Ah! Sweet mystery of life At last I’ve found thee !!! Ah! I know at last the secret of it all; All the longing, seeking, striving, waiting, yearning !!!

APRIL 26, 2017
Obergefell and the Apotheosis of Judicial Will
New Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, left, stands with his mentor, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, April 10, 2017, during Gorsuch’s public swearing ceremony. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
With the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, many social conservatives breathed a sigh of relief. From what we know of his record, Justice Gorsuch does seem to be a worthy successor to Justice Antonin Scalia. Even if Gorsuch is somewhat less distinguished as a legal mind than Scalia, he is clearly politically astute. He ably navigated the minefield that has faced all Republican appointees to the Supreme Court since the nomination of Judge Robert Bork; unlike previous nominees who made the disingenuous argument that they had never considered what they would do if presented with a case that provided an opportunity to reconsider Roe v. Wade (1973), Gorsuch argued—and rightly so—that he could not consider how he would vote on any possible future case without knowing the details of the case, and of course he would not know those until the case was argued before the Court. Gorsuch had obviously studied the hearings of previous nominees and learned appropriate lessons from them; future Republican nominees would do well to learn this particular lesson from Gorsuch.

Still, other social conservatives continue to hold their breath, and not without reason. Justice Gorsuch’s discussion in his nomination hearings of the weight he places on judicial precedent offered no clear signal as to whether he would regard Roe as a precedent to be upheld or as a case to be removed from the chain of precedent because it was wrongly decided. And his seeming acceptance of homosexual “marriage” in his personal and religious life would, at the very least, be at odds with any future vote to overturn the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Add to that the odd signals sent by the man who appointed Gorsuch to the Supreme Court—after his election, Donald Trump declared in an interview with 60 Minutes that the two-year-old Obergefell is “settled” law, while the 44-year-old Roe is not—and it’s clear that this opera won’t be over until Justice Gorsuch sings.

The preoccupation with reading the tea leaves regarding Gorsuch’s potential future votes, however, has kept the eyes of both those who trust the new justice to do the right thing and those who are more skeptical that he will do so off of the elephant in the courtroom. With the Obergefell decision, the dynamic of the Court changed dramatically for the foreseeable future. Indeed, future historians (assuming there still are historians in the future) might well say that, with Obergefell, the United States passed into a new constitution, in the way that both the British and the French would understand that term. Judicial supremacy is no longer a threat to the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution of the United States; it is the foundation of a new form of government—at least as regards anything touching upon what has come to be known as “gender,” including all matters sexual and the social institutions that flow from them.

The seeds of this new constitution were planted almost two decades ago by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of the Obergefell decision, in his much-derided “Mystery Passage” in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1997):

Our law affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. Our cases recognize “the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Our precedents “have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.” These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Belief about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under the compulsion of the state.

When people refer to the Mystery Passage, they mean the italicized line in the quotation above. It’s easy to reduce that line to an object of ridicule; it reads like the précis for a term paper in a freshman philosophy class. But read in the context of the entire paragraph, the Mystery Passage is no laughing matter. The “right to define” is also the right to redefine; and right there, in 1997, long before any of these United States had attempted to declare that the sky is green and the grass is blue and a man could be wife to another man, Justice Kennedy placed the right to (re)define reality regarding “marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education” at the “heart of liberty,” which the 14th Amendment declares no “State can deprive any person of … without due process of law.”

Because the Mystery Passage was written in the service of the status quo—upholding Roe v. Wade—it was easy to dismiss at the time as sheer pettifoggery; and, conversely, it was easy to deride as Chicken Littles those who, like Justice Scalia, saw where the Mystery Passage would one day lead. Yet Justice Scalia lived long enough to be proved correct.

At no point in his Obergefell decision does Justice Kennedy cite either the Mystery Passage specifically or Casey in general (only Justice Thomas makes reference to Casey, in his dissent, in which he was joined by Justice Scalia); but Obergefell would not exist were it not for the groundwork that Kennedy laid in Casey. The argument that Kennedy advances in Obergefell is the same as that in Casey. The “liberty” protected by the 14th Amendment guarantees every American the right to redefine marriage and all other matters relating to sexual identity as he/she/zhe desires at any given moment. Those who criticized the Mystery Passage 20 years ago argued that this would lead to an untenable situation—the fostering of a relativism or nihilism regarding the most essential aspects of human life that would undermine the very foundation of human society.

Were this to play out solely in a social sense—that is, were everyone simply to hold his or her or zir own definition of, say, marriage and family—that would be true. But Obergefell revealed how the Mystery Passage would truly play out—not in empowering the individual to construct his own reality in his own image, but by empowering judges to reconstruct reality in theirs.

Casey‘s judicial creation of an individual right to redefine marriage and all other matters relating to sexual identity means that any accepted definition can stand only so long as it is left unchallenged legally. Once it is challenged, the accepted definition becomes a matter for judicial review. But at that point, it no longer matters what you or I or Jim Obergefell thinks marriage means; all that matters is what the judge who hears the case thinks it means. And since such cases will ultimately make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, all that really matters is what those nine justices think it means.

Just as a demagogue claims to speak for “the people” in order to advance his own interests and agenda, Justice Kennedy’s ruling in Obergefell had less to do with the rightness of the plaintiff’s claims than with Justice Kennedy’s conception of what lies at “the heart of liberty.” Thus, in Obergefell, we see the future of jurisprudence, at least as regards all matters even remotely touching on “gender.” The only limits on what the Mystery Passage can be used to justify—either by citing it directly or simply assuming it as foundational, as in Obergefell—are a federal judge’s imagination and his sense of propriety.

