by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 27, 2017
From this Fatima perspective, the rising crisis of the current pontificate brings not surprise but recognition. Have we not known for quite some time that, as Cardinal Ciappi revealed, the Third Secret of Fatima pertains to an apostasy that “begins at the top“?
For too long, however, recognition of the reality of our situation has been largely confined to circles unjustly derided as “Fatimist” or “traditionalist.” Under Francis, however, there has been a radical change for the good as more and more members of the “mainstream” Catholic press are coming to recognize what is indisputable: the current pontificate represents a clear and present danger to the Church.
Perhaps these new voices have yet to recognize that Francis merely represents the end point on a downward trajectory that began after 1960, the year the Third Secret was to have been revealed because, as Sister Lucy said, “it will be clearer then.” But it is imperative that these new voices of the “mainstream” be heard because their awakening will provoke the awakening of vast numbers of Catholics who might otherwise have remained asleep.
Consider, for example, Phil Lawler’s just-published column on “The Ideological Purge at the Vatican,” appearing on the website of catholicculture.org. This was a subject I had already aired repeatedly on these pages, as one can read here, here and here, but Lawler’s contribution is worthy of note and praise.
Writing in the wake of Francis’ brute-force intervention into the affairs of the Knights of Malta, effectively destroying its centuries-old status as a sovereign political entity, Lawler rightly warns that “the unprecedented papal intervention into the affairs of that venerable body fits into a pattern that should, at this point, worry all faithful Catholics.”
The pattern to which Lawler refers is not a purge of wayward theologians who undermine the doctrines of the Faith, of which the Modernists loudly complained during the reigns of John Paul II and Benedict XVI even though the purge never really happened. Rather, the purge now in progress is something quite the opposite: “Now a crackdown really is occurring — instigated by the Pontiff who famously asked, ‘Who am I to judge?’ And the objects of the current crackdown are not theologians who question established doctrines, but Catholics who uphold the traditional teachings of the Church.”
Consider the implications of this assessment, coming as it does from a commentator who can hardly be dismissed as a “Fatimist” or “radical traditionalist.” Lawler now recognizes that the current Roman Pontiff is actually conducting a purge of the orthodox. It began, Lawler notes, with “Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was exiled from the Roman Curia soon after Pope Francis took office, and given a mostly ceremonial post as patron of the Knights of Malta. It is ironic — and perhaps not coincidental — that the latest incident involves his new charge.”
In addition to the forced resignation of the Knights’ head, Matthew Festing, Lawler mentions the following stages of the purge already discussed on these pages:
“The wholesale replacement of the prelates on the Congregation for Divine Worship: another unprecedented move, producing an entirely new panel that will be more friendly to the preferences of Pope Francis, and less supportive of the tradition-minded prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah.
“The abrupt dismissal of three clerics on the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. No explanation for the firings was given, and according to published reports, the Pope made a point of saying that he was not obliged to give an explanation. But reliable Vatican sources explain that the clerics had been accused of making unflattering comments about Pope Francis — not in public, but in private conversations with colleagues.
“The contemptuous treatment of the four cardinals who submitted dubia about Amoris Laetitae, by people who are perceived as surrogates for the Pope. And for that matter, the Pontiff’s own studied refusal to answer questions from prelates who should be his trusted advisers.”
Lawler is clearly angry, and justly so. For his is the righteous anger of a faithful Catholic who can no longer remain silent while our beloved Church is scourged in this manner. His conclusion could not be stronger:
“All these incidents have occurred in a Vatican where the climate has already been formed by the Pope’s tongue-lashings of the Roman Curia, by the blatant manipulation of the Synod of Bishops, by the Pontiff’s daily denunciations of ‘doctors of the law’ and ‘rigid’ clerics. A clear picture emerges: of a Roman Pontiff determined to impose his own will on the universal Church.”
Nothing I have written here is any harsher than the truth Lawler so courageously enunciates from a position in the so-called mainstream — from which it is much more difficult to speak frankly.
Lawler ends on a note that should be echoed by every Catholic worthy of the name. Noting the arch-liberal Fr. Thomas Reese’s frank admission that he would have been outraged if John Paul II or Benedict XVI had stacked the College of Cardinals as Francis is now doing, Lawler remarks: “Outrage would have been a reasonable response then, if those earlier Popes had restricted promotions to men who shared their personal opinions [as opposed to sound orthodoxy]. It is a reasonable response now.”
