Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Crisis of courage or conviction?

Is it fear that motivates people like President Jenkins of Notre Dame when it comes to their attitudes toward Church and state? Someone thinks not -- and suggests that, rather, the problem is something closer to indifference (toward the Magisterium).

Referencing Michael Bradley's article, "Between Magisterium and Magistrate: Notre Dame’s Choice on Marriage’s Meaning" (Public Discourse, October 28, 2014), a reader writes:
This is [what is] at the heart of all of the current tug of wars in the Church, including those involved in and emblematic of the division at the Synod.

Cowardice means abandonment or lack of courage.

But what if the problem is not fear of offending the world, but a vague feeling that the point of contention is not especially significant? That is certainly what is conveyed when, in discussing homosexuality, we think someone is articulating the key point in the marriage debate if they say something akin to, "Gay partnerships can in no way be viewed as equivalent to heterosexual marriage." You don't day!

So when someone writes, "Notre Dame signaled, with this decision, true cowardice," I can't help but think that is not at all what's going on with folks like President Jenkins. They are not operating out of fear, but out of their own convictions. The only fear at play seems to be of straight talk.

"Denying that nagging undercurrent of tension": The minefield of current Biblical studies

Here is a gem from our underground correspondent and trusty researcher, Guy Noir - Private Eye. One way for Catholics to alert themselves to the changing views of Scripture currently found in various quarters of the Catholic world is by looking at to see what contemporary liberal Protestant scholars are saying about the Bible -- sometimes even the more "conservative" ones. There is an historical pattern here. Numbers of Catholic Bible scholars began drinking the cool aid of liberal Protestant "higher criticism" back when the Protestant scholar, Rudolf Bultmann, was talking about "de-mythologizing" the Bible, and even earlier. The same pattern, ostensibly, can be seen today for those with eyes to see it:
Peter Enns, to me, articulates a very close parallel strain of thought to what passes for a Vatican II-endorsed "Limited Inerrancy" that now goes unchallenged across the Catholic world.

What people ignore is that these same ideas were central to the gradual loss of faith of Loisy and Company a century ago. Scholars like Marie-Joseph Lagrange at the Ecole Biblique, and and later English-speaking apologists like CS Lewis and Frank Sheed, may have been able to entertain a loosening of literalism without consequence in a world where the Church was always more conservative than its members, the Pope was always the most Catholic of Catholics, and even secular society had a well-developed ostensible moral code. But that was a whole different world. In today's atmosphere, questions of Biblical authority are closely bound up with all of our most contested stances, and they are not about to go away. Catholicism is not a religion of a book, we are told as we glibly dismiss Fundamentalists. But Catholicism is a religion inescapably bound to a book. Thankfully, the cadre of more conservative Biblical scholars is growing, and allegiance to the implicitly skeptical approach to Scripture is not nearly as much part and parcel of the Guild's baggage as it was a generation ago. That's an especially good thing considering the forceful re-imagining of the old -- and quite toxic -- liberal scholarship.

Which brings me to Peter Enns. Who will at some point be coming to a conversation near you.

In 2006, I read a review of his ground-breaking book, Susan Wise Bauer's "Messy Revelation: Why Paul would have flunked hermeneutics" (Books & Culture).

It made him sound sound so reasonable. And like theological Houdini who might have at last achieved the impossible fusion of orthodox brief and modern Biblical scholarship. Almost like a Protestant Ratzinger.


But from the vantage pint of eight years, it is obvious that these early ideas, heard so often and from so many well-intentioned voices, are at root opposed to Tradition. They plant seeds of doubt that inevitably take root and grow into trees bearing faith-stunting fruit. That is what this new and helpful review makes plain:
Peter Enns. The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It.New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2014. 288 pp. $25.99. Reviwed by Michael J. Kruger.

... Although endorsements aren’t everything (and are sometimes even misleading), they can reveal quite a bit about where a book is headed.... perhaps most illuminating was the inside flap, where the publisher describes the book’s purpose: “In The Bible Tells Me So, Enns wants to do for the Bible what Rob Bell did for hell in Love Wins.”

Not until after I read the book in its entirety did I realize how accurate this comparison actually is. Of course, Bell’s book (also published by HarperOne) challenged a core historical tenet of the Christian faith, namely the belief that hell is real and people actually will go there. Christianity has just been wrong, Bell argues, and we finally need to be set free from the fear and oppression such a belief causes. Bell positions himself as the liberator of countless Christians who have suffered far too long under such a barbaric belief system.

