Thursday, February 28, 2013
Continuing with the countdown, my favorite pope of the 1800s is Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, aka Pius VII. He was actually the sixth longest reigning pope in history, which is a bigger deal when you consider just what it was he had to go through. Elected in what amounted to exile by a conclave of less than 40 cardinals, he was left facing down the most powerful man in the world, Napoleon Bonaparte. This being right after the previous pope, Pius VI, had basically died while imprisoned by the French, if that gives you any idea about how things were going. In fact, it was so bad that Pius VII was being called "the Last Pope" in some quarters, simply because nobody expected the papacy to survive.
Being abused by Napoleon was pretty much the standard for the first 15 or so years of Pope Pius's reign. Whether it was being imprisoned (for over six years), lectured, threatened, carried around in a cage, etc., he was repeatedly asked by Napoleon to sign agreements that would have destroyed the Church in France. Always appealing to his conscience, Pius navigated these waters as skillfully as one could imagine, always seeking the protection of the Church first, even if it meant a return to more abuse at the hands of Bonaparte. Did I mention that he even had the courage to excom the aforementioned most powerful man in the world?
However, consider also that after Napoleon had fallen from power, His Holiness forgave him all of his offenses and even pleaded with the British government to secure him better treatment on St. Helena. Not only that, but Pius helped support Napoleon's mother, brothers, and uncle in the aftermath. Most importantly, he personally sent Bonaparte a chaplain after finding out that the ex-emperor had none in his place of exile.
Pius VII had a lot of other problems as well, ranging from German seizure of Church lands to the Trienio Liberal of Spain in 1820. Even with all these problems, he did not complain and maintained the serenity of a guy who held fast to his faith in Providence. I often think of him as the patron saint of health care administrators, even though he isn't canonized. The more I see health care turned into an arm of the state and bent upon the destruction of conscience, the more I think of this humble Benedictine being excoriated by Napoleon for doing nothing more or less than what is right.
Robin Anderson wrote a wonderful book about this faithful and holy man that I heartily recommend to you all.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Throughout his eight-year papacy, Pope Benedict XVI has “carried out a cleansing of the episcopate,” said the apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tadjikistan.
“This Pope has removed two or three bishops per month throughout the world because either the accounts in their dioceses were a mess or their discipline was a disaster,” said Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia during a Feb. 20 address at the University of San Pablo in Madrid.
“The nuncio went to these bishops and said, ‘The Holy Father is asking you for the good of the Church to resign from your post.’” Nearly all of these bishops, when approached by the Pope’s representative, were aware of the “disaster” and accepted the request to resign, he added.
“There have been two or three instances in which they said no, and so the Pope simply removed them,” he explained. “This is also a message to the bishops: do the same thing in your dioceses.”
Ignoring for a moment the subjective (and incorrect given what we've been seeing at the cardinatial level lately) claim that Pope Benedict has "cleaned up the episcopacy," are those numbers correct?
They can't be right, can they? That seems like a whole lot of bishops.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I've been ruminating on the readings from this past Sunday a bit. How far off-base am I?
First, let me say that I have really grown to hate the term "traditional" Catholic. I'm using it here because it gives a frame of reference for the mindset that I'm talking about.
Anyways, remember that part of the Transfiguration narrative where Peter wants to build the booths for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses? A lot of the commentaries that I've read about this describe this as Peter wanting Jesus to stay up on Mt. Tabor forever. Some mention Peter's wanting to stay as well. This is because just prior to this glorious event, Jesus had just taken the Apostles aside and laid down the upcoming program, namely, that He was going to suffer and die and that they would eventually wind up dying too. The wonder and awe of the Transfiguration was basically a way for Peter to get away from all this bad stuff and stay in Happyland.
This reminds of the traditional Catholic mindset. Too many find a TLM or Eastern liturgy and then pretty uch bury themselves there. They have little or nothing to do with their brethren outside of that atmosphere. If they find a fellow Catholic who know little about the current crisis, they can be frightfully condescending and downright rude, ignoring the fact that most Catholics don't know anything about the TLM, the SSPX, or any Church scandals beyond the well-publicized child abuse. Many come very close to Donatism in discussing priests who offer the Pauline Mass in a, shall we say, less than ideal manner.
Here's the problem. These folks are the reason so many don't go to the TLM or try to gain a better understanding of the crisis. It's a serious case of being one's own worst enemy. And that's just when they will even talk to other Catholics. Many avoid the Pauline crowd altogether. What good does that do? Spreading the Truth is difficult. I'm pretty sure St. Francis Xavier didn't convert any Indians by staying within the safe confines of Spain and Rome. Maybe getting out and attending a Pauline Mass, teaching CCD at a separate local parish, setting up a joint RCIA program, etc. would be good things. If the parishes I've attended my whole life (which are many and all were Pauline Mass churches) are any indication, the people there are begging for someone to come and help with these tasks.
Not meaning to sound harsh, but there isn't a whole lot to be gained if all you do is sit around and wish that "traditionalism" had a broader appeal or more exposure among Catholics. There are things that can be done; folks just have to be willing to do them.
Monday, February 25, 2013
I'm sure most folks know the Prayer to St. Michael.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Did you know there is a longer version? I am reproducing it here because its petitions are uniquely suited to our current situation.
O GLORIOUS Prince of the heavenly host, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and fearful warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come thou to the assistance of men, whom Almighty God created immortal, making them in His own image and likeness and redeeming them at a great price from the tyranny of Satan. Fight this day the battle of the Lord with thy legions of holy Angels, even as of old thou didst fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud spirits and all his rebel angels, who were powerless to stand against thee, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast forth, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduces the whole world; and he was cast forth upon Earth, and his angels were sent with him.
But behold! the ancient enemy of mankind and a murderer from the beginning has been fiercely aroused. Changing himself into an angel of light, he goes about with the whole multitude of the wicked spirits to invade the earth and blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to plunder, to slay, and to consign to eternal damnation the souls that have been destined for a crown of everlasting life. This wicked serpent, like an unclean torrent, pours into men of depraved minds and corrupt hearts the poison of his malice, the spirit of lying, impiety and blasphemy, and the deadly breath of impurity and every form of vice and iniquity.
Be favorable to Thy Church, the Bride of the Lamb without spot, whose enemies have filled to overflowing with gall and inebriated with wormwood. They have laid profane hands upon Her most sacred treasures. Where the See of the most blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth has been constituted as a light to the nations, there they have placed a throne of their abomination and impiety; so that with the Pastor struck, they may prevail to disperse the flock.
Therefore, most invincible Leader, be with the people of God against this spiritual wickedness and bring about victory. Thou art venerated by Holy Church as Her guard and patron; Thou art glorified as our defender against the impious powers of earth and of hell. Unto thee the Lord hath handed over the souls of the redeemed to be placed in happiness above.
Entreat the God of peace, to obliterate Satan beneath our feet, lest he prevail further to hold men captive, and to injure the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that the mercy of the Lord may swiftly overtake us, and apprehend the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and send him bound into the abyss, so that he may seduce the nations no more.
Henceforth having been confided to thy escort and protection, we sacred ministers by the authority of the Holy Mother Church [if recited by a cleric of the order of exorcist or above, say instead: by our authority], do undertake to repel the infestations of diabolical deceit in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our God and Lord.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered hostile powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda has conquered, the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
[If recited by at least a deacon add the following:]
V. The Lord be with you all.
R. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
O God, and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we invoke Thy Holy Name, and we humbly implore Thy clemency so that, through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate ever-Virgin Mother of God, of blessed Michael the Archangel, of blessed Joseph, the Spouse of the same blessed Virgin, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the Saints, Thou may deign to offer us aid against satan, and all the other unclean spirits, who wander through the world to injure the human race and to destroy souls. We ask this through Christ Our Lord..
This version is commonly used in exorcisms. It would make a good addition to your concluding prayers at the end of the Rosary.
And it somehow relates to leaks and the personnel associated with the Holy See. Per Rorate:
The Holy Father has decided that the acts of this investigation, known only to himself, remain solely at the disposition of the new pope.
So it seems there will be no circulation of the report among the electors. To me, this suggests that the Pope is very confident that there will be no shenanigans leading up to or during the conclave. That is a big gamble, I think. And afterwards? Are the wolves just going to sit around and wait to see if they are implicated?
We shall see.
I wonder if we'll see any more of these, especially now that said conclave will probably be taking place earlier than expected.
Pope Benedict XVI allows for the College of Cardinals to begin the Conclave before fifteen days have passed from the beginning of the period sede vacante, provided that all voting Cardinals are present. The modification also provides that the Conclave must begin no more than twenty days after the beginning of the sede vacante, even if all the electors are not present.
Onward we go.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
In case you happen to hear anyone (and I'm refusing to embed the video out of disgust) lying about how Christians aren't being persecuted these days, just remember places like Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan, Viet Nam, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and India. And that's just the short list.
Even the most secular of sources admits it. As for the persecution in ancient times, I'm sure the video's presenter is relying on the word "relentless" since she repeats it a couple of times, which is moronic, since nobody that I'm aware of presents the first 300 years of Christianity as one long block of bloodshed. It was an off and on thing.
