Sunday, March 01, 2015

Coming soon: 50th anniversary celebration of Paul VI's Mass by Pope Francis

Editor, N.P.C., "Pope Francis to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Paul VI’s Use of the Vernacular" (Pray Tell, February 2, 2015):
It was announced in the most recent edition of L’Osservatore Romano that Pope Francis will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first celebration of the liturgy in the vernacular by Paul VI. On March 7 at 6:00 PM, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the church of All Saints on the via Appia Nuova. This was the same parish where Paul VI celebrated in the vernacular for the first time.

No doubt this announcement will have some up in arms, but for many in the Church this is yet another chance to celebrate the successful reforms [???] of Vatican II.

It will be interesting to see what he says during his homily. Pope Francis has been careful not to tread into the stormy seas of the liturgical wars of yesteryear. Rather than tell us his thoughts on how liturgy should be celebrated, he has shown us. This Mass, however, will provide him with a chance to talk directly about the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. We will see if he takes the bait.
[Hat tip to J.V.]

The inevitable showdown over Communion for couples in irregular relationships

Paul Vallely, Visiting Professor in Public Ethics at the University of Chester and Senior Fellow at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester, is an admirer of Pope Francis. His significantly-titled Pope Francis: Untying the Knots: The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism(London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013) has been translated into four other languages.

In his book (pp. 130-131), Vallely relates some details that bear on how Pope Francis may understand the issues of Holy Communion for the divorced and re-married, and other couples in "irregular" situations. Vallely relates that in Argentina, very little ado is made over distributing Holy Communion to such individuals. Fr. Augusto Zampini, a diocesan priest in Buenos Aires, writes:
“In Buenos Aires [Bergoglio] came across more concrete problems. When you’re working in a shanty town, 90 percent of your congregation are single or divorced. You have to learn that Communion for the divorced and remarried is not an issue there. Everyone takes Communion.... Bergoglio never altered his doctrinal orthodoxy on such matters but he did not allow dogma to overrule the priority of pastoral concern.”
Vallely then quotes Buenos Aires ‘slum’ priest Father Juan Isasmendi, who said “[Bergoglio] was never rigid about the small and stupid stuff, because he was interested in something deeper.”

On the one hand, the generous takeaway from this will be that the man who became Pope Francis has always had a generous "heart for the poor and marginalized." On the other hand, trying to implement such a "pastoral" policy in the Church at large will inevitably lead to conflict with those still willing to defend the inviolability of Church doctrine.

Cardinal Burke, for example, in his February 8 interview that was broadcast on France 2 (see full translation HERE), responded to the question, “If Pope Francis insists on this path, what will you do?” by declaring: "I will resist. I cannot do anything else."

[Hat tip to J.V.]

Bertone: I knew of Benedict's plan to resign seven months in advance

The news you may have missed: reported in the Catholic Herald (February 19, 2015):
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican Secretary of State, has said he knew Benedict XVI was planning to resign “at least seven months” in advance – and that it was “not at all easy” to keep it a secret.

The cardinal made the revelation in a candid interview in which he offered a staunch defence of his record and his lifestyle – much criticised in the Italian press – since stepping down.

Asked if he was surprised by Benedict XVI’s resignation, the cardinal said: “I had guessed it, but put it out my thoughts. I knew long in advance, at least seven months before. And I had many doubts. We debated the topic at length after it seemed already decided. I told him: Holy Father, you must bestow upon us the third volume on Jesus of Nazareth and the encyclical of faith, before you sign things over to Pope Francis.”

The cardinal added that it was “not at all easy to keep this secret. The pope meditated and reflected deeply with God about this choice.”

The virtual inevitability of sin, the blessing of repeatable confession & absolution, and the increase of Christ in us

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, March 1, 2015):
Life is not a continuous movement either in progress or regress. There are the ups and downs of living which, in the spiritual life, can be sorely disheartening. Once having set one’s feet on the way of Christ, determined to be a loyal and observant Christian, one soon discovers that there is no security, nor lasting guarantee of one’s new-found fidelity. There’s always the possibility of reversion to old bad ways and to wicked habits. “The dog returns to its vomit” (2 Peter 2:22); an expelled demon says, “I will return to my house from which I came” (Mt 12:44). Sanctifying grace is given to the soul as a “habit” (to use the traditional theological term), that is, as a permanent possession. Of itself it’s stable and meant to remain in the soul (in-habiting there) with the potential for increase through the exercise of the virtues, prayer, and the reception of the sacraments. Somehow–and it is enough of a common experience–a new situation arises in which evil begins to work its magical, seductive influence and–alas!–a moral fall is immanent. Anyone who has ever made a good confession with the sincere intention of sinning never again and who, nevertheless, falls back into the hated sin knows this unfortunate instability and delicacy of his spiritual state. According to the wishful thinking manifest in some Protestant circles, all one needs do to be saved is to make a once-and-for-all confession of belief in Christ as the Savior and then all will inevitably be well, right up unto entry into heaven. Would that it were so! The obvious fact is, however, that a person who can make such a declaration of faith in Christ by a free act of the will can also, by another act of will, make a counter decision to be disloyal and disobedient to Christ. With this reality of the changeableness, the inconstancy of the will our Lord instituted the sacrament of Confession for sins committed after baptism. The pledge is therein renewed, sins absolved, and one sets out from theconfessional determined to avoid sin and be henceforth invariably pleasing to God.

