"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Speaking Of Anti-Catholic Media...

Dear Readers,

It's not often I post an entire piece from the National "catholic" Reporter (if ever) but what follows below just couldn't go unanswered.

"catholic" because their version of Christianity is not what the one and only Church founded by Jesus Christ had in mind. They are Protestants in Catholic name only - wolves in sheep clothing. Twice they have been asked by their bishop to stop using the word "Catholic" due to their heterodoxy, but being Protestants, they disobey and protest. 

If your pastor is a reader of this dissenting outlet then for the sake of your eternal soul it is best to find another parish. If this anti-Catholic rag is something he's fond of then it's safe to assume he's not 100% Catholic either. Since salvation is an 'all or nothing' proposition, dissention from Church teaching isn't prudent. 

The lies, hypocrisy, and irony in this rant are too massive to be addressed here. Selfishly, I've just got better things to spend my time on - like working on my salvation with fear and trembling. However, I'll say this - Phyliss Zagano is an advocate of female deacons. That's really all you need to know - credibilty = zero.  She also attacks blogger Vox Cantoris whom to my knowledge has never uttered a dissenting viewpoint like female deacons. Connect the dots, do the math, figure this confrontation out for yourself. 

It's amusing to witness the old and dying media darlings attacking the new media champions. Sorry Phyliss, your book sales will plummet due to the Internet with its access to to blogs like Vox Cantoris, Fr Z, One Peter Five, Canon Law Blog, along with websites like Church Militant, etc. 

Phyliss claims to be in the majority - she's wrong. That's not opinion but fact. Those sharing her views have already left the Church. Surveys by entities like Pew Research find heterodoxy in the minority - and best yet - dying (the Biological Solution). 

Unfortunately, too much of the Church power structure (especially in Canada) is more closely aligned to dissenters like Phyliss than servants like Vox Cantoris, Michael Voris, etc, or as she labels us 'angry trads'. There is indeed a defacto schism in the Church today but the outside forces are not Cardinal Burke and Sarah but those promoting a 'new doctrine' like Cardinal Schonborn, Marx, Kasper, Mahony, Cupich, etc. 

Choose your side wisely my friends. Obedience has consequences. Our greatest enemy declared his opposition to obedience and his reign in Hell is forever. 



 
--------------------------------------


National Catholic Reporter


The next schism is already here


Phyllis Zagano | Jul. 13, 2016


The next schism isn't down the road somewhere. It is already here. The proponents are lined up in a serious face-off, their team shirts emblazoned "Pre-Vatican II" and "Post-Vatican II."

The "Pre" folks are the all Latin, all the time minority, solemnly preferring Bach during liturgy. The "Post" people comprise the rest of us, dutifully singing St. Louis Jesuits' songs and even (gasp!) exchanging handshakes at the kiss of peace.

The fissure is getting worse, as more and more younger people come along yearning for the good old days (before they were born) when everything was orderly, everything had its place, and the rules were followed.

Meanwhile, older church professionals who adjusted to vernacular liturgies and who incorporate mercy into their understandings of justice are retiring daily. They are being replaced, where they are replaced, by people whose theological education is complemented by self-appointed Internet theo-bloggers whose opinions grow from the conviction that anything that happened since 1965 is anathema.

That is probably why Fr. Thomas Rosica, a Canadian priest and CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation took on the so-called Catholic blogosphere several weeks ago, as he delivered the keynote address at the Brooklyn, N.Y., diocesan World Communications Day events. Rosica reported that many people say to him that "we 'Catholics' have turned the internet into a cesspool of hatred, venom and vitriol, all in the name of defending the faith!"

It is true. The internet, as Rosica said in Brooklyn, "can be an international weapon of mass destruction, crossing time zones, borders, and space."

Rosica, whose attorneys sent a "cease and desist" letter to a Canadian blogger who attacked him with a combination of character assassination and misinformation, charitably reported that "Often times the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of the faith or of liturgical practices are very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or pulpit in real life and so resort to the internet and become trolling pontiffs and holy executioners!"

I agree. Because they never did or at least no longer do find space in legitimate media, the self-appointed pontiffs build internet and other social media followings for their unfiltered personal attacks on anyone who strays beyond the boundaries of the church of their imaginings. In unedited postings, they freely criticize anyone -- from the pope on -- who carries and/or lives the Gospel in the "wrong" way.

I hope my own experience with these type persons is atypical. While Rosica's attorneys demanded his attacker stop assassinating the priest's character, my own university actually banned a nasty blogger from campus and any online activities some years ago, when he tried to disrupt one of my online seminars. The idea was to keep him away from me. Aside from denigrating my scholarship and defending his personal version of the faith, my attacker also brags about carrying a gun.

That is where the schism is now. It is no longer butchers and bakers having street fights over Real Presence, or any other theological issue. It is shoot-from-the-hip typists whose access to bandwidth lets them threaten your livelihood and, implicitly at least, your life. What they say is true because they say it, no matter their lack of credentials or, possibly, sanity.

The slow and steady recovery of church life during the papacy of Francis is marred by these true schismatics, who denigrate the pope and everything he says and does, and who long for the good old days. These bleating word processors have influenced, are influencing, and will influence otherwise kind people, who think verbal brickbats and worse will bring the church "around." Around to what?


[Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. She will speak Sept. 24, 2016, at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. and in October 2016 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Conn. Her books include Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future, Women Deacons? Essays with Answers and In the Image of Christ: Essays on Being Catholic and Female.]

In Case Anyone Still Thinks Leftwing Media Isn't Anti-Catholic and That Pope Francis Appeals To Them...


THE BLOG

Dear Pope Francis, End the Religious Ritual that Devalues Human Life


Christine Horner Author of Awakening Leadership, Co-Founder What Would Love Do Foundation



Dear Pope Francis,
Every single day before communion, millions of Christians verbally declare one of the most destructive phrases in human history. On Sunday, it’s tens of millions if not a half billion of the over one billion Catholic Christians worldwide—and not without repercussions.

In the Bible, a Centurion soldier relates, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof...” (Matthew 8:8) before recounting the inner workings of the blindness of patriarchal hierarchies and slavery that exists to this day.

Applying religious context, what’s important for Christians to note is that the soldier uttered the phrase pre-salvation. An unsaved (ignorant) man sharing his feelings and a religion demanding a billion saved Christians repeat the phrase daily post-salvation are entirely two different matters.

Dialogue and constructs that perpetuate “I am not worthy” are the root of all evil. It is divisiveness personified. By believing we are not worthy, we open the door for the mistreatment of ourselves and the mistreatment of others as we seek to assuage the psychological pain the false belief imparts.

The guilt of unworthiness calls for us to judge ourselves and to judge others just as harshly. We cower within power-over structures or worse; we attempt to control others in our imagined superiority. The insanity continues as inferiority complexes pursue power and wealth as outward substitutes for what Jesus, Buddha, and many other saints and sages have said can only come from within.

Tacking on “but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” is not enough. Jesus did say the Word. Yet, Christianity along with many other religions, continue to shove a dagger of inequality into the hearts of those the religious community is supposed to be serving. Where is the healing?

