Sunday, May 29, 2011

ARCIC Still Exists?

Really? I thought we were done with this once Anglicanorum Coetibus came out. Per Rorate, apparently not.

Summary: In the most liberal religious building in Italy (Bose), the most useless debate society in history keeps on as if nothing had changed.

From the Holy See Press Office:
The Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission has completed the first meeting of its new phase (ARCIC III) at the Monastery of Bose in northern Italy (May 17-27, 2011). The Commission, chaired by the Most Reverend David Moxon (Anglican Archbishop of the New Zealand Dioceses) and the Most Reverend Bernard Longley (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham) comprises eighteen theologians from a wide range of backgrounds across the world.

This is basically Sisyphus brought into the world of ecclesial relations. The Holy Father had the right solution. Just forget about getting the rock over the hill and move on to something constructive.

Weird Day Today

It was my son's First Communion. Wonderful occasion.

Then our priest announced that he's being swapped out with another priest in a parish south of here.

Bizarre timing for all this. Pretty much means that the Fathers have about a month to move.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Comic Book Musings: The Serpent Crown

The Serpent Crown is a recurring object of mystical power that pops up every now and then in the Marvel Universe.

Not that this has a whole lot to do with the Church, but it did trigger some thoughts after re-reading Steve Englehart's classic Avengers storyline that had the Crown as its main subject. It was written back in the 70s, which proves one of a few things. Either conspiracy theory never changes, the world has always been this screwed up, or Englehart is a prophet.

The crux of the story is that the Serpent Crown, in a sort of One Ring-ish fashion, takes over people's minds and turns them bad. This inevitably seems to always happen powerful corporate executives that then go about forming a network of other corporations for the purpose of taking over the world. In Englehart's particular arc, it's an alternate universe's Nelson Rockefeller who becomes President of the United States.

Anyways, if you substitute the Federal Reserve for Roxxon Oil, you've pretty much got the whole basis for modern conspiracy theory. I'm not looking to get on any one side of this fence. Just rambling a bit and reflecting on one of our prior posts concerning the possible existence of such conspiracies.

Friday, May 27, 2011

From Rorate's post on the Holy Father's address to Caritas:

In the political sphere - and in all those areas directly affecting the lives of the poor - the faithful, especially the laity, enjoy broad freedom of activity. No one can claim to speak "officially" in the name of the entire lay faithful, or of all Catholics, in matters freely open to discussion (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 43; 88). On the other hand, all Catholics, and indeed all men and women, are called to act with purified consciences and generous hearts in resolutely promoting those values which I have often referred to as "non-negotiable".

It would have been better if he would have said "not open for dialogue," since so many people think that even the most fundamental dogmas can somehow be subjected to dialogue. Dogma, by definition, cannot be the object of dialogue. The Church teaches these things. It cannot be taught.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why Today Was Better Than Yesterday

Yesterday, we all still lived in a world where there were new episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Today marked the first day in 25 years in which one of these freshly-spawned abominations darkened our planet.

Think of it. For the last quarter century, Oprah's cathode-spread infection has assaulted some of the most basic goods of the human race. Logic, reason, femininity, masculinity, faith, etc. all found themselves the target of her ego. Not to mention decent literature. What sparked her war on good books, we'll never know.

I submit that Oprah's influence on modern society was a catastrophe by lending credence to the most base mythologies that currently influence people. The steady diet of faux victimhood, aggrandizement of elites, emotionalism, New Age tripe, and even blasphemy served as a good argument against freedom of speech and expression. This is the same woman who gave us the popularity of The Secret, Toni Morrison, Dr. Phil, Eckhart Tolle, and Suze Orman. In what universe should we have any appreciation for those contributions?

This post will probably reap a great bit of criticism for this site, probably in the form of citations to Oprah's numerous charitable acts. Talk to an Oprah-addict. Then multiply their decayed mind by millions. Then try to figure out how much influence those individuals have on society as a whole. I appreciate her assistance to the poor and so forth. She can keep doing that now. The damage she has done to people's souls, though, makes me very happy that she has decided to move on.

Cistercian Abbey Shut Down

Per Rorate:

The Cistercian abbey linked to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme), the Sessorian Basilica, one of the seven most relevant basilicas in Rome, has been suppressed by a decree of the Congregation for Religious (Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life), approved by the Holy Father, following the results of an Apostolic Visitation - which itself was a result of years of serious problems, including significant liturgical abuses. The former abbot and other monks had already been removed two years ago (see M. Tosatti); the remaining Cistercians will be relocated to different abbeys.

