Ad Tuendam Fidem, Ad Tuendam Fidem… Wherefore Art Thou ? 

JOHN PAUL II
Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio
AD TUENDAM FIDEM,
by which certain norms are inserted
into the Code of Canon Law
and into the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches

PROTECT THE FAITH of the Catholic Church against errors arising from certain members of the Christian faithful, especially from among those dedicated to the various disciplines of sacred theology, we, whose principal duty is to confirm the brethren in the faith (Lk 22:32), consider it absolutely necessary to add to the existing texts of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church, and which also establish related canonical sanctions.

1.From the first centuries to the present day, the Church has professed the truths of her faith in Christ and the mystery of his redemption. These truths were subsequently gathered into the Symbols of the faith, today known and proclaimed in common by the faithful in the solemn and festive celebration of Mass as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

This same Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is contained in the Profession of faith developed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,(1) which must be made by specific members of the faithful when they receive an office, that is directly or indirectly related to deeper investigation into the truths of faith and morals, or is united to a particular power in the governance of the Church.(2)

2. The Profession of faith, which appropriately begins with the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, contains three propositions or paragraphs intended to describe the truths of the Catholic faith, which the Church, in the course of time and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit “who will teach the whole truth” (Jn 16:13), has ever more deeply explored and will continue to explore.(3)

The first paragraph states: “With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.”(4) This paragraph appropriately confirms and is provided for in the Church’s universal legislation, in canon 750 of the Code of Canon Law(5) and canon 598 of the Code of the Canons of the Eastern Churches.(6)

The third paragraph states: “Moreover I adhere with submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.”(7) This paragraph has its corresponding legislative expression in canon 752 of the Code of Canon Law(8) and canon 599 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.(9)

3. The second paragraph, however, which states “I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals,”(10) has no corresponding canon in the Codes of the Catholic Church. This second paragraph of the Profession of faith is of utmost importance since it refers to truths that are necessarily connected to divine revelation. These truths, in the investigation of Catholic doctrine, illustrate the Divine Spirit’s particular inspiration for the Church’s deeper understanding of a truth concerning faith and morals, with which they are connected either for historical reasons or by a logical relationship.

4. Moved therefore by this need, and after careful deliberation, we have decided to overcome this lacuna in the universal law in the following way:

A) Canon 750 of the Code of Canon Law will now consist of two paragraphs; the first will present the text of the existing canon; the second will contain a new text. Thus, canon 750, in its complete form, will read:

Canon 750 – § 1. Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.
§ 2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Canon 1371, n. 1 of the Code of Canon Law, consequently, will receive an appropriate reference to canon 750 § 2, so that it will now read:

Canon 1371 – The following are to be punished with a just penalty:

a person who, apart from the case mentioned in canon 1364 § 1, teaches a doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff, or by an Ecumenical Council, or obstinately rejects the teachings mentioned in canon 750 § 2 or in canon 752 and, when warned by the Apostolic See or by the Ordinary, does not retract;

a person who in any other way does not obey the lawful command or prohibition of the Apostolic See or the Ordinary or Superior and, after being warned, persists in disobedience.

B) Canon 598 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches will now have two paragraphs: the first will present the text of the existing canon and the second will contain a new text. Thus canon 598, in its complete form, will read as follows:

Canon 598 – § 1. Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All Christian faithful are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.

§ 2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Canon 1436 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, consequently, will receive an appropriate reference to canon 598 § 2, so that it will now read:

Canon 1436 – § 1. Whoever denies a truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or who calls into doubt, or who totally repudiates the Christian faith, and does not retract after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished as a heretic or an apostate with a major excommunication; a cleric moreover can be punished with other penalties, not excluding deposition.
§ 2. In addition to these cases, whoever obstinately rejects a teaching that the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops, exercising the authentic Magisterium, have set forth to be held definitively, or who affirms what they have condemned as erroneous, and does not retract after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.

5. We order that everything decreed by us in this Apostolic Letter, given motu proprio, be established and ratified, and we prescribe that the insertions listed above be introduced into the universal legislation of the Catholic Church, that is, into the Code of Canon Law and into the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

 

Given in Rome, at St Peter’s, on 18 May, in the year 1998, the twentieth of our Pontificate.
JOHN PAUL II

Read document at source here, including footnotes. 

 

 

Comment:

Here we have a clear sign that Pope John Paul II wished Canon Law to be enforced against dissenters, heretics and apostates.  The above Motu Proprio spells it out clearly:  reject Catholic truths and you set yourself against the teaching of the Catholic Church – we are, one and all, to avoid any contrary doctrines.  Yet, Pope John Paul II himself did not apply it.  Odd. 