Daily we see the emotional pain of inner self-hatred projected into the world through acts of violence. This behavior originates from feeling disconnected, powerless, and undervalued. A false belief in unworthiness contributes to drug and alcohol abuse and deviant behavior. Many continue to leave religion as they seek more positive and supportive environments elsewhere.

It’s really a sustainability issue. Negative reinforcement is not the answer to dwindling faith. The renewal of hope and joyful living are found by reconnecting with the goodness within one another, our bountiful Earth and all of Creation, which is God. The sooner we speak of our goodness; the sooner we can truly unify as a people. Then faith isn’t even required—we become the living Word.

It’s time for a mass healing. I implore you to call for an end to the religious ritual of the declaration of unworthiness. As children of God, we are equally worthy—even the “ignorant.” I think deep down in your heart; you know this to be true. Lead the way and others will follow.

Healed, we can finally turn in service to one another instead of exploitation as so many already have. Then maybe, just maybe, we can all work together cooperatively to create a peaceful and harmonious world.

That’s what love would do.

Eternally,

Christine Horner

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Christine Horner is the author of What Is God? Rolling Back the Veil, nominated for the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. A healed ex-Catholic, her religion is Love. Horner’s next non-fiction book is The Power of Unity Consciousness.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

There is No Place in the Priesthood Today for “Wimpish-ness.”

It takes bravery to follow Christ as priests

By Bishop Robert C. Morlino, Madison Catholic Herald:


Jesus is often called, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The word the Scriptures use is really not adequately translated in English as simply, “good.” The word really means, “honorable, worthy, noble,” or, “so excellent in every way that its goodness is itself beautiful.”

The Gospel John (Jn 10:11-18) points out that the shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep; he is honorable, worthy, and noble in his bravery — even laying down his own life for the sheep. And toward the end of that Gospel passage, Jesus says, “No one takes my life from me, I lay down my life, and I take it up again.”

The shepherd is indeed a brave shepherd. And so, in some ways, as the years go by, I hope that we start to call this, “Brave Shepherd Sunday,” for the bravery of the shepherd is one of the key virtues focused upon that help us to call him, “good.”

Priest Unifies and Calls Flock to Holiness

The priest must do what is necessary to build unity in the flock and to call the flock to holiness, so that he himself might receive a “good account before the fearsome judgment seat of Christ,” when the time comes. It is only in doing his best for everybody else’s holiness that the priest can do the best for himself. And to do that today it takes bravery.

When we look for candidates to the priesthood and as we pray for vocations, we are looking for men who are brave in their willingness to seek holiness, to speak the truth, to lay down their lives. There is no place in the priesthood today for “wimpish-ness.” There is no place for an attitude that just wants to please people, no matter what they think and no matter what they want. Today the priest has to stand up and be brave, preaching the Truth with love. He has to be willing to be unpopular. And if it comes to it, he has to be open to martyrdom.

That’s what happened to St. Peter. In the first reading from this past Sunday, St. Peter is seen professing, “there is no other name given to men by which they will be saved. Jesus Christ is the only savior of the world (Acts 4:12)!” If someone says that today, they get in trouble. And so it’s more politically expedient not to say things like that. But the Truth is the Truth — Jesus Christ is the only savior of the world; and apart from Jesus Christ, there can be no salvation for anyone. It’s what Peter said, as witnessed in the Acts of the Apostles, and it’s no wonder that he got crucified for it in the end — for to say this is unpopular. But Peter was brave (even to the point of trying to make his crucifixion worse than the Lord’s by choosing to be crucified upside-down).

In John’s Gospel, “what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2).” We will see Him as He is — the only Savior of the world. That’s why it says in the Book of Revelation that in the end, “every eye will see Him — even of those who pierced Him.” This too is part of the bravery of the priest.

The person of the priest is in the person of Jesus and so imbedded in Him, that with Christ and like Christ he lives a life of celibacy. Our world has no use for celibacy and is at the point where it thinks that nobody can live without free access to sex. To take on a life that is a statement to the contrary is bravery.

Our world is in such a state that even the government wants to make sure that everybody — perhaps even little girls — have access, free of charge, to artificial contraception and they call it “preventive services.” Preventive medicine is medicine that protects someone from an illness (like a vaccination against the flu). What disease does artificial contraception protect a woman from? Pregnancy? Our government would have us think that pregnancy is a disease, and that instead of finding fulfillment in her motherhood, a woman must have the absolute freedom to turn against her motherhood — as if the fruits of being a mother were a disease.

Bravery Means Standing Up for Moral Truth

It’s time for all of us to be brave in admitting what the moral truth is about artificial contraception. It’s not a time to by shy, retiring, and politically correct. Sometimes people come up to me and say, “in my parish it’s not permitted to talk about that.” How sad. Where is the sign of the brave shepherd?

It is precisely the gift from God of celibacy that holds the priest so tightly to Christ. The priest is bravely laying down his life, and living completely for the next world, in which there is “no marrying or giving in marriage (Mt 22:30),” no matter what consequences might befall him in this world. The priest is called to stand up in the truth, like a brave shepherd.

I taught college for 11 years, and I still enjoy very much working with young people. And young people want to be challenged to be brave. If they are not challenged to be brave, they say, “well I can think about other things to do with my life. I’m not going to give up my whole life, and even give up marriage in order to be mediocre. I’ll go for excellence someplace else.” They want to reach out for that bravery, and one of the ways we promote vocations is by telling them that we expect bravery in our priests. It takes much bravery to live out joyfully the life of priestly celibacy, the best way to prove to the world that God exists.

Vocations are increasing in number every year, thank God, and thanks to your good prayers, and now is the time for you to demand bravery in the priesthood. Because nothing less than that will bring Christ’s Church through the hard times to come.

Thank you for reading this. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

(This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop. Slight editing.)

Do You Suffer From One of the 5 Stages of Sin?



By Msgr. Charles Pope,

five stages

How does it happen that so many people insist on living obstinately in sin until they are ultimately lost? As with all progressive diseases, sin is a sickness that moves through stages, further debilitating and hardening the sinner in his ways.

St. Alphonsus Liguori laid out five stages through which sin (if not resisted and repented of in its initial attacks) takes an increasing toll on the human person, making repentance less likely and more difficult.

While the names of the stages are mine, I am summarizing the insights of St. Alphonsus, who details these stages in his lengthy essay, “Considerations on the Eternal Maxims” (also called “Preparation for Death”) in Chapter 22, “On Evil Habits.” I have added some of my own additional insights as well.

The 5 Stages of Sin

Stage 1 – Impairment – The first effect of habitual sin is that it blinds the understanding. Scripture says, Their own malice blinded them (Wisdom 2:21). Yes, every sin produces blindness, and the more that sins are multiplied, the greater the blindness they produce.

A further effect of this blindness is a foolish and dangerous walking about. Scripture provides several references for this:

The wicked walk round about (Ps. 12:8).

They stagger as with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment (Is 28:7).

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the pit that he has made(Ps 7:14-15).

And thus habitual sin leads to impaired vision and an impaired walk. Not seeing, the wicked stumble about and fall into a pit that they themselves made.