In other words, in Obergefell, Anthony Kennedy completed the transformation of constitutional law in this country that he began in Casey, at least with regard to matters sexual and the social institutions that flow from them. The elephant in the courtroom that most people have yet to notice is that this transformation, at heart, frees judges from the requirement to hew to established law and precedent, let alone broader tradition, since these are based on accepted definitions. Whether any particular judge will choose to follow established law and precedent in any particular case in which the plaintiff desires the redefinition of anything “relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education” is now entirely up to the judge hearing the case.

In the past, a particular judge could choose to disregard established law and precedent and attempt to redefine fundamental reality. But if he did so, there were checks on his will—chiefly, the possibility of being overruled by a higher court. But the elevation of the Mystery Passage to the overriding principle of justice in Obergefell, for all intents and purposes, removes those external checks, making the judge’s will supreme.

That some, or even most, judges might continue to follow established law and precedent for the foreseeable future (perhaps out of the same type of cultural inertia that prevented Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from embracing homosexual “marriage” earlier than they did) does not change that reality. They do so now not because external structure of American jurisprudence requires them to do so but because they choose to do so.

As I wrote on the day that the decision was handed down, Obergefell proved that the Constitution is a living document, and its name is Anthony Kennedy. Or its name may be Neil Gorsuch. It hardly matters which justice becomes the deciding vote in the future: Unless and until a future Supreme Court drives a stake through the heart of both the Mystery Passage and Obergefell, we live in a judicial dictatorship. The best we can hope for now is that our dictators are benevolent.

Editor’s note: In the photo above, new Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch, left, stands with his mentor, Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, April 10, 2017, during Gorsuch’s public swearing ceremony. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Tagged as judicial activism, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Gorsuch, Obergefell v. Hodges, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, U.S. Supreme Court

Scott P. Richert
By Scott P. Richert
Scott P. Richert is the Catholicism Expert for ThoughtCo (formerly About.com) and Editor at Large for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


catholicvote email logo

The Democratic Party charade on abortion is finally over.

Newly-elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has declared that every Democrat must be 100% pro-abortion. And according to an official statement: “that is not negotiable.”

What does this mean?

Tolerance, diversity, and ‘choice’ be damned. Every Democrat must now support the party platform which includes abortion on demand, for any reason, during any month of pregnancy, up to and including partial-birth abortion. And of course, taxpayers must pay for it.

The game is up: Fall in line, or get out.

The Democratic Party has told Catholics who believe in the sanctity of life that they are no longer welcome inside their party. Sure, they’ll take your votes. But when it comes to Catholics and our belief in the dignity of unborn children and the rights of mothers — get lost!

But did you know that 23% of Democrats are pro-life?

Democratic candidates that claim to be pro-life now face a dilemma. Will they challenge their own party leadership? Or will they wimp out, and continue to take millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and the DNC, and hope to fool voters once again?

Senators Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), all face re-election next year. All three ran as ‘pro-life Democrats’ despite their mixed records.

Will they campaign with their party’s chairman?

Will they use DNC staff, and take campaign money from the national party?

And if so, what will they owe Chairman Perez?

If you are a Democrat, you can disagree with your party on health care, religious liberty, taxes, climate change… you name it. But if you are not 100% on board with abortion, then you are dead to them. 

It’s tragic. And I wish it wasn’t so.

In some ways the clarity is refreshing. We’ve endured the phony double-speak long enough.

Now it’s up to us to call them out. Shame them for their intolerance.

And make sure every Catholic voter knows the truth.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Inside the synod hall during the meeting of bishops and cardinals on Oct. 14, 2015.
Inside the synod hall during the meeting of bishops and cardinals on Oct. 14, 2015. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA)
COMMENTARY  |  APR. 25, 2017
A Tale of Two Interpretations of ‘Amoris Laetitia’
COMMENTARY: Guidelines issued by two dioceses offer opposing answers. The Church now faces a crisis of doctrinal and evangelical credibility.

The post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia  (The Joy of Love) was published one year ago on the solemnity of St. Joseph. Since then, two competing interpretations, or, rather, pastoral applications of Chapter 8 (on divorce, remarriage and the sacraments) have emerged. They are epitomized in two sets of diocesan guidelines, each of which is meant to apply the teaching of the document to respective dioceses.

The first, entitled, “Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia,” was published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (hereafter Philadelphia) in July 2016. The second, entitled, “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia,” was published by the archbishop of Malta (hereafter Malta) and his assistant bishop in the neighboring Diocese of Gozo.

Both address the disputed question of whether married persons living in sexually active second unions while their first spouses still live, who have not received a public judgment from the Church declaring the invalidity of the first marriage, may return to the holy Eucharist without resolving to live sexually continent with the second partner (hereafter disputed question). The two guidelines offer opposing answers.

This essay compares and contrasts the two replies. (Philadelphia also offers guidelines on the questions of cohabitation before marriage and pastoral care for persons with same-sex attraction. But this essay only considers the disputed question.) It ends with advice for Catholics who feel confused over the disharmony between the bishops’ pastoral directions.

To orient readers, Malta is a small Mediterranean island 50 miles south of Sicily, with around 380,000 Catholics (out of a total population of 420,000) and 600 priests. Christianity there dates back to St. Paul, who, finding himself shipwrecked on the island on his way to Rome, spent three months ministering to the Maltese (see Acts 28). Catholicism today is the official religion, and Malta’s most famous inhabitants historically are the knights who took the island’s name.

