Alarm is continuing to spread throughout the Church over the pontificate of Pope Francis. This is one of the most thorough presentations I have seen to date, from Fr. Linus Clovis at a pro-life conference in Rome last week. Sober, direct, but charitable and non-hysterical. It’s worth your time.
God willing, and God helping, there seems to have a been a breakthrough. Two prominent Catholic theologians in good standing – neither of whom are particularly known as firebrands – are tackling the egregious error that Pope Francis inserted into Evangelii Gaudium 161. One has already done so publicly at Rorate Caeli this morning.
While Pope Francis has certainly pushed the envelope, the trajectory began with Pope Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council. One Peter Five has some balanced commentary and history in this important article – The Greatest Commandment: Did a Council and Two Popes Teach Error?
Please take the time to read it. This conversation desperately needs to happen, and it needs to happen in the Catholic mainstream. The tragic anthropomorphizing of Catholic life over the last 40 to 50 years can be traced directly to the perverting of Our Lord’s Greatest Commandment. As it turns out, this is all by design.
St. Therese Chapel in Chico, California, is served by priests of the Society of St. Pius X on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month. The traditional Latin Mass is celebrated at 10:00am on those Sundays. Holy Mass is also offered on some feast days when a priest is available. The street address of St. Therese Chapel is 1749 Spruce Avenue, Chico, CA 95926. For more information, please contact Mr. Mark Gruber at 530-899-7700.
Holy Thursday, 2015.
Fr. David Nichols at the chapel’s crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 3, 2015.
This post by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf inspired a lively discussion with some erudite comments. One reader suggested that the next president, if sufficiently conservative, could head off the persecution that seems to be barreling towards us at breakneck speed. To that idea, a fellow named Dennis Martin responded:
“No president can change the trajectory. The bureaucracy can destroy any president it sets out to destroy. Even if a incredibly gifted president-leader managed to move reform legislation through Congress, the fundamentally lawless mentality of a rising majority of the culture would do a ‘non serviam’.
The Department of Justice is now loaded with radical civil service appointees who cannot be removed because of civil service protection. The federal appeals courts are loaded similarly because the Democrats politicized judicial appointments 30 years ago (Bork), denied George Bush many of his appointments, and then railroaded many of Obama’s during the last Congress. Beyond that the law schools are hopelessly politicized. The chatterati, the intellectuals, the journalists, the financial sector–all the movers and shakers are now post-Christian, deeply-contraceptive, deeply anti-nature and thus deeply lawless. They don’t realize it but they have no god but Power.
The problem is far beyond what even the most gifted single leader can address. We have a culture that is anti-culture, that hates law itself, hates nature itself. No, not everyone is like that but the elites of the culture and, in a curious but really not surprising way, also the hoi polloi in the ‘just gimme mine and leave me alone’ segments of the culture, are like that now.
Nature is real and powerful and in the end will reassert Herself as the truth from the Creator. Human nature, divine nature, natural law cannot be buried for ever. But they can be buried for the lifetimes of one or more generations–until the prosperity and comfort built up over centuries is finally dissipated and brutal scramble for survival sets in. The truths of Caritas and Creator will eventually be rediscovered, in desperation and calamity at the bottom. But not before much evil and bloodshed has been visited upon this and other lands.”
Absent a miracle from heaven on a grand scale, I have to agree with Mr. Martin. All is masterfully arranged. Everything is now in place, including a relentless and ubiquitous propaganda infrastructure. And while many Americans are still kindasorta sympathetic to Christian morality, insofar as it fits their favorite political narrative, that sympathy is hopelessly soft and easily swayed by the emotional manipulation of the Left. Not that “conservatives” don’t also resort to emotional manipulation, but grown-ups always fail when they try to be cool. When it comes to the same-sex “marriage” issue, the sob stories of the Left are more persuasive for a couple of reasons – first, most Americans accept Liberalism’s flawed assumptions about reality; and second, most Americans place a high premium on their own sexual freedom.
It seems ridiculous and surreal that something as marginal as homosexuality would trigger the demise of a great civilization. In 500 years, if this poor earth is still around, archaeologists and historians will be scratching their heads at this one.
Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, is definitely one of our best bishops. Articulate, energetic, and intelligent, he is an outspoken defender of the traditional liturgy and celebrates it regularly. In addition, he contributes in concrete ways towards improving the celebration of the Novus Ordo. His participation in this Gregorian Chant workshop held at a Brigittine Monastery is a case in point.
We can certainly go a long way with the sermon he preached in this video. It’s a plea for unity of mission and purpose in the Catholic Church. More specifically, though, he’s saying that adherents of TLM should not be needlessly divisive; that we should be joyful and filled with charity towards our fellow Catholics; that we should refrain from harsh and bitter language; and that we should strive to remove any exaggerated divisions that are the result of liturgical sensibilities. All good advice in a Church where the “angry trad” stereotype makes the job of good bishops that much more difficult. But he also suggests – rather strongly – that traditionalists should not view the Novus Ordo as inferior or defective, and should refrain from criticizing problems in the Novus Ordo milieu. These remarks begin at 13:05 and continue for the rest of the video.
Unfortunately this last bit is asking too much. The Novus Ordo is without question an inferior and defective liturgy, and its defects have had enormous consequences. That doesn’t mean we should always be shouting this from the rooftops – there is a time and place to discuss such things: discernment and prudence is needed – but it would be wrong to give the impression that the TLM is a mere personal preference without any qualitative content. There also needs to be a realization that unity is pointless (or even harmful) unless it is unity in the truth. Unity does not exist for its own sake. The “gospel” preached these days by even the best in the hierarchy, going all the way to the top, is so weak and empty as to be an embarrassment. Are we to be united in the “gospel” of social work, of being nice to people, or even of loving our neighbor? Not even the so-called “gospel of life” counts as the real Gospel. There’s nothing wrong with unity around these admirable things, but it’s not unity in the Gospel or in the mission of the Catholic Church! The Church exists fundamentally for the salvation of souls. Nothing else is even a close second. I’m sure Archbishop Sample would agree, but the point is that Catholic unity is not possible until Catholics actually believe in the tenets of their own religion once again.
There does seem to be a heightened sense among many prelates that division in the Church is, today, reaching the level of a crisis. Catholic unity is threatened as never before. Division in the Church is certainly a scandal, and many of our divisions can be healed with the exercise of simple charity. But there is another kind of division that charity alone cannot bridge. We need to understand that doctrinal dissent and bad liturgy have made certain divisions insurmountable. Mutual love between orthodox and heterodox Catholics doesn’t create unity in the Gospel. Only a return to God and a reverence for all of His gifts, bequeathed to us in the Church, will end the division. The Novus Ordo liturgy and the revolution that followed was, more than anything, a rejection of those gifts. It’s not too late to lay down our arms and receive His gifts again with gratitude.
My blog statistics yesterday indicated one visit from a reader in the tiny nation of Kiribati. I had never heard of this place, so I decided to do a little research. It turns out that Kiribati is a nation of 33 mostly uninhabited islands in the south Pacific. The total population is just over 100,000, and the people are predominantly Catholic. The interesting thing about this place is that the islands are sinking into the Pacific at a rate so alarming that the government is calling for the voluntary evacuation of the entire country. Last year, Kiribati purchased 7.7 square miles of forested land in the Fiji islands for the express purpose of relocating its population.
This short documentary explains their predicament:
In this video, some unsuspecting tourists find themselves in the middle of a rosary procession:
Since the Synod last October, there have been numerous reports indicating the extreme concern and dissatisfaction of the Polish hierarchy with the direction of the Church under Pope Francis. The latest report from Radio Poland uses the strongest language I have seen to date:
“Pope Francis is openly departing from the teaching of the ‘Polish pope’, Zdort wrote in daily Rzeczpospolita on Friday.
Pope Francis may be be seeking the establishment of a new religion, distinct from Catholicism since John Paul II’s teaching was without a doubt within the Catholic tradition, Zdort wrote.
The traditionalist writer sees the potential for a schism, as ‘never before has such a large (and growing) group of hierarchs been openly against the incumbent pope’s chief contribution to ideas.’ As examples of opposition figures, Zdort names Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and the archbishop of Warsaw, Henryk Hoser.
In Pope Francis’s overtures to divorcees or gays, the Church has ‘betrayed John Paul II,’ Zdort quotes Archbishop Hoser as saying.”
At the link is a beautiful story about the only non-Egyptian of the Christians beheaded by Islamist savages this month.
“He was a Chadian Citizen (Darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, ‘their God is my God’ so the terrorist beheaded him also.”
I don’t hesitate to use the word “martyr” with a small “m”. That doesn’t mean I want these men canonized by the Catholic Church – on the contrary – but it does mean that they died for the love of Jesus Christ. The word “victim” just isn’t enough.
It is one of the great tragedies of our time that the Catholic Church reels from such unprecedented internal divisions. The modernists – now firmly in control under Pope Francis – are more alienated from orthodox Catholicism than were any of the ancient heretics whose errors, by comparison, seem like mere child’s play. This crisis has brought even the possibility of evangelism to a halt. It isn’t clear anymore to which set of “Catholic” beliefs a convert would be converting to. Indeed, we see a kind of reverse evangelism in actual practice – “stick to your non-Catholic religion and dialogue with us”.
Readers of this blog are well aware of the crisis and its sad details, so I’ll say no more about it here.
Orthodox Catholics have survived until now due, in part, to their hard-won knowledge of a “secret” and unpublicized network inside the Church. Most every diocese has an oasis or two. We all know which priests, parishes, schools, organizations, religious orders, seminaries, and colleges can be trusted. We’ll drive for hours and make tremendous sacrifices to find them. We’ll pack up and move to be close to them. We’ll spend ourselves into penury so they can educate our children. Etc.