Stage 2 – Indifference – After an evil habit is contracted, the sins that previously excited sorrow are now viewed with increasing indifference. Scripture says the following:

Fools destroy themselves because of their indifference (Prov 1:32).

But he who is careless of conduct will die (Prov 19:16).

And to the increasingly indifferent and careless, the Lord gives this solemn and salutary warning: In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble; the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come (Is 32:10).

And thus, as unrepented sin grows, not only does the sinner stagger about and fall into pits, he cares less and less about the foolishness of his ways. The sins that once caused shame, or the thought of which caused sorrow and aversion, are either unnoticed or seem normal—even attractive.

Stage 3 – Improbability – As sin deepens its hold, the willingness and even the capacity to repent decreases. Why is this? St. Augustine answers well when he says, dum servitur libidini, facta est consuetudo, et dum consuetudini non resistitur, facta est necessitas(when lust was served it became habit, and when habit was not resisted it became necessity) (Confessions, 8.5.10). Sin deepens its hold on the sinner in this way.

Stage 4 – Incorrigibility – As Scripture says, The wicked man, when he is come into the depths of sins, has contempt(Proverbs 18:3). St. John Chrysostom commented on this verse, saying that habitual sinners, being sunk in the abyss of darkness, despise corrections, sermons, censures, Hell, and God; they despise everything.

A bad habit hardens the heart and the habitual sinner remains increasingly unmoved and mired in contempt for any correction or remedy. Scripture says of them, At your rebuke O God of Jacob, they have all slumbered (Psalm 76:7). An evil habit gradually takes away all remorse and supplants it with angry indignation at any attempted correction.

And then it happens that, instead of regretting his sins, the sinner rejoices in them, even laughing and boasting of them. Scripture says, They are glad when they have done evil and rejoice in the perverseness of evil (Proverbs 2:14). A fool works mischief as if it were for sport (Proverbs 10:23).

Thus they are incorrigible. They laugh at attempted correction and celebrate their sins with pride.

Stage 5 – Indisposition – When the understanding is deprived of light and the heart is hardened, the sinner ordinarily dies obstinate in his sin. Scripture says, A hard heart shall fare ill at the end (Ecclesiastes 3:27).

Some may say that they will amend their ways before they die, but it’s very difficult for a habitual sinner, even in old age, to change his life. St. Bernard said, “The man on whom the weight of a bad habit presses, rises with difficulty.”

Indeed, how can a sinner, weakened and wounded by habitual sin, have the strength to rise? Even if he sees the way out, he often considers the remedies too severe, too difficult. Though conversion is not impossible, he is indisposed because it all seems like too much work. In addition, his love has likely grown cold for the good things that God offers.

And thus, even on their deathbeds, many sinners remain unmoved and unwilling to change; the darkness is deep, the heart is hardened, and sloth has solidified.

In these ways sin is like a progressive illness, a deepening disease; it moves through stages much as does cancer. Repentance at any stage is possible, but it becomes increasingly unlikely, especially by stage four, when the sinner becomes proud of his sin and joyful in his iniquity.

Beware the progressive illness of sin!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dear Bishops, It's time to start worshipping like Catholics again.

Cardinal Sarah’s Top 5 Quotes from Sacra Liturgia 2016

The opening session of Sacra Liturgia U.K. (July 5, 2016) featured an outstanding address by Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.  His Eminence touched upon all of the major topics which constitute the ongoing reform of the Roman Rite. The below quotes come to us via the official Sacra Liturgia Facebook page.
Ad Orientem beginning this Advent
“And so, dear Fathers, I ask you to implement this practice (ad orientem worship) wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people. Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, when we attend ‘the Lord who will come’ and ‘who will not delay’ (see: Introit, Mass of Wednesday of the first week of Advent) may be a very good time to do this. Dear Fathers, we should listen again to the lament of God proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “they have turned their back to me” (2:27). Let us turn again towards the Lord!”
The Greater Use of Latin
We must get the right balance between the vernacular languages and the use of Latin in the liturgy. The Council never intended that the Roman rite be exclusively celebrated in the vernacular. But it did intend to allow its increased use, particularly for the readings. Today it should be possible, especially with modern means of printing, to facilitate comprehension by all when Latin is used, perhaps for the liturgy of the Eucharist, and of course this is particularly appropriate at international gatherings where the local vernacular is not understood by many. And naturally, when the vernacular is used, it must be a faithful translation of the original Latin, as Pope Francis recently affirmed to me.”
Kneeling for Communion
“So too kneeling at the consecration (unless I am sick) is essential. In the West this is an act of bodily adoration that humbles us before our Lord and God. It is itself an act of prayer. Where kneeling and genuflection have disappeared from the liturgy, they need to be restored, in particular for our reception of our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion. Dear Fathers, where possible and with the pastoral prudence of which I spoke earlier, form your people in this beautiful act of worship and love. Let us kneel in adoration and love before the Eucharistic Lord once again!”
Silence within the Liturgy
“We must ensure that adoration is at the heart of our liturgical celebrations. Too often we do not move from celebration to adoration, but if we do not do that I worry that we may not have always participated in the liturgy fully, internally…If I am never silent, if the liturgy gives me no space for silent prayer and contemplation, how can I adore Christ, how can I connect with him in my heart and soul? Silence is very important, and not only before and after the liturgy.”
Sacred Liturgical Music
“Before I conclude, please permit me to mention some other small ways which can also contribute to a more faithful implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. One is that we must sing the liturgy, we must sing the liturgical texts, respecting the liturgical traditions of the Church and rejoicing in the treasury of sacred music that is ours, most especially that music proper to the Roman rite, Gregorian chant. We must sing sacred liturgical music not merely religious music, or worse, profane songs.”

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hypocrites! (Matthew 27:11-14)

In thinking of a few people I have blogged about most recently the word 'hypocrite' comes to mind instantly. Now it's time to add another person to this category: Rev. Dwight Longenecker.


Rev. Longenecker's work has appeared in this blog before - I used to copy/paste articles from his blog. They were well thought out pieces of solid orthodoxy and often presented Church teaching in an insightful manner.

One day Rev. Longenecker emailed me to ask that I no longer copy/paste the entire article but just a teaser with the intent that any reader here would then go to his site that was using the website Patheos as a platform. What I later found out was that Patheos pays its contributor by the hit count.

Now perhaps he doesn't care about the money or even donates every penny to a worthy cause, but I found this request peculiar enough to just stop promoting Rev Longenecker's teachings entirely. Problem solved.

If you didn't know Patheos is a for-profit multi-faith website that tries to be all about dialogue. Many different faiths have their own 'channel' including Catholicism, Mormonism, Wiccan, and even Atheism (ironically). It seems Rev. Longenecker is not blogging as much as he used to, however, he managed to make waves this week on another questionable website, Crux Now.

From Crux's About Us:

----------------------------------------------
About Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse

Welcome to Crux! We’re an independent Catholic news site, operated in partnership with the Knights of Columbus.

We hope you’ll find the site lively, engaging, topical, and thoughtful.