Thirteen miles to the west lies the Diocese of Gozo, with 28,000 Catholics and 169 priests. Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta was appointed auxiliary by Pope Benedict in 2012 and made archbishop of Malta by Pope Francis in 2015. Gozo’s bishop, Mario Grech, was appointed by St. John Paul II in 2006. Archbishop Scicluna and Bishop Grech are Malta’s only signatories.


Philadelphia and Malta

Both applications of Amoris Laetitia acknowledge the pastoral challenges of persons living in second unions. And both state that their respective guidelines are meant to assist pastors to accompany such persons. Accompany them where?

To answer, we might look at the direction each points to as it prepares to answer the disputed question.
Philadelphia points to truth and fidelity to the Church’s moral teaching. It says accompaniment must take the route of the Gospel, which is always a way of “truth and charity.”

Accompaniment should assist persons to know the truth that will make them free (John 8:32) and must solicitously avoid the dual errors of relativism, which “ignores the truth,” and rigorism, which “lacks mercy.” And the guidelines promise to “faithfully reflect Catholic belief.”

Malta points to what it refers to as the “new routes” that accompaniment should open up for estranged members. It likens remarried divorcees to the three Magi, “who took adifferent route home after meeting Jesus” (see Matthew 2:12). It says divorcees might have to take a “different route” back to the Church and says God is “able to open up new routes for these persons.” Malta insists its guidelines are “in line with the directions given by Pope Francis.”


Points of Agreement

The two agree on a number of preliminary points. Both acknowledge that the first unions of these persons may in fact not have been valid sacramental marriages; and both admonish those with reasonable doubts to seek the counsel of a marriage tribunal to help to resolve the question.

Both recognize that those who are unable to receive annulments may feel estranged from the Church and alone in their faith journeys. Both say the Catholic community should welcome them and help them feel part of the Church, encourage them to pray with the community, and incorporate them into some parish activities. Both enjoin a process of discernment — Philadelphia, in order to help them “come to an awareness of their situation before God”; Malta, in order to help them become aware “of their life situation in the light of Jesus.”


Examination of Conscience

Because Amoris Laetitia spends considerable time on the notion of conscience, both Philadelphia and Malta quote the following paragraph on elements of an examination:

“Useful in this process is an examination of conscience through moments of reflection and penance. The divorced and remarried should ask themselves: how they have acted toward their children when the conjugal union entered into crisis; if they made attempts at reconciliation; what has become of the abandoned party; what consequences does the new relationship have on the rest of the family and the community of the faithful; and what example is being set for young people who are preparing for marriage” (300).

Philadelphia immediately adds that the pastoral work of discernment aims at finding the truth so as to guide all decision-making in accordance with it. Malta, on the other hand, enters a discussion of the problem of diminished responsibility in evil doing, reflecting on factors that can mitigate free choice. Malta then quotes the curious passage from Amoris Laetitia, 301:

“It can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”

I say curious because, to my knowledge, the Catholic Church has never said, neither in her theology nor official pastoral practice, “simply” that all those in second unions are living in a state of mortal sin and deprived of sanctifying grace.

Moral theology has always insisted that mortal sin occurs when and only when grave matter is chosen with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.

Malta’s discussion of mitigating factors obscures the fact that even if a person chooses some object of grave matter — in the case at hand, adultery — with mitigated culpability, the actions are still harmful to them and bad for the unity of the Church.


Disputed Question

Both then turn to the disputed question of the relationship of the divorced and civilly remarried to the sacraments.

Philadelphia says that in order to bear perspicuous witness to the true nature of the Eucharist and of the Church, the following norms must be upheld.

  • To receive holy Communion, one must not be aware of any unconfessed serious sin.
  • If one is aware of such sin, one must confess it with a firm purpose of amendment.
  • It follows that to receive holy Communion, remarried divorcees must confess extramarital sexual intimacy, if such intimacy has taken place, and firmly resolve to live in perfect continence (refraining from any and all sexual acts).
  • Some who do this might continue to cohabit for the sake of their children.
  • To avoid scandal, pastors who administer the sacraments to these couples must be solicitous to avoid giving the impression they support divorce and remarriage, or that Church teaching on this issue may be set aside.
  • For the same reason, continent remarried divorcees should not be given certain important public duties in the parish (e.g., membership on parish council), including liturgical duties (e.g., lector, extraordinary minister of holy Communion).

Malta says something quite different. It asserts that some remarried divorcees may be capable of practicing the virtue of conjugal continence without “putting at risk” elements of their life together. For others, however, living “this ideal” may be “humanly impossible and gives rise to greater harm” (reference to AL, Note 329). Such persons should undertake a process of discernment that includes humility, a love for the Church and a sincere desire for God’s will.

Malta then says that if such discernment leads these people to the belief that they are “at peace with God,” then pastors may not exclude them from the sacrament of the Eucharist. Such persons should be considered for various public duties within the parish, including within “the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional frameworks.” They also should be considered “suitable to be godparents.”


Navigating Opposing Interpretations

After the final report of the Synod on the Family was published 16 months ago, I wrote in these pages the following:

If the “way of accompaniment and discernment” is approved, both the progressive and the traditional interpretations would be officially sanctioned. But since the progressive interpretation is in clear opposition to the unambiguous teaching of the Church, repeated continually by the hierarchy in the past four decades, its authorization would badly undermine the Church’s evangelical credibility.

This is exactly what we see in the conflicting interpretations of Philadelphia and Malta. Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia lends itself to two opposing interpretations, one of which is fully consistent with the settled and perennial position of the Catholic Church and the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI; the other of which is not. The Church now faces a crisis of doctrinal and evangelical credibility.

