Books blog: The perfect guide to Church teaching for young Catholics – CatholicHerald.co.uk

by Francis Phillips

posted Monday, 22 Aug 2016

Docat is an entertaining but uncompromising adaption of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for young readers

Ignatius Press has brought out a readable adaptation of the social doctrine of the Church. It is titled Docat, sub-titled “What to Do?”, and is a sequel to YouCat – the Catechism of the Catholic Church adapted for young people. It was introduced at World Youth Day last month and its format is similar to the earlier book: many photos, excerpts from papal encyclicals and other teachings, and quotations in the margins from saints and (generally) Christian thinkers (although Churchill was more a deist than a Christian and Elie Wiesel was a Jew, famous for his writings on the Holocaust.)

The temptation, when adapting a serious text to make it accessible for “youth”, is that it might over-simplify or patronise. This volume does neither; the format is user-friendly but the text does not compromise Church teaching. It engages the attention by constantly asking thought-provoking questions, such as (in the chapter, Welfare and Justice for All: Economic Life): How do we achieve an economic order that serves man and the common good? What are the limits of the free market? How does one act justly in business?

These are perennial questions for Christians who engage in business. Indeed, they had occupied the thoughts of Lord Woolton, the very successful managing director of John Lewis before the War, who was asked by Chamberlain to become Minister of Food in 1940.

Read more here: Books blog: The perfect guide to Church teaching for young Catholics – CatholicHerald.co.uk

France: Muslims vandalize church, leave photo of Nice jihad murderer on altar

AUGUST 19, 2016 3:35 PM BY ROBERT SPENCER

No word in this report about what French authorities think of this, but if they remain true to form, once they catch the perpetrators they will be examining them for signs of mental illness.

A reader (thank you Mr. R. B.!) tells me about heinous acts that took place in the St. George church in Vivonne (Vienne), a small town of 4000 inhabitants but which has a prison of 560 cells…

“In the church of Vivonne on 27 or 28 July during the Mass for Father Hamel, and according to a witness, the priest told the faithful present that the light of the tabernacle of the Real Presence had disappeared or had been stolen, and placed on the altar was a photo of the Nice terrorist, the Islamist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. The witness is a faithful grandfather present at the celebration, and is considered very serious and credible by my friends who know him better than me.”…

Source: France: Muslims vandalize church, leave photo of Nice jihad murderer on altar

What is the Church for Francis? A divine institution or a philanthropic organization to defend human rights? |

 

Jesus said: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you’ (Jn 14:27). This is why the Church has never wished to be considered a philanthropic institution that suits the likes and dislikes of humans of every age, regardless of their moral practices and customs.

The peace that the Church gives to the world is the peace of Christ, and out of fidelity to Christian principles Catholics should never fear opposing the opinions of their times. The necessity to contradict worldly convictions leads the Christian to live out what Christ proclaimed: ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword’ (Mt 10:34). Why the Church does not change a single letter of the teachings of Christ is because of her fidelity to him and to his holy laws, not because of the modern concept of human dignity. Otherwise, the Church would have to adapt her positions to the concept of human dignity prevailing in each historic age.

A dramatic example: the world preaches that the importance of a woman’s dignity exceeds that of her child’s life. Regarding this, the Church not only affirms that ‘God is lord and arbiter of life and death’, but also punishes with excommunication the mother who practices abortion. This is because the Church does not base her morality on ‘the common good,’ but rather conforms it to God’s Commandments. And in the abovementioned case, the immorality of the action is not appraised on the basis of the ‘trauma caused to the mother,’ but rather on the commandment ‘You shall not kill.’ And we could avail ourselves of myriad further examples.

The Church’s objective is the salvation of souls and the implantation of Christ’s Kingdom in the world. The more the Church is able to spread this Kingdom on earth, the more true peace is established and man’s dignity is respected. That is, peace and dignity in keeping with Gospel principles, and not those of the secularized world in which we live.

Attaching importance to being recognized by public opinion as a credible institution, trusted for its solidarity and concern for those in greatest need might be appropriate for an NGO, but not for a divine institution.

Once again, Francis seems to seek to disfigure the image of the Immaculate Spouse of Christ, lending her a lay character, diminishing her and stripping her of supernatural essence. Can the intentions of one who weakens the figure of the Church with his words be trusted? Is it possible to believe in a leader who lowers the level of the very institution he claims to guide? Let us, then, recall the supernatural motives behind the Church’s evangelizing efforts.

Read more here: What is the Church for Francis? A divine institution or a philanthropic organization to defend human rights? |

My Letter to a Committed Anti-Catholic

Satan is a liar

Satan is a liar and it is he who, quite often, might confuse our thoughts. Thus my initial decision, to give you no answer, may have been tainted by his urging: for he despises Truth and wants desperately that we not spread it. But Christian charity or love moved by Grace, should not allow me or anyone else to keep the Truth hidden, though it seems probable that you have no intention of listening to it: for you opened your correspondence with the words, “no matter what you send me it will still be of the devil,” which seemingly closes all avenues of approach. But I cannot rely on my assessment of your state of mind or heart. I must instead rely on the Grace of God to move your heart and your mind. Should I fail God in my poor explanations and my inept use of the Grace already bestowed on this unworthy vessel, it is certain that He shall not fail us. He is always the one who moves our hearts and minds to Him and also to His eternal Truth. Indeed, each and every conversion is effected solely by God’s Grace, though it may be facilitated by simple things and by simple people as well. For God can use any of us as instruments in order to accomplish His Divine Will: including me, I suppose.

Let me start by saying that deplorable satanic cults abound in this modern world and have certainly grown in number and strength these past 50 years. I have always found it fascinating that these cults have a particular hatred for the Catholic Church. This I witnessed and recognized even as a Protestant. I am sure that you have heard of their practice known as the Black Mass. This diabolic ceremony is described as a ‘travesty of the Roman Catholic Mass’ that must be performed with a Consecrated Host (bread that has been changed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ during a Catholic Mass). In order that they might obtain this Manifestation of our Lord and desecrate Him, the satanic cult members will risk both life and limb to break into a Catholic Church, force open the tabernacle, and steal this Most Precious Sacrament of the Church. Now whether or not you believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not the point of this story. It is merely to show that if Satan were indeed in-league with the Catholic Church, he would surely not attack Her or Her beliefs. “. . . if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself: how then shall his kingdom stand?” _ Matthew 12:26.

Again, I am sure that you recognize that there is no other Church on the face of the planet that concerns Herself more with the release of souls from the clutches of Satan. By this I mean that only the Catholic Church has ancient rites for the exorcism of demons that are practiced to this day. The Catholic Exorcist is a priest that has been chosen for reasons of his personal holiness, maturity of faith, and deep prayer life. Each diocese (every Bishop) is to have at least one on staff. Further to this idea, the vows that each Christian soul takes during the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation require that the person state that he or she “renounces Satan and all his lies.” The point, once again, is not to have you approve of our practice or belief at this time, but instead to open your eyes to a possible inconsistency in your allegation: i.e. that “the Catholic Church is of the Devil.” Once again I would cite Matthew 12:26 in this regard.

