That Pope Francis would have executed the synod in the manner in which he did was predictable from many things he has said over the course of his papacy, including Evangelii Gaudium, esp. 32-39. From what he says there, especially about the “conversion of the papacy,” it seems he is not adverse to critique, as long as there is ultimate unity with Peter and under Peter (cum Petro et sub Petro).
One ought to make a distinction between legitimate but respectful criticism from those who are genuinely concerned about the preservation of the deposit of faith, and the radicalizing tendencies of certain factions who will use anything to promote their own interests. One group uses Francis’ openness to sinners as an excuse to justify the unjustifiable, and the other is bent on using the synod to prove that everything since Vatican II was a mistake.
We must pray for the Holy Father, trusting in Christ, not in man. I presume Pope Francis is inspired and that it will all work out in the end. As we all know and profess, the pope is not infallible in every instance, but neither may we adopt a kind of ecclesial communion that is based only infallible pronouncements.
Ecclesial communion is sometimes difficult because the Church is not only divine, it is also human and in its humanity it is influenced spiritual powers. Pope Benedict has called that power “something in the air,” poisoning the “spiritual climate.” St. Paul called it “the prince of the power of this air” (Eph 2:2). Under its influence, the desire to know, to confirm and be certain overcomes the desire for truth. The name of truth thus becomes a tag for curiosities and self-justifications.
Archbishop Chaput said:
But even more dangerous are the purveyors of gossip who travel to Rome on a mission to prove their point. Thus, even Archbishop Chaput’s reference to the diabolical confusion of the media coverage has been used to suggest that problem was at the synod itself.
We need to invoke what Pope Benedict has called “the exorcistic power of Christianity” over the efforts to manipulate men and quicken schisms already resolved upon. Pope Benedict wrote:
We should pray for all the bishops, that the apostolic college, cum Petro et sub Petro, will be open to the Holy Spirit, and receive fruitfully all the necessary graces to guide the Church.
O, Immaculate, deliver us from the spirits of the air . . . and the airwaves.
Sorry, I had to re-post this from yesterday since the video that it was linked to did not show up in the original. I am not sure what is about, but we will find out more on the feast of Christ the King on November 23.
I am pleased to present an initiative which I fully support
I wrote about ninety percent of the following essay more than half a year ago and then left it unfinished for some reason, which I don’t remember. I thought it worthwhile to finish and publish at this time.
The age of chivalry was characterized—at least according to its ideals—by courtesy in warfare, that is, by a standard of fair play. Prowess was not pure aggression, and courtesy was not mere manners. Both were informed by fidelity and honesty, that is, by religious faith, human justice and sincerity. That was the Christian ideal anyway, not always realized, but as an ideal it created positive peer pressure that served to both perfect the arts of the warrior and check his ferocity.
Anyone who has heard or read anything I have to say on chivalry knows I say this often. It is fundamental.
In the last decade or so there has been a very happy resurgence of interest in that character of the Church we call “militant.” However, the peculiar keynote of Christian militancy is not the violent death of our earthly enemy, but the violent death and resurrection of our King, which puts death itself to death, and conquers our real enemy, the Prince of this World. Thus, the methods of alinskian secularism or of jihadist religion cannot be our methods. To put it another way, the belligerence of the pirate cannot be reconciled with the chivalry of the knight. (more…)
A blessed Feast of Our Lady of Victory.
On the Solemnity of St. Francis the seminarians and I went to the prayer vigil of the Holy Father in preparation for the synod, which has now begun. Afterward, we moved into the new building that the Holy Father has provided us. I can walk to the Angelicum in a half hour.
Here are a couple of photos of our new surroundings. More to come. Click on photos for larger view. There is a bit of distortion due to my use of the pan setting.
The gate you are looking at is Porta Tiburtina, after which our street is named, otherwise know as Porta San Lorenzo. The gate was constructed to commemorate a Roman victory. But our victory is found in the Gate of Heaven.
