Friday 31 July 2015

Bloggers Under Siege

The cell of Blessed Titus Brandsma
Damian Thompson has penned an interesting piece for The Catholic Herald that warrants some kind of reply, given that it touches on many issues that are close to the heart of those Catholics who sacrifice their time and energy without financial reward by continuing to blog about Catholic affairs.

Dr Thompson is correct about some important issues that he has pin-pointed about the Catholic blogosphere, but some points should be challenged and this blogger is happy to do so.The phenomenon of Catholic blogs is depicted by Damian as a 'rise' under Pope Benedict XVI met attended by a dramatic 'fall' from 2013.

I know of some bloggers who have either cut down blogging or ceased blogging. The body blow of the abdication of Benedict XVI was immense. In many ways, because of the change in styles - and even change in emphasis - of these two Popes, the very sudden change in personnel at the top left bloggers confused and the undeniable abandonment of the vision of Pope Benedict XVI - especially in terms of the 'reform of the reform' has led to an also equally undeniable collapse in confidence of Catholic bloggers.

The difficulty that different bloggers have had with placing the papacy of Pope Francis within the context of those who have come before him has led to conflict even within the Catholic blogosphere itself. This has been echoed even within the highest positions within the Catholic Church, a scene of disunity and discord witnessed at the Synod on the Family in 2014 and we will doubtless see, at the Synod in October 2015. With the sudden and almost universally unexpected fall of Benedict XVI has come a dramatic collapse in morale among especially 'traditional' Catholic bloggers because of events that have taken place in its wake. Notable priest bloggers and some lay Catholic bloggers have responded in different ways to this collapse in morale - a morale that was high in 2012 because of the promotion of Catholic identity, truly Catholic liturgy and Catholic worship embodied in Pope Benedict XVI's exciting vision of Catholicism, rooted in Scripture, in the Person of Christ, scholastic and seamless Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church.

For many Catholic bloggers, Catholic blogging has, by necessity, moved from the offensive and presentational (here is our Faith) to the almost entirely defensive (we must protect the Faith), usually in response to an incident that has occurred during an tumultuous time in the life of the Vatican that one day appears to be entirely carefree and careless, and then the next day, scrupulously controlled and even manipulative of even the minutest details.

However, many Catholic bloggers are increasingly aware that their mission - if they choose to accept it - has not been made irrelevant by the shifting sands of time. Blogs are still doingan important job, placing under scrutiny what is going on in Rome and asking important questions because the focus of the battle to defend the Faith has moved from the local level to the Mother Church itself, where decisions that will have a huge impact on the local Church are going to be made.

There is grave consternation, voiced by even Cardinals and Bishops, that the Catholic Church stands on the brink of a crisis not seen since the Arian Heresy, an opinion held by Bishops such as Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Khazakstan. His sentiments have been echoed by others, such as Cardinal Raymond Burke and even the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerard Muller.

Are we witnessing the death of Catholic blogs? Only if bloggers lose hope and do not pray for the strength to remain true to Our Lord Jesus Christ in times when immutable Catholic teachings are coming under threat. Here is what Bishop Athanasius Schneider said recently concerning Catholics and social media...

'It is a sad truth that we are in a time of great crisis in the Church. God is with us, however. You have asked me what the faithful can do to combat the errors spreading through the Church. I would like to answer with some suggestions.
We must create groups of true Catholics, scholars, families, and clergy who will spread courageously the full Catholic truth, especially on the Church’s teachings on the family, on nature, and the commandments of God. As a means to this aim, we must make use of all the resources that the modern world offers to us. We are not confined to waiting for the media to spread these messages. We do not have to wait for each individual pastor to preach them from the pulpit. We should embrace the new media forms that allow us to spread the Gospel and the teachings of our Holy Mother, the Church. We should take our message to the Internet, publish it on websites, blogs, and social media.'

Catholic blogs appear often as sites of those who now feel 'under siege', but recent events have placed question marks over articles of Faith that demand that faithful Catholics defend the truth. The Synod on the Family has been a prime example. The coverage of the manipulation of the Synod, the inexplicable retention of the most controversial points rejected by the majority of the Bishops in the Instrumentum Laboris demanded some kind of Catholic response and it was Catholic blogs that offered that vociferously. The coverage found in mainstream Catholic media is a little more 'cagey'.

Blogs and social media retain a unique value in their own right. Bloggers are not constrained by such problems as statistics of readership or advertising revenue and they still have a vital work encouraging 'normal' media sources (people who get paid for their writing) to cover news that Bishops, perhaps even those close to the Pope, would rather not have seen published. It would be potentially very easy for mainstream (some of which can be very close to the 'establishment') Catholic media sources to simply 'go with the flow' and not ask the very pertinent questions, even forcefully, that are being raised during a period that has seen questions settled by Christ Himself brought out into the open to be addressed and re-addressed. This has caused an immense amount of scandal, the sense of which has been conveyed at times by the Catholic Press, but more so by the blogs. Some events have been, I believe, entirely ignored by the mainstream Catholic press.

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma has itself been a source of timely and excellent analyses of documents and events in Rome that have not been given so thorough an examination in mainstream Catholic newspapers.

Yes, blogs still serve a purpose and now it appears to be one of leaping to the defense of the Catholic Truth against those who might seek to destroy it, or who through ignorance or malice fatally undermine it from within the walls of the Church.

There is no doubt that the strength of Bishop-Elect Robert Barron has been to continue presenting the beauty and sense of the Catholic Faith while allowing the maelstrom of events that have occurred in Rome go on without much comment. Yet even this Bishop-Elect has spoken of the dangers posed by the 'gnosticism' evident during the Shadow Council. There is no doubt that things have changed dramatically and that Catholic bloggers are now a crowd that could easily become a very underground scene indeed, but that is only because that is really how things are. Bloggers are raising the alarm bells that need to be rung throughout the Church when, as foretold by Our Lady of Akita, Bishops are opposing Bishops, Cardinals are opposing Cardinals and it is perceived that even the Pope appears at critical junctures, to side with those who publicly challenge even the teaching of Christ Himself.

Pope Benedict XVI predicted, as Cardinal Ratzinger, incredibly difficult times for the Catholic Church that could even see the Church become smaller, but more faithful. We all of us, in the Guild, pray very much that events in Rome will serve to clarify and uphold the timeless beauty of the Truth of Jesus Christ and the integrity of the Catholic Faith that the Pope and the Bishops are called to defend and to proclaim. That cell of Blessed Titus Brandmsa pictured at the head of this blogpost should remind us that continuing to preach the Catholic Faith during times of persecution and open hostility to the Truth brings with it numerous risks and we should recall that Blessed Titus formed, along with others, part of an underground movement of journalists who fearlessly proclaimed Jesus Christ while freedom of speech was removed by the Nazi government.

