say the last word on the ways to exercise their ministry in the universal Church" (n. 13). Therefore, [the Pope] does not compete with others, even if they are motivated by good faith; the last word [belongs to] the primatial ministry in the Church entrusted to Peter's successor. Here, then, is the fundamental attitude inherent in this Magisterium of Pope Francis, demonstrated beautifully in Amoris Laetitia and that we Catholics must welcome: to practice and witness with the best and most living spirit of ecclesial communion.

Translated from the original Italian with the aid of Google Translate. The original printed article can be found here, on page 7, under the title, L’ultima parola.

... ]]>
Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: Should the Pope Extend Ordination to the Vires Probati? ]]>
Poll: Should the Pope Extend Ordination to the Vires Probati?

... ]]>
Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Cardinal Calls for Magisterial Document on Gender to Combat Forces Pushing Gender Theory ]]>
Cardinal Calls for Magisterial Document on Gender to Combat Forces Pushing Gender Theory

By Andrew Parrish

(AciStampa) UTRECHT – Yesterday, Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, said in an interview that a magisterial document on gender theory was “urgent.” The Archbishop confirms a previous statement, made in November, in which he expressed his opinion that such a document would be useful to the Church.

“I would not necessarily say it takes an encyclical,” the Archbishop told AciStampa. “It could also be a different type of document, such as an instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However, it is important that there be an authoritative document of the Church on this theory.”  

“Gender theory” is an academic exploration which posits that a person’s “gender” or “gender identity”, the sex they consider themselves to be, is more or less entirely separated from their “sex”, the physical sexual identity their body possesses. The right of any individual who feels a disconnect between these two to act in society according to their internal “identity” is being pursued across the West as a civil rights issue. The underlying psychological disorder, known as “gender dysphoria,” is no longer considered a pathology.

The Church cannot accept gender theory, as Eijk explains, because she must deny the Cartesian dualism of metaphysics upon which it is based: “Gender theory is based on a dualist anthropology, which limits the human person to human consciousness, the center, in the brain, of rational activity, the autonomous choices and typically human social skills. Gender theory sees the body as something secondary, something extrinsic to human nature, which does not participate in the dignity of the person as such, as an intrinsic value of the person.” This is, he declares, “clearly opposed to the vision of the Catholic Church.”

As other columnists have noted recently, Abp. Eijk points out the danger of such dehumanization of the body, which gives rise not only to movements of personal redefinition like transgenderism, but also to abortion and euthanasia and similar forms of violence. At present, Eijk says, “international organizations put a lot of pressure on nations to introduce this theory, especially in education.” The recent creation of the post of “LGBT czar” at the United Nations is a good example of the force being applied at present.

Gender theory, as an instrumentalized ideology of the state, has made much more progress in the European Union than in the United States. Eijk’s call comes as the Supreme Court of the United States, in a surprise ruling, has refused to grant a hearing to the case of Gavin Grimm, the now-infamous “bathroom case.” Over the last few months in Europe, however, as we at Pewsitter have reported, the persecution of those who oppose the LGBT lobby has risen to Orwellian levels. The Spanish government has created an anonymous informant system to turn in anyone who is not sufficiently compassionate to the authorities. Bus station and television advertisements relentlessly indoctrinate citizens. This week a BBC commentator is facing public outrage over her denial that a transgendered male can really be a woman.

Archbishop Eijk ends his interview with a plea for Catholic news agencies and media outlets to broadcast the truth. While the Magisterium has addressed questions related to gender many times in the past, including by Pope Francis (Laudato Si 151), the teaching authority of the Church has been overshadowed by scandal and negativity. He declares that the Church has a duty to maintain her media presence and advertise her mission and teachings: “We must also think of those who are spiritually poor, because they have never heard the truth. Every man in this world has the right to feel, to hear the gospel.”

Quotations from AciStampa translated with the aid of Google Translate.

... ]]> Thu, 09 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT <![CDATA[ Open Letter to Cardinal Mueller regarding Martin Luther ]]>
Open Letter to Cardinal Mueller
Regarding Martin Luther

It is indisputable that in recent times the historical figure of Martin Luther has undergone a remarkable rehabilitation. Once excommunicated, Luther has been recommended to the faithful as a “witness to the Gospel.” His statue has been photographed in the Vatican, a commemorative Reformation postage stamp has been issued by the Vatican, and the Holy Father himself has praised Martin Luther’s personal journey and the Protestant Reformation which he began.

However, the excommunication of Luther has not been lifted; he is still considered to be a formal heretic, and his theological opinions are in contradiction with the truth which the Catholic Church possesses. Luther rejected the authority of the Papacy, the forgiveness of sins through Confession, and the doctrine of transubstantiation, among many others. He did not recant these opinions, and neither did the church that he founded. In what way can it be possible for Catholics to receive the Eucharist in communion with the members of Luther’s church, when Luther repudiated the priestly authority by which the Eucharist is confected?

This poll was conducted on our site, Founded in 2006, Pewsitter is one of the oldest and largest Catholic news aggregators on the Internet. We gather and review thousands of stories weekly from national and international Catholic sources, and publish hundreds on our portal to keep our readership informed.The Holy Father, as we have seen in the arrangement for the upcoming 2018 Synod, welcomes the perspectives of the lay faithful. We therefore conducted a survey of our readership, asking whether they believe it possible for an excommunicated heretic to be a witness of the Gospel; we received almost 1000 responses.  Of the 949 respondents, 95% or 910 do not believe it to be possible. Our methodology does not allow individuals to vote multiple times, and therefore the results can be considered a fair sample. The results are attached.

Clearly the results of our poll reveal that a large percentage of Catholics are confused about the contradiction of Luther’s status as an excommunicated heretic and his simultaneous rehabilitation as a “Witness to Hope.” Given this situation it would seem prudent, if not a necessity, that an explanation be provided by the Holy See as to how these two contradictory positions can be held at the same time.  Moreover, it is our understanding that the pronouncements from the Council of Trent are infallible on these matters concerning Luther. If so, the Church’s position cannot be rescinded or reversed.

The Church’s contradictory positions on Luther, we fear, are damaging its moral authority: scandalizing faithful Catholics, and confusing other people of goodwill. Clarity is needed on this issue. We respectfully request that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provides an explanation that resolves this apparent contradiction.

We would be pleased to publish your response, in hopes that it would further the education of our readers - and their understanding of this issue.



James Todd


... ]]>
Tue, 07 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ What's Going On in the Vatican? A Timeline ]]>
What's Going On in the Vatican? A Timeline

By Andrew Parrish

The Vatican appears to be coming to a boil these days: the pace of strange and alarming announcements from Rome has increased ever since the release of Amoris Laetitia in April of last year. It is easy to lose sight of the overall trend of a news story as individual headlines are released; Pewsitter is releasing the below report, which is a timeline of most directly Vatican-related events since April 2016, in the belief that it clearly demonstrates the unusual nature of these continuing developments. This timeline will be periodically updated with new material.

We encourage other journalists to use this timeline as a resource and encourage the submission of any announcements we may have missed in the comments box below or via email.


April 2016: Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” an apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, is released.


July 12th, 2016: In a Motu Proprio statement, the Vatican financial accountability office is stripped of much of its power of oversight. The move is criticized as counterproductive in the ongoing effort to reform Vatican finances.

July 28th, 2016: In his remarks to those gathered for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, the Pope called on Poland to “open its borders to refugees” and declared that “religion has nothing to do with war.”


September 5th, 2016: An Argentinian blogger leaks the contents of a private letter sent by the Pope to the bishops of Buenos Aires, in which Pope Francis approves their take on Amoris Laetitia’s already-controversial Chapter 8: “There is no other interpretation.” The Buenos Aires bishops have approved communion for the divorced and remarried. The Vatican later confirms that this document is legitimate.

September 19th, 2016: The four cardinals privately send their “dubia” statement to the Pope.


October 4th, 2016: During trip to Republic of Georgia, Pope says it is a “very grave sin against ecumenism” for Catholics to try and convert the Orthodox.

October 6th, 2016: Theme for the 2018 Synod announced: Young people, faith and vocational discernment.

October 19th, 2016: Pope calls proselytism “poison” in meeting with Lutheran visitors. “It is not licit that you convince them of your faith,” he declares.

October 24th, 2016: Pope Francis praises the German theologian Bernhard Haering, a prominent dissenter from Humanae Vitae, saying that he found a way to “help moral theology to flourish again.”

October 25th, 2016: Pope is photographed in the Vatican with a chocolate statue of Martin Luther, while receiving an ecumenical delegation from Sweden. In this meeting, the Pope claims that “lukewarmness” is when Catholics “are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions.”

October 27th, 2016: Pope opens the JPII Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family academic year himself, after announcing that Cardinal Sarah would not give the opening speech as planned.

October 31st, 2016: Pope Francis arrives in Malmo, Sweden, and “heaps praise” on Luther and the Reformation.

On this day the joint declaration is published, which says we must “cast off historical disagreements” and “transform our memory of the past.” Lutheran-Catholic intercommunion is explicitly declared to be the goal of dialogue.


November 2nd, 2016: On return flight from Sweden, Pope gives interview declaring that John Paul II had “the final word” on ordination of women.

