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.

Related:

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

THE “JOHANNINE TURN” WAS CARRIED OUT BY OTHERS
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 nmichaelbrennen.com.

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!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What do Kasper's first-world elitism and the Democratic Party's anti-Catholicism have in common?

A reader has sent me the following remarkable observations, which I consider well-worth your time:
Here is a piece that needs considering by North American Catholics: Matthew Schmitz, "Africans Criticize Cardinal Kasper's Remarks" (First Things, October 21, 2014).

Not because I think Cardinal Kasper is racist. I don't. His comments don't seem race-driven, but theology-driven. He appears to feel that people who believe in "old school" Catholicism are well-intentioned but essentially colonial rubes.

Before everyone shrieks at his hateful comments, perhaps we shold check our indignation slightly. His views are exactly those of the Democratic Party, the President, the Vice President, Hilary Clinton, and most of the Supreme Court. These people are not anti-African. They are anti-Catholic. I wonder: does that bother people remotely as much as the idea that someone could be racially prejudiced?

I have extensive interactions with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in my professional life, and I witness what looks like a growing fissure between those holding older, sacred loyalties and newer, more progressive and secular loyalties in that community. Especially with Obama and Oprah as exemplars, there is a real spiritual battle going on for the soul of African-American culture. I sense that if we do not strongly support our African brethren in their defense of orthodoxy, we are in danger of loosing the faithful remnant in the African-American church. Kasper's comments reflect nothing but what is becoming across-the-board the rapidly accepted wisdom in the secular arena. He might as well be a spokesperson for Obamacare on this point as for the Catholic Church. "We can't let Third World prohibitions based on centuries-old fears dictate our modern approaches." His beliefs may not equal Modernism, but when Hell is seen as a remote and figurative possibility, when mortal sin is blurred with superstitious taboos, when law is opposed to mercy, the tilt is certainly in that direction.

As a fascinating aside to this conversation, here is a review of a recent book related to African Christianity. It is authored by Thomas C. Oden, a name familiar to many Catholics as editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Sacred Scripture (IVP). Oden credits on Joseph Ratzinger as among those names who helped him along his path to rediscovering orthodox Christiantity: the review is by Christopher A. Beetham, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Emphasis all mine -- PP]
[Hat tip to JM]

Archbishop Bruno Forte

A reader with his wits about him sent me a link to an impressively detailed article today on Archbishop Bruno Forte and his background influence. Forte, you may recall, was the principal (some say singular) initiative behind the controverted passages in the mid-term Relato of the recent Synod in Rome. Forte insists that there were others involved. Be that as it may be, it's clear he was the mastermind and ringleader of the revisionist.

The article is "Aude Sapere 006 - Meet Archbishop Bruno Forte" (October 21, 2014), complete with podcast and full transcript.

Just a few surprising highlights: he is a brilliant and widely-read scholar, he is multi-lingual, he is slippery as an eel, he has a book in English, Face to Face with Jesus: Reflections for a Disciple, with a Foreword by none other than Scott Hahn; he was an associate of Karl Rahner, Von Balthasar, Walter Kasper, and Josef Ratzinger in Tübingen; he was a protege of Kasper and the future Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, Carlo Maria Martini.

The reader should be alerted to the fact that the author of the website on which this article and podcast appears, Athanasius Contra Mundum, is a Catholic Traditionalist; the content is also very thorough and highly informative. If you want to get a true fix on this prelate, read and learn. He's not what some may think from a superficial acquaintance.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Positive role of faithful Catholic clergy, laity, & media in the Synod

Discerning the Church

Our undercover correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep it's secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, writes:
John Thayer Jenson over at Called to Communion posted this fine comment:
I remember saying to my wife once, when [we] were in via, that I had felt my life as a Christian, which only started when I was 27, had been like a man walking through a fog – occasionally glimpsing some Shape appearing through the mists, and then disappearing – and wanting to know more about It – then one day things cleared more than usual and I realised that what I had seen all along was the Catholic Church.
It made me think of David Mills recent piece in NOR, "The Whole House" (New Oxford Review, October, 2014):
Some Catholics speak of sharing their faith with others as if being a Catholic were secondary and relatively unimportant, as if by being or becoming any sort of Christian a person has arrived home. I’ve heard this from Catholics of all sorts, often in reaction to something I’ve written on apologetics. Catholics have told me they would not even think about discussing Catholicism with their evangelical friends, whose faith they believe to be complete as is. I have been told twice, once by a very conservative priest, to beware of “Catholic chauvinism” because I’d suggested that, all things considered, being a Catholic is better than not being a Catholic. A goodly number of Catholics have disparaged even the idea of arguing for the Church, explaining that Catholics should witness by the way we live and that arguments will only drive people away. Some have even suggested that the Church “forbids us to proselytize,” defining the word very broadly.

