Category Archives: Church

CATASTROPHE! A Cardinal’s Warning

CATASTROPHE!: A WARNING FROM THE LATE CARDINAL PELL

The late Cardinal Pell has been revealed as the source of a scathing indictment of the current pope, posted anonymously (by “Demos”) last April in a letter to all Catholic Cardinals and Bishops.

The charges are clear and damning.  The papal failure to respond to heretical teachings by the Germans. The idolatrous Pachamama worship. The persecution of charismatics and contemplative orders of nuns. The ghettoization of Latin Mass traditionalists.  The abandonment of faithful Catholics in China and Ukraine. The corruption of the Jesuit order. The Academy for Life gravely damaged, e.g., some members recently supported assisted suicide. The Pontifical Academies have members and visiting speakers who support abortion.

“After Vatican II, Catholic authorities often underestimated the hostile power of secularization, the world, flesh, and the devil, especially in the Western world and overestimated the influence and strength of the Catholic Church.

He summarizes: in the past, the saying was “Roma locuta. Causa finita est.” (Rome has spoken; the case is closed). Today it is: “Roma loquitur. Confusio augetur.” (Rome talks, confusion grows.)

And he wisely warns: “Schism is not likely to occur from the left, who often sit lightly to doctrinal issues. Schism is more likely to come from the right and is always possible when liturgical tensions are inflamed and not dampened.”

I have attached here the full text of Cardinal Pell’s prophetic letter.

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THE VATICAN TODAY

Commentators of every school, if for different reasons, with the possible exception of Father Spadaro, SJ, agree that this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe.

1. The Successor of St. Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, a major source and cause of worldwide unity. Historically (St. Irenaeus), the Pope and the Church of Rome have a unique role in preserving the apostolic tradition, the rule of faith, in ensuring that the Churches continue to teach what Christ and the apostles taught. Previously it was: “Roma locuta. Causa finita est.” Today it is: “Roma loquitur. Confusio augetur.”

(A)    The German synod speaks on homosexuality, women priests, communion for the divorced. The Papacy is silent.

(B)    Cardinal Hollerich rejects the Christian teaching on sexuality. The Papacy is silent. This is doubly significant because the Cardinal is explicitly heretical; he does not use code or hints. If the Cardinal were to continue without Roman correction, this would represent another deeper breakdown of discipline, with few (any?) precedents in history. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must act and speak.

(C)    The silence is emphasised when contrasted with the active persecution of the Traditionalists and the contemplative convents.

2. The Christo-centricity of teaching is being weakened; Christ is being moved from the centre. Sometimes Rome even seems to be confused about the importance of a strict monotheism, hinting at some wider concept of divinity; not quite pantheism, but like a Hindu panentheism variant.

(A)    Pachamama is idolatrous; perhaps it was not intended as such initially.

(B)    The contemplative nuns are being persecuted and attempts are being made to change the teachings of the charismatics.

(C)    The Christo-centric legacy of St. John Paul II in faith and morals is under systematic attack. Many of the staff of the Roman Institute for the Family have been dismissed; most students have left. The Academy for Life is gravely damaged, e.g., some members recently supported assisted suicide. The Pontifical Academies have members and visiting speakers who support abortion.

3. The lack of respect for the law in the Vatican risks becoming an international scandal. These issues have been crystalized through the present Vatican trial of ten accused of financial malpractices, but the problem is older and wider.

(A)    The Pope has changed the law four times during the trial to help the prosecution.

(B)    Cardinal Becciu has not been treated justly because he was removed from his position and stripped of his cardinalatial dignities without any trial. He did not receive due process. Everyone has a right to due process.

(C)    As the Pope is head of the Vatican state and the source of all legal authority, he has used this power to intervene in legal procedures.

(D)    The Pope sometimes (often) rules by papal decrees (motu proprio) which eliminate the right to appeal of those affected.

(E)    Many staff, often priests, have been summarily dismissed from the Vatican Curia, often without good reason.

(F)    Phone tapping is regularly practised. I am not sure how often it is authorized.

(G)    In the English case against Torzi, the judge criticised the Vatican prosecutors harshly. They are either incompetent and/or were nobbled, prevented from giving the full picture.