“Nothing is forever in this life.” I think about this every time I use some manufactured thing with its built-in, planned obsolescence which fails to work right. Too bad this saying applies as well to the inconstancy of decision to be faithful to God’s commandments and decrees. To train the mind and will to be unvarying in goodness is part of the reason why we need to be rather hard on ourselves in Lent. (Certainly, it must not be for morbid pleasure of the hardship. Lent is not to feed a pathological human condition but to remedy one.) Like an athlete who does repetitive movements to perfect his skills, the Christian needs the determined and constant exercise of moral disciplines to achieve regularity, consistency, fidelity. I doubt that anybody can ever ease up on self vigilance, no matter how advanced he may be along the way to spiritual perfection. The chances of slipping back, of regression, are always a possibility, though they should become more remote as one moves forward.

In a morning meditation from the writings of St. Gertrude, I read that Christ told her that every little act done in union with Him was as a pleasure to Him. That thought inspired the whole time of my prayer, thinking that our Lord might be so pleased with so little if only I would have a good intention and a clean soul. Making our beloved Lord pleased is that other motivation that should bestir us to be diligent in our Lenten promises. Not only we, but Christ Himself, would be the beneficiary of them, though for Him that can be so only in an analogous sense since He can’t become any greater, better or happier than infinite perfection already accords Him. Christ can only be ‘increased’ in the sense of a greater extension of His presence and influence in our souls, that is, exteriorly. And so, if this is case, we should wish Him to abound more and more in us. Lenten self-imposed practices attempt to make it so that obstacles to this are put down or at least weakened. How odd to think that I can get in Christ’s way of taking over myself!

A closing reminder that Fridays we have the Lenten fish fry (from fresh, not frozen, fish–I am told). While there, you would do well to hear the talk given on the Last Things–a good way to keep going forward this Lent.

Fr. Perrone

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro-Detroit and the East Michigan area

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Extraordinary Community News - Vocational statistics & lessons from past 50+ years, Mass schedule

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News (March 1, 2015):
A Statistical Analysis of Vocations 1920-2010: Lessons to be Learned from the Past 50 Years

In January, the Christendom Restoration Society published a study conducted by David Sonnier, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. His objective was to teach students how to analyze data without giving them any preconceived notions. The data set he presented them – but did not identify – was the number of seminarians in the U.S. from 1920 to 2010, in five year increments. He simply identified the numbers as “enrollment data” and asked the students to comment on the linear increase from 1920-1965, followed by the exponential decline from 1965-2010. Quoting from the article:

“[The students] usually have comments such as:
  • ‘Something went wrong in 1965.’
  • ‘They made some bad decisions somewhere around 1965’
  • ‘Did they eliminate football in 1965?’
...The students, uninhibited by preconceived notions and unencumbered by ideology, are willing to acknowledge the point at which something went wrong, that it was due to internal, not external factors, and that, in fact, something actually has gone wrong.”
After going through some complex mathematical analysis of the numeric trends, Sonnier proceeds to analyze the numbers in dioceses that have “experimented with tradition”, using the Dioceses of Lincoln, Nebraska and Arlington, Virginia as examples. Arlington is known for having the highest percentage of parishes offering the Extraordinary Form of any diocese in North America, while Lincoln is known for strong bishops, a focus on liturgy, and only males being allowed to serve at the altar. He then cites the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, where almost every parish offers the Tridentine Mass, noting the following:

“During the past ten years:
  • The number of diocesan priests jumped from 14 to 83
  • The total number of priests went from 79 to 140
  • The number of marriages went from approximately 1200 to 6277
  • The number of Chapels of Perpetual Adoration went from 0 to 8
  • The number of Baptisms went from 9500 to 21556
  • The number of confirmations went from 46 to 146
Clearly such a diocese should be considered a model for every other diocese in both North and South America to emulate.”
Finally, Sonnier charts the well-known growth of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which celebrates the EF exclusively:

He concludes that a focus on tradition, orthodoxy, and the Sacred Liturgy is statistically shown to result in abundant vocations. Read the whole study here:

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 03/02 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Monday in the Second Week of Lent)
  • Tue. 03/03 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent)
  • Fri. 03/06 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Sacred Heart of Jesus) [First Friday]
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 1, 2015. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, February 28, 2015

What the Holy Father plans on NOT doing Maundy Thursday?

Fr. Z writes today
Will Pope Francis be the only able-bodied diocesan bishop NOT to celebrate [the] Mass of the Last Supper with priests and people?
From the marvelous Fr. Hunwicke.  I had to smile.  HERE  [Emphasis Fr. Z's]
Job Sharing?
Why don’t people swap roles occasionally? Fr Lombardi could go riding around in airliners making remarks to journalists; then the Holy Father could do the News Conferences explaining what the remarks had really meant.

This year’s Vatican Liturgical Schedule doesn’t include the Holy Father presiding at the Mass of the Last Supper. Is Cardinal Burke, il Cardinale volante, still free to step into this breach? If, by then, the Swiss Guard has been abolished, he could bring his Knights of Malta to the Lateran to provide Security. Juventutem could waggle flabella over the sedia gestatoria....

I wonder if the Bishop of Rome will be the only able-bodied Latin Rite diocesan bishop in the world not to celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper openly with his priests, deacons, and people? There will of course be sound precedents galore from the much more flexible age of the Renaissance papacy … it’s praxis within the rather more rigid post-Vatican II dispensation that I’m curious about.
If the Holy Father wants a substitute for the sacred rites in St. John Lateran, and if Card. Burke is otherwise engaged… I volunteer.
Apparently no foot washings for Muslims and women in prisons this year.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Fr. Hunwicke: “Do not exaggerate, overestimate, what a Pope can do….”

Fr. Z writes (February 20, 2015):

The inimitable Fr. Hunwicke has a good reminder at his fine blog HERE about papal authority (my [Fr. Z's] emphases):

Two points. Despite the anxieties entertained by the Intellectuals on both sides of this question … the Traditionalists and the Tablettentendenz … I see no grounds for panic. I see no practical likelihood whatsoever that anything will happen to put into doubt our duty, in our day-by-day Christian life, to adhere obediently to the judgements of the Roman Pontiff. But … let’s be honest … there have been in history occasions when Roman Pontiffs have wobbled in their adherence to orthodoxy …. Liberius and all that. In these circumstances, there does have to be a duty to resist that wobble and to decline to give effect to edicts purporting to enact the wobble. But here is the Red Line: at Vatican I, a great deal of historical work was done to ensure that the Decree on the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff was so worded as not to be vulnerable on such historical grounds. It is watertight. We can be sure that whatever a pope says ex cathedra is protected by the Holy Spirit from any error (but even here, we are not obliged to believe either that the decree concerned was necessary, or that it expressed things in the best of all possible ways). But it is not unknown for a papal decree which falls short of the ex cathedra status to be flawed. Of course, that cannot be a good position for the Church to be in. But it is not some sort of Ultimate Catastrophe! The Church survived Liberius! And so did the Papacy! And, to the end of time, both will survive!

t is very important to remember the limits of the Papal Magisterium. This is best done by a careful reading of the decree Pastor aeternus of Vatican I. That is the touchstone. Do not exaggerate, overestimate, what a pope can do, and then, when some pope or other goes a bit off the rails, or you think he has, start running around in a frantic fear that you have “lost your faith”. The pope is not an Absolute Monarch. B Pius IX made this very explicitly clear. Benedict XVI taught this with determined vigour. This is serious! The Pope is not some God-on-Earth who can never make a mistake! Not a few of them have made quite a lot. There is no reason why the same should not be true in the future. Learn not to fret! Learn to live with it, as so many Catholics in previous generations have done! And if you’re the sort of person who can laugh at it, laugh. In any case, sit yourself down comfortably, pour yourself a drink … and learn the following off by heart:

“The Holy Spirit was not promised to Peter’s successors so that they should, by His revelation, disclose new teaching, but so that, with His assistance, they should devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the apostles, the Deposit of Faith.”

Popes make mistakes.  Popes are not infrequently wrong on a range of issues.  There is nothing new in this.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

The silence is telling

Guy Noir - Private Eye emailed me the following (must have borrowed a computer) :   

D. G. Hart, "Church Reformed" (Old Life, February 27, 2015)

The archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone (gotta love that name), is kicking up a lot of dust in Roman Catholic and California circles for the policies he has initiated within his parochial schools.  Here‘s an example of what Cordileone has in mind:
We, the Archdiocesan High Schools, Acknowledge that some of our administrators, faculty or staff may not be Catholics and some may be Catholics who are struggling to achieve fidelity to some of the teachings of the Church, but we are all nevertheless called and required to stand as effective and visible professional participants and proponents of truly Catholic Education. As effective professionals in a Catholic School setting, we all – administrators, faculty and staff – are required and expected to avoid fostering confusion among the faithful and any dilution of the schools’ primary Catholic mission. Therefore, administrators, faculty and staff of any faith or of no faith, are expected to arrange and conduct their lives so as not to visibly contradict, undermine or deny these truths. To that end, further, we all must refrain from public support of any cause or issue that is explicitly or implicitly contrary to that which the Catholic Church holds to be true, both those truths known from revelation and those from the natural law. Those of us who consider themselves to be Catholics but who are not in a state of full assent to the teachings of the Church, moreover, must refrain from participation in organizations that call themselves “Catholic” but support or advocate issues or causes contrary to the teachings of the Church.
Some Roman Catholics wonder if Cordileone is in line with Pope France:
Cordileone suggests that he is in line with Pope Francis. In one way, he may be correct: It doesn’t appear that Francis is going to be changing any doctrine in the near future. But the whole world knows we have a pope who is focusing on Jesus’ message of love and inclusiveness and who has told Cordileone and his fellow culture warrior bishops to quit being obsessed with the sexuality issues. Our archbishop doesn’t even appear to be listening to his boss.
And if Pope Francis wants the church to come along side people who struggle with Roman Catholic teaching on marriage and sex, how is Cordileone helping the cause:
Cordileone stated that Catholics who endorse contrary views “create toxic confusion about our fundamental values.” But if Catholic couples, in the spirit of the pope’s recent comments, limit the number of children they have, is that toxic? If you are a little girl who is only here because science helped her mom and dad conceive her, is that toxic? If you are a 10 year old abused child and the only adoptive parents who want you are a loving, qualified gay couple, is that toxic? If you think that the civil rights of gays and lesbians should be protected, is that toxic?
Meanwhile, eight California legislators, mainly Democrat, are challenging the archbishop’s policies even as they raise questions about separation of church and state. In response, Cordileone wonders if the politicians would HIRE as campaign managers people who side with their political adversary in an election.
What may be the most provocative aspect of this controversy is what the archbishop’s reforms mean for the capacity of the Roman Catholic Church to achieve discipline. Isn’t this a case of an archbishop actually laying out policy in line with church teaching? If he can do it, why can’t others? And if others don’t follow Cordileone’s lead, why don’t Jason and the Callers reflect more on what this says about their communion where truth with a capital-T prevails (at least in theory)?

Friday, February 27, 2015

"The Next Synod is a Battle between Christ and the Antichrist: - On whose side will you stand?"

Guy Noir, call your pharmacy! Alessandro Gnocchi, in his a Riscossa Cristiana column via a Rorate translation, writes:
[T]he Catholic world that is commonly called “not of the left” or “not progressive”, save the rare exceptions that are able to operate in a way that is truly going against the current, is made up of unconvincing intellectuals who are thirsting for legitimization ....

[There are those who] are scandalized by the fact that whoever tries to voice an objection in the face of the current situation is quickly labeled as “a divisive person”…The tactic of accusing dissidents of being “people who divide” usually is employed by those in power or by the spineless....

The Church of the last decades has functioned, or rather malfunctioned, by actually anchoring herself to a will to be the friend of Caesar. She has been weak to the point of losing blood on the ground of doctrine and morality. She has shown herself to be aggressive and unsparing in her repression and negation of every legitimate opinion that has the intent of reaffirming the doctrinal and moral truths. The result is to silence those whose intent is to defend her and to give free reign to those whose intent is to destroy her....

They take delight in idealistic political plans of action, while what is really going on is a war between Christ and the Antichrist on a scale never seen before, where the survival of the Catholic faith is at stake. I repeat: we are in a battle to preserve the Catholic faith, and all the battles being fought on various fronts, even those that are so important like moral truth, are only the terrain of confrontation in a war that is much deeper, involving metaphysics and religion. The most important thing in play is faith. But faith is preserved whole and intact or it is lost. You cannot preserve just parts of it according to taste or expediency.

