Friday, 19 August 2016

Amoris Laetitia: From Divorce to the Death Penalty

When writing my first piece on Amoris Laetitia I said it would be the subject of controversy. Since then the controversy has developed with very heavyweight criticisms from theologians and others – people who are expert in these matters. It has therefore seemed somewhat otiose for myself as a layman to add anything to this chorus of criticism when I have no training in theology etc.

However, I still wish to express my views as an ordinary layman with nearly 80 years experience of being a Catholic and actual experience of the matter under discussion. Even if nobody else is interested in my views at least setting them out forces me to consider this very important document carefully. So I carry on!

After the controversial paragraph 3, Pope Francis continues with some introductory remarks saying that the opening chapter would be inspired by the Scriptures, that he would then deal with the actual situation of families – the reality – and then on to recall essential aspects of the Church's teaching on marriage, two chapters on love and then highlighting some pastoral approaches with a chapter on raising children. Finally, he will offer an invitation to mercy and pastoral discernment of irregular situations (which he says will be challenging) and a discussion of family spirituality.

Chapter one is therefore on marriage in the light of the scriptures. This is inspiring writing covering the teaching on marriage in both the Old and New Testaments. The one notable omission is that although he refers, in paragraph 19, to Christ's teaching in St Matthew Chapter 19 verses 3 to 9 as a dispute about divorce he does NOT say what Christ actually said about divorce. Indeed, there is no mention of the indissolubility of marriage or any reference to the relevant commandments in the Ten Commandments. Sexual fidelity and adultery do not get a mention.

Pope Francis then goes on to what the Bible says about work – he mentions unemployment (para 25) and what he calls social degeneration of which he sees environmental issues as an example – indeed - the sole example he gives (para 26). He finishes the chapter insisting on tenderness in the marriage.

The second chapter is about the experiences and challenges of families. It owes much to the Final Relatio of the Synod. Sometimes it is more than a bit obscure. At the end of paragraph 32, there is a reference to 'social structures' which I think means the wider or extended family but that is merely a guess. Indeed, presumably something has been lost in translation in para 33: more and more people are choosing to live alone or simply to spend time together without cohabiting. I am not at all clear to what he is referring; hermits, monks and nuns would seem to fit this description but perhaps that is not what is meant. One has to guess what is meant by the concluding sentence in para 33: We can also point to a praiseworthy concern for justice; but if misunderstood, this can turn citizens into clients interested solely in the provision of services.

The meaning of 'way station' in para 34 is not obvious. The rest of the chapter sets out the multiple problems that affect marriage in the modern world. Pope Francis describes it as a brief overview but this chapter does have 28 paragraphs over 24 pages and as one difficulty is mentioned after another the effect is somewhat mind-numbing. The biblical account of marriage in chapter one indeed becomes rather remote from the harsh picture of reality presented in this chapter two.

At para 36 Pope Francis writes:

36. We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today’s problematic situation. We need a healthy dose of self-criticism. Then too, we often present marriage in such a way that its unitive meaning, its call to grow in love and its ideal of mutual assistance are overshadowed by an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation. Nor have we always provided solid guidance to young married couples, understanding their timetables, their way of thinking and their concrete concerns. At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite.

Where is there an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation? I have never heard that. Often to-day marriage can be romanticised so that it is regarded as just about loving someone and the idea of having children hardly features. It is surely right for the Church to remind couples that in the normal way of things children are born especially in this age when birth control is incessantly promoted. You may fall in love with someone and think that you would like to spend the rest of your life with them but should you not stop to question whether this particular person is the one you want to parent your children? As to this almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families just what is he referring to? As to inspiring trust in God's grace some have said that the document fails to do just that; but we can come back to that later.

Paragraph 38 says we have often been on the defensive, wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness.Well you could have fooled me but the absence of denunciations of a decadent world by the clergy is surely one of the most striking features of today's Church. Many clergy inside and outside the Catholic Church seem to be more preoccupied as to whether they can indulge in buggery. Just think of the depraved programme on Channel 4 where people view and discuss each others genitals. Has any clerical voice been raised about that?