Indeed it is. It is, in fact, the only reasonable response for a Catholic who cares about the state of the Church today. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
It’s been a while since we’ve reported on the dreadful writings of Monsignor Basil Loftus, whom we dubbed “Mgr Leftus” because he has, without doubt, abandoned the Catholic Faith of 2,000 years for the newer, if manifestly fewer, modernist version. I haven’t read his column for ages, but this morning, Sunday, 22nd January, a reader insisted that I take a copy of his latest offering, because it really is, literally, a very nasty piece of work. Having read today’s claptrap, I thought I’d post some extracts for discussion, knowing full well that there’s no point in writing to his bishop (Diocese of Aberdeen and Diocese of Leeds – as if we don’t have enough heretics of our own up here, they brought him up from England) because both bishops totally ignored the Open Letter we sent to them, some years ago. True to type, they have allowed him to continue, unchallenged, to attack Catholic Faith and Morals, to the great scandal of many of the faithful. Shame on them.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that at a time when society is emphasising that we must de-stigmatise mental illness, the Pope and Mgr Leftus would think twice about using it as a term of abuse. Wouldn’t you? But no. Far from it.
good Monsignor spends most of today’s column citing, with obvious approval, Pope Francis’ assertion that young men who apply for seminary “with the intention of adhering to a pre-Vatican II liturgy” (i.e. the traditional Mass) are undesirables (if not deplorables!)
Stretching back to 2015, Mgr quotes the Pope addressing a meeting of priests in the Diocese of Rome: “to ordain these types of seminarians is like placing a mortgage on the Church” and cites the Pope’s warning to bishops a short time later that they must “think twice” when a young man is ‘too confident, rigid and fundamentalist’ telling them to beware when admitting candidates to the seminary, because ‘there are mentally ill boys who seek strong structures that can protect them, such as the police, the army and the clergy.’ [All quotes taken from Francis’ concern over liturgical young fogeys, The Catholic Times, 20 January, 2017]
Speaking to bishops, says Mgr L, Pope Francis opined that “Tridentine-rite liturgies celebrated by priests who had never known the Church under the old rite were ‘a manifestation of moral and psychological imbalances.’ And, a delighted Mgr L goes on, the Pope warned newly appointed bishops in 2015: “Be careful when a seminarian seeks refuge in rigidity – because underneath this there is always something bad.”
The traditional Mass is described as “its own shop window” in today’s savage attack, not to be”reinforced” in seminaries “or by the use of outdated episcopal carnival-costumes” (that is this terrible priest’s standard way of describing the sacred vestments).
The entire article exudes evil. As one American bishop said (and I quoted him, with source, in our newsletter at the time) “To be indifferent to the old rite is one thing; to hate it comes straight from Hell”.
Now, there’s a thought for the
good Monsignor. Instead of blethering on about “rigid fundamentalism” he ought to try it sometime. Would make much more interesting reading that the baloney he churns out week after week in the Anything-But-Catholic Times.
The Irish hierarchy will not ask Pope Francis to consider permitting priests who left to get married to return to ministry at a meeting in Rome next week after failing to reach a consensus, The Irish Catholic can reveal.
However, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, who first brought the proposal for discussion with his fellow Irish bishops, said the issue may well come up during a series of meetings the Irish bishops are due to have with the Pontiff and senior Vatican officials in coming days.
The possibility of married men being ordained to the priesthood in Ireland may come up in next week’s meeting between the bishops and Pope Francis, according to the bishop who in 2015 said the idea should be considered.
The bishop’s observation comes against a background of rumours that the Pope is willing to allow married former priests to return to ministry in Brazil on a phased and experimental basis, and as Ireland’s bishops are due to make their first ad limina visit to Rome in a decade.
In June 2015, Kilmore’s Bishop Leo O’Reilly said he was liaising with other bishops about setting up a commission to discuss the possibilities of ordaining married men and of appointing female deacons, saying that the Pope encouraged individual bishops and bishops’ conferences to be creative in looking at ways to do ministry in the future, and that Ireland bishops must “consider all options”.
However, Dr O’Reilly told The Irish Catholic, no decision was made when he raised the matter with his fellow bishops in 2015.
“There was a discussion about it at the bishops’ conference, and it was inconclusive – there was no decision taken at that point, and that’s where it rested,” he said.
“Where it came from originally was the diocesan pastoral plan,” he said, highlighting how it had arisen following an 18-month listening process in his Kilmore diocese which had led in turn to a diocesan assembly and a new diocesan pastoral plan to tackle such challenges facing the Church as the declining number of priests.
“The request of the plan was that I would bring it to the bishops’ conference, which I have done,” he continued. “I don’t know whether there is anything more that I could do on it.”