            A little further down we see in Matthew 12:30:  “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.”  Logic dictates that the same would hold true of Satan. I would propose to your intellect that it is highly unlikely that Satan is opposing and desecrating the Catholic Church if She is indeed aChurch ofSatan. Of what benefit is it for Satan to scatter his own flock?

Matthew 12:33  “Either make the tree good and its fruit good: or make the tree evil, and its fruit evil. For by the fruit the tree is known.” Matthew 12:37  “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Christ, it seems, has given us, in the Gospel of Matthew, a two-fold way to discern whether the person or institution is good or evil: by their fruits and by their words. Is the fruit of the Catholic Faith evil? Is the caring for the poor, the homeless, the widows and orphans, the imprisoned etc. evil? Is the Catholic Church’s proclamation of Christ’s Gospel evil? What are the words of the Catholic Church? They are the words of the Holy Scriptures, which She Herself preserved and canonized into the Sacred Depository known as The Holy Bible. They are also the words of the apostles as given us through constant oral teaching. Might She therefore be, as the Scripture above says, justified? Hopefully, you might at least entertain the possibility that the Catholic Church is, at the very least, another Christian denomination, though you might eye Her with uncertainty regarding Her practices.

Now it is apparent that you have problems with much of what you have seen, or heard of the Catholic Church. To you, our Protestant brothers and sisters in faith, who have been separated for these 450 years, little remains of our traditions and beliefs that we once shared. Isolated, as it were, from the Church these past 4½ centuries, many rumors and myths have grown up about our beliefs. Most have no validity whatever, while others are merely taken out of the context in which we practice them. By interpreting as best I can your actual concerns regarding the Catholic Church, I will now try to answer these in the most forthright manner I can, though I am but a novice in this regard.

Catholics claim to have received an oral tradition from the apostles of Christ and I gather that you find this somehow offensive. I would propose that you too, have an oral tradition, though of a much shorter duration, leading back to the Protestant Reformation and your religious leaders. By your insistence on the use of the King James Bible (circa 1600’s) you have limited your resources and your understanding of Scripture by a ‘traditional’ bias that you have inherited from your own denomination. Traditions are the most used ‘authorities’ for what each of us holds as truth. Our family tradition allows us to believe in our heritage. Our national tradition allows us to embrace concepts of freedom and liberty, and develop patriotism and nationalism etc. So it is not that you do not have a religious tradition, the same as we do, it is rather that you do not accept ours.

We do not believe our tradition blindly, as some might believe, but we have Biblical, historical, archaeological, theological, and logical ‘proofs’ for its legitimacy. You have limited our explanation of these to only one realm, which certainly limits a full explanation of the subject. It is much like limiting the knowledge of your family heritage to a great aunt and to no one else. You have further made the task more difficult by limiting our proofs from Holy Scripture to that of the King James Version, which might be likened to listening to your great aunt only between the hours of 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM on a Sunday. It is an undisputed fact that the King James Version omits, or at least relegates to the status of apocryphal, a number of books from the Holy Canon of Scripture that the Catholic Church gave to the world in and about the year A.D. 400. It is also a fact that this version relies on the Jamnian or Palestinian Canon of Old Testament Scripture rather than the Septuagint (circa 100~200 B.C.), which history verifies was used by our Lord Himself and read by Him in the Synagogue – for the Jamnian Canon of Old Testament Scripture dates from shortly after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (circa A.D. 70) and therefore at least 35 years after Christ’s atoning death. There have also been many new rewrites of the King James Version that have seemingly tried to rid the text of some of its more obvious errors, such as the copying of Martin Luther’s “saved by faith alone” sentence, which all modern Protestant scholars admit as erroneous. I do not know which version you use, so I will quote my own Douay-Rheims Bible and you can look up the differences in your own version of the King James. Most often we will have similar translations, as the language of the Douay is also Victorian. At times (though you have said you will believe nothing except what is in your King James Bible) I will include passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). This is because, regardless of your bias, nothing can best characterize someone’s beliefs like their own words. So if Christ has said that by our words we will be justified or condemned (see above), it is only proper and fair to let the Church speak for Herself. I also want to reserve the right to quote the early fathers of the Church who have left historical written records of their faith. For if I cannot present any evidence in defense, this would be much like convicting a defendant without letting the defending attorney call any witnesses.

To begin, I would like to take you to two definitive statements in the New Testament. If the Church is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), as this scripture says, and if the early Christians were urged to hold on to the “traditions, which you have learned, whether by word (oral tradition) or by our epistle (written tradition)” (2 Thessalonians 2:14), why will you not accept that there is to this day a Church that claims to fully reveal the Truths of the Christian faith and adhere to both an oral and written tradition? Didn’t Christ assure His early Church that He would not leave them “orphans” (John 14:18) and that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)? Therefore, the Church that Christ started should still be with us and should still be ruled by the traditions of both the words (living memories) and epistles (written records) that She received from Christ’s apostles.

I would also propose that the Church that Christ founded would likely be one that:

  1. Has members who at times cause scandal (Matthew 18:7)
  2. Is hated by the world and all men (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:9,10; John 17:14)
  3. Recognizes the sins of all men including her own members and hierarchy (1 John 1:10)
  4. Offers an unbloody sacrifice, of bread and wine, to God “from the rising of the sun even unto its going down” (in other words, everywhere and at every time) as Malachi predicted in Malachi 1:11 and as Christ commanded at the Last Supper (Synoptic Gospels) and as practiced by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:29
  5. Has priests as seen repeatedly in the New Testament writings: Acts 14:22; Acts 15:2; Acts 22:30; 1Tim. 5:17,19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14
  6. Exercises the gift given the apostles to forgive sins in the name of Christ (John 20:23) and the gift given specifically to Christ’s Church leader (Peter) in Matthew 16:18
  7. Has adopted Mary as our own mother as was commanded of John by our Lord at the end of Christ’s earthly life (John 19:27), thereby making it mandatory to honor her via the 4th Commandment (5th for you)

There are others, as well, but this list should suffice for now. I am sure you agree that this seems to fit the Catholic Church quite well even if you do not accept all of the points above. Though many cannot abide by Her teachings, bringing scandal after scandal, She refuses to change Her teachings in order to get along in the world. For example, did you know that all Protestant churches forbade contraception before Margaret Sanger (Planned Parenthood’s founder and a promoter of eugenics) waged her successful battle against the family? Not until the 1930’s did any Protestant church succumb to this practice, with the Anglican Church being the first to yield. Others soon followed until the entire Protestant world accepted the practice. The Catholic Church now stands alone against the world in its defiant stand against the deliberate separation of the marital act from procreation. If “of the devil” wouldn’t we want to destroy the institution of marriage and encourage recreational sex? For this reason, the United Nations has tried repeatedly to exclude the Vatican from meetings where world population control was on the table, etc. Since Church teaching is supposed to be “revealed truth,” Christ’s Church might respond precisely as the Catholic Church has on many of today’s issues, stating in words to the effect that: “we do not have the authority to make this change.” I have heard no other Church in the world make this argument. If our Church were a worldly Church, subject to the desires of the people, She would certainly have ditched such unpopular practices as our teaching on contraception, our teaching on the Holy Eucharist, or our teaching on Sacramental Confession, to name but a few. No human being on the face of the planet would come up with these disciplines of their own accord – they had to be inspired by Divine Revelation. Therefore, Catholics are derided for obeying unpopular teachings, which we believe to be obligations of the faith as given us by Christ through His Church. We cannot be ruled by popular human opinion nor will we be able to completely vanquish the hatred that the world bears us as Christ foresaw (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:9,10; John 17:14). I am moved to recall the reaction of the disciples that left Jesus after He told them that they had to eat His body and drink His blood. “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” (John 6:61) and then we were told that they “walked no more with Him” (John 6:67). That is a very human reaction to the teachings of the Church, which makes it quite improbable to convince those who have not, as yet, been moved by the grace of faith, which makes even the impossible possible.