So, what happened?  Why was it never invoked?  Or, did I miss it?  Whatever, is there any offender (or a million) at the present time, to whom, one might think, the penalties might be applied, which Pope John Paul II inserted to strengthen Canon Law against dissenters, heretics and apostates?  Only asking, not least because Ad tuendam fidem seems to have disappeared into thin air, which is why we ask:  Ad tuendam fidem, Ad tuendam fidem… wherefore art thou, Romeo, Ad tuendam fidem ?   

The Winner of the Confused Cardinal Competition is… Cardinal Dolan!

Comment: 

Cardinal Dolan’s confusion is mind-boggling.  It’s beyond belief than any prelate would makes excuses not to publicly excommunicate this man for his shocking legalisation of infanticide and then to say he’s “restless” when faced with the possibility of at least refusing him Communion – which is mandated anyway in Canon Law #915 for “[those] who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin…”

More than one bishop has already invoked this law to prohibit pro-abortion politicians from approaching for Holy Communion – click here to read more.

Overall, while he’s tailor made for show-business, Cardinal Dolan is unimpressive as a prelate of the Catholic Church.  And that is to understate the case by a zillion miles…

If you disagree – which I cannot imagine – tell us;  otherwise share your thoughts on just how long it is likely to take for infanticide (the murder of the new-born infant) to be legalised here in the UK.   

Incredibly, New York’s murderous Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a number of buildings, including One World Trade Center, to be lit up pink to “celebrate” the passing of the Bill.  This is one very sick mind at work. Please pray for him – and for the very confused Cardinal Dolan.  IS there a more confused cardinal anywhere in the world?  

The Christian Response to Brexit… And why Catholics should support Brexit…


To reflect on why Catholics should support Brexit, click here

Comment: 

Share your thoughts on the video commentary and tell us if you agree with the rationale in the Regina article about why Catholics should support Brexit. If so, which argument did you find most convincing?

    

Glasgow Jesuits Invite Anglican Female “Priest” To Deliver Romero Lecture…

 Editor writes, 

Blogger Athanasius, aka Martin Blackshaw, emailed the following letter to the Jesuit priests in St Aloysius College, Garnethill, to rightfully challenge them on this latest scandal…

January 27, 2019

Dear Jesuit Fathers of St. Aloysius,

Joanna Jepson “ordained” priest in Church of England in 2004

I note from your online newsletter that you have invited Joanna Jepson to be the “keynote speaker” at your forthcoming Romero Lecture (January 29).

I keep thinking that I can no longer be shocked by the unCatholic actions of modern Jesuits, then something like this crops up and I cringe at yet another wound inflicted on the Mystical Body of Christ by those who should know better, especially by priests of an order named after the Saviour Himself.

How far removed you are from St. John Ogilvie who returned to Scotland after ordination “to unteach heresy”. He came to counter the Protestant teachers you now promote because he knew and believed that salvation is not possible outside the Catholic Church.

In this regard, you will doubtless be aware that Anglican orders are invalid by declaration of Pope Leo XIII. You will also know that priestesses are historically a pagan phenomenon. At any rate, you cannot claim ignorance of the infallible dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

Hence it would appear that by inviting this Anglican lady to address Catholics you are knowingly opposing the immemorial teaching of the Church as well as the unique Judeo/Christian tradition of a male only clergy. This is called rebellion and you may be assured that it is not the Holy Spirit who inspires it!

Speaking of which, I assume you are familiar with Miss Jepson’s previous public approval of sex before marriage. This is clearly an anti-Gospel approval of adultery that contradicts infallible Catholic moral teaching, yet you still invite this confused soul to address Catholics instead of exercising true divine charity in her regard by trying to correct her and lead her to the truth.

This begs the question: What has become of supernatural faith in your souls, that divine virtue that inspired and fortified Catholic clerics like St. John Ogilvie to preach the truth “in season and out of season”, as admonished by St. Paul?

I hope you will seriously consider the question in these times of moral relativism and religious indifference, times in which increasing numbers of “dead fish flow with the current”, to quote G K Chesterton.

If you would understand why all seminaries in Scotland, as well as in so many other towns and cities throughout the world, have closed in recent years, it is precisely because too many priests of God have abandoned their supernatural duty to teach and to sanctify souls, choosing instead a less hostile engagement with the secular world that distinguishes neither truth from error. Is it any wonder that young men dismiss the modern priesthood as little more than a politically correct form of social work?

Given the sheer scale of the liturgical abuses and doctrinal deviances since Vatican II, rebellious outrages that can by no means find justification in the texts of the conciliar documents, the following prophecy of St. Paul comes to mind:

“There will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but according to their own desires will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables”.

Ecumenism is one such fable, condemned many times by the pre-Vatican II Popes as “an insanity” that is “fatal to the Catholic religion”.