At the same time, he said, there was a chance that the proposal could be raised at next week’s ad limina visit of the Irish bishops to Rome. “I’d say it’s possible,” he said, “because I would have sent in the pastoral plan as part of the submission of the report to the Vatican.” Source
Well.. will Catholic Irish eyes be smiling at the end of this ad limina d’ye think, at all, at all?
My own research has shown that this incident occurred at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and that it was Cardinal Gerhard Müller himself who now has to obey these peremptory new orders. Additionally, I was able to discover that the three priests involved are, respectively, of a Slovakian-American, French, and Mexican nationality. (One of my sources is a friend of one of these three theologians.) However, the last of these three might now, after all, be able to remain a little longer in his current position at the Congregation.
Let us now consider some of the specific details of what Marco Tosatti himself has perceptively gathered for us. He starts his article with a reference to Pope Francis’ usual rebuke of the Roman Curia at his Christmas address to the Curia and detects the pope’s obvious anger in his words and gestures. When looking over to the Curia itself, however, Tosatti perceives something else than a reciprocal anger to be present among the curial members: “It is not about their resistance, but about their fear, their discontent, and a kind of feeling that belongs to another context altogether.”
Tosatti then refers to a credible source who told him several recent episodes occurring at the Vatican. Two of them appear to be of great importance and might also give us some additional glimpses into Pope Francis’ own authoritarian methods as well as his somewhat indirect way of ruling the Church. But, we should now first concentrate on the new personnel matter at the Congregation for Doctrine, which Tosatti himself says is “decisively sadder.” Here is Tosatti’s report:
“The head of a dicastery has received the order to remove three of his employees (all of whom have worked there for a long time), and it was without any explanation. He [the Prefect] received these official letters: “….I request that you please dismiss ….” The order was: send him [each of them] back into his diocese of origin or to the Religious Family to which he belongs. He [the Prefect of the Congregation] was very perplexed because it was about three excellent priests who are among the most capable professionally. He first avoided obeying and several times asked for an audience with the pope. He had to wait because that meeting was postponed several times. Finally, he was received in an audience. And he said: “Your Holiness, I have received these letters, but I did not do anything because these persons are among the best of my dicastery… what did they do?” The answer was, as follows: “And I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave.” He got up and stretched out his hand in order to indicate that the audience was at an end. On 31 December, two of the three [men] will leave the dicastery in which they have worked for years, and without knowing the why. For the third, there seems to be a certain delay. But then, there is another implication which, if true, would be even more unpleasant. One of the two had freely spoken about certain decisions of the pope – perhaps a little bit too much. A certain person – a friend of a close collaborator of the pope – heard this disclosure and passed it on. The victim received then a very harsh telephone call from Number One [i.e., the pope]. And then soon came the dismissal.” [emphasis added]
In this passage, Tosatti piercingly speaks about an “autocratic fever that seems to have broken out in the Vatican.” [my emphasis] And he concludes his report with the following words:
“Thus it is not so astonishing when the atmosphere behind the walls and in the palaces is not really serene. And one may now ask oneself what kind of credit this fact gives altogether to all the elaborate and sustained fanfare about mercy.” [my emphasis]
Thus Tosatti adds another piece of the puzzle concerning Pope Francis’ manner and methods of governance through which he seemingly aims at removing – or marginalizing – orthodox prelates, priests, and laymen from positions of formative influence in the Vatican.
Moreover, with specific regard of the Congregation for Doctrine, another source had told me the following, more than a month ago:
“One source in Rome says that all those who work for the Holy See are afraid to talk about anything for fear of being chopped because of the presence of informants everywhere. He compared it to Stalinist Russia. He said two priest friends of his, good men, have been fired from the CDF because they were accused of being critical of Pope Francis.”
This same Rome source, who is personally very honest and well informed, reports that these two priests here mentioned (who do not seem to be the same ones who are involved in the recent three personnel cases) fear that they will not be the only ones to be removed. They see their own removal to be just the beginning of a “massive overhaul” [my emphasis] within the Doctrine Congregation, “not unlike what happened recently to Cardinal Sarah’s Divine Worship Congregation.” (Here we might be reminded of the fact that it was Marco Tosatti himself who had earlier called these recent changes at the Congregation for Divine Worship a “Purge.”)
We have also recently reported about the pope’s earlier decision to remove the members of the Pontifical Academy of Life, which is widely known for its strong stance in defense of human life. Here is what one well-informed source had reported to me then about this incident:
“At the end of 2016 the Pontifical Academy for Life was closed and all its members dismissed. The Academy will be reconstituted in 2017 with new statutes and the Academy will be repopulated. The process for naming new members of the Academy is not known.”