History seems to supply ample evidence of the constancy in our teachings including: The Holy Eucharist, Confession of Sins, and the practice of giving great honor to Mary and the Saints. I would like to start with our teaching on the Eucharist.

John 6 opens with an account of Christ having fed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. It seems that this miracle might be regarded as a significant sign of what Catholics believe in regards to Holy Communion, when viewed as a prefiguring of Christ’s institution of this Sacrament. In Greek the word for fish became an acronym for Jesus and stood for “Jesus, Son of God, Savior”, and thus was used by early Christians as a sign for their belief in Christianity. Having said this, we have Christ feeding the multitudes with bread (an element of the Eucharist) and fish (symbolic of Himself) at one and the same time – and everyone was filled. There were fragments enough from this miracle to fill 12 baskets, perhaps to indicate that Christ could feed all “the chosen people” (the 12 tribes of Israel) from this 1 meal.

Further in John 6 starting at verse 51 through 59 we read: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.”

Is it possible that Christ’s words were only symbolic? I would at least entertain such a possibility if it were not for the prefigured feeding of the 5000 and the information given us at the end of this chapter. For Christ, Who came to give His life for our Salvation, allowed those to walk away who could not bear this “hard saying”. He did not call them back to explain the symbolism as he had often done when His parables were misunderstood. Instead, He asked the 12 apostles if they too would leave: an indication that we must have faith in His words even if we do not quite understand how it is possible to eat His Body or drink His Blood – even if it must remain a mystery. Christ, of course, sheds much light on this mystery during His Seder meal (the Pasch) on the night before He died (the Last Supper).

Christ’s words at the Last Supper were direct and unambiguous in all the Gospel narratives: “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood.” He did not say this is a symbol or representation of My Body and Blood but that it IS MY BODY AND MY BLOOD. Does this bother you just a little bit as it did me when I was Protestant? Even if you have an interpretation, which justifies your not believing these words of our Lord, you must admit that it is neither a wild gesture on the part of the early Church nor on the part of today’s Catholics to take Christ literally on this point. Should we be vilified for it?

I would like to digress for a bit in order that you might understand that Catholic’s are not an un-Biblical people; though Protestant’s often portray us as such. It seems to me that one of the big problems between us is how we read and study the Bible, not whether we have read or studied the Bible. By this I mean that there are some huge differences between the Old Testament writings and the New Testament writings that beg to be solved in 2 different ways.

One way might be to see the Old Testament purely as a history of the “old Law” which is overturned by the “new Law” which is realized in Christ. This is fine if we can fully determine what is meant by “the Law:” otherwise we risk discarding much of God’s revelation, which provides light for a proper understanding of the New Testament. Some interpretations tend to portray the God of the Old Testament as a different God from that of the New Testament. He was the God of wrath while the New Testament God was a God of love (a depiction that is understandable considering all the ‘smiting’ that went on in the Old). For some then, the Old Testament revelation and covenants are looked upon as antiquated, as is the Old Testament view of God.

Though none would argue that much has been overturned, there is another way to view the whole of scripture. That is that the Old Testament teachings prefigure the New Testament teachings – Christ fulfilling all within the New Testament. Now it is my contention that God does not make mistakes. I cannot look upon our Omnipotent, All-knowing God as one who tried something and then failed at it – so He decided to take another shot at our salvation. I see it all as a whole and as a single plan for salvation. All of scripture seems to be training mankind for his ultimate end by continually revealing Himself to us. For the end of man, which should be every man’s desire and happiness, would also seem to be God Himself. Therefore, Catholics are more prone to approach the Bible as a process or development of themes that are important to God’s revelation. It becomes then a book of salvation history with man learning his ABC’s long before he understands the necessity of them. It is primarily through the New Testament that man learns of the relevance of the Old Testament, making it necessary to our proper understanding of the revelation given by Christ. In this way we might see much of the old Law transformed or transmuted into the new.

Now why did I digress to speak of these things? It is only to show that an understanding of all corresponding Old Testament pre-figurations is germane to any explanation of a Catholic understanding of things.

Therefore, in my explanation of the Catholic understanding of Holy Communion, started above, I would like you to at least examine some of the Old Testament pre-figurations (types, or models if you will), as additional support for our beliefs. In regards to our understanding of the Eucharist you might want to re-read the institution of the Pasch immediately preceding the Exodus fromEgypt. The lamb was sacrificed and then was to be eaten by all, without a bone being broken. Now doesn’t the Catholic Eucharist fulfill what was started back in Egypt? We take the Lamb of God and eat what was once a Bloody Sacrifice in the Old Testament but fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament in a Spiritual Pasch, where not a bone is broken – a re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice. Now the Jewish Sacrifice was taken away once theTemple was destroyed inJerusalemin A.D. 70 and therefore a lamb can no longer be offered by the Jews for their sacrifice as instituted in the Old Law. To this day, the Jewish people celebrate their Pasch with a shank bone placed on their plate, to symbolize the lamb, once sacrificed, which cannot now be truly offered. But a true sacrifice continues to this day in the Catholic Church alone, the once for all sacrifice of Christ, though it is offered perpetually in order that each Christian should have the opportunity to accept its application to their own soul. Protestants also believe that we have to do something: even if it is no more than saying in your heart that you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. But Catholics do not dismiss the fact that God uses material things to impart spiritual good. For example, Baptism confers God’s Grace through water. God is the maker of both the spiritual and the material universe and men are creatures comprised of a marriage between the spiritual (soul, intellect, reason) and the material (our corporeal bodies). We cannot separate our souls from our bodies and God works with us according to the nature that He gave us. He uses the physical to impart spiritual gifts and has done so from the beginning: the Old Testament and the New Testament are full of the history of this. Therefore it is not a new idea, concocted by Catholics, that we get God’s Saving Grace from the Baptismal element of water, that we get God’s Forgiving Grace through a priest, a mere human being, or that we might receive Christ Himself in the form of Bread and Wine. Such is the way a merciful God deals with the human being. For as a concoction of spirit and matter, human beings need to utilize their corporeal senses to see, feel, hear, taste, and smell. And God does not deny us the things that we need. He has given us something within our material reality by which we can lay claim on the spiritual.