In the same interview, the Pope takes a moderate position on immigration, saying that countries need to be “prudent” and avoid the danger of ethnic ghettos.

November , 2016: High-level, anonymous Vatican source alleges that Pope is “boiling with rage” over the public opposition to Amoris Laetitia.

November 10th, 2016: The Pope holds a private meeting with Cardinal Burke, the Vatican patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, in which, it is later revealed, the Pope is “deeply disturbed” by Burke’s account of contraceptive distribution with the Order’s participation. The Pope orders Burke to “clean Freemasonry out of the Order.”

November 14th, 2016: The four cardinals, Burke, Brandmuller, Meisner, and Caffarra, release publicly their letter of September 19th, asking five yes/no questions about moral ambiguities raised in Amoris Laetitia’s wording, a letter which becomes known as “the dubia” or “the dubia statement.” The letter calls on either the Pope or Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, to respond publicly. The cardinals had previously received an acknowledgement of their letter but no answer from the Pope.

November 15th, 2016: Cardinal Burke gives interview with Edward Pentin in which he declares the possibility of a “formal act of correction” of the Pope if the letter is not formally answered.

November 18th, 2016: In interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Pope criticizes the “legalism” of the four cardinals who have written a letter asking for clarification of Amoris Laetitia. In the meantime, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia has published guidelines declaring that the divorced and remarried cannot receive the Eucharist, and Cardinal-designate Farrell has publicly criticized these guidelines.

November 18th, 2016: Pope dismisses the entire staff of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Republished statutes for the organization indicate that the members will no longer be required to sign a declaration of their pro-life beliefs.

November 23rd, 2016: Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Pell officially removed from Congregation for Divine Worship.


December 1st, 2016: The Pope writes a letter to Cardinal Burke, in which he reiterates his concerns about the Order of Malta and Cardinal Burke’s duty to see to the “spiritual health” of the order.

December 6th, 2016: Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, grand chancellor of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, is ordered to resign his office at a meeting in which the Order’s head, Fra’ Matthew Festing, accused him of supervising the distribution of contraceptives in Malaysia. Von Boeselager refuses to step down at the meeting, breaking his vow of obedience.

December 7th, 2016: Pope Francis, in a widely publicized interview with a Belgian Catholic newspaper, alleges that media which spread misinformation are guilty of coprophagia, a psychological term for those who are sexually aroused by the act of eating excrement.

December 12th, 2016: According to inside Vatican sources, von Boeselager approaches Cardinal Parolin in the Vatican, and tells him that, according to Burke, the Pope had ordered von Boeselager to be fired. Cardinal Parolin writes a letter on this date to Fra’ Festing in the Pope’s name, saying that the Holy Father requests “dialogue” to resolve “methods and means contrary to the moral law.” Fra’ Festing requests a meeting with Cardinal Parolin; Parolin asks to institute a Vatican investigative committee and Festing refuses, citing the international sovereignty of the Order.

December 13th, 2016: In an internal announcement, von Boeselager is suspended of all his duties in the Order of Malta.

December 14th, 2016: Cardinal Walter Kasper, one of the Pope’s closest advisors, considers intercommunion with mixed-marriage Lutherans to be “inevitable.

December 15th, 2016: Cardinal Parolin appoints von Boeselager’s brother to the board of the IOR, the “Vatican bank.”

December 16th, 2016: Co-founder of LifeSiteNews releases an editorial stating: “The climate of fear at the Vatican is very real”. This corroborates December reports from anonymous sources of Edward Pentin, Marco Tosatti, Steve Skojec, etc.

December 19th, 2016: In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Burke, considered the “spokesman” of the four cardinals, claims there is a timeline for the “formal correction” of Pope Francis and that this will take place some time in January, 2017 (around the Feast of the Epiphany).

December 22nd, 2016: Pope gives customary Christmas address to the Roman Curia on reform, which has been the topic for three years running, and blasts “resistance” which hides behind “self-justification” and takes refuge in “tradition.”

December 22nd, 2016: An independent watchdog, the Lepanto Institute, releases compiled reports indicating that Malteser International, while under von Boeselager’s direct supervision, distributed more than 300,000 condoms in Malaysia as well as oral contraceptives, and was widely recognized by other NGOs for this accomplishment.

December 22nd, 2016: A letter to the Order of Malta, and Burke, indicates that the Pope has appointed a commission to investigate the removal of von Boeselager. The Pope’s instructions in his Dec. 1st letter are to be suspended.

Preliminary investigation into the five members of the committee, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Jacques de Liedekerke, Marc Odendall, and Marwan Sehnaoui, reveals that all five are known allies of von Boeselager and the “German wing” of the Order of Malta. Furthermore, Odendall, Sehnaoui and Archbishop Tomasi are, with Boeselager, connected to a mysterious donation from a French resident deposited in a Swiss bank account, worth at least $118 million. Cardinal Parolin is understood to have been aware of the bequest since at least March 2014.

December 23rd, 2016: Von Boeselager publishes a statement in which he declares his suspension violated the procedures of the Order, that no valid grounds existed for his suspension, and that Fra’ Festing’s attitude was “authoritarian.”

December 26th, 2016: Pope orders Cardinal Mueller to dismiss three priests at the CDF for unspecified reasons. In the leaked letter making this declaration, he states: “I am the pope and I do not need to give reasons… they have to go.”


January 3rd, 2017: Von Boeselager’s replacement, Fra’ John Chritien, writes a letter to the Knights of the Order telling them they cannot collaborate with the papal commission because its existence is a violation of the order’s sovereignty.

January 4th, 2017: Archbishop Tomasi, of the Malta investigative committee, responds to the previous day’s announcement and says that the question “is not the sovereignty of the order, but the reasonable claim of questionable procedures and lack of proven valid cause for the action taken,” echoing the statement of von Boeselager himself.

January 5th, 2017: A document is published by the Vatican Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches, commanding Catholics to “recognize Luther as a witness to the Gospel.”

January 10th, 2017: Knights of Malta again publicly defend their right to dismiss von Boeselager, for breaking his vow of obedience to Festing.

January 10th, 2017: In daily homily, Pope criticizes “doctors of the law” as incoherent, hypocritical, clericalist, and lacking in real authority.

January 12th, 2017: The Vatican invites notorious abortion extremist Paul Ehrlich, author of debunked 1970s book The Population Bomb, to Vatican conference on “Biological Extinction.”

January 17th, 2017: The Holy See issues a second statement in response, declaring its “faith” in the commission the Pope has appointed.

January 19th, 2017: Pope declares that it was “Luther’s intention to renew the Church, not divide her.”

January 20th, 2017: Pope declares that “every country has the right to defend its borders.”

January 20th, 2017: Pope, in morning homily, criticizes “lazy,” “egotistical,” “constantly condemning,” “parked Christians.”

January 21st, 2017: Pope gives an address to the Roman Rota in which he declares it is “urgent practically to implement that which was discussed in Familiaris Consortio.” The Holy Father calls for parishes to develop programs to help newlyweds grow in faith and remain attached to parish life.

January 24th, 2017: The Pope calls Festing to the Vatican to hold a secret meeting of which no one can know. In this meeting, the Pope tells Festing to write his resignation letter on the spot, and to explicitly declare in the letter that Cardinal Burke had asked for von Boeselager to be dismissed.

January 24th, 2017: Fra’ Festing resigns his position as Grand Master of the Maltese Order.

January 25th, 2017: Cardinal Parolin writes in a letter to the Maltese Order that the Pope has declared all of Fra’ Festing’s actions “null and void” since the Dec. 6th meeting where von Boeselager’s resignation was demanded. Parolin further announces that the Pope will appoint a “personal delegate” to the Order, with “powers that will be defined.” These actions are in violation of the legal sovereignty of the Order.

January 25th, 2017: Pope declares that ecumenism must look to the future, not “fixate” on the past.

January 25th, 2017: Archbishop Scicluna of Malta, infamous for the Communion guidelines he coauthored, declares in a homily that “anyone looking to discover what Jesus wants” should “look to the Pope. Not the previous Pope, not the one before that. This Pope.” He has previously stated that in his guidelines “we are following the Pope’s directives.”

January 26th, 2017: Pope orders review of Liturgiam Authenticam. The text of the current Latin-English Mass translation is alleged by certain bishops to be too “rigid” and “excessively centralized”, according to America Magazine.

January 27th, 2017: The Pope gives a lengthy homily at Santa Marta in which he states that those who focus too much on “obeying the commandments, all of them” commit the sin of “cowardliness”, and are unable to “take risks” and “move forward.”

January 28th, 2017: The Pope, according to a press release of the Knights of Malta, writes a letter to them “stressing their sovereignty.”

January 28th, 2017: The Council of the Knights of Malta votes to accept Festing’s resignation and the Pope’s declaration of nullity.

January 30th, 2017: The Pope, at the Angelus, says “voracious consumerism kills the soul.”

January 30th, 2017: The Pope meets with Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the chair of the Council of Protestant Churches in Germany and with Cardinal Marx. In this meeting Bedford-Strohm expresses the importance of a common communion for interfaith couples.

