General Discussion (11)

If there’s something of interest in the news that’s not covered in one of the topic threads, or you have a question to ask, a comment you’d like to  make about anything under the sun, more or less, this is the thread for you. However, please check first, to ensure that you haven’t missed a topic thread or another thread where it would be appropriate to post your comment, as the GD discussion threads fills up very quickly.  Readers, all too often, go straight to the General Discussion thread to post news that is already the topic of a thread or to ask a question that is already being discussed elsewhere. So, do your Sherlock Holmes – at the very least check the side-bar – before posting here, please and thank you!

Join in the conversation

Join in the conversation

Feel free, also, to share your favourite spiritual reading books, prayers and devotions. Whatever.   Enjoy! 

To read previous 10 General Discussion Threads, click on the links listed below.
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(7) click here  (8) click here (9) click here (10) click here

Abortion Uproar In Parliament…

In the video below, Andy Stephenson, Founder of Abort 67, explains what happened in a recent meeting in Parliament that caused abortion supporters to go running for the police.  Listen to Andy in the video below, and then read his letter which follows…

The meeting was organised by Abortion Rights and sponsored by the Shadow Minister for Women, Cat Smith MP.

The Labour MP described herself as a “pro-choice Christian”; assuring the room the two conflicting positions were compatible.

Watch the video to see our response to the meeting. (No pro-lifers were arrested in the making of this video).

[Andy] says: If you would like to partner with us in making abortion unthinkable, then please make a donation by emailing ivana@cbruk.org

The Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform UK and the Abort67 project are working to expose this enormous human rights abuse. We can end it but only if we can allow people to see it for what it really is. 

We would love to step up the exposure with your help on our weekly displays or helping us arrange presentations for your friends or church so they too can think about how they can get involved.

Thank you for your support!
Every blessing,
Andy Stephenson

Comments invited…

Küng Claim: Dogma of Infallibility Up For Discussion – How Likely Is That?

Fr. Hans Küng, the Swiss theologian, has told The Tablet that he has received a letter from Pope Francis that responds to his “request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility”.    

 In my view, the Catholic Church as a community of faith will be preserved, but only if it abandons the Roman system of rule. We managed to get by without this absolutist system for 1,000 years. The problems began in the 11th century, when the popes asserted their claim to absolute control over the Church. (Interview: Spiegel Online International, 21 September, 2011

In my view, the Catholic Church as a community of faith will be preserved, but only if it abandons the Roman system of rule. We managed to get by without this absolutist system for 1,000 years. The problems began in the 11th century, when the popes asserted their claim to absolute control over the Church.
(Interview: Spiegel Online International, 21 September, 2011)

 

The Tablet has been unable to confirm the existence of the letter as Küng refused requests by The Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter to the Swiss theologian to view a copy of the letter.  

“On 9 March, my appeal to Pope Francis to give room to a free, unprejudiced and open-ended discussion on the problem of infallibility appeared in the leading journals of several countries. I was thus overjoyed to receive a personal reply from Pope Francis immediately after Easter. Dated 20 March, it was forwarded to me from the nunciature in Berlin.”

Küng said that in the Pope’s reply, Francis makes the following points which “are significant” to the Swiss theologian: The fact that Pope Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears; the fact that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the Secretary of State; that he emphasises the fraternal manner of his Spanish reply by addressing me as Lieber Mitbruder (Dear Brother) in German and puts this personal address in italics, that he clearly read the appeal, to which I had attached a Spanish translation, most attentively.

“[And] that he is highly appreciative of the considerations which had led me to write in which I suggest theologically discussing the different issues which the infallibility dogma raises in the light of Holy Scripture and Tradition with the aim of deepening the constructive dialogue between the ‘semper reformanda’ 21st century Church and the other Christian Churches and post-modern society.”

“Pope Francis has set no restrictions,” Küng added. “He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom to push ahead with the clarification of the dogmatic definitions which are a ground for controversy within the Catholic Church and in its relationship to the other Christian Churches.

The Swiss theologian said in his statement to The Tablet that the letter is part of the “new freedom” that Pope Francis has brought to the Vatican.

“I am fully convinced that in this new spirit a free, impartial and open-ended discussion of the infallibility dogma, this fateful key question of destiny for the Catholic Church, will be possible,”Küng said. “I am deeply grateful to Pope Francis for this new freedom and combine my heartfelt thanks with the expectation that the bishops and theologians will unreservedly adopt this new spirit and join in this task in accordance with the Scriptures and with our great church tradition.


Full text of Fr. Hans Küng statement. Translation: Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Vienna

The Pope answers Hans Küng

On 9 March, my appeal to Pope Francis to give room to a free, unprejudiced and open-ended discussion on the problem of infallibility appeared in the leading journals of several countries. I was thus overjoyed to receive a personal reply from Pope Francis immediately after Easter. Dated 20 March, it was forwarded to me from the nunciature in Berlin.