Sad to say, the Jesuit order, once the bulwark of Catholic orthodoxy against the so-called “reformers” of the XVI century, has been at the vanguard in promoting ecumenism and other Modernist errors since the turn of the 20th century, playing a particularly significant role during and after Vatican II.

Of course we know that Pope St. Pius X condemned Modernism as “the synthesis of all heresies”, a definition that fits perfectly with the post-Conciliar “auto demolition of the Church”, lamented by Pope Paul VI.

Yes, the Church is undergoing the most serious crisis in her history, a universal Modernist revolution led by Churchmen who seek more the approval of men than of God. Hence the obscuring these past decades of so many divine truths once preached with holy zeal and without fear.

Speculating on the possibility of such a future tragedy in the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine admonished that in the event of so great a crisis Catholics should ensure the safety of their immortal souls by cleaving to Tradition.

By the grace of God my family and I made that choice some 30 years ago, as have many others who have witnessed the destructive superficiality of the so-called conciliar reform. I hope you Jesuit Fathers will reflect on this and resolve henceforth to emulate Sts. Aloysius, John Ogilvie and so many other great Jesuits who sought to convert Protestants rather than confirm them in their errors.

And in respect to priestesses, altar girls and other manifestations of female invasions of the Sanctuary, you would do well to remember that the sexes were created by God to be complementary, not competitive. The modern Feminist movement is not Catholic, it is Cultural Marxism and it should be resisted as destructive of both Faith and family.

Sincerely in Jesus & Mary

Martin Blackshaw

Comment: 

If any readers or bloggers would care to go along to hear this lecture, [Tuesday, 29 January, 7pm, entry free, 45 Hill Street, Glasgow, G3 6RJ], we would be grateful for your feedback.  In particular, we would be interested to learn the identities of any priests or religious who turn up to support this event., or at least, an approximate number.  All the better if you find an opportunity to ask them how they can possibly justify their attendance, and let us know because we’re just puzzled to death as to what possible rationale there can be for extending an invitation like this to an Anglican “priest” – and not just any old Anglican “priest” but a female Anglican “priest”…   

Note:  I have emailed the link to this thread to both Joanna Jepson and the Jesuits in Garnethill, with an invitation to participate if they feel that they can justify this scandal.  This is not any kind of personal insult to Joanna Jepson.  It is purely a matter of the exercise of our Confirmation duty to defend and promote the traditional Christian Faith, against the contemporary heresy of female ordination.   This from 5th century Doctor of the Church – St Vincent Lerins:  

“…in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly ‘Catholic,’ as is shown by the very force and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality, antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself, we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, Bishops and Doctors alike.

“What then will the Catholic Christian do, if a small part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is sure. He will prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb.

“But what if some novel contagions try to infect the whole Church, and not merely a tiny part of it? Then he will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty.

“What if in antiquity itself two or three men, or it may be a city, or even a whole province be detected in error? Then he will take the greatest care to prefer the decrees of the ancient General Councils, if there are such, to the irresponsible ignorance of a few men.

“But what if some error arises regarding which nothing of this sort is to be found? Then he must do his best to compare the opinions of the Fathers and inquire their meaning, provided always that, though they belonged to diverse times and places, they yet continued in the faith and communion of the one Catholic Church; and let them be teachers approved and outstanding. And whatever he shall find to have been held, approved and taught, not by one or two only but by all equally and with one consent, openly, frequently, and persistently, let him take this as to be held by him without the slightest hesitation.”  (The Vincentian Canon, in Commonitorium, chap IV, 434,  ed. Moxon, Cambridge Patristic Texts)

Church Authority – Who Decides Which Apparitions Are True? 

Editor writes…

The reported visions at Fátima gathered widespread attention, as numerous pilgrims began to visit the site. After a canonical inquiry, the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima officially declared the visions of Fátima as “worthy of belief” in October 1930, officially permitting the belief of Our Lady of Fátima.

From time to time, I find myself in conversation with well-meaning Catholics who are followers of Medjugorje and, typically, assure me that they won’t be “converted” – no point in discussing it, as they won’t change their mind.  I met one such Catholic again this past week and it renewed my interest in the matter of how to distinguish true from false apparitions, and why it is that those who follow false apparitions, especially the Medjugorje phenomenon, are so wholeheartedly convinced of its truth.

In almost every case where I’ve met a person convinced that Our Lady is appearing at Medjugorje, the person tells me that they had a profound spiritual experience, that their lives were completely transformed by Medjugorje.  Typically, though, and very tellingly, these same people are – in every case known to me – accepting also of the “reforms” of Vatican II and devoted to the “saint” popes who promoted it.  They have no problems with the new Mass and all the liturgical abuses that have flowed from it.