Likewise, Enns is pushing back against another core historical tenet of the Christian faith: our belief about Scripture—what it is and what it does. The Bible isn’t doing what we think it’s doing, he argues. It doesn’t provide basically reliable historical accounts (instead, it’s often filled with myth and rewritten stories). It doesn’t provide consistent theological instruction (about, say, the character of God). And it doesn’t provide clear teaching about how to live (ethics, morality, Christian living). Although Christians have generally always believed these things about Scripture, Enns contends that scholars now know they simply aren’t true. And when Christians try to hold onto such beliefs, it only leads to fear, stress, anxiety, and infighting. Like Bell, Enns is positioned as a liberator able to set believers free from a Bible that just doesn’t work the way they want it to.

Of course, Enns, professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, isn’t the first to make such arguments. In addition to following Bell’s modus operandi (and much of his writing style), Enns relies on standard arguments from Christianity’s critics over the years. There’s little new here, academically speaking. In many ways, portions of the book sound like Richard Dawkins (especially part one) and even Bart Ehrman (especially part two). But here’s what makes Enns different. When it comes to the death and resurrection of Jesus, Enns doesn’t follow either. He affirms the resurrection of Christ and, in a broad sense, affirms that Jesus gave his life on the cross as “a sacrifice for sins” (217).

Enns’s case for why we should change our view of Scripture is divided into three parts: (1) the Old Testament (OT) God is portrayed as a genocidal tribal deity; (2) the Bible’s historical accounts aren’t, well, historical; and (3) its ethical commands are confused and contradictory....


In the end, The Bible Tells Me So is a book about contradictions. Enns intended it to be a book about contradictions in the Bible. But it becomes quickly apparent that the contradictions are really in Enns’s own worldview. He claims the Canaanite conquest is immoral, yet argues the Bible provides no clear guide for morality. He claims the Bible presents a diabolical genocidal God, yet insists we still “meet God in its pages” (3). He argues Scripture is filled with reworked stories, many of which are made up entirely, yet seems to know which ones really happened and which did not. He claims the Bible provides no clear moral instruction, yet says people are “disobedient” to God and in need of the cross. He claims he’s the one reading the Bible in an ancient manner when, in fact, people in the ancient world didn’t read it the way he does.

All of these inconsistencies stem from one simple reality: Enns has fully adopted the methods and conclusions of the most aggressive versions of critical scholarship, and yet at the same time wants to insist that the Bible is still God’s Word, and that Jesus died and rose again. While it’s clear to most folks that these two systems are incompatible at most levels, Enns is tenaciously trying to insist both can be true simultaneously. While his desire to retain the basic message of the cross is commendable, it stands as a glaring anomaly within his larger system. Somehow (and for some reason), Enns has put a box around the message of Jesus (or at least parts of it)—he protects the integrity of that story while not protecting much else.

For all these reasons, Enns comes across as a man divided. By the end of the book, one senses he’s trying to live in two worlds at once. Such a scenario is ironic in a book purportedly trying to help those who are “holding on tooth and nail to something that’s not working, denying that nagging undercurrent of tension” (7). One wonders if Enns is describing others or whether he is really describing himself.
[Hat tip to G.N.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Articles by colleagues on recent issues

I thought some of you might be interested in seeing what two of my eminent colleagues at Sacred Heart Major Seminary have been saying about events in the recent news. I leave the commentary to any who wish to respond:

The first set is by Dr. Janet Smith, who is Father Michael J. McGivney Professor of Life Ethics, but needs no introduction.The second set is by Dr. Eduardo Echeverria, who is Professor of Philosophy and Theology, but would likely hold the chair in Ecumenical Theology if the Seminary had one.Out of personal curiosity, I would solicit in particular your thoughts on what Dr. Echeverria has to say in his last article about the "temptation" concerning "traditionalists and intellectuals" mentioned by the Holy Father in his closing remarks at the recent synod.

On whether this pope or any pope should ever be criticized: two viewpoints

[Advisory & Disclaimer: See Rules 7-9]

Two viewpoints in an ongoing "debate," the first by Michael Voris who eschews all criticism of the successors of St. Peter, the second by Michael Matt who takes the view that the faithful are sometimes called to "loyal opposition":

For the record, see the related article by the traditionalist, John Vennari, "Resisting Wayward Prelated According to the Saints" (Catholic Family News, April 3, 2014).

Remnant traditionalists comment on Synod

[Advisory and disclaimer: See Rules 7-9] - The reader will find both mordant hyperbole and interesting facts here, and will need to take care to sort one out from the other.

Monday, October 27, 2014

New York Times writer: God may preserve the Church from error by the faithful resisting the pope!

From the New York Times' only conservative religious writer, Ross Douthat: "The Pope and the Precipice" (The New York Times, October 25, 2014).

[Hat tip to JM]

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The terrible mercy & beautiful sadness of the Mass

This is not a new theme for me. It's something I've noted before, probably more than once. But once again, this time during today's celebration of the Feast of Christ the King (in the traditional liturgical calendar), I was forcibly struck by the paradoxical facets of the Mass. Perhaps the reason I noticed was because, instead of trying so hard to follow everything in my Missal, I decided to just watch the unfolding drama.

The theme of mercy was sounded right from the outset, in the Asperges: "Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord ... Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow."

This was followed immediately by the chanted Introit for today's Feast: "Dignus est Agnus, qui occisus est ..." The Lamb that was slain is worthy. Worthy to receive power and honor, and to receive our adoration and praise. Which Lamb? The One that was slain. No cheap grace here. Already that terrible theme of Sacrifice.

Meanwhile the priest and servers intone the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, which carry their own mixture of joy and sadness: "I will go in unto the altar of God, to God Who giveth joy to my youth." God's judgment is then invoked, in order to distinguish ourselves from those who are not holy -- those who are unjust and deceitful and from whom we ask for deliverance. But then, immediately: "For Thou, O God, art my strength: why has Thou cast me off, and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me?" Then, finally: "Hope in God, for I will still give praise to Him ..."

Such a mixture of conflicting emotions in rapid succession! Why is it that I go in unto the altar of God, after all? Because the altar is a place of killing and death. But why does it "give joy to my youth"? Because it gives me hope of life. Why do I go about "sorrowful and afflicted by the enemy," and why would I ever say that God has "cast me off"? Because that is my condition when I succumb to the deceits of the Devil and allow myself to be afflicted by my Accusor. That (all of these reasons) is why I go in unto the altar of God, to church, to the Mass.

No unmixed giddy gladness here. By the same token, no unmixed doom and gloom. The message of the Mass rings true. The notes of hope speak to our aspirations without being romantically naive about the aberrations of our fallen nature. The notes of realism speak to our aberrations without being dismal or despairing about God's capacity to graciously redeem us.

Next comes the Confiteor, as the servers and the priest, each in turn, confess their sinful unworthiness to almighty God and all the blessed in heaven, reminding us of our culpability before God. Ascending the altar, the priest continues this theme, beseeching God to take away our iniquities and forgive him his sins (and, perforce, our own).

The Gospel for the Feast of Christ the King is from John 18:33-37, where even the Kingship of our Lord is cloaked by His appearance before Pilate in the form of a prisoner. All earthly power in this context appears to belong to Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine. Nothing must have looked more pathetic to Pilate than the response of Jesus to his question: "Art Thou a king then?" This poor "marginal Jew," standing humbly bound before him, replies that He is indeed a king, though his kingdom "is not of this world." No kidding. Yet as Jesus would later tell Pilate, he would have no power or authority over Him at all were it not given him "from above." Like the rest of the secular world, Pilate was oblivious to the source and locus of genuine power and authority in the very drama in which he took part.

From the incense rising above the altar at the beginning of the Mass to the moment of Consecration itself, every gesture of priest and server, every word in the Missal, points to the mystery of the Sacrifice. The largesse of God's mercy is there, certainly, overflowing in its amplitude. But it isn't an easy, happy-go-lucky sort of thing; and maybe that's why those who assist and participate in this liturgy aren't given to expressions of personal enthusiasm such as one finds in pentecostal-type services. There is something terrible about God's mercy. There is ample reason for joy, yes; and perhaps there is a sense in which that is even the primary note here; but it is no shallow happy-clappy thing, untempered by the sorrow of sacrifice.

For there could be no mercy or joy without sacrifice -- THE Sacrifice, His Sacrifice. And why was His Sacrifice necessary? Because of our own "grievous fault." Moreover, although the mercy and forgiveness and joy made possible by His Sacrifice is wholly unmerited, there is yet another sacrifice required here: our own. Christ the King does not ask only for our observance of Holy Days of obligation or our tithes and offerings. He asks for our very life: our whole self. Certainly there is joy in all of this, but also there is the sober realization that our passport to eternal life is our own death: our death to self. Discipleship means giving ourselves over to Christ, for Him to do with what He wants. It means slavery: becoming a slave to Christ.

A point of significant beauty in the liturgy is reached in the Offertory. In the English of the new rite, this is the part where the priest says: "Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation ..." (a prayer adapted from the Jewish Passover Seder). In the traditional Latin rite of the Church, unfortunately, the opening prayer of the Offertory is often eclipsed by the activity of ushers taking up the Sunday collection. This is unfortunate in the extreme, because the prayer is one of the most beautiful in the Mass (in fact, it can be instructive to compare it with the Novus Ordo Offertory). It is beautiful in its clarity and simplicity about what is happening in the ritual: what is being offered and why. It is the part where the priest says: "Suscipe, sancte Pater ..." In English, it reads thus: "Receive, O holy Father, almighty, eternal God, this spotless host [= sacrificial victim] which I, thine unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for my own countless sins, offenses, and negligences, and for all here present; as also for all faithful Christians, living or dead; that it may avail for my own and for their salvation unto life eternal."

This is where it all happens: Jesus is the unblemished Lamb of God, "this spotless host," who takes away the sins of the world. This is our source of joy and gladness. It is beautiful. Again, however, the beauty is tempered by the deep sadness of what has to transpire in order to achieve our salvation and eternal life: Jesus, "this spotless host," this innocent and pure Lamb without blemish, has to be killed and die. The wonder of it is that He does so willingly. For us, who are anything but innocent.

I remember a criticism once made by a Protestant friend after visiting a Catholic Mass: "The people don't seem to have any joy," he said. When I asked what he meant, he replied, "They aren't smiling. They don't look happy." Now it could be indeed that Catholics sometimes look the way they do because they aren't happy. It also could be that they have been reduced to creatures of habit, simply walking forward to receive the Eucharist without sufficient attention to Whom they are receiving. But it could also be because they understand what they are doing and because Catholic worship has Sacrifice at the very heart of it: a terrible mercy and a beautiful sadness.

In The House of Von Hildebrand

The following from our trusty underground correspondent, Guy Noir - Private Eye:
I believe I sent this before, so forgive the possible repeating. It is a 14 year old interview, but doesn't read like its gathered any dust.

I know you've already noted that AvH's Memoirs of a Happy Failureis now out (what a terrific title choice!). She provides an arresting counterpoint to the current narrative of preconcilar Catholics as uptight pre-Freudian American puritans. Really, how many 80-somethings do you know who would not hesitate to go toe to toe with someone like Christopher West when the rest of us pause as he starts mouthing words like "orgasm" and "stimulation"? And how many Catholics do you know who can manage to demur from a Pope and still give an after-the-fact accounting of their audience with him that's convincingly respectful and affectionate? She is just an example all-around. She conveys class and charm.

This interview is striking because of where it is found. Christian Book Distributors is an Evangelical outfit. I can't imagine many Catholics knowing about it, much less using it. And the few interviews they have on their site are buried deep -- pretty much easier to miss than to notice. So the number of people who have seen it must be nil.

It is also striking because CBD must have had someone within its ranks who read AvH and actually became a fan as a result. There is no other explanation for this interview's appearance. As such it is an instance of the real spiritual bond that we often find does exist between a faithful Catholic and a faithful conservative Christian outside the bounds of the Church. We think of Bible Christians as demonizing us, but often when a real encounter takes place they turn and tell their friends, "Something must be there. In this regard, I recall a letter printed in the Evangelical World Magazine (ads for Ignatius Press they ran in the late 1990s proved to be small stepping stones on my own way into the Church). The writer says: "I strongly disagree with a letter published … criticizing you for carrying Roman Catholic advertisements …. My grandmother, a staunch Presbyterian, had a close friend who was an equally staunch Catholic. The two ladies had frequent and learned theological debates, each being well versed in her own creed, but neither of them ever found a chink in the other’s sectarian armor. The debates invariably ended with: 'Minnie dear, you are a Catholic and you don’t know it;' and 'Cora darling, you are a Protestant and you don’t know it!' [(Machen 1991, 22)]

Finally the interview is striking for some fascinating pieces not found elsewhere. A comparison of CS Lewis with DvH. That's something I'd love to read!

Speaking of other books, it appears Image Books will be releasing its own von Hilderbrand title this month, one that sounds like it offers a galvanizing portrait of the other Dr. Hilderbrand's years in Germany. Together these two seem to comprise a bonafide real life dynamic duo.

Extraordinary Community News: Fasting from Communion, Spiritual Communion, Month of Plenary Indulgences, Upcoming Masses

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

Tridentine Community News (October 26, 2014):
Fasting from Holy Communion: The Proposal and a Possible Alternative

On Sunday, October 19, Assumption Grotto Pastor Fr. Eduard Perrone published a thought-provoking column in his parish bulletin: He suggested that to help Catholics grow in devotion to the Holy Eucharist, they might consider abstaining from receiving Holy Communion from a while. Such an action would guard against complacency in receiving the Blessed Sacrament by fostering a greater hunger and yearning to be united with our Lord in this precious gift.

Many Catholics would agree that even when one is in the state of grace, reception of Holy Communion can become routine. If one deems oneself unworthy to receive Communion, whether because of a state of serious sin or because one simply does not feel properly disposed that day, it is only natural at that point to feel a certain longing to receive the Blessed Sacrament. That is why Holy Mother Church has long recommended making an Act of Spiritual Communion under such circumstances.

While Fr. Perrone certainly makes an interesting and laudable point, this column would like to suggest an alternative means to increase one’s resolve to receive Holy Communion worthily and without complacency: Try making a commitment to gain a Plenary Indulgence for the Poor Souls in Purgatory [one per day may be gained] for every Holy Communion you receive. Associating some extra effort with each Holy Communion will help develop a stronger devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a greater appreciation for the gift of receiving the Real Presence. It will simultaneously provide important assistance to the Holy Souls who cannot help themselves, as well as help us recognize how significant each Holy Communion can be to ourselves and to other souls.

One of the easiest ways to gain this Plenary Indulgence is to pray the Rosary in a church. This can be done by oneself, or by praying it as part of a group, as our community strives to do before every Sunday Mass. Another easy way is to spend a half hour in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. All efforts to gain a Plenary Indulgence must, of course, be under the usual conditions: Confession within 20 days, reception of Holy Communion once per Plenary Indulgence sought, prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions, and freedom from attachment to sin.

An Act of Spiritual Communion

While we are on the subject, it is worthwhile for all Catholics to know a formula for making a Spiritual Communion. We present below a prayer by St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori. This can be prayed either when one is abstaining from receiving Holy Communion at Mass, or during the day when one is simply trying to live more united with our Lord. Making an Act of Spiritual Communion is enriched with a Partial Indulgence.
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee.
All Saints and All Souls Day Masses

A High Mass for All Saints Day – a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States – will be offered at Flint’s All Saints Church on Saturday, November 1 at 11:00 AM. The celebrant will be a visiting priest from the Fraternity of St. Peter, Fr. Gregory Pendergraft.

High Masses for All Souls Day – Monday, November 3 in the Tridentine Calendar – will be held at 7:00 PM at two area churches: Our Lady of the Scapular in Wyandotte, Michigan, and St. Joseph in Detroit.

Because of the pending relocation of the St. Benedict Tridentine Community that week, no All Souls Day Mass will be held in Windsor this year. Speaking of which, next week’s column will address the new sites for the Windsor Tridentine Mass; the pastors of our new host churches have requested that announcements be withheld until a few remaining details are finalized. Rest assured that Sunday and Tuesday Masses in the Extraordinary Form will continue.

Month of All Souls Plenary Indulgences

Each year the Church grants a Plenary Indulgence applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory to those who visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the dead, from November 1-8. The indulgence can be gained once per day on each day, under the usual conditions which are listed earlier in this column.

Special Requiem Mass at St. Hyacinth Church

On Saturday, November 8 at 12:00 Noon, there will be a special Requiem Mass at Detroit’s St. Hyacinth Church for the repose of the soul of Fr. Frank Skalski. Fr. Skalski was the long-time pastor of St. Hyacinth who was responsible for the church’s remarkable restoration. The celebrant will be Fr. Peter Hrytsyk.

