"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, February 28, 2013

A Blogger's Goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI

Vox Cantoris
My Photo


Our beloved Papa

It was twenty-five years ago when I first heard the name Joseph Ratzinger. I was intrigued by a book with a red cover and this Cardinal with striking white-hair. I had never heard of him before but I purchased that book, The Ratzinger Report, from the table at the fledgling “Ottawa Oratory.” Between that book and the two by the late Anne Roche Muggeridge, The Gates of Hell and The Desolate City, what began in me was a greater understanding of the Catholic faith, the errors resulting from a wrong interpretation of a Council and the need for the right liturgical reform of the highest order.

During the funeral of Blessed John Paul II and the interregnum, his influence grew amongst many more. When he stepped out that afternoon on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, I was filled with joy and exultation. Here at last was the Pope that would begin the restoration we all needed. As has been said many times, it begins with the liturgy. It starts there and if it is poorly celebrated and poorly considered we fail to offer to God that which He deserves – sacrifice and thanksgiving. This was the liturgical pope. From his insistence on the implementation of the English Third Edition of the Roman Missal, to “pro mulits” properly translated as “for many,” the example of Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling, the restoration of dignity to the liturgy at the Vatican, the music, the chant and of course his greatest gift to us, Summorum Pontificum. It is my belief that this motu proprio will go down in church history as one of, if not his greatest achievement. He has left his liturgical mark.

He is a brilliant man an intellectual who could write and speak in words that all could absorb and understand. He is gentle and kind and patient and we did not deserve him.

In 2005 he wrote of the “filth” in the Church and nobody has done more to address this than him. We now find that at least two to three bishops per month were asked to resign around the world, if they refused, he moved them out under Canon Law. This man has done for every Catholic more than we even now know. Wracked by scandal; by something many of us have believed for years, he leaves to his successor a task to take up from him and cleanse the Church of the filth within it. The deceit in fiduciary duty, the homosexual cabal, the blackmail, the blight on the Bride of Christ; the disobedience, the dissent -- he has given us the gift of clarity in this and the power to his successor to correct what he was incapable of doing at this point in his life.

Many priests, bishops and cardinals were against him. Many did not carry out his requests, many mocked him. They bear a great responsibility for the shape of the Church today. He has taken extraordinary steps to ensure that his successor will not suffer this same situation and all Cardinals must give oath to loyalty to the new Pontiff as he himself has already done.

Yet, this Pontiff will not be leaving us; he will be there though we will not see him again. He is now at the foot of the cross, or perhaps he will be on the cross suffering a white martyrdom, never again to see his beloved Bavaria, never again to leave the gardens of the Vatican and the monastery that awaits him. He will be there, sacrificing his freedom, his one time hope of retirement in Bavaria -- sacrificing for Christ, for His Church, for you and me. Can this man do any more to show us his love for Christ and for us?

As with many of you; I am very saddened today, this has been a very difficult few weeks for us. None of us desires to see him go. My heart is heavy and to see the deceit around him and the assault in the secular media upon the Church and our Pontiff makes it even more difficult but "know that if they hated Me" is what we must remember. Many have criticised his departure but let us not lose our faith in Our Lord's promise and let us see this as an inspired act on the part of Papa Ratzinger for greater glory for Christ.

Let us rejoice that what he has done has truly been an inspiration from Our Lord Jesus Christ and our Blessed Mother. Let us be grateful to God for this man, for what he has done and what he has taught us. Let us look forward to the next few weeks, despite our fears and our worries. Let us trust that the Holy Spirit will give to us and to the whole world the Pope we need. Let us pray for our Cardinals that they will take their time, not rush and that the conclave will be filled with hearts open to the Holy Spirit and that the Blessed Mother, the Theotokos, will be in their minds and hearts, guiding them, prompting them, inspiring them.

In his farewell today to the Cardinals assembled, our beloved Holy Father said this:

"Prior to bidding farewell to each of you personally, I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope. May the Lord show you what is willed by Him. And among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom, here to today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart upon you my Apostolic Blessing."

God love you, Joseph Ratzinger and Mary protect you.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Pope Benedict disturbs non-believers because for him God is the centre of everything

Catholic Herald

He shows that humility is the hallmark of authentic Christianity

By FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH on Thursday, 14 February 2013

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Catholic priest and a doctor of moral theology. On Twitter he is@ALucieSmith

Benedict XVI prays in St Peter's Basilica (Photo: PA)

Amidst the huge amount of comment generated by the Pope’s decision to retire, two pieces stood out from the rest for me. They were both published in the Spectator, and are both worth reading. The first was by Melanie McDonagh and the second by John O’Donnell. Both of them seemed to understand what it was that Benedict XVI was trying to do, and both seem to see him as a great Pope. This is in happy contrast to much of the rest of the comment stream, which is too often not only simply ill-informed, but irrational and vitriolic. None of that requires a link from me.

Given that Benedict XVI is a scholar in the German tradition (as Melanie McDonagh pointed out), it seems especially ironic that so many of the reactions to him were completely devoid of the careful thoughtfulness of the German and scholarly approach. This Pope has perhaps been the target of more polemical abuse than any other. Consider the words of Claire Rayner, now deceased, who had this to say at the time of the papal visit: “I have no language with which to adequately describe Joseph Alois Ratzinger, AKA the Pope. In all my years as a campaigner I have never felt such animus against any individual as I do against this creature. His views are so disgusting, so repellent and so hugely damaging to the rest of us, that the only thing to do is to get rid of him.”

While Miss Rayner’s words leave us in no doubt about what she feels, they are hardly rational, for she does not engage with what the Pope has said on any matter. We can assume she disagrees with the Pope, but she has advanced no rational basis for this apart from vitriolic dislike. It is odd to think that she advocates getting rid of the Pope when one assumes that she believes in the founding values of a liberal society, such as free speech and freedom of expression and association.

What was it about Benedict XVI that so infuriated Miss Rayner and those who thought like her? A clue can perhaps be found in the last liturgy the Pope conducted in public which was the Ash Wednesday Mass. During the homily the Pope remarked that Jesus “denounced religious hypocrisy, behaviour that wants to show off, attitudes that seek applause and approval. The true disciple does not serve himself or his public, but his Lord, in simplicity and generosity.” The Holy Father was referring to the passage in the Gospel which had just been read, which speaks of people performing their religious devotions at street corners. Ironically, at the end of the Mass, Benedict received a one minute standing ovation, to which he said: “Thank you, but let us return to prayer.”