And it also faces a crisis of trust among its own faithful members who endeavor to know what’s right and good to do. How can Malta’s interpretation be excluded if it is apparently consistent with papal teaching? This is a good and urgent question that every faithful pastor should be ready to answer.

The norm for Catholic belief and practice is the deposit of faith, the revealed word of God made manifest in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. That deposit was and is committed to the Church as a kind of sacred trust to be guarded and handed on until Jesus comes again.

The deposit is made known not only in the writings of sacred Scripture but in the definitive teachings of ecumenical councils, the infallible proclamations of popes (which Amoris Laetitia does not constitute, as Pope Francis makes clear in Paragraph No. 3) and in the prayer and worship of the Church’s sacred liturgy.

The singular purpose of ordinary papal teaching (which Amoris Laetitia does constitute) is to assist both those within and outside the Church to understand, receive and live more fully and fruitfully the truths of the deposit of faith. (If some text in ordinary magisterial teaching lends itself to a conclusion that seems inconsistent with some truth or truths of that sacred deposit, then the conclusion cannot be legitimately taken to be a licit interpretation of that text.)

I have argued elsewhere that the divinely revealed doctrines of the intrinsic wrongfulness of adultery and the absolute indissolubility of Christian marriage cannot both be true and at the same time it be true that anyone — including a civilly-remarried divorcee — who is sexually active with someone other than his or her valid spouse while that spouse still lives is not objectively committing adultery.

Malta prescribes that if these people believe they are “at peace with God” (i.e., not committing adultery), that belief, held sincerely and humbly, is a sufficient basis for the Church’s pastors to sanction their return to the sacraments.

This is an egregious pastoral error.

Their belief may suggest they are invincibly ignorant of the objective wrongness of their actions and so not guilty of mortal sin, and if not guilty of mortal sin then not guilty of sacrilege when they receive the holy Eucharist. But this does not imply that pastors may free such persons to receive the holy Eucharist.

Why? Because pastors cannot know that these persons are free from mortal guilt.

As Pope Francis insists, pastors should not be judging sinners’ souls at all. No one can know with certitude the state of another’s soul. Thus, they should focus their energy on helping these people to come to know the truth that will set them free.

To be sure, a blunt assertion of the Church’s exclusionary teaching is unlikely to help many people. But the assertion that they are in full communion with Jesus and his Church and so free to return to the sacraments without reforming their lives is far worse.

So what should pastors do?


Mater et Magister

They should always at once be mater et magister (mother and teacher). As magister they should form consciences. To form consciences they must teach the truth on the indissolubility of marriage and the wrongfulness of adultery. A spurious compassion that hides the truth from those who need it the most is contrary to the true care that a spiritual shepherd should give his flock (Jeremiah 23:1-4).

Pastors should simultaneously be mater. Mothers respect their children and neither overestimate nor underestimate them. A pastor should not act as if the ordering of their lives in the light of the Gospel is an easy thing, as if it poses no great obstacles. He should help them identify the obstacles. He should especially address frankly and sensitively the challenge of living sexually continent with their second partners.

But he shouldn’t underestimate them either. God’s grace can assist them to do what may be impossible by natural strength unaided by grace.

Our pastoral approach, even in the most difficult circumstances, must never fail to insist that because of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, we live in a grace-filled universe, where it is possible for men and women to respond to the high call of Jesus to “follow me” (Matthew 4:19).

Mothers also morally support their children. Pastors shouldn’t inform consciences only. They also should help people to follow their consciences. People in second unions, especially if they have children from the second union, may see no way out. Pastors should help them to see a way out. Offer them hope: Good mothers always offer hope. Help them see that a morally ordered life — not an easy life, but an ordered and upright life — is good and possible: “You can do this.”

And help them see how faithfully responding to the difficult teachings of Jesus on marriage and sexuality is essential for the spiritual well-being not only of themselves, but of their children. Parents who forgo sexual intimacy out of faithfulness to Jesus’ teaching are luminous witnesses to the purity of the Gospel and the integrity of the Church’s teaching.

But the credibility of the Gospel and the Church is jeopardized by those who treat the teachings of Jesus as if they are “humanly impossible.” Jesus’ message on marriage and chastity is a merciful message. It is not bad news; it is Good News.

Moreover, sanctioning the reception of the holy Eucharist while they are still in a situation of objective serious and public wrongdoing is an occasion for scandal. By authorizing their return to the sacraments, the pastors themselves would be occasioning scandal among the faithful and so placing the souls of their parishioners in peril. They also risk giving the impression that the Church’s irreformable teachings on the indissolubility of marriage and the requisites for chastity may be set aside.

This the Church must never do, but especially at the present time, when the truths about marriage and sexuality urgently need to be perspicuously articulated and persuasively defended. Every possible counter-witness to this articulation and defense must be avoided.

Malta’s notion of discernment is flawed. It suggests that true spiritual discernment might lead these persons to conclude that their lifestyle is licit and so they are free to return to the sacraments. But because Jesus never wills us to adopt morally illicit alternatives, discernment, properly speaking, only ever concerns the question of which among a number of morally licit alternatives Jesus wants us to adopt.

So the question of whether or not remarried divorcees should return to the sacraments without ceasing their nonmarital sexual activity is not a matter to be discerned. It is a matter of a straightforward moral judgment that the alternative under consideration is incompatible with the good of marriage and the dignity of the sacrament.

Catholic teaching holds that no one who is sexually active with someone other than his or her living valid spouse may without confessing the activity and resolving to live chastely receive the holy Eucharist. This is not a teaching for the few, for the perfect. It is for every Christian. The fact that some who approach the sacrament under such circumstances are — because of invincible ignorance — in good faith does not justify Catholic pastors in telling those same persons that they are free to approach the holy Sacrament. As Philadelphiastates (quoting Amoris Laetitia): “Discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and clarity as proposed by the Church.”

In my opinion, Philadelphia’s guidelines beautifully fulfill the aims of applying Chapter 8 to the concrete circumstances of Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried in a way that respects truth, expresses charity and remains faithful to the Gospel and the Church’s moral teaching. Its guidelines will help pastors accompany married couples to salutary Christian solutions in the face of marital crises, and do so in a way that guards the spiritual well-being of those being accompanied, their children and the rest of the Christian community.

Philadelphia offers no assembly-line solution. Its guidelines won’t undo overnight the seemingly intractable problems that have arisen over nearly seven decades of largely failed ministry to families.

Each couple, indeed each person in marital crisis, needs to be cared for according to what is spiritually best for him and for her. Among the possible alternatives for responding to the present crisis, Philadelphia offers a good and faithful Christian guide. Malta does not: Its guidelines will leave Catholics stuck in disorderly lifestyles, encourage them to receive holy Communion when they are not spiritually prepared, compromise the Church’s witness to the integrity of Christian marriage and Catholic sexual teaching, and incentivize divorce and “remarriage” for other vulnerable couples who are struggling in troubled marriages.

Pray for the unity of the episcopate.

E. Christian Brugger is professor and dean 

in the school of philosophy and theology 

at The University of Notre Dame in Sydney, Australia.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments


A Short Summary of the 22 April Lay Conference on Amoris Laetitia


Yesterday, 22 April, there took place the important lay conference in Rome which was organized by the Italian publications La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana and Il Timone and which was dedicated to a public critique of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Already today, there have been several articles about this event published, among them by Dr. Sandro MagisterAmerica Magazine, and La Stampa. Mr. Andrew Guernsey already posted Professor Claudio Pierantoni’s own speech in English translation, as well as a film on youtube of Professor Douglas Farrow’s presentation.

Professor Claudio Pierantoni, who was one of the six speakers at this Rome conference, kindly accepted our invitation to send to OnePeterFive a more thorough and detailed report about the event in a few days which we will post as soon as it is available. So that our readers receive already now a little impression of the event, we herewith present a translation of an article which was published today by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana itself. The translation has been kindly provided by Mr. Andrew Guernsey.


Lay People, Free and in Love With the Church: as “Hobbits” Call for Truth on the Sacraments, not Revolts

Lorenzo Bertocchi

23/04/2017 “We’re not here for an ideological battle,” said the director Riccardo Cascioli, “but because we feel that we are called to a responsibility.” With this statement the conference yesterday was closed: “Seeking Clarity: One year after Amoris laetitia,” held in a Columbus Hotel room around the corner from St. Peter’s Square organized and promoted by La Nuova BQ and Il Timone.

A conference convened by lay people, with lay speakers from around the world. Many journalists were present, we only remember some big names of Italian vaticanistas like Sandro Magister, Luigi Accattoli, Giuseppe Rusconi and Aldo Maria Valli. Among the foreigner ones were Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register. There were around 200 people who followed the proceedings of the busy day.

The most important emphasis of the event at the hotel Columbus is precisely the role of the laity, as Valli rightly noted in his article before the conference and published on his blog.

“All too seldom,” he wrote, “are Catholic lay people seen gathered on their own, without the guidance of a cardinal, a bishop, a monsignor or at least a simple priest, to discuss issues that concern first of all the fundamental contents of faith. It is even rarer to see lay people who decide to come out in the open to appeal to the pastors with an admonishment that sounds like so: “Excuse us, but look at what, according to us, you all have produced, that is, something which does not work, and which can become dangerous not only and not so much in an abstract sense, but precisely for the salvation of souls.”

The speaker, Anna Silvas , an Australian university professor, in her intervention brought up the great saga of Tolkien to remember that the laity are like the hobbits of Middle Earth. “Not powerful, but with a fundamental role in the battle for the triumph of good.” The very director Cascioli recalled in his introduction what are the issues of concern that sparked the organization of the conference. “In the dispute over Amoris Laetitia the meaning of three sacraments is implicated: marriage, penance and especially the Eucharist. We have bishops’ conferences, individual bishops, priests, who on the most sensitive issues also give even opposing interpretations and directives. We have such absurdity that, just as an example, the directives to the faithful on access to the Sacraments change not only from country to country but also from diocese to diocese and parish to parish.” Hence the request for clarification that builds on the five dubia that four cardinals have handed over to the Pope so that he may untie the knots on fundamental issues that concern the Catholic moral doctrine and the pastoral practice that follows it.

These prominent speakers, Cascioli said , “come from different cultures, from different ecclesial experiences, they also express different sensibilities and also the way to address the current situation is not identical. But in common we all have the perception of the seriousness of the crisis of the Church and the desire to carry out our personal responsibility fully in order to contribute to the good of the Church itself, in order to call the pastors to their duty.”

The proceedings opened with the intervention of Jürgen Liminski , director of the Institute for Demography, Welfare and Family (Germany), who stressed the social value of the indissolubility of marriage. “A long-lasting marriage,” he said, “guarantees a climate of trust in the bonds of affection and trust is the cement of society. For this reason, stable and non-liquid relationships are a cultural capital useful to society and also to the economy.”

The very articulate speech of Douglas Farrow, professor of Christian philosophy in Montreal. He recalled a certain “Gnostic risk that there is in dividing a judgmental God from a merciful God. And the challenge for the Church today is to raise his eyes to a God who does not need to mitigate justice to give mercy. “ If tradition “cannot contradict itself, paragraph 303 of Amoris laetitia raises the question of how conscience is understood compared to what paragraph No. 56 of the encyclical of St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, teaches.”

The speech of the Parisian philosopher Thibaud Collin noted that the issue of the relationship between natural law and conscience, between the objective order and subjective responsibility, is at the heart of the five dubia that the Cardinals have addressed to the pontiff. “The law of God,” Collin said, “cannot become one element among others, to be weighted on the basis of situations.” Collin’s speech, very profound, will be published in full in Italian in the coming days, along with those of all the other speakers. The Frenchman has also confronted the question of the possible development that Amoris laetitia would bring about in the continuity of Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendor, noting a number of inconsistencies far from being resolved.

Dr. Silvas had also alluded to a certain spirit of modernity that seems to be pursued by many pastors, like through ‘getting easy approvals », it seems, she said that “one Hegelian spirit is hovering around, the deep spirit of modernity.” She ended her speech by saying that as long as the dubia the four cardinal will not find an answer, “it will be difficult to avoid the confusion of interpretations, because the text of Amoris laetitia, objectively, leaves obvious openings.” Among other things, she recalled the strange case of footnote 329 to the text of Amoris laetitia, which “recalls Gaudium et Spes in a passage that concerns spouses, but applies it to couples who are not spouses. Why?”

Professor Claudio Pierantoni, Chile, specified that, in a sense, the dubia are new, because “they ask something on which the magisterium had already clearly expressed itself several times.” In Amoris laetitia, according Pierantoni, “the indissolubility of marriage is affirmed, then there are innovations in practices that contradict it.”

The contribution of Jean Paul Messina, a Cameroonian professor, focused mainly on the issue of polygamy which, in Africa, is a true and proper risk to the Gospel of the family and Christian marriage.

“This conference,” Cascioli reiterated, “is not an act of rebellion against the Pope, nor does it intend to put an ultimatum nor does it have schismatic intentions. Criticism of certain passages – especially contained in chapter eight  of Amoris laetitia, as well as of certain interpretations by bishops’ conferences such as the German and Maltese ones, and of individual cardinals, bishops, religious, are simply a testimony of clarity.”

This article has been updated.


{This meeting in Rome is a beautiful example of what is referred to as the SENSUS FIDELIUM.  It is the spontaneous action of the laity rising up in protest to doctrinal and pastoral errors being introduced in the life of the Church by other laity, priests, bishops and cardinals. Abyssum}

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


A Hard Case: Divorce and Cohabitation 

Desiring to Live a Virtuous Life

Fr. Gerald E. Murray, The Catholic Thing:
Ready for some casuistry? Should the Catholic Church allow a man and a woman to receive the sacraments in the following case? A woman living with a married but divorced man tells him that she no longer wants to live in sin; the man threatens to kill himself, and she, following her confessor’s advice, stays with him?
In an interview with Edward Pentin, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio offers this example and says: yes. He refers to his recent book on Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia in which he speaks of this case:
Think of a woman who lives with a married man. She has three little children. She has already been with this man for ten years. Now the children think of her as a mother. He, the partner, is very much anchored to this woman, as a lover, as a woman. If this woman were to say: “I am leaving this mistaken union because I want to correct my life, but if I did this, I would harm the children and the partner,” then she might say: “I would like to, but I cannot.” In precisely these cases, based on one’s intention to change and the impossibility of changing, I can give that person the sacraments, in the expectation that the situation is definitively clarified.
What’s the harm to the partner in her departure? “But how can she leave the union? He [her civilly married spouse] will kill himself. The children, who will take care of them? They will be without a mother. Therefore, she has to stay there.”
He even states that the woman who desires to end the adulterous relationship would be guilty of killing her partner by leaving: “But if someone says: ‘I want to change, but in this moment I cannot, because if I do it, I will kill people,’ I can say to them, ‘Stop there. When you can, I will give you absolution and Communion.’”
The argument posed here is a quintessential “hard case” being used to establish a premise in favor of treating publicly known adultery as no longer an obstacle to the lawful reception of Holy Communion. But this premise sanctions emotionally manipulative coercion and victimizes the woman further by treating her desire to live a virtuous life as the cause of harm to another.
How can that be? Obedience to God’s law is the cause of good in the life of the woman in question and that good radiates out to those around her. Her departure might shock the man into realizing how abusive his behavior has been toward her. His children are his responsibility, along with their mother, assuming she is still alive and involved in their lives. Her decision to follow God’s law will bring the children sadness, but more importantly gives a living witness of the Christian duty always to obey God’s law.
Cardinal Coccopalmerio
The man in question uses the threat of suicide to coerce this woman, not simply to remain in his household to raise his children, as would be the case if he agreed to live in a chaste, brother and sister relationship for the sake of the children; he is coercing her into committing acts of adultery. He is sinning gravely on two counts. She is conscious of her objectively sinful behavior and wants to conform her life to the demands of the Gospel.
Her culpability is mitigated by the force and fear imposed upon her by this man’s threat. Nonetheless, when grace moves a person to reject sin, the Church must never tell that believer that she need not worry about her sinful situation because the man she is civilly married to is somehow entitled to adulterous relations, lest he kill himself.
Is it an authentically Christian pastoral approach to allow a deadly threat by the man to go unchallenged? Could the threat of suicide likewise be invoked to allow other gravely sinful situations to continue? If he were sexually abusing his children, and threatened to kill himself if they were removed from the house, would anyone think they should be left there? Why should his demand to continue in adulterous acts with a reluctant woman be treated differently?
An underlying assumption here may be that once the woman agreed to live with this man moreuxorio, she somehow lost her right to refuse pseudo-conjugal rights, and that such a refusal would harm him, if not kill him. This is a backwards way of looking at the plight of a woman who, moved by God’s grace, wants to live faithful to the Sixth Commandment.
By allowing this “suicide exception,” the Church would be tolerating the woman’s exploitation and reinforcing the man’s mistaken notion that he can, without any consequences, manipulate another person, until such time “that the situation is definitively clarified” (whatever that means).
The role of the priest confessor in this case is to help this man and woman to live virtuous lives, which means abandoning threats to commit suicide and giving good example to the children by living a chaste life together. If that is not possible, the priest should advise the repentant woman to live in accordance with her upright conscience by departing.
Sad to say, Cardinal Coccopalmerio believes it is impossible (emphasis added) for some Christians to change their situation: “I say in the book, it’s necessary to instruct the faithful that when they see two divorced and remarried that go to the Eucharist, they ought not to say the Church now says that condition is good, therefore marriage is no longer indissoluble. They ought to say these people will have reasons examined by the ecclesial authorities on account of which they cannot change their condition, and in the expectation that they change, the Church has placed importance on their desire, their intention to change with the impossibility of doing so.”
Sed contra: “With God all things are possible.” Mt 19:26
“This column first appeared on the website The Catholic Thing (www.thecatholicthing.org). Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.”
Discover More
  1. Stop Resorting To Abortion, Birth Control, In Vitro Fertilization and Divorce 
  2. Catholic Divorce, What Went Wrong? 
  3. Pope John Paul – One Cannot Give Into the Divorce Mentality 
Fr. Gerald E. Murray  • 2017-04-05  • John Quinn
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


ayaan hirsi ali

What Catholics Can Learn About Islam from a Former Muslim


Many Catholics look upon Islam as an ally in the struggle against militant secularism. Since Muslims are opposed to permissiveness, pornography, same-sex “marriage,” and other aspects of the secularist agenda, many Catholics assume that they must share similar values about marriage and sexuality.

But this is not the case. The Islamic emphasis on modesty and chastity shouldn’t be confused with the Christian standard. Christian sexual ethics are based on respect for women, whereas Islamic sexual ethics are motivated in large part by a disparagement of women.

Islamic family values are not about honoring women, but about protecting a man’s honor. And, in Islam, a man’s honor is bound up with his ability to control the women in his life. If a wife, daughter, or sister does anything to jeopardize the honor of her husband, father, or brother, she risks severe punishments and even death. In the West, a disobedient Muslim daughter may have her head shaved; in the Muslim world she may be killed.

The Muslim male’s control over women and girls is manifested in many ways, but one of the most disturbing is the widespread practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). According to the Population Reference Bureau, approximately half a million women and girls in the United States have undergone the procedure or are at risk of the procedure. In a recent interview with Tucker Carlson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali pushed for laws that would ban the procedure, which she said is designed to “kill the sexual libido … and ensure virginity” before marriage.

Who is Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Born and raised in Somalia, where genital mutilation and forced marriages are common, Ali eventually left her tribe and family and escaped to Holland. There she began a public campaign to bring attention to the mistreatment of Muslim women. In the course of time, Ali was elected to the Dutch Parliament and—partly as a result of her bad experience with Islam, and partly from her study of the Enlightenment—she became an atheist. She also became a target of radical Islamists, and, under increasing pressure from the Dutch government (which considered her to be too provocative), she left Holland for America.

The author of several books, Ali is currently a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. In addition, she heads a foundation which defends the rights of Muslim women. The AHA Foundation is dedicated to protecting girls and women from forced marriages, honor violence, genital mutilation, and from oppressive sharia laws.

What might Catholics learn from Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Two important lessons come to mind. The first is that Islamic values are quite different from Catholic values. Many Catholics, including those in leadership positions, have been content to get by with a multicultural lite view of Islam. In other words, they believe that while Muslims may have different foods and customs, they’re just like us when it comes to basics.

But as Ali and other former Muslims have pointed out, there is a world of difference. The central family value in Islam is not mutual love, but family honor. This is not to say that Muslim families are devoid of love for one another; it’s to recognize that they are under enormous cultural and religious pressure to put other things first. Nonie Darwish, a Muslim convert to Christianity, makes the case that Muhammad viewed a normal family—one in which a man’s first love and loyalty is to his family—as an impediment to jihad. “It is not uncommon,” she observes, “for a man who is loyal to one wife and treats her with love and respect to suffer ridicule for not being man enough.”

Catholics seem largely unaware of the extent to which the code of honor suffuses Muslim life. Practices such as genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, polygamy, wife-beating, and easy divorce (for men) are not cultural outliers, they are part of the warp and woof of Islamic societies. But the Catholic leadership has been so focused on proclaiming its respect for Islam that it has largely ignored these matters.

However intended, these proclamations of respect and even esteem for Islam are likely to be interpreted by Muslims as an endorsement of the status quo and also of Islam’s all-male leadership. When Catholics declare their solidarity with Islam, what they usually mean is solidarity against “Islamophobia,” or against restrictions on Muslim immigration, or similar fashionable causes. But, too often, these solidarity statements come across as blanket endorsements.

Muslim leaders can elicit these endorsements by the simple expedient of playing the victim card. They understand Catholic psychology far better than Catholics understand the psyche of Muslims, and they know that Catholic leaders reflexively side with those who claim victim status. By constantly portraying Islam as a victim of bias, bigotry, and “Islamophobia,” Muslim leaders know that they can win the support of Catholics for whatever agenda they wish to pursue.