As Atticus mentions below, things are getting kind of weird with stuff coming down from Rome. Sure, these have all been softballs to this point, but let's be honest. Pope Benedict has taken down something like 3 bishops this year. Now, he's suppressed a whole abbey. These aren't minor things.

Two words, Holy Father.

Deus Vult.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fr. Pfleger Stuff

So he's off the hook. Again.

Ending a weeks-long standoff, Cardinal Francis George lifted his suspension of the Rev. Michael Pfleger on Friday after the two men met and Pfleger apologized for statements the cardinal took as a threat to leave the priesthood.

Both men issued simultaneous statements, with Pfleger saying he would deliver a transition plan by Dec. 1 for St. Sabina Catholic Church, the South Side parish he has served for nearly 30 years.

What does all this mean? Nobody really knows at this point. We can hope that Fr. Pfleger has repented of his heresy and pride and disobedience. That's about it. The "transition" talk in the report implies that he's still leaving St. Sabina's. The terms are all vague and uncertain, though.
There's plenty for Cardinal George to have called him out on before all this. He let all that slide and is apparently letting this go. We hope it's for the right reasons. Time will tell.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Well, That Didn't Take Long

So much for Fr. Spronck and his work with the Salesians:

The father superior of the congregation of Salesians in the Netherlands Herman Spronck has been dismissed after he defended a paedophile priest.

Belgian Father Superior Jos Claes of the Don Bosco group in Brussels told RTL Nieuws that the father superior not longer represented the group in the Netherlands.

Good freaking riddance.

Follow-Up To The John Jay Report

From the AP via Rorate:

Dutch Catholic Church, religious order stunned over priest's membership in pedophile club

First, let's note something a bit off in all this. Nobody was really all that stunned:

The Dutch Catholic Church and the Salesian order are investigating revelations that a Salesian priest served on the board of a group that promotes pedophilia with the full knowledge of his boss.

Full knowledge of his Superior. What does "full knowledge" mean? Rorate is nice enough to provide the interview with the Superior, Herman Spronck. Here are the relevant exchanges:

Were you aware that Father Van B. was a member of Martijn, an Association of pedophiles?

Yes, I can remember that he told [me]. When, I did not ask. I do not know exactly when that was.

He was a member since 1994, did you know it?

That I cannot remember exactly, but it could be. I have been the superior only since 1995.

Were you aware that that Father Van B. was in the board (2008-2010) of the Pedophile Association Martijn?

I cannot remember. But he told me that he was to become director of an association. Was he not secretary or something? I did not ask him exactly what kind of society that was. He also told me at one point that he wanted to give up. That seemed sensible. But I did not ask for details.

Was it compatible with the ideas of the church that Father Van B. was a member of a pedophiles' association?

I was not sure what kind of association it was. But if you look at the association, it is not [legally] forbidden for Martijn to do what they do. I think that Father Van B. sought help for his feelings. I've always told him that he had to obey the law.

What do you think of Father Van B., who was twice convicted [for indecent exposure], did he obey the law?

I repeatedly told him what he should do. He was warned several times for flashing, which is, of course, not a serious offense.

You never found the membership of Martijn and convictions for sexual offenses a reason for Father Van B. to leave the order?

No. I have to give him a dignified life. Somebody is placed out of the order only if there is a serious sexual offense, such as rape. And that's never been the case.

Oh, well. I guess that makes it ok then. It actually gets worse after this.

Do you think that from the age of 12 years then is fine for sexual relationships with adults?

If it were up to me, they should be.

Will there be in the Salesian Order any more relationships between older people and children?

Just imagine that in the 50s/60s all lived together in 's Heerenberg. We were all away from our family and had only each other. Adults and boys - there was no woman to see - and then lived together and some things bloom.

If you look back now, did you act properly when it came to Father Van B.?

I could not do anything else. I've always stood up for him.

The board membership was no reason to place him out of the order?

No, that seems going too far.

Let me add to this a couple of things.

Recall that the Salesians were founded by St. John Bosco for the express purpose of working with young boys.

I don't know anything about this group that they mention in the article. However, we all know from past media coverage that the inclination to use the word "pedophile" has nothing to do with the actual deviancy in question. As mentioned in our prior post, most of the abuse cases are not pedophiles. Given the Superior's cut-off age here as 12, I'm betting this group is not all about pedophilia either. We have some European readers here. Anybody familiar with this bunch?