In describing the various ills that undermine marriage there is no mention of the facilitating of easy divorce. Indeed, divorce is hardly mentioned; there is no mention of the terrible suffering that results; the innocent party who sees their life's dream in ruins and faces a very uncertain and difficult future.

Above all there is no mention of how children of the first marriage suffer; suffering and instability that can be passed down through generations. Both at the Synod and in this document concern is expressed for the children of a second marriage even to the point of justifying a second adulterous marriage but at the same time ignoring the children of the first marriage. I find this narrative both astounding and worrying. I wonder whether the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage is not being undermined.

Chapter three is entitled “LOOKING TO JESUS: THE VOCATION OF THE FAMILY” and the first sentence reads:

In and among families, the Gospel message should always resound; the core of that message, the kerygma, is what is “most beautiful, most excellent, most appealing and at the same time most necessary”.

The word 'kerygma' is meaningless to the vast majority of the laity and its use is a turn-off and pretentious. Why not say 'preaching'? However, the chapter does set out the teaching of the Church as related by the fathers at the Synod. Indissolubility does gets a mention. However it is described as a gift rather than a yoke. Does not Jesus speak of a yoke elsewhere? And will not some not claim that they do not have the gift?

Para 63 is particularly important quoting from the Synod:

'Jesus, who reconciled all things in himself, restored marriage and the family to their original form (cf. Mt 10:1-12). Marriage and the family have been redeemed by Christ (cf. Eph 5:21-32) and restored in the image of the Holy Trinity, the mystery from which all true love flows. The spousal covenant, originating in creation and revealed in the history of salvation, takes on its full meaning in Christ and his Church. Through his Church, Christ bestows on marriage and the family the grace necessary to bear witness to the love of God and to live the life of communion.'

This chapter is a good exposition of the Church's teaching on marriage. But is this teaching not the almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families which Pope Francis decries above? Does he think it an ideal not possible of attainment? I suspect the answer is that somebody else drafted most of this chapter although one can detect a few wobbles towards the end which bear the imprint of Pope Francis.

Familiaris Consortio does get a mention but not the crucial point about communion for the divorced and remarried. It does repeatedly mention the requirement of openness to life. Did not Pope Francis think this was insistence on the duty of procreation? Evidently not or he did not spot it!

One point that has concerned many people is that the final sentence of para 83 says:

Similarly, the Church not only feels the urgency to assert the right to a natural death, without aggressive treatment and euthanasia”, but likewise “firmly rejects the death penalty”. 

This last point about the death penalty is a quote from the Relatio Synodi of 2015 – the concluding document of the Synod on the Family. It is para 64 which refers to para 2258 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). In fact the CCC does NOT say that but rather:

'God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.'

Was this misquotation carelessness or deliberate on the part of those writing up the Relatio Synodi? It is plain wrong and cannot be taken as a new teaching that the death penalty is wrong in all circumstances. The Synod fathers were undoubtedly thinking of the wrongness of euthanasia at that point and it seems very odd that they should have introduced such a statement at that point out of context. Indeed, the 40 theologians who have appealed to the Cardinals to ask for clarification of Amoris Laetitia have classified this statement as heretical and pernicious. They point to the correct teaching in CCC 2267. This statement in Amoris Laetitia “ the Church … firmly rejects the death penalty” is certainly not an ambiguous statement.

It has been reported in America the National Catholic Review that Pope Francis has set up a commission on the subject as they say the Pope is for condemning the death penalty in all circumstances. However, there is a great deal of difference between advocating its abolition in developed countries where it is obviously not necessary and saying it is wrong even in the most extreme circumstances. I suspect this is just another muddying of the waters.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma

Upon this the Feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma, I wish all readers of this blog, all contributers to this blog, all Catholic journalists, bloggers, commentators and those using the the media and the new media to spread the fragrance of the Gospel a very happy Feast. Blessed Titus is a patron of Catholic journalists. The love of Blessed Titus for Jesus Christ and His Church was sealed with his blood at the concentration camp in Dachau. 