What would you make of the Old Testament story of Melchisedech especially the Genesis 14:18 verse? Here we see a man, a priest, who prefigures Christ in offering bread and wine as a Sacrifice and distributing God’s blessing to Abram. It was an act by a mere human being in the name of God. This sacrificial offering and blessing is apparently a very old method God utilized in order to bless His earthly creatures. And although Christ is the High Priest that was prefigured by Melchisedech, our priests today only represent this Eternal High Priest in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. Yes, it is Christ Himself who is the High Priest, is the Lamb of God Offering, and is the Blessing conferred. It is a mere human priest who represents Christ. The priest, having received the power of the bishop in a long line of apostolic succession, only does as Christ instructed the apostles that last night.  For He commanded them to “Do this in remembrance of Me”: an act that is not just a simple acting out, like a school play. It is a re-presenting of the very same mystery that Christ enacted that evening when He gave Himself to the apostles in the form of Bread and Wine. I do not blame anyone for being skeptical about such an event, for it is purely a Divine Mystery that we accept by faith. That we view this in the same way as early Christians is pretty easily proved.

St. Paul warns the early community that they “eateth and drinketh  judgment” to themselves  if they do not “discern the Body of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:29). The Didache, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (circa A.D. 80) says the following in Chapter 14: :1And on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.  2And let no man, having his dispute with his fellow, join your assembly until they have been reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be defiled; 3for this sacrifice it is that was spoken of by the Lord; In every place and at every time offer me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great king, saith the Lord, and My name is wonderful among the nations.”

Note the connection to confessing one’s sins and the fact that “to break bread” was seen as a sacrifice to be offered to God. The “Lord’s own day” is Sunday, the first day of the week, the first day of the New Creation in Christ. It seems only fitting that the earliest Christians moved the Sabbath to Christ’s own day of Creation. In fact John tells us in the Book of Revelation (1:10) that he was “in the spirit” on the Lord’s Day. This was most probably a great favor given John by our Lord during or after “the Breaking of the Bread:” for it is not uncommon for great saints to experience spiritual ecstasy during the Mass. Our beliefs are not unbiblical nor do they go unsupported in early Christian writing. I could cite writer after writer from the first 4 centuries of the Church with the same belief if this would help. My hope is not that you accept all that we believe on this subject but to at least give us the benefit of a doubt when it comes to these beliefs, which we have held from the beginning. You might also recognize that we have 2000 years of history supporting these beliefs.

Now let us turn our attention to the Sacrament of Confession. I have already explained that Catholics do not think that priests forgive sins on their own authority but rather on the authority of Jesus Christ and by the command given to His apostles (John 20:23).

Is there further Scripture that may lend support to this practice? 1 John 1:9   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity.  I am sure that you agree with the idea of confession of sins as related in the above passage. The only difference between us is that we believe that Christ wants us to make our Confession to God in a formal way through one of His ambassadors, a priest, who has received the same “blessing” given to the apostles by Christ, and passed on throughout our Church history by the imposition of hands. It is interesting to note that God had the Jews present themselves to the priests in the “old law” in a similar way. In the Old Testament, lepers were looked upon as sinners, and they were to present themselves to the priests in order to be cleansed. Again, did God make a mistake, or did God prefigure the Sacrament of Confession that Catholic’s practice today. It is also necessary at this time to remind you of how God passes blessings on from man to man through the imposition of hands – a prefiguring of the ordination rite for bishops and priests within the Catholic hierarchy. I will only refer to one such event because I think it profound enough to suffice for my proof.

Please read Genesis Chapter 27 concerning how Jacob “stole” the blessing of Isaac from Esau. Once the blessing was gone (through the imposition of hands) it could not be taken back. God’s blessing surely fell on Jacob and even God would not undo the blessing for He is always true to His promises. Again, God was giving Divine Grace through His own sinful human creatures. Not that the blessing actually came from Esau, but, of course, came from God. We say the same about our Sacrament of Confession and our Rite for the Ordination of priests and bishops. It does not come from the power of the individual but from God alone, and because God always remains faithful to His promises.

In James 5:16 we read:  Confess therefore your sins one to another . . .      Now who are the ones to hear these confessions? Is it just anyone in the community, everyone in the community, or should we take our sins to the authorities of the Church? For in Ecclesiasticus 4:31 (also known as the Book of Sirach) the Old Law even suggests prudence in choosing those to whom we might confess and submit our sins:  Be not ashamed to confess thy sins, but submit not thyself to every man for sin. We happen to think that it is prudent to confess our sins to a priest who has been ordained in a long succession of ordination that stretches back to the apostles: to one who has received God’s ancient blessing and thereby given the same power that God gave the apostles to forgive sin.

So in ending this part, I would at least ask you to admit that Catholics are not unbiblical in their claims – whether you believe our teachings or not. I only want to show that our contention is not only Biblical but logical as well.

My final point has also been covered, in part, in the above writing: i.e. why Catholic’s pay great honor to Mary and the saints. First, let’s be perfectly clear on some of these points: Catholics only worship God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mary, because she is the mother of Jesus and thereby, the Mother of God, receives great love and honor. She is not the mother of His Divine Nature, which He possessed from eternity, and we do not claim this. However, we do claim what Scripture tells us of her: i.e. that Mary is the mother of our Savior’s human nature, having received this nature from her. We quite understandably give her great devotion and the honor that is befitting a human creature that was picked (from among all people and from all time) by God to be His very Mother. Catholics did not elevate her status: God did this by His election of her.

Christ, who chose Mary from eternity, was prepared, by God, for her task and was therefore, born without sin – an immaculate mother for our God. Though you may not believe that God would or could preserve Mary from the stain of sin from her conception even to her death, there is good theological reason for believing this. For one thing the angel greeted Mary as “full of grace.” Now “full” does not leave room for any extra. She cannot be at once “full” and yet stand in need of “more” grace. We also see from Scripture that nothing unholy can remain in contact with God. Moses had to hide his face from God. Hell itself separated the defiled from God’s presence while sin caused Adam and Eve to hide from God in the Garden – ending their life in Paradise.

Many stories in the Old Testament show us the Holiness that God demands as a prerequisite for God’s dwelling among men. Think for a minute about the Ark of the Covenant: For the defiled to even touch or look upon the Ark was punished by instant death. Likewise, Catholic’s believe that Mary, (as the New Ark who carried the New Law and the Word of God Himself within her womb), was also made holy. Yes, she was saved by Christ, as we all were. But she received a special favor in having His atoning death applied to her at the moment of her conception, instead of lying in wait for it as we did. This is a step above God’s special arrangement for the saints of the Old Testament who slept – in Sheol. God kept them somewhere, knowing that Christ’s Saving Grace could be applied to them in the future. Otherwise, they would have all been in hell, not having Sanctifying Grace in their soul at the time of their death.  So Christ’s Saving Death was applied to people who died throughout the ages and can be applied to all who ever will live. But for Mary – it was applied at the moment of Her conception so that she would be the perfect vessel for the 2nd person of God.

And just like the Ark of the Covenant that contained the word of God (10 Commandments), Mary contained the real WORD OF GOD. Just like the Ark of the Covenant contained a jar of the Manna (from Heaven), Mary contained the real BREAD FROM HEAVEN. Just as the Ark of the Covenant contained the Rod of Aaron that had bloomed (a symbol of his high priesthood), Mary contained the ETERNAL HIGH PRIEST. Early Christians saw the Ark of the Covenant as a Symbol for the Old Testament Church and Mary as a Symbol for the New Testament Church and as a fulfillment of the former. Therefore, I look for a Church that preaches THE WORD OF GOD (the Bible), feeds its people with THE BREAD FROM HEAVEN, and ministers to the people with a valid priesthood in the name of our ETERNAL HIGH PRIEST.