January 31st, 2017: Cardinal Baldisseri, secretary of the Synod of Bishops, confirms that the female diaconate will not be discussed at the 2018 Synod on vocations.


February 1st, 2017: Pope calls on local Catholic churches to “mobilize” and fight climate change.

February 1st, 2017: Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, declares that Communion for the divorced and remarried is “against God’s law.” The Maltese bishops’ bombshell statement that Communion is open to anyone who “feels at peace with God” was released twenty days prior. On this same day, the German council of bishops approves communion for the divorced and remarried.

February 2nd, 2017: The Pope calls on religious not to be “professionals of the sacred.”

February 2nd, 2017: Bishop Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, defends the invitation of Paul Ehrlich by saying that the Vatican is interested in his scientific reputation and not his private opinions: “What matters is the conclusions we will draw.”

February 4th, 2017: Posters appear overnight in Rome naming a group of incidents, including the Maltese case, and asking, “Where is your mercy?” A picture of the Pope is included. The Vatican police, as well as the Roman police, open an investigation into this incident.

February 4th, 2017: The Pope names Archbishop Becciu of the Secretariat of State as his delegate to the Order of Malta.

February 7th, 2017: The Vatican hosts its Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism over two days, inviting the Chinese “organ czar” Huang Jiefu to speak despite ongoing and credible allegations that the Chinese government harvests organs from executed prisoners, and possibly others.

February 8th, 2017: A stunning editorial in La Civita Cattolica opines that ordination of women may be possible in the future. The paper is approved by the Vatican before publication and Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the Pope’s closest confidante, is the editor in chief.

February 8th, 2017: A 51-page booklet is published by Cardinal Coccopalmerio, purporting to explain definitively the meaning of Amoris Laetitia’s Chapter 8. Reviews of the book indicate that it defends an extremely permissive interpretation of the document.

February 9th, 2017: Pope meets with staff of La Civita Cattolica and praises their work, urging them to be “restless” and “stay out on the open sea.” Fr. Gioncarlo Pani, deputy editor and author of the women’s ordination piece, is present. No mention of the question is made.

February 12th, 2017: The Vatican announces its police force is investigating a satirical front page of the L’Osservatore Romano with the headline “Pope Answers the Dubia.” The satirical newsletter was widely circulated in the Vatican via email.

February 13th, 2017: Council of Cardinals issue statement declaring their total support for the Pope. Vatican sends email blast dedicated solely to this announcement.

February 14th, 2017: Cardinal Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Vatican’s “legal theory” body, declares that a “desire to change” is enough for the valid reception of Communion.

February 14th, 2017: Cardinal Coccopalmerio fails to attend his own press conference for his booklet on Amoris Laetitia, which is generally understood to represent a chance for an official Vatican “answer” to the dubia statement. He states via social media that he had another engagement he had forgotten about. At the conference, the head of the Vatican publishing house says that the booklet is “not an answer” and the “still open debate is encouraged.”

February 15th, 2017: Cardinal Burke sent to Guam to supervise Vatican trial of Archbishop Apuron, involved in a clergy abuse scandal.

February 17th, 2017: Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, states that bishops cannot give “contradictory interpretations” of Amoris Laetitia.

February 17th, 2017: Pope releases a letter dated February 10th to the Meeting of Popular Movements in California, in which he says, among other things, that we must “defend Sister Mother Earth”, that “the ecological crisis is real… time is running out. We must act now”, “Muslim terrorism does not exist”, and that global capitalism is “gangrenous”.

February 18th, 2017: Speaking to the press about the “highly unusual” public vote of confidence in the Pope, Cardinal Marx says that the support for the Pope is “substantial.”

February 20th, 2017: Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, releases a new book on the Papacy. He declares that not even a pope is able to alter the “substance of a sacrament,” marriage being used as the example.

February 21st, 2017: Cd. Coccopalmerio announces that there is “no doctrinal confusion” over Amoris Laetitia in an interview with Crux. He also states that gay couples still cannot receive Communion.

February 21st, 2017: Pope declares it a “moral duty” to “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” refugees. The opposition to this duty is “rooted chiefly in self-centeredness” and encouraged by “populist demagoguery.”

February 22nd, 2017: Parolin, Secretariat of State, announces that the Vatican will be using “systematic surveillance” to monitor misuse of the Pope’s image and the official Vatican symbols, “so that his message may reach the faithful intact.”

February 22nd, 2017: The Pope, in his daily remarks, says that “When human pride explodes, it destroys and exploits nature. Think of water.”

... ]]>
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: Is Amoris Laetitia Harming the Church? ]]>
Poll: Is Amoris Laetitia Harming the Church?

... ]]>
Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Open Letter to the USCCB on Immigration ]]>
An Open Letter to the USCCB on Immigration

By James Todd

To the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Founded in 2007, Pewsitter is one of the oldest and largest Catholic news sites on the Internet. We gather and republish thousands of stories weekly from national and international Catholic sources, to keep our readership informed. One of the issues we have been closely following in recent weeks is that of the immigration executive order put in place by President Trump, and the subsequent response of Catholic bishops worldwide.

The official USCCB statement on the refugee order reads, in part, as follows:

We strongly disagree with the Executive Order's halting refugee admissions. We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope.

"The United States has long provided leadership in resettling refugees. We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion. This includes Christians, as well as Yazidis and Shia Muslims from Syria, Rohingyas from Burma, and other religious minorities. However, we need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country. They are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity. We believe that by helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do."

"Today, more than 65 million people around the world are forcibly displaced from their homes. Given this extraordinary level of suffering, the U.S. Catholic Bishops will redouble their support for, and efforts to protect, all who flee persecution and violence, as just one part of the perennial and global work of the Church in this area of concern."

A second, joint statement issued by Cardinal DiNardo, USCCB President, and Archbishop Gomez, USCCB Vice President, reads, in part, as follows:

The bond between Christians and Muslims is founded on the unbreakable strength of charity and justice. The Second Vatican Council in Nostra Aetate urged us to sincerely work toward a mutual understanding that would "promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom." The Church will not waver in her defense of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors.

We must screen vigilantly for infiltrators who would do us harm, but we must always be equally vigilant in our welcome of friends.

The Lord Jesus fled the tyranny of Herod, was falsely accused and then deserted by his friends. He had nowhere to lay His head (Lk. 9:58). Welcoming the stranger and those in flight is not one option among many in the Christian life. It is the very form of Christianity itself.  Our actions must remind people of Jesus. The actions of our government must remind people of basic humanity. Where our brothers and sisters suffer rejection and abandonment we will lift our voice on their behalf. We will welcome them and receive them. They are Jesus and the Church will not turn away from Him.

The understanding of the world, both Catholic and non-Catholic, has been that these statements condemn limitations put on immigration, and further, they are considered to be in support of the statements of many other bishops worldwide, who have spoken much more strongly against the measure. Simultaneously, we have seen a number of pieces citing various Church sources in support of an apparently contrary position on the question of a country’s right to limit immigration. These include, for instance, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, and even recent remarks of the Pope. These examples are attached for review. The authority of these sources seems equally indisputable, and worthy of the laity’s obedience.

Recently, we polled our readership to discover whether they support the temporary restriction of immigration that Trump has imposed. Surprisingly, we discovered that around 94% of our respondents were in favor of the measure.

Since many of the laity clearly disagree with the bishops on this matter, it would seem necessary, for the purposes of instruction, that the bishops explain in clear, precise language why they condemn the President’s executive order, keeping in mind the sources that we have attached.

Here are several questions we would pose to help clarify the situation:

  1. Does the leader of a country have the right to prudentially limit immigration to that country?

  2. If so, is it not Mr. Trump’s duty as President of the United States to make a prudential judgment as to what is an appropriate restriction? If, as Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Gomez have specifically noted, we must “screen vigilantly for infiltrators who would do us harm”, what about his order is problematic, and upon what moral reasoning?
  1. It has just been publicized that the Archdiocese of San Francisco is organizing parish teams to “stop and fight deportations” and observe during ICE raids. The U.S. Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for enforcing immigration law against individuals who have broken that law and entered the country illegally. Is the Archdiocese of San Francisco encouraging disrespect or even violation of a country’s legal code? If so, is the immigration law which is to be broken unjust, and are there no other ways to address its injustice? 

  2. Another frequently condemned item is the building of a wall on the southern border. An explanation of why such a wall is immoral would be helpful. The doors of our churches have locks, some of them have fences around them, and even part of the Vatican has walls. Jesus spoke of thieves coming in the night, and of the owner who would have taken precautions against housebreaking. Is the building of any wall on the border of any country morally wrong, or merely prudentially ill-advised?

  3. During the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, millions of immigrants came to the United States via Ellis Island. At this time, American immigration restrictions were very tight: immigrants were subjected to health inspections, questions about their beliefs, and their job prospects; some went before a board to answer more detailed questions, while others were held in detention, or quarantine. Would the bishops disagree with imposing such requirements on today’s immigrants?

The episcopacy represents the leadership of the Church, and any statement made by a bishop on such an important question ought to be received with respect. The laity, in this particular case, has not understood the moral reasoning behind the position taken by the episcopacy, as evidenced by the disagreement which we have documented in our survey.