(H)    The raid by the Vatican Gendarmeria, led by Dr. Giani in 2017 on the auditor’s (Libero Milone) office on Italian territory was probably illegal and certainly intimidating and violent. It is possible that evidence against Milone was fabricated.

4. (A) The financial situation of the Vatican is grave. For the past ten years (at least), there have nearly always been financial deficits. Before COVID, these deficits ranged around €20 million annually. For the last three years, they have been around €30-35 million annually. The problems predate both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict.

(B)    The Vatican is facing a large deficit in the Pensions Fund. Around 2014 the experts from COSEA estimated the deficit would be around € 800 million in 2030. This was before COVID.

(C)    It is estimated that the Vatican has lost € 217 million on the Sloane Avenue property in London. In the 1980’s, the Vatican was forced to pay out $ 230 million after the Banco Ambrosiano scandal. Through inefficiency and corruption during the past 25-30 years, the Vatican has lost at least another € 100 million, and it probably would be much higher (perhaps 150-200 million).

(D)    Despite the Holy Father’s recent decision, the process of investing has not been centralized (as recommended by COSEA in 2014 and attempted by the Secretariat for the Economy in 2015-16) and remains immune to expert advice. For decades, the Vatican has dealt with disreputable financiers avoided by all respectable bankers in Italy.

(E)    The return on the 5261 Vatican properties remains scandalously low. In 2019, the return (before COVID) was nearly $ 4,500 a year. In 2020, it was € 2,900 per property.

(F)    The changing role of Pope Francis in the financial reforms (incomplete but substantial progress as far as reducing crime is concerned, much less successful, except at IOR, in terms of profitability) is a mystery and an enigma.

Initially the Holy Father strongly backed the reforms. He then prevented the centralization of investments, opposed the reforms and most attempts to unveil corruption, and supported (then) Archbishop Becciu, at the centre of Vatican financial establishment. Then in 2020, the Pope turned on Becciu and eventually ten persons were placed on trial and charged. Over the years, few prosecutions were attempted from AIF reports of infringements.

The external auditors Price Waterhouse and Cooper were dismissed and the Auditor General Libero Milone was forced to resign on trumped up charges in 2017. They were coming too close to the corruption in the Secretariat of State.

5. The political influence of Pope Francis and the Vatican is negligible. Intellectually, Papal writings demonstrate a decline from the standard of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Decisions and policies are often “politically correct”, but there have been grave failures to support human rights in Venezuela, Hong Kong, mainland China, and now in the Russian invasion.

There has been no public support for the loyal Catholics in China who have been intermittently persecuted for their loyally to the Papacy for more than 70 years. No public Vatican support for the Catholic community in Ukraine, especially the Greek Catholics.

These issues should be revisited by the next Pope. The Vatican’s political prestige is now at a low ebb.

6. At a different, lower level, the situation of Tridentine traditionalists (Catholic) should be regularised.

At a further and lower level, the celebration of “individual” and small group Masses in the mornings in St. Peter’s Basilica should be permitted once again. At the moment, this great basilica is like a desert in the early morning.

The COVID crisis has covered up the large decline in the number of pilgrims attending Papal audiences and Masses.

The Holy Father has little support among seminarians and young priests and wide-spread disaffection exists in the Vatican Curia.

The Next Conclave

1. The College of Cardinals has been weakened by eccentric nominations and has not been reconvened after the rejection of Cardinal Kasper’s views in the 2014 consistory. Many Cardinals are unknown to one another, adding a new dimension of unpredictability to the next conclave.

2. After Vatican II, Catholic authorities often underestimated the hostile power of secularization, the world, flesh, and the devil, especially in the Western world and overestimated the influence and strength of the Catholic Church.

We are weaker than 50 years ago and many factors are beyond our control, in the short term at least, e.g. the decline in the number of believers, the frequency of Mass attendance, the demise or extinction of many religious orders.

3. The Pope does not need to be the world’s best evangelist, nor a political force. The successor of Peter, as head of the College of Bishops, also successors of the Apostles, has a foundational role for unity and doctrine. The new pope must understand that the secret of Christian and Catholic vitality comes from fidelity to the teachings of Christ and Catholic practices. It does not come from adapting to the world or from money.