It follows that a continual sacrifice needs to be offered, since a priest is ordained to offer sacrifice for the people. Otherwise, there is neither a need for any priests on earth nor for an Eternal High Priest in Heaven. If it was done once in time and has no need to be repeated or re-applied, then why should Christ retain His title as Eternal High Priest?

Christ came as our brother and by extension this makes Mary our mother as well. Catholics therefore obey the Commandment to love, honor and obey our mother and our father not only in regards to our corporeal relatives but in regards to our spiritual parents as well. Will Mary ask you to do anything that will not be in the best interest of your soul or somehow compromise your obedience to Christ? Is she harmful to our souls? If God entrusted Himself to her care, I feel confident in entrusting myself to her care as well. The Mary I know from Scripture will have nothing to do with evil and will only lead me to her son, Jesus, my Lord and my God. Mary has said little in Scripture but the following 2 lines best characterize her: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.” as spoken at the annunciation and “Do what he tells you to do.” which she told the servants at the wedding feast in Cana. I think Mary would like us all to make these words our own. I, for one, would like to obey her wishes.

Our honoring saints is not completely unlike our honoring of Mary, though Mary led a life that was supernaturally grace-filled from the start and never lost any of this grace by personal sin. Our saints are quite different in this regard. Many were great sinners (think of Moses and David who were guilty of murder and various other sins). However, in every case the saint overcame his sinful inclinations and found God’s grace that delivered them from the clutches of hell. These men and women have become the heroes and heroines of Christianity. They far more qualify themselves for reverent praise than do our civil and military heroes and heroines to whom we erect plaques and fashion statues to grace our parks and government buildings. These are true heroes and heroines that were weak, as we are weak, and yet overcame that weakness by the grace of God and by their cooperation with this grace. That makes them models of holiness for each of us and for our children. In an age when there are precious few role models for our children, thank goodness that we still have heroic saints to read about and to pray for us.

God is not a selfish God. Yes, He is a jealous God, because He loves us and desires the best for us. He is jealous of our following after false Gods. But He is also desirous of our praise for those whom He has given the ultimate praise: raising them up to His Heavenly home to live with Him. If God praises these saints and His Mother, does He get angry if we praise these men and women for their victories as well? I think not. As stated above, God is not selfish He is instead supremely giving; having given us His only begotten Son. Does God want us to forget His Son’s best pupils? Are we not to congratulate and admire them? Should we not try to learn from them and emulate them? If mere men are flattered when their students are praised or when their work of art is appreciated, would God be any less flattered? The praise that is given to a student or a work of art reflects on the teacher or the artist and praises them as well. Therefore the praises we give to the saints, gives further praise to God as well as thanksgiving for the grace He has bestowed.

Catholics do not think that saints are merely twiddling their thumbs in Heaven. We believe that God uses them to dispense His Grace. Not that God has need of them, but that God is a loving God and knows that they will find great happiness in participating in His Divine Plan. God had no need for angels yet He made them His messengers and servers.  He has no need for us, yet He wants us to share eternal life with Him and desires our eternal happiness. So it is a Catholic’s belief that God allows our participation in His Divine Plan for our true happiness due to His great love for us.

Since our Real Life starts in Heaven – and it is not just bread and circuses – we believe that our saints and God’s angels are active in our earthly life. They dispense God’s grace and they intercede with God for our needs. The participation of angels in God’s plan and in our salvation is obvious in scripture and yet most Protestants will not admit that God might possibly allow us to serve Him in a like manner. Yet, God seemed to think that man merited a Savior and the fallen angels did not. It seems to me that Mary and the saints may have roles in heaven that are at least equal to the roles that angels have played.

Most Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant, would have no objection to praying for another, nor would they shy away from asking another to pray for them. This is intercession with God, the same thing we ask of saints. Yet, simply because a saint has begun his or her Real Life in heaven, these same Christians seem to think it somehow unfitting for Catholics to ask for their prayers simply because they have departed this earthly plane. This is not the conjuring of spirits from the nether world as forbidden in Deuteronomy. This is simply intercession of our brothers and sisters in Christ. They who are incorporated permanently into the mystical body of Christ are more capable of praying properly than we are. Their prayers, being in full accord with the Divine Will, might then be more efficacious than our own. Is it possible also that God may even entrust the dispensation of His Grace to those who ask for their help? Again, angels dispensed God’s blessings to men here on earth. Can Mary and our saints also dispense God’s blessings? Catholics reply with an unequivocal yes to this question. The Church has been utilizing these saints from the beginning and has an historical record of its effectiveness: miracles of every sort and kind over these past 2000 years. Thanks be to God for all His blessings and also for the love he has shown to His angels and His saints. A lesser god would never entrust such goodness to his creatures. Our God is neither diminished by His angels nor by His saints. Our God shows us the extent of His love and of His Greatness.

I hope that this helps in your understanding of some of the things that Catholics believe or practice. If you have further questions, please present them a few at a time in order that we might deal with them in an orderly fashion. Thank you for the opportunity given me to attempt this defense of the Catholic faith. For I believe it is through such efforts that God strengthens us in our faith though we may not be very adept in his service. May God bless you in this life and also in the next.

Pope urges Polish churchmen to open up, shun worldly ambitions – One America News Network

July 30, 2016

By Wiktor Szary

KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged Poland’s Roman Catholic churchmen on Saturday to live more simple lives, focus on those most in need and shun worldly ambitions.

On the fourth day of his trip to Poland for an international gathering of Catholic youth, Francis addressed some 2,000 Polish bishops and priests gathered at a shrine dedicated to the late Pope John Paul, who died in 2005 and was made a saint in 2014.

In the homily of a Mass, he told them not to lead “two-track lives” or to “remain enclosed, out of fear or convenience, within ourselves …”

Archbishop of Krakow Stanislaw Dziwisz, addressing Francis at the end of the Mass, said: “We are not closed within ourselves”.

Some media commentators have accused Polish Church leaders of enjoying a lifestyle protected from the difficulties of Poland’s economic transition from communism to capitalism.

They have also criticized what they see as the Polish Catholic Church’s attempts to influence the conservative government, including supporting its coolness towards migrants for fear that they might dilute Poland’s Christian identity.

“The Church has forged an alliance with the government because, using law, it can exert more control,” Jaroslaw Makowski, one of Poland’s best-known theologians and a frequent critic of the hierarchy, said before the visit.

Read more: Pope urges Polish churchmen to open up, shun worldly ambitions – One America News Network

Patrick Buchanan: Papal Neutrality In The Culture War? – OpEd

Patrick Buchanan: Papal Neutrality In The Culture War? – OpEd

POPE FRANCIS

By Patrick J Buchanan — (November 14, 2013)

“Pope Francis doesn’t want cultural warriors; he doesn’t want ideologues,” said Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash.:

“The nuncio said the Holy Father wants bishops with pastoral sensitivity, shepherds who know the smell of the sheep.”

Bishop Cupich was conveying instructions the papal nuncio had delivered from Rome to guide U.S. bishops in choosing a new leader.

