Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Chinese Situation

I'm not really sure how the canon law situation got to be such a big deal. I've seen several articles focusing on that issue. Regardless, it sounds pretty settled now.

The Vatican is reiterating that Canon Law stipulates excommunication for bishops ordained without papal approval, but is also calling the whole Church to value the fidelity of those bishops who resist participation in these ordinations.

A Vatican statement Saturday responded to last Thursday's episcopal ordination of Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang in the Diocese of Shantou, China.

It stated that the priest incurred the sanction of Canon 1382, latae sententiae excommunication.

"Consequently, the Holy See does not recognize him as bishop of the Diocese of Shantou, and he lacks authority to govern the Catholic community of the diocese," the Vatican declared.

The statement added that the priest "had been informed some time ago that he could not be approved by the Holy See as an episcopal candidate, inasmuch as the Diocese of Shantou already has a legitimate bishop; Reverend Huang had been asked on numerous occasions not to accept episcopal ordination."

Hopefully, this man will repent. Who knows? He might have been threatened with martyrdom or the murder of his family if he didn't go through with this.

First Ireland, Now Australia

This story came from The Courier Mail via Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

The federal government is being urged to follow the lead of Ireland and force priests to report confessions of child abuse to the authorities.

Ireland has announced it will change the law so that Catholic clerics will be prosecuted if they don't report crimes disclosed during confession.

It follows outrage there over the long-running cover-up of child sex abuse cases within the Church.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said Australia should legislate accordingly, and argued it was unacceptable for priests to hide behind religious practice.

"There is no contest when it comes to protecting the innocence of a child or maintaining a religious practice," he told reporters in Canberra today.

While we talked about this before, I admit that I didn't expect to see it spread this fast. Note again that there is no suggestion as to how they are going to manage the respective legal burdens in these cases. The only way to make it work is simply to take the word of the penitent in question. Which basically leaves the priests open to accusations from anyone with no real evidence required. Neat how that works out.

Unlike Ireland, this new effort seems specifically focused on the Church, with no other professions/vocations included.

On a side note, Mr. Xenophon (ironic name, yes?) even presented himself as a theologian:

"Why should someone be absolved of their sins ... when it comes to child abuse because they've got a pat on the back from their priest?"

I guess he probably wouldn't find "because God is merciful" a satisfactory answer. I wonder what his own answer is for how someone is absolved of a sin. Or what his definition of "sin" is in the first place. Or if he realizes that he'd fit in well as a flunky of the Anti-Christ.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Archbishop Chaput To Philadelphia?

Rocco Palma thinks so. It makes sense. The mess in Philadelphia isn't going to clean up itself. Probably comes with a red hat, too, which is great. I'll take +Chaput's vote in a conclave any day. This is a pretty big move for Denver, too. Hopefully, the follow-up guy there will be cast in the same mold.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dr. Warren Carroll Has Died

Just got the story from Boniface at Unum Sanctam.

He was an extraordinary man. I would consider it an honor if I could send any of my kids to Christendom College, which he founded. His works of history have been a wonderful asset in my education and instrumental in helping people all over the world better understand the Church's role in the world's destiny.

God bless him and his family.

From Satanist To Sainthood

We have expressed our admiration of Blessed Bartolo Longo in the past. If there's a chance to plug this wonderful example of God's mercy, we take it. Hence this article in the Catholic Herald getting a place here. Please read it. In a nutshell, he was a high priest of Satan. He converted to the Faith and was a huge promoter of the Rosary and devotion to Our Lady. Blessed Bartolo is a wonderful friend to have.

Blessed Bartolo, pray for us.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

To Quell The Terror

On this day 217 years ago, sixteen Carmelite nuns were martyred by the French Revolutionaries. I highly recommend the book To Quell The Terror by William Bush.

Thanks to campuszoo and wetbird over at NDNation, I was introduced to Poulenc's opera on the subject, and the powerful finale depicting the nuns' sacrifice.