Crux strives to cover the worldwide institution of the Catholic Church, from the papacy to the hierarchy to local dioceses. We’ll explore the theology, doctrine, liturgy, practices, and traditions of Catholicism in the context of the life of modern-day Catholics, giving full voice to disagreements and challenges facing the Church and Catholics.

We’re committed to balance and fairness, striving to build a “Catholic commons” in which believers of different outlooks, backgrounds, and experiences can come together to build friendships and exchange views.

Finally, we hope you’ll join in to help us build an engaged community of Catholics and non-Catholics alike who come here to comment on current events and discuss social, theological, ethical, and spiritual issues.

CRUX STAFF



John L. Allen Jr., the editor of Crux, specializes in coverage of the Vatican. 
--------------------------------------------------


I'm not sure what the Knights of Columbus have to do with this website and can't be bothered to look into it. The KoC should be much more than a bunch of old guys hanging out in their hall.

John L. Allen Jr, used to write for the National catholic Reporter, an extremely dissident publication that has been asked twice by their Ordinary to stop using the name Catholic, but guess what, they disobey him. Mr. Allen has also written for the Boston Globe, a virulently anti-Church newspaper that ran more stories on the Boston priest sex abuse scandal than it covered the Second World War.

Some people defend Mr. Allen as being one of the least dissenting writers at dissenting outlets, but that's not much to be proud of. It would be no stretch to consider him on the Church's left (to borrow a political axis). I don't have time to read much on Crux Now but after a quick glance it's much further to the right than the NcR.

If there is a next pope (and given the state of the world I'm starting to root for the asteroid) it will be interesting to see all these media outlets who gush over Pope Francis give the same treatment to a more 'traditional' pontiff such as a Cardinal Burke or Sarah.

Rev. Longenecker's contribution this week threw gas on the Rev.Rosica fire he has burning against 'traditionalists'. It's dripping with passive aggressiveness - a trait common among the 'modernist' types. Eventually he agrees with the Battlin' Basilian and denounces those not in favor of changing doctrine or other articles of the faith.



Whatever.

One good thing to come from this unnecessary attack is the other blogs Rev Longenecker mentions. If he doesn't like them then there's probably some valuable reading to be done. Thanks for the heads up.

This whole 'rad trad' stereotype is really old. Yes, of course there are some easily angered holier-than-thou types who could be classified as old school, but same thing can be said of the modernists, charismatics, cafeteria goers, etc. Because this label usually gets applied to those who prefer the Extraordinary Form the best argument against this 'rad trad' stereotype is to go to an EF Mass. I'll bet after Mass there will be socializing, fellowship, and even...laughter. One of these days I'd like to walk out of the nave and find some 'rad trad' flipping over tables and whipping anyone not wearing a suit or mantilla. Just once.

Yes, some people who prefer reverence and tradition in their worship make posts on their blogs that could have been nicer. However, they are usually frustrated with the 'Church Of Nice' and outraged that more of our clergy, teachers, parents, and other leaders are not passing on the faith or even trying to live it themselves. Yes, they have righteous anger at the thought of all the souls perishing in eternal fire due to weak or even contrary catechesis by those entrusted with their everlasting life.

It's called Church Militant because our time in this life is a spiritual battle and right now many of us think we're losing. No, the Gates Of Hell will not prevail but as many saints, doctors, Our Lady, and even Jesus Our Savior have told us - many are called, few chosen. I'm willing to bet Rev.Rosica doesn't talk about Satan much but the Prince Of Lies is real and powerful. As priests, both Rev. Longenecker and Rosica have a duty to teach the faith so those who walk the earth now won't burn in Hell later. Maybe all the time spent worrying about people who prefer the Latin Mass could be spent more productively.

So back to the charge of Hypocrites. Remember when Rev. Rosica called people who prefer the Latin Mass, 'Taliban Catholics'?

              
         Taliban                                                    Latin Mass Catholics

If anyone's comments have been a a cesspool of hatred, venom and vitriol, it's Rev.Rosica.

To my knowledge, he has never retracted this gross insult nor apologized and no reasonable person is waiting for it. Rev.Rosica is a childish bully. His lawsuit threat against the blogger, Vox Cantoris, is proof of that. He used bully tactics to try and silence a critic but then backed off as soon as some larger muscle came to defend the Vox. Typical bully move.

So here's what the two revs think of those who use the Internet to counter the modernist lunacy that goes on in way too many parishes around the world:

“Often times the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of faith or of liturgical practices are very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or pulpit in real life and so resort to the Internet and become trolling pontiffs and holy executioners!..in reality they are deeply troubled, sad and angry people.”

"Pulpit" is an interesting word choice. As ordained ministers obviously they have access to a pulpit from which to preach. Are they inferring that only the ordained can teach the faith, or object to heterodoxy? If the Internet and Catholic Blogs were around after Vatican II, would we have priests offering Mass facing us (not God in the Tabernacle) giving an all vernacular liturgy, the sanctuary full of laity, and Holy Communion being distributed like Low Church Protestants? Maybe not. Maybe the Catholic Blogosphere would have erupted and alerted the sheep about the wolves. 

Rev.Rosica's other pulpit is the dying television channel, Salt & Light (commonly referred to as Pepper & Darkness). Rev.Rosica didn't become the CEO of this outlet due to his extensive experience in broadcasting, his MBA, or personal flair in front of a camera (none of which he has). No, he found himself a sugar daddy, silent investor. 

And what does Rev.Rosica preach from his digital pulpit? Remember this interview with heretic Gregory Baum? Mr (ex-priest) Baum holds positions contrary to the Church on contraception, same-sex “marriage”, divorce, and women priests. Did Rev. Rosica correct the wayward soul? Of course not, instead he gushed over him. 



"I've certainly admired very much your theology, your writings; but also your love of the Church, your love of Christ, and you help to keep alive - not only the spirit of the Second Vatican Council - but the authentic teaching of the Council."

During the same interview, Rev.Rosica brought up one of his favorite topics:

"... many of those who are on the front lines - the crusaders - of the orthodoxy today (I would call it a pseudo-orthodoxy) are among the most unhappy and sad and angry ..."

I wonder how many 'traditionalists' he actually knows. When if ever has he attended a Latin Mass? If anyone is obsessed it seems to be him. If his accusations are true then shouldn't he be reaching out to all these disturbed people and trying to save their souls or at least give them a chuckle?

Actually, Rev.Rosica has caused many people I know to laugh - at him. 'What did Rosey say today?' is heard sadly too often but does bring amusement in a carnival performer sort of way. 

As for Rev.Longenecker's other pulpit, Patheos, again - whatever. If getting some attention from a 'all religions are equal' platform stokes his ego then fine. There are better sources for spiritual development from people who aren't paid by the hit which makes their efforts more meaningful and sincere. 

"The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of Heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter." Matthew 23: 11-14

Sunday, January 31, 2016

By Their Rotten Fruit We Can Know Them

If you were the devil how would you spend your time? Who would you work on? I would target the clergy because if you get one of them you're likely to get many of their flock. Satan tempted Jesus so he has no problem going after a priest. I believe clergy are under constant attack and sadly some of them fall.