In the Pope’s reply, the following points are significant for me:

– The fact that Pope Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears so to speak;

– The fact that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the Secretary of State;

– That he emphasises the fraternal manner of his Spanish reply by addressing me asLieber Mitbruder(Dear Brother) in German and puts this personal address in italics,

– That he clearly read the appeal, to which I had attached a Spanish translation, most attentively;

– That he is highly appreciative of the considerations which had led me to write Volume 5 in which I suggest theologically discussing the different issues which the infallibility dogma raises in the light of Holy Scripture and Tradition with the aim of deepening the constructive dialogue between the “semper reformanda” 21st century Church and the other Christian Churches and post-modern society.

Pope Francis has set no restrictions. He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom to push ahead with the clarification of the dogmatic definitions which are a ground for controversy within the Catholic Church and in its relationship to the other Christian Churches.

I could not have foreseen then quite how much new freedom Pope Francis would open up in his Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Already in the introduction he declares “that not all doctrinal discussions, moral or pastoral, need to be resolved with interventions of the Magisterium.” He takes issue with “cold bureaucratic morality” and does not want bishops to continue behaving as if they were “arbiters of grace”. He sees the Eucharist not as a reward for the perfect but as “nourishment for the weak”. He repeatedly quotes statements made at the Episcopal Synod or at national bishops’ conferences. Pope Francis no longer wants to be the sole spokesman of the Church.

This is the new spirit that I have always expected from the Magisterium. I am fully convinced that in this new spirit a free, impartial and open-ended discussion of the infallibility dogma, this fateful key question of destiny for the Catholic Church, will be possible. I am deeply grateful to Pope Francis for this new freedom and combine my heartfelt thanks with the expectation that the bishops and theologians will unreservedly adopt this new spirit and join in this task in accordance with the Scriptures and with our great church tradition. Source – The Tablet

Comment: 

That Hans Küng is a heretic par excellence is beyond dispute.  He is no stranger to controversy on all sorts of topics. His support for euthanasia is well known, and so it comes as no surprise that he doesn’t believe in “an eternal Hell”.   Yet, despite the fact that he is officially not allowed to teach as a “Catholic theologian”, he appears to have easy access to the pope of the day. In September, 2005, Pope Benedict invited Father Küng to dinner at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, where, according to Küng, they spent four hours together in a relaxed, warm discussion in the Pope’s private study and dining room. Now, we have Pope Francis apparently willing to put the dogma of infallibility on the table for discussion aka challenge. 

The Tablet admits that “Küng refused requests by The Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter to the Swiss theologian to view a copy of the letter.”

So we’re asked to take the word of this anything-but-Catholic “theologian” that the Pope is prepared to admit a challenge to the dogma of infallibility. Well. Who’s ever gonna believe THAT?  

The Dogma of Infallibility is a revealed truth of the Faith. No Pope would give the impression that it could be overturned ergo Pope Francis will not permit that to happen.... will he?

The Dogma of Infallibility is a revealed truth of the Faith. No Pope would give the impression that it could be overturned, ergo Pope Francis will not permit that to happen…. will he?  

23rd April: Feast of St George

St George of England

Prayer to St. George

St. George,

Heroic Catholic soldier and defender of your Faith, you dared to criticize a tyrannical Emperor and were subjected to horrible torture. You could have occupied a high military position but you preferred to die for your Lord.

Obtain for us the great grace of heroic Christian courage that should mark soldiers of Christ. Amen

 

Comments invited – what, in your opinion, would St George think about what is happening in England today… And as with all Feast Day threads, feel free to share favourite prayers, hymns, stories and jokes. 

SSPX Regularisation In Year of Mercy?

On April 1 this year, reports emerged that the Superior General of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) was welcomed with open arms at the Vatican by the man some regard as the most liberal pope of all time.  

No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s story; the summit actually took place. Even more remarkably, the meeting was described by traditionalists as “very positive”. There was good reason to be incredulous. The SSPX is a traditionalist group that fiercely oppose the changes brought about following the Second Vatican Council. Their leader Bishop Fellay was so disappointed with the recent apostolic exhortation that he said it made him weep. 

Pope Francis: SSPX is Catholic - that is evident

                   Pope Francis: SSPX is Catholic –             that is evident

Meanwhile, Pope Francis is adored by secular commentators and during his time as Pontiff has fast-tracked the canonisation of the architect of Vatican II, [Pope] John XXIII, with whom he is regularly compared. It is difficult to imagine much common ground between Bishop Fellay and Francis, and yet the Pope has taken constructive steps in order to bring the estranged SSPX back into full communion with the Church. 

Francis’s sympathies existed long before he was elected Pope. When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and members of the SSPX applied for visas to work in the country, he vouched for their Catholicity to the Argentine Government, reportedly saying: “You are Catholic – it is evident.”