A response to this disagreement, as expressed in our questions above, would be invaluable in aiding the faithful to gain a better understanding of the Bishops’ position on this issue.

We welcome your response to this letter and our queries and would be pleased to publish your response on our site, in hopes that it would further the education of our readers - and their understanding of this issue.




James Todd

Sources referenced in the above letter

Catechism of the Catholic Church, article 2241: Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Book I-II, Question 105, Article 3:

Thirdly, when any foreigners wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. With regard to these a certain order was observed. For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations, as the Philosopher says (Polit. iii, 1).

The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.

Pope Francis, November 1st, 2016

“So what do I think of those who close their borders? …I think that in theory no one should close their heart to a refugee, but those who govern must also exercise prudence. They should be very open to receiving them, but they should also calculate how they will be able to settle them, because a refugee must not only be welcomed, but also integrated…And if a country is only able to integrate 20, let’s say, then it should only accept that many. If another is able to do more, let it do more… I don’t believe that Sweden is, if it diminishes its capacity to welcome, may it do it for egoism because it has lost that capacity. If there is something of the sort, it’s for the latter that I said: that so many today look to Sweden because they know how to welcome, but there isn’t the necessary time to sort out everyone...

... ]]>
Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Fr. Rutler's Weekly Reflection, Feb. 5: On Immigration ]]>
Weekly Reflection, Feb. 5: On Immigration

By Fr. George Rutler

February 5, 2017

by Fr. George W. Rutler

In the margin of a public speaker’s manuscript was the notation: “Weak point. Shout.” Such is the rhetoric of those who place emotion over logic and make policy through gangs rather than parliaments. In Athens 2,400 years ago, Aristophanes described the demagogue as having “a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, cross-grained nature and the language of the marketplace.” That marketplace today includes the biased media and the universities that have become daycare centers.

The recent action of our government’s executive branch to protect our borders and enforce national security is based on Constitutional obligations (Art. 1 sec 10 and Art. 4 sec 4). It is a practical protection of the tranquility of order explained by Saint Augustine when he saw the tranquillitas ordinis of Roman civilization threatened. Saint Thomas Aquinas sanctioned border control (S. Th. I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3). No mobs shouted in the marketplace two years ago when the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act restricted visa waivers for Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The present ban continues that, and only for a stipulated ninety days, save for Syria. There is no “Muslim ban” as should be obvious from the fact that the restrictions do not apply to other countries with Muslim majorities, such as Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Turkey.

These are facts ignored by demagogues who speak of tears running down the face of the Statue of Liberty. At issue is not immigration, but illegal immigration. It is certainly manipulative of reason to justify uncontrolled immigration by citing previous generations of immigrants to our shores, all of whom went through the legal process, mostly in the halls of Ellis Island. And it is close to blasphemy to invoke the Holy Family as antinomian refugees, for they went to Bethlehem in obedience to a civil decree requiring tax registration, and they violated no statutes when they sought protection in Egypt. Then there was Saint Paul, who worked within the legal system, and invoked his Roman citizenship through privileges granted to his native Tarsus in 66 B.C. (Acts 16:35-38; 22:25-29; 25:11-12) He followed ordered procedure, probably with the status of civis Romanus non optimo jure—a legal citizen, but not allowed to act as a magistrate.

It is obvious that the indignant demonstrators against the new Executive Orders are funded in no little part by wealthy interests who would provoke agitation. These same people have not shown any concern about the neglected Christians seeking refuge from persecution in the Middle East. In 2016 there was a 675% increase in the number of Syrian refugees over the previous year, but while 10% of the Syrian population is Christian, only one-half of one percent of the Syrian Christians were granted asylum. It is thankworthy that our changed government now wants to redress that. The logic of that policy must not be shouted down by those who screech rather than reason.




Father Rutler’s book, The Stories of Hymns – The History Behind 100 of Christianity’s Greatest Hymns, is available through Sophia Institute Press (Paperback or eBook) and Amazon (Paperback or Kindle). 



... ]]>
Wed, 08 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: Do You Agree With The Pope On Luther? ]]>
Poll: Do You Agree With The Pope On Luther?

... ]]>
Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ The fake cleanup of the IOR: no one touches the “dirty thirty” ]]>
The fake cleanup of the IOR: no one touches the “dirty thirty”

By Andrew Parrish

February 2nd, 2017

(Serena Sartini / Infovaticana) ROME – The Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR): a name synonymous with intrigues, cardinals’ power games, and shady business deals. From the era of Cardinal Marcinkus, the “banker of God”, to this day, the so-called “Vatican Bank” has been awash in scandal, financial and otherwise. To name only a few: the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, the ongoing Italian investigation into Benedict-era senior officials and the sentencing of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano for money laundering. With Pope Francis, have things changed? Have the long-awaited cleanup operation and transparency arrived? The auditing of accounts? Has the alignment with international accounting standards been completed?

The Errors of Francis

With the election of Francis, many expected a revolution in Vatican finances to arrive at last. But the real turning point for the IOR came in the final years of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. Some say, rightly, that the resignation of the Pope Emeritus was decided in part because so many things, too many perhaps, were not so clear and clean within the Institute, despite his efforts. And the revolution of Bergoglio has, in its turn, not arrived.

Things remained murky and turbulent, even after the new Pope transferred the Vatican finances dossier to the Australian Cardinal George Pell. This move would soon prove to be a misstep; Pell wanted to concentrate control of all Vatican finances in his own hands, supporting not only the so-called “Maltese lobby” but also the lobby of the Knights of Columbus, two powerful and wealthy financial entities.

Another move considered a mistake by most observers was to appoint the lawyer Rene Brulhart to the presidency of the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF), the Vatican’s corruption and laundering watchdog. The Swiss lawyer came to the position despite accusations of malfeasance by the Governing Council of the very organization he was nevertheless made president of. Replacing Brulhart as director was Tommaso Di Ruzza, son of the former governor of the Bank of Italy. Both were soon strongly criticized, with exorbitant salaries out of line with the austerity directives being promoted by Francis. Brulhart made 420,000 euro per year, and his subordinate Di Ruzza a figure around 240,000.

Luxury and Child Abuse

Within a year Bergoglio would reconsider his decision, and move to sharply scale back the power of Cardinal Pell. In July of 2016, he promulgated a Motu Proprio which closed the controversy over the management and administration of the Holy See’s property, establishing a clear separation of powers: the Secretary of Economy, and then Cd. Pell, would oversee but not directly manage the Vatican’s assets. There were many reasons for this halt to the original expansion of Cd. Pell’s powers: the child abuse charges which followed the Cardinal from Australia, though they have now been settled, cast a dim light on an organization desperately trying to shed scandal. More pertinently, muckraker Antonio Fittipaldi revealed dismaying details of Cardinal Pell’s financial habits in the “Avarice” volume of his “Vatileaks II” releases: abnormal business travel charges, 47,000 euro on furniture, 4,600 euro on a sink. These revelations were too much for Pope Francis.

The (Gentle) Cleanup by Auditors

One of the most critical details in the IOR cleanup project is the control of accounts. In the last five years, the Institute has closed 4,935 of them. At this time, there are still 14,801 accounts open. The policy sorting through these accounts was instituted by Benedict and continued by Francis: no anonymous accounts, no accounts made payable to fake names, no preferential treatment of the children and grandchildren of cardinals, strict records of transactions, strict procedures for suspicious transactions, and narrower provisions for the use of cash.

“But,” as Vatican sources have revealed to InfoVaticana, “there are thirty accounts that really matter – and until they are touched, there is no cleanup.” The sources have also mentioned “black money”, tax havens, and accounts linked to American intelligence agencies. Obviously Francis is not able to rearrange a complicated dossier when the “cleaners” themselves are the beneficiaries of vague bookkeeping.

The Real Turning Point Was Ratzinger

Many attribute the beginning of the cleanliness and transparency operation in the IOR to Francis. However, the real turning point was Joseph Ratzinger, thanks to the Dec. 30th, 2010 Motu Proprio which established the AIF and instituted the registration of suspicious transactions and customers in the IOR. This work is begun in April of 2011, but for the Secretary of State, headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, it went too fast: they risked losing control of the situation. The sacred rooms trembled, Bertone hit the brakes, the AIF did not work in the way he wanted. The clash between IOR leaders and Cd. Bertone culminated in May 2012 with the expulsion of the IOR’s president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. Afterwards, the AIF lost its independence, and was taken under the supervision of the State Secretariat, losing the autonomy which was the sole purpose of its creation. Benedict XVI announced his resignation on the 11th of February, 2013; four days later, the Commission of Cardinals of the IOR appointed the German banker Ernst von Freyburg (Ed. note – member of the Order of Malta’s German wing) as IOR president. A few months after taking office, the new pope entrusts the management of finances to Cardinal Pell. Before the natural expiration of his term, von Freyburg is shown the door, and replaced with Jean-Baptiste de Franssu. This was the first victory of the Australian cardinal; soon after, however, his descent begins.

There are so many questions that are still unanswered about this period. Why was Gotti Tedeschi driven out by Bertone? Was it perhaps because he had repeatedly stopped the Cardinal from investing in the San Raffaele hospital project (Ed. note - tied to Qatar, a major terrorist financier), or because Bertone wanted the OK of the IOR for other strange banking? Why was von Freyburg shown the door before the end of his term? But above all, why was the AIF – created to oversee the operations of the IOR and to clean up its accounts – put under the umbra of the Vatican Secretary of State?