It seems clear, then, that without an authentic  grasp  of the centrality of Catholic Tradition across the board, in every area of our lives, no adherent of a false apparition will ever be convinced of the need to turn away from unapproved apparitions.  In the most recent conversation, the person expressed some surprise as she asked me if it were the case then, that I would only accept (and promote) approved apparitions.  This is the elementary Catholic position – we were always taught to be sceptical of alleged apparitions until the one person in the Church with authority to pronounce otherwise – the Bishop – told us that this or that alleged apparition had now been thoroughly investigated and was either worthy of belief or not worthy of belief.  Below, a very good article setting out the traditional position of the Church on apparitions, and it is worth noting that the author touches on a number of alleged apparitions in our times, including Medjugorje…

Evaluating Private Apparitions – from website Unam Sanctam Catholicam

One of the most appalling phenomenon in the modern Church is the rise in false visionaries who draw away large segments of the faithful into sectarian groups intent on promoting their own visionary. These range from the very large movements like Medjugorje to the very small, like Our Lady of Emmitsburg. In America and Europe, much credence has recently been given to an anonymous web-based locutionist known only as “Maria Divine Mercy.” That an unknown locutionist can get such a following posting anonymous messages on a website is astounding, but it is a symptom of the sad state of affairs in Catholic spirituality these days, where the position of many Catholics seems to be to give implicit credence to any alleged apparition without a thought. As with other issues, the answer is to look to Catholic Tradition to bring back some sanity to the problem of evaluating alleged apparitions. In this article, we will take a very broad look at the Catholic Tradition regarding how alleged private revelations are to be judged, looking at questions of the character of the visionaries, the content of the apparitions, the manner in which they are delivered, as well as guidelines of a more general nature that teach us how we should dispose our mind whenever looking at these questions.

It is difficult to point to a single place in Tradition where we can see all of the following principles crystallized, and this article will draw on the summary already provided in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, which itself draws on the teachings of several popes and theologians, especially of the 17th-19th centuries. Special mention should be made of the scholar-pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758) who wrote extensively on this topic.

Preliminary Remarks

Two preliminary remarks to help frame this discussion:

(1) According to Tradition, it has always fallen to the local Ordinary to judge the legitimacy or illegitimacy of any private apparition. This is why, in the story of St. Juan Diego, it is not the pope but Bishop Juan Zumarraga whom Juan Diego must convince; when Zumarraga is skeptical of Juan Diego’s claims initially, we do not see Juan Diego saying, “I will wait for the Pope to weigh in on this” and appealing to Rome; it remains the bishop whom Juan Diego must convince, because final judgment rests with the local Ordinary. This is the Tradition of the Church, and this Tradition still maintains the force of law per the 1978 CDF document cumbersomely named “Norms for Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations”, which notes that “the foremost authority to inquire and to intervene belongs to the local Ordinary” [1]. An episcopal conference or even the Holy See may intervene, but only if specifically requested by the Ordinary; thus authority remains with the Ordinary in these cases, which means that those proponents of certain private revelations who protest their legitimacy based on the fact that “the Vatican has not condemned it” are thinking of the problem amiss, especially if the apparition in question has actually been condemned by the local Ordinary. It has never been the Vatican’s prerogative to either approve or condemn; this action is done by the local Ordinary.

(2) In American law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. In Catholic Tradition, an apparition is judged false until proven true. This is the case because in any given situation the possibility of a true apparition is relatively small. Therefore, the Church must approach all apparitions from the standpoint that they are probably false until such a time when a miraculous occurrence gives reason to believe they are true. In fact, until October 14, 1966, Canons 1399 and 2388 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law forbid anyone to circulate publications about new revelations, appearances, miracles, etc. until they had been expressly approved by the local Ordinary. While the new discipline allows for such publications provided they contain nothing contrary to faith or morals, the fundamental disposition of the Church has not changed: an alleged apparition is presumed to be false until positive evidence can be brought forward demonstrating that it is not.

A Serious Business

The Catholic Encyclopedia warns that dealing with apparitions is a serious business:

“Illusions in the matter of revelations often have a serious consequence, as they usually instigate to exterior acts, such as teaching a doctrine, propagating a new devotion, prophesying, launching into an enterprise that entails expense. There would be no evil to fear if these impulses came from God, but it is entirely otherwise when they do not come from God, which is much more frequently the case and is difficult of discernment.”
In ancient Israel, false prophesy was considered so serious as to merit death on the part of the false prophet, who was guilty of not only misleading his people but of blaspheming God by saying in God’s name things which God had not commanded him to say. [2] Notice that it says that it is difficult to discern if a message comes from God or not, and that it is “much more frequently the case” that it is false. In the history of the Church, it is much more likely that any given person who believes they are receiving messages from heaven is mistaken than not, and because of the very serious consequences that can flow from propagation of alleged messages, those investigating these phenomenon must do so in a manner that is exacting and methodical. It should be noted that to be methodical is not to be judgmental; many supporters of Medjugorje, for example, criticize those who seek to look at the evidence in a straightforward and scientific manner as being judgmental. This intent is not to condemn something prematurely, but neither must we praise and approve something prematurely. This methodical, exacting scrutiny is a must because, as the Encyclopedia says, the truth is “difficult of discernment.”