All in all, we have to wait and see what happens to the Superior. I'm not sure there are words that adequately express the lunacy of his opinions.

God help us.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Abuse Study

I'm working my way through it and the recent CDF document. I don't get it.

The CDF bit isn't that interesting. Nothing really new here.

The study. HooBoy.

A lot of blame seems to be getting placed on the 60s and 70s. Weren't there a lot of abuse cases before then? Umm, yeah. Their own graph shows a hockey stick upturn in abuse cases from 52-58. Almost half of the priests in question were ordained before 1960.

Second, 81% of the cases were against boys, but there's no evidence that homosexuality is a problem. Most of the cases were ephebophilic. This is admitted by everyone. From a mental and behavioral health standpoint, that has a direct link to homosexuality (unlike pedophilia). Nobody argues with this either. Yet homosexuality has nothing to do with the problem? Really?

Third, there is no discussion whatsoever of the Lavender Mafia's existence. There's a pretty good bit of evidence indicating an organized group in the Church that is promoting this stuff. Geez, people. Even Andrew Greeley is on-board with this. Why the lack of spine in dealing with it? Is there that much dirt left on that many people?

I hate to say it, but this report doesn't really seem concerned about dealing with the actual problems. Hey, I think the 60s and 70s were crap decades, too. I thank God I didn't have to live through all that. The music alone is enough to make one shudder. Blaming the abuse crisis on hippies is ridiculous, though. I hope South Park doesn't hear about this. The jokes write themselves.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Importance of Dogma and The Fraying of Protestantism

I didn't want this gem from Boniface at Unam Sanctam. Most of you have probably heard of this Rob Bell guy, a non-denominational (as though there is such a thing) pastor who has gone public with a dirty little row that most Protestants have been trying to ignore, namely, the question of hell and damnation.

More and more, you've seen the big names in Protestantism ditch the whole idea of hell. Have you ever heard Joel Osteen mention it? Joyce Meyers? Paula White? TD Jakes? Anybody?

Bueller? Bueller?

My guess is that you haven't. The fact of the matter is that we've come a long way since Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. This practical denial of hell on the part of so many pastors has creeped into the pews, but nobody really wants to admit it. Bell's treatise on the subject and the willingness of moderns to promote anything offensive to God has resulted in a lot of publicity for a topic that is admittedly uncomfortable.

Boniface's take is that this whole incident shows why Protestantism is untenable. The edifice is collapsing amidst a wild and unruly combat of Bible verses being slung about with no real appreciation for the fact that everyone is basically just relying on their own understanding in ciphering what the Holy Spirit was trying to say.

Anyways, check it out. It's worth your time.

The Church In China

From the Holy Father's most recent General Audience via Rorate:

During the Easter season, the liturgy sings to Christ risen from the dead, conqueror of death and sin, living and present in the life of the Church and in the affairs of the world. The Good news of God’s Love made manifest in Christ, the Lamb that was slain, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, is constantly spreading until it reaches the ends of the earth, and at the same time it encounters rejection and obstacles in every part of the world. Now, as then, the Cross leads to the Resurrection.

Tuesday, 24 May, is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai:
the whole Church joins in prayer with the Church in China. There, as elsewhere, Christ is living out his passion. While the number of those who accept him as their Lord is increasing, there are others who reject Christ, who ignore him or persecute him: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4). The Church in China, especially at this time, needs the prayers of the universal Church. In the first place, therefore, I invite all Chinese Catholics to continue and to deepen their own prayers, especially to Mary, the powerful Virgin. At the same time all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China: those members of the faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers.

We know from the Acts of the Apostles that when Peter was in prison, everyone prayed fervently, and as a result, an angel came to free him. Let us do likewise: let us all pray together intensely for this Church, trusting that by our prayers we can do something very real for her.

Chinese Catholics, as they have said many times, want unity with the universal Church, with the Supreme Pastor, with the Successor of Peter. By our prayers we can obtain for the Church in China that it remain one, holy and Catholic, faithful and steadfast in doctrine and in ecclesial discipline. She deserves all our affection.

We know that among our brother Bishops there are some who suffer and find themselves under pressure in the exercise of their episcopal ministry. To them, to the priests and to all the Catholics who encounter difficulties in the free profession of faith, we express our closeness. By our prayers we can help them to find the path to keep their faith alive, to keep their hope strong, to keep their love for all people ardent, and to maintain in its integrity the ecclesiology that we have received from the Lord and the Apostles, which has been faithfully transmitted to us right down to the present day. By our prayers we can obtain that their wish to remain in the one universal Church will prove stronger than the temptation to follow a path independent of Peter. Prayer can obtain, for them and for us, the joy and the strength to proclaim and to bear witness, with complete candour and without impediment, Jesus Christ crucified and risen, the New Man, the conqueror of sin and death.