Dark Spots

The Moneyval inspectors arrived for the first time in the Vatican in 2011, and underlined the “important steps achieved in a short time” by the hard work of the AIF. With regards to Bertone’s foot on the brake, the experts from the Council of Europe speak of “backtracking” – but say it very diplomatically, trying to keep open the collaboration with Vatican bank officials. The first official act of Moneyval is the July 4th, 2012 Assessment Report, consisting of forty recommendations on money laundering and nine on anti-terrorism made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Of the sixteen key recommendations, nine were positive and seven negative. Among the critical points were those related to international cooperation and an inadequate communications system; one point on the identification of customers, and the lack of procedures for reporting suspicious transactions; a note on the lack of adequate rules for the seizure of suspect goods and for cross-border transfers. These are important areas in the fight against money laundering and financial support of terrorism, still unexplored and unreformed.

This is still, therefore, the path that the Vatican Bank must take to align with international standards. It remains to be seen in 2018, when the Moneyval inspectors will be called upon to evaluate the concrete facts of the Vatican legal system’s efficiency, whether they will settle for the pure window dressing currently implemented by AIF president Brulhart and IOR president De Franssu.

A rough translation from the original Italian with the aid of Google Translate.

... ]]>
Thu, 02 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Immigration Poll: Who do you support, President Trump or the US Bishops? ]]>
Immigration Poll: Who do you support, President Trump or the US Bishops?

... ]]>
Tue, 31 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ On The Maltese Guidelines' Troubling Similarity to 1930 Lambeth Decision ]]>
On Maltese Guidelines' Troubling Similarity to Lambeth Decision

By Andrew Parrish


One thing about the Maltese bishops’ document on Amoris Laetitia that does not seem, as yet, to have been sufficiently emphasized by anyone is the similarity of its argument to that put forward in the infamous Lambeth Decision of 1930 on contraception. In fact, the two statements, in justifying themselves, use almost identical phrases:

               Our role is patiently to help them to form and enlighten their own conscience, in order that they themselves may be able to make an honest decision before God and act according to the greatest good possible (see AL 37).

               [If]… a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).

– From the Maltese Bishops’ Document, pages 3 and 7 respectively.

               The bishops answer: “Each couple” must reach their own decision, keeping in view “the spiritual ends for which marriage is ordained” and with “the most careful and conscientious thought, and, if perplexed in mind, after taking competent advice, both medical and spiritual.”

- From the Report of the Anglican Bishops on Lambeth, 1930. The Living Church vol. 117, p. 12.

 (with thanks to Dan Hitchens of The Catholic Herald; emphasis added)


The very fact that the same seemingly innocuous statements are used in Malta which led, in Lambeth, to what is now a total, irretrievable, unmitigated catastrophe, should in and of itself be cause for concern. Advising faithful Anglicans that their own consciences should serve as guides caused, in the span of a mere forty or fifty years, the total acceptance of sexual anything, the implosion of the Anglican succession with the distinction between “tainted” (having ordained women) and “non-tainted” bishops, ordination of homosexual clergy of both genders, near-complete desertion by the laity, and the now-famous unwillingness of Anglican clergy to make a definitive moral pronouncement on anything. Speaking merely empirically, “follow your conscience” is not an idea with a historical record of success.

But there are more arguments than the merely empirical. The great Anglican C.S. Lewis was well aware of the problems that contraception would cause. It was he who formulated, I think, the best answer as to why exactly an over-emphasis on individual conscience is supremely dangerous:

…No one could guess how familiar, and in a sense, how congenial to your soul these [evil] things were, how much of a piece with all the rest: down there, in the dreaming inner warmth, they struck no such discordant note, were not nearly so odd and detachable from the rest of you, as they seem when they are turned into words. – The Problem of Pain, p. 53.

For the great majority of people, “conscience” is easily confused with their own impulse or desire, especially when they are encouraged to look inward, not outward, in order to hear it. There is a certain specific way, as Lewis perfectly encapsulated, in which evil continually excuses itself; in which what we do, just because it is we who do it, doesn’t ever really seem as bad as it is. The continual warping tendency of our sinful, selfish nature confuses our conscience – the evil in our hearts actively fights to put us to sleep, to obscure our grasp of the truth.

When people only rely on their own “interior forum” for moral guidance, it is incredibly easy for them to talk themselves into believing that the right thing to do is what they really wanted to do anyway. This is, of course, even more pressingly true when people are in very painful situations where doing the right thing is hard and tragic – such as being in an illicit second marriage. How easy it will be, in the Communion line in the Malta cathedral, now that no external input is required, to sweat for a few minutes, look at the priest, and decide that one is feeling peace with God after all!

Fallen humans need reality checks to stay off the easy and otherwise inevitable road to Hell. This is what priests, and the whole Church, are for. In many cases, the only purpose and perceived effect of a “well-formed conscience” is to cling desperately to an external and absolute moral truth, against the raging desires of the individual. This is St. Thomas Aquinas’ “synderesis” conception of the conscience: not part of the person himself, but a window into heaven, into the sometimes difficult morality of God.

Such knowledge of one’s own propensity to evil requires self-awareness. This awareness is one of the first things experience teaches to anyone who makes a sincere and intelligent effort to be good. Given a presumption of good faith, it is surprising and sad that the Churchmen defending the “individualist” interpretation of Amoris Laetitia do not seem to know the fundamentals of the moral battle: that we like to sin with our own moral approval, that it is therefore easy for us to talk ourselves into sin, and that in hard cases the voice of conscience is not one of the little appealing voices of our heart but the voice of an external authority, commanding us to do our duty.




... ]]>
Mon, 30 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ A Dubia for Luther? ]]>
A Dubia for Luther?

By Andrew Parrish

Is A Dubia Needed for the Luther Question?

Of the two great public controversies presently rocking the Church, one is unquestionably the Amoris Laetitia scandal, and the other is arguably the ongoing effort to salvage Martin Luther. The consistent praise emanating from the Vatican, even in the face of scholars’ reminders about the historical truth, has confused many. It seems, rather than encouraging the ecumenical progress that is its alleged goal, to be furthering a type of indifferent syncretism instead.

As we have been recently reminded: Martin Luther was, among other things, a legendarily bad-tempered and foul-mouthed man, a man who could never admit that he was in the wrong, a violent anti-Semite, self-appointed Biblical editor, a public denier of the authority of the Catholic Church, a renegade priest who abandoned Holy Orders in order to marry, and a preacher whose most famous statement was “Sin boldly”. It is hard to see, even in charity, what sort of Gospel he could possibly be a witness to.

"Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly... No sin will separate us from the Christ, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day." (From Luther’s letter to Philip Melanchthon, August 1, 1521, LW Vol. 48, pp. 281-282)

Recently Pope Francis has stated that Luther was a “witness to the Gospel”. What, indeed, is a “witness to the gospel?” The Gospel is the revelatory disclosure of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and God Himself, a figure who by this position holds the ultimate moral authority and possesses the truth upon which the destiny of humanity is dependent. A witness to the Gospel is someone who testifies, by words and actions, to the truth of this revelation. The Catholic Church claims that part of this revelation of Christ, God, is the founding of that Catholic Church as the sole legitimate heir to the moral authority of the same God. How can someone who denies the authority given by the Gospel be a witness to that Gospel?

This is only the latest of many recent efforts to renovate Luther’s reputation. Consider the Jesuit retreat, starring Luther and Ignatius; Cd. Koch’s claim that Luther has already been “rehabilitated” by three popes; Pope Francis’ comments on the subject in Sweden; the infamous “chocolate Luther” at the Vatican; the Pontifical Council affirming Luther’s new exemplary status; and the decision by the Vatican Post Office to issue a commemorative Luther stamp. This recent treatment of Luther by the Church, culminating with the Pope’s recent statement, can be described as adulation, not excommunication.  

Any faithful Catholic viewing this rehabilitation of Luther, in the face of the still-standing ban, is left to wonder. In the absence of a clear explanation, Luther’s treatment is scandalous and confusing – just like that other scandalous and confusing matter taking up so much headline space lately. Perhaps a dubia statement needs to be submitted to the Pope on this matter as well. As a first question, we would offer the following:

How can an excommunicated heretic be a Witness to the Gospel?


... ]]>
Thu, 26 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ POTW _ Test 1 ]]>
POTW _ Test 1

... ]]>
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Cardinal Caffarra on Amoris Laetitia: "Only the blind can deny that there is great confusion in the Church" ]]>

Cardinal Caffarra on Amoris Laetitia:
"Only the blind can deny that
There is great confusion in the Church"

By Andrew Parrish

ROME (Matthew Matzuzzi / Il Foglio) – The archbishop emeritus of Bologna and one of the four cardinal signers of the "dubia" statement, Cardinal Caffara, commented today on the continuing Amoris Laetitia controversy in an interview with the Italian Il Foglio.