There is every reason to believe that this underground “A”-list is soon to be put to the test. I’m not Ann Barnhardt’s biggest fan (for reasons of tone more than anything), but lately she’s been hitting it out of the park. Miss Barnhardt refers us to a Remnant article by Megaera Erinyes concerning the October Synod and its obvious raison d’etre, from which she quotes the following:
“The gravity of this looming crisis cannot be overstated. If this proposal is adopted, it will be more far-reaching than any other of the post-Conciliar manipulations like Communion in the hand or altar girls. This will strike, in one blow, against the very pillars of the Faith: the Eucharist and the priesthood. The Eucharist, the presence of which was barely preserved in the New Mass, will be systematically desecrated. And those who will be expected to do the desecrating will be the priests, who will certainly be punished if they refuse.
It will also put paid to whatever hopes we have of restoring the Faith by the work of an up-and-coming young faithful priesthood, since only men who have demonstrated their willingness to desecrate the Holy Eucharist will be considered suitable for the seminary.”
In other words, many if not most priests will be obliged to knowingly facilitate sacrilegious communions – objective desecrations of the holy Eucharist – and will likely be disciplined or even removed from ministry if they refuse. Barhardt then tells us how she will personally handle the situation:
“IF this Bergoglio-Kasper plan is brought to fruition, I will refuse, AS POLICY to attend any Mass celebrated by a priest who has not, either personally or through his order, fraternity or society, made a positive statement of rejection, refusal and resistance to the Bergoglio-Kasper plan, and made a positive statement of fidelity to the teaching and Magisterium of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Body and Bride of Jesus Christ. I suspect this is what Cardinal Raymond Burke was referencing when he said ‘I will resist’. And this is also what I suspect Pope Benedict XVI was referencing when he said that the Church was going to become ‘very compact’.
To be present at such a Mass, where Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist was being knowingly desecrated by the priest at the distribution of Holy Communion, would be a grave, grave sin.
And PLEASE REMEMBER that these lines will NOT be drawn strictly down the Novus Ordo – Traditional Mass line. There will be groups and priests who celebrate the Traditional Mass who will capitulate on this, too. I suspect that MOST, but not all, Novus Ordo priests will capitulate to Bergoglio, if it comes to that, and that MOST of the Remnant Church will be tied to the Old Rite, but the delineation will not be perfect along that line. There will be crossovers on both sides. One will have to do one’s due diligence.”
I agree entirely with her comment about the new line of delineation crossing both traditionalist and Novus Ordo ranks. Absent some very tolerant bishops (don’t count on it), what this means is that the new “A” list – once the shifting alliances have settled in – will essentially be a small network of faithful priests who will be forced into the catacombs, some of them (perhaps most) operating without faculties. Sound familiar? If almighty God does not intervene to avert this disaster, may He grant us the faith, hope, and charity we will need to persevere.
Yesterday, on February 23, it was reported that Pope Francis formally declared Gregory of Narek to be a Doctor of the Universal Church. Gregory of Narek was an Armenian priest, monk, and poet who is greatly revered by Armenians but virtually unknown otherwise. Bypassing what must be dozens of qualified orthodox Catholics (Dom Prosper Gueranger is already de facto a doctor of this stature), Pope Francis instead chose an obscure mystic who died in schism, and who was presumably an adherent of the Miaphysite heresy in conflict with the Council of Chalcedon. Traditionally, a Doctor of the Church is chosen only among recognized Catholic saints. So far as I can tell, Gregory of Narek is the first and only non-Catholic among only 36 doctors of the Church.
Is this a problem? Well, the words of the Catholic Encyclopedia are somewhat consoling:
“It is not in any way an ‘ex cathedra’ decision, nor does it even amount to a declaration that no error is to be found in the teaching of the Doctor. It is, indeed, well known that the very greatest of them are not wholly immune from error.”
And yet, and yet …. this is setting a potentially disastrous precedent. Gregory of Narek may have been a man of extraordinary sanctity; he may have been a great teacher; and it may be a laudable thing that his works become known to the larger Christian world outside of the Armenian community. But if a man is declared a “Doctor of the Universal Church”, the faithful have the right to assume that he is, at the very least, a Catholic. Furthermore, as Ann Barnhardt drives home, granting this title to a non-Catholic Armenian priest sends an unmistakable message to all the faithful: heresy and schism are no big deal.
Why this unsettling choice? It really makes no sense of any kind. Given what we know about Pope Francis and his appalling religious indifferentism, it is safe to assume that he has an ulterior motive. Let me make a little prediction: Pope Francis is preparing the faithful for the canonization of the first non-Catholic “Catholic” “saint”. Anyone care to guess who that might be?