They chose Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who has a master’s degree in social work, to succeed Archbishop Timothy Dolan whom Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times describes thus:

“[A] garrulous evangelist comfortable in front of a camera, [who] led the bishops in their high-profile confrontation with the Obama administration over a provision in the health care mandate that requires most employers to have insurance that covers contraceptives for employees.”

That mandate also requires employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations.

Yet here is further confirmation His Holiness seeks to move the Catholic Church to a stance of non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the West.

There is a small problem with neutrality. As Trotsky observed, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” For the church to absent itself from the culture war is to not to end that war, but to lose it.

What would that entail? Can we not already see?

In America, the family has disintegrated. Forty percent of working-class white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic children, and 73 percent of black children. Kids from broken homes are many times more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, join gangs, commit crimes, end up in prison, lose their souls, and produce yet another generation of lost souls.

Goodstein quotes the Holy Father as listing among the “most serious of the evils” today “youth unemployment.” And he calls upon Catholics not to be “obsessed” with abortion or same-sex marriage.

But is teenage unemployment really a graver moral evil than the slaughter of 3,500 unborn every day in a land we used to call “God’s Country”?

Papal encyclicals like Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno have much to teach about social justice in an industrial society.

But what is the special expertise of the church in coping with teenage unemployment? Has the Curia done good scholarly work on the economic impact of the minimum wage?

The cultural revolution preached by Marxist Antonio Gramsci is continuing its “long march” through the institutions of the West and succeeding where the violent revolutions of Lenin and Mao failed.

It is effecting a transvaluation of all values. And it is not interested in a truce with the church of Pope Francis, but a triumph over that church which it reviles as the great enemy in its struggle.

Indeed, after decades of culture war waged against Christianity, the Vatican might consider the state of the Faith.

Our civilization is being de-Christianized. Popular culture is a running sewer. Promiscuity and pornography are pandemic. In Europe, the churches empty out as the mosques fill up. In America, Bible reading and prayer are outlawed in schools, as Christian displays are purged from public squares. Officially, Christmas and Easter do not exist.

The pope, says Goodstein, refers to proselytizing as “solemn nonsense.” But to proselytize is to convert nonbelievers.

And when Christ admonished his apostles, “Go forth and teach all nations,” and ten of his twelve were martyred doing so, were they not engaged in the Church’s true commission — to bring souls to Christ.

Pope Francis comes out of the Jesuits.

Hence, one wonders: Did those legendary Jesuits like St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs make a mistake proselytizing and baptizing, when they could have been working on youth unemployment among the Mohawks?

An Italian atheist quotes the pope as saying, “Everyone has his own idea of good and evil,” and everyone should “follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them.”

Does this not reflect the moral relativism of Prince Hamlet when he said to Rosencrantz, “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so?” Yet, is it not the church’s mission to differentiate good and evil and condemn the latter?

“Who am I to judge,” Pope Francis says of homosexuals.

Well, he is pope. And even the lowliest parish priest has to deliver moral judgments in a confessional.

“[S]ince he became pope,” writes Goodstein, Francis’ “approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding.”

Especially the atheists, one imagines.

While Pope Francis has not altered any Catholic doctrines in his interviews and disquisitions, he is sowing seeds of confusion among the faithful, a high price to pay, even for “skyrocketing” poll numbers.

If memory serves, the Lord said, “Feed my sheep,” not “get the smell of the sheep.” And he did not mean soup kitchens, but more importantly the spiritual food essential for eternal life.

But then those were different Jesuits. And that was long ago.

via Patrick Buchanan: Papal Neutrality In The Culture War? – OpEd.

Dietrich von Hildebrand on Pope Francis

Dietrich von Hildebrand on Pope Francis

by Joseph Shaw

Rorate Caeli

Readers of my blog (Part 1Part 2, and Part 3) will know that I’ve been trying to get to grips with what Pope Francis has been saying, and how Catholics attached to the Church’s traditions can best respond to it. We need both a conceptual and a rhetorical framework for responding to a critique which is coming from an unexpected direction.Unexpected, but not unprecedented. We have, in fact, been here before, and I was very struck by the relevance of a chapter in Dietrich von Hildebrand‘s book Trojan Horse in the City of God. This was published in 1967 (I have the slightly revised 1993 edition), with a Foreword by John, Cardinal O’Connor. I offer an extended quotation here; I’ve had the whole chapter (10 pages of the book) retyped and you can download it here. I think Pope Francis would like it too.Hildebrand was one of the founders of the Traditional movement, and specifically of the Roman Forum, directed by Dr John Rao, which continues the work of education he thought so important. They are currently appealing for funds; go over there and have a look.—————————————

Romam vado iterum crucifigi

By Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED: 10/7/13
REMNANT COLUMNIST, Virginia
______________________

“I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”

Pope Francis

Editor’s Note: As this article went to press, the Vatican Press Office—clearly in response to worldwide expressions of dismay by concerned Catholics—has floated reports that the interview of Pope Francis by Eugenio Scalafari quoted in this article was not a verbatim transcript and that Scalfari did not use a tape recorder or take notes. The same neo-Catholic commentators who attempted to defend some of the Pope’s shocking statements in the interview are now exulting that perhaps the interview was not accurate after all—showing once again their willingness to bend and twist themselves in any direction to persuade us all that nothing is amiss in the Church. We are, however, witnessing the Vatican apparatus’s usual two-step.  The interview in its entirety, complete with quotation markshas been posted on the Vatican website and the Pope has not corrected a single word of it.  Further, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told the press that “if Francis felt his thought had been ‘gravely misrepresented,’ he would have said so.”   The Remnant will not dance either the Vatican or the neo-Catholic two-step. Unless the Pope himself indicates to the contrary, the Remnant will assume that His Holiness stands every word attributed to him by Scalfari and posted on the Pope’s own official website.  We have had enough of this nonsense! Another interesting development: Cardinal Dolan hasinformed the press that the “mystical moment” recounted in the Scalfari interview, when the Pope-elect supposedly stepped into a room adjacent to the Sistine Chapel to ponder whether to accept the election and was illuminated by an interior light,never happened. In fact, there is no such room next to the Chapel.  Yet, the interview as posted on the Vatican website retains this entire account.  It is up to the Vatican to explain this glaring discrepancy.  We merely report it. MJM

Over the past several weeks we have watched, stunned, as Pope Francis conducts little short of a public jeremiad against Catholics he deems insufficiently in tune with Vatican II’s “dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today”—whatever that means—which he insists is “absolutely irreversible” even as the destruction from the failed conciliar aggiornamento continues to mount.

Francis has mocked Catholics who counted the Rosaries in their spiritual bouquets for him, belittling them before an audience of young people as poor peasants who “return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through—not you, because you are not old…” And he has maintained a drumbeat of derision of Catholic traditionalists: they are “Pelagians,” “restorationists,” and “legalists,” who in their hearts do not believe in the Risen Lord and thus indulge in “triumphalism” and a “triumphalist”liturgy; they seek an “exaggerated doctrinal ‘security’” (note the contemptuous quotation marks around the word security), want “everything clear and safe” in the Church (imagine!), “always look for disciplinarian solutions,” “stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists,” and “have a static and inward-directed view of things” that reduces their faith to “an ideology among other ideologies.