"A Church with little attention to doctrine is not a more pastoral Church, just a more ignorant Church," he declares, as part one of a two-pronged argument against the direction which seems to have been taken by the senior Vatican hierarchy. Despite his firm stance, the Cardinal is at particular pains to refute the idea that the four cardinals are deliberately acting to divide the Church.

"The division among pastors is the cause of the letter that we sent to Francis. Not its effect," he says. Not only a cardinal, but a noted moral theologian and a former colleague of Pope St. John Paul II, he declares that "there is for us cardinals the grave duty of advising the Pope in governing the Church. It is a duty and duties are obligations." In this Cd. Caffara upholds the explicit statement of the dubia document, and echoes the public position of both Cd. Burke and Cd. Brandmuller.

"Only the blind can deny that there is great confusion in the Church," he notes, explaining that "to put together a pastoral practice which is not founded and rooted in doctrine means to anchor pastoral practice on arbitrariness." With reference to this point, Caffara addresses arguments such as that of Cd. Christoph Schonborn, who claims that allowing access to Communion for the divorced and remarried is an example of "evolution of doctrine".

"There is no evolution, where there is no contradiction," he boldly asserts. The problem "is to see if the famous paragraphs 300-305 of Amoris Laetitia, and the famous footnote #351, are or are not in contradiction with the previous magisterium of the Popes who have faced the same issue. According to many bishops, it is in contradiction. According to many other bishops, it is not a contradiction but a development. And that’s why we asked for a response from the Pope."

The crux of the dispute is explained by the Cardinal as follows:

"Can the minister of the Eucharist (usually a priest) give the Eucharist to a person living as husband and wife with a woman or man who is not his wife or her husband, and who does not intend to live in continence? There are only two answers: Yes or No. No one calls into question that Familiaris Consortio, Sacramentum Caritatis, the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church respond to the above question: No. This No is valid while the faithful does not propose to abandon the status of cohabitation. Does Amoris Laetitia teach that, given certain specific circumstances and while undertaking a journey, the faithful may approach the Eucharist without commitment to continence? There are bishops who have the impression that this is so. As a simple matter of logic, then [the document] should also teach that adultery is not in and of itself evil. It is not relevant to plead ignorance or a mistake about the indissolubility of marriage, facts which are unfortunately widespread. These things have an interpretive value, not one of policy. They should be used as methods to discern the eligibility of actions already completed, but they cannot be the principle for actions which have yet to be taken. The priest has the duty to enlighten the ignorant and correct the errant."

The other fundamental point of the dubia presented to the Pope, which is the theoretical basis of the more immediate problem explained above by the Cardinal, concerns the question of the existence of intrinsically evil acts. This problem, the Cardinal holds, has beenclearly answered in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor.

"One of the fundamental teachings of the document," said the Cardinal, "is that there are acts which, for themselves and in themselves, regardless of the circumstances in which they are made and the proposed scope of the agent, can be classified as dishonest. He adds that denying this fact can lead to denying the logic of martyrdom (cf. Nn. 90-94). Not only would there be no reason to die for faith if the circumstances made apostasy blameless, but the underlying spirit, in which it is better to suffer anything than execute a particular act, is rendered senseless. This therefore raises the question, just as controversial in Amoris Laetitia, of conscience.

As the Cardinal demonstrates: "There is a passage of Amoris Laetitia, at No. 303, which is not clear; it seems – I repeat: it seems – to admit the possibility that there is a true judgment of conscience (not invincible from error; this has always been accepted by the Church) in contradiction with what the Church teaches with regards to the deposit of divine Revelation. It seems. And so we put the question to the Pope." Finally, Cardinal Caffara adds a sobering warning: "Do not ever say to someone: ‘Always follow your conscience’, without always and immediately adding: ‘Love and seek the truth about the good.’ They would put the weapon most destructive of his humanity into his hands."  

This is a rough translation of excerpts of the original article.

... ]]>
Sat, 14 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Is Pope Francis aware of the gravity of the dubia situation? ]]>
Is Pope Francis aware of the gravity of the dubia situation?

By Andrew Parrish

ROME ( – The painful tension of doubt grows stronger with each day that Pope Francis refuses to answer the questions posed by the “Four Cardinals” regarding His Holiness’ statement on marriage, Amoris Laetitia. The doubt itself has metastasized dramatically since the “dubia” letter’s release two months ago. As Church hierarchy continues to publicly declare allegiance with one or the other side, giving strength to the impression of a fractured Church, the unnecessary viciousness of Papal confidants’ rebukes to the Four, strange rumors of a Pope “boiling with rage,” a “police-state Vatican atmosphere,” and Francis apparently declaring he will “go down in history as the divider of the Church,” have all led to rapidly increasing fear and concern in this bizarre and twisting story. Most puzzling of all, to those desperately trying to preserve the benefit of the doubt, is the Pope’s continued silence. It is thus worth asking, with’s Giuseppe Nardi, whether Pope Francis really understands the gravity of the situation.

Undeterred by what appear to be punitive measures from the Vatican, Cardinal Burke has pressed forward with his public presentation of the case against the Pope. He has stated that he is acting only for the benefit of the Church, and indeed, the good of the Holy Father himself. To protect the Church and the Holy Father from the dangers of doctrinal error, now evident in (for example) the San Diego interpretation of AL, Burke and his colleagues will publish a formal act of correction of the Pope, as early as January 6, 2017, the feast of the Epiphany. Such a formal act will declare definitively that, if the Pope were to hold a heretical theological position on Eucharistic reception, he would be wrong to do so and that such can never be the teaching of the Church. Burke has recently reemphasized that the statement is not declaring the Pope to be a heretic, nor does Burke himself claim to believe that the Pope is a heretic.

Faced with this situation, the Vatican’s decidedly odd reaction has been sporadic sniping from “close confidants” of the Pope, through interviews, press conferences, and of all things, Twitter. With the exception of Greek Bishop Papamanolis‘ letter, which blasted the four Cardinals as “heretics”, the approach has been to ignore or downplay the severity of the dubia itself, the gravity of the theological problem, and the looming threat of correction.

Now, however, as Nardi notes, someone in the Papal circle is finally taking notice. Andrea Tornielli has written a piece for Vatican Insider in which he directly addresses Cd. Brandmüller’s “camera caritatis” remarks of this week. The article fails to maintain the official tone of dismissal, demonstrating the Vatican's full knowledge of the crisis. Nardi points out that the attack is twofold: first, Tornielli attempts to drive a wedge between Burke and the other cardinals, and second, he attempts to downplay the “punishment” itself. Neither attempt is sustained by the facts, of which both sides are now fully aware.

Tornielli claims that Brandmüller’s “private, fraternal correction” remarks somehow undermine Burke’s statements. But, Brandmüller notes, Burke has not contradicted this idea. Even if Burke "expressed his own opinion in complete independence," Brandmüller’s statements are as firm and uncompromising as Burke’s – indeed, more so. It was Cardinal Brandmüller who said seven days ago that “anyone who considers continued adultery and reception of Communion to be compatible is a heretic and pursues schism.” Stronger words could not be uttered. The wedge attack thus breaks apart – the four Cardinals stand together in their grasp of the problem's gravity.

Tornielli does not make much of an effort to pursue the other prong of his argument. By describing Cardinal Burke’s remarks on the correction as an “ultimatum,” he implicitly acknowledges the gravity of the ongoing impasse. According to what we now know of current Papal politics, this means that the Pope does as well. Tornielli attempts to argue that there is no justification by precedent for an act of fraternal correction; in the very statement he is critiquing, Cd. Burke mentions several, including arguably the primary example, Paul’s public correction of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. Thus the second half of the argument falls flat as well.

The weakness, indirectness, and irrelevance of the Vatican’s responses to the dubia statement have proven to all but the most charitable that Pope Francis knows what he is trying to do with Amoris Laetitia. Now, the Vatican’s response to the impending formal act of correction indicates that the Pope is fully aware of the blow to his plans that such an act would represent. Above all, his alleged statement that ‘he may divide the Church’ would demonstrate his awareness. In the absence of a positive statement from the Holy Father, divination of the true state of affairs in Rome can only proceed by such negative deductions.

The choice of this strange and unpleasant path has driven the Holy Father into a corner. By verbally abusing those who have opposed him, and permitting his aides and friends to conduct similar abuse, he has escalated the gravity of the crisis, removed any ‘middle-ground’ possibilities, and sharpened the conflict over the theological question. Further obscure hints in the last few weeks have indicated that Pope Francis has considered the possibility of stepping down, in order to escape the self-imposed trap; no official statement has come forth. It seems, therefore, that the confrontation in January has been made inevitable. It is a sad situation. May God help all parties in the dispute, and bring good out of the result.

Giuseppe Nardi’s original article (in German) can be read here.

... ]]>
Fri, 30 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: Is Christmas Still Under Attack? ]]>
Poll: Is Christmas Still Under Attack?

... ]]>
Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Archbishop of Santiago Ordains Gay Couple ]]>
Archbishop of Santiago ordains two homosexuals to priesthood, knowing they were a couple

By Andrew Parrish

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain – A new low for the Catholic Church in Spain has been reached with the ordination of a homosexual couple to the priesthood by Archbishop Julian Barrio of Santiago de Compostela. These men, part of an ordination class of six, are not only active homosexuals but are in a public relationship with each other. According to the original story by InfoVaticana, the parishioners of Santiago were presented with their ongoing relationship in some form of “coming out” ceremony. Their ordination has caused consternation among the faithful congregation and clergy at this major center of European Catholicism.