As DC Calamity has posted already, it would not be fitting to overlook on this blog the immense sacrifice - the ultimate sacrifice that took place yesterday, in events unprecedented for Europe - if increasingly common for other parts of the world - of another priest, a Frenchman named Fr Jacques Hamel, who, like Blessed Titus, sealed his love and service to Christ and His Church with his blood. 

May Fr Jacques join Blessed Titus to intercede for Europe and for France from his place in Heaven, for the Church, for Europe and the World, that all may come to know the love, mercy and peace that comes from Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our God. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus welcome those who, living and believing in error, spread hatred, fear and terror into the hearts of mankind.

Remembering a Modern Martyr of Normandy

Two terrorists aligned with ISIS took hostages during a morning Mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy France.  The Muslim terrorists forced Fr. Jacques Hamel to kneel at the altar and then they slit the throat of the 84 year old curate as they reportedly videotaped the brutality.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. S.J., lamented the martyrdom of Fr. Hamel, noting: “We are particularly stricken because this horrible violence occurred in a church — a sacred place in which the love of God is proclaimed — with the barbaric killing of a priest." 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Catholic Identity Conference 2016

9-11 September 2016

Weirton, West Viginia

Registration Info.

For the fourth consecutive year, this three-day conference will be held in Weirton, West Virginia.  As in past years, the speakers will represent a broad spectrum of traditional Catholic viewpoints with the stated aim being to highlight areas of agreement, without glossing over differences, and to encourage communication and rapport between traditional Catholic individuals and groups.  No attempt is made to silence or marginalize.  If one holds fast to traditional Catholic doctrine, and worships in a traditional Catholic manner, or would like to learn more about traditional Catholic doctrine and worship, they are welcome to attend and participate.

The featured speakers represent a range of organizations and expertise, and include both clergy and laity.  There are priests from the two largest traditional religious orders along with Catholic journalists, a historian, lawyer, blogger, and a representative from a Catholic youth organization.  The setting is intimate and affords participants with ample opportunity to meet the speakers and engage them in conversation.  There will be daily Traditional Latin Masses.

Featured speakers for 2016 include:

For additional information and to register, visit the Catholic Identity Conference website.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

A Bit on Reorienting Vatican II Catholics' Divine Worship

Cardinal Robert Sarah on Reorienting Vatican II Catholics' Divine Worship

Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship Cardinal Robert Sarah's strong defense of ad orientem worship is no surprise.  However, Cardinal Sarah suggestion at the Sacra Liturgia Conference in London to push to re-orient Vatican II Catholics posture away from versus populum positioning during the Liturgy of the Eucharist by the beginning of Advent 2016 was shocking. The announcement was greeted by prolonged applause at the Conference, indicating that the mostly clerical audience was behind the move.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Jeweller's Polish, By Marie Ann Dean


Paperback, Ebook
The Jeweler's Polish by Marie Ann Dean
For libraries, academic institutions and volume orders, please contact us directly.

By ​Marie Ann Dean

The Jeweler's Polish is a Catholic historical fiction novel set primarily in the small Mediterranean island of Malta at the time of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John. Containing a near-gothic narrative that includes knightly orders, Masons, Illuminati, conspiracies, curses, mysterious jewels, apparitions of spirits, poisoners, gender dysphoria, the evil eye, and incest, The Jeweler’s Polish presents to readers the 21st century young Englishwoman, Emerald Rohan Grady, and her ancestral namesake, the Lady Emerald Esther Maria de Rohan, niece of the kindly but corrupt Grandmaster Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc. But who, in reality, was Lady Emerald? Who was Lucas de Pinto? What made Captain Azzopardi meet his men in secret, at nighttime, in the historical city of Valletta? Who betrayed the kingdom of God and worked for the kingdom of Man? Why did Lady Emerald have to meet Pope Pius VI in Rome? How were the Jesuits and the Masons involved? Above all, who was the Repentant?