4. The first tasks of the new pope will be to restore normality, restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, restore a proper respect for the law and ensure that the first criterion for the nomination of bishops is acceptance of the apostolic tradition. Theological expertise and learning are an advantage, not a hinderance for all bishops and especially archbishops.

These are necessary foundations for living and preaching the Gospel.

5. If the synodal gatherings continue around the world, they will consume much time and money, probably distracting energy from evangelization and service rather than deepening these essential activities.

If the national or continental synods are given doctrinal authority, we will have a new danger to world-wide Church unity, whereby e.g., the German church holds doctrinal views not shared by other Churches and not compatible with the apostolic tradition.

If there was no Roman correction of such heresy, the Church would be reduced to a loose federation of local Churches, holding different views, probably closer to an Anglican or Protestant mdel, than an Orthodox model.

An early priority for the next pope must be to remove and prevent such a threatening development, by requiring unity in essentials and not permitting unacceptable doctrinal differences. The morality of homosexual activity will be one such flash point.

6.    While the younger clergy and seminarians are almost completely orthodox, sometimes quite conservative, the new Pope will need to be aware of the substantial changes effected on the Church’s leadership since 2013, perhaps especially in South and Central America. There is a new spring in the step of the Protestant liberals in the Catholic Church.

Schism is not likely to occur from the left, who often sit lightly to doctrinal issues. Schism is more likely to come from the right and is always possible when liturgical tensions are inflamed and not dampened.

Unity in the essentials. Diversity in the non-essentials. Charity on all issues.

7. Despite the dangerous decline in the West and the inherent fragility and instability in many places, serious consideration should be given to the feasibility of a visitation on the Jesuit Order. They are in a situation of catastrophic numerical decline from 36,000 members during the Council to less than 16,000 in 2017 (with probably 20-25% above 75 years of age). In some places, there is catastrophic moral decline.

The order is highly centralized, susceptible to reform or damage from the top. The Jesuit charism and contribution have been and are so important to the Church that they should not be allowed to pass away into history undisturbed or become simply an Asian-African community.

8. The disastrous decline in Catholic numbers and Protestant expansion in South America should be addressed. It was scarcely mentioned in the Amazonian Synod.

9. Obviously, a lot of work is needed on the financial reforms in the Vatican, but this should not be the most important criterion in the selection of the next Pope.

The Vatican has no substantial debts but continuing annual deficits will eventually lead to bankruptcy. Obviously, steps will be taken to remedy this, to separate the Vatican from criminal accomplices and balance revenue and expenditure. The Vatican will need to demonstrate competence and integrity to attract substantial donations to help with this problem.

Despite the improved financial procedures and greater clarity, continuing financial pressures represent a major challenge, but they are much less important than the spiritual and doctrinal threats facing the Church, especially in the First World.

Demos

Lent 2022

My Favorite Lines from the Liturgy

I see my friend Mister Hans Moleman has posted some of his favorite lines from the canon of Marxism. OK, Groucho Marx-ism.  Along with a favorite bit of Monty Python-ism, from a movie that even he describes as “arguably pretty sacrilegious, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic, but inarguably funny.” Hmm.

Anyway, it reminded me to write my own list of favorites…from the Catholic Liturgy of the Mass. I have been thinking of calling this “Hidden Gems from the Liturgy. But that sounded like I was a treasure hunter finding unrecognized beauties where no one else thought to look. So I simply acknowledge these as my favorites, as words that never fail to ring a bell in my mind when I hear the priest pronounce them.

“…Fruit of the earth and work of human hands…”

At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the priest blesses the Lord for the offering:

…Fruit of the earth and work of human hands…

What a beautiful, poetic description of the bread we offer, as well as any other vegetable, food, wood, or even ornamental landscape. How simply these words describe the relationship of the farmer (or landscaper or backyard gardener) with the processes and products of agriculture (or silviculture or …).    (And, of course, the wine we offer God: “fruit of the vine and work of human hands…”  When I work in my own garden, these words come to me often.

In the Preface dialogue, the priest asks us to “Lift up your hearts.” We reply: “We lift them up to the Lord.”