During this forthcoming year of 2017 – the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima – may the Blessed Mother increasingly be our help and our trustworthy refuge. May she help us with those graces we shall need to defend the truth more fully and to manifest Christ’s love, as well, even in the face of fear. Source
VATICAN CITY – Everyone experiences doubts about the faith at times – “I have” many times, Pope Francis said – but such doubts can be “a sign that we want to know God better and more deeply.”
“We do not need to be afraid of questions and doubts because they are the beginning of a path of knowledge and going deeper; one who does not ask questions cannot progress either in knowledge or in faith,” the pope said Nov. 23 at his weekly general audience.
Pope Francis said that although the Year of Mercy has concluded, he still wanted to continue his general audience reflections on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
With fewer than 10,000 pilgrims and visitors present and with rain forecast, the Vatican moved the audience indoors to the Vatican audience hall. Click here to read more
Am I alone is not having experienced “doubts” about the Faith? Maybe I was taught, too thoroughly, that wilful doubt is one of the chief sins against the Faith (Scottish Catechism of Christian Doctrine, Chapter XXVIII, The First Commandment – Section 1: the Worship of God, # 541)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), # 2088 teaches that the first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith: Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness. End of extract from CCC
I was taught that God cannot deceive, and thus, we are obliged to accept, in the spirit of Faith, what He has revealed. Obviously, such Faith is accepted in the context of learning about the nature of Church, that the authority of the Catholic Church comes from God, and that, thus, there is no need for “doubts”. Of course we should continue to study and read about the Church, but not in a spirit of asking God to prove Himself to us. It has become a fashion to doubt, the implication being that unless we entertain doubts we are somehow less intelligent that those who do. The opposite is, in fact, true. It is entirely against the nature of true Faith to entertain doubts. The legitimate questions which arise, and to which we seek answers, are not “doubts” so it is a pity that Pope Francis is using the word and encouraging the idea that it is a good thing to doubt.
Personally, I think that Pope Francis is confusing the duty to keep ourselves educated in the Faith through study and prayer, with doubting, which is, as indicated above, one of the chief sins against the Faith. What do you think?
What Religion Is This?
by Christopher A. Ferrara
November 8, 2016
In a brief address to an “inter-religious audience” at the Vatican on November 3, Francis spoke on “the theme of mercy,” but without a single reference to the King of Mercy, Jesus Christ, the sole merciful savior of mankind, nor any reference to the sacraments of the Church that Christ established precisely to show His mercy toward men of good will.
Alluding vaguely to “the Christian message” while saying absolutely nothing about the grace of repentance that must precede the grace of justification and the regeneration of the soul of fallen man, Francis sketched instead a concept of mercy seemingly designed to accommodate any and all religions, so-called.
Mercy, said Francis, is not God’s forgiveness of sin through Baptism or the absolution of a repentant sinner in the confessional, in the manner Christ ordained when He commissioned His Church (cf. John 20:23). Rather, he opined, “the mystery of mercy is not to be celebrated in words alone, but above all by deeds, by a truly merciful way of life marked by disinterested love, fraternal service and sincere sharing.”
What does this have to do with Divine Mercy for the sinner who repents and turns to God, which was supposedly the theme of the Year of Mercy now concluding? The address seems instead to conflate Divine Mercy with human acts of kindness devoid of any motive of supernatural grace.
Indeed, Francis goes on to say that “The Church increasingly desires to adopt this way of life, also as part of her ‘duty to foster unity and charity’ among all men and women…” The Church is depicted as an organization that has only recently begun to discover fully what mercy means! It means, according to Francis, a “way of life” — again, without reference to Divine Mercy toward repentant sinners.
Mercy as a “way of life” — rather than a divine action toward the sinner — is something that anyone, no matter what he believes, can possess. Thus, says Francis, “[t]he religions are likewise called to this way of life, in order to be, particularly in our own day, messengers of peace and builders of communion, and to proclaim, in opposition to all those who sow conflict, division and intolerance, that ours is a time of fraternity.”
Note well: “the religions” are referenced indifferently, as if they were all on equal footing with respect to the quality of mercy, which is reduced, in essence, to social work and brotherhood.
Continuing this indifferentist, pan-religious refrain, Francis declares that “mercy” as he conceives it — quoting himself — is that quality which is “more open to dialogue, the better to know and understand one another; eliminates every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect; and drives out every form of violence and discrimination (Misericordiae Vultus, 23). This is pleasing to God and constitutes an urgent task, responding not only to today’s needs but above all to the summons to love which is the soul of all authentic religion.”