With all of you I ask Mary to intercede that all of them may be ever more closely conformed to Christ and may give themselves ever more generously to their brethren. I ask Mary to enlighten those who are in doubt, to call back the straying, to console the afflicted, to strengthen those who are ensnared by the allure of opportunism. Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, pray for us!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Does Rowan Have A List Or Something?

Dr Rowan Williams named the Rev Jonathan Baker as the next Bishop of Ebbsfleet despite knowing he was an active and senior mason.

The appointment, announced earlier this month, marked a significant U-turn by Dr Williams who had previously said that Freemasonry was “incompatible” with Christianity and had refused to promote Masons to senior posts.

Last week, as news of Fr Baker’s membership of the Masons began to circulate through the Church, it provoked growing concern and criticism from clergy and members of the General Synod.

When contacted by The Sunday Telegraph on Friday, Fr Baker defended his continued membership of the Masons and insisted it was compatible with his new role as a bishop.

Yet yesterday he said he had changed his mind was leaving the masons so he could concentrate on being a bishop, adding: “I wish nothing to distract from the inauguration of that ministry.”

The guy says that he wound up resigning his membership from The Lodge. That makes it ok, I guess. Rowan sure has come a long way since 2002, though

The Theological Ghetto Of The Eastern Orthodox

When my wife was a Protestant, she initially was going to pass on Catholicism and instead opt for Orthodoxy. It wound up being a good experience for both of us. The exposure to the Eastern side of things was (and still is) very enriching.

Please note that the following is derived from encounters with the Greek and Antiochean churches we attended during this time, as well as discussions with Orthodox believers on multiple internet message boards which I realize might not be all that good of an indicator for a majority opinion.

Anyways, during that time, one of the things that really jumped out was the lip-service paid in honoring saints from the West. When I say lip-service, I am basically meaning that, while these folks would be venerated as saints, the Orthodox in question were completely allergic to any sort of theological writings from Latin saints, even going so far as to call many of them heretics.

Augustine, of course, is the primary bogeyman for the East, but as Karl has pointed out here, here, and here, this is basically because polemic has subjugated fact.

You simply don't see this sort of thing in Catholicism. We've mentioned here before that St. Thomas Aquinas's top references for citations in the Summa are Augustine, John Damascene, and Pseudo-Dionysius. Consider the Doctors of the Church. There are 33 of them. Of those 33, seventeen could also be regarded as Church Fathers. Of those seventeen, eight are Easterners: St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazienzen, St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ephrem the Syrian, St. John Damascene, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

My point in all this is to demonstrate that Catholic theology is truly universal. The Eastern hostility to the Latin Fathers is palpable and was a big red flag in examining the two faiths. Where were all these criticisms of Western saints before the schism? Not saying they don't exist, but I haven't found any trace. Of course, this was when the East was worried (filioque aside) about important stuff like azymes and such.

I guess I just don't get it. I hear all the time from Easterners that there won't be union until the West repents of all its myriad heresies (the list of which varies depending upon the Orthodox person I'm hearing from). Lots of these alleged heresies are derived from above guys. It seems more and more that any union in their eyes would mean the destruction of anything Latin in the Church at all. Sort of a weird mirror image of Latinization problems in Catholicism.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Of Sheepfolds And Such

Today's reading is from John 10:1-10.

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

What does a sheepfold do? It contains the sheep. It keeps them from wandering about to do as they please. Why? Because there are wolves, thieves, etc. out there who would do the sheep harm. The sheep endanger themselves by leaving the confines of the sheepfold. They become vulnerable and will either be lost or destroyed by their enemies.

This seems obvious, and I realize that what I'm saying is hardly a ground-breaking comparison. I find it amazing, though, that people wonder why unbridled freedom of doctrinal dissent is so bad. Being allowed to roam into the hands of the Adversary is not a desirable outcome. You have to wonder why so many desire it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: The Tudors

I mentioned in a prior post about my maybe watching the Showtime series The Tudors. This was mostly due to the portrayals (linked there) of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More being martyred. Honestly, I never would have thought such a reverential presentation possible from any secular media outlet.