These words speak for themselves. For Benedict XVI the centre of everything has always been God and His Church; he has not sought the approval of the crowd and what he has said and taught has been done in the light of the universal revelation that comes from God. Because revelation represents a truth for all time, Benedict has not felt the need to “get with the programme” as represented by Claire Rayner and others. For him the programme has been set not by mankind but by God, and it is our job as human beings to meditate on what God has said to us and find the appropriate response. There is a huge difference between the Pope, a believer in the Almighty, and those who like Claire Rayner see problems as something that can be solved by human ingenuity unaided by grace. For these people the humility of Benedict XVI is something almost morbid. But for those who believe, it is clear that humility is the hallmark of authentic Christianity.

For the last eight years we have been lucky to have had a humble Pope, one who has listened to the Lord and followed where the Lord has led. His decision to retire is one made in conscience, before the Lord. The Pope’s humility underlines to us the grandeur and goodness of God, the God who calls us into question. In the end so much of the comment about the Pope’s retirement misses this essential point. All of this is about God, not about any of us, and not about Benedict himself. The process of losing one Pope, and the election of another, should serve to remind us all that it is God that reigns at the heart of the Church and to Him we must look. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us all about the centrality of God and that is comforting and perhaps disturbing in equal measure.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seeing Clerical Corruption in a Larger Light

FEBRUARY 27, 2013

by Regis Martin

It must be because February is so fleeting that one naturally assumes the news cycle will follow suit. Less calendar time translates into fewer stories, right? Wrong. Recent events have blown that thesis completely out of the water. Begin with the announcement of a papal resignation—could anything be more newsworthy? It will take effect by the end of this month, too, leaving the See of Peter officially vacant until a conclave can elect a new pope.

So what else has happened this month? How about the unprecedented public rebuke of retired Cardinal Roger Mahony by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, in the largest Archdiocese in America, the City of Angels no less?

What an extraordinary moment this has been in the life of the Church. And, without doubt, the most stunning humiliation possible for a once popular prelate, who had championed all the hot-button issues so dear to the liberal heart, from farmworkers to immigrants to inmates on Death Row. What had he done to deserve this? He had, in a word, failed to protect children and young boys from sexual abuse by predatory priests. “Nothing in my own background or education,“ he confessed on his blog, equipped him to cope with such a problem. How competent does a Cardinal need to be to recognize and report criminal sex abuse among members of his own clergy? If it requires a masters degree in social work, then what possible use did he make of the one he had earned? On the other hand, one would have thought a class or two in Morals and Canon Law quite enough background for someone charged with the spiritual welfare of four million plus souls. That and a little courage with which to punish priests who set about perverting the young and the innocent.

“I cannot undo the failings of the past that we find in these pages,” declared Archbishop Gomez, referring to the release of some twelve thousand pages of personnel files revealing both clerical crime and episcopal cover-up. “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There’s no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.”

This is only the latest—and, please God, the last—in a series of shattering disclosures coming out of Los Angeles since 2007, when the faithful first learned of a massive pay-out ordered by the courts for victims of clergy sex abuse. Nearly seven hundred million dollars have been distributed among the more than five-hundred plaintiffs who had joined the legal suit against the Archdiocese. Which is a heap of cash even by California standards. Meanwhile, from sea to shining sea, the current price tag for clergy corruption and episcopal cover-up is over two billion dollars and counting.

So what else has the Church lost besides money? And will the amount paid out, coupled with the satisfaction of seeing the guilty punished, amount to an atonement sufficient to allay all the grief and suffering inflicted upon the innocent? What have we lost? Certainly the institution has taken a beating. Who wants to belong to that which has behaved so badly? Or put it this way: How do you defend what looks to be more and more indefensible? Are there churchgoers out there willing to take up arms on behalf of so bankrupt a body of bishops and priests?

Not at the institutional level, certainly, which is where the argument is joined against all that has happened to the Catholic Church since 2002, when the crisis first burst upon us with accusations coming out of Boston. And the argument is, at that level, unanswerable. Indeed, I have launched a few warheads myself. What else does one do with honest rage when innocence is defiled? One would sooner dismantle whole bureaucracies than to allow even one priest to so abuse his calling as to defile a single child. I will not be outdone, I am saying, in the contempt department when it comes to the depredations of those who either betray their calling, or others who cover-up their crimes.

On the other hand, is it entirely fair to blame an institution for those who betray its mission? Do we close the local constabulary because there are bad cops on the take? Or ban libraries because not enough good books are being read? Of course not. Then why should we punish the Church for the sinfulness of its members? Especially not when the survival of the things we value most, like the Mass and the Sacraments, depend upon the maintenance of that very institution which we are so inclined to revile. Go ahead and jettison all that you find odious and unjust. And when you’ve succeeded in completely leveling the thing for its many iniquities, where will you then go to hear God’s Word proclaimed, his Sacraments celebrated? It is not the Secular State that can guarantee the things we love, but the Catholic Church. It is the institution alone whose exercise of authority upholds the standards we observe, including those we invoke in order to punish great big bishops and cardinals. Or, sounding the very source and summit of the Church’s life, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which only a validly ordained priest can confect.

Have we perhaps gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick here? I mean, when the Church is seen through an institutional prism only, it is awfully easy to find fault with anything; in fact, a reductionism of that sort is interested only in the parts, particularly when they mal-function. But what if the Church were not finally an institution at all, but a Woman, She who is both Virgin and Mother, who in the purity and simplicity of her response to grace, to God, is Mary Immaculate? Under that sublime aspect, it is not so easy to hate the Church.

“Christ warns us that we must answer for what we have received,” writes Francois Mauriac. “When it is himself we have received, what shall we not have to answer for?” How the web of complicity is widened now! In other words, it is too easy to demonize bad priests who trash their vows. How much harder to hold all the baptized accountable for the evil that we do. No one who belongs to the Body of Christ will be given a free pass into Paradise. That should at least keep us from becoming pharisaical, which has got to be a good thing.

I cherish the reply Flannery O’Connor once gave to a friend who, appalled by the shortcomings of the Church she had just joined, resolved to take leave of it altogether. “The Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable,” she snapped. “The only thing that makes the Church endurable is that she is somehow the Body of Christ and on this Body we are fed.”

Please note that Miss O’Connor did not dispute the fact that the human face of the Church is something all our sins have helped disfigure. Only that we mustn’t wrest from the evidence of so much weakness and sin the conclusion that God cannot use crooked pencils to write straight lines. That would be a counsel of despair.

Here one thinks of the famous refusal of the sainted Francis of Assisi to condemn the fallen priest whom an irate group of churchgoers had accosted for his repeated infidelities. What did Francis do? Falling to his knees to kiss the hands of the suspect priest, he exclaimed: “I do not know if this man is a sinner or not. But I do know that in this world, I see nothing of my Lord Jesus Christ, except for His Body and Blood, which he consecrates and gives to me. I do not judge priests, because I receive life from my Lord through them.”

Unless we see the Church as having truly begun with Mary, in whose blessed womb the Word first took on flesh, we shall not see her as God’s sees her. Not that we shut our eyes to the awfulness of what is happening around us (indeed, how can we when the media report it so gleefully?), anymore than God himself did, who, after all, suffered his Son’s flesh to be flayed and crucified so as to redeem it. What else then is the Eucharist if not evidence of God’s love for a fallen world, a world hungry for such wholeness that he will break himself to become its bread?

Editor’s note: The image above is taken from a deposition conducted by the Los Angeles court in January 2010.

The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

By Regis Martin

Regis Martin is Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including, most recently, Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012). He resides in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife and ten children.

Pope Benedict XVI: final General Audience (full text)

Vatican Radio

Pope Benedict XVI held the final General Audience of his pontificate on Wednesday in St Peter's Square. Below, please find Vatican Radio's English translation of the Holy Father's remarks.


Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood!
Distinguished Authorities!
Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this last General Audience of my pontificate.

Like the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart the paramount duty to thank God, who guides the Church and makes her grow: who sows His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His people. At this moment my spirit reaches out to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in these years of Petrine ministry I have been able to receive regarding the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity that circulates in the body of the Church – charity that makes the Church to live in love – and of the hope that opens for us the way towards the fullness of life, and directs us towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone and every thing in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).

At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know – all of us know – that the Gospel’s word of truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews: it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my faith, this is my joy.

When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, [2005], I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord really has guided me. He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of ​​Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been - and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His - and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired in order to strengthen our own faith in God in a context that seems to push faith more and more toward the margins of life. I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord. I would like that we all, entrust ourselves as children to the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk every day, even in times of struggle. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says, “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, for having made me a Christian.” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good, that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!

At this time, however, it is not only God, whom I desire to thank. A Pope is not alone in guiding St. Peter’s barque, even if it is his first responsibility – and I have not ever felt myself alone in bearing either the joys or the weight of the Petrine ministry. The Lord has placed next to me many people, who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your counsels, your friendship, were all precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State, who accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretariat of State and the whole Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various areas, give their service to the Holy See: the many faces which never emerge, but remain in the background, in silence, in their daily commitment, with a spirit of faith and humility. They have been for me a sure and reliable support. A special thought [goes] to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I can not forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, the consecrated persons and the entire People of God: in pastoral visits, in public encounters, at Audiences, in traveling, I have always received great care and deep affection; I also loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every shepherd, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I carried each of you in my prayers, with the father's heart.

I wish my greetings and my thanks to reach everyone: the heart of a Pope expands to [embrace] the whole world. I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes present the great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for good communication, whom I thank for their important service.

At this point I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many people throughout the whole world, who, in recent weeks have sent me moving tokens of concern, friendship and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone: now I experience this [truth] again in a way so great as to touch my very heart. The Pope belongs to everyone, and so many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world's greatest figures - from the Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the Church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline.

In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.

Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was committed always and forever by the Lord. Always – he, who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one’s life precisely when he offers it as a gift. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.

The “always” is also a “forever” - there is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.

I thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have welcomed this important decision. I continue to accompany the Church on her way through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and to His Bride, which I have hitherto tried to live daily and that I would live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter, that the Lord might accompany him with the light and the power of His Spirit.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community: to her we entrust ourselves, with deep trust.

Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Controversial priest's lawsuit against LifeSiteNews advances

Montreal, Canada, Feb 21, 2013 / 12:02 am (CNA).- A libel and defamation lawsuit against LifeSiteNews.com, filed by Canadian priest Father Raymond Gravel who describes himself as “pro-choice,” will go to trial.

Fr. Gravel claims that LifeSiteNews' depiction of him in the agency's news articles as “pro-abortion” is libelous, because he says he is “pro-choice” but does not support abortion per se.

“This case represents a danger to free speech of pro-life Canadians in terms of their being able to refer to stances embracing 'choice' as 'pro-abortion' rather than the nomenclature of their opposition,” LifeSiteNews editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen told CNA Feb. 21.

Western said the suit is a “very significant attack” on religious freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.

“It is being argued that we are not media, and should that argument be accepted in court, would that not challenge all the other new online media outlets, even those of the left?”

Fr. Gravel served as a Member of Parliament in Canada from 2006 to 2008, after reportedly being granted “special permission by the Vatican to run for federal office,” according to the CBC.

While serving as a member of parliament, Fr. Gravel supported the nomination of an abortionist who was once detained in Dachau to the Order of Canada and opposed a bill which would have acknowledged injury of a fetus during commission of a crime as a separate offense from injury to the child's mother.

“I've never gone against the church doctrine,” he told the CBC in 2008.

In 2008, the Vatican “forced him to choose between Parliament and the Catholic Church,” the CBC reported. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had received complaints from Catholics who noticed his positions as a parliamentarian that were at odds with the faith.

Fr. Gravel claims that LifeSiteNews' reporting about him ruined his reputation as a politician and priest. He seeks damages of 500,000 Canadian dollars, or about $492,000, as well as costs.

On Jan. 11 a Quebec judge ruled that the lawsuit can advance to trial, dismissing the claims of LifeSiteNews that Fr. Gravel is merely intending to gag them.

The damages sought by Fr. Gravel are identical to a full year's budget for the site, according to its editors. It has already spent some $170,000 on the suit.

The Diocese of Joliette, to which Fr. Gravel belongs, did not reply to press inquiries in time for publication.

The site has run some 41 articles about Fr. Gravel in 11 years, and maintains that it merely reported his public statements and media commentaries airing his disagreement with Church doctrine and the teaching authority of Canadian prelates.

“In our reporting on Gravel, we were very careful only to repeat exactly what he said. There was no animosity toward him; in fact, we stated our concern for the Church, but also for Fr. Gravel himself,” Weston told The Wanderer.

“If this case were outside the issues of abortion and homosexuality and were just about a politician upset that a media organization pointed out his radical views to a wider audience, it would be laughed out of court. But because it is dealing with issues deemed sacred in the new morality, it is being given credence,” he added.

“This is about our freedom as a news service to report news on controversial subjects. We are defending this case to ensure those rights.”

Updated at on Feb. 21, 2013 at 4:28 p.m., MST: new exclusive commentary to CNA from John-Henry Westen added to article.

Rev Tom Rosica & The Heresy Of Indifferentism

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The Saturday Windsor Star January 18, 1986

Basilian Deacon puts sharing at forefront of religious aims

THE WORD Thomas Rosica repeats over and over again is “scandalous.”

He’s referring to the way in which churches tend to remain segregated, isolated, interested in their own.

If you spend any time talking to Rosica, he will tell you just how frustrated he gets when he hears how Roman Catholic priests speak in such chauvinistic ways about salvation in the “Catholic Church.” He doesn’t even like it when they refer to themselves as Catholics, when the word “Christian” would not only have been good enough, but preferable.

It’s not that he doesn’t like Catholics – he is one. In fact, this spring he will be ordained a priest of the Basilian religious order.

The fact is, Rosica spent a good part of his field training as a priest working on ecumenism. In 1984 he surveyed churches in the Montreal area for the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism to determine where they stood on church unity. His findings, and especially the approach Rosica took to the survey, are being examined and considered by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. There is the possibility that the Roman Catholic Church’s umbrella organization in Canada will implement a survey of this kind on a national basis.

THE YOUNG DEACON working at St. John the Baptist Church in Amherstburg with its other Basilian priests regards the whole matter of ecumenism as “scandalous.” He sees “the Catholic ghetto mentality as a stumbling block and knows just how reticent clergymen from other denominations can be when it comes to authentic sharing. Some of it has to do with being “too set in their ways” but there are other reasons, too. In some cases, the clergymen know little of the ecumenical movement, and they haven’t bothered to do “any reading at all about it.”

There’s also the notion that their churches are suffering serious losses in membership. The direction now is to shore up what they can count on.

UNFORTUNATELY, the notion exists that some churches have the exclusive copyright on the “word of God, “ says Rosica.

“But the word of God is for all people,” says Rosica, who adds that it isn’t just for Catholics or Anglicans or Presbyterians.

Another fact, says Rosica, is that many denominations must learn that no one is out to threaten the existence of any one church. In addition to this, the myth has to be dispelled that the only way in which the Roman Catholics are going to be part of church unity is for all Christian denominations (to) join Rome.

Rosica says there is no reason real ecumenism -- even to the point of an organic union – can’t mean a harmony of various Christian denominations in one community.

The Basilian deacon could sit all day in his office at St. John the Baptist and talk about the ecumenical movement. While he doesn’t regard himself as an expert, the survey did teach him something. His objective is to set into motion something that will bring churches in Amherstburg closer together.

ROSICA EXPECTS to return here after ordination, and if he does, he feels he will continue his ecumenical work in the town. The real test for the ecumenical movement, he says, is at the grass roots: moving the “local” churches into a situation where they will share more and pray more together.

Sunday will see the first step in that direction: St. John the Baptist is holding an ecumenical prayers service at 2:30 p.m. where five different Christian denominations – the Baptists, United Church, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics – will be participating.

Rev. John Parker, Pastor of Wesley United Church, will deliver the homily. The service coincides with the first Sunday, in the Week of Christian Unity, celebrated by Catholics and Protestants around the world. The service in itself is admittedly a “minor act” says Rosica, but it could be the beginning of a new awareness the churches will have for one another.

HE SEES Amherstburg as no different than any other community, pointing out that no matter how much dialogue the national churches hold, unless clergy and congregations at the local level are prepared to start talking to one another in a meaningful way, then ecumenism is simply a dream.
He says if churches persist in taking the attitude that they “have all the answers,” then nothing is going to be advanced in church unity.

But while Rosica likes being an idealist, he is intimately aware of the obstacles.

Intercommunion is certainly the first to spring to mind. In some ways, he regards the Roman Catholic Church’s reluctance to permit Catholics and Protestants to take communion in their churches as an embarrassment. On the other hand, he also has a lot of respect for his church in holding back from the pressure until other obstacles have been cleared away.

THIS IS BECAUSE Rome regards the eucharist as “the fullness of unity,” Rosica says.
He added until other obstacles have been resolved, there can be no unity.

Bishop Sherlock told the fall synod of Canadian Bishops that the extension of communion to non-Catholics would be a “form of cheating.”

He had said, “It assumes a unity which has not yet occurred.”

But Rosica agrees with the new CCCB vice-president, Archbishop James Hayes of Halifax, that the issue should be pursued, and that “shared communion” with Protestant denominations at times of mixed marriages and funerals should be encouraged.

The church sanctions such a practice.

Unfortunately, Rosica says some priests aren’t even aware of “this possibility” – to them it’s a non-issue.

ESSENTIALLY, such an attitude or lack of awareness is a formidable obstacle to church unity. Rosica says it comes down to the glaring fact that many clergy just won’t bother to acquaint themselves with what is being done about church unity.

Apathy is another obstacle, Rosica said explain how some priests regard the issue as “just another job” they have to do. As a result, he says, there is no compelling urge to do anything more than pay lip service to it.

Another stumbling block lies with the training institutions which tend to want to propagate and further their own denominational interests and philosophies. As a result, there are institutions that tend to favour one religion over another, when in fact they ought to be “open” to the whole spectrum.

IN HIS REPORT to the Canadian Ecumenical Commission, Rosica wrote that while it might be difficult “to complain” about training in the past from the era before or during Vatican II which spurred on ecumenism, “We have a right and duty, however, to take objection with these young people (including young professors), who, through their theology courses and their religious beliefs, wish to move the Ecumenical movement back to a time when it new no possibilities for growth.”
Rosica says unless the church – not only the Roman Catholic Church – begins to take a “a vested interest” in the formation of clergy, making sure they are less chauvinistic about their denomination – then ecumenism is going to remain at a standstill.

Because of the lack of any read dramatic unity, Rosica says people have indeed, lost interest in church unity.

He said this in his report too, pointing out that the findings showed that “many have lost the desire for unity over the past years, and even fewer really sense the scandalous division existing within our own church and also among the Christian churches.

ROSICA KNOWS that the move toward church unity has to be gradual and it must go through a set of “sequences.” Sunday’s service is the beginning. The next step is to form a ministerial association.

The next step is to work on “twinning” churches, where churches begin to do some real sharing and experimenting with liturgies.

Rosica isn’t sure how successful he will be. He hopes for the best. He says as long as congregations are praying, “somehow the spirit of God is alive.”

He’s certain this will ease the impatience.


by Brother André Marie May 15, 2010
“Indifferentism” is the belief that it does not matter what religion a man professes, he can be saved nonetheless. The Church has roundly condemned this notion as a heresy in very strong language, holding it to be a denial ofextra ecclesiam nulla salus. Here, we feature a brief passage from Mirari Vos, by the last great monk-pope, Gregory XVI (August 15, 1832).
All emphasis (bold and italics), paragraph numbers, and reference numbers as in original on the Papal Encyclicals site; please go there to see the references.

13. Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present:indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism”[16] may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him,”[17] and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate.”[18] Let them hear Jerome who, while the Church was torn into three parts by schism, tells us that whenever someone tried to persuade him to join his group he always exclaimed: “He who is for the See of Peter is for me.”[19] A schismatic flatters himself falsely if he asserts that he, too, has been washed in the waters of regeneration. Indeed Augustine would reply to such a man: “The branch has the same form when it has been cut off from the vine; but of what profit for it is the form, if it does not live from the root?”[20]

14. This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. “But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,” as Augustine was wont to say.[21] When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly “the bottomless pit”[22] is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws — in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.

— Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos


Vic Biorseth, http://www.Thinking-Catholic-Strategic-Center.com

Choose. Indifferentism is a mortal sin; a condemned heresy. That's the Catholic view of the matter. In civil (as opposed to ecclesial) law, there is a legal indifferentism that is not condemned. This is an attempt by civil government to be indifferent between the religious professions of the governed - the citizens of and travelers within the land to which the civil law applies. In the proper interest of separation of Church and State, the State should not direct or legally differentiate between religious convictions – within reason, of course.

In a land ruled by Representative Government, we might reasonably expect the Government, and Civil Law, to be fully representative of views of the electorate. If the clear majority of the voters adhere to Judao-Christian morality, as they do in the USA, then it would be unreasonable for their theoretically representative legislators to pass laws, or worse, for un-elected bureaucrats to pass unlegislated regulations with full force of law, allowing such religious practices as, say, human sacrifice, or cannibalism, or torture of animals, and so forth. Representative government is supposed to follow the same moral guidelines and norms as are followed by those the government represents. Otherwise, it is not representative government.

In the interest of maintaining representative government, an overwhelmingly Christian People should not be ruled by atheists or other non-Jewish - non-Christians.

And a Christian People should certainly not be ruled by secularists; a term that describes the non-neutral, proactive secularizing, or religious-cleansing activists who seek to eliminate religion, or at least Christianity, not only from the public square, but from the beliefs of school children and ultimately from the people. American secularists work to legally eliminate “Merry Christmas” from the lips and cards of school children and from the displays of merchants and from corporate language, from all public view, in a land that is populated by an overwhelming majority of Christians. Just who, exactly, do they truly represent?

Where is all this coming from? I have written elsewhere about what I call the Unholy Trinity, Darwin, Freud and Marx, as representing the most egregious examples of massive social acceptance of error and false teaching presented in very pretty pseudo-scientific wrapping. Once these serious errors were adopted by the intellectual elites, especially the ranking academics, the masses just followed along, right down the garden path.

Of course, Marx was clearly the worst of the Unholy Trinity, as the history of Marxism proves. The great social upheaval that began in the 1960s in America was, at least in part, an attempted Marxist-Communist Revolution, which, like almost all others like it, failed rather miserably, except in academia, where it already had strong roots. It took over the American college campus, and it already practically owned American journalism and American show business. But it couldn’t come close to taking over the American government. Yet. The only other part of this “revolution” that had any success at all was the so-called sexual revolution, aimed at weakening if not destroying our moral fabric.

Since then, it’s been anything goes; if it feels good, do it; whatever floats your boat; get rid of your hang-ups, and get out there and screw, like everyone else. It’s natural; it’s normal; it’s expected.

Many of the same people who wholeheartedly participated in drug-fests, sex-fests, filth-fests like Woodstock are now the people in charge of universities, and holding or running for high political office. Campuses all across America caved and surrendered to the sit-ins and love-ins and demonstrations and riots, and now, the asylum is run by the inmates. People steeped in error pass on their error in the form of formal education.

Being as it is very nearly impossible to convert all the American people to atheism, the next best thing is to move them toward indifferentism and moral relativism; the belief that all religious belief is purely subjective and therefore improvable, and therefore equal, in so far as none can be proven true.

And there, right there, they reveal their materialism-atheism. The materialist-atheist, who believes (by faith alone) that all that exists is matter, requires empirical (material) evidence of “truth” before it can be accepted as truth. The closest the practicing Jew or Christian can come to “proving” the existence of the object of his belief is through history and archeology regarding human events recorded by human beings; nothing purely empirical or purely material. One either accepts the Divine Revelation as handed on by other human beings or one does not. Many of the events of salvation history can be shown to have happened in the historical/archeological record; but not the whole of it.

This is the dividing line; this is the point where the Spirit, i.e. The Kingdom, meets the Flesh, i.e. The World. The devout Jew and the devout Christian are ruled by The Kingdom, while the devout materialist-atheist is ruled by The World. While the Jew and the Christian can recognize and accept The World, the materialist-atheist can neither recognize nor accept The Kingdom.

Should any materialist-atheist ever be in charge of us?

The effect of Indifferentism is, of course, moral relativism, which relegates all religions and all belief systems to be equal, because they are equally improvable. It doesn’t matter so much what you believe, so long as you believe in something. This is, of course, a sin; and sin, itself, is a term unfamiliar to the ears of the materialist-atheist.

And so we see the strange fixations of the materialist-atheists come to the forefront to replace the old time Judao-Christian moral problems in the public eye. We have a giant, unrepresentative bureaucracy in the Department of Education, in which we see the Leviathan State (e.g., the Dictatorship of the Proletariat) controlling the education of the children as recommended by Marx in his Communist Manifesto. This is a distinctly un-American idea, yet adopted in America with little or no protest. We see Hillary and Billary gaining ground in getting the Leviathan State – the Federal Government - to take charge of medically treating your child’s case of the sniffles. There’s room for a whole new genre of unrepresentative bureaucracy and unrepresentative regulation there. Algore would have a whole new unrepresentative bureaucracy in charge of weather and climate, to clamp down on all the big business and free enterprise that exhales so much carbon dioxide, the newest identifieddeadly substance.

Von Mises told us that Communism is, almost definitively, bureaucracy. It is rule by an elite authority organized in a hierarchy, long-titled big bureaucrats at the top, authority-mad petty bureaucrats at the bottom. Some time ago we passed the point where fully ten percent of the American working population is working for the government in some capacity; almost all are working in bureaucracy. With job titles like, Principle Senior Assistant Vice Deputy Under Secretary Of The Department Of Something Or Other.

None of these efforts is aimed at reduction of government; all seek to increase it, and put it in charge of more and more of the mundane little details of our lives. We are schmoozed and bamboozled into accepting more and more bureaucratic control over different areas of our lives and different segments of the economy, because it sounds like it’s all in our own best interest. They are, after all, representing us.

Not true. They represent themselves, and their personal climb to the top, of a hoped-for eventual total bureaucracy that will replace the older American model.

Indifferentism paves the way. Don’t let it seep into your thinking.

I have been accused of the opposite of Indifferentism, which is defined as Rigorism, and the charge is not without some merit. I believe in a rigorous following of Church doctrine and in strict accuracy in proper Catholic catechesis, and I openly attack watered-down Catholic doctrine and catechesis whenever and wherever I encounter it. A beloved nephew has complained about this, saying that it’s my way or the highway. But here’s the thing: it’s not my way; I didn’t make up all (or any of) the rules of Catholicism. I was “not invited” into the Catholic Diaconate program after passing all the required courses, because I was “too rigid in your doctrine,” as if it were my doctrine. (I argued with the professors about their pro-sodomy and pro-priestess teaching, and about their clear and obvious indifferentism.)

When it comes to Catholic catechesis, there is only one Church teaching, and it is represented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’m prepared to defend any item in it, against any opponent. When it comes to the American Ideal, there is more wiggle room; however, I still draw the line at indifferentism and moral relativism. All belief systems are not the same. The ones who push it the most are the ones who seek to replace it with something less. Again, indifferentism paves the way. Don’t let it seep into your thinking.

May you please God, and may you live forever.



"I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church"

"Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church"
Matthew 16:18

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "Go, get thee down: thy people which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt have sinned.  They have quickly strayed from the way which thou didst show them: and they have made to themselves a molten calf, and have adorned it and sacrificing victims to it, have said: 'These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt.'"
Exodus 32:7

Monday, February 25, 2013

Being a Traditional Catholic is not Easy

Posted on February 20, 2013

by Fr. Peter Carota

Before I discovered the Holy Latin Mass, as a priest I would always say Eucharistic Prayer II for mass because it was the shortest, the easiest. By nature I am a lazy priest. It takes God’s grace to overcome laziness and serve Him well. As Mary said it so well, “I am the servant of the Lord”. To be God’s servant takes discipline and love. You really have to LOVE God a lot because everything in the Traditional Catholic way of life takes so muchmore time, discipline, preparation, study, memorization and sacrifice. I learned the Novus Ordo Mass so quickly. It has taken me years to learn the Holy Tridentine Mass. Any of you priest who are attempting to learn this mass, do not be discouraged, just keep at it. I still make mistakes and still have so much to learn. Latin is very hard to pronounce and learn. Keep on learning anyway. It is all well worth it for God in the long run. Your priesthood will grow so much deeper in union with the High Priest Jesus Christ. The whole spirituality is so other worldly, God heavenly.

Now I have started saying the Latin Breviary. This is a huge step to make. But since I believe with all my MIND, SOUL and HEART that latin prayer is more powerful against the devil and is so much more pleasing to God, I had to start praying the Latin Breviary. The Novus Ordo Breviary is demanding in of itself. All of us priests have made a promise to God to pray all the hours of the breviary. In the Novus Ordo you have Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer and Nighttime Prayer.

In the Latin Breviary (Divinum Officium) you have Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. They were planned to be said every 3 hours all through the night and day. I am way to lazy to pray throughout the night. These 8 offices together are taking me up to 3 hours a day. In one week you say all the 150 psalms. In the Novus Ordo you do it in 4 weeks. So it is four time the work. No wonder everyone hates traditional catholicism. It takes so much sacrifice. I have been very tempted to do the Novus Ordo liturgy of the Hours many time when I run out of time.

None of us like discipline. Look at kids (and most adults), they hate home(work). They hate chores. They hate to pray the rosary. They love chocolate, Pizza, Sodas, Fast Food, TV, Video Games, Computer Games, and sleeping in till 1 pm. Let us admit it we are a lazy, gluttonous, sensual, bunch of people. So we ask God’s mercy to give us the grace to change before we become diabetic or fired from our job or flunk out from school. So many kids in my parish got D’s and F’s. But they did have good hand eye coordination from all the video games they played. You parents stop buying them all these electronic toys. Because of this they are maladjusted and anti social and no help around the house. Not to mention all the pornography they see on the computer and receive from friends on their iPhones. OK, let them have it if they will use it for prayer.

What does this have to do with tradition? The Breviary, the Holy Tridentine Mass, the Blessings all take so much sacrifice and discipline to do well. That is why people hate it so much. No wonder most priest and religious were so happy to give up all this discipline and do everything that was easy. But Then look where the world has gone. Look at all the evil that took place in the 60′s, all the rebelliousness. Never forget that we the catholics are the light of the world, salt to the world, and when it goes flat or out, what darkness in the house, in the world and in the family.

For .99 cents you can download an app that is called BrevMeum. It is the Latin Breviary that you can say on the iPhone (most phones too), iPad, and computer. It is in latin but you can go to settings and set it for Latin on one side and English on the other side. So I am reading it first in English and then in Latin.

I would not advise this for you if you are not a priest or religious unless you have the time and discipline to do it. You laity could do Lauds and Vesper if you would be up to it. It is so wonderful to a traditional catholic but it also take love for God and great discipline. The Holy Latin Mass, the Breviary and the Rosary are the most important thing a priest can do for God and the salvation of souls. You attending Holy Mass and praying the Rosary are of great help to convert sinners stating with ourselves. What did Mary say at Fatima; Pray the Rosary for Peace and the conversion of sinners.

Cleansing The Curia

Papal politics paralyze Vatican

February 24, 2013 - 12:00am


Machiavellian machinations lead to scandal, exposing corruption at church’s highest level

Faithful gather to listen to pope Benedict XVI's Angelus prayer in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on Feb. 17. Scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church have some senior church officials insisting that the next pope must be able to manage the Vatican’s unruly bureaucracy. (GREGORIO BORGIA / AP)

IF EVIDENCE was ever needed that the next pope must urgently overhaul the powerful Vatican bureaucracy called the Curia, the scandal over Pope Benedict XVI’s private papers is Exhibit A.

The pope’s own butler stole sensitive internal letters to the pontiff and passed them off to a journalist, who then published them in a blockbuster book. The butler did it, he admitted himself, to expose the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican’s frescoed halls that he believed was hidden from Benedict by those who were supposed to serve him.

And if that original sin weren’t enough, the content of the leaks confirmed that the next pope has a very messy house to clean up. The letters and memos exposed petty wrangling, corruption and cronyism at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church. The dirt ranged from the awarding of Vatican contracts to a plot, purportedly orchestrated by senior Vatican officials, to out a prominent Catholic newspaper editor as gay.

Ordinary Catholics might not think that dysfunction in the Apostolic Palace has any effect on their lives, but it does: The Curia makes decisions on everything from bishop appointments to church closings to marriage annulments and the disciplining of pedophile priests. Papal politics plays into the prayers said at mass since translations are decided by committee in Rome. Donations the faithful make each year for the pope are held by a Vatican bank whose lack of financial transparency has fueled bitter internal debate.

And so after 35 years under two “scholar” popes who paid scant attention to the internal governance of the Catholic Church, a chorus is growing that the next pontiff must have a solid track record managing a complicated bureaucracy. Cardinals who will vote in next month’s conclave are openly talking about the need for reform, particularly given the dysfunction exposed by the scandal.

“It has to be attended to,” said Chicago Cardinal Francis George. With typical understatement, he called the leaks scandal “a novel event for us.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German who retired in 2010 as the head of the Vatican’s ecumenical office, said the Curia must adapt to the 21st century.

“There needs to be more co-ordination between the offices, more collegiality and communication,” he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Often the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”

Sandro Magister, the Vatican analyst who most closely follows the comings, goings and internecine feuds of Vatican officials, said the “disaster” of governance began unfolding in the 1980s, in the early years of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate.

“John Paul II was completely disinterested in the Curia; his vision was completely directed to the outside,” Magister said in an interview. “He allowed a proliferation of feuds, small centres of power that fought among themselves with much ambition, careerism and betrayals.”

“This accumulated and ruined it for the next pope,” he said.

Benedict was well aware of the problems, having spent nearly a quarter-century in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But he never entered into the Vatican’s political fray as a cardinal — and as pope left it to his No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to do the job.

Bertone, though, became a lightning rod for division within the Curia. A canonist, he had no diplomatic experience coming into the job, and the main battle lines drawn in the Curia today come down to his loyalists and those still loyal to his predecessor Cardinal Angelo Sodano. Taken as a whole, the leaked documents seemed aimed at undermining Bertone.

To be fair, the Vatican under Benedict made great strides on some internal governance fronts: the pope insisted on greater financial transparency, and the Vatican passed a key European anti-money laundering test last summer. He insisted on a Vatican trial, open to journalists, for the butler who betrayed him. And as cardinal, after priestly sex abuse cases bounced for years among Vatican offices, the former Joseph Ratzinger took them over himself in 2001.

And very early on in his papacy, Benedict made it clear there was no place in the priesthood for men who sought power. In a May 2006 homily to newly ordained priests, Benedict warned them against “careerism, the attempt to ‘get ahead,’ to gain a position through the church, to make use of and not to serve.”

Some analysts speculate that the revelations from the leaks at the very least accelerated Benedict’s decision to resign. In early 2012, he appointed three trusted cardinals to investigate beyond the criminal case involving his butler. They interviewed inside the Curia and out and delivered their final report in December. Its contents are sealed, though speculation is that the cardinals minced no words in revealing the true nature of the Curia.

Benedict’s biographer, Peter Seewald, asked Benedict in August how badly the scandal had affected him. He replied that he was not falling into “desperation or world-weariness,” yet admitted the leaks scandal “is simply incomprehensible to me,” according to a recent article Seewald penned for the German magazine Focus.

The Holy See’s bureaucracy is organized as any government, though it resembles a medieval court — given that the pope is an absolute monarch, with full executive, legal and judicial powers.

There’s a legal office, an economic affairs office and an office dedicated to the world’s 400,000 priests. Three tribunals tend to ecclesiastical cases and a host of departments take up spiritual matters: making saints, keeping watch on doctrine and the newest office created by Benedict, spreading the faith.

John Paul’s 1988 apostolic constitution “Pastor Bonus” sets out the competencies of the various congregations and councils, and they function as independent fiefdoms, albeit in consultation with one another when the subject matter requires. In the end, though, the real power lies with two departments: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the secretariat of state, which can block virtually any initiative of another office.

“Who is influential isn’t so much dependent on what your office is or your title but whether you have access to the king, or in this case the pope,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of Inside the Vatican, a bible of sorts for understanding the Vatican Curia. The same could be said for any executive branch. But in the case of the Vatican, there’s a difference.

“Obama can fire anybody he wants from his cabinet,” Reese said. “When you make someone a bishop, you make him a bishop for life. When you make him a cardinal you make him a prince of the church. What do you do with a cardinal (who doesn’t work out)? He can’t go to K Street and get a job as a lobbyist.”

Though increasingly international, the Curia is also a very Italian creature, which affects its priorities, weaknesses and style of governance. “Genealogy is important, who begat whom,” noted one recently departed Vatican official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as to not antagonize former colleagues.

The typical Italian way of getting things done via personal stamps of approval, or “raccomandanzione,” guides introductions. The Italian way of persuasion, less overt power play than Machiavellian machinations, governs consensus-building and decision-making.

Italian commentator Massimo Franco recently concluded on the pages of Corriere della Sera that the Vatican bureaucracy today is “ungovernable.”

Bishop Charles Scicluna, who worked with the pope when he was at the doctrine office, said the problem with the Curia is that the power is so great — and so close by.

“I think sacred power, with all its trappings, is probably one of the most seductive things in the world if you don’t approach it with the right spirit,” he said in an interview.

Though it’s open to interpretation, Benedict’s final homily as pope could be read as a clear message to the cardinals who will choose his successor.

Two days after announcing he would resign, a weary Benedict told his flock gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for Ash Wednesday Mass to live their lives as Christians in order to show the true face of the church — a church, he said, which is often “defiled.”

“I think in particular about the attacks against the unity of the church, the divisions in the ecclesial body,” he said. He told those gathered that “moving beyond individualisms and rivalries is a humble and precious sign for those who are far from the faith or indifferent to it.”

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was wrong to interpret the pope’s words as being directed at the Vatican Curia, saying the pope’s message was intended as a call for unity among all Christians, a priority of his as pontiff.

Rachel Zoll in New York and George Jahn in Vienna contributed.

Catholic World Report

Cardinal George Pell: "... significant reforms are needed within the Vatican bureaucracy."

February 24, 2013 09:41 EST
From a piece in The Australian (note: links may require registration) by Tess Livingstone, who wrote this biography of Cardinal George Pell, published in North American by Ignatius Press:

Australia's Cardinal George Pell yesterday called on the Vatican press office to respond "in some constructive way" to reports of an internal investigation by three senior cardinals that told Pope Benedict XVI about an insidious web of blackmail, corruption and homosexual sex inside the Vatican. ...

According to La Repubblica, the report was "an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish" inside the Holy See, with the cardinals finding that one faction of Vatican officials, "united by sexual orientation", had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature", which the paper said was a reference to blackmail.

It quoted a source close to the cardinals as saying that everything centred on "non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments", which forbid adultery (included homosexual sex) and stealing. The report also mentioned numerous venues in and around Rome where clandestine encounters took place, including a sauna, a beauty parlour and a university residence.

Speaking just before he flew to Rome for the conclave that will elect Benedict's successor, Cardinal Pell, who read the full article, said: "I know nothing of the content of the report but whatever it contains it is clear that significant reforms are needed within the Vatican bureaucracy."

He praised Benedict for his "courage for commissioning such a report".

The cardinal said it remained to be seen how much of La Repubblica's report was accurate or whether it went beyond recycling material already on the public record. But it was important, he said, that the Vatican press office responded "as I'm sure it will given recent reforms".

In a piece for The Telegraph (Australian edition), Cardinal Pell spoke of what he will look for in the next pope:

"We want somebody with vision, able to plan for the future, who can take charge with the media and speak to the world, especially to those who half believe or don't believe at all'' Cardinal Pell told the Inner West Courier during his visit to St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School in Ashfield today.

Cardinal Pell said he was also looking for someone with "managerial” skills in the papal role.

"It's far and away from the most important task but it's one the tasks,'' he said.

For those who are putting money on the upcoming election (no, I'm not recommending it!), Cardinal Pell is getting 20-1 odds in some corners:

Australians have no idea how influential and how well-regarded Pell is at the top of the Catholic Church, and how long he has been thus.

Here is the first reason he could be pope. Among the 117 cardinals casting a vote there is a relatively small number, perhaps between 20 and 30, who are realistic possibilities, as the Italians say, papabili, or pope-able. Some are too old. The cardinals will not want another 78-year-old who might retire at 85 like Benedict XVI, perhaps while Benedict is still alive, giving Rome two ex-popes. Some are too young. If you elect a pope at 58 you are probably giving him the church for 30-odd years.

Some don't have the necessary languages. It would be difficult for a pope to run the Vatican if he couldn't speak Italian. Some are Americans - cardinals are reluctant to identify the papacy with the prevailing superpower. Some, though holy men, have said foolish things. Some have not run a big diocese, or not well. Some lack the intellectual firepower.

Pell, like a couple of dozen others, clears all these hurdles.

Read the entire piece, by Greg Sheridan, also in The Australian.

About the Author
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight

Cardinal Zen: Vatican Thwarted Pope’s Support of Chinese Church

Sunday, February 24, 2013, 11:37 PM
Matthew Schmitz | @matthewschmitz

Benedict XVI’s efforts to support the Church in China were “wasted by others close to him,” says emeritus bishop of Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen:

This Pope has done things that for China that he has not done for any other country: to no other particular Church has he written a specific letter, no country has a special Commission dedicated to it of about 30 members, from the two most important dicasteries in the Holy See. We should be profoundly grateful to him for this.

But unfortunately I have to add that often he was a lonely voice in the wilderness. I have said and I repeat: his work was wasted by others close to him, who did not follow his line. I’m not here to judge consciences: it is likely that these his advisers thought that maybe he did not know enough about the situation, who he was unable to pursue the right strategy. In any case, these people have not implemented what Benedict XVI has established as the guidelines for the Church in China.

Saying “others” I mean people in the Vatican, but also those outside who, without the help of the Holy See, would not have done so much damage.

It is a very unpleasant situation, although it shows another aspect of the personality of Benedict XVI: he is absolutely firm in dealing with the truth, but is very respectful of the people around him, very—perhaps too—polite: gentle man, who never uses force.

This is not a weakness, it is the other side of one of his great merits, kindness, respect, mercy, the exact opposite of how he has often been depicted (the “conservative”, the “panzer”, “the ‘inquisitor”, etc.)

I too at times was impatient and I felt that he was overly condescending. In recent years I have continued to emphasize this point because in China the people are very simple and easily identify the Holy See with the Pope. Instead it must be said that much of what has been done in China, is not always attributable to the Holy Father. . . .

The Pope himself, faced with events in China, always referred to the “courage.” Instead, those around him, spoke of “compassion”, “understanding”, “patience”, exaggerating and ceding ground well beyond any acceptable limits, against the majority consensus of the Commission.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

If There Is a Pope . . .

The Catholic Thing

By Bevil Bramwell, OMI


Well, there is. What follows from that fact? First of all he is not an isolated figurehead or a religious figure who is far away in another country. That would be the Protestant view and the common cultural view in the United States. Rather in the Catholic Church, Christ “rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. ”(Vatican II) In the Church, we speak of the mystery where, in reality: “The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are [the] profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion.”

In the same document (the Constitution on the Church), the Council was very specific about the relationship between the faithful and those in the government of the Church: “In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent.” Now, in the United States, we know that this does not happen in the majority of cases. So are any bishops animated enough to teach on this point? Is this even seen as an issue? The answer would certainly explain the hierarchy’s failure to reach people before the election.

Bishops do speak, of course. But why the reticence to explain what their speaking implies? An issue for another time perhaps, because then the Council continues:

This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.

Remember this the next time someone tries to push something different by invoking the Council. And point out the specific mention of the magisterium of the pope – pace all those who erroneously think that we only offer religious submission to formally infallible teachings. Also, there is nothing in there about American exceptionalism. Political parties superseding what the pope teaches says is not even mentioned once.

Given the need for this relationship of “special reverence,” where is the immersion in papal teaching in the American church that Vatican II was expecting to occur? Where are all those helping the faithful towards religious submission of mind – all the bishops, the clergy, the religious superiors and religious? Am I leading too cloistered a life to see the tens of millions of U.S. Catholics being trained on evenings and weekends in the meaning of the latest encyclical?

Granted we live in a Protestant culture, but why do we have to fall so completely for Protestant parochialism? This widespread bias denies part of the nature of the Catholic Church, and a large part too. Most Americans Catholics live with paltry knowledge of the faith because dioceses have left them with the notion that they know enough just the way they are. What could our wonderful American people possibly learn from Familiaris consortio or Verbum Domini?

The reciprocal relationship of communion between the faithful and the pope is basic to Catholicism. Unfortunately, we have had at least fifty years of the Church being out of the education business once people are confirmed – and of a Church being afraid to ask people what they believe. This smacks of Protestant individualism. Church officials seem to be furthering Unitarianism rather than Catholicism and doing remarkably well, if a bystander might comment.

What is at stake is communion in truth, where the Holy Father is at the center pointing to Christ, the Word, the source of all truth. This communion does not consist of individuals occasionally imagining that they are in union with the pope, but rather of individuals who actually know what he says in his ordinary magisterium and then join themselves to the truth (the Word) by their religious assent to what he says.

This union is personal rather than impersonal, close rather than distant, and based on truth rather than imaginings. It relies on everyone knowing what the pope says in substantial detail. The people in large part will only learn that from their pastors. Since the United States is not under occupation or ravaged by epidemics, dioceses are free and able to do their part in sustaining the communion of the faithful with the Holy Father – or not.

Papal teaching also holds a privileged place because it has a formidable consistency and clarity. One looks in vain for the same level of scholarship and knowledge of the intellectual tradition from other world figures, theologians or writers. We have been blessed with popes who are intellectual and spiritual giants at a time when few bishops and no academics can hold a candle to them.

In this time of frightening intellectual mediocrity, when more people will listen to a movie star than a pope – and many Church officials treat this as harmless – the value of truth for human society itself needs to be very clearly explained. Then perhaps papal documents will not stall at the water’s edge.

Bevil Bramwell, priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, teaches theology at Catholic Distance University. He holds a Ph.D. from Boston College and works in the area of ecclesiology. His new book, Laity: Beautiful, Good and True: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theology of the Laity, is now available from Amazon.