There are three types of Catholics today: those who believe we're in a major crisis caused by the changes since the last council, those who believe the crisis is because we haven't made enough changes, and those who wonder what the other two are talking about ('What crisis?'). Pope St. Pius X saw this crisis coming and labelled it Modernism. He even made the newly ordained take an oath against it. Sixty years later that oath was removed for some reason.

Fr. Richard Heilman references the first major crisis in describing the current one. I don't know how Arius came to the conclusion Jesus wasn't divine, but he managed to convince eighty percent of the clergy into thinking likewise. Judas was the first clerical traitor; Luther perhaps the most effective. Since we've always had them it's unlikely the Church is without clerical traitors today.

No one is born a traitor to the Church. At some point they turn, succumbing to the temptations of the Enemy.

Dr. Bella Dodd was once a great enemy of the Church; Archbishop Sheen helped get her back. If her testimony is to be believed then while a communist, she helped get eleven hundred fellow communists into the seminary with the purpose of undermining the faith. Why would she lie about that? If true then it's likely some of those clergymen were at Vatican II in positions of authority and/or influence.



Vatican II was the first ecumenical council called for no specific reason in particular. It was to be a pastoral council to create a new language to relate to the modern world. It wasn't in defence of heresy like Nicea was to Arianism or Trent was to Luther. It should have focused on the heresy of Modernism but perhaps that will be tackled by Vatican III. Two years of consultations prior to the council created an agenda that was scrapped on the first day primarily by a small group from the Rhineland. Their first target was the liturgy.

A good priest once told me Vatican II was necessary but occurred at the worse possible time. Europe was still recovering from the horrors of fascism (including a subconscious guilt of anti-semitism) North America was engulfed by materialism, Communism was at its peak, and the Sexual Revolution was just around the corner. The liturgy which had grown slowly and organically since the Passion had been bottled up for four centuries. It's reported that Pope Paul VI would later say a window was opened to let in some fresh air but the smoke of Satan blew in instead.

Another good priest once told me we are to judge events by their fruit. How then are we to judge Vatican II - a pastoral council with ambiguous documents? Pope Benedict XVI said we misinterpreted the documents; the intended fruit is yet to ripen.

I've been told when all the changes were made the laity didn't challenge them because Catholics were to pray, pay, and obey. They didn't have the Internet back then so when the altar rails were ripped out in the 'spirit of Vatican II' who could have known otherwise? That's not the case today, so when your new pastor decides to start a yoga class you should object. If he seems fixated on unCatholic change you should oppose him.



As a church it's time to have a family chat. We need to be honest, thorough, and loving. We need to look at the state of the Church today and agree we're in a major crisis. We need to accept that most of the changes made in the 'spirit of Vatican II' are rotten. We need to look at each other (clergy and laity) and increase our faith, hope, and charity through fraternal correction. It's no longer acceptable to pretend everything's ok, that everyone's nice, that the Church is exempt from treachery.

Most of us were poorly catechized, That's the past. The future will be determined by what we do today. We have all the tools necessary to catechize ourselves and those around us. You can order the Baltimore Catechism from Amazon and study it in a small group of family members or fellow parishioners. You can subscribe to Church Militant and learn the faith from the computer you're reading this blog on. You have a duty to inform yourself.

Since the Church draws her power from the liturgy we also need to acknowledge its role in our faith formation. The old expression rings true: Lex Orandi Lex Credendi Lex Vivendi (As we worship so we believe and live). Yes the Ordinary Form is valid and can be offered reverently. However, to appreciate its richness requires a solid formation built by proper catechesis. How many pewsitters today know the Mass is the bloodless re-presentation of Calvary? How many think it's a happy community event designed to make us feel good about ourselves and each other? If the liturgy is being abused it's possible other abuses are occurring.


Of course it's preferable to attend one's local parish but if your spiritual needs are not being met then the prudent thing to do is go parish shopping. If the pastor never talks about sin, salvation, or the devil, then you need to leave. If the homily is always a version of "God loves you; Love one another" then leave. The church may be full on Sunday but if the confessional is empty the afternoon before then chances are many souls are perishing.

For those without the means of transportation to another parish or live in a small town then not making your Sunday Obligation isn't an option. You need to speak to your pastor, then maybe the bishop, and as a last resort write a letter to Rome. You suffer through bad liturgy and sappy homilies, offering it up, thinking of our Crucified Lord, but you don't condone error. We all have a responsibility to help as many souls get back to Heaven, including those entrusted with keeping us out of Hell.

The Church has survived every crisis and as its Founded told us the gates of Hell will not prevail. The good news is the generation that made all the rotten changes is dying and going to their Judgement. Pray for them and know that your own fate is yet to be determined. What will you say to our Lord at your Judgement when He asks, "What did you do with the Gift of Knowledge I gave you?".


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

National catholic Reporter & Its Priestly Readers

It should not take anyone long to realize the National catholic Reporter has an agenda. With even a basic level understanding of the Catholic faith it is obvious this publication promotes a disobedient, dissenting, and sometimes heretical perspective. It shows no interest in the salvation of souls preferring to advance left wing political philosophies and Protestant principles.

From its Mission as linked to above:

"The National Catholic Reporter is the only significant alternative Catholic voice that provides avenues for expression of diverse perspectives, promoting tolerance and respect for differing ideas."
Allow me to translate: "alternative" = dissenting

"diverse" = heretical

"tolerance" = consent of the sinful

"respect" = flattery of the sinful


Our Mission:
NCR connects Catholics to church, faith and the common good with independent news, analysis and spiritual reflection.

Allow me to correct: Notice how they don't capitalize the 'c' in "church". That's because they are probably not referring to the Catholic Church, but indeed a 'new church' or the Protestant belief in some invisible church all followers of Christ belong to.


Our Vision:
We see a church alive with the Spirit, its members working around the world to embody and spread the message of the Gospels while relying on NCR as a trusted provider of information and a source of inspiration.

Translation: Once again, the word 'church' is lower case while 'Spirit' is correctly in upper case. The Gospel message is their privately interpreted one, not necessarily the one of the Magisterium.


Having developed through the inspiration of the Second Vatican Council, our spirit is independent, our management lay, our vision ecumenical.
Correction: Vatican II's spirit is not 'independent' especially in the sense the NcR is trying to fool people into believing. Nor did the Council suggest we do away with clerical management. If the NcR's vision was truly ecumenical they'd be trying to bring people into the Church, not break away from it.

 
Four years after it launched in Kansas City, Missouri, Bishop Charles Helmsing (their Ordinary) asked them to stop using the word 'Catholic'.


"The Catholic Reporter, formerly the official newspaper of the Kansas City - St. Joseph, was begun by my predecessor under a policy of editorial freedom. That policy of editorial freedom [I] endorsed on my appointment as bishop of Kansas City - St. Joseph. When theNational Catholic Reporter was launched, that original policy of editorial freedom was announced as basic to the new publication.
At all times it was presumed that the policy of editorial freedom was none other than that legitimate liberty declared and defended by the Second Vatican Council in its Declaration on Religious Liberty, further defined in the conciliar Decree on Communications, and, likewise, defended in the Constitution on the Church in the Modern WorldIt could not imply that pseudo-freedom from man's obligations to his Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier in vogue under the standard of the 19th century liberalism. It could not imply, as a conciliar declaration on religious liberty clearly states, freedom in the moral order. As Cardinal Koenig pointed out in his recent address to editors, there is a legitimate freedom of opinion to be exercised by the Catholic press so long as it is absolutely loyal to the Church's teachings. If an editor is to merit the name "Catholic," he must remember "to think with the Church."

As long as the Catholic editor carries the name Catholic, he can never forget that he is a teacher of Christ's revelation. What he writes necessarily touches on faith -- that gift of the Holy Spirit which "we carry in earthen vessels" and by which we accept Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, and His revelation.

The Catholic editor must manifest a reverence which must shine through in his attitude and in his every expression. The Gospel is clear on the destructive effects of ridicule, for example, in recounting of the taunts hurled at Simon Peter: "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth," and their effects on him who, once converted, was to confirm his brethren.

As the editors of the National Catholic Reporter know, I have tried as their pastor, responsible for their eternal welfare, and that of those whom they influence, to guide them on a responsible course in harmony with Catholic teachings. When private conferences were of no avail, as is well known, I had to issue a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church's teachings on the transmission of human life, and against the Gospel values of sacred virginity and dedicated celibacy as taught by the Church.

NOW, AS a last resort, I am forced as bishop to issue a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter for its disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith. Within recent months the National Catholic Reporter has expressed itself in belittling the basic truths expressed in the Creed of Pope Paul VI; it has made itself a platform for the airing of heretical views on the Church and its divinely constituted structure, as taught by the First and Second Vatican Councils. Vehemently to be reprobated was the airing in recent editions of an attack on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the virgin birth of Christ, by one of its contributors.

Finally, it has given lengthy space to a blasphemous and heretical attack on the Vicar of Christ. It is difficult to see how well instructed writers who deliberately deny and ridicule dogmas of our Catholic faith can possibly escape the guilt of the crime defined in Canon 1325 on heresy, and how they can escape the penalties of automatic excommunication entailed thereby.

In fairness to our Catholic people, I hereby issue an official condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter. Furthermore, I send this communication to my brotherbishops, and make known to the priestsreligious and laity of the nation my views on the poisonous character of this publication.

As a bishop, a member of the college of bishops, and one in union with the head of the college, Christ's Vicar on earth, I proclaim with my brother bishops that the Church is, indeed, always in need of reform. This reform is a matter of putting on the mind of Christ, as St. Paul declared, through our contemplation of Christ in His teachings and through our loyalty to the teachings of the Church so painstakingly expressed in recent years in the constitutions, decrees and declarations of the Second Vatican Council.

The status of the world when our Lord came was a deplorable one. We are not surprised that the status of man, wounded by original sin, remains deplorable as long as he does not heed the voice of Christ and his authoritative teacher, his Church. Sociological studies, according to modern techniques, can help us appreciate the status quo -- the exact thinking and acting and attitudes of our people. For this we are grateful. But it is a total reversal of our Divine Lord's policy to imagine for a moment that the disclosure of attitudes through such surveys becomes the norm of human conduct or thinking.

Christ and His apostles preached first and foremost penance, metanoia, the change of mind and heart. The Church continues to do so today, but it finds itself increasingly more frustrated in its teaching of the ideals of our Lord by the type of reporting, editorializing and ridicule that have become the week-after-week fare of the National Catholic Reporter.

IN AS MUCH as the National Catholic Reporter does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching. I ask the editors in all honesty to drop the term "Catholic" from their masthead. By retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings.

I further ask the editors and the board of directors, for the love of God and their fellow men, to change their misguided and evil policy; for it is evident to me that they havealready caused untold harm to the faith and morals not only of our laity, but of too many of our priests and religious.

I make this statement with apostolic freedom as given by our Lord to His followers; I make it conscious of the heavy burden that is mine as a bishop, as one enjoined by the Holy Spirit through the pen of St. Paul: "Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine; for there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrines; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lust, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and will turn aside rather to fables." (2 Tim. 4:2-4)"

                          

Bishop Helmsing was quite clear but his words fell on harden soil. When a bishop tells you the mortal sin of heresy is upon your soul, the prudent thing to do is repent before it's too late. The NcR did not comply.

In 2013, the Ordinary of Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn, reminded the NcR of Bishop's Helmsing's charges and repeated the request to drop the word "Catholic" but got the original response. 

In contrast, in 2011 Bishop Vigneron asked Michael Voris to remove the word 'Catholic' from his media outlet. There were no charges of heresy or dissent. Voris complied and the renamed Church Militant 'dot' tv is doing better than ever.

Church Militant along with the Lepanto Institute have launched a petition to the USCCB requesting the NcR comply with their bishop's instruction to remove the word 'Catholic' from their name. It's an important petition and one I hope you will sign.

NCR image 02

As Christians we all have a duty to proclaim the Gospels, to teach, and help as many souls get back to Heaven as we can. Three of the seven Spiritual Acts Of Mercy include: Instruct the ignorant, Counsel the doubtful, Admonish the sinner. Therefore we have a responsibility to speak out against dissenting, heretical media outlets that have been condemned by at least two bishops.

Unfortunately, not all clergy in these modern times agree. It's extremely difficult to imagine how any priest with all their education in the seminary, guidance from their bishop, and daily dealings in Church matters could somehow be unaware of the NcR's disobedience. This outlet makes no secret of its support of female ordination, homosexual marriage, contraception, etc. Why then do the following priests support the NcR in their social media platforms (and yes, continued re-tweets of theirs is support)?

Thomas Rosica, CSB. Vatican Spokesperson, CEO Salt & Light TV


James Martin, SJ. Celebrity Jesuit 
(very popular with Hamilton Diocese Chancery Office Staff)


Rev. Con O'Mahony, Vicar of Education, Diocese of Hamilton


Rev. Mark Gatto, Pastor, St. Matthew's Parish Oakville


If any of the above priests truly did not know the NcR is a dissenting publication then I apologize for assuming they know full well. However, I find it quite improbable any regular reader of theirs in that obtuse. 

What is more likely is that regular readers of NcR share such dissenting opinions.


If Rev. Gatto believes that strongly in altar girls maybe that's one of the reasons the Diocese of Hamilton had so few seminarians when he was the Vocations Director? Connect+The+Dots

Sometimes where there is smoke there is fire (pun intended). Those who subscribe to the NcR should know it's a publication that has been condemned. As such they should unsubscribe, stop reading it, stop re-tweeting it. Other sources that push the envelop such as James Martin SJ, John Allen Jr, American Magazine, Crux Now, The Tablet, etc, should be treated likewise. This matter isn't about pettiness, 'holier than thou' or any other ulterior motive. It's about the obedience that leads to salvation. Eternity is a long time to be wrong; the consequences are unpleasant and permanent

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What The Francis?

Soon after the Pope Of Surprises took office some suggested a new blog was needed: WDTPRS (What Did The Pope Really Say) but the acronym is already taken. Assuming this isn't the last papacy I think the history books will look back at it in wonder. A new phrase may even come into use. When someone says something wild and absurd, the response could be "What the Francis are you talking about?" or in type, "WTF?"

WTF?

To be fair, some of the bizarre statements attributed to Pope Francis have been taken out of context. His infamous, "Who am I to judge?" is traditional Church teaching if you read the whole statement. The mainstream media have spun other pope's comments into their secular narrative (ex: 'Pope Benedict XVI Approves Condoms In Africa').

Last month Pope Francis said Christmas trees and nativity scenes are a charade since there is not peace on Earth.


The self-proclaimed Bishop Of Rome has made a habit of uttering confusing and insulting remarks directed at no one in particular. On Monday, in his homily in the papal chapel (without kneelers) Pope Francis accused those opposed to change as being idolaters and rebels. The problem with this accusation and others is that he doesn't specify to whom it is directed. The closest he got was to state it's not the lawmakers. Can we speculate that means he is not referring to changing the Sacrament of Marriage? Who knows?

So who could he have been referring to?
- his personal chef who refuses to put Argentinian items on the menu
- his personal assistant who insists the pope dress like a pope
- liturgists who only invite men to the Washing Of The Feet
- sedevacantists who reject the Novus Ordo as invalid
- bishops who reject Summorum Pontificum

Since he usually doesn't clarify statements such as these we will probably never know and that's probably a good thing. The ambiguous nature of such insults has led some to suggest the prudent approach with our Holy Father is to ignore him. I've tried that but in our age of social media and constant information it's a hard thing to do. Pope St. Pius V may have said a lot of loony things but no one tweeted them out to the world. How things may have been different if the Internet was around immediately after Vatican II.

There is evidence to suggest those in and around the Vatican either follow or are aware of new media, blogs, and other humble voices. The Vatican's English spokesperson threatened to sue one blogger so we know that blog gets attention in Rome. When the mid-term report of the first synod on the family came out insinuating the Church was about to legalize sodomy, bloggers raised hell and the matter went away. Coincidence? Church Militant dot com has recently exposed Cardinal Wuerl's taste for luxury and Cardinal Dolan's preference to cover-up urine drinking priests; stories the mainstream Catholic media prefers to ignore.

If we speculate as to what the Church would be like today without voices of the orthodox porters it's difficult to imagine anything good. One of the pope's closest advisers recently admitted to something we've known all along - the Lavender Mafia is real and powerful. What this gay lobby hates is exposure - ironically preferring to remain in the closet. Their manipulation is sinister and deceptive. The best way we laity can help rid the Church of modernist rot is to shine a light on it and await the holy clergy to remove it.

In a recent post I shared St. Thomas Aquinas guidelines for correcting clergy. When necessary it needs to be done in such a way as to not violate the Second Commandment and thus commit a mortal sin. The end goal of correcting anyone should always be the salvation of their soul. Prudence and charity are to be exercised when sounding the alarm bell. We should be humble because the destination of our soul is not yet determined.

Pope St Pius X warned us of modernists in 1907, Blessed Pope Paul VI told us in 1972 the smoke of Satan had entered the Church, and Pope Benedict XVI told us upon his election wolves threatened him so no one is being paranoid or a 'rad trad' by responding to the enemy's attacks. Since most of us today were poorly catechised such operations can be self-teachable moments. The wise among us will take the time to learn the faith so as not to appear like some barking lunatic - a yappy mutt too insignificant to kick off the porch.

In conclusion and return to the subject, I still have hope for this pope. I hope he will stop talking so much and actually do something constructive for the Church so desperately in need of repair. The Curia needs to be swept clean, his Jesuit order needs to be rebuilt, the laity need to return to the Sacrament of Confession and fulfill their Sunday Obligation every week. As a bonus I keep hoping he will at least start the process of reunifying the Eastern Orthodox and return the SSPX to normal communion (although at this point they may not want it).

Sts Peter and Paul, pray for us.




Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Actual Francis Effect

Image result for chiesa espresso on line

Jubilee of Mercy, But With the Confessionals Empty

The shocking letter of a priest with the care of souls. Fewer and fewer penitents, and less and less repentant. The counterproductive effects of a “door” thrown open too wide 

by Sandro Magister






ROME, January 9, 2016 – One thing that made the news at the end of the year was the data furnished by the prefecture of the pontifical household on attendance in 2015 at the public audiences with Pope Francis, with numbers down almost by half compared to the previous year:

At the Wednesday general audiences there was a drop from 1,199,000 visitors in 2014 to 704,100 in 2015. While for the Sunday Angelus the fall was from 3,040,000 to 1,585,000.

This does not change the fact that Pope Francis remains overwhelmingly popular. His popularity ratings are not enough, however, to determine what level of effective religious practice corresponds to them.

Other revelations are much more indicative in this regard. For example, the official figures that ISTAT compiles every year in Italy on the daily life of a gigantic sampling of citizens, made up of almost 24,000 families, for a total of 54,000 individuals residing in 850 cities large and small.

In the most recent annual report made public, relative to 2014, the “percentage of persons over the age of 6 who go to a place of worship at least once a week” turned out to be 28.8 percent.

The fact that more than a quarter of Italians go to church at least once a week can be seen as significant, in itself and in comparison with other countries. But if this figure is compared with the results of previous years, here as well a clear drop can be seen.

During the seven years of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, this same indicator was consistently above 30 percent in Italy, on average around 32-33 percent. Decisively higher than in 2014, the first full year of the pontificate of Francis and the one in which his popularity reached its peak.

The following letter takes these statistical indicators into account. But it evaluates the real “Francis effect” on religious life with the more up close and direct gaze of the pastor of souls, of the confessor. Who writes that during this pontificate he has experienced not only a further drop in the practice of sacramental confession, but also a deterioration in the “quality” of the confessions themselves. A deterioration that does not seem unrelated to the use of certain remarks of pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio that have had enormous success in the media.

The author of the letter is a churchman with a high level of scholarly specialization and with significant teaching appointments in Italy and abroad, but who also dedicates a great deal of time and energy to pastoral care.

His evaluations reflect those of a growing number of pastors, who - in a private capacity - do not fail to confide similar concerns to their respective bishops.

And “www.chiesa” also guarantees confidentiality to the author of the letter, who would be too exposed to the predictable retaliation of an ecclesiastical “new establishment” - as he calls it – whose conformist fawning over this pontificate is one of its most deleterious vices.

A confidentiality that allows that “parresia” or frankness of speech so greatly encouraged by Pope Francis himself, who even during a synod wants the attention to be on “what” is said in the assembly, but not on “who” says it.

___________



“Who are you to judge me?” The confessions of a confessor


Dear Magister,

Not a little has been written on the impact of the pontificate of Pope Francis “ad intra” and “ad extra Ecclesiae,” when it comes to the renewal of the spiritual life of the faithful and their communal participation in that of the Church, as also on the hoped-for return to evangelical and sacramental practice by those who had distanced themselves from it in recent decades. And it has been written from different perspectives: theology, anthropology, history, sociology, culture, communication, and politics. I do not believe it is necessary to add anything in this regard, in part because many of these facts and considerations still need to be digested through calm, critical reflection.