So I watched them and thought they would make a good follow-up to my Thor review as they make for a good demonstration of a basic principle. Stories don't have to feature pornography to be good. Consider Thor. Here was a movie about a being worshipped as a god by a race of violent, barbaric people who are historically famous for murder, rape, etc. However, the movie was able to tell a story about him without any graphic portrayal or even mention of these things, even though it's pretty easy to see how a director could have worked them in there if he had wanted. It was a good movie.

On a side note, that's it's a comic book movie has nothing to do with it. Studios are releasing tons of direct to video CARTOONS now that feature things like Green Lantern shooting a guy in the face and having the gore splatter all over him, Wonder Woman overseeing the slaughter of an army that had raped a village of women, and Tony Stark naked in a hot tub with a woman. People don't care about whether a kid or parent might accidentally pick this stuff up.

The Tudors is a series about an immoral monarch, famous for his many wives and mistresses. In contrast to Thor, almost every episode of the series features a scene of softcore (I guess) pornographic sex. I'm not sure why. It is the very definition of "gratuitous." It ruins a lot of otherwise quality stuff.

It's a fairly accurate presentation of events, I think. It would have been better if Rhys-Meyers had been in a fat suit, but that would probably have reduced the glamour of his being king and made it hard for people to accept how this guy was able to have sex with so many women. Just being king wouldn't have been enough for a lot of folks.

The startling thing was always how pro-Catholic it all was. It even had a whole season dedicated to the Pilgrimage of Grace. How many people even knew what that was until this show came out?

Thomas Cromwell was shown as the a-hole that he was. The dissolution of the monasteries was basically theft. Catherine was a saint who, along with Mary, was cruelly abused. Anne Boleyn was a whore. How many public school history classes do you think actually make these points?

As fantastic (sans porn) the first seasons were, things kind of fell apart in the last season. Most semblance of plot was abandoned in order to just show various aspects of Henry's mental and physical deterioration. They went on a bizarre tangent to show the Anglicans resisting further Protestant doctrinal encroachment, but you couldn't figure out if they were Catholic or just not Lutheran/Calvinist. Lots of people died, but most of them were given such short shrift that you didn't have time to care.

Naturally, there was some homage to Elizabeth. Somebody should do a movie or TV show about her reign that isn't the Cate Blanchett hagiography.

Overall, it really was a good show up till that final season. If you can get past the porn stuff, it's worth watching and can probably be of some value in instructing Catholics on how England got to be the way it is. Following up with Robert Hugh Benson's Come Rack! Come Rope! would be a good thing.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Instruction Is Here

Some good things. Some head-scratchers. You can get other takes from Whispers, Rorate, and Fr. Zuhlsdorf that are probably way better than mine, but here are my initial thoughts.

Many of the faithful, formed in the spirit of the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, expressed a lively desire to maintain the ancient tradition. For this reason, Pope John Paul II with a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos issued in 1984 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty under certain conditions to restore the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, exhorted the Bishops to be generous in granting such a faculty for all the faithful who requested it. Pope Benedict continues this policy with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum regarding certain essential criteria for the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, which are recalled here.

I still haven't figured all this indult business out. If the TLM was never suppressed or abrogated, as Summorum Pontificum says, why are indults even necessary?

The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum constitutes an important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and of his munus of regulating and ordering the Church’s Sacred Liturgy. The Motu Proprio manifests his solicitude as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church, and has the aim of:

a.) offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;

b.) effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;

c.) promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

In legal analysis, these types of statements are regarded as illustrations of legislative intent. The point, especially in civil systems, is to inform the interpreters of the text as to why it's being promulgated. I wonder how many bishops will pay attention to this language when implementing it. For example, given that some of the mental gymnastics for getting around SP has involved limiting who the terms are intended for (such as SSPX supporters), the "all" here is going to be difficult to get around.

Diocesan Bishops, according to Canon Law, are to monitor liturgical matters in order to guarantee the common good and to ensure that everything is proceeding in peace and serenity in their Dioceses, always in agreement with the mens of the Holy Father clearly expressed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. In cases of controversy or well-founded doubt about the celebration in the forma extraordinaria, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will adjudicate.

Here's an interesting tidbit. Bishops are still recognized as the liturgical authority for their diocese but only to the extent that they agree with Pope Benedict's expressed wishes in SP. We already knew that Ecclesia Dei would be handling this, so I'm not sure why its mentioned again.

It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

This is potentially problematic, though they try to remedy it later. Some bishops will be tempted to say that the only way to properly respect the Extraordinary Form is to only allow priests to say it who have had to jump over and through all kinds of ridiculous obstacles in order to do so. Yes, after only 3 decades of training and certification, these admirable priests will be able to offer the EF with sufficient "respect."