Blessed Titus remains as a patron for Catholic journalists precisely because when it became dangerous to speak the Truth, he continued to speak it. There is no reason to think that such a terrible time could not revisit Catholics in the West, in the USA and in Europe and the United Kingdom. Dark forces are at work in the Catholic blogs in as much at times Catholic bloggers discredit the message of the Gospel through a lack of charity and respect for others, but even darker forces still are at work within the Church, seeking to make the message of the Gospel irrelevant to modern man, so that man might be convinced he has no real need for Our Blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Dark forces could well gather that seek to silence political dissidents and opponents of the crimes of our age. Who can say that the next five years will not see the imprisonment of those who oppose the evil and inhuman ideologies working at the heart of Western government and society? Take courage from our patron. Do not give up hope. Do not give into despair. Place your hope and faith in Our King and God. Blogs and bloggers may one day be silenced, but now is not the time for silence. Now is the time to stand up and to speak out for Jesus Christ. Perhaps, it can be considered that Catholic blogs experienced both a rise and a fall, but if they have fallen, it is a mark of Christianity, that under persecution, Christianity - and those who proclaim it, even if they should fall - will rise again.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Mary Teaches Us to Worship

This is an excellent homily by Fr Timothy Finigan of SS Austin and Gregory Catholic Church, Margate, Kent, given on 18 July 2015 at A Day with Mary. Fr Timothy is a member of The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma and has graciously hosted the Guild's meetings in the past at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Blackfen. Pray for holy priests and holier Bishops, who will teach the Faith and lead us into devotion to Our Blessed Lady.

Monday 27 July 2015

Welcome to Matthew Schellhorn, New Guild Member

New member of the Guild of Blessed Titus, Matthew Schellhorn
Today is 27th July, the Feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma and I am happy to announce as chairman that we have a new member of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma, the composer and classical pianist, Matthew Schellhorn. I look forward to reading Matthew's interesting contributions to the Guild in the future. A small biography of Matthew can be read here, on his website.

It is very encouraging that the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma is able to attract Catholics who are do not have their own Catholic blogs to the Guild, as contributors. The Guild serves Catholics and the Church, as well as making a contribution to the evangelisation of the world through the internet and I would like to remind all of our readers that we are happy to accept contributions to the Guild from those who do not have active blogs of their own. Recently, we have had two excellent contributions by a Catholic layman, Nicholas Bellord, on the concerning developments that surrounded both the 2014 Synod and the highly controversial preparatory document for 'Synod 15'.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all members and readers of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma a very happy feast, in these challenging times for all Catholics who remain faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and to thank all who contribute to the Guild, members who continue through their own blogs the mission of the Guild and those who contribute to the Guild blog, as well as those who support the work of this Gatholic bloggers in this Guild with their prayers. Do keep the Guild and all Catholic bloggers in your prayers. We need heavenly assistance in our work and we do not know for how long the freedom of speech we have long enjoyed will remain a right, rather than a privilege granted by hostile Government in an age that wishes to smother the message of the Gospel. On this subject, as well as the other challenges we face today as Catholics in an increasingly hostile secular society, I have written a post on this, Blessed Titus Brandsma' feast.

Laurence England, Chairman of The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma
That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill

Blessed Titus Brandsma, Pray for Us

Happy feast to all members of this Guild and to all readers! Today is 27th July, the Feast of our holy patron, Blessed Titus Brandsma, patron of Catholic journalists, of this Guild of Catholic bloggers, as well as its members and those who out of love for the Faith, make contributions to this blog. To all readers, happy feast! The following is a brief biography from the site Universalis.

He was born in Bolsward in the Netherlands. He was baptized Anno Sjoerd Brandsma. He joined the Carmelites in 1898 and took the religious name Titus. He was a professor of philosophy and active in journalism. He was vehemently opposed to Nazi ideology and spoke out against it many times before the Second World War. He was arrested in January 1942, when he tried to persuade Dutch Catholic newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda (as was required by the law of the Nazi German occupiers). He had also drawn up the Pastoral Letter, read in all Catholic parishes, by which the Dutch Roman Catholic bishops officially condemned the German anti-Semitic measures and the deportation of the first Jews. After this Pastoral Letter, the first few thousand Jews to be deported from the Netherlands were all Jewish converts to Roman Catholicism, including St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). Titus Brandsma was killed by lethal injection in Dachau on July 26, 1942.

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma was established in May of 2011 by a small group of bloggers led by a wise and faithful steward of the Guild, Dylan Parry, the first Chairman, dedicated to the proclamation of the Catholic Faith, using the internet to evangelise the World under the patronage of the Carmelite Priest who died at Dachau, a martyr at the hands of the Nazi regime.

His letters written from prison can be read here. He died by lethal injection on July 26th 1942. His last letter was written on July 12th 1942 and nothing in that letter suggests even a hint that the life of our patron was about to be extinguished at the prison camp. If he was given a forewarning of the taste of martyrdom he was about to win, it was not revealed in his letters. His simple last words in writing were:

'Many greetings to the parish priest and curates at Bolsward, to Father Provincial and all the Confreres. Let us remain united, under the protection of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Not too much worrying about me. In Christ yours. Anno.'

How quickly then, how abruptly then, how without solemn warning, death and evil, while never having the last word, the word that belongs to Jesus Christ - the Word, can smother the virtuous, the upright and the godly. Yet evil does not win. It's triumph is short-lived. It cannot contend with Eternity and in the face of the Lord's own brightness, the darkness of evil is scattered. Christ is Victor! He rose from the dead, destroying its power and the power of evil over the human race.

2011 was not long ago, yet things have changed in that short space of time. It was a year different to this year only in as much as the evils of the age were slightly less rampant. Abortion was, as it is today, a blight on the seared conscience of the West. Since then, same-sex marriage laws, promised never to occur by politicians in the UK have been passed into law. The destruction of the family and marriage continues at such an astonishing pace that we are unsure whether what we are witnessing is inhuman socialism or a kind of corporate-State fascism by sleight of hand. The creation and horrifying military successes of Islamic State have happened very quickly and taken almost everyone by surprise.

Documented on this blog are the concerning and distressing events we have seen held in Rome, which shake the goodwill and confidence of those who, like us, believe all that the Catholic Church teaches by Her Magisterium to be true and revealed by God. In many ways, 2011 were happier times, before the unjust marriage laws were established over the United Kingdom, the United States of America and swathes of what we knew as Catholic Europe and Latin America.