But the big gesture of inclusion came when Pope Francis announced that during the Year of Mercy, contrary to former rules, Catholics would be able to receive absolution from SSPX priests. In a letter last year, he wrote: “This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one.”

As Fr John Zuhlsdorf pointed out: “If the Holy Father is willing to go this far with the priests of the SSPX, is it hard to imagine that this merciful concession might not be extended beyond the Year of Mercy? I would like to think so.” He then observed, in an analogy with American history: “If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Pope Francis is the Pope who will reconcile the SSPX.”

Pope Francis encouraged Bishop Fellay to open a seminary in Italy

Pope Francis to Bishop Fellay:  open a seminary in Italy!

Perhaps. After all, Rorate Caeli, a blog that is not usually overflowing with optimism about Francis, was positive about Bishop Fellay and Francis’s meeting last week. It reports that during the meeting “the Pope confirmed that the SSPX was Catholic in his eyes. He confirmed that he never would condemn it, he confided that he wishes to expand the faculties of the SSPX, starting with the authorisation of its priests to validly hear Confession. Finally, during the talks in Rome, Bishop Fellay was encouraged to establish a seminary in Italy.”

The question still remains as to why Francis is so keen to extend the hand of friendship. Paul Vallely, author of Pope Francis: Untying the Knots: The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism, says Francis’s approach is typical of his inclusive character: “He wants everyone inside the Church and inside the conversation … Being welcoming to the SSPX is part of his openness.”

Austen Ivereigh, author of The Great Reformer, agrees: “Like his predecessors, Pope Francis takes very seriously his mission of restoring the unity of the Church. Orthodox, Anglicans, SSPX – wherever there has been a split, he will try to heal it … Extending the SSPX’s faculty of Confessions is one area where he sees they can do something together – and create space for the Holy Spirit to act. That’s how he sees his task as Pope.”

Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, notes that traditionalists and SSPX are on the outskirts of the Church. He said: “Pope Francis has shown a particular interest in this important work of the Petrine Office, in relation not only to the SSPX but also to the ‘Patriotic’ Catholics of China, and the Orthodox …

“There is also a parallel between Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass and others found on the ‘peripheries’ of the Church, since as Pope Benedict remarked they have been treated as ‘lepers’, and suffered real marginalisation. The reasons for the attitude pushing them to the margins is increasingly difficult to understand, and clearly not shared by Pope Francis.”

The fact that so many liberals warm to Francis makes some traditional Catholics uneasy. But if Francis really is today’s pin-up for “progressive” Catholics, he is certainly teaching them a thing or two about how to be genuinely inclusive, and this includes welcoming traditionalists. Click here to read original

Comment:

We did discuss the possibility – likelihood even  – of a speedy recognition of the Society back in February click here to read that previous post. Despite all the scandals, notably the recent Exhortation, it seems that Pope Francis is still well disposed towards the SSPX.  The key question is… why?  

Bl Alexandrina – A Modern Mystic…

“ I desire that, after your death, your life may be known, and that will happen; I shall see to it.  It will reach the ends of the earth.”

Our Lord speaking to Blessed Alexandrina, 22nd November 1937.

The desire of Jesus to see a widespread knowledge of the life of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa of Portugal is starting to be fulfilled, as devotion to her grows steadily throughout the world.  One of the great mystics of modern times, a ‘victim soul’ chosen by Christ to suffer in atonement for the sins of humanity, she appears set to become an important and well-loved saint in the Universal Church.

Her life gives us an example of complete fidelity to the will of Christ, and also presents an astonishing and undeniable explosion of the supernatural to an increasingly secular world. 

Blessed AlexandrinaBedridden for life from the age of twenty, after sustaining a serious injury some years earlier while trying to escape from an attack on her virtue, she suffered unspeakable pain throughout her life and mystically underwent the Passion of Christ on Fridays to atone for the sins of humanity.  She also had frequent ecstasies during which she saw and spoke with Our Lord and Our Lady, and offered her sufferings to bring about the consecration of the world by Pope Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an act which in turn shortened the duration of World War II.

Her life reaffirms the immense value of suffering offered in union with Jesus, and stands as a beacon of hope to those who suffer in any way, and a sign of contradiction to those who would deny the value of suffering offered in union with Jesus.  She prayed especially for youth, and has been proposed by the Church as “a model of purity and perseverance in the Faith for today’s youth.”

Although she was never able to visit the site of the apparitions of Our Blessed Lady at Fatima, Alexandrina’s extraordinary story has many connections to the Fatima events, and her message is essentially the same: “ Do penance, sin no more, pray the Rosary, receive the Eucharist ”.  Because of this, she has been described as the ‘fourth seer of Fatima’.  One can point to miraculous occurrences in the lives of all the saints, but Alexandrina herself became a living miracle , for in the last thirteen years of her life, she ate and drank absolutely nothing, existing on the Holy Eucharist alone.