A coetus fidelium ("group of the faithful") can be said to be stabiliter existens ("existing in a stable manner"), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior,and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such acoetus ("group") can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

"Some people." It would have been better to have said "any people," I think. We're all familiar with bishops making up arbitrary numbers to fit what they feel are the appropriate constraints for such a group. Some folks, such as Fr. Zuhlsdorf, make the point that no minimum number is mentioned here. They are excited about this. I'm not sure why. There wasn't a minimum number in SP either. Nothing in this language breaks down such barriers. Appeal will have to be made to the above-mentioned "all" in order to try and get this provision to work.

In the case of a priest who presents himself occasionally in a parish church or an oratory with some faithful, and wishes to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, as foreseen by articles 2 and 4 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the pastor or rector of the church, or the priest responsible, is to permit such a celebration, while respecting the schedule of liturgical celebrations in that same church.

This is interesting in that it looks like a mandate, something we don't see very often these days. Given that it is a mandate, I can foresee all kinds of gripes over this as priests who hate the EF try to fabricate incidences where they are "forced" into allowing such a Mass to be offered. Well, yeah. You're being forced to. Just like how any Catholic who enjoyed the EF was forced to let it go 40 years ago.

The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

Such people are necessarily schismatics. Not even the SSPX folk I know think the Pauline Mass is invalid. Why would we be offering them a place? There's probably some irony in here with the priests and bishops who let non-Catholics take over our worship spaces or receive communion.

With respect to the question of the necessary requirements for a priest to be held idoneus("qualified") to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, the following is hereby stated:

a.) Every Catholic priest who is not impeded by Canon Law is to be considered idoneus("qualified") for the celebration of the Holy Mass in the forma extraordinaria.

b.) Regarding the use of the Latin language, a basic knowledge is necessary, allowing the priest to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.

c.) Regarding knowledge of the execution of the Rite, priests are presumed to be qualified who present themselves spontaneously to celebrate the forma extraordinaria, and have celebrated it previously.

Here again, I'm not sure there's cause for excitement. Who decides that the priest is pronouncing stuff correctly enough or has the proper understanding? Part (c) is better in that it offers a presumption of qualification. Still, this doesn't make for a slam dunk.

Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

Here's a wild idea. How about just enforcing Veterum Sapientia? This part was probably the most disappointing item. "Asked to offer"? "Where pastoral needs suggest it"? I'm sure they'll be beating down the doors to make this happen. I'm wondering if Ecclesia Dei has enforcement powers over this provision. If a parish has a priest who wants to learn and the Ordinary keeps blocking him from doing so, can they make an appeal?

New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal, according to provisions which will be indicated subsequently.


Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

This is good because it makes it clear that altar girls and communion in the hand aren't allowed.

Those are pretty much the high points. There are additional bits on stuff like using the EF during the Triduum and for Confirmation, but nothing earth-shattering. The minor orders didn't get revived or anything.

Ultimately, I'm not sure what to think. It certainly isn't a perfect game. Not even a no-hitter, in my uneducated, layman opinion. I hate to be a buzzkill, but I don't know how much good this is going to do at all. The bishops who want to be a problem will continue to do so because there is still plenty of squishy language in here for them to take advantage of. When someone gets hammered by Rome, then we might see some results (along with priests and faithful who have their lives made into hell by the hammered bishops). Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me to see some bishops opt to close parishes who support the EF to the level of pushing things to the Pontifical Council level.

I know. I'm a killjoy. This is really a case where I would love to be wrong, though.

St. Gregory the Great and St. Pius V, pray for us.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fr. Pfleger Threatens To Leave


The Rev. Michael Pfleger said Tuesday in a meeting with parishioners that if he is not reinstated as pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church by this weekend, he will begin to preach at other churches.

In his first in-depth public remarks about his suspension by Cardinal Francis George, Pfleger told a group of about 150 people that he has received numerous offers to preach from churches throughout the city and the country and needs to get back to preaching.

He did not specify at what churches he might speak or their denominations.

Still, Pfleger insisted that the only way he will leave St. Sabina is if he is thrown out or if he believes God wants him to go.

If we have any readers who support these kinds of actions by a priest, I invite you to learn about what the great saints did in these sorts of situations. Can anyone envision Padre Pio acting in such a manner? Humility is the mother of the other virtues. Fr. Pfleger is demonstrating a distinct lack of it. Why should his behavior be considered praise-worthy?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Universae Ecclesiae

This is allegedly the name of the Holy Father's instruction for implementing Summorum Pontificum.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf is saying that it will be unleashed upon the masses in the next couple of days.