Having issued these public judgments against faithful Catholics, the Pope who will be known forever by the phrase “Who am I to judge?” respecting homosexuals has also passed judgment on the Church herself, and by implication his predecessors, suggesting that he will correct her many shortcomings as Vatican II demands.Quoth Francis in the now infamous America magazine interview and elsewhere:

The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, little rules.”’

“Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers.’

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

“The church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.”

“But the church has lived also times of decline in its ability to think. Unfortunately, I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism. In thinking of the human being, therefore, the church should strive for genius and not for decadence.

“When does a formulation [of doctrine] of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself

The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.”

“The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done[!] in that direction….I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”


Sneak Peek:

This article is featured in the next print edition of The Remnant newspaper. Unlike this one, however, most Remnant articles never appear on this website  Click hereto find out how you can become a subscriber and never miss a single one of these excellent Remnant articles.


In addition to insulting faithful members of his own flock and denigrating the Church he is divinely charged to lead, defend and protect against her enemies, Francis has issued a series of astonishing pronouncements suggesting that the Church has no business seeking converts and that the salvation of the members of all religions and even atheists is possible so long as they pursue brotherhood and their idea of the good:

Interview with Scalfari, La Repubblica:

“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”

“… I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God.”

[Comment: Of course God is not literally Catholic—as if anyone thought so. But this facile     remark, so pleasing to modern ears and delivered by no less than a Pope into the eager hands of an       anti-Catholic press, harms the cause of the Gospel because it obscures the truth that God Incarnate    did indeed found theCatholic Church, “which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts.   20:28).The Church that God founded and purchased with His Blood calls itself Catholic, thus         imparting an unalterable sacred significance to the word, which belongs to the very Creed that   begins: “I believe in God.” To declare “there is no Catholic God” is to detach in speech the Gospel         from its divinely ordained sole guardianship in the Catholic Church—to the world’s great delight.          How disturbing it is to see a successor of the very Rock on which the Church was founded   descending to such banality.]

“The Son of God became incarnate to instill in the souls of men the feeling of brotherhood. All are brothers and all children of God. Abba, as he called the Father.”

“I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love.”

“The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”

“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”


“And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.

Sermon:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics…. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Address to inter-religious assembly at Refugee Service:

Many of you are Muslims, of other religions, and have come from different countries, from different situations. We must not be afraid of the differences! Fraternity makes us discover that they are a treasure, a gift for everyone! We live in fraternity!

Address at Shrine of St. Cajetan:

“Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest.”

Then there are the Pope’s remarks suggesting that, unlike his predecessors, he is not “obsessed” with abortion, contraception, “same-sex marriage” or the sin of sodomy relentlessly promoted as perfectly normal by those he (unlike any other Pope) calls “gay”:

“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world [!] these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope…This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, “who am I to judge?”

“During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

Certain Neo-Catholic commentators, continuing the cover-up of disaster in which they have been engaged for almost half a century, are frantically churning out orthodox interpretations for this torrent of astonishing papal remarks.  Typical of these is Francis Allen, whose article “Misreading Pope Francis” misses the immense significance of the fact she herself admits: “many conservative Catholics, who disagree with liberals on practically everything else, actually agree with their archenemies that Francis is poised to radically alter the Catholic Church”  (Yes, but only to the extent this is possible, for not even a Pope can change the deposit of the Faith.)

This time, however, the neo-Catholic explainers of What the Pope Really Means are overwhelmed by their task, for Francis has dropped far too many bombshells to defuse. And, as we have seen, the damage has been devastating. The world’s mass media are experiencing a collective transport of joy over Francis the Awesome,singing his praises in headlines and newscasts from every precinct of the culture of death.  We have all sampled the innumerable media hosannas, but one CNN headline says it all: “Pope Speaks Against Catholic Traditions.”

Of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The media always supply a certain degree of spin to papal remarks.  The point, however, is that no Pope has ever given the media so many statements to exploit, and in so little time.  It will not do simply to protest that “the Pope’s remarks have been “‘cherry-picked’ by commentators who are presenting only a few phrases out of a lengthy interview,” for Francis has given them a bushel of cherries for the picking. At the very least, the Pope has recklessly disregarded—again and again—the entirely predictable reading of his words.

Furthermore, in this case the media are not that far off the mark.  The Neo-Catholic “out of context” defense fails in the face of so many explosively disturbing statements, all of the same dramatic, liberalizing tenor. There is a reason every conceivable constituency of the Church’s enemies, both internal and external, is hailing Pope Francis: from Hans Kung (“was overwhelmed with joy” at Francis’s election), to the National Abortion Rights Action League (“To Pope Francis: Thank you”), to Stephen Colbert (“a seismic ripple throughout the world of Catholicism”), toJane Fonda (“Gotta love new Pope. He cares about poor, hates dogma”), to Chris Rock (Francis is “the greatest man alive”), to the man that vulgar comedian worships as the “dad of our country” and “our boss”—none other than Barack Obama, who is“hugely impressed with the pope’s pronouncements.” When a politician who can rightly be viewed as a forerunner of Antichrist is “hugely impressed” by a Pope’s statements, there must be something gravely wrong with what the Pope is saying.

This time the neo-Catholic cover-up is not succeeding.  Francis has simply gone too far along the trajectory of the Council’s supposed “dynamic of reading the Gospel,” and now even prominent members of the “conservative” Catholic mainstream have had enough and are speaking out. A sampling of these protests demonstrates that the problem with Francis does not exist in the fevered imaginations of “radical traditionalists,” as the neo-Catholics commentators would have it, but rather is an objective threat to the Church’s credibility and mission.  Consider the following:

No less than Germain Grisez, the world-renowned moral theologian who is hardly a traditionalist, gave Inside the Vatican permission to publish his objection to the Pope’s rhetoric, including this blistering comment:

I’m afraid that Pope Francis has failed to consider carefully enough the likely consequences of letting loose with his thoughts in a world that will applaud being provided with such help in subverting the truth it is his job to guard as inviolable and proclaim with fidelity. For a long time he has been thinking these things. Now he can say them to the whole world—and he is self-indulgent enough to take advantage of the opportunity with as little care as he might unburden himself with friends after a good dinner and plenty of wine.

The equally prominent moral theologian Janet Smith, writing in the neo-conservative journal First Things under the bitter title “Are We Obsessed?”, had this to say about Francis’s musings, couched in ironic observations about her friends:

In fact, I don’t think the Holy Father was speaking about my friends, when he states: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. [W]hen we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.” My friends definitely talk about these issues “in context,” in fact in many contexts…. [T]heir reason for boldly and sacrificially and ardently addressing these issues is precisely because they love Christ and the Church and want others to do so.

[Francis] also said: “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.” …Again, I don’t think this statement refers to my friends since there is nothing “disjointed” about the way they present doctrines nor do they “impose” them “insistently.” They make the call to conscience that John Paul II makes…  to live in accord with the natural greatness that God gave them. They do not make threats of damnation or make calls for blind obedience…

I also began to realize that the Holy Father was not speaking of the same context in which I live and labor… He seems to think that many people are hesitant to embrace Christianity or Catholicism because they believe that they are beyond redemption and that the Church is a judgmental, intolerant institution that won’t accept them…. I think most people think they are not sinners and not in need of redemption. They do not think having abortions, using contraception, using pornography, fornicating, masturbating, or engaging in homosexual acts are immoral actions. They think what they are doing is fine and they are fine just as they are.