... This is what has made the Synod on the Family recently concluded so dramatic an event and will make the next one even more so. What happened and will happen, will be not only a face-off between two different schools of thought, but the face-off between those who intend to preserve the Catholic faith as a whole and those who want to change it. In a few words, even if we are talking about bishops, cardinals and the Pope and therefore my words may appear to you to be harsh, even there we are dealing with the battle between Christ and the Antichrist. It remains only for us to choose which side to stand on.

Vatican correspondent: Synod Secretary Cnl Baldisseri blocked copies of books defending Church teaching from reaching Synod fathers

Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin reports that it was the Secretary of the 2014 Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who blocked the distribution of the pro-marriage book Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church when it was mailed to each of the Synod fathers. The book contains chapters defending Church teaching written by Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Brandmüller, and Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Müller, among others. Baldisseri was reportedly "furious" when he discovered that copies of the book had been mailed to each of the Synod fathers, and intercepted them. The books are believed to have been destroyed.

See also Dr. Ed Peters, "It was worse than a crime -- it was a blunder" (In the Light of the Law, February 26, 2015):
There are credible reports that Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, head of the secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, ordered the confiscation of pro-marriage materials legally mailed to synod participants last October. In addition to whatever international and/or Vatican City State laws might have been violated thereby, and besides the possibility of the violation of Canon 1389 (abuse of ecclesiastical office), this action, if indeed it was taken by ranking prelate, offends at a level that will, I suggest, haunt Church staffers for years to come. Read more >>

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cardinal Marx declares German Church independent of Rome

"German Church President Marx: “We are not a branch of Rome and it will not be a Synod to tell us what to do here.” (Catholic Connection, February 26, 2015). Will the material schism become formal?:
Il Foglio reports that Cardinal Marx, the head of the German bishops conference and one of the eight ‘super cardinals’ chosen by Pope Francis has declared that the Synod is irrelevant to them on the questions under debate — he doesn’t have to listen to Rome anyways.
Cardinal Marx’s comments follow and dovetail the comments of a “Team Bergoglio” member, Cardinal Danneels, on the same subject. Here is our unofficial translation of the central paragraph of that report:
The prince of the Church has clarified that even if in teaching one remains in communion with the Church, in merely pastoral questions, “the Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we must do in Germany”. As the German paper, ilTagespost, writes, the Episcopal Conference of Germany has left the gate and does not seem to have any intention of paying any heed to the decisions of the pope which might follow. “We cannot wait until a Synod tells us how we ought to conduct ourselves on Matrimony and pastoral practice for the family”. Marx has also announced that in the next weeks there will be published a document in advance of the meeting in October, in regard to which Germany “has a certain point of view”. It is necessary, according to the judgement of the President of the Episcopal Conference, that one find “new approaches” capable of “helping and guaranteeing that the doors remain open”.
You can read the entire article from the German Paper, the Tagespost, in an unofficial English translation here.
The spirit of Luther appears to be far from dead in Germany, though, let's pray, not quite as dead as the German church.

[Hat tip to Nina Bryhn]

Pope of surprises: a new (non-Catholic?) doctor of the Church

Dr. R. Jared Staudt, "St. Gregory of Narek: Was the New Doctor of the Church a Catholic?" (CWR, February 26, 2015):
On February 21, Pope Francis announced his decision to make St. Gregory of Narek (950-1003) a Doctor of the Church. Once again, Pope Francis has caught us off guard and now many people are scrambling to figure out who St. Gregory was and what the implications of the new honor bestowed upon him are. One key question that is arising is: was St. Gregory a Catholic?

The short answer to this question seems to be no.
He was a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is a non-Chalcedonian Church (sometimes referred to somewhat pejoratively as a Monophysite Church), because of its rejection of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.
I untied the spittle flecked nutty of a message from the claw of the carrier pigeon that Guy Noir sent me. He sounded like he was out of Prozac again:
Pope Francis reminds me on a precocious collegiate contrarian. He simply can't play inside any box or not try to be just a bit outrageous. Here is this latest from CWR. Really, you have to laugh. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if someday he doesn't roll up his sleeve to reveal a couple of new tattoos... a soccer ball and ad majorem Dei gloriam, or something like that...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gilbert Meilaender on Reading Dorothy Sayers’s Play Cycle for Lent

"The Greatest Drama Ever" (Touchstone, February 19, 2013):
On June 4, 1955, C. S. Lewis wrote to Dorothy Sayers to thank her for a pamphlet and letter she had sent him. He noted, in passing, that “as always in Holy Week,” he had been “re-reading [Sayers’s] The Man Born to Be King. It stands up to this v. particular kind of test extremely well.” We might, I think, do far worse than imitate Lewis in our own Lenten reading... Read more >>
[Hat tip to JM]