Marie Ann Dean’s familiarity with the isle of Malta and her literary skills are put to good use in constructing a near-gothic narrative, combined with an intriguing apocalyptic storyline involving the identity of the Antichrist and the timing of the Second Coming. The result is a highly entertaining read, reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code but of higher literary quality and more complex . . . a very diverting and compelling first novel that leaves enough plot threads untied to demand a sequel or two. The Jeweler’s Polish leaves the reader wanting more! - Mary Ann Beavis, Ph.D., Professor of Religion and Culture, Saint Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan.
From the start of the story, Marie Ann Dean draws the reader into an historical mystery that will capture the imagination. She does a masterful job of tying the past history of the Church and of Europe to current times. The heroines, Emerald both of old and of new, guide the reader through an exciting adventure that falls just short of discovering the biblical Antichrist. I highly recommend The Jeweler’s Polish - James A. Toups,author of The Storm: A Time of Mercy, Choices and Hope, Principal at RMR Corporation.
In The Jeweler's Polish, the heroine Emerald's plans to travel initiate a journey to seek the 'jewels' of her heritage. The story is immersed in intrigue, secrecy, and the adventurous danger of the hunt. Traitors, mistresses, knights, and monks fill the pages of an effervescent novel. The pages turn quickly: Dean diligently weaves the tale of Emerald's search for her hereditary matrix that serves both to elude and define her. Any reader of The Jeweler's Polish who has sought family trees, or who has been fascinated by the Da Vinci Code, or Angels and Demons, will no doubt be riveted to Emerald's search. The mystery is laced with danger and delight, discovery and disappointment, with new clues uncovered and the real hidden treasure of the heroine's beneficence . . . Is it not everyman/everywoman's journey to seek their source and uncover treasures hidden for the ages - whether in Tehran, Tokyo, or New York? In The Jeweler's Polish, one finds fellow seekers, while enjoying a well of literary refreshment - Reverend Brian Miclot, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Saint Ambrose University.
Malta is a fascinating, yet somewhat mysterious, island nation known throughout history as the home of the famous, but somehow also mysterious, Knights. In The Jeweler's Polish, accomplished author Marie Ann Dean brings us on one woman's fascinating voyage of self-discovery to Malta. Dean adroitly weaves together the tale of that woman's journey with events in the lives of historical figures connected with the Knights in Malta and elsewhere. As her prose portrays transformations in her characters, the reader is also brought to contemplate profound, yet very simple truths. You will enjoy The Jeweler's Polish - Monsignor Richard Soseman, J.C.L., Official of the Congregation for the Clergy, Vatican City State.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Report: Solemn Consecration of the City of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania

On Saturday, 4 June 2016, in a historic ceremony sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Woodlawn Council 2161, the City of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, was solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The consecration was performed by the pastors of the three Catholic parishes located in Aliquippa, and the mayor.


Reverend Father Paul C. Householder, Pastor
St. Titus Roman Catholic Church, Aliquippa

Reverend Father Mykhaylo Shkyndya, Pastor
St. George Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church, Aliquippa

Reverend Father Michael Polosky, Pastor
Ss. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, Aliquippa

                                                             The Honorable Dwan B. Walker
                                                             Mayor of the City of Aliquippa

The ceremonies began with a procession into St. George Church with the icon of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, the praying of the Holy Rosary, and a Divine Liturgy in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This was followed by the solemn consecration of the city.

The faithful then moved to nearby St. Titus Church for a Solemn High Traditional Latin Mass offered in thanksgiving for the consecration.  Canon Jean-Marie Moreau of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest offered the Votive Mass of Christ the King assisted by Fr. Ladis J. Cizik as deacon, and Fr. David G. Rombold as subdeacon.  The Bach Choir of Pittsburgh sang Mozart's Coronation Mass.

Additional information and a selection of photos can be viewed on the Knights of Columbus Woodlawn Council 2161 Latin Mass blog by clicking here.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

On the Immaculate Heart of Mary

St. John Eudes on the Immaculate Heart of Mary

St. John Eudes was a Seventeenth Century Normand French cleric who extolled the virtues of a devotion to Sacred Heart started observing a feast for the heart of Mary in 1643. When Pope Leo XIII proclaimed Eudes heroic virtues in 1903, he was proclaimed "Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary".