St. Hyacinth is one of our area’s most stunningly beautiful churches and is well worth a visit. Secure, guarded parking is available in the lot behind the church.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 10/27 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (Feria [Mass of Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost] – Celebrant may also choose a Votive Mass)
  • Tue. 10/28 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (Ss. Simon & Jude, Apostles)
  • Fri. 10/31 7:00 PM: Solemn High Mass at Christ the King, Ann Arbor (Votive Mass of Christ the King) – Dinner for young adults age 18-35 follows Mass, organized by Juventútem Michigan
  • Sat. 11/01 11:00 AM: High Mass at All Saints, Flint (All Saints)
[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 Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for October 26, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, October 25, 2014

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

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kasper's Die Welt interview

Matthew Schmitz, "The German Position: 'Cultural Difference' vs. 'Christian Cultus'" (First Things, October 22, 2014). As by correspondent says: "an honest interview." And "I think we are in for a difficult decade." Indeed.

There are many good Catholics who keep on faithfully reiterating what Sacred Tradition teaches, who also insist that this is what the Church still teaches. Yes, yes. True enough. What's in the catechetical books is still substantially intact.

The difficulty we face, however, is that large factions within the Church, even among the bishops as now seems apparent, are no longer really so interested in maintaining this, but seem more interested in public opinion.


What I saw at the revolution

Was it the same event?

Point: Mark Brumley, "Synod Surprise" (National Catholic Register, October 21, 2014).

Counter-point: Alessandro Gnocchi, "Over half the Bishops (in the Synod) have already switched religion" (RC, October 23, 2014).

Perhaps we now need a Syllabus of Errors regarding the interpretation of the Synod?

[Hat tip to JM]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Looking back: from the Synod to the Council

Pope John XXIII through the Testimony of Silvio Cardinal Oddi

By Beniamino Di Martino (Translated by N. Michael Brennen)  October 2014

Fr. Beniamino Di Martino, a Catholic priest from Naples, Italy, teaches “History of the Churches” at the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in Benevento and “Social Doctrine of the Church” at the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in Castellammare. He is a visiting professor at the Claretianum Institute of the Pontifical Lateran University. --------------------------------------------------------------- Michael Brennen is a freelance translator who lived in Italy for two years. He is nearing completion of a master’s degree in the philosophy of economics, with concentration on the ethical dimensions of economics. He translates in philosophy, ethics, economics, political theory, and related areas. His website is

Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized on April 27, 2014, the Feast of Divine Mercy (a feast created by Pope Wojtyla during the Jubilee Year 2000). On that same feast day, on May 1, 2011, John Paul II had been beatified, six years after his death. The beatification of John XXIII had already happened a few years previously, on September 3, 2000, when John Paul II simultaneously elevated him and Pius XI to the “honor of the altars.”

Pope Francis’s decision to preside over a single ceremony for John Paul II and John XXIII came as no surprise. He had expressed this preference while talking to journalists during the return flight from the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. A Mexican journalist asked the Pope what model of holiness emerges from these two great figures. After illustrating some of the characteristics of the spirituality of the two popes, Francis concluded, “I believe holding the canonization ceremony of both popes together is a message for the Church.”

What might this message be? Italian journalist Antonio Socci interpreted the simultaneous canonization as “a decision that gives a sign of unity and that finally takes the Church beyond old controversies concerning the [Second Vatican] Council that characterized the second half of the twentieth century.” In other words, the simultaneous proclamation of the two saints would emphasize magisterial continuity and help set aside interpretations that in the past few decades have contrasted not only a post-conciliar Church to a pre-conciliar Church but also John XXIII to the popes who preceded him, and that have pitted “Wojtyla the Restorer” against “the Good Pope John.”


The commitment of some scholars to reconstruct the figure of John XXIII in order to purify his image and avoid any sort of “mythologizing” that could be used to consolidate biased interpretations and ideological ploys is certainly not without historical significance; several recent studies have contributed to this end. Though in a more modest and less articulated form, a further contribution can come from a witness to the times of John XXIII and the Council in the person of Silvio Cardinal Oddi. In light of the canonization of Pope Roncalli, the contrarian opinions expressed by Cardinal Oddi about the personality and tendencies of John XXIII are again of current interest. The event prompted me to dust off the notes of an interview that Cardinal Oddi granted me — in the form of a long conversation — in the now distant time of November 1991.

De Mattei: 2014 Synod retrospective; 2015 Synod prospective

"De Mattei: Heading towards the 2015 Synod - Numerical defeats never before witnessed by any Pope" (Rorate Caeli, October 22, 2014).

NPR: "Catholic media activists ..." Michael Voris: "No, secular media activists!"