Guild members in the United States are preparing themselves for an intense persecution of the Catholic Church by the Government. Already, the Church is in a battle with the State over the issue of artificial contraception being mandated in health insurance coverage. The battleground remains what we were promised it would be about: the opposing views that cannot be reconciled, life, true love, marriage and the family, and death, false, hedonistic self-love and the exaltation of disordered sexuality and lifestyles to the detriment of the common good and the human family.

In the United Kingdom, we cannot rest easy, with a malignant Government eager to use terrorism and anti-terror laws to curtail freedom of speech by insidious 'Extremist Defence Orders' and the inexorable rise of the campaign for assisted suicide that could find its dramatic culmination in the Marris Bill this September. Like for same-sex marriage, there is no great mass movement asking for 'assisted dying' in the United Kingdom, but the Mass Media can easily create the impression that such a great mass movement exists. 'Extremist Defence Orders' could easily make criminals of Protestants, Muslims and Catholics and what a prison cell interfaith and ecumenical gathering that would be.

Nazism rose quickly and with it came voluntary euthanasia a drive for euthanasia, a bloodthirsty attack on the Jews, predominately, but not alone. Targeted for elimination were also those who did not 'fit' in or were deemed 'economically unproductive', as well as those racially deemed to be 'impure', in addition to homosexuals, political dissidents and uncooperative priests and religious. To this list we can add the terminally and mentally ill, those whose lives an efficient Nazi State would deem worthless and without human value, if they were to be treated as human at all.

We in the West know that goodness and virtue are fast disappearing from the public sphere and for those who uphold the truth even to exist is becoming to the powerful of this age a great inconvenience. The Mass Media are doing, in this country and in the US, as well as Europe, everything they can do to hasten the demolition of Christian civilization - and with it - destroy the family, marriage, the Church and all that we have hitherto understood to be sacred, good and holy.

We must realise, by now, that while Nazism was itself ended by the victory of the allies in WW2, but the tyranny of evil itself was not destroyed, just as Soviet Russia was defeated, but its errors had spread far from its borders to other lands. The Nazi regime ended but in the West today we must understand that evil regimes are the product of each ages' evils. A persecution - the intensity of which is unknown - is coming to the Church of Christ and to all who oppose might over right, all who uphold the dignity of the human person, of the unborn, of the family, marriage and the poor as well as freedom of speech. Terrible regimes can be fostered simply by the prevailing ideology and endemic godlessness of the age.

We may have and value our democracy, but democracies can easily become regimes when error and evil is accepted within the corridors of power and power is seen as an end and a good in itself. Democracy gave the world Adolf Hitler and an ideology that named as enemies of the State those who opposed the concept of 'might over right' and all this was done in the name of 'German values', just as in the UK that we are being told to respect 'British values' and that if we do not, we are dangerous to the people. This strategy of manipulation will doubtless be replayed across Europe. Assisted suicide must be rejected.

The State must not be allowed to hasten or to be active participants in the direct killing of its citizens. No matter how you dress it up, that is what assisted suicide is. No State should have power over life and death. No State can redefine marriage.

No State should dare to uphold in law its right to intervene in pregnancy by killing a child and wounding a mother. A Government that does these things - that ventures into those realms that belong to God alone - will never serve its people faithfully, but will destroy those it is elected to serve.

God our Father, source of life and freedom, through Your Holy Spirit you gave the Carmelite, Titus Brandsma the courage to affirm human dignity even in the midst of suffering and degrading persecution. Grant us that same spirit so that, in refusing all compromise with error we may always and everywhere give coherent witness to Your abiding presence among us. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Titus Brandsma, faithful witness to Christ, heroic priest and exemplary model for Catholic journalists, martyr of Dachau, pray for us!

Friday 24 July 2015

Instrumentum Laboris: Some Grave Concerns

There has recently been published the Instrumentum Laboris or working document for the second session of the Synod on the Family due to take place in October of this year. At the end of the 2014 session a report on the first 2014 session was published as the Relatio Synodi.

As I have already explained this Relatio Synodi was a radical revision of an earlier document called the Relatio post disceptationem which was a very unsatisfactory document with many doubtful statements in the light of the teaching of the Church. The Relatio Synodi corrected most of the erroneous statements and each clause was voted on. With the exception of three clauses, these corrections received an overwhelming majority from the delegates. However, even though these three clauses had been voted down they were left in at the request of Pope Francis. The Relatio Synodi was then sent out to the Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the episcopal conferences, the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General, requesting comments on various aspects.

The Instrumentum Laboris reprints the Relatio Synodi in its entirety but with added clauses interpolated. What was 61 clauses has now become 147 clauses so there are an additional 86 new clauses. An introduction explains that these new clauses are a resume of the responses from the above list of Synods etc, but also observations from we are told:

Various members of the particular churches, organizations, lay groups and other Church entities made important recommendations, universities, academic institutions, research centres and individual scholars. 

The problem is there is absolutely no indication of where any of the new clauses actually came from.

We are just told “Many highlight...”, “Many are concerned ...”, “Many recommend...”. This is important in respect of certain controversial clauses, which I will come to, in view of the fact that comments could have come from just about anyone such as non-Catholics or the Shadow Synod held in Rome in May by dissenters from Germany and elsewhere.

There are some good additions though! New clauses 18 onwards have some good material on old age and disability but curiously no mention is made of euthanasia until the very end at new clause 141 where over-aggressive treatments and euthanasia are said to be things to be avoided; one can imagine people saying “Yes, but one cannot always avoid them”.

A new clause 34 is a wholly inadequate comment on the Bio-ethical challenge by failing to give any Catholic perspective on the issues.

New clause 45 starts:

Some stressed that highlighting the teaching contained in Sacred Scripture can be of assistance in showing how, from the time of Genesis, God sealed the couple with his image and likeness. 

This is where the lack of attribution is so disappointing. “Some” for me suggests some small minority and one cannot help suspecting it is used in a pejorative sense.

Claues 98 is the previous clause 41, which only just got the necessary number of votes at the previous session with 54 voting against it. It reads:

98. (41) While continuing to proclaim and foster Christian marriage, the Synod also encourages pastoral discernment of the situations of a great many who no longer live this reality. Entering into pastoral dialogue with these persons is needed to distinguish elements in their lives that can lead to a greater openness to the Gospel of Marriage in its fullness. Pastors ought to identify elements that can foster evangelization and human and spiritual growth. A new element in today’s pastoral activity is a sensitivity to the positive aspects of civilly celebrated marriages and, with obvious differences, cohabitation. While clearly presenting the Christian message, the Church also needs to indicate the constructive elements in these situations that do not yet or no longer correspond to it.