Pope John Paul II said the following about Alexandrina in his homily at her beatification ceremony in 2004:-

“ ‘Do you love me?’, Jesus asks Simon Peter, who replies: ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you’. The life of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa can be summarized in this dialogue of love. Permeated and burning with this anxiety of love, she wished to deny nothing to her Saviour. With a strong will, she accepted everything to demonstrate her love for him. A ‘spouse of blood’, she mystically relived Christ’s passion and offered herself as a victim for sinners, receiving strength from the Eucharist: this became her only source of nourishment for the final 13 years of her life.  With the example of Blessed Alexandrina, expressed in the trilogy ‘suffer, love, make reparation’, Christians are able to discover the stimulus and motivation to make ‘noble’ all that is painful and sad in life through the greatest evidence of love: sacrificing one’s life for the beloved.  Secret of holiness: love for Christ.”  Click here to read more…

Comments invited 

Protestantised Catholic Owns Up!

There was a time when I thought I’d never say this, but I’m worried that I’m, how shall I put it, turning Protestant. The awful thought dawned on me when I realised that although my parish church has a Door of Mercy – going through which, with appropriate prayers, would give me an indulgence – I’ve never actually been through it. Not once. I do know about the doctrine of the Church’s treasury of merits which underlies the teaching, but a stubborn little voice inside me says that the mercy of God is boundless, and accessible to all, door or no door, indulgences or no indulgences.

...The religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints. Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Pope Paul VI, January, 1, 1967

…The religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints. Apostolic Constitution on                      Indulgences,                   Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Pope Paul VI, January, 1, 1967


Of course it’s excellent that people are thinking about mercy – as you go through the door you’re meant to reflect on how to receive it from God and extend it to others – but I’m not moved by the symbolism myself. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve come to the pass of going straight to God without the aids extended by the Church.

Being a naturally sectarian Catholic, this is a troubling development. Next year is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, an event I propose to mark by wearing funereal colour. But underneath the black and purple, I find myself sympathetic to bits of the Protestant project. The idea of the priesthood of all believers, squarely based on St Paul, is not antipathetical to an ordained priesthood, and never fails to cheer me up, especially when people complain about the dearth of vocations. The priestly character of all the baptised is rather a comfort, don’t you think, when it turns out, yet again, that the institutional church has failed to deal with some egregious scandal.

Actually, the most egregious ones of all, the child abuse scandals, have not had the effect of unsettling my faith in the slightest, notwithstanding my seeing that rather overrated film, Spotlight. I mean, things were worse prior to the Reformation, no? And every human institution is bound to be flawed one way or another.

All the same, now that we know about the inability of the Church, notably the bishops, to recognise the compulsive psychology of child abusers, it does make you question Cardinal Newman’s insistence that because of its longevity, the Church has seen everything and knows everything about the nature of man, which was the same in the 5th century as it was 1500 years later. In fact the Church, notwithstanding encountering the phenomenon of paedophilia again and again over the course of centuries, has been remarkably bad at identifying its character. Making the same mistake over the course of 2,000 years may be consistent but it’s not inerrancy. Secular institutions and other religions were just as clueless, but the Church is held to different standards.

And then there’s the fundamental aspect of Protestantism: the reliance on Scripture. I don’t buy the notion that a believer just needs a Bible, but it does unsettle me that Catholics are so much less scripturally literate than paid-up Protestants. Bishops in the Anglican synod quote cheerfully from the Old Testament; I never hear Catholic priests preach from it. Bertie Wooster in PG Wodehouse won a prize for Scripture Knowledge; I mean, he was bound to be CofE, wasn’t he? The one exception I know is a priest from Kerala in India who baffles the congregation in my home parish in Ireland by actually asking them questions about the Old Testament. Where he comes from, this is normal practice; here, young Catholics are familiar with perhaps half a dozen or so episodes from the Hebrew Scriptures and that’s it.

And what about popular devotion? I respect it, of course, but there are times when I can see why Protestants find it too close to superstition. There are those prayer cards to the Sacred Heart or Saint Anthony that you find in the back of churches which assure you that if you say the prayers specified a given number of times correctly, your prayers are bound to be answered. That’s more like magic than prayer. And while I have an instinctive devotion to Our Lady, I do feel uneasy at the extent to which devotion to the Virgin has overshadowed that historically given to other scriptural saints – John the Baptist, say. And places like Medugorje, which lots of people find beneficial, present the Virgin in a very different guise from the Mary of the Gospels; it puts me off.

Naturally, I’d never actually be anything but a Catholic. As James Joyce said, when he was asked why, given his disaffection with the Church, he did not become a Protestant: “Madam, I have lost my faith; I have not lost my self-respect”. But although I intend to die a Catholic, I’m becoming a Protestant sort of Catholic. Worrying, I know, but there it is.  Source: Catholic Herald

Melanie McDonagh is comment editor of the London Evening Standard 

Comment:

Melanie McDonagh is not alone in her Protestantised Catholicism. We have one some-time blogger who has bemoaned the Catholic custom of venerating relics. Same mindset. However, my first thought on reading the above article in today’s Catholic Herald was: “at last! They’re coming out openly in the Catholic press and admitting that they’ve been Protestantised. It’s a start!” 