Pope Pius VI in 1799 granted a limited feast to "The Most Pure Heart of Mary" in Polermo.  In 1805, Pope Pius VII made a new concession which spread the practice more broadly.  In 1855, the office and Mass of the Most Pure Heart of Mary was approved.  In 1944, Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944 to be celebrated on August 22.  In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast to the third Saturday after Pentacost, immediately after the the Solemnity of Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

In his Angelus from June 5, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI mused:

The heart that resembles that of Christ more than any other is without a doubt the Heart of Mary, his Immaculate Mother, and for this very reason the liturgy holds them up together for our veneration. Responding to the Virgin's invitation at Fatima, let us entrust the whole world to her Immaculate Heart, which we contemplated yesterday in a special way, so that it may experience the merciful love of God and know true peace.

Because of the strong analogy between Jesus and Mary, the consecration to Mary's Immaculate Heart is closely linked to the consecration to Jesus' Sacred Heart, although it is subordinate and dependent on it. That is, although the act of consecration is ultimately addressed to God, it is an act that is made through Mary.

The aim of  the devotion  to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is to unite mankind to God through Mary's heart, via consecration and reparation. One who is consecrated to Mary's Immaculate Heart as a way of being totally devoted to God.  This involves a total gift of self, something possible only with reference to God but Mary is the intermediary in this process of consecration. 

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially ...(special intention).
We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Pope Leo XIII on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Pope Leo XIII on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The first Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart were composed by St. John Eudes, but the institution of the feast was a result of the appearances of our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675. The celebration of the feast was extended to the general calendar of the Church by Pius IX in 1856.

O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Amoris Laetitia, Paragraph 3: Inculturation or a New Ideology?

There is one incontrovertible fact about the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) and that is that it has caused immense controversy. The most discussed issue is whether those who have divorced and remarried but who have not had their previous marriage annulled can receive communion despite continuing sexual relations in their second 'marriage'. St John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio para 84 made it quite clear that they could not.

There are those such as Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Muller, head of the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith, who say that AL can be read from an orthodox viewpoint and thus can be interpreted as orthodox. On the other hand there are those such as Cardinals Baldisseri, Schonborn and Kasper who have made it plain that in certain circumstances such divorced and remarried can receive communion. The issue goes to the indissolubility of sacramental marriage and that is why it is so important in view of Christ's explicit teaching that marriage was indissoluble and that sexual relations outside that marriage are adultery. Whatever else that might be said about AL, good or bad, this is the most explosive issue.

Perhaps less certain is the position of Pope Francis on this issue. However it is fair to say that at every juncture the Pope appears to have facilitated the views of the three Cardinals which I refer to as the Kasper agenda. This has been documented by Edward Pentin at length in his book “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?” (note the question mark!) and although that was published 16th August 2015 I.e. before the second session of the Synod on the Family in October 2015, nothing that has happened since suggests that this facilitation of the Kasper Agenda has ceased. However one wonders whether there is not something deeper in all this.

The Apostolic Exhortation starts, in the first paragraph, with a quotation from the Relatio Synodi of the first session in 2014 of the Synod on the family: “the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people”. Some in the Western world might doubt the validity of that statement in view of current mores and indeed Pope Francis in his aeroplane conference returning from Lesbos on 16th April 2016 said something rather different: “Do you not realize that the youth don’t want to marry?”

'Time is greater than space'

In para 3 Pope Francis says “time is greater than space” and he has said this elsewhere. The meaning of which is not obvious to me. However it is the premise from which the rest of this important paragraph is intended to follow:

3. Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For “cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied”.

Since time is greater than space...

So we have a premise the meaning of which escaped me and I suspect would escape the understanding of most readers. However this premise is supposed to entail that the Magisterium is not needed to decide on all doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues. So if there is a doctrinal issue we should not expect the magisterium to tell us what the correct doctrine is and this can therefore be interpreted differently from country to country. But surely if we do not know what the correct doctrine is how can we interpret it? If the doctrine is fluid then the interpretations are going to be all over the place. Different interpretations of doctrine means that the doctrine does actually change. Any suggestion that this exhortation is merely about pastoral matters and in no way affects doctrine goes out of the window.

The suggestion is that only later will we know the entire truth about these matters of doctrine, teaching etc and St John is quoted. “This will always the case”. The idea seems to be that in the meantime the different interpretations are equally valid until the Spirit puts us right at some time in the future. However St John was talking about the imminent arrival of the spirit at Pentecost: “It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth”. So this is a process that has been going on for two thousand years in addition to what Christ told us when he was on earth. Are we to put a question mark over what the Church has taught in that period and in particular what Christ said?

Pope Francis puts all this under the idea of inculturation and there is a footnote referring to four texts:

His own address at the conclusion of the Synod in 2015:

The relevant passage in that address would appear to be as follows:

And – apart from dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium – we have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous – almost! – for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion. Cultures are in fact quite diverse, and every general principle – as I said, dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s magisterium – every general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied.[2] The 1985 Synod, which celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, spoke of inculturation as “the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity, and the taking root of Christianity in the various human cultures”.[3] Inculturation does not weaken true values, but demonstrates their true strength and authenticity, since they adapt without changing; indeed they quietly and gradually transform the different cultures.[4]

In para 3 of AL he specifically mentions doctrinal issues. However in this address he first of all excludes 'dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium' implying that up to now there have been no differences over doctrinal issues from country to country but only on other matters. But then in the second sentence he appears to be suggesting that “every general principle – as I said, dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s magisterium – every general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied. That is to say the interpretation and therefore the doctrine is going to be inculturated differently in future from country to country.

It is then a question of what is meant by inculturation. Is inculturation the adapting or using the local culture better to illustrate universal teaching or is it a question of adapting that teaching to fit local culture? Pope Francis seems to be tending towards the latter definition.

I have always seen inculturation as the sort of thing one sees in Portugal: religious artefacts brought back from their days of empire and mission – from China, Japan, Goa, Africa and Brazil such as crucifixes where Christ has oriental, african etc features etc. In the museum at Viseu there is a painting of the visit of the three kings painted in 1506 where one of them is clearly a Brazilian Indian. However Pope Francis seems to be suggesting a much wider ambit for inculturation. 'Pontifical Biblical Commission, Fede e cultura alla luce della Bibbia. Atti della sessione plenaria 1979 della Pontificia Commissione Biblica, Turin, 1981'

From its title this document dealt with Faith and Culture in the light of the Bible. I have not had access to this document so I cannot comment as to what it might say or not say in support of Pope Francis's thesis.

Gaudium et Spes

The reference is to para 44 which is delightfully vague and ambiguous but does not use the word 'inculturation'. Unfortunately it is susceptible to being quoted out of context such as the sentence about the role of the Church: “Her purpose has been to adapt the Gospel to the grasp of all as well as to the needs of the learned, insofar as such was appropriate.” But we are not told what is appropriate! Later, in the same paragraph, we are told that things must be judged in the light of the divine word:

“With the help of the Holy Spirit, it is the task of the entire People of God, especially pastors and theologians, to hear, distinguish and interpret the many voices of our age, and to judge them in the light of the divine word, so that revealed truth can always be more deeply penetrated, better understood and set forth to greater advantage.”

It is surely disingenuous to say that this lends support to Pope Francis's thesis.

4. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio

The reference is to paragraph 52 which inter alia says:

“The process of the Church's insertion into peoples' cultures is a lengthy one. It is not a matter of purely external adaptation, for inculturation "means the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity and the insertion of Christianity in the various human cultures." The process is thus a profound and all-embracing one, which involves the Christian message and also the Church's reflection and practice. But at the same time it is a difficult process, for it must in no way compromise the distinctiveness and integrity of the Christian faith.”