In judging the apparitions and the messages themselves (not counting whatever is found about about the life of the seers), the Church uses a guilty until proven innocent method:

“To prove that a revelation is Divine (at least in its general outlines), the method of exclusion is sometimes employed. It consists in proving that neither the demon nor the ecstatic’s own ideas have interfered (at least on important points) with God’s action, and that no one has retouched the revelation after its occurrence.”

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

As mentioned above, since the vast majority of apparitions are false, and since positive evidence of supernatural activity is necessary for it to be declared otherwise, the Church takes a “guilty until proven innocent” approach. In this, she first tries to see if the apparition can be attributed to anything else: demonic activity, hallucination, fraud, etc. The investigator ought to finely comb through every detail of the supposed apparition looking for possibilities of corrupted doctrine and non-supernatural origins. Only if all of these other possibilities are ruled out is it finally admitted that the apparition may be divine. Unlike an American jury trial where a verdict of Not Guilty implies innocence, there is a neutral verdict the Ordinary may render: Non constat de supernaturalitate. This judgment means it is not clear that the alleged apparition is false but neither is it manifestly true. Therefore, when judging private apparitions, “not condemned” does not equate to “approved”, because there is a third category – neither condemned as false nor approved as true.

Seven Questions

The Encyclopedia goes on to list seven questions to be examined when looking into the character of the alleged visionary, upon whose credibility much rests. Again, we see the process of the Church attempting to find any other explanation for the phenomenon before declaring them supernatural in origin:

(1) What are his natural qualities or defects, from a physical, intellectual, and especially moral standpoint? If the information is favourable (if the person is of sound judgment, calm imagination; if his acts are dictated by reason and not by enthusiasm, etc.), many causes of illusion are thereby excluded. However, a momentary aberration is still possible.

(2) How has the person been educated? Can the knowledge of the visionary have been derived from books or from conversations with theologians?

(3) What are the virtues exhibited before and after the revelation? Has he made progress in holiness and especially in humility? The tree can be judged by its fruits. [In looking at this criteria, we could perhaps call into question the speech of Medjugorje visionary Vicka, 20 October, 1981, she asks Mary to “paralyze someone; strike someone on the head” in regards to Fr. Jozo’s trial. She then says, “I know it is a sin to speak so, but what can we do?” Is this the words of someone making progress in grace and holiness?]

(4) What extraordinary graces of union with God have been received? The greater they are the greater the probability in favour of the revelation, at least in the main.

(5) Has the person had other revelations that have been judged Divine? Has he made any predictions that have been clearly realized?

(6) Has he been subjected to heavy trials? It is almost impossible for extraordinary favours to be conferred without heavy crosses; for both are marks of God’s friendship, and each is a preparation for the other. [Thus visionaries who are living comfortable lives of material prosperity which they acquired because of their apparitions are notably suspect]

(7) Does he practice the following rules: fear deception; be open with your director; do not desire to have revelations?

These questions pertain to the character of the visionary himself. Of course, we must also scrutinize the content of the messages: is there an authentic account of the alleged messages? Do they agree with recognized doctrine and the facts of history or science? Does it help one towards salvation, etc.?

Clear Signs of False Messages

It is interesting that the Encyclopedia goes on to list signs of false messages, not only with the content (which is obvious) but with the manner in which they are delivered. We will examine these questions and then look at how they can be brought to bear in examining contemporary apparitions.

The first sign of a false message noted is that “They [the apparitions] reply to idle questions, or descend to providing amusement for an assembly.” Also, “a revelation is suspect if it is commonplace, telling only what is to be found in every book. It is then probable that the visionary is unconsciously repeating what he has learnt by reading.” Do we find that the dignity and seriousness which become the Divine Majesty in an apparition, or do the spirits “speak in a trivial manner”?

Finally, the Encyclopedia asks: “If any work has been begun as a result of the revelation, has it produced great spiritual fruit? Have the sovereign pontiffs and the bishops believed this to be so, and have they assisted the progress of the work?” If not, this is a sign that the messages are false.