Don’t get me wrong.  There is no requirement on Catholics to avail ourselves of the Church’s treasury – whether it be devotions to particular saints, indulgences or the veneration of relics.   Still, I think there is something significant, not to say very sad, about such a public disavowal, perhaps especially in the  case of Melanie McDonagh’s Protestantised view of Our Lady – notable, not least because she selects the unapproved, indeed, hoax phenomenon of Medjugorje, as an example of the kind of Marian piety that she rejects! Still, if she means she dislikes pilgrimages to approved shrines such as Lourdes, Fatima, etc., lighting candles, submitting petitions, taking Lourdes water, buying Fatima rosaries – that sort of thing – then, yes, to quote her own words, she IS “turning Protestant” –  a true daughter of Martin Luther.  

Again, of course, we are not bound to accept or have devotion to each and every approved apparition (although it is important to note Pope Benedict’s statement that Fatima places an obligation on the entire Church). Whatever, it is a very strange Catholic who would express Protestant sentiments towards any of the Marian shrines and devotions.  And it is a very sad thing, indeed, to read an article, penned by a Catholic journalist, in a Catholic newspaper, joining battle with the Protestant revolutionary, Martin Luther, to attack the doctrine of indulgences. 

Click on the image to read Pope Paul’s Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, and tell us if you agree.  Or maybe you share Melanie McDonagh’s dislike of indulgences, and other Protestant leanings?

8th April: Start of Greatest Revolution in Church in 1500 Years – Cardinal Kasper

As we prepare  for the release of the Pope’s post-synodal Exhortation on Friday 8th April, it might be useful to reflect on the issues raised in the following article published by Catholic Family News.

 

The Exhortation will be presented to journalists at the Holy See’s Press Office on Friday 8 April at 11.30am (Rome time).

The Exhortation will be presented to journalists at the Holy See’s Press Office on Friday 8 April at 11.30 am (Rome time) 10.30.am UK time. 


When the document is released on Friday, we will discuss it on this thread and rejoice – absolutely – if the fears implicit below, turn out to be groundless. I’m sure we are all praying to that end.  Feel free to read the article below, but refrain from commenting until the Exhortation is released on Friday, if you wish – that’s perfectly acceptable. However, we’ll leave the thread open for those who do wish to comment before Friday.  At the end of the article,  there is a video link to the live-stream of the Presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation, available to view at 10.30 am (UK time) on Friday 8th April. If you click on the image above, that will also take you through to the live-stream video.

Francis’ Synod Exhortation: Brace Yourself for Revolution?

The Past is Prologue

by John Vennari

The Vatican announced Francis’ post-synodal Exhortation, titled Amoris Laetitia (“On Love in the Family”), will be released on Friday, April 8.

            Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said the document will be presented in the Vatican newsroom at 11:30 am by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Synod’s secretary, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and a married couple, Francesco and Giuseppina Miano who participated in the Synod discussions.

            Both Baldisseri and Schönborn are very much in line with Pope Francis’ thinking.     

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

            The National Catholic Reporter quoted Australia’s progressivist Archbishop Mark Coleridge who rejoiced, “I expect the papal document to be a typical Bergoglio combination of challenge and encouragement.”[1]

            Cardinal Walter Kasper already announced the text will be revolutionary. “The document,” said Kasper, “will mark the start of the greatest revolution experienced by the Church in 1500 years.”[2] 

Cardinal Walter Kasper

Cardinal Walter Kasper

            I travelled to Rome to cover the October 2015 Synod, along with my friend and colleague Chris Ferrara. Spent 14 days there, the final two weeks of the event. Based on what we saw coming from the Synod, as well as the daily Vatican press briefings, there is good reason to fear the new Exhortation will be every bit as “revolutionary” as Cardinal Kasper pledges.

            After some preliminary remarks, we will take a close look at these press briefings, especially some revealing comments of the liberal Archbishop Coleridge. The final week of the Synod was one of revolutionary expectations.

“Resist Not the Spirit”?

            From the beginning of his pontificate, Francis made clear his resolve to advance the Conciliar agenda. He sees the modernist updating from John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council as a work of the Holy Ghost to be embraced, not resisted. Vatican II ushered us into the evolutionary process of continuous aggiornamento, justified by the changing pastoral needs of the time. Francis implies we should be attentive to the alleged call of the spirit to even more revolutionary change, and more razing of Catholic bastions that block the way for renewal.

            Thus we better understand Francis’ exaltation of Vatican II and his scolding of “hard-headed” Catholics. This oft-quoted speech took place on April 14, 2013, only a month after his election to the papacy.