Ouch! Well that makes it very plain as to what St John Paul II meant by inculturation. It must not compromise … the Christian faith. Is this a case where Pope Francis is in direct contradiction with St John Paul II?

Evangelii Gaudium

The references are to paragraphs 69 and 117. However there is nothing in either paragraph that is not in harmony with what St John Paul II wrote and indeed there are footnotes referring to him.

Now where does all this get us? First of all let us get one thing straight. If a doctrine is interpreted differently in country A from country B then you cannot say that the doctrine is the same in both countries. For example the crime of murder in the UK is very carefully defined in the UK by statute and precedent. In other countries there may well be a crime of murder but the intepretation may be quite different even in common law countries. Thus what might be regarded as not murder but merely manslaughter in the UK might well be regarded as murder in the USA where apparently they have degrees of murder that the UK does not have. It is therefore nonsense to say that the law of murder in the UK is the same as in the USA but just interpreted differently.

They're from different parts of the world...but they still smell heresy.

Pope Francis is proposing that doctrine can be interpreted differently in different cultures in certain cases but he does not tell us what those certain cases are. It is left in the air as in Gaudium et Spes. The suggestion is that what Christ says is adultery is not necessarily adultery in certain cultures i.e. the doctrine is not going to be the same in different cultures. This is not just a development of doctrine but fundamentally it is saying that what Christ said was adultery is not adultery. Is that not what Pope Francis is suggesting can be the case?

The next question is why this third paragraph appears as the third paragraph. One might think that an exhortation on the family might first start explaining what a family is or should be, then examine what has gone wrong and then suggest proposals as to how matter could be put right and at that point it could be suggested that things be dealt with differently in difference cultures. Yet here we have this suggestion up front as if the Pope is saying this is a most important point that whatever he may say in the rest of these 325 paragraphs it can all be interpreted differently in different cultures. This is precisely what has happened.

Cardinal Kasper first of all told us that the doctrine and Canon Law have not changed but everything has changed. A contradiction which makes one scratch one's head as to his mental processes. On 22nd April he followed this up with an article in Aachener Zeitung saying:

“The door is open. … There is also some freedom for the individual bishops and bishops’ conferences. … Not all Catholics think the way we Germans think.” And he concludes: “Here [in Germany,]something can be permissible which is forbidden in Africa. Therefore, the pope gives freedom for different situations and future developments.”

More recently we have had the extraordinary interview with Archbishop Bruno Forte on 3rd May:
Archbishop Forte has in fact revealed a “behind the scenes” [moment] from the Synod: “If we speak explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried,” said Archbishop Forte, reporting a joke of Pope Francis, “you do not know what a terrible mess we will make. So we won’t speak plainly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.”

“Typical of a Jesuit,” Abp Forte joked.

So all this is just a matter for jokes. Perhaps Forte is a liar and no such conversation took place but if it did just what are we supposed to think?

But let us go back to the premise “time is greater than space” because there is a very interesting article about this by Fr. Giovanni Scalese to which Sandro Magister has referred us entitled “The four postulates of Pope Francis” of which our premise is the first postulate. Fr Scalese (writing from Afghanistan) suggests that Pope Francis regards the premise as a fundamental first principle incapable of proof but self-evident. Pope Francis explains it in “Evangelii Gaudium” at para 223:

“This principle enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results. It helps us patiently to endure difficult and adverse situations, or inevitable changes in our plans. It invites us to accept the tension between fullness and limitation, and to give a priority to time. One of the faults which we occasionally observe in sociopolitical activity is that spaces and power are preferred to time and processes. Giving priority to space means madly attempting to keep everything together in the present, trying to possess all the spaces of power and of self-assertion; it is to crystallize processes and presume to hold them back. Giving priority to time means being concerned about initiating processes rather than possessing spaces. Time governs spaces, illumines them and makes them links in a constantly expanding chain, with no possibility of return. What we need, then, is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.”