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth to follow, I'm sure.

Fr. Pfleger Threatens To Leave


The Rev. Michael Pfleger said Tuesday in a meeting with parishioners that if he is not reinstated as pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church by this weekend, he will begin to preach at other churches.

In his first in-depth public remarks about his suspension by Cardinal Francis George, Pfleger told a group of about 150 people that he has received numerous offers to preach from churches throughout the city and the country and needs to get back to preaching.

He did not specify at what churches he might speak or their denominations.

Still, Pfleger insisted that the only way he will leave St. Sabina is if he is thrown out or if he believes God wants him to go.

If we have any readers who support these kinds of actions by a priest, I invite you to learn about what the great saints did in these sorts of situations. Can anyone envision Padre Pio acting in such a manner? Humility is the mother of the other virtues. Fr. Pfleger is demonstrating a distinct lack of it. Why should his behavior be considered praise-worthy?

How Ignorant Can A Person Be?

Especially if we're talking about a bishop and Church teaching. Consider the case of Bishop Bill Morris, who is now claiming that he had never heard of the teaching of the male priesthood as being infallible, specifically with reference to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

As Fr. Zuhlsdorf makes clear, the bishop's claims on this issue either make him dishonest or ignorant to a point of incompetancy way beyond what should be permitted for anyone in the episcopacy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This Is Why Having A Pope Helps

That whole issue of "who is in communion with whom" is a whole lot easier to answer. This also demonstrates why Orthodox ecclesiology is at best problematic and at worst utterly broken. I got this from Rorate:

The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem met on Monday 9 May 2011 regarding the resolution of the anti-canonical actions of the Patriarchate of Romania, which has built a church and hostel in Jericho without their permission.

The Holy Synod of Jerusalem, after an in-depth investigation, regretably decided to sever communion with the Patriarchate of Romania and crossed Patriarch Daniel out of the dyptychs.

In the 1990's during the days of Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem and Teoctist of Romania a church and hostel was being built by Romanians in Jericho without permission from the Jerusalem Patriarchate. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem protested these actions, but the Romanian Church continued the unlicensed building project, and today the church is even functioning liturgically.

It should be noted that despite the interruption of ecclesiastical communion, Romanian pilgrims are welcomed to visit the Holy Land and the Monasteries of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

A church and a hostel in Jericho = schism. Not exactly "two wills" or "consubstantial," is it? Let's not even get into the finger-pointing in Russia and Ukraine over the property stolen from the Church. I'm not even sure what to say about this Jerusalem/Romania stuff.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


For they walked not with their eyes shut, but there was something within them which did not permit them to know that which they saw, which a mist, darkness, or some kind of moisture, frequently occasions. Not that the Lord was not able to transform His flesh that it should be really a different form from that which they were accustomed to behold; since in truth also before His passion, He was transfigured in the mount, so that His face was bright as the sun. But it was not so now. For we do not unfitly take this obstacle in the sight to have been caused by Satan, that Jesus might not be known. But still it was so permitted by Christ up to the sacrament of the bread, that by partaking of the unity of His body, the obstacle of the enemy might be understood to be removed, so that Christ might be known.

St. Augustine

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Movie Review: Thor

I went to see Thor last night. It was the first Imax 3D feature I'd ever been to. It was pretty amazing, but I'm not sure it's so great as to want to pay 2x the regular ticket price.

This movie was an interesting experiment on several different levels. First, Thor is not a character that has a lot of wide popular appeal. I say this as someone who thinks that Walt Simonson's work with this book was one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of the written word. That's the exception that proves the rule, though. It takes an exceptional talent like Simonson to make the character work. He's honestly just not that interesting otherwise, which is why he's on the feature team of the Marvel Universe.

Second, a film translating Norse mythology into contemporary times is not going to be easy either. What with all the archaic speech and such, it would be really easy to have this whole thing degenerate into a lot of melodramatic actors hamming it up whilst delivering poorly written sappy dialogue.

I think this is why Kenneth Branagh as director was important. Having worked in theater and Shakespeare stuff, I think he could recognize the cheese potential before it got out of hand. The movie kept it's tone, and everybody stuck to playing their character straight, without giving in to self-indulgence or mockery.