On a side note, as you reflect on this, keep in mind the modern sentiment that politics is poisoned by religion. The Revolution showed us exactly what a government based on Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, but bereft of God, would look like.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Speaking Of Schisms, Pt. 2

Rorate has posted a story with the above picture about the Secretary of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference welcoming the delegation of the Chinese Administration for Religious Affairs. How little shame is involved in being able to smile and shake hands with the people who arrest, torture, and murder your fellow bishops? Please note that these people were invited to Brazil by Protestants, so it's not like the bishop even had to acknowledge their presence, much less give them a photo op.

Speaking Of Schisms

Please keep praying for the Church in China. Support the Cardinal Kung Foundation. Your brethren are being persecuted. Rocco Palma has a good account of the recent developments. Things are not good there. Given recent tensions, let hope that things stay domestically stable there. I'm very much afraid that any kind of unrest will create the need for a scapegoat. Our brothers and sisters would be very convenient.

Think Nero after the fire.

Our Lady of She-Shan, watch over them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Schism Is In The Air

Everywhere I look around.

Eponymous Flower broke the story not long ago about a parish in Freiburg that had decided to go its own way, choosing instead to be an "ecumenical parish" that is "formerly Catholic."

As if that wasn't bad enough, Fr. Z tells the tale of a group of 300 Austrian priests to initiate a "Call to Disobedience." That's 7% of the priests in the whole country.

Priests who support the document pledge

to pray for Church reform at every liturgy, since “in the presence of God there is freedom of speech”

not to deny the Holy Eucharist to “believers of good will,” including non-Catholic Christians and those who have remarried outside the Church

to avoid offering Mass more than once on Sundays and holy days and to avoid making use of visiting priests--instead holding a “self-designed” Liturgy of the Word

to describe such a Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion as a “priestless Eucharistic celebration”; “thus we fulfill the Sunday obligation in a time of priest shortage”

to “ignore” canonical norms that restrict the preaching of the homily to clergy

to oppose parish mergers, insisting instead that each parish have its own individual leader, “whether man or woman”

to “use every opportunity to speak out openly in favor of the admission of the married and of women to the priesthood”

While this is tragic and horrible, perhaps there is some good that can come out of it. Since the hierarchy hasn't taken any action to affirm that heretics and schismatics are not part of the Church, the heretics/schismatics are doing it for us. Consider Cardinal Schonborn's response to the latter incident:

“The open call to disobedience shocked me,” Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said in a July 7 letter, noting that many professionals would have “long since lost their jobs” if they had called for disobedience.

Yeah, we know that. So why hasn't it happened yet?

Child Protection Policies

I just wanted to reproduce this item from Bishop Taylor of Little Rock. In brief, the diocese got a report that a guy was threatening a priest because he thought the priest had molested his child. From the looks of things, the accused priest is innocent. Yes, world, sometimes the priest is innocent.

However, there are multiple complications since now the child is missing and the parent doing the threatening can't be found even though they are apparently still coming after the priest. Now, the priest has been sent away for his protection, and nobody knows if the child is safe or not.

Two things here. First, the accused priest is public knowledge. This is bad because it will taint him in some people's eyes forever. I've been involved in investigating allegations like this. No matter how much evidence exonerates the accused, the claim never really goes away. Second, no policies are perfect. When people start clamoring about a failure of policy to keep something from happening or make reporting easier, they need to recall that every policy will fail at some point. Just because a policy fails doesn't make it a bad one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Priests And Bishops Going To Jail

The Chinese continue their persecution of the Church. First, as everyone is aware, they continue to consecrate bishops for their schismatic national church. Second, those bishops who are loyal to the True Church are kidnapped.

Four bishops loyal to the Vatican have been "taken away" by Chinese police in recent days to take part in a state-sanctioned ordination, the Catholic news agency AsiaNews said on Monday.

"Nobody knows where the four pastors are being held," the report said, adding that local sources had told AsiaNews that one of the bishops "was sobbing last night as he was dragged away by government representatives."

I wonder if anyone at Notre Dame has noticed this. They recently stopped using Chinese-made products in the Book Store there because of the Chinese government's stance against workers' unions. Apparently, compulsory abortions and the arrest/torture/murder of fellow Catholics wasn't important enough to merit such action. But I digress...

Up next on the block are priests in Ireland. That's right. Ireland.

Priests will not be excused for withholding information about alleged child abuse even if it is given to them during the holy sacrament of confession, Justice Minster Alan Shatter has said.