The setting of the Cathedral of Santiago for this travesty is the source of tremendous irony. Santiago is the destination of the Camino of St. James, a path walked by Catholic pilgrims from all over Europe for centuries in penance for their sins. It is a path for those who acknowledge their sinfulness before God, and strive to become more like Him through the discipline of their bodies. St. James himself, whose bones lie under the Cathedral, was the first Apostle to die for the faith, a man who refused to give up orthodoxy even to death. Now two men who are not qualified to receive Holy Orders, and are in open defiance of the authority they have claimed to submit to, have been enlisted into the Church’s service in this place of penance, obedience and sanctity.

The Archbishop cannot claim to have been unaware either of the status of the two or of the Church’s clear teaching on this question. Even Pope Francis, whose moderate tone on homosexuality is widely known, has just expressly approved the new Vatican document on seminary formation, which explicitly reiterates that homosexuals cannot be ordained as priests. Regarding the men themselves (whose identities are undisclosed), InfoVaticana further reports that one of the Archbishop’s vicars had visited the house in which the two men are cohabiting, only a few days before the ordination. This, and the fact that they had publicly declared their orientation and relationship to the local community, indicate that the Archbishop was well aware of what he presided over. The incident has not passed over quietly and is rumored to have already reached the ears of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, who may cause the early retirement of Archbishop Barrio from the Archdiocese of Compostela.

This is only the latest in a long series of LGBT-related incidents which have come out of Spain in the past few months. The Spanish public climate is currently dominated by the LGBT cause, with programs of indoctrination at school widely implemented and draconian hate speech laws recently established. In the face of this violent, militant movement, the Church in Spain has been repeatedly rocked by homosexual scandals even as it tries to put up some resistance. The bishop of Saragossa, Manuel Urena, was relieved of his post in 2014 for a scandal involving a deacon.

Barrio himself was involved in another 2014 scandal, a tabloid affair in which an electrician stole the priceless Book of St. James from the Cathedral and hid it at his house. At trial, the worker revealed the existence of a series of notebooks which contained anecdotes of widespread and institutionalized sexual abuse in the Archdiocese, recounted to him by local seminarians and priests. This stunning revelation, also documented by InfoVaticana, was entered into court evidence and subsequently dropped into obscurity. No further investigation appears to have taken place. At the time, InfoVaticana alleged that such incidents were part of the reason why the bishops of Spain had not taken any stance on the LGBT censorship law - still under consideration at the time - when it seemed clearly their duty to oppose it, not only from the standpoint of sexual morality but also from that of religious freedom.

What can justly be inferred from these incidents, and this latest in particular, is that the Spanish Church has a problem confronting homosexuality as required by the teachings of Catholicism. It remains to be seen what the consequences of ordaining both members of a homosexual couple to the priesthood will be – for the Archbishop, for the complicit clergy in the diocese, for the new priests themselves, and for the innocent Catholics among whom these two have been set loose. 

... ]]>
Wed, 14 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ No Church or Priest Necessary for France's Civil Baptisms ]]>
No Church or Priest Necessary for France's Civil Baptisms

By Andrew Parrish

Dec. 12, 2016

(C. Doody / BBC) – No church, priest, Bible, or water, presided over only by “Marianne,” the female symbol of the French Republic: this is the way civil baptisms are performed in France, in a rite which dates back more than 200 years and traces its origin to the humanistic Revolution. Its practice is now on the rise, seen as a way to affirm the humanist values of the French Republic at a time when they are perceived to be under threat.

Rachid and Emmanuelle Bensaci are two parents who decided to baptize their daughter, Tessa, in the Republican rite. The solemn ceremony took place on the 9th of October, in the town hall of Cormot-le-Grand, near Dijon in Central France. The mayor, Marc Denizot, wearing the tricolor band of the French Republic, presided over the ceremony. Tessa was baptized and sponsored by Julie and Valerie, the godmothers and friends of the parents. This symbolized the reception of the one-month-old into the republican community of France. The civil baptism or sponsorship is on the rise in many of the mayorships of the country.

“For us, civil or republican baptism corresponds to our convictions and commitments as French citizens and citizens of the world,” Rachid told BBC World. “We believe in the universal values of the French Republic in relation to religion; I and my wife are personally agnostic. Baptism fits our humanistic and republican values. . . It’s very official, but has no legal character. It is for love, brotherhood and friendship that we entrust our child to our friends,” he said.

His wife Emmanuelle added, “For me it is a way to have the advantages of religious patronage, that is, that a child should be the protégé of people other than his parents, but in a secular way. It is important that our child should have protectors who are not her parents.”
The rite with which such lay baptisms are celebrated does not have an obligatory norm. In most cases, the mayor officiates, and in most cases it is attended by relatives and close friends of the child’s parents. So it was for Tessa Bensaci.

“You can call it a kind of party,” says Rachid. “The mayor prepares a room where - as, for example, in weddings – you must have the image of Marianne, the symbol of the republic. They deliver some documents to sign, even if they have no legal value.”

“The mayor explained why we were there and then gave the floor to the godfathers or godmothers, who give a speech with much love and friendship, profound sentiments about how they will accompany our son: it is a moral commitment. Then, the mayor says a few words and at the end, with the consent of the parents, he declares the godparents and they sign the documents,” he added.

The origin of this rite – whose formula has been evolving – must be sought in the aftermath of the French Revolution of the late 18th century. According to the most widespread version of the story, the National Assembly, headed by Robespierre, adopted a law instituting the practice of civil patronage on June 8th, 1794. By the same account, it was Robespierre himself who celebrated the first baptisms of this type in Paris.

“There has not always been the same story about this baptism. The terminology and the story of its origin vary . . . and, as far as I know, it does not exist in other countries,” says the ethnologist Rachel Guidoni, who notes the almost mythical character of the origin story of civil baptism.

“The original significance is that, after the French Revolution, they wanted to reintroduce rites, especially rites of initiation, but without the religious content they had had previously. They wanted to create secular, republican rites – and with reference to rites of initiation, in the Catholic tradition, that is baptism,” she adds in conversation with BBC World.

In addition to this character as “rite of passage”, the civil baptism is also used as a tool by groups which support undocumented migrants, to make the living conditions of such people visible.

“It is a way of pressuring the prefect into regularizing the situation of the person being sponsored,” suggests Emmanuelle. “Papers are not automatically granted, but [sponsorship] can have an impact when their dossier is reviewed, though it does not always happen,” Rachid adds.

More than 200 years after French revolutionary fervor has faded, and virtually forgotten for decades, the civil baptism is gaining adherents once more. At the moment, a draft law is under consideration that will introduce formalization of the civil rite. There is no official count of how many republican baptisms are performed annually in France, but a recent article published by the newspaper Le Monde provides some clues. In Lyons, 181 ceremonies were held in 2015. In Nantes, there were 135, an increase of 15% from 2014. In Paris, where 13 of 20 district councils offer this service, there were 325 civil baptisms.

For Rachid, republican baptism is an act vindicating equality in the fact of the identity conflicts which, in his view, are alive in France.

“For us this is a possible response to cultural, religious or other discrimination. In my case, I am of Maghreb origin, of the Arab culture, a Muslim and a Berber. My wife is from a Christian culture. We have decided that our son should have the lay values of the republic, and that is a complete response to the current problem,” he said. “The republican baptism was born in the French Revolution to confirm that, beyond the Church, and within the framework of the separation of Church and State, the republic can have moral values; that morality is not the unique heritage of religion.”

Translated from the original Spanish with the aid of Google Translate. 

... ]]>
Tue, 13 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ No Church or Priest Necessary for France's Civil Baptisms ]]>
No Church or Priest Necessary for France's Civil Baptisms

By Andrew Parrish

Dec. 12, 2016

(C. Doody / BBC) – No church, priest, Bible, or water, presided over only by “Marianne,” the female symbol of the French Republic: this is the way civil baptisms are performed in France, in a rite which dates back more than 200 years and traces its origin to the humanistic Revolution. Its practice is now on the rise, seen as a way to affirm the humanist values of the French Republic at a time when they are perceived to be under threat.

Rachid and Emmanuelle Bensaci are two parents who decided to baptize their daughter, Tessa, in the Republican rite. The solemn ceremony took place on the 9th of October, in the town hall of Cormot-le-Grand, near Dijon in Central France. The mayor, Marc Denizot, wearing the tricolor band of the French Republic, presided over the ceremony. Tessa was baptized and sponsored by Julie and Valerie, the godmothers and friends of the parents. This symbolized the reception of the one-month-old into the republican community of France. The civil baptism or sponsorship is on the rise in many of the mayorships of the country.

“For us, civil or republican baptism corresponds to our convictions and commitments as French citizens and citizens of the world,” Rachid told BBC World. “We believe in the universal values of the French Republic in relation to religion; I and my wife are personally agnostic. Baptism fits our humanistic and republican values. . . It’s very official, but has no legal character. It is for love, brotherhood and friendship that we entrust our child to our friends,” he said.