I suppose we ought to be grateful that the earlier idea that good was to be found in homosexual activities in the Relatio Post Disceptationem has disappeared but we still have this idea in relation to cohabitation. A first problem is the lack of definition throughout this document as to what is meant by civil marriage, natural marriage etc.

Here there is mention of civilly celebrated marriages. Surely anyone who enters into a valid sacramental marriage is usually entering a civilly celebrated marriage at the same time. I suppose they mean where a baptised Catholic enters a civilly celebrated marriage but does not go through a religious ceremony. So just what are these “positive aspects” or “constructive elements” in such situations and in particular in cohabitation? What about the negative aspects and the destructive elements? Why 'no longer'? If the situation is sinful it must have been from the start.

New clauses 99 onwards almost give the impression that cohabitation is a normal step before sacramental marriage. In particular clause 99 mentions the “seeds of the word” which rather gives the game away. These clauses, are a paraphrase from the Shadow Synod in Rome in May where Abbot Professor François-Xavier Ammherdt (Fribourg, Switzerland) stated:

“My thesis is that a differentiated look upon each individual situation is necessary, and that it is of worth to point out the value of the ‘logoi spermatikoi’ – those seeds of the Spirit which are starting to be seen in some relationships – and to which one should rather strive to appeal, instead of to condemn – in the sense of seeing a gradual pedagogy of God and in the sense of providing an accompanying pastoral care.” 

He ignores the distinction that any condemnation is of the sin not of some possible good element. He continues in the same vein saying of a civil marriage (where there is no sacramental religious marriage), “Why should one then not also be open to the positive festive and societal aspects of a celebration which concludes the bond [this form of an “intermittent stadium of a marriage,” i.e., a civil marriage] and opens it up to a future which is also open to fruitfulness?”

Incidentally the word “chastity” only appears once in this document; as for “purity” or “pre-marital virginity” forget it.Concern gets greater when we read new clause 107 about the divorced and remarried:

107. Almost everyone agrees that taking care of wounded families and allowing them to experience the infinite mercy of God is fundamental. People differ, however, on the approach to be used. On the one hand, some consider it necessary to encourage those who live in non-marital partnerships to undertake a road of return, leading backward. On the other hand, others support inviting these people to look forward, to leave their prison of anger, disappointment, pain and loneliness and to continue on the road ahead. Of course, others say, the art of accompaniment requires a prudent and merciful discernment process, not to mention an ability to grasp the real diversity in individual situations.

Again lack of attribution leaves one wondering quite apart from one questioning whether many people in irregular situations really experience this supposed 'prison'.

As explained in my previous article on the Synod the Relatio post disceptationem made reference to the Law of Graduality in Familiaris Consortio of Pope St John Paul II and then misused it in the sense of Graduality of the Law (to put it simply 'Carry on sinning') which Pope John Paul expressly warned against. All references to this supposed law were cut out in Relatio Synodi but astonishingly reference has been reintroduced here at new clause 121.

121. Many parties request that the attention to and the accompaniment of persons who are divorced and civilly remarried take into account the diversity of situations and be geared towards a greater integration of them into the life of the Christian community. Without prejudice to the recommendations made in Familiaris Consortio 84, some suggest that the forms of exclusion currently followed in liturgical and pastoral practice be re-examined as well as those in education and charitable activity. Since these persons are still part of the Church, the aim is to reflect on the opportunity to eliminate these forms of exclusion. Furthermore, to promote a greater integration of these persons into the Christian community, specific attention needs to given to the best interest of their children, given the irreplaceable role parents have in raising their children.
Before integrating persons who are divorced and civilly remarried into pastoral life, some recommend that: pastors duly discern the impossibility of abandoning their situation and the life of faith of the couple in the new relationship; the process be accompanied by raising the sensitivity of the Christian community to receive these persons; and this work be done according to the law of gradualness (cf. FC, 34), while respecting the maturation of consciences.

What on earth does that last paragraph mean? Are they still refusing to make the distinction Pope John Paul II made between the Law of Graduality and Graduality of the Law? Evidently this document does not want that distinction. Father Raymond J De Souza in an article published in the Catholic Herald of 10th July 2015 entitled “Forgetting the unforgettable Pope” makes a similar criticism.

What is meant by, 'Without prejudice to the recommendations made in Familiaris Consortio 84'? This is a serious matter to which I will return.

What does the word 'work' refer to? Does it refer to “The integration of persons”, “Discerning impossibility”, or “Raising the sensitivity?” Is this supposed to be a program for convincing the faithful that an adulterous second marriage is really acceptable? Is there some conflict between the supposed law of gradualness and the maturation of consciences? Or is it just confusing waffle? When I was a schoolboy we used to do something called 'parsing and analysis'. I suppose in the modern world that is no longer taught but this paragraph would not have passed muster.

But matters get worse. Clause 122 (old clause 52) was voted down in the first session but it still appears.

122. (52) The synod fathers also considered the possibility of giving the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Various synod fathers insisted on maintaining the present discipline, because of the constitutive relationship between participation in the Eucharist and communion with the Church as well as her teaching on the indissoluble character of marriage. Others proposed a more individualized approach, permitting access in certain situations and with certain well-defined conditions, primarily in irreversible situations and those involving moral obligations towards children who would have to endure unjust suffering. Access to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice, determined by the diocesan bishop. The subject needs to be thoroughly examined, bearing in mind the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances, given that "imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors" (CCC, 1735).

As I have said previously why is the Sacrament of Penance (available to all) lumped in with the Sacrament of the Eucharist (requiring a state of grace)? This is a deliberate obfuscation of the issue.

Despite this clause having not got the necessary majority we are then told in new clause 123 that a “great number” now support the idea of a penitential way. Who are this “great number”? Father Thomas Michelet O.P. of Fribourg University has written on this at length see.

He rightly asks whether this “great number” are the Bishops and if so have they changed their minds since the first session without having met? This is all highly ambiguous and appears to be an attempt to gloss over fundamental differences. It will lead to chaos: first of all a change in pastoral practice and inevitably if that happens a change in doctrine will have been implied in the long run without the Church agreeing to it.