... But the Catholic must still, when he can, tell his Protestant friends that they should complete their faith by entering the Catholic Church. They are in sight of home but are not home.

In the preface to Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis described the Church as a house with various rooms occupied by different traditions, including Catholicism. It’s not that good an image, even from his point of view, but it does give us one way of understanding our relation to our Protestant friends. Lewis would not have accepted this reimagining of his metaphor, but Catholics, who know that the Church isn’t merely one denomination among others, will know that the Catholic Church is the house, and the rooms are occupied by the various rites within the Church. To enter the house, one must be a member of the family. Friends may set up homes in the yard. They are within the pale, the relation the Church calls “real but imperfect communion.” Read more >>
[Hat tip to G.N.]

Helen Hull Hitchcock (August 19, 1939 - October 20, 2014) - RIP


Helen Hull Hitchcock was founding director of Women for Faith & Family and editor of its quarterly journal, Voices. She was also editor of the Adoremus Bulletin a monthly publication of Adoremus - Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, of which she co-founded. She is survived by her husband James Hitchcock, professor emeritus of history at St. Louis University and their four daughters and six grandchildren.

She has published many articles and essays in a wide range of Catholic journals, and is the author/editor of The Politics of Prayer: Feminist language and the worship of God, (Ignatius Press 1992), a collection of essays on issues involved in translation. She has contributed essays to several books, including Spiritual Journies, a book of "conversion stories" (Daughters of St. Paul).

She also lectured in the US and abroad, and has appeared frequently on radio and television, representing Catholic teaching on issues affecting Catholic women, families, and Catholic faith and worship.

New vocations video from the Archdiocese of Detroit


For the "philosophy" behind the particular new style and format of the video, see the article by Kathy Schiffer, "Saints and Seminarians: Detroit Archdiocese Launches Vocations Video With a Lively Beat" (Patheos, October 14, 2014).

The video is reportedly the brainchild of Father Tim Birne, priestly vocations director for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the video was produced by Brian Meldrum, the creative seminarian who, together with some help from fellow-seminarians, produced the local hit, "Detroit - A Metaphysical City (Music Video)."

This latest vocation awareness project, “True Faith, True Fame," was reportedly inspired by a song on the radio. Fr. Tim explains:
“So the song started going through my brain, and I thought, ‘We can take what the secular culture offers, dress it up, and use it for our own purposes–just as the secular culture has often used the Christian themes of love, redemption, and triumph over evil.’”
Indeed. It will be interesting to see what message various audiences take away from the video. Packaging a message in a medium of image-spin and a bed of music is always a somewhat unpredictable business. "The medium is the message," as Catholic convert and communications theorist Marshall McLuhan used to say. Nevertheless, it is clearly an ambitious undertaking.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A wonderful new book on . . . Hobbits!

Jay Richards and Jonathan Witt, The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot(Ignatius Press, 2014), have apparently done a bang-up job on this new book on Tolkien's Hobbits.

So says our undercover researcher, Guy Noir, anyway, in his latest missive: "Yes, I know," he writes, "But it has to be better than the devolving series of films about Smaug!"

But wait! There's more! "See these pretty unusually full-throttle book blurbs where no one calls the authors by their first names! Thomas Howard calls it "glorious"! And the ever edgy Spengler likes it too."

Yes indeed. See for yourself!
"Beautifully written, this work gives fascinating insights into the realm of Middle-Earth. Moreover, it is a tour of the important issues of our world through Tolkien's eyes, including limited government, man's temptation to power, freedom, just war, socialism, distributism, localism, love, and death. These topics are woven seamlessly throughout, and you will leave the book with unforgettable impressions of these themes illustrated by Tolkien's imagery."
Art Lindsley, Vice President, The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

"J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most widely read but arguably misunderstood of the twentieth century's literary geniuses. In this book, Witt and Richards lift the veil on Tolkien and reveal a political and, yes, economic thinker who constantly surprises readers and whose insights are even more valuable for our time than his own. Tolkien fans who read this book will never think about this great author the same way again."
Samuel Gregg, Research Director, Acton Institute Author, Becoming Europe

"This book is a 'drop everything and read it' book. Richards and Witt have opened up an often ignored aspect of Tolkien's work, namely the sense in which his myth bespeaks a political and economic order that stands in stark, even violent, contrast to the presiding power structures that dominate this unhappy globe. It should be made required reading in all courses in political philosophy. It's a glorious book."
Thomas Howard, Author, Dove Descending: A Journey into T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets"

"Witt and Richards do a brilliant job of rescuing Tolkien's literary legacy from the clutches of the cultural left. They reveal Tolkien as a profoundly Catholic thinker, with deep insights into the fundamental issue of religion, namely man's attempt to grapple with his own mortality. As a conservative’s companion to Tolkien, The Hobbit Party renews our appreciation of Tolkien’s contribution to literature and his profound impact on our culture."
David Goldman, Author, How Civilizations Die
Also interesting:

Tolken as a Soldier: Daniel Hannan, "Supposing him to be the gardener: Sam Gamgee, the Battle of the Somme and my Great Uncle Bill" (The Telegraph, April 28, 2014):
There’s a moment in the film version of The Lord of the Rings which doesn’t appear in the books, but which I find rather beautiful. Faramir, with a hint of repressed mirth, asks Samwise whether he is Frodo’s bodyguard. “I’m his gardener!” replies the little hobbit, in a manner which is supposed to be dignified, but which comes across as gnomic. When the hobbits later part ways with the Men of Minas Tirith, Faramir, now overcome with respect, tells Sam, “The Shire must truly be a great realm, Master Gamgee, where gardeners are held in high honour.”

Peter Jackson, the producer, was making overt what Tolkien had gently left as subtext. Sam, who is about to become the true hero of the story, has been dragged from a world of growth and fecundity into a blasted wasteland. Having previously tended to living things, he has been turned into the unlikeliest of soldiers.

... Tolkien was very clear that his books were not allegories. Still, his experiences as a lieutenant on the Western Front could hardly fail to suffuse them.... “My ‘Sam Gamgee’ is indeed a reflection of the English soldier,” Tolkien later admitted, “of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself.”
[Hat tip to G.N.]

Roman retrospectives

In case you missed them, here are some of the more illuminating interviews over the last few days from the Synod in Rome:

Robert Royal has been consistently clear; and here he is interviewed by Raymond Arroyo of EWTN:


George Cardinal Pell proved to be a helpful voice in the crunch as well:


Robert Royal's final word is also worth a review if you haven't seen it; very good: "Opportunities Lost: A Synod Wrap-up" (The Catholic Thing, October 20, 2014): "[M]any opportunities," he says "were lost through bungling in this Extraordinary (in several senses) Synod. And the Holy Spirit certainly didn't intend that."

[Hat tip to JM]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A pastor thinks we may be receiving Communion too often

Pastor of Assumption Grotto parish in Detroit, Fr. Eduard Perrone, offers an interesting and thoughtful counter to Pope St. Pius X's recommendation of frequent, even daily, Communion in his weekly parish newsletter, "A Pastor's Descant" (updated weekly) (Assumption Grotto News, October 19, 2014). He writes:
... I’ve begun to think that we generally may be receiving Communion too often. This opinion – radical, controversial and much against the grain – is a reversal of the thought of Pope Saint Pius X who, in his time, encouraged the frequent and even daily reception of Holy Communion. His motives then must be seen in the context of the times in which he lived. Times have changed, however, and men’s attitudes have changed as well. What I’m proposing for consideration is that we fast from frequent Holy Communion for a time in order to make us hunger and yearn for Christ. Analogous to this would be the dietary problem of many Americans today who are eating far too much and too often, and as a consequence have health problems. In a similar way, we’re overeating the Holy Eucharist, being unmindful of Christ’s Presence therein, and being poorly suited to receive Him. The result is spiritual illness – ironic to say so – and perhaps even, according to Saint Paul again, physical sickness as a consequence (cf. 1 Cor. 11:30).