His wife Emmanuelle added, “For me it is a way to have the advantages of religious patronage, that is, that a child should be the protégé of people other than his parents, but in a secular way. It is important that our child should have protectors who are not her parents.”
The rite with which such lay baptisms are celebrated does not have an obligatory norm. In most cases, the mayor officiates, and in most cases it is attended by relatives and close friends of the child’s parents. So it was for Tessa Bensaci.

“You can call it a kind of party,” says Rachid. “The mayor prepares a room where - as, for example, in weddings – you must have the image of Marianne, the symbol of the republic. They deliver some documents to sign, even if they have no legal value.”

“The mayor explained why we were there and then gave the floor to the godfathers or godmothers, who give a speech with much love and friendship, profound sentiments about how they will accompany our son: it is a moral commitment. Then, the mayor says a few words and at the end, with the consent of the parents, he declares the godparents and they sign the documents,” he added.

The origin of this rite – whose formula has been evolving – must be sought in the aftermath of the French Revolution of the late 18th century. According to the most widespread version of the story, the National Assembly, headed by Robespierre, adopted a law instituting the practice of civil patronage on June 8th, 1794. By the same account, it was Robespierre himself who celebrated the first baptisms of this type in Paris.

“There has not always been the same story about this baptism. The terminology and the story of its origin vary . . . and, as far as I know, it does not exist in other countries,” says the ethnologist Rachel Guidoni, who notes the almost mythical character of the origin story of civil baptism.

“The original significance is that, after the French Revolution, they wanted to reintroduce rites, especially rites of initiation, but without the religious content they had had previously. They wanted to create secular, republican rites – and with reference to rites of initiation, in the Catholic tradition, that is baptism,” she adds in conversation with BBC World.
In addition to this character as “rite of passage”, the civil baptism is also used as a tool by groups which support undocumented migrants, to make the living conditions of such people visible.

“It is a way of pressuring the prefect into regularizing the situation of the person being sponsored,” suggests Emmanuelle. “Papers are not automatically granted, but [sponsorship] can have an impact when their dossier is reviewed, though it does not always happen,” Rachid adds.

More than 200 years after French revolutionary fervor has faded, and virtually forgotten for decades, the civil baptism is gaining adherents once more. At the moment, a draft law is under consideration that will introduce formalization of the civil rite. There is no official count of how many republican baptisms are performed annually in France, but a recent article published by the newspaper Le Monde provides some clues. In Lyons, 181 ceremonies were held in 2015. In Nantes, there were 135, an increase of 15% from 2014. In Paris, where 13 of 20 district councils offer this service, there were 325 civil baptisms.

For Rachid, republican baptism is an act vindicating equality in the fact of the identity conflicts which, in his view, are alive in France.

“For us this is a possible response to cultural, religious or other discrimination. In my case, I am of Maghreb origin, of the Arab culture, a Muslim and a Berber. My wife is from a Christian culture. We have decided that our son should have the lay values of the republic, and that is a complete response to the current problem,” he said. “The republican baptism was born in the French Revolution to confirm that, beyond the Church, and within the framework of the separation of Church and State, the republic can have moral values; that morality is not the unique heritage of religion.”

... ]]>
Tue, 13 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: What is your opinion of President Elect Trump's cabinet picks to date? ]]>
Poll: What is your opinion of President Elect Trump's cabinet picks to date?

... ]]>
Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Meeting held in Rome to discuss Amoris Laetitia: Schneider, Burke, Brandmüller in attendance ]]>
Meeting held in Rome to discuss Amoris Laetitia: Schneider, Burke, Brandmüller in attendance

By Andrew Parrish

December 12, 2016

ROME (Jeanne Smits) – As the heart of Rome vibrated on Monday evening, prelates and scholars gathered in a room at the foot of the Basilica of Saint Balbine, a few steps from the Baths of Caracalla. Convened at the invitation of the Lepanto Institute, the private meeting centered around Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who has made headlines recently with his outspoken support of the “dubia” published in hopes of clarifying the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Two of the Cardinals who authored that statement were present: Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Brandmüller; and the theme of the meeting was precisely that question. It is a theme which has agitated the Church, in which the supreme authority on earth, the Vicar of Christ, has refused to make clear crucial points concerning the morality of marriage, access to the Eucharist, sin and intrinsically evil acts, and the existence of an immutable truth.

The meeting was by invitation only, given the crowd that was expected - and the crowd that was actually present - but it was not clandestine. In the Catholic Church, there is no place for conspiracies; everything is said openly, in “transparency” and loyalty, as Professor Roberto de Mattei, host of the gathering, rightly reminded us. Journalists were invited to attend and “cover” the event: in particular Sandro Magister, who brought the four cardinals’ letter to the pope to the world’s attention.

Monsignor Schneider’s keynote address, on fidelity to the tradition of the Church and its moral teaching, was important in many ways. We will return to it in due course, but what we must say at the outset is that the event on Monday was precisely that – an event. What is newsworthy is the existence of a meeting that attracted cardinals, bishops, priests, seminarians, religious in large numbers, and lay people alike, all anxious to defend the immutable truth of Christ, specifically His words on marriage.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, these prelates, these princes of the Church, who do not feel permitted to withdraw from the perils of exposing Amoris Laetitia’s ambiguities, held the places of honor. Let us clearly state: It is impossible to deny that these ambiguities are dangerous, as evidenced by several bishops’ and conferences’ interpretations openly considering access to Communion for the divorced and remarried, while their original matrimonial bond is valid, not declared null, and without requiring that they live in continence.

Many priests were present: priests in cassocks, the old and the young – especially the young! Sixty or eighty priests, coming as neighbors or from afar, anxious above all to find authorities expressing the Catholic truth, but also the assurance of not being alone. Times are “tumultuous”, as Cardinal Burke said in his remarks following Archbp. Schneider’s lecture; It is a time when it is good to find oneself in a community, fortified and encouraged by the perseverance and strength of one’s fellow men. This was the state of mind, for example, of Bishop Andreas Laun of Salzburg, whom the French know well from his participation in the Parisian Marches for Life.

I saw Dutch priests coming from far away in every sense of the word: from a country in religious agony, where fidelity to the Magisterium is rare and two churches close every week. “How many opened mosques?” I asked. “Two a week.” There was a deliberate displacement. Just like that priest from Ireland.

How do we leave such an event? Moved, grateful, fortified. In any case, this was how I lived it: with the certainty that our Lord, beyond the vicissitudes, supports and preserves His spouse, the Church, despite all her tribulations. The vibrant Credo, sung by the audience to close the meeting, summarized this in a more than symbolic way.

Translated from the original French with the aid of Google Translate.

... ]]>
Wed, 07 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Advent: Week II - Fr. George Rutler ]]> Advent: Week II

By Fr. George Rutler


   It was a privilege years ago to know the English theologian Alec Vidler, a colorful and even eccentric character whose long beard amused the Queen when he was her chaplain and whose religious views irritated many. He was a good friend of C.S. Lewis and, especially, Malcolm Muggeridge who agreed to disagree with him. Although his interpretation of some of the Scriptures could be vague, he was impatient with superficial religiosity. After a lecture tour in the United States, his impression of churches there was that most preaching boiled down to friendly clergymen saying, “Might I suggest that you try to be good.”

   In this he echoed the Reformed Church theologian Helmut Richard Niebuhr, whose understanding of doctrine was loose, but who disdained the superficiality of those who reduced the Gospel to a set of guidelines for social progress.  He summed up that sort of vacuous theology in his 1937 book, The Kingdom of God in America: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

   That is not the Christ that Michelangelo painted in the Sistine Chapel after the trauma of the Sack of Rome. Christ the Judge is shown in the Second Coming separating the saved from the damned. Mercy and Judgment are in his hands, one raised and one lowered, rather like the civil icon of Daniel Chester French’s statue of Lincoln with one hand in calm repose and the other clenched.

   A Kingdom without Judgment is a madhouse, for the inability to make right judgments is the very definition of insanity. Christ loves his brethren too much to pretend that there is neither right nor wrong. As Advent prepares for the celebration of Christ’s birth into time and space, it preaches about Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. One is free to ignore those “Last Things,” but that would be to share the perpetual adolescence of people who erase Advent from their minds as they put up Christmas trees and try to celebrate weeks ahead of the solemn declaration of the Incarnation.

   The Second Sunday of Advent is about Christ as Judge of the World. He is the surest cure for moral madness. “He is before all things, and by him all things are held together” (Colossians 1:17). By way of corollary, without him all things fall apart: civilizations as well as souls. Societies then do crazy things, just as souls misuse the intellect to lie and the free will to choose evil.

   To be a saint means in fact to be sane. And to be sane is to be able to pray as we do in Advent: “Give us the grace, Lord, to be ever on the watch for Christ your Son. When he comes and knocks at our door, let him find us alert in prayer, joyfully proclaiming his glory.”

... ]]>
Mon, 05 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
<![CDATA[ Poll: Should Pope Francis respond to the Dubia submitted by the four cardinals? ]]>

Poll: Should Pope Francis Respond to the
'Dubia' submitted by the four cardinals?


... ]]>
Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT