"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)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Desperate Churchmice
George Weigel 

No, the pope is not supporting Occupy Wall Street.

It’s been a bad three and a half decades for self-styled “progressive” Catholics.
First, there was John Paul II, whom many in that camp habitually labeled a charismatic reactionary. Yet the Polish pope was a hero all over the world during an epic pontificate that bent history’s arc in a more humane direction, and did so without the aid of liberation theology. John Paul’s funeral Mass on April 8, 2005, became, in the apt phrase of NBC anchor Brian Williams, “the human event of a generation,” a moniker unlikely to be attached to the obsequies of, say, Hans Küng, John Paul’s most embittered progressive critic.

Then came the election of the progressives’ bête noire, Joseph Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict XVI: a horror that a prominent progressive, Notre Dame’s Fr. Richard McBrien, declared electorally impossible a mere 24 hours before it happened. Catholic progressives hunkered down for what they hoped would be a brief Ratzingerian interregnum. But Benedict XVI has proven an energetic pope whose pontificate has been in dynamic continuity with that of his predecessor, an astute analyst of the cultural crisis of the West, and a man determined to strengthen Catholic identity as the sine qua non of Catholic reform.

Thus the Wojtyla-Ratzinger years have put paid to the notion, beloved of Catholic progressives, that Catholicism began anew — ex nihilo, as it were — at the Second Vatican Council. Committed to the hoary “liberal/conservative” hermeneutic of the Council’s history, Catholic progressives hold that Vatican II represented a dramatic rupture with the past. The great teaching pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, however, have proposed a far more plausible interpretation of the Council as one in dynamic continuity with the great tradition of Christian orthodoxy. That interpretation, in turn, is shaping an entire new generation of Catholic intellectuals who are far more interested in exploring the complex riches of that tradition than in deconstructing it. Unlike the aging progressives, who have shown themselves rather infertile intellectually and who survive in large part because of that most conservative of institutions, the tenure system, many younger Catholic scholars are fully committed to putting theology at the service of the “New Evangelization” for which John Paul II and Benedict XVI have insistently called.

In the United States, the progressives have also been steadily losing their grip at the national, diocesan, and local-parish levels. Various lay-renewal movements have become vital and self-consciously orthodox factors in Catholic life, and a new generation of priests and bishops, many of whom look explicitly to John Paul II as their model of ecclesiastical leadership, have come to the fore. For the past half-decade or more, the Catholic bishops of the United States, following the pope’s lead, have increasingly stressed the importance of Catholic identity, by which they understand fidelity to Catholic teaching, in confronting an increasingly hostile cultural and legal/political environment. That problem has been considerably exacerbated by the Obama administration, which many Catholic progressives welcomed with loud hosannas, and for whose regulatory assault on Catholic health-care and social-service agencies progressives have provided cover, often by implausible appeals to Catholic social doctrine.

Throughout this fairly rapid decline, progressive Catholicism’s distinctive cultural marker has been its skepticism about the teaching authority of the Church: whether that teaching authority was formally and authoritatively addressing the ethics of human love, the suitability of women for Holy Orders, the uniqueness of Christ as universal savior, or the intrinsic evils of abortion and euthanasia. Thus it was another sign of the increasing incoherence of progressive Catholicism when several of its American paladins mounted a raucous defense of a “Note” — a kind of Vatican white paper — on international financial reform issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP) on October 24. It was an extraordinary exercise: The progressives depicted Benedict XVI as a senior chaplain to Occupy Wall Street, described the Note in such overwrought terms that the gullible might have thought this white paper shared in the charism of papal infallibility, and darkly suggested that those who disagreed with the Note’s prescriptions were cafeteria Catholics, picking and choosing their doctrines to fit preexisting political tastes.

The irony of men such as the former editor of America, Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr., and National Catholic Reporter blogger Michael Sean Winters promoting a notion of papal teaching authority more expansive than any imagined by the most wild-eyed traditionalist will not be lost on cognoscenti of ecclesiastical intrigue. This new notion of PCJP infallibility does, however, raise interesting questions — about the nature and modalities of Catholic teaching authority, about the organization of the Holy See, and about the state of Catholic progressivism in America.

Given the continuing confusion caused by Father Reese’s assertion that the Note positioned Benedict XVI “to the left of Nancy Pelosi” (which reverberated throughout the media echo chamber), it’s important to pin down just what the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is, and what authority its statements bear.
The Pontifical Council (with whose president, Cardinal Peter Turkson, I had an entirely cordial 90-minute conversation last year) was established after Vatican II as part of the “New Curia,” a set of agencies intended to give organizational expression to some of Vatican II’s pastoral concerns: the promotion of social doctrine, the family, the lay mission in the world, and so forth. Unlike the older Congregations of the Roman Curia, which exercise an authority of jurisdiction (over bishops, clergy, religious life, Catholic worship, etc.), and unlike the Tribunals of the Curia, which make binding legal decisions, the “Pontifical Councils” of the New Curia were intended to be in-house think-tanks. Bureaucracy being what it is, however, they quickly morphed into something else: paper factories issuing all sorts of statements on all sorts of issues. As I wrote in God’s Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, there was concern during the 2005 conclave over the large amount of paper being generated by the New Curia: paper that was inevitably, if inaccurately, interpreted publicly as being the settled understanding of the Catholic Church and its highest teaching authority on X, Y, and Z.

Official Church documents make clear that this is not the case. The Pontifical Councils of the New Curia are intended to support the mission of the pope as universal pastor of the Church; but they do not share in his teaching authority. The Church’s principal doctrinal agency, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the 1990 instruction Donum Veritatis (The Gift of Truth), put the matter quite clearly: “The Roman Pontiff fulfills his universal mission with the help of the various bodies of the Roman Curia and in particular with that of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in matters of doctrine and morals. Consequently, the documents issued by this Congregation expressly approved by the Pope participate in the ordinary magisterium of the successor of Peter.” That statement, which is made of no other entity in the Roman Curia, is then substantiated by reference to the Code of Canon Law and the Apostolic Constitutions of Paul VI and John Paul II on the structure of the Roman Curia.

It is simply wrong, then, to say that a Note like that from the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace is somehow a matter of “the pope says” or “the Vatican says” or “the Catholic Church teaches.” It is inconceivable that Father Reese does not know this, and it is very unlikely that Mr. Winters does not know this. Since Donum Veritatis and the Code of Canon Law cannot be blamed on the George W. Bush administration, it’s unclear whether Dr. Dionne knows this. In any event, the suggestion from progressive Catholic circles that the PCJP Note on international finance was an expression of the teaching authority of the Church can be dismissed as ill-informed, disingenuous, deeply confused — or all of the above.

It is also, true, however, that the current managerial dysfunction in the Vatican contributes to this mischief making. The world assumes that a statement released by a Vatican agency at a press conference in the Vatican must have been thoroughly vetted throughout the various layers of the Curia. But that in fact cannot be assumed, and in the case of the Justice and Peace Note it should not be assumed. The empirical analysis in the Note stands or falls on its own merits. The Note’s prescriptions should be judged both on their prudential merit (can and should these things be done?) and on their coherence with the core principles of Catholic social doctrine (do these prescriptions make Catholic sense?). Those whose answers tend toward the negative ought not be caricatured as market idolaters or cafeteria Catholics.

As for the future, while a conclave cannot bind the pope it elects to any particular action, it seems likely that the kind of confusion that ensued after the PCJP Note will lead to a future conclave suggesting that the man it elects take a hard look at the New Curia, with an eye to reconstructing offices such as the PCJP as the in-house think-tanks for the pope and the senior Curia that they were originally intended to be.

After the last papal election, one wit, referring to gape-mouthed progressives who had convinced themselves that This Just Couldn’t Happen, observed that the senior cardinal deacon, announcing the election to Rome and the world, should have said that the new pope was Joseph Ratzinger, “qui sibi nomen imposuit [who has taken the name] Your Worst Nightmare.” That those who thought the worst had come (some of whom had spent the weeks between John Paul’s death and Benedict’s election doing everything possible to prevent a Ratzinger victory) should now position themselves as the defenders of Benedict’s teaching authority strains irony into the gravest implausibility. That these same defenders, presenting themselves as close students of Catholic social doctrine, should propose something as ridiculous as the notion that this deeply learned pope (who in his address to public life has consistently proposed the urgency of linking civil law to the moral law that we can know by reason) is sympathetic to the madcap anarchists of Occupy Wall Street tells us something about the desperation in progressive Catholic circles these days.

Why the desperation? The progressives are losing; they know it, at some level; and because the idea of losing is inconceivable to those who have long imagined themselves on the right side of both political and ecclesiastical history, they tell themselves, and the rest of us, increasingly bizarre tales, like Lewis Carroll’s White Queen teaching herself impossible things before breakfast. Ratzinger-as-Chaplain-to-OWS is thus a kind of desperate grasping for relevance at a moment of increasing progressivist irrelevance. They have lost inside the Church: The men and women in the growing religious orders, the men in the growing seminaries, the active younger laity, all look on progressive Catholicism as a kind of weird phenomenon of their parents’ generation. And now they are losing publicly. Progressive Catholicism in America bet the farm on Barack Obama, and, as progressive Catholics begin to sense with horror that the administration is a train wreck about to happen, we may yet see even stranger tales told than that of Benedict the Left-Wing Activist.

Thomas Merton sensed the inherent implausibility of progressive Catholicism in the mid-1960s — despite his support of the civil-rights, anti-nuclear, and anti-Vietnam movements. In his student days at Columbia, Merton had known real Communists, and he wasn’t much impressed with the juvenile leftism that swamped the Church in the wake of Vatican II. Merton put the complaint about progressive Catholicism and its furies about as well as it can be put in one of the “nonsense letters” he wrote to his old friend, the poet Robert Lax: “I am truly spry and full of fun, but am pursued by the vilifications of progressed Catholics. Mark my word man there is no uglier species on the face of the earth than progressed Catholics, mean, frivol, ungainly, inarticulate, venomous, and bursting at the seams with progress into the secular cities and Teilhardian subways. The Ottavianis was bad but these are infinitely worse. You wait and see.”

The Church and the world have waited for almost a half-century. Now those with eyes to see have seen. But as weird as Pope Benedict the Wall Street Occupier may seem, stranger things could yet come, as the incoherences multiply and the vitriol follows suit.

— George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bishop Slattery on Prayer, the Mass and New Vocations

Since being appointed bishop of Tulsa, Okla., 18 years ago, he has seen a dramatic rise in the Hispanic population and a drop in the average age of priests.

Diocese of Tulsa, Okla.
– Diocese of Tulsa, Okla.
Bishop Edward Slattery, 71, was born and raised in Chicago. He attended the archdiocese’s Mundelein Seminary and was ordained a priest in 1966. He served in Chicago parishes and was active with the Catholic Church Extension Society, which funds the American home missions.
In 1994, he was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II and installed as the third bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa, Okla. He is noted for his orthodoxy and piety and has publicly advocated a reform of the liturgy. As the Church prepares for the official promulgation of the new translation of the liturgy on the First Sunday in Advent, Nov. 27, he shared his thoughts on the liturgy, the priesthood and religious life, and maintaining a healthy spirituality.
You’ve made public statements about problems with the liturgy. What changes would you like to see?
I would like to see the liturgy become what Vatican II intended it to be. That’s not something that can happen overnight. The bishops who were the fathers of the council from the United States came home and made changes too quickly. They shouldn’t have viewed the old liturgy, what we call the Tridentine Mass or Missal of Pope John XXIII, as something that needed to be fixed. Nothing was broken. There was an attitude that we had to implement Vatican II in a way that radically affects the liturgy.
What we lost in a short period of time was continuity. The new liturgy should be clearly identifiable as the liturgy of the pre-Vatican II Church. Changes, like turning the altar around, were too sudden and too radical. There is nothing in the Vatican II documents that justifies such changes. We’ve always had Mass facing the people as well as Mass ad orientem [“to the east,” with priest and people facing the same direction]. However, Mass ad orientem was the norm. These changes did not come from Vatican II.
Also, it was not a wise decision to do away with Latin in the Mass. How that happened, I don’t know; but the fathers of the Council never intended us to drop Latin. They wanted us to hold on to it and, at the same time, to make room for the vernacular, primarily so that the people could understand the Scriptures.

You yourself have begun celebrating Mass ad orientem.
Yes, in our cathedral and a few parishes where the priests ask me to. Most of the time, I say Mass facing the people when I travel around the diocese or when I have a large number of priests concelebrating, because it works better that way.
A few priests have followed my example and celebrate ad orientem as well. I have not requested they change. I prefer to lead by example and let the priests think about it, pray about it, study it, and then look at their churches and see if it’s feasible to do.

And it’s positive when people are thinking about and talking about the liturgy.
When people make the liturgy part of their conversation, it is a good thing. As priests and laypeople discuss the liturgy, they’ll see how important it is and how it is a work of God and not our own.
But we must approach the liturgy on bended knee with tremendous humility, recognizing that it doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to God. It is a gift. We worship God not by creating our own liturgies, but by receiving the liturgy as it comes to us from the Church. The liturgy should be formed and shaped by the Church itself to help people pray better. And we all pray better when we are disposed to receive what God has offered, rather than creating something of our own.

Are you excited about the promulgation of the new translation of the Roman Missal?
I’m looking forward to it. I’ve put a lot of work into it this past year: getting the people of the diocese ready. We’ve hosted a number of large gatherings to explain the new translation, and those in attendance were attentive and grateful. I think it is going to be well received by our priests and the people.
Moreover, the announcement of the new translation has sparked an opportunity to renew our commitment to an active participation in the liturgy. We should come to the liturgy with an interior disposition that it is something which we can only receive. It is a gift from God. And, as part of our reception of that gift, we must listen with a loving heart to what God has to tell us.

In 2010, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election, you celebrated a traditional Latin Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Why did you celebrate this Mass, and how did it go?
I did it because I didn’t want a lot of people to be disappointed. Archbishop [Donald] Wuerl [of Washington], now Cardinal Wuerl, called me to say they could not find a bishop to celebrate the Mass because the bishop who was originally scheduled withdrew. It was only a few days before the event, and they needed a replacement. Since bishops’ schedules are so tight, even Archbishop Wuerl could not do it on such short notice. So, I was thrilled to have the opportunity.
I was impressed by the large crowd, but found it easy to pray, despite all the people. There was a sense of prayer, a silence and an involvement that made it easy for all of us to pray together.

You preached on suffering that day, and your homily was well received.
We were there to thank God for the Holy Father’s five years of service as the Successor of Peter. I realized that during those five years he has suffered enormously, and the Church has been the target of much persecution. It makes you more conscious of suffering itself. Suffering has always been with us; it’s something we all have to endure.
I wanted to remind the congregation that our sufferings need not be wasted; suffering in union with Christ is redemptive. However, if we suffer with resentment or with a sense of merely feeling the pain of suffering, it is wasted.
I thought that would be a good theme. I didn’t want to talk about the divisions that exist between conservatives and liberals or those who attend the Tridentine Mass and the rest of the Catholic world.
Suffering is universal. Everyone suffers as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve and our own sins. But what Christ, in his great love for us, has done is taken that which is our great enemy, suffering and death, and put it at our service. Suffering and death can be the cause of our redemption.

You obviously have quite a love for the priesthood. What first made you want to be a priest?
I can’t trace it to any one thing. My mother and father were good Catholics, and the neighborhood in which I lived had many good Catholics, so I grew up in a positive environment.
I do recall one instance, however, when I was very young. I woke up in the middle of the night and made my first adult prayer. By this, I mean I was conscious of God’s presence and moved by it. I was filled by a profound and unexplainable gratitude for his presence and love.
From that time I changed. I became interested in things of the Church: Mass, sacraments, religion classes, priests and nuns. Anything that was religious was attractive to me from that time on.
I announced to my parents when I was in the fifth or sixth grade that I would like to go to Quigley [Preparatory Seminary] and become a priest. They were happy, but I was a little disappointed that they were not as excited about it as I was. They were in favor of it, but I thought they would be thrilled. Looking back on it, I think they were thinking, Oh, this is just a child’s dream. But I was serious. My father went to Quigley himself, and my brother too, but they both left and got married.

Your ordination as a bishop by Pope John Paul must have left you with many special memories.
It was an unforgettable experience. To this day, I feel grateful and unworthy.
I had met Pope John Paul II several times before. Because I was president of the Extension Society, I traveled frequently and came to places where he was visiting. I remember meeting him in Arizona and Alaska and in Guam, where I met him the first time.
Like everyone else, I was in awe in his presence. I felt privileged that I could shake hands with him and see him face to face.

How has your Diocese of Tulsa changed since you first arrived nearly 18 years ago?
We’ve had a large influx of Hispanic Catholics, most of whom have come since I arrived. The diocese officially has 60,000 Catholics, but twice as many if you include Hispanics. Often, they won’t register in our parishes, however. Because of our immigration laws, they are hesitant to sign their name on anything.
We’ve also gone from having one of the older clergy populations in the country to one of the youngest. In the last 18 years, most of our priests who were on active duty have died or retired. I’ve ordained about 30 since I’ve arrived, and we have about 50 active priests total. Our average age now is about 45 or 46.
We usually ordain about two priests a year. They serve a Catholic population in this state that is a minority, but a strong and faithful minority.

You’ve expressed your concern about the decline of religious communities in the past 40 years. What do you think caused it?
Sometimes Vatican II is blamed for it, but I think it has to do with a change in our culture and the West. We have become secular, self-reliant and independent.
In the 1960s, we had the war in Vietnam, the civil-rights movement and a society that was increasingly disillusioned with people in authority. Protests arose emphasizing that people were being denied their rights — and, sometimes, they were — and the themes of responsibility, obedience, loyalty and fidelity were forgotten. We lost an important balance we needed.
Also, as technology improves, people become more and more comfortable and expect to be comfortable. We take for granted the gifts God has given us and think we’re entitled to them.
These prevailing attitudes then affect all of us, whether we’re a religious, bishop, priest, married or single person. It’s just a matter of time before some religious say, “I’m going to change the way I’m living and re-interpret the meaning of poverty, chastity and obedience.”
But for us to have a conversion of heart, we need examples. We need religious. We need reformation of the religious and consecrated life because the Catholic Church is searching for men and women who can lead us by example. That is what has been lacking in the past 40 years, as many religious left the religious life or changed to a lifestyle which is, unfortunately, even more comfortable than the average person. Sometimes I think some religious have lost their identity.
The charisms of poverty, chastity and obedience are something that all of us need to embrace, but the religious are the ones who lead us in this. They help us to stay focused on Christ in another world, another kingdom, and not the kingdom of this world.

How should we respond?
We should start with prayer. That’s where everything starts. We don’t start by talking about ourselves or even examining our consciences. We start by prayer, on our knees. We come to the Lord and ask him to let us see ourselves as he sees us. He’s the only one who can. God knows each one of us perfectly, and if we’re seeking self-knowledge, we must go to him.
Once we do that, we receive his help and a certain joy because we open our hearts to being honest. We allow ourselves to see and accept what is true about ourselves and about others in light of the Gospel. But without prayer, that can’t happen.
Once we become men and women of prayer, everything else will fall into place. But we have to put in the time. You have to schedule prayer. You have to make sure that you pray every day, and as often as you can. Become a man or woman of prayer. When we do this, we will begin to discover ourselves, perhaps for the first time.

You also frequently recommend Eucharistic adoration.
The Eucharist is the center of our lives. The reason for Eucharistic adoration is so that we might find ourselves as better participants when we do celebrate the Mass. Everything centers around our Lord in the Eucharist. Once we begin to see this and experience this, we’ll find ourselves going to Mass more often.

Are there other spiritual practices you recommend?
We have to return to the Rosary. Pope John Paul II said that when we pray the Rosary, we see the life of Christ through the eyes of his mother, Mary. And there’s no better way to look at Christ than through the eyes of Mary. The Rosary is a tried and true means of doing that. I encourage every Catholic to pray the Rosary every day. Praying the Rosary takes us through the major mysteries of our faith, especially now since John Paul has given us the five Luminous Mysteries.
I also advise a return to confession. When I say this, I don’t mean to do this in some sort of laborious, burdensome way, but rather as a form of prayer. Pray before you examine your conscience, and allow the Lord to tell you what your sins are. He loves you, and he will tell you a lot about yourself. He will help you see yourself in contrast with his infinite love for you. You will begin to see the gap between his love for you and your love for Him. And when you experience that gap, it will help you become more generous and more apt to recognize and admit your sins in confession.

Who are your heroes in the spiritual life?
St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. I have a picture of her in my chapel, and I talk to her every day. Since becoming a bishop, she has become my hero. She has such enormous humility, and her love for Christ is so genuine.
What impresses me most about her is that she found great peace in her life because she wanted the approval of Jesus alone for anything she thought or did. She never wanted anyone else’s approval, only his. Now, that’s really love. We often seek approval and praise from others, whether it be from our parents, co-workers or friends.
But she did not. All she wanted was that approval from Christ himself, so she was always trying to please him. That’s all that mattered to her; that simplified her life and made her a saint.
Register correspondent Jim Graves writes from Newport Beach, California.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/bishop-slattery-on-prayer-the-mass-and-new-vocations/#ixzz1cGmhuHZ6

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Survey: Religious identity slips among U.S. Catholics

One in four Americans call themselves Catholic, but a survey released Monday finds this is more a cultural brand label for many than a religious identity.
An overwhelming majority, 88%, say "how a person lives is more important than whether he or she is Catholic," according to Catholics in America: Persistence and change in the Catholic landscape. The survey is part of ongoing research by teams of sociologists led by Catholic University sociologist William D'Antonio.
The survey, a comprehensive look at the beliefs and practices of 1,442 U.S. Catholic adults, also finds that 86% say "you can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church." Only about 30% support the "teaching authority claimed by the Vatican.

And 40% say you can be a good Catholic without believing that in Mass, the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Christ — a core doctrine of Catholicism.

That could reflect the decline in Mass attendance. The survey finds it's fallen from 44% attending at least once a week in 1987 to 31% in 2011, while those who attend less than monthly rose from 26% to 47%.

When asked why they don't go to Mass more often, 40% say they are simply not very religious.
This is the fifth such national survey conducted by D'Antonio since 1987. The surveys, published in The National Catholic Reporter, provide information about demographics, beliefs and practices in American Catholic life.

The church's opposition to the death penalty, same-sex marriage and permitting priests to marry "has not persuaded a majority of Catholics," says Tom Roberts, editor of the National Catholic Reporter and author of a new book on Catholic community life, The Emerging Church.

More than half of Catholics, including those most highly committed to the church in their personal practices, say it's their own moral views, not those of church leaders, that matter, says survey co-author Michele Dillon, chair of the sociology department at the University of New Hampshire. "They see this as their church and they won't be exiled because there is a doctrine they disagree with.

The sexual abuse scandal, which exploded in the USA in 2002, has hurt church leaders' political credibility at least somewhat say 83% and 77% say it has hurt priests' ability to meet parishioners' spiritual or pastoral needs. Only 29% say the bishops have done a good or excellent job in handling the issue.

20 Years of the Tridentine Mass in Metro Detroit

Tridentine Community News (October 23, 2011):
It all began with a plan. A group of enterprising Canadians wanted to worship according to the historic Latin Rite of the Church. A similar group of Americans, undeterred by the Archdiocese of Detroit’s unwillingness to permit a Tridentine Mass on their own turf, formed a partnership of sorts with their Canadian brethren to attempt to start one in Windsor. A complete operational plan was drawn up before approaching the Diocese of London, Ontario: celebrant, chapel, supplies, budget, handouts, and most every detail were pre-arranged. All that was needed was permission.

Then-Auxiliary Bishop Frederick Henry approved of the plan, and in 1991 Mass began in the chapel of Assumption College High School (photo above), on Huron Church Road just south of the Ambassador Bridge. The first regular Chaplain of the group was Fr. Alexander Barna.

In 1999, the Mass was relocated to the chapel of the Villa Maria Nursing Home (photo above), located on the bank of the Detroit River. The Chaplain at the time, Fr. Ronold [sic] Pazik, was rather short of stature, and as a result, the main altar in the chapel could not be used. Mass was celebrated at a tiny side altar. These were difficult years; the nursing home setting unfortunately caused attendance to decline.

Incoming Diocese of London Bishop Ronald Fabbro sympathized with the group’s desire to relocate to a more fitting setting for the Mass, and granted permission in 2003 to move to the 1950s-era St. Michael’s Church (photo above). The Chaplain in those years was the indefatigable Fr. Ulysse Lefaive, and the pastor of the host parish at the time just happened to be the Episcopal Vicar, Fr. James Roche, whose wise counsel and continuing assistance helped the Mass to grow.

In 2007, the group experienced a blessing in disguise. Parish politics at St. Michael’s put some obstacles in the way of proper celebration of the Mass. Then-Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Daniels agreed with the group’s suggestion that this was an opportune time for an upgrade. His Excellency arranged a relocation to the most beautiful church in Windsor, Our Lady of the Assumption (photo above), the oldest parish in Ontario. God graced the group with a new Chaplain, Fr. Peter Hrytsyk, who was intent on improving the quality of the liturgy to match its new home.

In 2004, members of the group helped to found Detroit’s long-awaited first Tridentine Mass at St. Josaphat Church, and later its descendant Masses at St. Albertus, St. Joseph, and Sweetest Heart of Mary Churches. The professional choir that sings every Sunday year-round at Assumption has been called upon to sing at special occasion Masses at the National Shrine of the Little Flower, St. Peter’s Seminary, St. Hyacinth Church, Flint’s All Saints Church, and elsewhere.

The pioneering souls behind this enterprise have names. May we ask your prayers for the founders and original members of the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association: Helen Broderick, Ray Cameron, John Foot, Brad Nelson, Michel Ozorak, Richard Walczak, and the late Earl Amyotte, Germaine Deimling, Murray Harris, and Thomas Marshall. Metro Detroit and Windsor’s currently thriving Tridentine Mass scene would not exist without their well thought-out efforts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our Lady Of Good Success, Pray For Us

Our Lady of Good Success
(Prophecies for Our Times)
Prophetic revelations made to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres

This article is based on excerpts taken from the 18th Century manuscript entitled The Admirable Life of Mother Mariana of Jesus Torres, written by Prior Manuel de Souza Pereira, Franciscan Provincial in Quito, Ecuador and director of the Convent Mother Mariana founded. This... manuscript was written a century after her death. Mother Mariana is linked mysteriously to our times by the visions Our Lady showed her of the 20th Century over 350 years ago. This apparition has been approved by the Church and Mother Mariana has been declared Venerable in the first step towards her canonization.

On January 16, 1635, surrounded by her community and her Franciscan confessors, Mother Mariana made a solemn profession of Faith, and then asked, as a last favor, to die on the ground, in imitation of her Seraphic Father, St. Francis. After receiving Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, she foretold the exact hour of her death: 3 p.m. Just before she died, she read her last will and testament, a moving testimony that gave her daughters inestimable advice about the religious life along with many prophecies concerning the order. At its end, she turned to the priests: "My fathers and sisters, the time has come for me to depart; recommend my soul to God with the appropriate prayers. I thank you for everything. Always, I beseech you, have this convent and your sisters in your care. I die, as I was born, joyously and peacefully in the arms of my mother, the Seraphic Order." Two tears rolled down her cheek, she sighed, and with an angelic smile, that blessed soul left her body.

After death, her body remained flexible, her complexion rosy, and the charming smile on her face gave her every appearance of being alive. During the wake, the sight of a blind girl was restored when a flower from the crown that encircled Mother Mariana's head was touched to the her eyes.

In 1906, during the remodeling of the Convent, her three-century old tomb was opened. They discovered the body of Mother Mariana de Jesus whole and incorrupt, complete with her habit and the articles of penance that had been placed in the tomb with her. An exquisite aroma of lilies emanated from her whole body. Thus God preserves some of his saints who practice heroic virtue and maintain holy chastity in their earthly lives.

Mother Mariana possessed the gift of discernment of spirits, which Our Dear Lord so often gives to founders of religious orders. Since she could read the hearts of her daughters, she would comfort them, telling them how to progress in the spiritual life and explain how it was necessary to die to oneself in order to practice real virtue. She repeatedly warned them to guard the common life of the Convent and obey the Rule. When prayer and community life are wanting, she said, everything falls short, for the religious without prayer is like a soldier without arms in combat. She told them to be patient in their sicknesses, since illnesses are the best and most meritorious penances, which free souls from illusions, vanity and pride. She especially warned her daughters to guard against that "cursed human respect, which makes one ask: 'What will others say about this?'" Instead, she counseled that they should guide their lives in the cloisters according to the norms of the Gospel and ground themselves firmly on the strong foundation of humility.

Let us consider some of the revelations that Mother Mariana was blessed to receive from Our Lord and Our Lady.

Instructions and Advice

Our Lady: "Oh, if only human beings and religious knew what Heaven is and what it is to possess God, how differently they would live, sparing no sacrifice in order to enter more fully into possession of it! But some let themselves be dazzled by the false glamour of honors and human greatness while others are blinded by self-love, not realizing that they are falling into lukewarmness, that immense evil which in religious houses destroys their fervor, humility, self-renunciation and the ceaseless practice of religious virtues and fraternal charity and that child-like simplicity which makes souls so dear to my Divine Son and to me, their Mother.

"Remember the words of the Royal Prophet: 'How marvelous are the works of the Lord!' Be convinced of this truth; teach and impress your daughters both living and those to come that they should love their divine vocations. Reveal to them the glorious place that God and I are saving for those who belong to Us, our heirs.

"Woe to the world should it lack monasteries and convents! Men do not comprehend their importance, for, if they understood, they would do all in their power to multiply them, because in them can be found the remedy for all physical and moral evils... No one on the face of the earth is aware whence comes the salvation of souls, the conversion of great sinners, the end of great scourges, the fertility of the land, the end of pestilence and wars, and the harmony between nations. All this is due to the prayers that rise up from monasteries and convents.

"O, if mortals only understood how to appreciate the time given to them, and would take advantage of each moment of their lives, how different the world would be! And a considerable number of souls would not fall to their eternal perdition! But this contempt is the fundamental cause for their downfall!"

Our Lady emphasized the importance of the Sacrament of Penance and the important role of priests: "See and contemplate the grandeur of this restoring and life-giving Sacrament of Penance, so forgotten and even scorned by ungrateful men, who in their foolish madness, do not realize that it is the only sure means of salvation after one has lost his baptismal innocence. What is most grievous is that even the ministers of My Most Holy Son do not give to it the value that they should, viewing with cold indifference this valuable and precious treasure, which has been placed in their hands for the restoration of souls redeemed by the Blood of the Redeemer. There are those who consider hearing confession as a loss of time and a futile thing. O, alas! If priests were given to see directly that which you are now contemplating and were enlightened with the Light that now illuminates you, they would then recognize this gift!..."

Our Lord: "For in all times I have need of valiant souls to save My Church and the prevaricating world." Our Lord also made Mother Mariana understand more clearly than ever before that devotion to the Passion, to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady constitutes the support and mainstay of religious communities.

"Know, moreover, that Divine Justice releases terrible chastisements on entire nations, not only for the sins of the people, but for those of priests and religious persons. For the latter are called, by the perfection of their state, to be the salt of the earth, the masters of truth, and the deflectors of Divine Wrath. Straying from their divine mission, they degrade themselves in such a way that, before the eyes of God they quicken the rigor of the punishments..." (During the 41 years of St. John Vianney's ministry at Ars, France, no damage was ever done by storms.)

He also assured Mother Mariana that He was greatly pleased by those souls who take upon themselves the sublime task of suffering for the sanctification of the Clergy by means of their prayers, sacrifices and penances, and promised such souls a special glory in Heaven.

The ingratitude and betrayal of religious souls, so dear to His Heart, would compel Him "to let My Justice fall upon My beloved cloisters – and even over cities – when those so near to Me who belong to Me reject My spirit, abandoning Me alone in Tabernacles, rarely remembering that I live there especially for love of them, even more than for the rest of the faithful." Imprudent admissions and internal abuses permitted by superiors are the ruin of communities. "Such communities can only be preserved – while they exist – at the cost of much penance, humiliations and daily and solid practice of the religious who are good. Woe to these corrupt members during those times of calamity! Weep for them, beloved spouse, and implore that the time of so much suffering will be shortened." He warned her that the Chastisement would be severe for those religious who squandered the many graces with their pride and vainglory to secure positions of power and rank and He especially condemned the lukewarm religious.

Mother Mariana saw that the greatest interior torments of the Sacred Heart were the ingratitude and indifference of those souls who, chosen among millions to be His spouses and ministers, left Him in the most absolute solitude. And this despite the fact that in the Holy Sacrament, He would live under the same roof with His spouses and come into the hand of His priests at the simple call of their voices at the most solemn moment of the Consecration.


Our Lady prophesied that at the end of the 19th Century and especially in the 20th Century that Satan would reign almost completely by the means of the Masonic sect. The Queen of Heaven told Mother Mariana that this battle would reach its most acute stage because of various unfaithful religious, who, "under the appearance of virtue and bad-spirited zeal, would turn upon Religion, who nourished them at her breast." "During this time," she continued, "insomuch as this poor country will lack the Christian spirit, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction will be little esteemed. Many people will die without receiving it – either because of the negligence of their families or their false sentimentality that tries to protect the sick from seeing the gravity of their situations, or because they will rebel against the spirit of the Catholic Church, impelled by the malice of the devil. Thus many souls will be deprived of innumerable graces, consolations and the strength they need to make that great leap from time to eternity..." "As for the Sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with His Church, it will be attacked and profaned in the fullest sense of the word. Masonry, which will then be in power, will enact iniquitous laws with the objective of doing away with this Sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin, encouraging the procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church. The Christian spirit will rapidly decay, extinguishing the precious light of Faith until if reaches the point that there will be an almost total and general corruption of customs. The effects of secular education will increase, which will be one reason for the lack of priestly and religious vocations..."

"The Sacred Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed and despised. ...The demon will try to persecute the Ministers of the Lord in every possible way and he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation, corrupting many of them. These corrupted priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will incite the hatred of the bad Christians and the enemies of the Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church to fall upon all priests. This apparent triumph of Satan will bring enormous sufferings to the good Pastors of the Church...."

"Moreover, in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury which, acting thus to snare the rest into sin, will conquer innumerable frivolous souls who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need of the Church, those who should speak will fall silent."

"But know, beloved daughter, that when your name is made known in the 20th century, there will be many who will not believe, claiming that this devotion is not pleasing to God...A simple humble faith in the truth of My apparitions to you, My predilect child, will be reserved for humble and fervent souls docile to the inspirations of grace, for Our Heavenly Father communicates His secrets to the simple of heart, and not to those whose hearts are inflated with pride, pretending to know what they do not, or self-satisfied with empty knowledge."

During this time, Our Lady foretold, "the secular Clergy will leave much to be desired because priests will become careless in their sacred duties. Lacking the divine compass, they will stray from the road traced by God for the priestly ministry, and they will become attached to wealth and riches, which they will unduly strive to obtain. How the Church will suffer during this dark night! Lacking a Prelate and Father to guide them with paternal love, gentleness, strength, wisdom and prudence, many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger. This will mark the arrival of My hour."

"Therefore, clamor insistently without tiring and weep with bitter tears in the privacy of your heart, imploring our Celestial Father that, for love of the Eucharistic Heart of my Most Holy Son and His Precious Blood shed with such generosity and the profound bitterness and sufferings of His cruel Passion and Death, He might take pity on His ministers and bring to an end those Ominous times, sending to this Church the Prelate who will restore the spirit of its priests."

On December 8, 1634, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, three archangels and their Queen appeared to Mother Mariana. St. Gabriel was carrying a Ciborium filled with Hosts which Our Lady explained: "This signifies the Most August Sacrament of the Eucharist, which will be distributed by my Catholic priests to faithful Christians belonging to the Holy Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church, whose visible head is the Pope, the King of Christianity. His pontifical infallibility will be declared a dogma of the Faith by the same Pope chosen to proclaim the dogma of the Mystery of My Immaculate Conception. He will be persecuted and imprisoned in the Vatican by the unjust usurpation of the Pontifical States through the iniquity, envy and avarice of an earthly monarch." This holy Pope was Blessed Pius IX, who fulfilled every prediction made by Our Lady. His body, being exhumed for beatification in 2000, was found miraculously preserved in the tomb where it had lain for more than a century. His face still showed a striking serenity in death.

Another most interesting prophecy of Our Lady: "In the 19th Century there will be a truly Catholic president, a man of character whom God Our Lord will give the palm of martyrdom on the square adjoining this Convent. He will consecrate the Republic to the Sacred Heart of My Most Holy Son, and this consecration will sustain the Catholic Religion in the years that will follow, which will be ill-fated ones for the Church. These years, during which the evil sect of Masonry will take control of the civil government – will see a cruel persecution of all religious communities, and they will also strike out violently against this one of mine."

The "truly Catholic" president of Ecuador, Gabriel Garcia Moreno (1821-1875), consecrated the republic to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1873. Pope Pius IX paid him tribute as a man who had died "the death of a martyr...a victim to his Faith and Christian charity." Gabriel Moreno's incorrupt heart and the famous painting of Our Lady of Quito can be seen in the Cathedral of Quito.


We are living in a time of the great crisis of Faith and morals as prophesied by Our Lady. The confusion is of such magnitude that it is not only subverting the temporal sphere, but also penetrates the walls of the Church itself. Indeed, as Our Lady prophesied, the corruption of customs has become general and the precious light of Faith almost extinct. Yet the message of Our Lady of Good Success ends with a note of great hope: When everything will seem lost and paralyzed, that will be "the happy beginning of the complete restoration. This will mark the arrival of my hour, when I, in a marvelous way, will dethrone the proud and cursed Satan, trampling him under my feet and fettering him in the infernal abyss." It is the promise echoed by Our Lady again at Fatima in 1917: "In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph."

Thus it seems opportune to turn to Our Lady of Good Success and invoke Her, begging for every good success – both temporal and spiritual. It is the moment to ask for her orientation and certainty amid this storm, and the courage and strength to keep aloft the standard of the Faith.

Finally, let us pray that Our Lady will intervene quickly to restore the Church and society, so that she may reassume her throne and reign again in glory as Queen of all the earth.

A New Generation of Theologians
Much of the animosity felt by older theologians toward the Vatican or, more generally, toward episcopal authority, has disappeared. Such skirmishes that do occasionally play out the old ‘free-thinking theologian’ versus the ‘heavy-handed bishop’ script simply bore. To young eyes media events dramatizing the conflict between freedom and authority look tired, and to be a pastime for the retiring. (A case in point is the recent vitriolic over the Bishops’ censure of Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God.) By contrast, the majority of young Catholic philosophers and theologians that I have met through my teaching—in England, Canada, and America—are eager to serve the Church, to imbibe her customs, and to perpetuate her faith. For the most part, where frustration is felt it is not at being restricted by authority; it is at not being confidently commissioned. Being a bishop is not for cowards. Failure of episcopal leadership in the post-Vatican II era has typically not been in the clumsy exercise of power, but in their reluctance to support those who defend authentic Catholic teaching. This trend is passing.

From September 15-17 the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference brought together a group of young untenured theologians to Washington D.C. for a symposium titled The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization (co-sponsored by Catholic University of America and underwritten by the Knights of Columbus). Keynote presentations were delivered by Professors Janet Smith and John Cavadini, a top theologian from the University of Notre Dame, as well as Houston’s Cardinal Di Nardo and Archbishop Joseph Di Noia O.P., Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The need to re-evangelize the West is now obvious; less clear, or at least less often discussed, is what shape the intellectual apostolate should take in these troubled times. The question put to the new scholars was this: if theology is an ecclesial activity how can your efforts serve the reconversion of Europe and the Americas?

Over the course of the weekend three themes emerged. First was the need to reconstruct a humane anthropology. The most dynamic contemporary thinking on this front has been inspired by Blessed John Paul II’s reflections on the theology of the body. Janet Smith showed how, in John Paul’s own understanding of personalism, the language of self-gift, self-mastery, and so forth, should be received as an extension, not a revision of Thomistic categories. Smith remarked how in the coming decades it will take “an army of scholars” to draw forth the richness of the late pope’s work. One task for the next generation of theologians, so it seems to me, will be to show how the theology of the body integrates within the Church’s more settled vocabulary of virtue, vice, concupiscence, and natural law. It is not that the older terms have been surpassed. It’s more of a case where meanings have been lost in translation. That new rhetorical strategies should be deployed in the defense of the person and of the family is not unsurprising. What Europe suffered two hundred years ago was an attack on God. What we face today is an attack on man. As the politics of the last century has made abundantly clear, humanism without God devolves into an inhuman humanism. And, without a transcendent origin or destiny, why should we respect ourselves? In a world of material scarcity, even the well intentioned find it hard these days to offer compelling reasons for giving a preferential option for the human. Monkeys need trees too.

Beyond confronting the antihumanism of the reductionist scientists (who would reduce mind to brain) and the over-zealous environmentalists (who would elevate beasts to men), the New Evangelization requires a more confident philosophical grounding. Respect for a diversity of theological styles is healthy. But pluralism has stepped wildly beyond its useful limits. Theology must once more regain trust in reason’s native capacity for truth. So to the second theme: the queen of the sciences must choose her help maids wisely. Some servants are unworthy. Others will betray her. Theologians today can settle for nothing less than a robust philosophical realism. Only such a foundation will support the world transforming ambitions of the New Evangelization. On this front, Archbishop Di Noia warned of the “third schism” that was splitting the Church; Cardinal Di Nardo spoke movingly about a “degenerate apophatism” that was undermining much modern theology.

To some pious ears this might sound like a throw-back to the days before the Council. In part, it is. The Church has yet to retract her praise of St. Thomas as a model. The chime is often rung that neo-scholastics of the pre-Council era squeezed propositions about God into a perfectly rational, and hence suffocating, matrix. I have often pondered this claim. If I would have had Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange as my professor perhaps I too might have thirsted for a greater sense of the mysterium dei. But he was not my professor. And most of my friends in theology, especially in Biblical Studies, trained under the shadow of Derrida. Today it is not mystery that is lost, but our hold on the world beyond words. It is not systems that threaten, but the prospect of finding no escape from the gerbils’ wheel. Sadly, theologians with a background in Continental philosophy rarely find their way off an endlessly deferring round of words about words about words. We need humility, of course. Not intellectual despair.

And the bishops are right. No middle ground exists between those who would and those who would not affirm the possibility of metaphysical truth claims. Can we have natural knowledge of God, or not? Can we establish binding moral truths, or not? Only an impoverished mind would consider natural theology the summit of Christian doctrine. Still, it is a solid footing. It is as necessary to theology—as Aquinas might say—as is mathematics to music. We all want to learn to sing beautifully. But a great ear only goes so far until you have to learn how to count out the beats. We have to be clear: the modern alternatives to philosophical realism are bleak: Heideggerian silence or fundamentalist noise. Though they wear different hats, underneath the brim they both mumble with their eyes closed. If being is never present in the world, if all we can look at is the fuzzy white screen of shifting appearances, then man really is alone in the world, alien from the infinite, a stranger even to his own nature. For, as Aristotle said, man desires to know. Affirming the natural knowledge of God, then, saves theology from stumbling either into the pit of liberal indifference or over the rock of Biblicism.

Third, if these are some of the tasks before us, how should the next generation of theologians go about their work? What resources beyond post-Kantian philosophy can serve? It was notable—though perhaps not surprising—that several of the conference’s speakers called for a return to classical texts of apologetics. In works like Origen’s Contra Celsum and Augustine’s City of God, John Cavadini suggested that young theologians can find enduring models of engagement with a secular or half-believing culture. There was also a call to deeper prayer. Over drinks one evening, the group I sat with battered around ideas for how we could find time to pray more, even amidst the demands of changing diapers and preparing lectures. At my office I’ve now added the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel as part of my morning routine.

All of this for me, as a young theologian, was inspiring. And, as far as such gatherings go, everyone was treated to a banquet of good ideas for thinking about the intellectual apostolate. I must admit that what most struck, however, were not the discussions, but the setting. The room was full of good will. Many of the young participants I met this weekend had growing families of four or five children (our fifth is due during exams). Though being a dissenting theologian is still, in many Catholic universities, the best thing you could do for your career; that is no longer universally true. This weekend I observed once more that what younger believers are increasingly experiencing is not a rebellion against the Church—for that is old; but a rebellion against rebellion, a revolt against intellectual anarchy and a return to tradition. The conference put on by the US Bishops is a herald of these new times. And we can be grateful for it.

Ryan N.S. Topping, D.Phil., is the Visiting Chair in Studies in Catholic Theology at the John XXIII Centre for Catholic Thought at St Thomas University, Fredericton, Canada. His most recent book is Happiness and Wisdom: St. Augustine’s Early Theology of Education (forthcoming with Catholic University of America Press).


Usus Antiquior Under Attack

In Australia:

As if Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae didn't exist

William J. Wright was the parish priest of Liverpool, Australia when he was appointed bishop of the Australian diocese of Maitland-Newcastle by Pope Benedict XVI on April 4, 2011. He was subsequently consecrated on June 15, 2011. He was appointed to succeed the very liberal Bishop Michael Malone, who was only 71 when his 'resignation' was accepted by the Pope.

Around the time of his appointment, he was embroiled in controversy over his refusal to honor the request of 37 of his parishioners for the Traditional Latin Mass to be celebrated in their parish. Unfortunately, it seems that Bishop Wright has now extended his refusal to obey Summorum Pontificum to his entire diocese. See the letter below.

In summary: it 'forbids' the regular celebration of the TLM on a Sunday, and 'permits' only a weekly weekday TLM at most. This, in a diocese that currently has no regular TLM; for 4 years, there was a monthly weekday Mass, and for 18 months or so until recently, there was an irregularly-scheduled Sunday Mass (perhaps 6-8 times a year). Rorate has been informed that the priests who offered these Masses were from outside the diocese, and that their circumstances no longer allow them to assist.

In France:
VIVIERS: Portrait of a French Diocese Deprived of the Motu Proprio
In Texas:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Petition to Review the Second Vatican Council

The Second Vatican Pastoral Council.

Rorate Caeli carries a report picked up from several European sites and with the full text now in English at DICI about a petition to the Holy Father "that he might be willing to promote a more in-depth examination of the pastoral council, Vatican II."
It's interesting that there are more and more voices calling for a way of placing the Second Vatican Council in some sort of historical, traditional and theological context instead of seeing it as the only foundation document / event of the modern Church. This overarching way of seeing Vatican II as the prism through which everything else must be judged was certainly the dominant zeitgeist when I was at seminary. The Holy Father himself, in calling for a hermeneutic of continuity, is very much part of this movement - not to disown the Council but to reclaim it for the mainstream Church from the aggressive liberal mindset that has been dominant in misinterpreting it for the past fifty years.

As a friend of mine was saying recently, when priests quote Pope Benedict and documents from Rome from the last ten years, they are often criticised as being "old-fashioned" and out of touch. "After all, we've had Vatican II." But Vatican II is now a part of history to many of us. We were not even born when it began! When it speaks of the modern means of communication, they were relying on Telstar and the Home Service as the only national radio station in this country. "Z Cars" was just starting on the only TV channel we had and Sandie Shaw was winning the European Song Contest for us five years into the Council with "Puppet on a String" - not exactly what we think of when we say "modern"! However, Pope Benedict and Summorum Pontificum are right up to date - contemporary with the Internet and with people under 20 years of age, rather than over 60, which you would have to be to even remember the Council, so it probably is time to set it in some proper context.

There are excellent questions asked in this petition organised by Monsignor Brunero Gherardini, a priest of the Diocese of Prato and Canon of Saint Peter’s Basilica, who is well known as a former professor of Ecclesiology at the Pontifical Lateran University and dean of Italian theologians. Here are some of them:

1) What is the true nature of Vatican II?

2) What is the relation between its pastoral character (a notion that will have to be explained authoritatively) and its dogmatic character, if any? Can the pastoral character be reconciled with the dogmatic character? Does it assume the latter? Does it contradict it? Does it ignore it?

3) Is it really possible to define the Second Vatican Council as ‘dogmatic’? And therefore to refer to it as dogmatic? To use it as the basis of new theological assertions? In what sense? Within what limits?

4) Is Vatican II an “event” as the Bologna School understands it, in other words, one that cuts all ties with the past and inaugurates a new era in all respects? Or does it relive in itself the whole past eodem sensu eademque sententia [in the same sense and with the same purpose]?

“It is plain that the hermeneutic of rupture and the hermeneutic of continuity depend on the answers that one gives to these questions. But if the scientific conclusion of the examination concludes by allowing the hermeneutic of continuity as the only acceptable, only possible one, then it will be necessary to prove (beyond any declaration) that this continuity is real, that is manifested in the underlying dogmatic identity.

“If it should happen that this continuity cannot be proved scientifically, as a whole or in part, it would be necessary to say so calmly and candidly, in response to the demand for clarity that has been awaited for almost a half a century.”

In his recent, well-documented History of Vatican II, Professor de Mattei offered the public a precise, realistic picture of the tormented, dramatic unfolding of that Council, and he concluded:

“At the end of this volume, allow me to address reverently His Holiness Benedict XVI, whom I acknowledge to be the successor of Peter to whom I feel inseparably bound, expressing my deep thanks to him for having opened the doors to a serious debate about the Second Vatican Council. I repeat that I wanted to make a contribution to this debate, not as a theologian, but as an historian, joining however in the petition of those theologians who are respectfully and filially asking the Vicar of Christ on earth to promote an in-depth examination of Vatican II, in all its complexity and its full extent, to verify its continuity with the twenty preceding councils and to dispel the shadows and doubts which for almost a half a century have caused the Church to suffer, with the certainty that the gates of hell will never prevail against Her (Mt 16:18).”

5) What is the exact meaning given to the concept of “living tradition” that appeared in the Constitution Dei Verbum on Divine Revelation? In his recent study on the fundamental concept of Catholic tradition, Msgr. Gherardini maintained that during Vatican II a “Copernican revolution” took place in its way of understanding the Tradition of the Church, since the Council did not clearly define the dogmatic value of Tradition (DV 8); contrary to custom, the document reduces to one (ad unum) the two sources of Divine Revelation (Scripture and Tradition) that have always been admitted in the Church and have been confirmed by the dogmatic Councils of Trent and Vatican I (DV 9). The document even appears to oppose the dogma of the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture (DV 11.2), for why, “after declaring that everything affirmed by the inspired authors comes from the Holy Spirit, is the privilege of inerrancy attributed only to the ‘salutary’ or ‘salvific truths’, as a part of the whole (veritatem, quam Deus nostrae salutis causae Litteris sacris consignari voluit)? If the Holy Spirit inspired everything that the biblical authors wrote, inerrancy should apply to everything, and not just to salvific truths. The text therefore appears to be illogical.”[3]

6) What is the exact meaning to be given to the new definition of the Catholic Church contained in the Dogmatic Constitution (which nevertheless does not define any dogma) Lumen gentium on the Church? If it coincides with the perennial definition, namely that only the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ because it is the only one to have maintained over the centuries the deposit of faith handed down by Our Lord and the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, then why did they try to change it, by writing in a way that is not easily understood by a simple believer and is never clearly explained (we must say), that the “one” Church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity” [LG 8]? In this formulation, does it not seem that the Church appears to be merely a part of the Church of Christ? A mere part because the Church of Christ is said to include also—besides the Catholic Church—“many elements of sanctification and of truth” located “outside” the Catholic Church? It would follow that the “one true religion [that] continues to exist in the Catholic Church” (Declaration Dignitatis humanae on religious liberty, 1.2) was the religion of a “Church of Christ” that possesses “elements” outside of the Catholic Church. Which can also be understood, if you want, as “the one true religion” that subsists, according to the Council, likewise in the non-Catholic “elements” of “the Church of Christ”?

7) What is the true significance to be given to the notion of the Church understood in its totality as “People of God” (Lumen gentium 9-17), a notion which in the past referred only to a part of the whole, whereas the whole constituted the “Mystical Body of Christ”?

8) What significance is to be given to the omission of the terms “supernatural” and “transubstantiation” from the Council documents? Does this omission also modify the substance of these concepts, as come claim?

9) By establishing a sort of collective responsibility, doesn’t collegiality cause the individual bishops to lose authority?

What is the exact significance of the new notion of collegiality? In light of the constant teaching of the Church, what are we to think of the interpretation in the Nota explicativa praevia, the “preliminary explanatory note” placed at the start of Lumen gentium (a note that was put there to nullify the debate among the Council Fathers)? We cite the doubts clearly presented by Romano Amerio:

“The ‘preliminary note’ (Nota praevia) rejects the classic interpretation of collegiality, according to which the subject of supreme power in the Church is the Pope alone, who shares it when he wants with the totality of the bishops convened in council by him. The supreme power becomes collegial only when communicated by the Pope, at his pleasure (ad nutum). The ‘preliminary note’ likewise rejects the opinion of the innovators, according to which the subject of supreme power in the Church is the episcopal college united to the Pope and not without the Pope, who is the head of it, but in such fashion that when the Pope exercises the supreme power, even by himself, he does so precisely as the head of said college, and therefore as a representative of this college, which he is obliged to consult so as to express their judgment. This is a theory modeled on the one that claims that all authority owes its power to the multitude: a theory that is difficult to reconcile with the divine constitution of the Church (which is hierarchical and of divine, not popular, origin). In refuting these two theories, the Nota praevia insists that the supreme power belongs to the college of bishops united to their head, but that the head can exercise it independently of the college, whereas the college cannot exercise it independently of the head (and this is supposedly a concession to Tradition).”[4]

Is it accurate to maintain that assigning juridical powers—those of a real college, properly speaking—to the institution of Bishops’ Conferences has in fact depreciated and distorted the role of the bishop? Indeed, in the Church today the bishops, taken individually, seem not to matter at all, practically speaking (Your Holiness will forgive our frankness). On this point, here is Amerio again:

“The novelty that has stood out most in the post-conciliar Church is the opportunity now for participation [in decision-making] by all Church authorities that are juridically defined organs, such as diocesan and national Synods, parish and presbyteral Councils, etc…. The establishment of Episcopal Conferences has produced two effects: it has deformed the organic structure of the Church, and it has resulted in the loss of authority by the [individual] bishops. According to the canon law in force before the Council, the bishops are successors of the Apostles, and each one governs in his diocese with ordinary power in spiritual and temporal matters, exercising there a legislative, judiciary and executive power (canons 329 and 335). This authority was precise, individual, and except for the institution of the vicar general, not capable of being delegated (whereas the vicar general depended on the willingness of the bishop—ad nutum)…. The Decree Christus Dominus attributes collegiality to the body of bishops in virtue of its “supreme, full power over the universal Church”, which would be in all respects equal to that of the Pope if it could be exercised without his consent. This supreme power has always been acknowledged in the case of the assembly of bishops convened in an ecumenical council by the Pope. But the question arises, whether an authority that can be put into effect only by a superior authority can be considered supreme and does not amount to a purely virtual object, a thing existing only in the mind (ens rationis). Now according to the spirit of Vatican II, the exercise of episcopal authority in which collegiality is actualized is that of the Bishops’ Conferences.

“Here is an oddity: the Decree (in section 37) finds the reason for the existence of this new institution in the need for the bishops of a country to take concerted action; it does not see this new tie of cooperation, which henceforth has a juridical configuration, as a change in the structure of the Church that would replace a bishop with a body of bishops and personal responsibility with a collective responsibility that is therefore fragmented…. By the institution of Bishops’ Conferences the Church has become a multi-centered body…. The first consequence of this new organization is therefore the loosening of the tie of unity [with the Pope]; this has been manifested by enormous dissensions on the most serious points [for example on the teaching of the Encyclical Humanae vitae dated July 25, 1968, which prohibited the use of contraceptives]. The second consequence of the new organization is the loss of the authority of each bishop considered separately as such. They are no longer responsible to their own people nor to the Holy See, because their personal responsibility has been replaced by a collegial responsibility which, belonging to the whole body, can no longer be imputed to the different elements making up that body.”[5]

Is the priest today reduced to the role of an organizer and presider over the assembly of the People of God?

10) What exact significance is to be given today to the priesthood, an authentic institution of the Church? Is it true that since the Council the priest has been demoted from “sacerdos Dei” [“a priest of God”] to being “sacerdos populi Dei” [“a priest of the people of God”] and has been reduced mainly to the role of “organizer” and “presider over the assembly” of the “People of God” and to the role of a “social worker”? In this regard the following should be critiqued: Lumen gentium 10.2, which seems to try to put at the same level the “ministerial” or “hierarchical” priesthood and the so-called “common priesthood of the faithful”—which formerly was considered as a mere honorific title—by its statement that the two “are none the less ordered one to another, ad invicem tamen ordinantur” (see also LG 62.2); LG 13.3, which seems to describe the priesthood as a simple “duty” or office of the “People of God”; the fact that preaching the Gospel is listed as the first priestly “duty” (Decree Presbytorum Ordinis on the ministry and life of priests, 4: “it is the first task of priests as co-workers of the bishops to preach the Gospel of God”), whereas on the contrary the Council of Trent recalled that what characterizes the priest’s mission is in the first place “the power to consecrate, offer, and administer the Body of Blood of the Lord” and in second place the power “of forgiving or retaining sins” (DS 957/1764). Is it true that Vatican II devalues the fact of ecclesiastical celibacy by stating that “Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven was recommended by Christ… and has always been highly esteemed in a special way by the Church as a feature of priestly life [even though] it is not demanded of the priesthood by its nature” (PO 16); might this last statement be justified by a false interpretation of 1 Tim 3:2-5 and Tit 1:6?

11) What is the exact significance of the principle of “creativity” in the Liturgy, which without any doubt results from the fact of having granted to the Bishops’ Conference a broad competence in this matter, including the option of experimenting with new forms of worship so as to adapt them to the characters and the traditions of the people and so as to simplify them as much as possible? All this is proposed in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on the liturgy: art. 22.2 on the new competencies of the Bishops’ Conferences; 37, 39 and 40 on adaptation to the characters and traditions of the peoples and on the criteria for liturgical adaptation in general; articles 21 and 34 on liturgical simplification. Were not similar options for innovating in liturgical matters condemned in all ages by the Magisterium of the Church? It is true that the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium still calls for the supervision of the Holy See over the liturgy and innovations in it (SC 22.1, 40.1-2), but this supervision has proved incapable of preventing the widespread devastation of the liturgy, which has driven the faithful out of the churches, and this devastation continues to be unleashed even today, despite disciplinary action and the intention of Your Holiness to eliminate abuses. Could not competent studies bring to light the reasons for this failure?

What difference is there between conciliar religious liberty and secular freedom of conscience?

Obviously we cannot formulate all the questions that the documents of the Council raise and that are related to the present situation of the Church. On this subject we venture to add only the following:

12) The principle of religious freedom, proclaimed by the Council for the first time in the history of the Church as a “natural” or “human right” of the person, whatever his religion, and thus a right superior to the right of the one Revealed Truth (our Catholic religion) to be professed as the true religion, in preference to the others that are not revealed and therefore do not come from God; this principle of religious liberty is based on the presupposition that all religions are equal, and consequently its application promotes indifferentism, agnosticism and eventually atheism; as it is understood by the Council, how is this principle distinguished really from the secular freedom of conscience that is honored among “the rights of man” that were professed by the anti-Christian French Revolution?

13) Doesn’t present-day ecumenism also seem to lead to a similar result (indifferentism and the loss of faith), given that its principal aim seems to be not so much the conversion (as much as possible) of the human race to Christ as its unity and even its unification in a sort of new world Church or religion that is capable of ushering in a messianic era of peace and fraternity among all peoples? If those are the aims of present-day ecumenism—and they are already found in part in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes on the Church and the modern world—then doesn’t this ecumenical dialogue seem to drift dangerously toward a certain “agreement between Christ and Belial” [cf. 2 Cor 6:15]?[6] Shouldn’t the whole dialogue of the post-conciliar Church with the contemporary world be reconsidered?

And here is Sandie Shaw, reminding us just how "modern" things were at the time of the Council!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Putting "Summorum Pontificum" into practice was a complete nightmare, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos recalls during a book presentation

Vatican Insider Staff

The essay “L’opposizione al Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum” (The opposition to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Fede e Cultura, Verona 2010) by journalist Alberto Carosa was presented by Don Nicola Bux, renowned theologian and consultor to the Vatican as well as a prolific and acclaimed writer, during a conference at Centro Russia Ecumenica (CRE, Russia Ecumenical Center) in Borgo Pio, a stone's throw from St. Peter, last Friday, October 7th, 2011.

After the introduction of the CRE director Don Sergio Mercanzin, who brought to the attention of the audience how appreciative were orthodox religious leaders of the Pope’s decision to reinstate the traditional liturgy contrary to what one might have been led to believe, the floor was taken by the President of Centro Culturale Lepanto (CCL), Fabio Bernabei. In fact, the essay was published under the series "Lepanto", whose editorial director Bernabei is.

This initiative should be seen within the wider framework of the CCL activities, an association of lay Catholics active since its inception in 1982 in the propagation of the Church’s social teaching and liturgical tradition, in support of the Pope and the Papacy.

The President noted that the auspicious coincidence of this presentation with the 440th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, which was a little archetypical example of a coalition of Catholic forces under the direction and in defense of the Papacy. An example somehow all the more relevant today, in that Catholics are called to come together and close ranks around and under the Pope, to defend him and support him in his action for the good of the Church and the souls under such difficult circumstances.

The Motu Proprio by the Holy Father was exactly aimed at this good, Don Bux pointed out in his intervention, but regrettably there are those who are still bent on impeding its application, as clearly
documented in the essay. However, he went on, while his impression was that this opposition was tapering off, he was struck by a phenomenon he noticed for the first time in France, namely that the ancient Roman or “extraordinary” rite was being overwhelmingly attended and promoted by lay and young people.

Among those who graced the event with their presence were two senior cardinals, the prefect emeritus of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” and the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, and the Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and Librarian of the Vatican Library, Cardinal Raffaele Farina.

“It was a real nightmare putting the Summorum Pontificuminto into practice”, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos painfully recalled to the audience in his address. All the more so if one considers that opposition to the Motu Proprio is rooted in ignorance, he claimed, ignorance of what we have lost and theologically should be viewed in light of the Holy Ghost’s action through the successor of Peter. And the Holy Father wanted to give back to the world such great treasure, the enormous spiritual richness of the ancient liturgy, “a powerful tool of sanctification”.

For Cardinal Raffaele Farina it was also a matter of practical management, which ultimately proved somewhat ineffective, regarding the organised and widespread circulation of all the Magisterium documents to seminaries, parishes, convents, institutes etc., for the young generations to be informed by these documents and thus receive also “intellectual bread”.

Both prelates shared don Bux’s assumption that lay and young people are fulfilling a frontline role in terms of interest in and promotion of the “extraordinary rite”, and voiced appreciation and encouragement for them. After all, it was against this background that also the essay being presented that Friday evening was taking place.