In an unprecedented display of tough action against the Catholic Church in Ireland, new laws are to be brought in by autumn which could see clerics and others imprisoned for up to five years if they do not volunteer information about suspected paedophilia.

Note the language (which admittedly may or may not be accurate). This is an affirmative duty to report suspected behavior. In other words, a priest can be prosecuted for not coming forward about something that is not even actually true, but merely alleged or possible. And, of course, who is to say that the priest knew anything? Since the information is passed on the privacy of the confessional anyway, the only persons having knowledge of the communication will be the priest and the penitent. What evidence will be allowed to show the priest's "guilt"?

To be fair, the article says they are going after doctors for this as well. I guess that makes it ok, then.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


After many years of delay, I'm finally reading Curtain by Agatha Christie. Being a huge Hercule Poirot fan, I was never comfortable picking up the last of his adventures. I'm finding it a tad different from the others.

What is most intriguing is that Dame Agatha apparently wrote the book in the 40s. She wasn't old or in poor health that I can tell. However, euthanasia is a lot of the plot's context. As you may know, Poirot is in wretched health for this case. While he's not directly addressed as a case for extermination, that whole evil, mythical standard of "quality of life" rears its filthy head on a regular basis.

Of course, Dame Agatha was a devout Catholic. If you don't know the story of her support for the Traditional Mass, take a look here.

The most striking comments thus far:

To begin with, I don't hold life as sacred as all you people do. Unfit lives, useless lives- they should be got out of the way. There's so much mess about. Only people who make a decent contribution to the community ought to be allowed to live. The others ought to be put painlessly away.

There's a whole chapter that centers around this argument. I don't guess I really have a point here. It's just another example that there's nothing new under the sun. The roots of the eugenics movement are deep, and we've been dealing with them for a long time. Interesting, though, to see it being played out against the backdrop of an Hercule Poirot murder mystery from 70 years ago.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 7

When we last left the Constitution on the Liturgy (which, yes, was a while back), we had just gotten to the bit about how Latin was to be preserved as the language of the liturgy. I wanted to carve out some discussion about this because the context seems very important to understanding what was going on and what more than a few bishops might have been thinking in going along with it. We know, for example, that the wholesale replacement of Latin by the vernacular was regarded as a joke. Literally. So what was the discussion about?

Mostly, it seems to have been focused on the mission fields. For example, as Fr. Wiltgen relates in The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber:

Archbishop D'Souza [of Nagpur, India] . . . added: "The use of the vernacular in the administration of the sacraments is a must, for the simple reason that the beautiful rites are completely lost on our people if they are in Latin." If local languages and customs were not introduced into the liturgy, the Church would "never make the impact it should on our country. . . "

This is all very interesting coming from a Indian bishop. First off, I'm not sure how significant the whole Latin issue would be for someone in his situation. Aren't most Catholics in India of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara persuasion? I'm having trouble finding information on this, but all indications are that the Indian liturgies wouldn't have been in Latin anyway. Second, it's kind of weird to hear these kinds of comments given that one of the primary proponents of the TLM is Cardinal Ranjith of Sri Lanka. Third, I have to wonder how legitimate these concerns are. The major evangelical global evangelical pushes were from the Latin Church. This would mean the TLM as the primary liturgical expression. Was the culture of the indigenous folks in South America really so different from Southeast Asia that entirely new liturgical practices were necessary? To my knowledge, the vernacular wasn't introduced to make it any easier. Saying that one group of people is just way too unique to be open to something carries an air of hubris.

There's no doubt, though, that the mission fields were heavily promoted in the conciliar debates about the liturgical reform. Was there perhaps a ulterior motive for eliminating Latin? Fr. Wiltgen, somewhat approvingly, seemed to think so:

As long as Latin texts and Latin rites were universally used in the Church, the Roman Curia would be competent to check and control them. But if hundreds and even thousands of local languages and customs were introduced into the liturgy, the Curia would automatically lose this prerogative. Episcopal conferences with knowledge of the local languages and understanding of local custom would then become the more competent judges in the matter. And this was precisely what the evolving majority was insisting upon.