To compare these criteria with some well known apparitions: Let us look at Medjugorje, where the seers ask idle questions again and again: What happened to so and so? When is so and so going to get out of jail? We haven’t seen so and so for a few weeks; where are they? (see the messages of 9/17/81, 10/30/81 and 12/2/81 for this type of idle questioning about things unrelated to spiritual things) At one point, Mary supposedly even rebukes them for their curiosity (9/30/81), yet the seers continue their line of idle questioning!

The second sign of a false message had to do with messages that were commonplace or could have been found in any book. Again, going to Medjugorje, it would be difficult to argue that they are not commonplace. Their non-stop banal drones for peace sound like they could have come from a statement by the USCCB document. But one would imagine the messages could sound commonplace after being repeated about 35,000 times.

As far as warning about vocabulary that is excessively trivial, what could we say about Bayside, where Jesus tells Veronica Lueken that Americans will be “mowed down” by Communists with machine guns and that “many shall die at the hands of these ruffians” [3] Would Jesus use words like “ruffians” or phrases like “mowed down”? Or again, Bayside has Christ misspeaking, which Veronica tries to cover up: “There are many armors worn by My children that will protect them from these Satanists. I know that those who are satirists—I call them satirists, My child. [4]” Satirists? Clearly Veronica misspoke, attempting to say Satanists and then trying to correct her embarrassing blunder.

What about the final criteria about good works, and the assistance and support of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops?

In the case of Medjugorje, Garabandal and Bayside, the answer os a resounding no. The Bishop of Mostar, the one is the greatest postion to know the facts of the story about Medjugorje and discern the truth, has frequently denied the visions any authenticity, and neither Pope John Paul II nor Benedict XVI accorded any merit of truthfulness to the visions. In fact, the Bishop of Mostar expressely forbid pilgrimage to Medjugorje:

“Therefore it is not permissible to organise pilgrimages and other manifestations motivated by the supernatural character attributed to the facts of Medjugorje” [5].

This ban was reconfirmed June 30th, 1996 by none other than Cardinal Bertone. This same document states the Vatican’s position on Medjugorje as of 1996. Note the reliance upon the judgment of the local Ordinary:

“The Vatican position, which also reflects that of local bishops in the former Yugoslav republic was outlined in a letter by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Archbishop Bertone cited a 1991 report by the Yugoslavian bishops which said that, after much study, it could not be confirmed that supernatural events were occurring at Medjugorje. From what was said, it followed that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, should not be organized, Archbishop Bertone said. Such pilgrimages would be in contradiction with what the local bishops had determined, he added.”

As for Pope Benedict XVI, in 2006, Bishop Peric of Mostar discussed Medjugorje with Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to the Vatican. In a summary of the discussion published in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Peric said he had reviewed the history of the apparitions with the pope, who already was aware of the main facts from his time as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

“The Holy Father told me: We at the congregation always asked ourselves how can any believer accept as authentic apparitions that occur every day and for so many years?”

Bishop Peric also noted that Yugoslavian bishops in 1991 issued a statement that “it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions or revelations are occurring” at Medjugorje. Nevertheless, millions of pilgrims each year continue to disobey the Bishop and spurn his authority, producing chaos and terrible fruits, something that in itself is a witness against the apparitions. The same can be said about Garabandal and Bayside, both of which are vehemently opposed by the local Ordinaries, past and present.

Conclusion: A Call to Precision and Obedience

These are the types of criteria the Church must follow when examining alleged apparitions, not so-called fruits (which are always subjective), but hard evidence. Furthermore, no matter what the outcome of the Church’s decision is, one must always submit to the authority of the Bishop; in the case of Medjugorje, the Bishop (who by the way has led pilgrimages to Lourdes and loves the Blessed Mother dearly) has had his authority flounted at every turn. This in itself is enough to make the visions suspect. There is no cause for anyone to get bent out of shape just because somebody is trying to examine these things rationally. We have to make absolutely certain that a vision is true before we proclaim it so; otherwise, false apparitions and false prophets, like in Old Testament Israel, are able to cause much mayhem.   Source

NOTES

[1] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Norms for Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations”, 3:1
[2] Deut. 18:20
[3]October 1, 1988
[4] November 1, 1985
[5] Jan 29, 1987, “Communiqué of the Yugoslav Bishops Concerning the Facts of Medjugorje” (Jan 29, 1987)

Comments invited…

SSPX Building Up Vs Pulling Down…

From blogger, Gabriel Syme…

Bishop Huonder of the Diocese of Chur (Switzerland) has announced he will spent his retirement with the SSPX. He is 76 and has wished to retire for a while, Pope Francis having already rejected his resignation in 2017. I don’t know a lot about him, beyond the fact he seems quite solid and has previously been “in the wars” with the LGBT and secular movements.
Presumably he will still be able to carry out the functions of a Prelate and so this could be a real boon for the SSPX. Rorate reports that Pope Francis is “well informed” about the Bishop’s choice and personally approves of it.  