I post my yearly tribute to Mary Victrix:
I cast myself before Thee, Thy bondsman and fool;
I saw the bark of Peter ride dark into the sun,
My Queen, to Thee be honor and praise through all Thy knights
Filed under: Blessed Virgin Mary, Castles, Chivalry, Church, Holy Father, Knights of Lepanto, Lepanto, Marian Chivalry, Mary Victrix, Religion, Spirituality Tagged: Lepanto, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Victory, Porta San Lorenzo, Porta Tiburtina
Rorate Caeli recently “broke” the story of the suspensions of six clerics of our Institute who left their religious houses without permission in order to take “refuge” with “understanding bishops.” There are several things to consider in the interests of fair-mindedness.
Many are rightly scandalized. The question is why?
RC says that the friars departed without permission because “the atmosphere within the Institute had become intolerable and suffocating for them, with extremely grave effects both physical and psychological.” For the sake of argument, we concede hypothetically that this might be true. But on the other hand, the departure of friars from their religious houses without permission might also reflect the fact that there were valid reasons for the intervention of the Holy See in the first place. Perhaps—just perhaps—what led certain friars to take their case to the Holy See was their concern over the existence of a mentality within the Institute that was on the very edge of ecclesiality. (more…)
This comment epitomizes the reasons why I have not wished to be identified with the traditionalists (qualifiy that as you like, “radical traditionalists,” “Catholic reactionaries, etc.; my definition is here.) Unfortunately, the whole effort to extricate ourselves from this mess, has only confirmed the reasons why we wanted to free of the problem in the first place.
The commenter writes:
That really sums it all up. “Conspiracy theorists” is actually the precise term. Innuendo becomes plausible theory, which immediately becomes probable fact and the lack of evidence along with the number of times the innuendo is repeated turns into the “modernist reeducation project of the See of Peter against the impeachable Friars of the Immaculate.”
But conspiracy theory is a logical fallacy because as a worldview, a philosophy of history, it takes a lack of evidence itself as evidence. But this happens—notably—only when the conspiracy theorist’s view of the way things ought to be is threatened.
Conspiracy theory does not run on fact. Facts are counterproductive to conspiracy theory because they undermine the philosophy. Conspiracy theory burns pure, high-octane gossip and innuendo, first whispered from the shadows by someone who does not want to take responsibility and then broadcast by everyone else on the authority of the Nameless Darkness.
This is what happened with us. Instead of entrusting ourselves to Christ in His Church, certain individuals within the community chose, contrary to their profession in the Church, to put gossip into the hands of ideologues, who, before the they received it already had an agenda against Pope Francis. The reason for that agenda doesn’t matter. The ghosts put ammunition into the hands of Internet guerrillas who acted in a way that is wholly incompatible with religious life.
Conspiracy theory, especially when it is fueled in this way, if not diabolical, is pathological. It may not start out that way. Like scruples, it might just be at first a temptation or a certain proclivity of conscience. But when it is characterized by stubbornness, especially in the face of the authority willed by Christ in His Church, it can turn into a real affliction.
And just like someone with scruples, no amount of explanation, examination, review, rehashing, independent investigation will do, because the problem is not one of evidence or the lack thereof. It is not even fundamentally an intellectual problem. Conspiracy theory is willfulness bubbling up from wanton fear.
There is only one solution to conspiracy theory, just at there is one, and only one, solution to scruples: breaking the will, not satisfying the intellect. In the Church that means supernatural obedience.
Fear of the Church is a horrible thing. There are plenty of things to be afraid of. But this is why we have hope in Christ through His visible Church. That is why Christ said He who hears you hears me. Man is not in charge. Christ is in charge. Either one believes in the providence of God or one does not. There is no place in conspiracy theory for the providence of God.
I am not saying that everything is great in the Church. It is not. But if one thinks that the providence of God is somehow related to how great things are, he is making the same mistake common among so many in the Old Covenant, namely, that God is present only when it seems that way.
All that said we might quote Tolkien more exactly—words which he places on the tongue of Arwen Undómiel, as she speaks of her fate, which was to share the mortality of men.
Aragorn first says to her “I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world,” and then suggests to her the possibility of her seeking the West. Then there is this exchange between the two of them:
Perhaps Tolkien is echoing Chesterton in “The Ballad of the White Horse,” where Our Lady speaks to the nearly beaten King Alfred:
There are no natural answers to the situation within our Institute—no satisfaction for those who want relief apart from the appointment of Christ. Our only solidarity can be in the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary. If not Her, the Friars of the Immaculate have nothing to offer. She is our only excuse to exist, and our only joy and hope.