Pope Francis finds the homily a proper place to teach moral truths but thinks priests have gotten the order wrong. Where is he hearing these homilies that hammer on moral truths at the expense of preaching the gospel?… [V]irtually none of us have heard it done! We have heard homilies on abortion—perhaps at most once a year—while homilies on contraception and homosexual acts are so rare as to cause astonishment and generally earn the pastor an influx of hate mail.

George Neumayr of The American Spectator has written a series of increasingly critical commentaries on the Pope’s statements. Herewith a sampling from those pieces:

§  From “Reading the Papal Tea Leaves”:

Francis’s papacy may not so much move the Church into the future as back to the recent past, circa 1970…. Emboldened liberal bishops under him may seek a reform of the “reform of the reform,” and they may push for a revisiting of settled moral, theological, and disciplinary stances. None of this repositioning will take place at the level of official teaching but at the murkier levels of tone, emphasis, and appointment.


That the Catholic left considers his election a shot in the arm can’t be chalked up simply to projection…. They believe that this is their moment to try to undo the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict and return to the casual, informal, and spontaneous liturgical spirit of the 1970s while reviving a more poll-friendly situational ethics. Tweeted Mahony: “Don’t you feel the new energy, and being shared with one another?”

§  From “When Paul Corrected Peter”:

The Pope’s scolding of “small-minded” restorationists for “pastoral” incompetence is laughable in light of his own order’s disintegration: What exactly would the editors of America and the other Jesuits whose liberalism Pope Francis was flattering in the interview, know about saving souls? Just look at the U.S. Congress: it is overflowing with Jesuit graduates who have abandoned the faith and support abortion and gay rights. Oh-so-pastoral Jesuits, heal thyself.

Indeed, the need for a St. Paul to correct him grows with each passing week as his pontificate emboldens the Church’s enemies and undercuts her friends and most loyal members.

§  From “The Pope They’ve Been Waiting For”:

No, this is not an Onion parody. This is the Catholic Church, circa 2013, under the hope-and-change pontificate of Francis—the one Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, and Jane Fonda have been waiting for. They had long pined for an enlightened pope and now they have found him in a Latin American Jesuit so loose, so cool, so “spiritual”… that he doesn’t fret over such fuddy-duddy anxieties as the killing of the elderly and the corruption of children… but rather their isolation and joblessness.

Anyone who is familiar with the cocky clichés of lightweight, dilettantish modern Jesuits will understand the import of this interview and hear all of its dog whistles: the praising of the late heterodox Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini, the politically correct sniffing at St. Augustine (“He also had harsh words for the Jews, which I never shared”), the condescension to saints of the past as products of their unenlightened times (as if Francis is not a product of his liberal times and liberal religious order; self-awareness is evidently not part of his “humility and ambition”), the Teilhard de Chardin-style jargon (“Transcendence remains because that light, all in everything, transcends the universe and the species it inhabits at that stage…”).

Pope Francis let it be known that he is eager to run the ball into the end zone for team spirit-of-Vatican II, and now that small-minded, rule-bound restorationists like John Paul II and Benedict XVI aren’t around anymore to tackle him he has an open-field run…

Were St. Ignatius of Loyola alive today, he wouldn’t recognize Francis as a Jesuit. He might not even recognize him as a Catholic.

Father Michal P. Orsi of Ave Maria School of Law, writing in The Washington Times, issued this scathing review of the effects the Pope’s utterances are having on the Church’s witness concerning social issues:

Pope Francis assured his interlocutor that he is a loyal son of the church and accepts the church’s teachings on the aforementioned issues. This addendum, however, is not good enough to mitigate the damage his words have caused for the pro-life movement and those who are trying to defend marriage as being between a man and a woman. His remarks have effectively given a sword to those who want to stifle them.

Most affected are those who have borne the heat of the day in the culture-war protests against abortion and same-sex marriages. The once-sure moral support that these groups enjoyed under past popes has been undermined….

[T]he pope’s words provide a sword for those critical of the church’s moral teachings on life and of the purpose of human sexuality. It will now be quite easy for them to say, “Why don’t you just listen to the pope and move on?” This sentiment has already been advanced in a letter to the editor in the New York Times by a Planned Parenthood official, who applauds the pope for “getting in step with modern times.”

[T]he pope’s musings have provided cover for Catholic politicians who support liberal abortion laws and legalization of same-sex marriage. They can now claim that they, like the pope, are concerned about the bigger issues, such as poverty and concern for the poor.

The pope’s “big tent” approach for Catholicism is bound to diminish the church’s presence as a moral force in societyIt is also detrimental to the church’s main ministry, the saving of souls. If there is only a distant and muffled voice on the life and human sexuality issues, how will people know that they are transgressing God’s laws?

The pope’s remarks have moved to the background those bright red lines of acceptable human actions that must not be crossed. This is neither pastoral, nor merciful. As Jesus said, only “The truth will set you free.”

piece by John-Henry Westin of Lifesitenews.com takes Francis to task under the title “Here’s how Pope John Paul II handled the charge of ‘obsession’ with abortion.” Westin quotes John Paul II’s reply precisely to the charge (related by Vito Messori) that his “repeated condemnation of any legalization of abortion has even been defined as ‘obsessive’ by certain cultural and political factions…” Said the late Pope:

It is… very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience—the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.

 

… I categorically reject every accusation or suspicion concerning [my] the Pope’s alleged “obsession” with this issue. We are dealing with a problem of tremendous importance, in which all of us must show the utmost responsibility and vigilance. We cannot afford forms of permissiveness that would lead directly to the trampling of human rights, and also to the complete destruction of values which are fundamental not only for the lives of individuals and families but for society itself.

There are other examples, but the point is made. The liberal utterances of this Pope are so disturbing, and the world’s thunderous applause so alarming, that we are suddenly facing a new stage in what Pope Benedict (writing as Cardinal Ratzinger) called “the continuing process of decay” that began immediately after the Council.

Mike Matt and others have rightly noted that Pope Francis is merely extending the trajectory on which the human element of the Church has been moving since Vatican II.  As Neumayr puts it, Francis is “run[ning] the ball into the end zone…”—just when we thought, under Pope Benedict, that team Vatican II had been penalized and moved back a few crucial yards toward the goalpost of Tradition. But under Francis the ball is moving downfield again with amazing rapidity, even beyond where it was before Benedict was Pope. Now, not only we traditionalists, but also prominent conservative Catholics of good will are standing up and calling foul. With us, they can see what lies ahead in the end zone, and they do not like what they see; they are, in fact, frightened by it.

Perhaps, then, the emergence of Jorge Bergoglio from the last conclave was a providential development.  For it is forcing more and more Catholics to make a choice: either the continued absorption of the Church into the “modern world” to which the conciliar Popes imprudently opened the Church’s windows, or a definitive return to the safety of the very “fortress” the “spirit of Vatican II” despises: that house built upon the rock of Peter; that refuge of sinners, sustained against the storms by the solid structure of obedience to the commands of the Gospel:  “And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand/And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof….  If you love me, keep my commandments.” (Matt. 7:24-27; Jn. 14:15).