We've been over the Curia-hate as a major force behind the conciliar reforms already. This looks to have been another manifestation somewhat clothed in the trappings of concerns for potential converts. However, we can't chalk the whole movement up to such motives. There were clearly some legit concerns over this, expressed by parties as conservative as Bishop Antonio Castro de Mayer who Fr. Wiltgen reports as being willing to permit a limited use of the vernacular in "certain cultural areas."

Let's be clear here that I'm discussing this because of the overall collapse of Latin in the liturgy. Whether or not local customs or rituals can be incorporated into the liturgy strikes me as a completely different topic. This has been done successfully in the past and without major incident (the Chinese Rites stuff being a notable exception). For the areas already accustomed to the Latin Rite, why was any accommodation needed? I'm not really finding any explanation for that, other than some comments by Bishop Zauner of Linz, Austria, who was a figure in the Rhine alliance of bishops.

He emphasized that the vernacular was a necessary condition for the active participation of the people. If that was the case, then why does the Council say otherwise both directly (in preserving Latin) and indirectly (by emphasizing the contemplative aspects of participation)? As we've been focusing on, how much stock can we put into the exaltation of participation in the Pauline Mass when the whole liturgy of the Church has been put in permanent workshop mode after its implementation?

The other thing I wanted to point out in all this is the popular "knowledge" of the Council's stand on language. MacAffee Brown, Blanshard, and MacEoin take it for granted that all liturgy will be in the vernacular after the Council. Why would they do this given the actual text of the Constitution and the positioning of Latin as primary and vernacular as an exception to the rule? Their own works don't explain. It's just how they reported on it, which is more proof that you can't trust secular sources for honest news about Catholic events.

Hopefully, my recovery will give me the chance to get back on track with my review of the Council. I know I'm not the kind of guy Msgr. Gherardini had in mind for conducting this kind of study, but I know some of you ask about it and enjoy, so I'm working on getting back into it again.

More to come...

Book Review: Interview With An Exorcist

This was a book that garnered some notice around the time that The Rite was getting big. It's written by Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea, who is introduced as an experienced exorcist from Spain and the author of several works on the subject.

I've been through a few books on the subject of exorcism, and they all tend to follow the pattern of starting with the author's experiences and then building in Church teaching based on those experiences. Interview With an Exorcist stands out by barely touching on experiences. It's almost a catechism of sorts, written in standard Q&A format. It's very short and stays away from dense language and concepts. For this reason, it's probably going to the top of my list to give to non-Catholics and unbelievers who perhaps have a more sensational interest in the subject.

This isn't to say that there aren't problems. I'm not an exorcist, but some of the stuff Fr. Fortea says seemed wrong. For example, he indicates that God's presence extends even to hell. While I've heard this sort of thing before, primarily from Eastern brethren, he presents it as fact, rather than speculative. He also claims that God still loves Satan and the demons, which doesn't seem to jive. Does God will any good for the demonic? He allows them to exist, so that's one thing, but the book seems to suggest that it's more than that.

There are a couple of other items, but I think they are minor points overall. The real bottom line is that exorcism is one of those things that Catholics get a lot of questions about, even if it's just because of a movie or TV show. Handing somebody a copy of Hostage to the Devil or An Exorcist Tells His Story right off the bat probably isn't a good idea. Even The Rite, which is a much more ideal introduction, might be tainted by the abominable movie. What you get in Interview With an Exorcist are basic and fundamental concepts, with all the fluff taken away. You give this to someone, then work them up to the other books.

Let me reiterate that I think all these books are valuable and should be read by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Milk before meat, though. Interview With an Exorcist is as close to milk as you're going to get with exorcisms

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pardon Any Mistakes

I'm writing a lot of this stuff in the midst of recovery. Needless to say, there will no doubt be an increase in errors. Please excuse my addled brain's sloppiness.

Priorities: Man Or Message?

I'm submitting this as part of the Fr. Corapi saga, again with the intent of making a point without discussing the issue directly. Others can talk about it better than I anyway. My only comment remains that we should pray for all parties involved, as well as for the priests, bishops, and religious all over the world.