From the usual suspect:
Of course, it don’t matter one jot whether any of this is true because the medium by which it is delivered is the Internet. In the brave new virtual world, it is perfectly acceptable to publish whatever comes into ones head, or to repeat whatever has bubbled over from another’s into the digital world.
The narrative is just assumed to be true and New Catholic, whoever he is, without any way of holding him accountable, will just say: “don’t shoot the messanger.”
Yet, riding the wave of the cutting edge “reporting” of Rorate Caeli, even a “real” journalist fails to do even the least amount of due diligence before tweeting the following:
This is from someone who writes for The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal and The Spectator. But he is just “repeating” what he read on Rorate Caeli. Now, of course, New Catholic will deny he called the FI under commission a heretical order, but that is clearly what he meant. Why else would a friar otherwise have no way out but to abandon the priesthood?
But be sure, no one will take responsibility for spreading the lie that the friars who support the Apostolic Commission are heretics, nor will anyone take responsibility for having sowed the seed of dissension and despair by suggesting that friars confronted with the duty to obey the Church in difficult circumstances will have no choice but to leave the priesthood.
The “facts” “reported” by blogs and Twitter accounts are not all the facts, my Catholic friends. Rather, these are the “facts” that are fit to print because they fit the tint. And this is precisely the problem that many of us have had with our Institute’s past association with groups like Rorate Caeli.
And many traditionalists wonder why their cause is not more popular today among those who have to make policy decisions.
The Internet is more often the near occasion of mortal sin (objectively speaking) than many care to admit.
Behold, brethren, the Internet beast. We thank God for the free exchange of information, and well we should. But here gossip becomes fact, and such a “fact” becomes a tweetable factoid, a virtual torpedo of falsehood that will continue to damage the reputation of decent people as it ripples across the blogosphere.
This kind of dissension and division within the Church, which is the fruit of falsehood and gossip is satanic. Tossati blames this on those around the Holy Father, but I know for a fact, that many of these rumors originate elsewhere. Romanità knows no ideological boundaries.
This is a plague upon the Church and the Internet is its delivery system. The Catholic blogosphere needs a purge. We need to stop the rumor-mongering and vicious gossip.
More unsubstantiated gossip from an anonymous source, released by a pseudonymous blogger who skirts all accountability.
There is no way to verify the accuracy of the account of what is going on within the FSI. The source has to be someone within the community, who is not exactly an objective observer (nor one who is cooperating with the Church for that matter), which makes a real confirmation of the facts all the more crucial. That confirmation ought to be done before something is released to the public as though it were fact. There are many lives affected by this Internet spectacle.
The blogger further claims that the prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, and the secretary, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo (to whom he refers as the “Duo) have “thoroughly destroyed” the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Really? This man simply does not know what he is talking about, because he is only interested in one side of the story—the one that serves the purpose of his blog.
So the question for him and those like him is whether Pope Francis wishes to obliterate the sisters, which according tot he omniscient blogger, was the will of the Holy Father for the friars.
The gravest irresponsibility in all this is that the blogger and all those who have concocted and published their theories from the bits and pieces on the Internet do not know what they do not know. They have no way of assessing how much, or how little of the pertinent information they have or its relative value.
The behavior is irresponsible and all the more because so much is done without the slightest accountability.
But then again, they don’t care about any of this because this “reporting” is all about their own agenda. They have made no real investment in our Institute or any real knowledge about the issues involved. Ours is a symbolic cause for them and we friars and sisters are their canon fodder.
This is why I say I am ambivalent about the Internet and the excuse it provides for intellectual, cultural, moral and religious voyeurism.
It is a disgrace.
The atrocities perpetrated by ISIS (or IS, ISIL) on Christians and other religious minorities of Iraq is both an unspeakable tragedy and an opportunity to do some soul searching. Outrage and apprehension are the order of the day. We are really good at the ineffectual intellectualization of the problem, and on the other hand, we also excel at expressing the crusading spirit from the comfort of our padded chairs and the safety of Internet. But we have been short on effective action.
The big question being asked right now is why is it that ostensibly peaceful Muslims are so silent about the persecution of their Arab brothers and sisters. But an equally large question is why is it that the West is so impotent in the face of all the genocide, which it alone is capable of stopping. What else has to happen? How many more babies need to be cut in half, journalists beheaded, or women sold into slavery (etc.)?