This is just beautiful, in English or in the Latin “Sursum corda. (see below)

But for me the highlight comes next. “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”  We reply that “It is truly right and just.”

The priest continues: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord…”  Can you spot the hidden gem?  This one is not only a gem but also kind of hidden.

ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE!”    

“Always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord.”  When is the right time to pray? On Sunday? Before bed? And where is the right place to pray?  In church?  By my bedside? And what should be my prayer (in addition to the easy part, the asking for things)?

“Thank you, Lord.”  There it is, the simplest, shortest, most appropriate of all possible prayers. Objects for gratitude are always and everywhere in evidence, though I sometimes need a moment to focus on them.  But they are all around me, the beauty of nature, the love of family and friends, the mere fact of my existence.

And it only takes a second to say it.  The Sacred Second, as I called it some time ago.

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On “Sursum Corda”

When I get a moment I will write about the concise, often terse beauty of poetic Latin, and compare it with English. “Sursum corda”: 2 words, 4 syllables. “Lift up your hearts”: 4 words, 4 syllables.  Both lovely and grand and memorable.  Both magnificent (and a perfemantra for a slow learner like myself, who took almost 70 years to notice God’s beauty and love).

Or consider this line from St. Augustine’s Confessions(10:27): “Sero te amavi…” 3 words, 6 syllables.  The English, “Late have I loved Thee…” is 5 words, 5 syllables.  Both examples of simple concise poetic.  But the next words in the English version are “O Beauty, so ancient and so new.” 7 words, 9 syllables. The Latin version reads “Pulchritudo, tam antiqua et tam nova.” 6 words, but 12 syllables!  Both magnificent (and a perfect mantra for a slow learner like myself, who took almost 70 years to notice God’s beauty and love).

A conjugated and declined language, Latin, versus a simple Anglo-Saxon language (except when it uses Latin words like “pulchritude”).

Well, never mind. I think I’ve said all I have to say on this subject.

**I wrote more about “The Sacred Second” here.

Letter to My Listening Bishop

[As you probably know, the Catholic Church has directed all bishops to hold “listening sessions” with parishioners, to inquire how well the Church is “accompanying” Catholics through their faith journeys. I sent the following letter to my bishop since I could not attend the session near me. Whether you attend or not, please consider sending a similar letter.]

Dear Bishop Dewane,

The Listening Sessions present a great opportunity for laity to express our thoughts and concerns, for which I am grateful.  I may have difficulty getting to any of the sessions, so I want to express in written form what I would say to you if I were present in person.  (I also look forward to a possible Virtual Session, if it occurs.)

I am an adult convert and a parishioner of St. Raphael’s in Englewood, attending mass weekly. I also serve as an Extraordinary Lay Minister of the Eucharist, bringing communion to shut-ins. I participate in the Cornerstone Catholic Bible Study group.

The Church has accompanied me well in the brief years since my conversion, through good priests, good churches, and good friends.

But many things that I see in the wider Church are deeply disturbing to me. 

I see “Gay Pride” rainbow flags adorning churches, where humility should be preached and homosexual acts identified as sins.

I see the Holy Father cause pain to many faithful Catholic hearts by papal remarks mocking fruitful Catholic families “breeding like rabbits”.  My closest Catholic friends have four beautiful children, and I saw the hurt in their eyes when they heard this.

I see confusion sweeping the Church over issues like divorce and re-marriage.

I see blessings of same-sex “marriages”.

I see the false ecumenical pandering that calls the existence of false religions “God’s will” and reveres pagan idols like “Pachamama”

And while I personally prefer the New Mass, I have friends who love the TLM.  Neither they nor I understand the insulting and needless ghettoization of these deeply reverent individuals.

Overall, I see what looks like a near-total embrace of modernism and a rejection of all the warnings past popes have issued over this tendency.

As I rejoice at the grace that has brought me to this moment in my life, I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will purge His Church of the error and confusion that are tearing it apart. 

And I thank you for asking.