I suppose one could summarise this as emphasising the importance of letting time reveal the full truth. Father Scalese thinks that Pope Francis thought this up himself but he detects “ some threads of idealistic philosophy, like historicism, the primacy of becoming over being, the origin of being from action”. His subsequent unfinished doctorate in Germany probably brought him into contact with some of the Hegelian ideas of Cardinal Kasper and others such as history is God. The other three postulates which Father Scalese says underlie Pope Francis's teaching are:

Unity prevails over conflict - realities are more important than ideas - the whole is greater than the part.

Fr Scalese concludes:

“That Christian doctrine runs the risk of becoming ideology cannot be denied. But the same risk is run by any other principle, including the four postulates of “Evangelii Gaudium”; with the difference that these are the result of human reflection, while Catholic doctrine is founded on divine revelation. May that not happen today which happened to Marx, who, while he taxed with ideology the thinkers who had preceded him, did not realize that he was elaborating one of the most ruinous ideologies of history.”

Is therefore Pope Francis proposing an ideology of his own invention much influenced by German idealism? An ideology that only pays lip service to Christianity? It is tempting to think so amongst all the muddle, waffle and prolixity of his writing. Positioning this paragraph at number 3 of 325 makes sense if we are to see this new ideology as intentionally permeating the whole of Amoris Laetitia and thus raising very serious questions beyond the question of communion for the divorced and remarried.

Lastly another bit of inculturation from Viseu. St Kasper gives communion to a divorced and remarried man. “Just ignore the little devil”.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Solemn Consecration of the City of Aliquippa


To the
Immaculate Heart of Mary
and the
Sacred Heart of Jesus

Saturday, 4 June 2016

        11 AM Divine Liturgy followed by
        Consecration to the Immaculate Heart
        St. George Byzantine Catholic Church
        1001 Clinton Street, Aliquippa

        1PM Consecration to the Sacred Heart
        followed by
        Solemn High Traditional Latin Mass
        St. Titus Roman Catholic Church
        952 Franklin Avenue, Aliquippa

        Additional information here.

Update: Report and photos of the consecration here.

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Sunday, 24 April 2016

On Praying for Life

Pope St. John Paul II on Praying for Life

The sanctity of life issue has risen to the forefront of the American polity.  

The Supreme Court is deciding a religious liberty case on whether the Little Sisters of the Poor should be forced to violate their consciences by passive compliance with the Obamacare Contraception Mandate.  

Republican Presidential front runner Donald Trump took myriad alleged pro life positions, including the modest proposal of legally punishing aborting mothers. Then Trump lapsed into allowing the status quo. However, in a Today Show Townhall, Trump vowed to change the GOP pro life platform to allow exceptions which Planned Parenthood would endorse.  

Congress continues to investigate how Planned Parenthood was selling baby body parts and altering abortion procedures to maximize the harvest. But these hearings received scant coverage in the Lamestream Media.

With all this in mind, Father Frank Pavone and the Priests for Life are engaged in a campaign of prayer and fasting to end abortion in the United States along with the evils perpetrated by Planned Parenthood. 

Father, you have created us in body and soul
To honor you and our neighbor
And to receive honor and respect in return.

Our bodies are sacred.
They reflect you, our Creator.
And we hold sacred
The bodies of all the children in the womb.

Lord, we are saddened
That these children are being killed,
And saddened again
That their body parts are being harvested and sold.

Have mercy on our nation.
Have mercy on those who are perpetrating these evils.
As more and more people become aware of this,
Turn their hearts towards you,
The Fountain of life and love.

Give consolation to all who have had abortions,
And give wisdom to our public officials
That they may respond adequately
To the corruption found in the abortion industry.

Grant that we,
The People of Life and the People of Mercy,
May recommit ourselves to building a nation
Without abortion and without the many evils that flow from it.

May we choose life;
May we choose mercy;
May we choose your Kingdom!
Through Christ our Lord. Amen
Some may wonder, why pray to end abortion, especially as the Lord's Prayer includes the intention "Thy will be done".

Perhaps the point is that is is our invitation to participate in building the Kingdom of God even through the power of prayer.  Such sentiments echo Pope St. John Paul II's exhortation in Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life, 1995).

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