In this context “dialogue” is frequently juxtaposed with “crusade,” as mutually exclusive answers. (more…)
I can only speculate what it all means. I am not inclined to think that it means anything juridical is in the works. However, I would hazard to say that it indicates that Pope Francis has no ill will or nefarious plan for undoing the provisions which favor those attached to the TLM. Which is what I have always been saying.
And for this reason the confusion of Damien Thompson as to why then Pope Francis would have placed restrictions on our Institute, might best be explained by considering that perhaps the narrative some traditionalists have spread about my Institute are wrong.
I am not sure how far he is to be taken literally in terms of the faithful’s right to lodge their concerns to their pastors. On the other hand, he makes a simple and valid point that most of us have come to give way too much importance to the way we think the Church ought to be instead of fostering the unity of the Church by not habitually and publicly contradicting our pastors and undermining their authority. Catholic orthodoxy/traditionalism has pretty effectively aped the rabble rousing progressives and felt banner wavers of the 60’s and 70’s.
The internet and social media, now a part of the fabric of our lives, seems to carry with it the assumption that somehow all of our opinions are important all the time. The digital age also validates the idea that we can say anything we want and then slough off responsibility for having said it.
The internet is a quicksand of cultural exibitionism and voyeurism. We Catholics have been suckered into it in the name of all that is holy.
In the comments on the post at the second link, Steve makes the observation that the real reason why the postconcilar crisis occurred was because the preconciliar Church was actually quite weak. One of Steve’s objectors say this appears to be post hoc ergo propter hoc, but the same can be said of the opposite argument—the more frequent one—that the preconciliar Church was strong and that the Council simply wrecked everything.
A more complex answer is probably the a more accurate one: there were preconciliar weaknesses, as well as the unrealistic optimism of the 60’s concurring with the sexual revolution, and the consequent disastrous implementation of the Council under the influence of ideologues who were able to throw off the fetters. These created a perfect storm.
A theology professor of mine made the astute remark that within the Church, the simple answers sound the best, but are usually wrong. A theological example of this is the doctrine of the hypostatic union. Nestorianism is simple and easy to understand: two persons, two natures, one indwells in the other. The Council of Ephesus is far more complex and difficult to understand: two distinct natures (one fully divine, the other fully human), but only one divine person, with no human person whatsoever.
Ephesus was right. Nestorius was wrong. The truth is not always simple.
Historical narratives are probably even more susceptible to such oversimplification, because they describe the particular and concrete, which are quasi-infinite. A historical cause and effect creates a ripple, which multiplies causes and effects exponentially.
Furthermore, we do not even know what we do not know. This is also a endemic problem on the Internet. Bloggers treat a few facts that they cobbled together like these were a compendium on the nature of everything.
Simple answers are appealing and convincing, especially in the wonderful world of search engines, viral causes and comboxes. We effectively sell our Catholic pontifications in sound bites, tweets, instagrams and blog posts, because that is the way contraception, abortion, same sex marriage and gender relativism has been foisted so successfully on the public.
Today evangelical genius consists in the ice bucket challenge.
I would suggest that we try to resolve our difficulties by having recourse to the living magisterium, but that would be too ultramontane.
There is one simple idea in the Church, a mystical one, which resolves all the complexities and anomalies.
But what do I know? Never mind.
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Pius X, one of the great popes of the 20th century. He was born in 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, and he grew up in poverty. His father was the village postman and little Giuseppe walked six kilometers to school everyday. This poverty characterized his whole life, and it was not just a matter of physical poverty. St. Pius X was a man who was truly poor in spirit. Our Lord said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Throughout his life as simple priest and Franciscan tertiary, then as bishop of Mantua, later as cardinal archbishop of Milan and finally as supreme pontiff of the universal Church, Giuseppe Sarto, remained a simple man and a lover of poverty. His last will and testament gives witness to this with the words: “I was born poor, I have lived in poverty, and I wish to die poor.”
Thus, this great man was single minded throughout his life and placed himself at the dispositions of Christ and His Church, without consideration for himself. This was his poverty in spirit. His whole life was to serve Christ and the Church. (more…)