The clause reads:

123. Concerning the aforementioned subject, a great number agree that a journey of reconciliation or penance, under the auspices of the local bishop, might be undertaken by those who are divorced and civilly remarried or those living together. In reference to Familiaris Consortio, 84, the suggestion was made to follow a process which includes: becoming aware of why the marriage failed and the wounds it caused; due repentance; verification of the possible nullity of the first marriage; a commitment to spiritual communion; and a decision to live in continence.
Others refer to a way of penance, meaning a process of clarifying matters after experiencing a failure and a reorientation which is to be accompanied by a priest who is appointed for this purpose. This process ought to lead the party concerned to an honest judgement of his/her situation. At the same time, the priest himself might come to a sufficient evaluation as to be able to suitably apply the power of binding and loosing to the situation.

In order to examine thoroughly the objective situation of sin and the moral culpability of the parties, some suggest considering The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (14 September 1994) and the Declaration concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of the Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (24 June 2000).

So under the auspices of the local bishop gets watered down to a single priest. An adulterer's charter! “Well all I have to do is have a quiet chat with that nice Father X and I can run off with a new partner with a good conscience.”

The clause on spiritual communion 53 in Relatio Synodi was voted down and was surely a red herring as to receive spiritual communion means being in a state of grace. However the next new clause 125 obfuscates the problem again:

125. The Church’s work of incorporating her members in Christ, begun in Baptism — even in the case of those who are divorced and civilly remarried — takes place in stages through a continual conversion. In this process people are invited in different ways to conform their lives to the Lord Jesus, who, with his grace, sustains them in ecclesial communion. In reference again to Familiaris Consortio, 84, the recommended forms of participation are: listening to the Word of God, participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, perseverance in prayer, works of charity, initiatives in the community fostering justice, the formation of children in the faith and a spirit of penance, all of which are supported by the Church’s prayer and kind-hearted witness. The fruit of this participation is the communion of believers with the whole community, which is an expression of being incorporated into the Church as the Body of Christ. It is important to remember that spiritual communion, which presupposes conversion and the state of grace, is connected to sacramental communion.

This looks like the misused Law of Graduality again. It talks of forms of participation where Familiaris Consortio talks of sharing. The words participate and share are synonyms. So what is to be understood by participation in the celebration of the Eucharist? Was Pope John Paul II suggesting that the divorced and remarried could share in the celebration of the Eucharist i.e. receive sacramental communion? Many would interpret the text in that way.

However, the problem is that Pope John Paul II never said those words. What he did say in Familiaris Consortio 84 was:

Together with the Synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace. Let the Church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother, and thus sustain them in faith and hope.

St John Paul II advocates attending the Sacrifice of the Mass not participating in the Eucharist. Why is there this curious transliteration of the actual words? A further point is that in the above extract there is no mention of spiritual communion as suggested that there is in clause 123 quoted above. I have checked out each of the texts in Latin, French and Spanish and they all have this transliteration. Why change the wording other than to promote the cause of communion for the divorced and remarried? Cardinal Baldisseri you signed this document. Please explain this deliberate misrepresentation of the Blessed Pope's words. It is akin to forgery.

Of course the following sentence in Familiaris Consortio does not get quoted for obvious reasons:

However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.

But that perhaps explains the curious words: Without prejudice to the recommendations made in Familiaris Consortio 84 which appear in clause 121 above.

And now on artificial contraception...

137. In relation to the rich content of Humanae Vitae and the issues it treats, two principal points emerge which always need to be brought together. One element is the role of conscience as understood to be God's voice resounding in the human heart which is trained to listen. The other is an objective moral norm which does not permit considering the act of generation a reality to be decided arbitrarily, irrespective of the divine plan of human procreation. A person’s over-emphasizing the subjective aspect runs the risk of easily making selfish choices. An over-emphasis on the other results in seeing the moral norm as an insupportable burden and unresponsive to a person’s needs and resources. Combining the two, under the regular guidance of a competent spiritual guide, will help married people make choices which are humanly fulfilling and ones which conform to God’s will.

This is an entirely new paragraph inserted by the secretariat. “Rich content” - Faint praise indeed or in reality just cynical? Was this really discussed at the previous session in this way? I cannot believe that something so controversial was discussed at the previous session without being mentioned in the Relatio Synodi and I suspect the secretariat has exceeded its remit once again. As usual we are not told where all this comes from. It seems to be contrasting the role of conscience with the objective moral norm as if it is permissible to make a choice between the two.

Apparently God's voice heard by conscience can differ from the teaching of the Church! I cannot see how a properly formed and informed conscience can differ from the teaching of the Church particularly when a competent spiritual guide is guiding someone. This seems to perpetuate the idea that the use of contraception is up to the individual conscience however badly formed that conscience might be. So the teaching of the Church can be “an insupportable burden and unresponsive to a person’s needs and resources.” Really? This just seems to be a perpetuation of the undermining of Humanae Vitae by certain clerics from Archbishop Roberts S.J.


The previous paragraph from the Relatio Synodi contains the sentence...

'In this regard, we should return to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in morally assessing methods in regulating births.'   

Whilst somebody familiar with Humanae Vitae will understand that artificial contraception offends the dignity of the person, most people, reading that sentence, will interpret it quite differently as asserting that the heterodox views of an individual should be respected so as not to offend their dignity rather than the teaching of the Church. Splendidly misleading! Deliberate?

New clauses 138, 140 and 141 deal with adoption, abortion and euthanasia in a very limp manner as unimportant afterthoughts. It will suffice to say that it is vital that the second session in October comes up with clear unambiguous teaching and we must hope and pray that the delegates understand this need and the importance of not succumbing to the fudge and waffle of the Kasper camp. One could regard much of the drafting of this Instrumentum Laboris as just poor and unprofessional work; on the other hand I see some pretty underhand behaviour in introducing deliberate and devious ambiguity. However, we should beware; there may be another Relation ante Disceptationem just before the next session giving the secretariate another opportunity to throw in some more heterodox interpolations. We must pray very much that ambiguities within these documents are exposed and confronted and are opposed and condemned. If they are not, there are some who will happily exploit them, to the detriment of marriage, the family and the Faith.

by Nicholas Bellord

Saturday 18 July 2015

Calumny and Scandal Thrive: Make Sure You Do Not Become Hateful-Full of Malice

I am reposting this because of two parishes which are being torn apart by a lack of charity and lies. One is in England. We cannot judge a situation from gossip, either gossip in the press or gossip in the pew before Mass. One SHOULD not be spreading even true stories of other people's sins. No, one goes to the person's involved themselves, and not spread calumny or cause a second scandal on top of a first. The two sins of calumny and scandal involve not only those who are public sinners, but those who talk about public sin. There is too much of this and not enough prayer and sacrifice.