Editor writes…

Clearly, those who have spread the falsehood that the SSPX is in schism, are plain wrong – have been all along, of course, but it must be crystal clear, even to the slowest of “liberal” minds, that Pope Francis (of ALL popes!) is hardly likely to approve one of his bishops spending his retirement with a “schismatic” Society of traditional priests and bishops. There’s a limit to embracing “equality”, “diversity” and “tolerance”.  It seems as good a time as ever, then, to reflect on the closing chapter of Archbishop Lefebvre’s Open Letter to Confused Catholics, written just twenty years after the dramatic changes in the Church, in the years following the Second Vatican Council.  

Archbishop Lefebvre writes: Building Up Versus Pulling Down (from Open Letter to Confused Catholics)

Twenty years have gone by and one would have thought that the reactions raised by the Council reforms would have calmed down, that the Catholic people would have buried the religion in which they had been brought up, that the younger ones, not having known it, would have accepted the new one. That, at least, was the wager made by the Modernists. They were not unduly disturbed by the uproar, sure of themselves as they were in the early days. They were less so later on. The frequent and necessary concessions made to the spirit of the world did not produce the expected results. Nobody any longer wanted to be a priest of the new religion and the faithful turned away from their religious practice. The Church which tried to become a Church of the poor became a poor Church, obliged to resort to advertising to collect Peter’s Pence, and to sell off its properties.

During this time those faithful to Tradition drew together in all the Christian lands, and particularly in France, Switzerland, the United States and Latin America.
The fabricator of the new Mass, Mgr. Annibale Bugnini was himself obliged to recognize this world-wide resistance in his posthumous book,21 a resistance which is growing and organizing itself unceasingly and drawing support. No, the “traditionalist” movement is not “slowing-down” as the progressivist journalists write from time to time to reassure themselves. Where else are there as many people at Mass as at St. Nicholas-du-Chardonnet, and also as many Masses, as many Benedicitons of the Blessed Sacrament or as many beautiful ceremonies? The Society of Saint Pius X throughout the world owns seventy houses,22 each with at least one priest, churches like the one in Brussels and the one we have quite recently bought in London, or the one placed at our disposal in Marseilles; also schools, and four seminaries.

Carmelite convents are opening and already forming new communities. Religious communities of men and of women created fifteen or more years ago, who strictly apply the rule of the Orders from which they stem, are overflowing with vocations, and are continuously having to enlarge their premises and construct more buildings. The generosity of the Catholic faithful never ceases to amaze me, particularly in France.

The monasteries are centers of attraction, crowds of people go there often from far away; young people bewildered by the illusory seductions of pleasures and escape in every form, find in them their Road to Damascus. Here is a list of places where they have
kept the true Catholic faith and for that reason draw people: Le Barroux, Flavigny-sur Ozerain, La Haye-aux-Bonshommes, the Benedictines of Alés, the Sisters of Fanjeaux, of Brignolles, of Pontcallec, and communities like that of Father Lecareux…

Travelling a great deal, I see everywhere at work the hand of Christ blessing His Church. In Mexico the ordinary people drove from the churches the reforming clergy who, won over by the so-called liberation theology, wanted to throw out the statues of the saints. “It’s not the statues who are going, it’s you.” Political circumstances have prevented us from opening a priory in Mexico; so faithful priests travel out from a center at El Paso near the frontier in the United States. The descendants of the Cristeros welcome them warmly and offer them their churches. I have administered 2500 confirmations there at the request of the people.

In the United States, young married couples with their numerous children flock to the Society’s priests. In 1982 in that country I ordained the first three priests trained entirely in our seminaries. Groups of traditionalists are on the increase whereas the parishes are declining. Ireland, which has remained refractory towards the novelties, has been subject to the reforms since 1980, altars having been cast into rivers or re-used as building material. Simultaneously, traditionalist groups have formed in Dublin and Belfast. In Brazil, in the diocese of Campos of which I have already spoken, the people have rallied around the priests evicted from their parishes by the new bishop, with processions of 5,000 and 10,000 people taking to the streets.

It is therefore the right road we are following; the proof is there, we recognize the tree by its fruits. What the clergy and the laity have achieved in spite of persecution by the liberal clergy (for, as Louis Veuillot says, “There is nobody more sectarian than a liberal.”) is almost miraculous. Do not let yourself be taken in, dear reader, by the term “traditionalist” which they would have people understand in a bad sense. In a way, it is a pleonasm because I cannot see who can be a Catholic without being a traditionalist. I think I have amply demonstrated in this book that the Church is a tradition. We are a tradition. They also speak of “integrism.” If by that we mean respect for the integrality of dogma, of the catechism, of Christian morality, of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, then yes, we are integrists. And I do not see how one can be a Catholic without being an integrist in that sense of the word.