Yours in Christ,

David Smith

THE CRUCIFIXION NEVER ENDS

AN EASTER THOUGHT

In church today for the Easter service, I found myself swept up in the joyous spirit.  The music, the liturgy, the homily, al so spirit-lifting! But I had one disturbing thought as I looked at the crucifix: it seemed out of place, jarring and untimely.  We were celebrating the risen Lord, but the unavoidable centerpiece of the church was the crucifix, graphically displaying the dying Lord.  Didn’t the crucifixion end? Hasn’t Christ risen?  Then why, on this most joyous day, are we faced with death – His death? His gruesome, ugly, pathetic, painful death?

On Holy Saturday, commemorating the day when Jesus was in the tomb, the crucifix was covered, removed from sight, signifying His terrible absence from us.  But on Easter Sunday morning, He is back. We welcome Him home…but He is still dying!

As a recent convert (and long-lapsed Protestant), I have thought much about crucifixes. These depictions of our Savior dying on the cross adorn most (sadly not all) Catholic churches.  In this, we are (as far as I know) unique. Protestant churches usually have crosses behind the altar, but rarely are the crosses occupied.  Protestants tend to see the crucifix as needlessly maudlin. (Perhaps an appropriate word, if we remember its origin in the person of Mary Magdalene.)

The empty Protestant crosses are analogous to the empty tomb. The crucifixion, the death, the burial, all are in the past.  We move on.

But Catholics present the cross complete with the body of Jesus. The “corpus” may be symbolical or impressionistic, often bloodless, all in consideration of modern sensibilities about bloody, tortured bodies. But they are still painful to see.

Theologically, I don’t know why Catholics embrace the crucifix rather than the cross. But I have always found the crucifix a useful reminder that now, as in the past, every sin hurts God. Every sin requires an atonement.  Sin is not just an internal, private or inter-personal matter between me and anyone I injured with my sin. Every sin hurts God.

And so, the crucifixion never ends. It continues as long as sin does – that is, as long as I sin. And it is a great blessing to be reminded of that fact every time I step into a church.  Even on Easter.

Parish Priests, the Saints Among Us

St. John Vianney, the Cure d’Ars, the patron saint of parish priests, apparently believed that no parish priests ever became saints.   Fr. Walter Gumbley, O.P. wrote a little book, Parish Priests Among the Saints, (1947) in correction.

From Gumbley’s introduction, “It has sometimes been stated that, with the single exception of St. John Vianney, no parish priest has become a saint.  Henri Gheon, in his The Secret of the Cure d’Ars, relates that the holy man was ‘terrified to learn that in the long roll of the ages not a single parish priest had been raised to the Church’s altars as a saint.  Popes had been canonized, cardinals, bishops, religious and laymen; but of parish priests not one; not the shadow of one.’”

Gumbley goes on to demonstrate that this is erroneous, listing 31 cases (pre-Vianney) in refutation.  (There are probably additional relevant canonizations since 1947.) But none of his cases are particularly well known, and only a few were canonized for their display of holiness explicitly in the exercise of their regular parish duties. (Most clearly on point was St. Peter Fourier, who died in 1644, and was canonized by Leo XIII in 1897.  But since Vianney died in 1859, he would not have known of his distinguished predecessor.)  Gumbley also points to St. Ivo Hellory, who died in1303 and was canonized in 1347. Ivo was a canon lawyer and ecclesiastical judge, but gave up his law practice to serve as a parish priest (which by itself seems sufficient ground for canonization.)

So the Cure d’Ars was wrong, but not by much.   Parish priests are, to say the least, underrepresented in the lists of saints.  One might wonder why.

In the middle ages, parish priests were the proletarians of the clergy: lowly regarded, criticized as ill trained, lax, or corrupt.  Reform movements usually arose from monastic orders.

But with the rise of structured seminary education, parish priests are now well trained and dedicated, and work longer hours than any labor law would permit.   The expectations of today’s catholic parish priests are far higher than any other church’s pastoral duties.

So, maybe the shortage of saints among parish priests is simply because the basic job expectations are so high.  Exceeding those expectations really takes some doing.  (Underachieving, however, appears to be all too easy.)

There probably ought to be a lot more recognized parish priest saints.  There probably ARE a lot more than we will ever recognize, until we meet them in heaven. 