Otherwise, she's pretty much going to have to make the absurd case that a massive amount of ante-Nicene historical data (including items of strictly Roman origin) has been fabricated. Just another embarrassment for the ND faculty I'm afraid. Nothing new there.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Cardinal O'Brien is now being accused of "inappropriate behavior" by three priests and one ex-priest.
Considering +O'Brien's prior comments regarding efforts to legalize homosexual marriage, this comes off as a bit odd.
I'm not sure we will have room for anything to surprise us by the time all this is over with.
First, word broke that the Pope's resignation was prompted by a special report he commissioned that revealed how deep the Lavender Mafia ties in Rome are and how messed up the Vatican Bank is. The report classified these as sins against the Sixth and Seventh Commandments. Depending on the accounts you read, the Pope was devastated by the findings and proceeded to resign. Cardinal Pell has already come out calling for some kind of response and saying that the Vatican bureaucracy is a mess.
Now, it's being reported that those implicated in the report are going to be circulated pre-conclave.
There are basically three possibilities here. First, this is accurate, such a report exists, it's why the Pope resigned, and all hell is about to break loose when this is passed around and the rats scramble before, during, and after the conclave to thwart any new Pope's mission to root them out. Second, this is sort of accurate, such a report exists, but it's not exactly why the Pope resigned, but a smaller amount of hell will break loose as these reports are going to dominate the mission of the next Successor of St. Peter, who should be forced to take action on this. Third, none of this is really true, it's Curial politics gone mad amidst pre-conclave jockeying, and only a minor amount of hell will break loose as the Curial reforms will be rough but not to the extent envisioned if the report was real.
From the Australian news (not to mention Moynihan's items), we're led to believe that there is at least SOME kind of report delivered to the Pope by the Cardinals in question. So there's that.
This isn't all the news out there, though. Let's review the other recent snippets that you might not have heard.
1. Last summer, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, which was famous for promoting the heresy of liberation theology, was stripped of its Catholic label by the local bishop (Cardinal Cipriani) and Cardinal Bertone. This was done in the name of the Holy Father. Earlier this month, Archbishop Muller apparently began to proceed in overturning this in his role as Prefect of the CDF. Three days ago, Cardinal Bertone has shoved back against +Muller and declared that the sanction will stand.
2. Cardinal Kasper, who still won't just go away, is now calling for women deacons, just women deacons that aren't ordained but that would (I guess) still do the same things as real deacons.
3. Cardinal O'Brien wants to re-examine the issue of priestesses.
4. Several outlets (such as here) are reporting Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor as calling for greater collegiality. Note at the link the other bishops who are criticizing Pope Benedict's management of the Church.
5. The German Episcopal Conference, following the previous approbation of Cardinal Meisner, has decided that the morning after pill is ok in cases of rape. This action then received the "Amen" from, of all people, the President of the Pontifical Council for Life.
6. Now, the Secretary of State has issued a statement about the conclave, which states in part:
It is regrettable that, as we draw near to the beginning of the Conclave, when Cardinal electors shall be bound in conscience and before God to freely express their choice, news reports abound which are often unverified or not verifiable, or even false, even subsequent damage people and institutions.
And, I'll add, most importantly:
It is in moments such as these that Catholics are called to focus on what is essential: to pray for Pope Benedict, to pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten the College of Cardinals, to pray for the future Pope, trusting that the fate of the barque of St. Peter is in the hands of God.
But seriously. I mean, holy smokes people. If scenario #1 cited above is true and the Pope basically resigned to get himself out of the way so that these problems could be exposed, holy smokes. This would at least explain the random outbursts of modernism from these cardinals and bishops, as well as the additional Curial conflict that we are seeing.
And the Pope's resignation hasn't even taken effect yet.
I'm reminded of something else I heard a long time ago.
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops.
Our Lady of Akita
Pray everyone. And fast. Then pray and fast some more.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Anyways, it's easy to pick out some popes as favorites. After all, guys like Leo I, Gregory I, and Nicholas I are called "the Great" for a reason. However, I find that a lot of my own faves don't get a lot of play.
Take Leo XIII, for example. His reign was sandwiched between Blessed Pius IX and St. Pius X. It's easy to get lost among a couple of titans like that. It's easy to neglect that he was not only the oldest pope ever, living to age 93, but he also had one of the longest reigns of all time (behind only JPII and the aforementioned Pius IX). This is instructive in our current situation, when you have a lot of media tripe about retirement ages for popes and the ability of medical science to prolong life.