One final bit before I get to the substance of things. There was not a shred of foul language or inappropriate sexual content. There is violence, but it wasn't anything more than what is in any other super-hero movie. In fact, it's probably a bit less, at least as far as humans participating goes.

Now, for the review and Catholic bits garnered from my viewing.

Minor spoilers follow. You have been warned.

What has made the good Marvel movies good has tended to be the cast. Thor is no exception, though this was one of my biggest concerns since I'd never heard of most of these folks. Then again, everybody knew who Ben Affleck and Nicolas Cage were. That didn't help Daredevil and Ghost Rider.

This Hemsworth guy pretty much nails it, both on the arrogant jackass part and the fun guy to have a beer with side. The romantic part was a bit forced, but that seemed more a function of time than the acting.

The supporting cast was good as well. Anthony Hopkins does great as Odin. This isn't Marlon Brando stopping by the set of Superman to pick up a paycheck. Heimdall, Sif, the Warriors Three all got excellent treatments. Except for Volstagg who, quite frankly, just wasn't fat enough.

Tom Hiddleston, another guy I'd never heard of, was a fantastic Loki. I didn't like the motivations unveiled at the end. It just didn't sit well with me for some reason. Loki is pretty evil. The movie tried to tone that down a bit, even though he was trying to commit genocide.

The plot worked well and is the beginning of the Catholic perspective that we consider. Thor begins with a point instructive to the masses. Humanity once lived under the principle that mankind was not alone in the universe. We've pretty much ditched that now. We're way more pagan than the pagans ever were. Their gods were basically super-heroes and displayed all the regular foibles of humanity, albeit with greater capacity for harm due to their powers. At least the pagans didn't exalt themselves as gods, which is our favorite modern pasttime.

Anyways, humanity not being alone in the movie means being stuck with Asgardians and Frost Giants. That is the back-drop of the whole film. The remaining context is essentially a replay of The Fall. Thor allows his pride to override his sense of duty to Odin the All-Father. This unleashes enormous destruction upon his people and results in his being cast out. The road back is by subordinating his own will and self-love to the ideals that his father always wanted for him. This is all very Catholic stuff and was a pleasant surprise as to how it was presented.

Going back to our previous points above, all this is done without being heavy-handed and in your face. Branagh didn't need to resort to cheap Jesus imagery a la Singer in Superman Returns. He told a story with superfluities like that stripped away and what you had left was just a good story with great acting.

And yes, there's stuff after the credits, and it's awesome.

Go see it. You'll be glad you did. And by all means, please take your kids. They'll be glad you did.

Then all of you can read Walt Simonson's Thor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Heretic Bishop Removed

Interesting news from Australia:

The Catholic Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, has been effectively sacked by Pope Benedict XVI over doctrinal disobedience for his support for ordaining women priests and other liberal reform.

Naturally, the person at fault here is the Pope.

In a highly unusual move, Bishop Morris complained in a letter to his followers that he was leaving unwillingly and claimed he had been denied natural justice.

Yeah, he only gave the guy five years to stop leading souls astray.

The concerns we expressed in our Fr. Pfleger entry seem to be equally valid in this situation.

Some Toowoomba Catholics left church in tears yesterday, and priests have called a meeting at St Patrick's Cathedral on Thursday to consider what action can be taken, including the possibility of a mass resignation of clergy.

The whole bit about a mass resignation of the clergy has a kind of weird irony to it considering the fact that this bishop has done nothing to encourage vocations and appears to have just let the whole diocese wither on the vine. Of course, this is what we see from heretics. They eventually just annihilate themselves in the fashion of all such evils (see Mark 5:13).

Here's the interesting part. Rorate is reporting that Bishop Buchel of Switzerland is doing the exact same stuff.

Markus Büchel calls for far-reaching reforms in the Catholic Church. The bishop of the diocese of St. Gallen [St. Gall] spoke out openly for women’s ordination. “We must search for steps that lead there,” he said. “I could imagine that women’s diaconate could be such a step.”

One has not been permitted to discuss women’s ordination for a good while. “We can’t afford this anymore.” Regarding priesthood for women, Büchel said, “We can pray that the Holy Spirit enables us to read the signs of the times.”

Given that Pope Benedict is the guy who made him a bishop in the first place, it will be interesting to see what kind of action is take here. Hopefully, the Holy Father won't take five years to deal with these issues.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

God's Mercy

We are allowed union with God Almighty through the graces of a simple flow of water and the name of the Trinity.

The gratuitousness of grace is sometimes overwhelming and often ignored.

Remember to get your plenary indulgence today.