Until then, consider your parish priest.  If he seems to be genuinely Catholic (not a “progressive” modernizer), and he is as hard working as mine, he is probably a saint-in-the-making.  Remember to give thanks to God for him in your daily prayers.  And thank your parish priest, too. Do it often.

ADDENDUM

In the above post, I relied on Fr. Walter Gumbley’s 1947 book (Parish Priests Among the Saints) listing 31 parish-priest-saints.  I also noted in passing that “There are probably additional relevant canonizations since 1947.”  Unfortunately, I have been unable to find such an update.

But I have noted a relevant source on this matter.  Robert Royal’s 2000 book The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century is a remarkable collection of data and stories detailing a grim reality: the 20th century saw a worse slaughter of believing Christians, especially Catholics, than any comparable era in history.

He analyzes these mass martyrdoms in country after country.  Some are not unexpected: Communist China, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Turkish Armenia.  But the most striking are the Catholic countries in which “the appearance of virulent anti-Christian ideologies and brutally repressive regimes seeking to impose them…led directly to the widespread suffering and slaughter of religious believers,” including parish priests. 

The Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s is widely remembered as a heroic struggle against fascism.  In fact, it began with brutal attacks by communists, socialists, and anarchists against the Catholic Church.  In the first six months of the war (1936), 6,382 priests, monks, and nuns were massacred by the “Loyalist” forces.  Royal says “perhaps the greatest fury fell upon diocesan clergy” (parish priests). In cities controlled by the left, hundreds of priests were murdered: in Madrid alone, 1118.  Unarmed, unresisting priests murdered for doing their duty to their parishioners, their Church, and God.  Martyrs.

The Church has since recognized many new martyrs and saints from these cruel persecutions.  I do not know how many were parish priests.  But I suspect that they were all too well represented in the ranks of the sainted martyrs.

As I said before, “there probably ought to be a lot more recognized parish priest saints.  There probably ARE a lot more than we will ever recognize, until we meet them in heaven.

I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me…

[My friend Dan Wing has asked my thoughts on this strange Easter. Here they are.]

Dan, I have often shared with you my love for our Cathedral and how I miss it during the long winter months I spend in Florida. The parish I attend there is a sad affair, a church that feels old and tired. Literally old, as the congregation is almost 100% retired and 65+. And figuratively tired, as there seems to be no awareness of any of the challenges the church is now facing.

In Montana, I feel old; but in Florida, the world feels old. I prefer the Montana feeling. And throughout the Florida winter, I dream of attending mass in the magnificent Cathedral of St. Helena when spring arrives.

At my conversion, you helped me find my place in God’s world.  At the time I especially felt the truth in Psalm 122: “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” You and Cherie were two of the ones who most persistently said it unto me.

And I remember that joy I felt, and still feel, whenever I have the chance to enter our Cathedral.

Yet now I have been back in Montana for a month, and still have not been to a single mass here. I am of course grateful for the opportunity to be of help to my family in this time of crisis. And my heart leaps with joy whenever I see our beautiful Cathedral on the hill as I drive through town. But still…

I know you and so many others feel the same sense of loss that I do.   In my case I wonder if this sense of loss could be a part of the purgatory my sinful heart needs.

The emptiness that has often hit me this month has sometimes seemed like an extended Holy Saturday, a day with a conspicuous absence in its heart. Now, He is Risen!

But the challenge continues. How to keep the holiness of God in my heart without the help of the sacraments and our priests?  Very hard, indeed. The Magnificat helps with regular devotions. And my daily diet of “Thank You, Lord” prayers find no shortage of occasions.

But still I long for the day when I again hear “Let us come into the house of the Lord” for mass. And I think it may be a foretaste of the day I can walk joyfully into God’s full and complete presence. God willing.

Yours in Christ

Vatican Betrayal of China Continues

While keeping the past, present and future victims of the Wuhan Chinese Coronavirus Covid-19 are on your mind and in your prayers, give an extra prayer for the oppressed Catholics of the Middle Kingdom, crushed by the Chinese communist Party and cynically abandoned by the Vicar of Christ.

The heroic Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong has repeatedly rung the alarm bell about this crisis (see an article in Gatestone here), pounding on the Vatican doors to get the attention of the “people’s pope” (or am I thinking of Princess Diana?).  As usual, only silence in response.

