A Pulverised Society

The starting point is only the love of God. There is no other solution. We can love our neighbor as God has loved us, just because God has loved us first. So, when we speak of love, we are not referring to an abstract and passing sentimentalism, but of a lasting and eternal love. Love is a term so abused and disfigured in contemporary society that we should all have at least a little bit of discretion in pronouncing the word. Today we are confronted with a type of compassionate technicality, according to which in the name of love we come to the point of killing each other — through euthanasia or abortion — so as to free the other from his suffering! Do you realize what an abominable point we are approaching? We use the words love, sentiment, affection — to justify what is an act of death! Instead, as Benedict XVI wrote in the Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”: “Love is “divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a “we” which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28)”. But love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable: the Church herself is the fruit of a love story. Love is demanding! To truly love is to love even unto death — even death on a cross. Modern man is discouraged by the journey that awaits him because he does not understand the reason why he lives: he needs high goals, yearns for high goals because his goal is holiness. A mountaineer aims for the peak of the mountain because he knows that there he will find peace and refreshment whereas, if he were to listen to the voices of those who discourage him, he would fall into the rift. The fact is that nowadays it seems easier not to commit to greater vocations: we live in a pulverized society, in a culture where personal desires become rights. Man must understand that holiness is a path to follow every day, offering to God the value of the things that we do: in the family, at work, in social and community life. This is what the great saints of the Church teach us. And nothing could be more beautiful.

Robert Cardinal Sarah in interview with Izabella Parowicz (http://www.pch24.pl).

No Such Mandate

Second Vatican Œcumenical Council.
Second Vatican Œcumenical Council.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the [Second Vatican Œcumenical] Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.

Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia Offering Them His Christmas Greetings, Thursday, 22 December 2005.

Only in Self-Giving Does Man Find Himself

Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI.

So it became clear that the question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human. The challenges involved are manifold. First of all there is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment. Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? Does this correspond to man’s nature? Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to freedom? Is commitment also worth suffering for? Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the Occasion of Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005.

No Power to Change the Doctrine of the Church

The Holy Family by Juan Simón Gutierrez, 1680.
The Holy Family by Juan Simón Gutierrez, 1680.

Intervention at the 6th general session
Saturday, 10 October 2015.
+ Stanisław Gądecki, Metropolitan Archbishop of Poznań
President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

To begin, I want to emphasize that the following intervention reflects not only my personal opinion, but the opinion of the entire Polish Bishops’ Conference.

1, There is no doubt that the Church of our time must—in a spirit of mercy—help civilly remarried divorcees with special charity, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, while they may indeed, as baptized, participate in Her life.

Let us, therefore, encourage them 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 (cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 84).

2, Yet, the Church—in Her teaching on the admission of remarried divorcees—cannot yield to the will of man, but only to the will of Christ (cf. Paul VI, Address to the Roman Rota, 01.28.1978; John Paul II, Address to the Roman Rota, 01.23.1992, 01.29.1993 and 01.22.1996). Consequently, the Church cannot let Herself be led by feelings of false compassion for people or by modes of thought that—despite their worldwide popularity—are mistaken.

Admitting to Communion those who continue cohabiting “more uxorio” [as a husband and wife] without the sacramental bond would be contrary to the Tradition of the Church. The documents of the first synods of Elvira, Arles and Neocaesarea, which took place in the years 304-319, already confirmed the Church’s doctrine of not admitting the divorced who have remarried to Eucharistic Communion.

This position is based on the fact that “their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist” (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 84; 1 Cor 11:27–29; Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 29; Francis, Angelus, 16 August 2015).

3, The Eucharist is the sacrament of the baptized who are in the state of sacramental grace. Admitting the civilly remarried divorcees to Holy Communion would cause great damage not only to family pastoral ministry, but also to the Church’s doctrine of sanctifying grace.

In fact, the decision to admit them to Holy Communion would open the door to this sacrament for all who live in mortal sin. This in turn would lead to the elimination of the Sacrament of Penance and distort the significance of living in the state of sanctifying grace. Moreover, it must be noted that the Church cannot accept the so-called “gradualness of the law” (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 34).

As Pope Francis reminded us, we who are here do not want and do not have power to change the doctrine of the Church.

Sine Ulla Condicione

Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI.

Ei Nos, sicut Petrus, quoque fidelitatem Nostram sine ulla condicione promissam renovamus. Ei uni servire cogitamus Nosque totos eius Ecclesiae ministerio devovere. Primum nuntium Summi Pontificis Benedicti XVI post concelebrationem eucharisticam cum cardinalibus electoribus in Capella Sistina, die XX mensis Aprilis, anno Domini MMV.