Consider those who receive Communion without a thought to Who it is they’re receiving; or take someone who frequently sins and confesses and receives Communion but without having made a firm resolution to sin no more. Saint Paul had sharp words of reproach to those who receive the Eucharist, without examining themselves as to whether they are worthy of Communion or those who communicate without “recognizing the Body.” Perhaps we should stop what we’re doing so thoughtlessly, taking “time out” from receiving Communion, in order to recover our spiritual senses. For this, a fast, that is, a refraining from Holy Communion for a while might help us to become healthier, expanding our desire for receiving Christ, becoming hungry for Him. Making acts of Spiritual Communion, prayers of desire to receive the Holy Sacrament, is useful towards that end. Hours of adoration and visits to the Blessed Sacrament may also help stimulate an appetite for a devout reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Am I proposing a new Jansenism? I think not. We’re sorely in need of a greater awareness of the Inestimable Gift of the Eucharist and of the requisite worthiness to receive It. We’ve become gluttonous children of God who need to hunger for Him....
Related: Fr. Perrone interviewed by parishioner, Michael Voris, on the mode of receiving Communion.

Well, in terms of process, last night saw a clear reversal of the Synod in regards to transparency. In the final press briefing, those present were handed not only copies of the final amended translations of the Relatio, but copies of the Popes final address to the Synod. The Pope also required an up or down vote from the Synod fathers on each paragraph of the Relatio, a reportedly unprecedented move.


Pretty much as expected and predicted, the final upshot of the Synod -- formally anyway -- has been nothing particularly surprising: no new doctrine, no revisionism, no change in Church teaching, as the liberal press (and perhaps some liberal prelates) may have been hoping. (The fall-out from the drama of destabilizing ambiguities earlier last week may be another story, but that's another matter.) His Holiness has weighed in as Pope, whose duty, as he put it, is "that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church ... [and] reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ."

Granted, he did not once mention, let alone address, the controverted issues specifically, but rather listed a series of "temptations" to be avoided, among other things portraying the guidance of the Holy Spirit as steering between -- on the one hand, the temptation to hostile inflexibility, which he identified with today's "traditionalists" and "intellectuals," and, on the other hand, the temptation to "deceptive mercy" that treats the symptoms but neglects the radically-needed cure, which he identifies with "progressives and liberals."

One of my colleagues, thrilled after reading the Pope's closing address, suggested that perhaps he had listened to Cardinal Burke (who had called for a papal intervention). It goes without saying that some will see the Pope's address as falling somewhat short of the needed intervention, since it may too much appear that he continues to straddle the fence, like Rorate Caeli site that referenced it with the question: "Via Media or Laodicea? ..." Others, such as the radical French "progressive," Odon Vallet, sees the results of the Synod as a "resounding defeat" for Pope Francis and a "huge victory" for traditionalists, which will make it difficult for Francis to advance much beyond the present point "without risking schism." A BBC report carried the amusing headline: "Catholic synod: Pope Francis setback on gay policy"

Some fear that the unprecedented confusion permitted following the dramatic mid-term report of the Synod will carry over into a more permissive latitude in respect of the implementation of the Church teaching on faith and morals, especially on the issues of divorce and "re-marriage," and "same-sex" orientation. Whether the final upshot of the Synod, along with the Pope's remarks, will help to slow the progress of confusion on these issues or not, as Michael Voris suggests, remains to be seen.

Some interesting reading of related interest follows:
  • John-Henry Westen, "Pope Benedict’s private secretary speaks on Synod, divorce, same-sex relations" (LifeSiteNews, October 14, 2014).
  • David Warren, "Rock of Ages" (The Catholic Thing, October, 17, 2014): "Call them 'conservatives' or 'fundamentalists,' as you please. It is not the rock learned churchmen are defending. They are defending us – all liberals included – against being broken upon that rock."
  • Andrew Walker, "A Church in Exile: Hillsong Shifts on Homosexuality" (First Things, October 17, 2014): "This is, as I’ve written elsewhere, a gentrified fundamentalist withdrawal rooted in the belief that the foreignness of Christianity can’t overcome the tired intellectual patterns of cultural decay."
  • Damian Thompson, "Pope Francis, please don't turn into the Dalai Lama" (The Telegraph, May 26, 2014): "Perhaps His Holiness should take a look at the full list of 'great world leaders' honoured by CNN. They include Angelina Jolie and, God help us, Bono."