Join me in praying for the success of Cardinal Zen. And when you pray for Pope Francis, join me in praying for his enlightenment and repentance, rather than his intentions. I shudder to think what those really are.

Vatican Betrays Chinese Catholics. Again.

Sad but not entirely unexpected news:  The Pope has once again betrayed the suffering Catholics of Communist China.  Heroic Cardinal Zen has written an open letter to all his brothers in the Catholic hierarchy, denouncing the new Concordat that sold out the church’s true believers and subjected them to total control buy the Chinese Communist Party.

The letter has been published openly on the Catholic website OnePeterFive.com,  an invaluable resource for the church’s current crisis. (It was one of the first to publish Archbishop Vigano’s challenges to the Vatican’s longtime embrace of former Cardinal McCarrick.) Here is the publisher’s introduction of…

“…a letter that Cardinal Joseph Zen sent some time ago to all the cardinals, and that he has now decided to make public. Needless to say, the latest news coming from mainland China only confirms and augments the concerns expressed for some time by many people about the interim agreement signed by representatives of the Holy See and the government of Beijing.”

Cardinal Zen asks “can we passively witness this killing of the Church in China on the part of those who should be protecting and defending it from its enemies?”  A good question.  As directed to the present papal incumbent, the answer appears to be “Yes”.

I started by saying “the Pope has once again betrayed…”  I was thinking also of the earlier betrayal when one of his “social justice” people startled the world (and the Chinese Catholics who know better) with the declaration that “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.” The remark came from Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, two years ago.  The pope never disagreed, just as he has never responded to Archbishop Vigano’s j’accuse  August 2018, or to Cardinal Zen’s letter, presented to the Pope in July.

Yet another gratuitous slap in the face for those Catholics suffering persecution in China, and an embarrassment to the rest of us.

Read the full letter here.

Then say a prayer for Cardinal Zen and his flock.  And pray that more bishops will find their voices.

Happy Re-birthday to Me!

Last week I celebrated an anniversary of some significance, at least to me.

Not my birthday. Not my wedding anniversary, which my wonderful wife of over 47 years (wow!) and I celebrate in November.

Here’s a hint: In Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, the plot turns on a paradox. The hero, Frederick, was in his youth apprenticed to a pirate. (Which was an error, of course, the result of a failure to communicate; he was supposed to be apprenticed to a pilot.) He detests piracy, but his sense of duty compels him to complete his apprenticeship term at age 21. Unfortunately (SPOILER ALERT) his apprentice contract was poorly written, to end on his 21st birthday. But (SPOILER ALERT) he was born on Leap Year Day, Feb. 29, and only has a birthday every four years. So, he still has sixty-plus years to go. (If you haven’t seen or read the play, you really ought to.)

Anyway, last Saturday, the Feast of Saint Matthew, was the anniversary of my baptism and confirmation into the Catholic Church; my Second Anniversary. (That’s right. It took me almost seven decades to figure out where I belonged. I’ll bet it didn’t take YOU that long, dear reader.)  My re-birthday, if you will.

I can therefore paraphrase Frederick, singing:

“Though counting in the usual way,

Years seventy-one I’ve rocked and rolled.

Yet counting from my re-birth day,

I am a little two-year old.”

[Sorry about the “rocked and rolled”; I am not a very good poet.]

It is a strange and wonderful thing to be both an old man and a young Christian; aged in years but youthful (even childish) in the faith.

So if you see me around town, feel free to wish me a Happy Re-birthday. (A friend in college once received a birthday card stating “It’s my birthday! Buy me a beer!” He wore it pinned to his shirt for weeks, gradually hitting every bar in town.)

 

Note: Saint Matthew is not only my patron saint, but also that of (among others) tax collectors. This is based on the tradition that he was one himself.  That may be why I Continue reading

O Beauty

 

Cathedral on Lawrence 1 IMG_3850

“Late have I loved thee, O beauty, so ancient and so new.”

(“Sero te amavi, pulchritudo, tam antiqua et tam nova.” St. Augustine, Confessions)

My parish church in Helena, Montana: St. Helena Cathedral.

I-phone  photo taken today, a block from my Helena home.