Ad Multos Annos!

Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI.

The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man… from here it becomes all the more clear how contrary it is to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman, to systematically close their union to the gift of life, and even worse to suppress or tamper with the life that is born. Pope Benedict XVI.

Naïveté

Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI.

Those who expected that with this fundamental “yes” to the modern era all tensions would be dispelled and that the “openness towards the world” accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.

They had underestimated the perilous frailty of human nature which has been a threat to human progress in all the periods of history and in every historical constellation. These dangers, with the new possibilities and new power of man over matter and over himself, did not disappear but instead acquired new dimensions: a look at the history of the present day shows this clearly. Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the Occasion of Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005.

When Their Time Comes

I often think about the still-Anglican members of that Working Party, and my other friends in the priesthood and episcopate of the provinces of Canterbury and York, with great affection, mingled with sadness at the thought of how much fun, how much sense of real purpose, they are missing out on; how much real talent is being wasted on a dead end; how very much some of them could offer to the great project outlined by Aidan Nichols, of repatriating to Catholic Unity all that was good in Anglicanism. So far, we haven’t attended to much more than the liturgical side of things; I claim that I am doing my humblest best but there’s work here for dozens (especially, but by no means only, those with academic skills). And there are others … Fr Brooke Lunn; Fr David Holding; many more … who have spent decades talking about Unity with the See of Peter … what is one to say …

I ought to make it clear that I am not ‘proselytising’. I do not have in mind younger clergy who have, with a good conscience, discerned a particular ministry to be completed within the Church of England. I am not thinking of those who are not and never have been ‘papalists’; those for whom going to Rome is as problematic (or even more so) than staying. I have in mind solely those who, when we were together, by their words and body-language, made clear that Rome, ‘the rock from which we were hewn’ as one of them repeatedly put it, was the answer to our pressing need; those who cheerfully said to a PEV ‘Give us the lead, Bishop, and we’ll follow’; those who told us that they would just put in the few more years necessary to secure their pensions and then join us; and, inexplicably, have been nowhere to be seen since the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Of one thing I am sure. When their time comes, it must be made easy for them (and indeed also for those ex-diocesan bishops, if only they can be man enough and humble enough). There must be no unpleasant nonsense about how they missed the opportunity when the ‘terms’ were easy. Men who have spent 50 years in the Sacred Priesthood, who are priests to their fingertips, must not be told that they are “too old” for the presbyterate of the Ordinariate; that never again can they expect to stand at an altar holding in their hands the Adorable Sacrifice, that vocation which in the Mind of the Eternal was theirs before the ages began. There must be no subtle (or unsubtle!) systems of discouragement. The spirit of Benedict’s gracious intentions must be honoured to the full. The doors must be widely and generously and permanently open. These are good and able men, fine priests, who are called by God to give service in His Vineyard. To treat them in any way otherwise would be very wicked. Fr. John Hunwicke.

Deo Gratias!

Finally, some superb news about the future — and hopefully permanent — Eucharistic Liturgy of the Anglican Personal Ordinariates! Following on Msgr. Andrew Burnham’s address at the recent Sacra Liturgia Conference in Rome, there is very strong evidence that indeed the established Liturgy of the Anglican Personal Ordinariates erected under the auspices of Pope Benedict XVI in his motu proprio Anglicanorum cœtibus, and currently being developed by the interdicastrial group Anglicanæ traditiones and reportedly being auditioned in four Ordinariate parishes around the world, will incorporate much from the Vetus Ordo, the so-called Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite — and the Anglican Missal tradition. The prayers at the foot of the Altar, the Last Gospel, the traditional Offertory, &c…

Stay tuned and keep praying!

A Council Apart

Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Lothar Wolleh (1930–1979).
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Lothar Wolleh (1930–1979).