The thing that stands out for me about Pope Leo XIII is the well-nigh supernatural clarity of his writing. If I wanted someone to know Catholic teaching on a subject, I would steer them directly to this guy. Want to know about ecclesiology? Pick up Satis Cognitum. Trinitarian stuff? Divinum Illud Munus. Marriage? Arcanum. The Bible? Providentissimus Deus. Social justice? Rerum Novarum.
Pope Leo covered just about all of it, and he did it in a way that just obliterates confusion and ambiguity. It's some of the most impressive writing I've ever encountered and is sufficient to be a catechism unto itself. Let me go further and say that, if he's ever canonized, he should be considered for Doctor of the Church status due to the quality, clarity, and breadth of his writings.
He accomplished all of this marvelous teaching while engaging in extraordinary diplomatic moves that did a lot to rebuild the Church's standing among the secular powers after the stormy pontificate of Pius IX. That's not a criticism. It's just reality.
In my opinion, this kind of guy is just what the Church needs. A clear-minded teacher, with a firm hand, and a savvy that can challenge world leaders on the big stage. And not to sound shallow, but it also helps that he looks like your grandpa. God bless Pope Benedict, but he was never the most photogenic guy out there.
I close with the following, which I think I've posted before, but it merits repeating. This is Pope Leo himself, in the earliest film footage ever of the Vicar of Christ.
Thanks be to God for Our Holy Father of Happy Memory. Pope Leo XIII, pray for us.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
As Rorate has already provided a full report on this topic, I'm just going to comment. Basically, the Pope addressed the Roman clergy and laid out why Vatican II has been so problematic. In a nutshell:
The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There were those who sought a decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the Word for the “people of God”, the power of the people, the laity. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all … popular sovereignty. Naturally they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help.
Make sure you read the whole thing at the link.
He hedges a bit on the "factions" involved, choosing instead to focus on the media's role, but it's still there. The good news is that there is a papal recognition that the Council was, in fact, hijacked. Our readers here should know this story well, as it's been covered in our prior postings on the matter. The hijacking was possible by a media presence who hyped the fact that there was a group advocating for heterodox positions to the detriment of those supporting the Catholic position.
This is a striking statement considering our theory on why the Pope is resigning and all the media speculation (and obvious preferences) on who the next Vicar of Christ will be. Moreover, it brings the Council back to the forefront on the eve of the conclave and not as a good thing, but rather as something that must be overcome. At least in terms of the operative Council, which is the "virtual" one he refers to in the speech.
Let's hope the clergy, not to mention the cardinals, were listening attentively.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
However, I'm reminded of a conversation with a priest friend of mine from several months ago wherein he stated that if Pope Benedict regularized the SSPX, he hoped that God would grace him with a quick death thereafter so as to spare the Holy Father the crushing backlash that would result.
Perhaps the current scenario isn't so far from that. Per Rorate:
Rorate can independently confirm the report --hinted at just now in Le Forum Catholique -- that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has sent a letter with a final offer to the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX): resume the dialogue with the Holy See by February 22, or else the Holy See will make an offer of reconciliation and full communion to individual SSPX priests. (What kind of offer or structural basis will be offered is unclear.)
So there's that. I've been throwing in as a wild prayer to God that the Pope make the final move with the Society immediately before his resignation. Maybe now not so wild after all.
Please, God. Make it so.
Apparently, Bishop Fellay seems to think it's hopeless.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Orson Scott Card is best known as the author of Ender's Game, and it's multiple sequels. Ender's Game is one of my all-time favorite novels, of any genre, and should be required reading at the high school level. It's certainly better than the A Separate Peace-esque crap that students are typically force-fed.
Unfortunately, Mr. Card has been in the news lately for a different reason. He's part of a creative team assigned to a new digital Superman project being launched by DC Comics. He's also under fire by homosexual groups for daring to oppose their alleged "right" to marry.
Mr. Card isn't Catholic. He's Mormon and apparently actually believes some of the stuff that Mormonism proclaims as true, hence his opposition to homosexual unions. This is sufficient for multiple groups with different views asking for him to be fired.
I bring this up because this is what Catholics are experiencing and will experience over the coming years. The tolerance of moral relativism will only extend as far as the hate of natural law will allow. Whether it's a new nominee for the Supreme Court or perhaps entry into an academic fellowship of some kind, compliance with immorality will be demanded. Notice that Mr. Card isn't sponsoring legislation or anything. He isn't trying to destroy someone's livelihood. He's just acting in conformity with his conscience in support of a legal principle that is still the law in the vast majority of the country.
If people were really paying attention, they'd be calling for the firing of abominations like Joe Quesada and Dan DiDio.