As for my attempt at a point:

One of the things that is supposed to set Catholicism apart from false religions is that it is insulated from the moral short-comings of its leaders. We all know, for example, that there have been bad popes. Rather than being a weakness, we instead can look upon it as a sign of the Church's divine constitution. If the Church were a purely human construct, having so many incompetent and immoral leaders would have destroyed Her a long time ago. Based on The Master's promise in Matthew 16:18, we know that the message of the Gospel and the proclamation of the One Faith (Ephesians 4) is not subordinate to the whims of men. Quite the opposite, actually. The leaders safeguard and protect the Faith and are therefore subservient to it.

It is a very sad thing when Catholics (or anyone else, I suppose) forgets this. The fact that I really like a person isn't determinative on whether or not their words are true or their actions appropriate. A refusal to acknowledge this is especially dangerous in spiritual matters. We cannot allow a personality, no matter how strong or charismatic to blind us to the realities of their actions. Sometimes, this can be easy. Nobody is going to write any kind of glowing memoir of Benedict IX. Other times, it's more difficult. Consider Tertullian.

Tertullian is one of my favorite Church Fathers. He's a decent enough theologian, but his apologetic works are phenomenal. If you haven't read his Prescription Against Heretics, you are seriously missing out. He was one of the greatest defenders of the Faith for his time and faced down any and all threats that came around.

But he lost his way. Tertullian was seduced by the "new revelations" of the Montanist sect. He wrote works defending these teachings and was therefore likely to have led others astray as well. People would have followed him just because he was Tertullian and had always been trustworthy in matters of faith and had given Montanus & Co. his stamp of approval. In other words, he put people's souls in danger and might have contributed to someone's damnation, for no other reason than his pride got away with him.

I've heard some say that he reconciled with the Church before he died. I very much hope that is the case. It doesn't change the big issue. Affection for a person cannot be an excuse for submitting to sin of any kind. This might come up with public figures like Tertullian was. It could be the case with a parish priest accused of some crime. The response to such things should be to embrace the reality that the Church remains a hospital for sinners, rather than a hotel for saints. It will be so until the End of Days. Pray for these people. Understand their weakness and that it is the further weakness of pride that draws them away from Holy Mother Church or that inspires them to conflict instead of submission.

The Gospel is the Truth. It is the priority. It's messengers come and go, with some going by very wrong paths. Do not follow them there.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion

As I continue my recovery, I was finally able to read this. It's an excellent work written by Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, a Canon of St. Peter's Basilica. The foreword is by Cardinal Ranjith. I mention these things so that folks don't jump to the usual conclusion that such works are the domain of schismatics or some other variety of whack-job.

Anyways, it's good stuff. Granted, it's dense at times, but I think a lot of that might have more to do with the translation than anything else. Essentially, Msgr. Gherardini is calling for a thorough analysis of the 16 conciliar documents (overkill, IMO) in order to properly establish them in the hermeneutic of continuity demanded by the Holy Father. This is all very reasonable, and as the Msgr. demonstrates, something that has been frustrated for decades by folks who are too busy trying to claim that VII said everything there was to be said and did so in a fashion so awesome that anyone denying it would have to be insane. He makes some points that were new for me and that I'll have to think about quite a bit, especially re: Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium.

The tone is one that I think most here would appreciate. We're not talking about some kind of hyper-polemical screed here. The book is written with a lot of humility, which is especially needed given the topic. He skips over the procedural abnormalities and the hijackings that took place at VII and sticks almost exclusively to textual analysis. This reduces the potential for people to ignore his arguments as some kind of exaggeration. Granted, he does mention the theologians who made it their business to "re-interpret" the Council (Kung, Schillebeecx, Rahner, etc.) but he does so without ad hominem.

In the final analysis, Msgr. Gherardini asks the simple questions that have been answered many times, without anyone paying attention to the answer. What was VII and what was its measure of authority in light of prior Church teachings? This is all well and good, but he doesn't move past that and acknowledge that answering these questions means an exercise of authority. Until those denying the answers are made to pay attention and accept them, they will refuse to do so.

Check it out. It's worth your time. Also, if you own a Nook, the biography of St. Thomas More written by his son-in-law William Roper is free. It closes with letters between Thomas and his daughter Margaret. Wonderful stuff.