I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the latter, through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers was conducted within the faith – it was a Council of faith seeking intellectus, seeking to understand itself and seeking to understand the signs of God at that time, seeking to respond to the challenge of God at that time and to find in the word of God a word for today and tomorrow – while all the Council, as I said, moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of the journalists, naturally, was not conducted within the faith, but within the categories of today’s media, namely apart from faith, with a different hermeneutic. It was a political hermeneutic: for the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different trends in the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world. There were those who sought the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression “People of God”, power for the people, the laity. There was this threefold question: the power of the Pope, which was then transferred to the power of the bishops and the power of all – popular sovereignty. Naturally, for them, this was the part to be approved, to be promulgated, to be favoured. So too with the liturgy: there was no interest in liturgy as an act of faith, but as something where comprehensible things are done, a matter of community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a tendency, not without a certain historical basis, to say: sacrality is a pagan thing, perhaps also a thing of the Old Testament. In the New Testament it matters only that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, in the profane world. Sacrality must therefore be abolished, and profanity now spreads to worship: worship is no longer worship, but a community act, with communal participation: participation understood as activity. These translations, trivializations of the idea of the Council, were virulent in the process of putting the liturgical reform into practice; they were born from a vision of the Council detached from its proper key, that of faith. And the same applies to the question of Scripture: Scripture is a book, it is historical, to be treated historically and only historically, and so on.

We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council.

MEETING WITH THE PARISH PRIESTS AND THE CLERGY OF ROME
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI

Paul VI Audience Hall
Thursday, 14 February 2013.

h/t to Rorate Cæli.

Tu Es Petrus (At Least for Another Week)

Today’s news of the pending “resignation”of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is most distressing — not simply the notion that a pope would abdicate the throne, (though I seem to remember that St. Peter persevered to the bitter end on a Roman cross), but because of the practical ramifications of the Holy Father’s vision of the papacy as expressed in his surprise announcement in today’s consistory.

However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.

I take great issue with the pope’s idea that a “modern” pontiff need any special strengths more aptly suited to the circumstances of today’s Church than were perhaps necessary for his predecessors. I feel certain that the Holy Ghost need not impart any extraordinary modernist graces to today’s uniquely challenged popes. It has been reported, for example, that one of the factors in the Holy Father’s decision may have been his doctor’s advice to refrain from any further overseas trips.

It seems certain that the Holy Father’s health is deteriorating — perhaps very quickly. I of course pray for the health and long life of the Successor of St. Peter. I can not pretend to know why the Holy Father does not wish to occupy the papal throne until his death — which despite his many and deep personal flaws, his immediate predecessor Pope John Paul II did humbly with admirable grace, despite his very public illness and decline.

The duty of the Bishop of Rome is to govern the Universal Church as the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, the God-Man Who emptied Himself — in extreme humiliation, openly before the whole world — to willingly suffer, become weak and ultimately, from a human perspective, powerless for the Redemption of His Church. Despite the egotistical and flamboyant escapades of his (rashly) blessed predecessor, Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father does not need to jet around the world headlining outdoor mega-masses that derive more inspiration from Woodstock and Lalapalooza than the Cenacle. Nor does a pope need to receive mariachi bands, trapeze artists, and children’s choirs in front of a cheering crowd in the Paul VI Audience Hall each Wednesday. In fact, he need not be seen at all. For well on nineteen hundred years, the vast majority of Catholics hadn’t the vaguest idea of what their pope looked like in person — and it neither impeded them in their faith nor the supreme pontiff in the exercise of his most dread office.

The reigns of Paul VI and John Paul II have deeply perverted the mission of the papacy, and Pope Benedict XVI has finally and fully acquiesced to this modernist vision of the Petrine Office. Will his successor have the courage to break from this mould or will the papacy descend further into the cesspool of collegiality, Curial bureaucracy, pastoral doublespeak, pathetic impotence, and ultimate irrelevance?

Let us all pray that the College of Cardinals will be open to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and that the new pope will represent a return to the traditional role of the Successor of St. Peter in the Catholic Church.

Of Wars and Rumours of Wars

I have been informed of an upcoming clandestine meeting of clerics who were recently expelled from the FSSPX. These priests were invited to leave the Society after the intrigue and disobedience surrounding their opposition to the Superior General of the FSSPX and his cautious willingness to engage the Roman authorities regarding the doctrinal issues which have kept — and continue to keep — the Society in a canonically irregular state within the Catholic Church. They denounced Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, as a traitor to the memory and mission of the Society’s founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, for +Fellay’s mere willingness to communicate with the Holy Father and officials in the Roman Curia after the Supreme Pontiff liberated the traditional Mass and “lifted” Pope John Paul II’s 1988 excommunications of the Society’s bishops.

The report suggests that this meeting is to be held in two weeks’ time at Vienna in Virginia, being hosted by Fr. Ronald Ringrose. Bishop Richard Williamson, a former member of the FSSPX, will be in attendance. The purpose of the secret conclave is to reorganise amongst themselves what they see as being the “true” Society of St. Pius X, and, most distressingly, to consecrate a new bishop for their new hardline sect. It is rumoured that Fr. Joseph Pfeiffer is to be chosen a bishop at this time.