Monday, February 11, 2013
No matter the situation, I try really hard not to second guess the Pope (whoever he may be) on anything. I really do, and I'm going to try not to here. The whole thing smacks of Windswept House, but I'm trying not to think about that either.
All things considered, I did hear a lot of things today, both from my exchanges online and from the non-Catholics I work with, that indicate two minds on the Holy Father's resignation. First, you've got folks who think that he's resigning for the reasons he gave, namely, he's old and in poor health. Second, you've got a group who are convinced there is a conspiracy afoot and that the whole health thing is just a smokescreen.
I'm going to comment on this once and hopefully not have to re-visit this again.
I think both of the above groups are correct. Pope John Paul II's waning years are burned deeply into my brain. I went away to college then and was exposed to the rampant problems in the Church for the first time. I remember people wondering why he didn't resign. At the time, I thought that was unspeakable and an affront to the Petrine Office to suggest such.
As the time went on, though, and I became more cognizant of the attacks against Catholicism, I started wondering myself. Why doesn't the Pope do anything about all of this? Then I'd see him on TV, and it was pretty obvious why. The man couldn't walk by himself. He could barely speak. How was a guy in this condition supposed to keep up with the plotting of people who were so well-positioned in the Church's internal machinery?
Yesterday, we were faced with a Pope who was not just getting old. He was old, and even older today. What else were we seeing? A level of public Curial in-fighting not seen in recent history and a catastrophic loss of faith throughout the world, with some of the parties in the former situation probably actively contributing to the latter. My theory in all this is that Pope Benedict recalled the utter hopelessness of JPII's situation and vowed that he would never leave the Church so vulnerable to Her internal enemies ever again. Not being in a position to out-wait or out-maneuver the opposition, His Holiness decided to opt for passing the baton to someone who would be able to do both.
This is all speculation to be sure. What I do know is that this is an occasion of great importance. Not to sound all apocalyptic or anything, but there seems to be a hell of a lot going on right now to just write this event off as the answer to a future trivia question. Big things are going down, and we'd best be prepared for them.
Don't take this as Doomsday Prepper material. I'm talking about staying close to the sacraments and PRAYING. A LOT. Pray for Pope Benedict. Pray for the conclave. Pray that whatever is coming that souls will be saved.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
In an attempt to clarify the recent restriction of Catholic churches to the alternate use of Anglicans, Calvinists, Lutherans, and other groups outside of the Church (while declining the SSPX a similar privilege), His Excellency seems to have missed the point.
Rorate has the update:
First of all, differently from the Orthodox or Protestants who can use the churches of the diocese under certain conditions and in case of need (for instance, because they do not have a nearby church, or due to works in their own church, this possibility often being reciprocal), the priests of the SSPX present themselves as Catholic.[*] The dialogue with the SSPX is not properly speaking "ecumenical", but an internal dialogue. What is, then, the situation of the SSPX priests in the Catholic Church?
They are, in fact, priests ordained in an illicit manner, and no Catholic priest whose ministry is illicit - whether or not he is a member of the SSPX - may celebrate in a Catholic church, unless, of course, he be reconciled with the Church.
The difficulty proper to these priests, compared to Orthodox priests or Protestant pastors, is that their ministry in fact contributes - perhaps not in their intent - to divide the Catholic Church from the inside. And it is precisely regarding this point that my anxiety has grown in the course of the past few months. I was already horrified that a bishop of the SSPX had published a book repeatedly accusing Pope Benedict XVI of being heretical (Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, L’étrange théologie de Benoît XVI, Avrillé, 2010). This could nonetheless be an isolated viewpoint that did not engage the Society as such, even if coming from one of its bishops. The same applies to the famous declarations of Bp. Williamson, which was confirmed by his exclusion from the SSPX.
We get that. If a bishop wants to ban the SSPX from using local parish facilities, he certainly has the authority to do so. But why do so, yet provide the same facilities to those outside the Church? And do so in the same breath?
Guys like St. Ambrose defied the Emperor to make sure that Catholic churches weren't used by Arians. Isn't it a bit weird to see denominations that were conceived essentially as a rejection of what the Church Herself is being allowed this kind of access?
It is tough to get more bizarre than this.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
I wasn't even going to mention it, but I've had some emails, so here goes an analogy in pictures.
Here's the old HHS mandate accommodation:
Cardinal Mahony, deciding with supreme imprudence to give up his right to remain silent, has offered a response to Archbishop Gomez's decision to strip him of his public duties. Basically, it comes down to this. Way back around 30 years ago, Cardinal Mahony admits he messed some things up. Since then, he's been awesome. There's almost(?) a tone in there that suggests(?) that +Gomez and the rest of us should be thanking him for how he handled things.