"Mind your own business" was the great motto of the Midwest in years past. If the business was not your very own, you were trained not to speak of it. We are responsible to speak truth in love in our families and in the world. but not to spread stories of another person's sins.

No, no, no...there is no reason for this.

Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour 1 Peter 5:8 DR
Pointing out error is a good, but being caught up constantly in an adversarial spirit is not a good.
Who is called the Adversary? Satan.
More and more frequently in the Church, I am seeing traditional Catholics who are laymen stepping out of their worlds, their own spheres of influence and condemning things over which they have no authority.
Our lay world provides enough grist for the mill-we are supposed to be evangelizing our families, our friends, our workplace.
To try and pretend we have the right and duty to continually criticize the clergy, including bishops, cardinals and popes reveals hubris and the adversarial spirit.
If one is continually looking for faults and not giving real answers on how to deal with these faults, in other words, giving remedies. one has fallen into the spirit of the adversary.
The adversarial spirit is not kind, charitable nor fair. It judges and does not bear with the burdens of others. There are few who are pure enough in heart, mind and soul to be real critics.
The adversarial spirit causes hatred, dissension, and eventually, schisms and splits in the Church.
If you are finding that you argue too much and are always finding fault, look towards your own sins and failings first.
Those who want to change priests and bishops only have to raise holy boys to become holy men to go out and change the Church as holy priests and bishops.
It is not only naive but wrong to think the crusader spirit must be aimed at the Church first. No. Our enemies are those of the devil and the world, as well as the flesh. If such enemies have inflitrated the Church, even at high levels, we can pray, but our words mean nothing.
Tearing down is not building up.
A person caught up in the adversarial spirit will not find peace in God, but fall into rancor,anger and depression. If you are merely tearing down, you have let satan use you. Eventually, the person with the adversarial spirit becomes a heresiarch. Those people most likely will find themselves judged as they have judged-severely and without mercy.
We are here for the building up of the Church.
In a grown man, the adversarial spirit could be connected to a male being caught up in teen-age rebellion-a sign of the peter pan. The teen thinks he knows better than the parent and rebels against imperfections, not understanding that he himself is a sinner. It is too easy to point out the evils of another, rather than looking at one's own sin.

Ask yourself if you are constantly arguing.

Ask yourself if you are playing into the hands of the great Adversary of the Church.

He has been defeated but is still looking maliciously for souls to bring down with him in defeat.
29 Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers.30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamour, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ. from Ephesians

Wednesday 15 July 2015

The Documents of the Synod on the Family – A Layman's View

By Nicholas Bellord

In a letter published in the January/February edition  of Faith Magazine I asked a question about the “Law of Graduality” and its use or abuse at the Synod on the Family in October 2014.  As nobody replied to my question I decided to have a closer look myself.

My understanding of the Synod, gained from reading various reports but not the documents themselves, was that there was a  Relatio post disceptionem largely drafted by Archbishop Bruno Forte which was highly objectional but nevertheless, with a few amendments, got voted on.  Three of the sixty odd propositions did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority but received a simple majority but this was the extent of the fightback by a few brave Cardinals wishing to maintain orthodoxy.  According to Cardinal Baldisseri, Pope Francis insisted on these three propositions remaining in the Relatio so as to become part of the Lineamenta for the second half of the Synod.  I was not alone in this understanding as many have seen the Synod as attempting to rewrite the Church's teaching on marriage and also on homosexuality.  Many have had their faith shaken and some have even talked of a developing schism.

However having read the documents and relying on those alone my understanding has changed and the purpose of this article is point out why my understanding changed.  There was indeed a  Relatio post disceptionem of 6th October 2014 which was seriously heterodox but the Relatio Synodi of 18th October 2014 is a radically different document which with a few exceptions seems to me to be in accordance with the traditional teaching of the Church.  This latter Relatio is the one that was put to the vote and it is very instructive to look at the voting pattern for each clause.  It is quite clear that it received the overwhelming support of the Cardinals and that the opposition which I will call the Kasperite lobby was in fact very small – perhaps 15% at the most.

The first document was a Preparatory Document issued on 5th November 2013.  Part I lists problems facing the family but remarkably has no mention of abortion, IVF, euthanasia or artificial contraception although they do arise in a list of questions at the end.  Part II remarks that “The teaching of the Pastors has been clear.” Really?

Following on that the list of questions was duly circulated.  In England & Wales the faithful were asked to respond despite the fact that many of the questions were obviously directed at the Church hierarchy and the clergy.  It was evident at the time that many thought this was a kind of survey as to what people thought about the teachings of the Church and an opportunity to voice their views as to how they might be changed, for instance, by ditching “Humanae Vitae”.

The answers to these questions having been collated by Dioceses and Bishops Conference and sent to Rome (one wonders how much was carefully edited out!) there followed the Instrumentum Laboris published on 26th June 2014 as a guide for  the discussions at the Synod in October.  Evidently the authors of this did not buy into the idea that there had been some sort of democratic vote on the Church's teaching but pointed out how confused many people seemed to be about that teaching.  

The document barely touches on the problem that the clergy have almost entirely failed to teach their sheep about the family;  That “ the formation of the clergy stands out as particularly decisive” (clause 10) is true but there is little appreciation of how much the problem does arise from the failure of the clergy.  I suppose it is always difficult for any institution to admit how the management has been wanting.  The result though is “The People of God's knowledge of conciliar and postconciliar documents on the Magisterium of the family seems to be rather wanting, though a certain knowledge of them is clearly evident in those working in the field of theology” (clause 11).   So just a few working in the field of theology have a grasp of the teaching?  A slight exaggeration surely but what an admission as to just how bad things are!

Some observations attribute the responsibility for this lack of knowledge to the clergy” 

Who else one asks?  But there is no mention of those numerous members of the clergy who have actively preached against the teachings of the Church from Archbishop Roberts of Bombay S.J. onwards.  I suppose one should not expect such self-criticism.

The document then goes on to mention how people misunderstand the concept of Natural Law (clause 22) but then  suggests that the Bible should be used to explain the concept as something becoming clear in the Bible story (clause 30).  I would have thought that this is precisely the wrong approach.  Revelation and Natural Law should be kept separate.  In our secular society too often one hears that  somebody's views on homosexuality or abortion are described as being based solely on the Bible and therefore a religious view not binding on anyone who is not religious rather than based on natural law which binds everyone.

On abortion we are told 

Many bishops' conferences are greatly concerned about the widespread practice of abortion” (clause 65) 

Why only 'Many'?