It has also been said that after me, my work will disappear because there will be no bishop to replace me. I am certain of the contrary; I have no worries on that account. I may die tomorrow, but the good Lord answers all problems. Enough bishops will be found in the world to ordain our seminarians: this I know.

Even if at the moment he is keeping quiet, one or another of these bishops will receive from the Holy Ghost the courage needed to arise in his turn. If my work is of God, He will guard it and use it for the good of the Church. Our Lord has promised us, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.

This is why I persist, and if you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this: At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me, “What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?” I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words, “You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them.”   [Emphasis added]

21 La Riforma Liturgica: Edizioni Liturgiche Rome.
22 At present, in the year 2000, there are 135 priories, 6 seminaries, 75 schools, 3 universities, 3 nursing homes, 4 retreat houses, 4 bishops and 401 priests–ed.

 

Comment: 

I don’t think there can be any doubt in the minds of those who have lived through the years since Vatican II that the SSPX has, indeed, built up (and continues to build up) the Church at this time of crisis.  Thus, it is heartening to read this news of the Swiss diocesan bishop who has chosen to spend his retirement years  in the Society.   Will other bishops follow the example of  Bishop Huonder?

It seems very clear that the Pope is trying to regularise the SSPX in a variety of ways – is there a  local bishop in your neck of the woods who may assist this process?  Why don’t the local bishops invite the Society priests to (“Mass-less”) diocesan events, for example?  Would the Society priests accept? Is there, in your opinion, scope for a sort of informal regularisation within dioceses to help normalise the SSPX situation?  

Pope Francis Suppresses Ecclesia Dei… 

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei Suppressed by Pope Francis
January 19, 2019 By fsspx.news

On January 17, 2019, Pope Francis suppressed the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which had been created in 1988 by his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

The Apostolic Letter in the form of the Pope’s motu proprio was published at noon on January 19 by the Holy See Press Office and inserted in L’Osservatore Romano. From now on, the Commission’s responsibilities will be placed entirely in the hands of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will designate a special section to take over its activities. This transfer, explains the Sovereign Pontiff, comes in response to a need expressed during a meeting of this dicastery on November 15, 2017, approved by him on November 24, and validated in a plenary session in January 2018.

The pope recalls how, over thirty years ago, the day after the episcopal consecrations in 1988, John Paul II wished to facilitate the “full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Fraternity founded by Archbishop Lefebvre”. The goal was to help them “remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church while preserving their own spiritual and liturgical traditions”. This preservation of the spiritual and liturgical traditions was ensured in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

This historical reminder of Pope Francis has the merit of showing how this Pontifical Commission was originally founded on the condemnation of Archbishop Lefebvre and his work. In its thirty years of existence, it mostly limited itself to liturgical questions, with the intention of responding to the “sensitivity” of conservative priests and faithful, and of countering the Society of St. Pius X’s growth throughout the world…

But after the supposed excommunications of the bishops of Tradition were lifted in 2009, Benedict XVI believed that the ongoing doctrinal issues were a good reason to attach the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The goal was to begin doctrinal discussions with the Society of St. Pius X.

The Primacy of the Doctrine of the Faith

Today, Pope Francis writes that the religious communities that belong to the Pontifical Commission have acquired stability both in their numbers and their activities; they ensure the celebration of the Mass in its “extraordinary form”. But, he points out, “the questions dealt with by the same Pontifical Commission were of a primarily doctrinal nature.” These objections and questions are clearly irrelevant to these communities. It is indeed with the Society of St. Pius X that they continue to be an issue.

This is what the cardinals pointed out on November 15, 2017, when they “formulated the request that dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X be conducted directly by the aforementioned Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith], as the questions being dealt with are of a doctrinal nature.”

One conclusion is evident: as the so-called Ecclesia Dei communities have preserved “their spiritual and liturgical traditions”, they clearly do not count in this discussion. If they remain attached to a section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it is incidental. They can have the Mass, the “spiritual and liturgical traditions”, but not the whole doctrine that goes along with them.

That has always been the Society of St. Pius X’s great reproach against Dom Gérard [founder of the Benedictine monastery at Le Barroux who worked with Archbishop Lefebvre until 1988] and all those who thought they should break the unity of Tradition in order to negotiate a purely practical agreement. The crisis of the Church cannot be reduced to a spiritual or liturgical question alone. It is deeper, for it touches the very heart of the Faith and the doctrine of Revelation, Christ the King’s right to reign here below over men and over societies.

Comment: 

Is this, as some commentators fear, anticipating this suppression, the beginning of the end for Summorum Pontificum?  Is the Pope about to attempt to suppress the ancient Mass?