There nevertheless remains open - and in part undecided - the identification of a robust spiritual and pastoral indicator for measuring the effect of a change of personality, discipline, or teaching on souls and on the people of God.

I am aware of this. “Souls” and “people of God” are two theological and ecclesial categories that are decommissioned today, particularly in the statements of the current pontiff and his “new establishment.” But barring evidence to the contrary they are still part of the Catholic faith as confirmed by Vatican Council II itself. And negligence of them carries the risk, which is anything but transitory, of exchanging the “salus animarum” for the “vota aliquorum” and the “bonum populi Dei” for the “popularis consensus.” I translate: the health of souls for the wishes of a few and the good of the people of God for popularity.

I leave to the devotees of the sociology of religion, of the public communication of the faith, and of ecclesiastical politics every consideration on the mass participation of the faithful and of nonbelievers in public events at which the Holy Father is present (general audiences, Angelus, liturgical celebrations, etc.) - the official statistics on which as furnished by the prefecture of the pontifical household show a marked decrease from the first to the third year of the pontificate of Pope Francis - and on the possible significance that these numbers might present in terms of conversion to the Gospel and adherence to the pontiff’s message “urbi et orbi” for a “new springtime” of the Church, characterized by the “doors” being thrown open with facility for all (if memory serves, however, the Gospel of Luke speaks of a “narrow gate” through which one must “strive” to enter, make an effort, and of the “many who will seek to enter but will not be able”).

I would like instead simply to communicate the experience - the facts as they present themselves in the daily like of pastoral work on the periphery, so that “contra factum non valet illatio” - of a priest who dedicates his remaining time and energy, after fulfilling the primary ministry that the bishop has entrusted to him, to the work of sacramental reconciliation, convinced that the mercy of God passes above all, in the ordinary and always accessible way, through the discretion of the dim partition and the narrow window of the confessional, and not by entering, in the beacon lights of the basilica and before the eyes of all, through the great doors of the Holy Year (the merit of which is another: that of obtaining remission before God of the temporal punishment for sins already remitted, as for their guilt, in the sacrament of confession, which remains the first and fundamental vehicle of God’s mercy toward us sinners, after baptism).

The facts are these. Since the opening of the Holy Year backed by Pope Francis and on the occasion of the Christmas festivities of 2015 - as also since Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been sitting on the throne of Peter - the number of faithful who approach the confessional has not increased, neither in ordinary time nor in festive. The trend of a progressive, rapid diminution of the frequency of sacramental reconciliation that has characterized recent decades has not stopped. On the contrary: the confessionals of my church have been largely deserted.

I have sought comfort for this bitter consideration by imagining that the basilicas connected to the Holy Year in Rome or in other cities, or the shrines and convents, have been able to attract a larger number of penitents. But a round of phone calls to some fellow priests who regularly hear confessions in these places (using the opportunity of the Christmas wishes that I extend every year) has confirmed my observation: lines of penitents that are anything but long, everywhere, even less than at the festivities of past years.

And there is also less and less news of memorable conversions of sheep lost for many years and returning to the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd through the “useless servants” of his mercy that we priests are. When this happens, very rarely, there is neither explicit nor implicit reference to the person or the word of the current pope more than there was in the past for his predecessors (how many young people came back from the World Youth Days and put into practice their resolution of frequent confession!).

Distrusting the value of the numbers, because even the salvation of one soul has an infinite value in the eyes of God, I reviewed the “quality” of the confessions I have heard and I asked - while respecting the secret of the confessional concerning the identity of the penitent - for news from a few fellow confessors of long experience. The picture that presents itself is certainly not a happy one, both concerning the awareness of sin and in reference to the awareness of the prerequisites for obtaining God’s forgiveness (in this case as well, I know that the term “forgiveness” is giving way to “mercy” and is in danger of being mothballed soon, but at what theological, spiritual, and pastoral cost?).

Two examples stand for all. One middle-aged gentleman whom I asked, with discretion and delicacy, if he had repented of a repeated series of grave sins against the seventh commandment “do not steal,” of which he had accused himself with a certain frivolity and almost joking about the circumstances, certainly not attenuating, that had accompanied them, responded to me with the words of Pope Francis: “Mercy knows no limits” and by showing surprise that I would remind him of the need for repentance and for the resolution to avoid falling back into the same sin in the future: “I did what I did. What I will do I will decide when I go from here. What I think about what I have done is a question between me and God. I am here only to have what everyone deserves at least at Christmas: to be able to receive communion at midnight!” And he concluded by paraphrasing the now archfamous expression of Pope Francis: “Who are you to judge me?”

One young lady, to whom I had proposed as an act of penance connected to the sacramental absolution of a grave sin against the fifth commandment “do not kill” that she kneel in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament exposed on the altar of a church and perform an act of material charity toward a poor person to the extent of her means, responded to me with annoyance that “no one must ask for anything in exchange for God’s mercy, because it is free,” and that she had neither the time to stop at a church to pray (she had to “run around doing Christmas shopping downtown”), nor money to give to the poor (“who don’t even need it that much, because they have more than we do”).

It is evident that a certain message, at least as received from the pope and come down to the faithful, easily lends itself to being misunderstood, mistaken, and therefore of no help in the maturation of a sure and upright conscience in the faithful concerning their sins and the conditions of their remission in the sacrament of reconciliation. With all due respect to Msgr. Dario Viganò, prefect of the secretariat for communication of the Holy See, the “zigzag course” through concepts without ever pausing to clarify any of them - which he recognizes as a gem of the “communication style of Pope Francis,” capable of “making him so irresistible” to the modern listener - presents a few spiritual and pastoral inconveniences, far from trivial if they have to do with grace and the sacraments, the treasury of the Church.

I will stop here, so as not to exploit your patience in reading me. I am not making the claim of proposing as a thermometer of ecclesial faith and life the quantity or quality of confessions and, more in general, of recourse to the sacraments, nor of making them an exclusive parameter for the evaluation of a pontificate or of the state of the Church’s health. This would not be fair and would lose sight of other dimensions of life according to the Gospel and the ecclesial mission.

But we should also not neglect to take into consideration some worrying signals that are coming from the churches of the “periphery,” as also from those of the “center.”

Those bishops were not entirely wrong who, at least until Vatican Council II and in many cases even afterward, during pastoral visits in their dioceses asked the priests above all how many confessions and how many communions they administered in a year, comparing them to the number of baptized entrusted to their care.

Nor were those popes wrong who, in the past, had the bishops on their visits “ad limina apostolorum” deliver to them the overall number of sacraments administered in their dioceses.

They were bishops and popes who drew useful indications on the state of the care of souls and the holiness of the people of God simply from the medicine of souls and from the vehicle of sanctifying grace.

They certainly did not have at hand the whole apparatus of institutions, communications, technology, and organization made possible by religious sociology and by the print and broadcast media, but they did have the humble certainty that it is not by coddling the cultural and anthropological fashions of the time that souls are saved, nor by following in the wake of individual and social (re)sentiments and demands inside and outside the Church that the people of God are strengthened on the path of holiness.

Thank you for your attention and many cordial greetings, “ad maiorem Dei gloriam.”

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