            “The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit,” said Francis. “Consider Pope John. He looked like a good parish priest; he was obedient to the Holy Spirit and he did it. But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of growth of the Church that was the Council? No. We celebrate this anniversary; we make a monument, as long as it does not bother us. We do not want to change. What is more, some people want to go back. This is hard-headedness. This is what we call, trying to tame the Holy Spirit, this is what we call becoming foolish and slow of heart.”[3]

            The Synod is a main engine in furthering this “work of the Spirit”. As I’ve noted in the past, the Synod has been established in order to advance the implementation of Vatican II throughout the world. That is how it was defined by Father Kenneth Boyack, a Paulist who had worked with the NCCB.[4]

            Likewise, Tad Szulc, in his biography of Pope John Paul II, explained that the Synod is a “permanent organ to implement the decisions of the Second Vatican Council.”[5]

            Thus the purpose of the Synod is to keep the continuous aggiornamento alive, to keep the accomodata renovatio in motion, in order to implement the Council throughout the world, through the collegial method. The Synod is an ever-present extension of Vatican II into the future.

            The tumult leading up to the 2015 Synod is well known: Cardinal Kasper’s call in February 2014 to pave the way for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist; Francis’ public praise and support for the Kasper proposal; the working document for the 2014 Synod containing an avalanche of perverse proposals such as “new language” to replace natural law, openness towards the homosexual lifestyle, including the tacit nod for homosexuals to be godparents; the tumultuous 2014 Synod; the scandalous pro-homosexual, pro-cohabitation mid-term report; the subsequent Vatican questionnaire in which the bishops were told not to form their responses merely based on doctrine; the 2015 Instrumentum Laboris forcefully criticized by the more orthodox prelates, including Archbishop Schneider who warned that it pushes an agenda contrary to Divine Law.

            In short, we see a process in which the integrity of Catholic doctrine appears to be the last concern of those steering the events.

            The final Francis-offensive in favor of breaking down the Church’s moral edifice in the name of “Mercy” was manifest in the final week of Press Briefings.

            I had arrived in Rome on October 12, and went to the various press briefings during the second week. These sessions included various lay participants of the Synod who were so happy, so happy, so happy to be there. I paid little attention to these useless sessions, as I knew the key briefings would take place the third week

            Sure enough, this was the case.

            Each day of the final week, the most radical prelates were trotted out by the Vatican Press Office to tell the world what the Synod was, and what were the true goals for the future. These prelates included Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Cardinal Reinhard Marx (outspoken supporter of the Kasper Proposal), Cardinal Oswald Gracias (on record calling outto homosexuals, “the Church embraces you, wants you, and the Church needs you”),[6] Spirit-of-Assisi Cardinal Paul Turkson, and Cardinal Christophe Schonborn (who appears to be of one mind with Cardinal Marx). One had the sense the entire week of press conferences was staged-managed for a pre-determined result.

“No Black or White” Coleridge

            Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia kicked off the final week of Synod Press Briefings. Each daily press event of the final week comprised at least three synod prelates (different prelates every day) along with Father Frederico Lombardi, Vatican Press Secretary. Coleridge, by far, was the most colorful. He was also the most helpful, as he gave the game away in clear crystal tones.

            I spotlight Coleridge’s October 19 comments as he represents to a more or less degree the position of the most radical Synod prelates, including – according to all available evidence – that of Pope Francis himself. His testimony is crucial, as it indicates the thinking behind the maneuvering, and the path Francis is most likely to take in the future.

            Coleridge insists that doctrine is one thing, and pastoral practice is another. It’s all about starting from human experience (as we repeatedly warned would be the case in previous issues of CFN). In this regard, Cardinal Wuerl and others say, “We must meet people where they are.” Coleridge likewise insists the Church “must put down its roots in human experience.” This is code for accepting the person’s sinful lifestyles as is, and then bend pastoral practice to accommodate it. This is called the “creative” pastoral approach.

            Though he claims to respect the Church’s traditional teaching regarding divorce and remarried, Coleridge says, “not every case [of adultery] is the same, and that’s where the pastoral approach needs to take account … just to say every second marriage or second union [divorced and remarried] is adulterous is perhaps too sweeping.”

            In one sense Coleridge says nothing new. The Church always noted there can be different degrees of culpability regarding such sins – but also insists that these grievous sins remain grievous sins that bar the soul from the Eucharist. The new “discernment” approach, however, favored by modern ecclesial delinquents, looks to pry open a way to grant access to the Eucharist for couples living in adultery who will not correct their lifestyle.

            Coleridge derides the “all or nothing” attitude, saying there is “no black or white.” He frowns upon the word “adultery,” claiming that it is a “convenient and apparently clear blanket term” that does not deal with the reality of human experience in this life or that life.

             All of this twaddle is camouflage for the old heresy of Situation Ethics: the belief that there is no objective morality, and everything depends on the circumstances of the person. Coleridge calls for a whole new language – thus further discarding irreplaceable scholastic precision – so that those living in moral turpitude will not feel “excluded” or “alienated.”

            When asked what terminology he would like to see changed, Coleridge responded he would do away with the term “indissolubility,” which he says is “negative in form.” He also wants to discard the phrase “intrinsically disordered act” – a term despised by those who embrace situation ethics, and the term used by the 1993 Catechism to describe homosexuality.

            Worse, Coleridge goes on to say, “These are just two examples, there would be many, many other” traditional Catholic terms he wants to shed.

            As a true revolutionary, Coleridge sums up his hope that the synod “would bring the whole Church to a new listening, for the sake of a new language, that would open new doors and new possibilities.”

            He also rightly explains that the effects of this Synod will not end with the closing of the October event, but will extend far into the future.

“Theology progresses”?

            Other prelates from the final Synod week piped a similar tune.

            During the October 22 Press Briefing, Cardinal Gracias ladled out his subversion of Catholic truth claiming, “Theology progresses, the doctrine remains the same, and our understanding of Church discipline progresses.” – words that would warm Teilhard’s heart. After spouting the false claim that John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio opened the doors to ‘different circumstances’ that could lead the way for some divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist, Gracias said, “I don’t think we have seen the solution … this has got to be tackled, this has got to be studied … as we deepen our understanding … I am sure you will find a way forward.”   Gracias acts as if the solution does not already exist, that those in a second “marriage” must repent of their adultery in order for readmission to the Sacraments, a clear teaching of Familiaris Consortio that Gracias does not mention.

            Likewise Germany’s rootin’tootin’ Cardinal Marx at the October 21 press briefing noted that German-speaking bishops made their own proposal to deal with divorced and remarried. It comprises an appeal to the internal forum, where the priest “in dialogue” with various couples will judge each situation on a case-by-case basis. This too opens the door to sacrilegious Communion under the rubric of a counterfeit compassion.

            Other prelates at the third week’s press conference touted a parallel line. This is what Francis’ Vatican presented to the world by means of the press as the major goals and themes of the Synod.

The Final Thud!

            On the evening of October 24, I picked up the final Synod Document from the Vatican press office. The result was every bit as disastrous as we predicted: a mish-mash of imprecision that opens the door – overtly and covertly – to eventual acceptance of various practices always considered gravely sinful. The document has the atmosphere of an insipid humanism with a Christian veneer. Despite its God-talk, it is bereft of the sense of the supernatural.

            Cardinal Burke put it mildly when he lamented the final document “lacks clarity on the indissolubility of marriage”. A number of us have elsewhere listed its numerous deficiencies.

            Of course there is the obvious omission: The Synod’s final Relatio contains no mention of sin or sinful behavior. Yet the number one incentive for most souls to resist immoral behavior is the truth that sexual sins are mortal sins that bring eternal damnation if the sins are not confessed – in other words, a realistic dread of mortal sin and fear of hell.

            Yet the final document contains no reminder that engagement of the ‘marital act’ is thoroughly forbidden outside of the marriage. There is no word about “avoiding the occasion of sin” – which was always a pastoral admonition. Sin is mentioned only in passing (Christ has saved man from sin, etc.). Regarding homosexuality, cohabitation, adultery, fornication, there is no mention of sin whatsoever.

            One would never know Our Lady of Fatima warned, “More souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” All so-called “negative language” and “language of exclusion” is expunged from the text. This omission itself is a grave sin of those who dish out this toxin as if it were genuine Catholic nourishment.

            Catholics need to pray, arm themselves with traditional doctrine, teach the truth to those in their sphere of influence, and publicly resist.

            The 2015 Synod and its final document represent an attack on the Church’s entire moral edifice, and points to institutionalized scandal for the future.

            There is every indication that Francis’ April 8 Apostolic Exhortation will proceed according to the same revolutionary spirit..[7] Source 

Confessions of an ex-traddie (as if…)

The very telling article below is the work of Damian Thompson (pictured), associate editor of The Spectator and editorial director of the Catholic Herald, who is widely regarded as a “traditionalist” Catholic journalist.  We, at Catholic Truth, have always considered him to be about as traditional as a mobile phone, so we smiled on reading the “conversion” story below, remembering his enthusiasm for the then Archbishop Nichols to be given the red hat as a reward for organising the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England. Very “traditional”, yes? At one time, prior to Vatican II, we didn’t use labels to describe different types of Catholic.  One was either a Catholic or a Protestant.  Indeed, in the north of Ireland they tell the story of the Hindu who was stopped in the street by a young boy who asked whether he was a Catholic or a Protestant. When the man replied “I’m a Hindu”, the lad looked puzzled and responded: “Well, are you a Catholic Hindu or a Protestant Hindu?”  So, consider, in this conversation, what it is that makes someone a “traditional” Catholic as opposed to any other of the more recent brands.  But first, read the story of the “ex-traddie” who never really was…    

I used to be too snooty to appreciate an 'ordinary' Mass. Now lay ministers, altar girls, even an exuberant sign of peace – they don't bother me in the least

I used to be too snooty to appreciate an ‘ordinary’ Mass. Now lay ministers, altar girls, even an exuberant sign of peace -they don’t bother me in the least

 

At the Easter Vigil, I found myself with my right hand resting on the right shoulder of a young friend, David Oldroyd-Bolt, who was being received into the Catholic Church. On his left shoulder rested the hand of my former Daily Telegraph colleague Dr Tim Stanley, a historian who is also television critic of this magazine.

We were David’s co-sponsors. The priest anointing him was Fr Julian Large, who in a previous incarnation was also a Telegraph journalist; in those days he was still an Anglo-Catholic – or “dyed-in-the-wool Protestant”, as I used to tease him.

David had been an Anglo-Catholic, too, and I’m afraid I subjected him to the same ribbing. That may have been why he did me the honour of asking me to co-sponsor him: at least that way he could prove to me that he’d done the right thing.

What a way to enter into full communion with the Holy See! I don’t just mean the comedy of being surrounded by former and current Telegraph hacks: the service itself was magnificent.

Not since the heyday of the Borgias have such finely wrought gold vestments been displayed to the faithful, worn by clergy with hair parted with rulers and trimmed with the utmost severity by Geo F Trumper of Jermyn Street. Plus vintage specs of a design that even Pius XII might have thought outmoded.

You’ll have worked out that the church was the London Oratory, where they don’t exactly rush the Triduum: I was there for two and a half hours. Services at the Oratory have a grandeur all of their own – choreographed to a standard that you won’t find in Rome or, indeed, Old Rite ceremonies staged by the Latin Mass Society. (Not to be mean, but I’ve never seen so much flapping and semaphoring as I did at the last LMS Requiem I attended.)

Also, counter-intuitively, there’s a refreshing absence of High Church campery at the Oratory. This is a function of the seriousness of its theology: it preaches the Magisterium with a purity that contrasts starkly with the waffle emanating from certain members of the College of Cardinals. You’re never far from the Four Last Things in an Oratorian sermon.

I’d forgotten what an enormous church it is. I ordered my Uber from the front row and by the time I reached the door it was waiting outside. But before I scuttled off I said to David: “Next Sunday, go to an ordinary parish. Then you’ll really get a sense of what you’ve joined.”

This wasn’t meant as an insult. I’ve always liked the title of a book of essays for would-be converts edited by Joanna Bogle: Come on in… it’s awful! When that was published, 22 years ago, the average liturgy was awful and my goodness I banged on about it. But even then, before the “Benedictisation” of worship that is beginning to rub off everywhere, there was a warmth about the celebration of Mass and the welcome afterwards that was and is distinctively Catholic. (That I was too snooty to appreciate it was my loss.)

In the past few years I’ve been reintegrated into the ordinary Catholic Church. The process began when a musician friend started taking me to the low-key Sunday evening Mass at Farm Street. But things really picked up when I began regular attendance at the church opposite my flat, St Mary of the Angels, Notting Hill. My parish priest is the lovely Mgr Keith Barltrop, who has banished the last remnants of BCM (Bad Catholic Music); on Friday the shivers ran up my spine when, as I queued for the Adoration of the Cross, the organ struck up a familiar ground bass and I heard the Crucifixus of Bach’s B Minor Mass, exquisitely performed by a small choir that must have had professional singers in it. I fought back tears, which is how it should be on Good Friday.

Thanks to Fr Keith, there are proper candles in the sanctuary and a “Benedict Cross” on the altar. The servers are nicely drilled. But lots of them are girls and at every Mass there are lay ministers of Holy Communion. The sign of peace can be quite exuberant.

And it doesn’t bother me in the least. These are signs of the comforting “ordinariness” of worship that takes me back to my Catholic childhood. Indeed, the longer I attend, the more I realise that the cradle bits of my Catholicism never went away, though they’re not necessarily very edifying.

For example, my hearts leaps – just as it did in 1975 – when I hear the priest say the words, “the fount of all holiness” because it means he’s gone for the Second Eucharistic Prayer and it’s the shortest. Worse, I groan when the priest settles down for his moment of private prayer after Communion. The 13-year-old in me still thinks: come on, Father, we’re so tantalisingly near the end.

Also, to quote the great Ed West in a tweet, “Hearing the words ‘The Mass is Ended, go in peace’ = instant dopamine squirt”.

I’m not going to try to justify these sentiments to David, my new fellow Catholic; you can’t expect a convert to understand. But they don’t really matter, either, because short Masses can be very uplifting. Parish priests, please note.

Damian Thompson is associate editor of The Spectator and editorial director of the Catholic Herald

This article first appeared in the April 1 2016 issue of The Catholic Herald