Clauses 91 onwards set out very clearly the teaching on marriage. Cardinals Kasper and Marx could have profited from reading these.  The authors comment on communion for the remarried:

In Europe (and also in some countries in Latin America and Asia) the prevailing tendency among some of the clergy is to resolve the issue by simply complying with the request for access to the sacraments.” (clause 116). 
“136. The responses point out how Catholic schools, at all levels, can play an important partin transmitting the faith to young people”. 

The operative word is “can” but do they?

The next document  was the  Relatio ante disceptationem of 6th October 2014.  Here matters have moved into the hands of Cardinal Erdo of Hungary and it formed the agenda for the Synod discussions.  It fleshes out the agenda that was suggested in the Instrumentum Laboris.  It insists upon the indissolubility of marriage:

“The teaching on the indissolubility of marriage as such is not questioned. Indeed, it is unchallenged and for the most part observed also in the pastoral practice of the Church with persons who have failed in their marriage and seek a new beginning. Therefore, what is being discussed at this synod of an intense pastoral nature are not doctrinal issues, but the practical ones — nevertheless inseparable from the truths of the faith.” viz: 2(a)

Further on with regard to Humanae Vitae there is a mention of the Law of Gradualness:

He [Pope Paul VI indicated in the audience of 31 July 1968] then specified that the moral norm cited in the document needs to be considered in light of the “law of gradualness,” according to the suggestions already made in 34 of Familiaris Consortio: keeping in mind that each person is a historical being, who “... knows, loves and accomplishes moral good in stages of growth.”

But it is worth looking at clause 34 of Familiaris Consortio to see what it actually says:

“They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy.  And so what is known as 'the law of gradualness' or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with 'gradualness of the law,' as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God's law for different individuals and situations”.

That is very different from what is proposed later in the  Relatio post disceptionem.

We then come to the Relatios  of which there are two – the first Relatio post disceptionem dated 6th October and the second the Relatio Synodi dated 18th October 2014.  For the sake of brevity I will refer to the first Relatio of 6th October as RPD and the second of 18th October as RS.  Comparing the two it would appear that after the unhappy reception of RPD and further discussion Cardinal Erdo took the matter in hand and completely rewrote it although following the same format and roughly the same clause numbers.    As I have said it was overwhelmingly indorsed by the Synod. There were 178 Cardinals and two-thirds of the clauses received less than 10 non-placets.  Just as an example of the rewrite compare the first substantive clause being no 5.  RPD reads:

5. Anthropological and cultural change today influences all aspects of life andrequires an analytic and diversified approach, able to discern the positive forms of individual freedom. It is necessary to be aware of the growing danger represented by an exasperated individualism that distorts family bonds and ends up considering each component of the family as an isolated unit, leading in some cases to the prevalence of an idea of the subject formed according to his or her own wishes, which are assumed as absolute.

Whilst RS reads:

5. Faithful to Christ’s teaching, we look to the reality of the family today in all its complexity, with both its lights and shadows. We turn our thoughts to parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, close and distant relatives and the bonds between two families forged by marriage. Anthropological and cultural changes in our times influence all aspects of life and require an analytic and diversified approach. The positive aspects are first to be highlighted, namely, a greater freedom of expression and a better recognition of the rights of women and children, at least in some parts of the world. On the other hand, equal consideration needs to be given to the growing danger represented by a troubling individualism which deforms family bonds and ends up considering each component of the family as an isolated unit, leading, in some cases, to the idea that a person is formed according to his own desires, which are considered absolute. Added to this is the crisis of faith, witnessed among a great many Catholics, which oftentimes underlies the crisis in marriage and the family.

So we are to follow Christ rather than the world!  Did a few suffer from 'exasperated individualism' on reading the new text RS?

Generally  RPD is full of confusing and imprecise wording;  some of the translation is baffling e.g. “precariousness in the workplace” suggests unsafe ladders to me.  The word “affectivity” appears – a neologism which  I am still not sure what it means.  One longs to take the authors of RPD by the scruff of the neck and ask them what exactly they meant.

In RPD the law of gradualness gets introduced at clause 13:

“Through the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of divine pedagogy, this means interpreting the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty, in the order of creation and in that of redemption.”

This law, as reinterpreted by them, is basic to the argument by those Kasperites advocating communion for the remarried and yet this crucial clause 13 in RPD gets rewritten in RS leaving out any mention of the law.  Instead the emphasis is on the divine pedagogy i.e. Christ's teaching.  This revision received 174 placets to 7 against.  The Kasperites must have been asleep.  But perhaps it did wake them up as the number of non-placets exceeds 10  for the first time with the next two clauses receiving  18 and 13 non-placets,  viz clause 14 in which  RS gives greater emphasis, at length, to the indissolubility of marriage cutting out a reference to divine condescension in RPD.  “By looking at the sinner with love, Jesus leads the person to repentance and conversion (“Go and sin no more”), which is the basis for forgiveness”.  So are the 18 non placets objecting to this indicative of the extent of support for the Kasperite lobby?

Indeed from thereon there are major changes.  Clauses 17 to 23  of RPD about the law of gradualness and finding positive elements in second marriages and cohabitation have been completely discarded and replaced by new clauses 17 to 28 in RS dealing with 'The Family in the Church’s Documents', 'The Indissolubility of Marriage', 'Joy of Sharing Life Together', 'The Truth and Beauty of the Family' and 'Mercy Towards Broken and Fragile Families' all giving the traditional teaching on marriage. 
There was a measure of opposition to the new clauses 22 to 28 ranging from 11 to 39 non placets.  Taking into account that some of the non-placets probably came from those considering the new clauses not orthodox enough it rather looks as the support for the Kasperite theme was in the twenties.

It is easy to pick to pieces the clauses 17 to 23 in RPD but as the Cardinals seem to have done this for us there is not much point in my doing so.   In RPD there is considerable confusion as to what is meant by 'natural' and 'civil' marriage and some of this confusion spills over into RS.  Clause 35 of RS is a bit wobbly about 'the richness of various religious experiences' and received 17 non placets this time probably from the more orthodox.  Clause 39  in RS mentions 'chastity' for the one and only time in any document of the Synod!  Obviously a concept that had not crossed the mind of the author of RPD.

Clause 41 in RS still has the unfortunate words taken from clause 36 in RPD :  

'A new element in today’s pastoral activity is a sensitivity to the positive aspects of civilly celebrated marriages and, with obvious differences, cohabitation. While clearly presenting the Christian message, the Church also needs to indicate the constructive elements in these situations that do not yet or no longer correspond to it'.

How can elements that do not correspond to the teaching of the Church be constructive?  Not surprisingly this clause received the highest number of non-placets yet – 54.  Of course the sentence is ambiguous – deliberately?