Not a word here about the supernatural grace of charity obtained and maintained through the sacraments instituted by Christ, nor the divine action involved in God’s mercy thus obtained. Rather, again, we see only an appeal to do-goodism depicted as the “soul of all authentic religion.”
As Francis further declares (once again quoting himself), “mercy” also means the practice of environmental conservation:
“Mercy extends also to the world around us, to our common home, which we are called to protect and preserve from unbridled and rapacious consumption. Our commitment is needed for an education to sobriety and to respect, to a more simple and orderly way of life, in which the resources of creation are used with wisdom and moderation, with concern for humanity as a whole and coming generations, not simply the interests of our particular group and the benefits of the present moment. Today in particular, ‘the gravity of the ecological crisis demands that we all look to the common good, embarking on a path of dialogue which requires patience, self-discipline and generosity'” (Laudato Si’, 201).
So, “authentic religion” now expands to include not merely the one and only religion that God established, but also any and all religions whose adherents do good, including caring for the environment. “Mercy” thus defined would therefore be an element, according to Francis, of virtually all religions that advocate doing good:
“The theme of mercy is familiar to many religious and cultural traditions, where compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life; in the words of an ancient proverb: ‘death is hard and stiff; life is soft and supple’ (Tao-Te-Ching, 76). To bow down with compassionate love before the weak and needy is part of the authentic spirit of religion, which rejects the temptation to resort to force, refuses to barter human lives and sees others as brothers and sisters, and never mere statistics. To draw near to all those living in situations that call for our concern, such as sickness, disability, poverty, injustice and the aftermath of conflicts and migrations: this is a summons rising from the heart of every genuine religious tradition. It is the echo of the divine voice heard in the conscience of every person, calling him or her to reject selfishness and to be open….”
When Francis finally gets around to mentioning Divine Mercy, he appears to make God’s forgiveness of sin available to anyone who practices mercy on a human level whether or not it involves an act of supernatural charity motivated by divine grace:
“How important this is, when we consider today’s widespread fear that it is impossible to be forgiven, rehabilitated and redeemed from our weaknesses. For us Catholics, among the most meaningful rites of the Holy Year is that of walking with humility and trust through the door – the Holy Door – to find ourselves fully reconciled by the mercy of God, who forgives our trespasses. But this demands that we too forgive those who trespass against us (cf. Mt 6:12), the brothers and sisters who have offended us. We receive God’s forgiveness in order to share it with others. Forgiveness is surely the greatest gift we can give to others, because it is the most costly. Yet at the same time, it is what makes us most like God.”
But, as the Church has always taught, in fallen man the imago Dei — the likeness to God — can be restored only by the grace of justification following the grace of repentance for sin. And the ordinary means of justification are Baptism and, after Baptism, absolution of mortal sin by way of Confession, about which Francis has nothing whatever to say to an audience desperately in need of the helps only the Church that Christ established can provide.
Thus does the Catholic faith — the one, true, divinely revealed religion — fade into insignificance in the grand scheme of “authentic religion” reduced to doing good and forgiving others without any obligation to assent to revealed truth, avail oneself of the divinely instituted sacraments, or indeed profess any particular religious belief at all. Catholics may be reconciled in their Catholic way (certainly not by merely walking through a Holy Door with humility and trust), but anyone who simply forgives, on a human level, attains the divine likeness.
Driving home the point, lest anyone miss it, Francis concludes by declaring: “May the religions be wombs of life, bearing the merciful love of God to a wounded and needy humanity; may they be doors of hope helping to penetrate the walls erected by pride and fear.” All religions “bear the merciful love of God,” no matter what errors or superstitions they involve. All that matters, according to Francis, is that their adherents show forgiveness and brotherhood toward others and care for the environment.
Referring to the recent debacle of the Pope’s visit to Sweden to “commemorate” the Protestant Rebellion launched by Luther, the respected traditional Catholic scholar Roberto de Mattei observed: “What surfaced during the ecumenical meeting between Pope Francis and the World Lutheran Federation on October 31st in Lund, seems to be a new religion.”
A new religion indeed. And certainly not the religion established by God Incarnate in the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. But then, as Pius XI warned about those who would embrace the then-nascent “ecumenical movement” with its pan-Christian gatherings:
“Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little, turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.
As the human element of the Church has come to accept and participate not only in pan-Christian but also pan-religious spectacles, such as this address by Francis, we can consider Pius XI’s warning a prophecy fulfilled, along with the prophecy undoubtedly contained in the integral Third Secret of Fatima. Source – fatima.org
Well, we’ve had a new Mass, new catechism, new rosary, new canon law, new morality, blah blah, so why not a new “mercy”?