Clause 52 in RS replaces 47 in RPD.  It says “The synod father (sic!) also considered the possibility of giving the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist”.   This is typical of the conflating twaddle in RPD.  What is the problem with access to the Sacrament of Penance?  Surely this is available to anyone in any circumstance.  Evidently the Kasperites are thinking of some new form of the Sacrament of Penance where a firm intention of amendment is not required. 'Carry on sinning'?  It goes on to set out the Kasperite suggestions as to communion for the remarried.  No wonder this clause failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority.  A reference to the law of gradualness gets replaced by a quote from the Catechism – a work that never got mentioned in RPD.

Clause 53 about spiritual communion also failed to get the necessary majority.  I would have thought there are obvious differences between the rather loose concept of spiritual communion which is merely a desire for communion and actual sacramental communion.

Clause 54 mentions Orthodox practice but only as an ecumenical problem.  I imagine that means the problem posed by a remarried couple from the Orthodox seeking reception of communion in the Latin Church. 

Clause 55 in RS drops the idea put forward in RPD that homosexuals have gifts and qualities arising from their homosexuality.  Instead a reference is added to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's document: Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.

 This is interesting as that document effectively condemns civil unions between persons of the same sex as well as marriage between persons of the same sex.    This clause failed to get the two-thirds majority receiving 62 non placets.  I find this difficult to interpret.  Presumably the Kasperites did not like it but perhaps there is a bigger lobby in favour of liberalising the Church's teaching on homosexuality then there is on communion for the remarried.  Cardinal Vincent Nichols said he thought the clause was insufficiently welcoming of those with homosexual inclinations but did not say how he had voted.  More to the point this clause was surely voted down by the heterodox rather than the orthodox as I and others had previously thought.

Clause 56 in RS protests against aggressive lobbying by the LGBT lobby.  There were 21 non placets.  Perhaps that represents the extent of the homosexual lobby.

A new clause 58 emphasises Humanae Vitae.  Clause 59 mentions parents' right to choose the kind of education for their children and clause 61 brings in the role of Our Lady as regards the family.

This version RS becomes the Lineamenta for the next session of the Synod in 2015.  In December 2014 it was republished with a list of questions for the hierarchies and Bishops' Conferences.  These are for them to answer  so I have no comment except two:

1.      There is mention of assessing  the Orthodox practice on remarriage.  This goes further than the mention of the purely technical ecumenical point in clause 54.  Who put that in?
2.      There is a mention of abortion which appears nowhere in the Lineamenta.

So what can one make of all this?  I am encouraged by the fact that the new Lineamenta which is RS is a complete revision of the heterodox RPD.  I see it as mostly in line with the teaching of the Church with perhaps a few minor lapses and it had the overwhelming approval of the Cardinals with the principal exceptions of three clauses.  Each of those three clauses suggested further study which is why I imagine Pope Francis wanted them left in so that the studies take place or is he trying to keep the Kasper line alive?  In my judgement the voting shows that the heterodox lobbies promoting communion for the remarried and tolerance of homosexual activity are in fact a minority of perhaps fifteen percent of the Cardinals.  It has therefore calmed my worries about the possibility of some great schism.

However it must be said that the heterodox lobbying has been a great distraction which has meant that the Synod so far has failed to address a number of very important issues concerning the family as was so ably explained by Jacqueline Stewart in the January/February issue of Faith magazine.  


This lists the subjects that have NOT been adequately treated:  The Natural moral law, Abortion, Marriage, Contraception, Euthanasia and “assisted suicide”, Homosexuality, “Gender theory”, Sex Education, Parents as primary educators, and Threats to freedom.  These are all burning issues.  There is a great deal of work to be done.  But in the long run it is going to be the final document that the Synod writes that will count and I feel more confident that it will support the traditional teachings of the Church although no doubt there will be a “Spirit of the Synod” wafting up from some Northern bog to try and confuse us all. 

For a further analysis of events since then, including the release of the Instrumentum Laboris and Synod 15, read the post by OTSOTA:

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Mass of Reparation: 14 August 2015, Vigil of the Assumption

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
Rubens c1626

On Friday, 14 August 2015, Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Knights of Columbus Woodlawn Council 2161 Traditional Latin Mass Guild will sponsor a Mass at St. Titus Church, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, to be offered in reparation for the public sacrileges and blasphemies committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Mass will be offered by Fr. Ladis J. Cizik.

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be recited after Mass.

Additional information here.

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Thursday 9 July 2015

Some of Pope Francis and the Communist Cross

Pope Francis on the Communist Crucifix

On the second leg of his trip to South America, Pope Francis traveled to Bolivia. The Holy Father made a courtesy visit to  Eso Morales at the Palace of the Government in La Paz.


As is customary when heads of state meet, the President and the Pope exchanged gifts. Pope Francis gave the  Bolivian president a mosaic of the Marian icon of the “Salus Populus Romani". For his part, Bolivian President Eso Morales gave the Holy See  a crucifix based on a hammer and sickle, essentially a communist crucifix.


As for the gift of religious art, Pope Francis shook his head as the Socialist President gave him this communist styled crucifix and audibly said: “No está bien eso”.  As this exchange was filmed for transmission throughout the world, the Holy Father's embarrassment seemed visible.

Aside from his Socialist politics, Eso Morales gift had some symbolism associated with Catholicism, as this hammer and sickle crucifix was modeled after one carved by Jesuit missionary Fr. Luis Espinal Camps, S.J.. Espinal Camps  was abducted by the paramilitaries loyal to the Bolivian dictatorship, tortured for five hour and shot 17 times in 1980.

Shortly after arriving in Bolivia Pope Francis' motorcade stopped along the highway where Fr. Espinal Camps was abducted.  Pope Francis prayed:

"Remember one of our brothers, a victim of interests that didn't want him to fight for Bolivia's freedom,.  Father Espinal preached the Gospel, the Gospel that bothered them, and because of this they got rid of him."

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, tried to walk back from this diplomatic faux pas by claiming that Pope Francis was unaware that the gift was inspired by Fr. Espinal Camps crucifix and that the Holy Father meant to say: "I didn't know" instead of "This is not right".  That explanation is courteously convenient but seems spurious considering the Pope's actual words and his visible embarrassment over the gift.


Perhaps the Bolivian visit highlights the conundrum of Pope Francis' disposition towards social justice. 

 But as the rhetoric meets reality, as demonstrated by Eso Morales photo op, secular socialists (and communists) may strive to exploit this sympathy for their own atheistic advantage.

SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...