Yet Islam is much more victimizer than victim. And among its chief victims are Muslim women and children. Who speaks for them? Well, Ayaan Hirsi Ali does and so does Nonie Darwish. But I don’t recall any prominent Church leaders speaking out about the oppression of Muslim women. Indeed, the Church’s current policy of avoiding any criticism of Islam can easily be mistaken for an endorsement of Islam’s misogynistic practices. Church authorities speak often about their concern for the most helpless and vulnerable in society, but that concern does not seem to extend to Muslim women and children, who are among the most vulnerable people in the world.

By consistently standing with institutional Islam and its representatives, the Church is, in effect, turning its back on the Muslim victims of the Islamic power structure. The Church’s respect-Islam policy will, unfortunately, only increase the sense of hopelessness that many Muslims already have. Islam is an oppressive religious and social system, and many Muslims feel trapped in it. When Christian leaders won’t acknowledge the oppression, it reinforces the “trapped” Muslim’s belief that she has nowhere to turn.

There is a second lesson to be learned from the work of Hirsi Ali. Catholic leaders, along with many secular leaders, seem to think that the only threat from Islam comes from militant extremists. Moreover, they contend that these violent jihadists have nothing to do with Islam. According to Ali, however, the threat is much larger, and it most assuredly does have something to do with Islam. She writes:

In focusing only on acts of violence, we have ignored the ideology that justifies, promotes, celebrates, and encourages those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam (or “Islamism”) as an ideology and against those who spread that ideology, we have made a grave error.

Ali refers to the method by which the Islamist ideology is spread as “dawa.” In its narrow sense, “dawa” means proselytizing, but in the sense that Ali uses it, it is roughly equivalent to the term “cultural jihad.” It is similar to what twentieth-century communists called the “long march through the institutions.” Islamic cultural jihad is an attempt to infiltrate and influence institutions such as media, schools, courts, and government bureaucracies with the aim of advancing sharia law.

Armed jihad is one way of spreading Islamic law and doctrine, but it is not the most common way, and it is not always effective. Cultural jihad, on the other hand, is very effective because it’s hard to detect and harder still to resist. Cultural jihad is difficult to counter because it takes advantage both of Constitutional protections and of the Western abhorrence of discrimination. Thus, the special rights that Muslim leaders demand are always presented as the civil rights of a victimized minority.

One of the institutions that cultural jihadists aim to influence is the Catholic Church. And, indeed, they seem to have been quite successful in their attempts to manipulate Church leaders into supporting their various agendas. European bishops have enabled the spread of Islam through their endorsement of open-borders policies. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been one of the key players in the resettlement of Muslim refugees of the unvetted variety. Through Muslim-Catholic dialogue programs, the same bishops have lent legitimacy and respectability to Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), thereby facilitating their stealth jihad activities.

Whichever direction Islam’s long march through the institutions takes, Catholic leaders seem anxious to fall in line. They have joined forces with CAIR’s hate-crime campaign and with its Islamophobia campaign—even though the latter is essentially an anti-free speech movement. Like trained seals, the bishops can be relied on to perform in the expected ways. Every time non-Muslims are blown up in the name of Allah, some bishop or other is sure to voice his concern about backlash against the Muslim community, and to make yet another plea for solidarity.

It’s not just the bishops, of course. Catholic schools have raised a generation of students to believe that “Islam” means “peace,” and that “jihad” is an “interior spiritual struggle.” Catholic colleges, in the meantime, can be counted on to fight “Islamophobia” while keeping quiet about anything that puts Islam in a bad light, such as FGM and wife-beating.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Catholic leaders have been facilitating an Islamist agenda—an agenda which is inimical to the kind of family values Catholics wish for themselves. Presumably, they do so with the best of intentions. But that’s small comfort to the child who is mutilated for life or to the woman whose life is held hostage to her husband’s sense of honor. A large part of the problem is that Catholic leaders have been overly reliant on Muslim Brotherhood masters of dawa for their understanding of Islam. That’s like getting your information on the Nazis from Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda. It’s time that Church leaders paid some attention to Muslims who are not part of the institutional Islamic apparatus—even if they are ex-Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I don’t agree with all of Hirsi Ali’s views. For instance, her hope that Muslims can be encouraged to accept a reformed—but diluted—version of Islam seems overly optimistic. Nevertheless, that view is preferable to the opinion that Islam doesn’t need reform. Unfortunately, many Catholic leaders seem to think that Islam is just fine the way it is. They see no problem beyond a handful of extremists who pervert a “great faith.” That assumption is built on sand, and it is being washed away daily by the tides of cultural jihad.

William Kilpatrick


William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily,and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Providence Health & Services: Oral testimony Senate Bill 494

Sister Lynda Thompson, March 23, 2017

Good morning, Chair Prozanski and members of the {OREGON LEGISLATURE}committee – for the record my name is Sister Lynda Thompson – thank you for the opportunity to speak about the importance of Senate Bill 494.

I’m a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and currently serve as the director of Mission integration at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland. I have worked in the ministry of Catholic Health Care for over 25 years and appreciate its witness to patient centered, compassion care for patients and families at every stage of their life journey. I have had the privilege during these many years of sitting with families, married couples, parents and children in a variety of settings – Parish halls, living rooms, hospital gathering areas— to facilitate and witness those powerful and grace filled conversations that all of us will, hopefully, someday have – considering how we will choose to live our later years and final days with the greatest possible peace, comfort and support.

I’ve used the existing Advance Directive as a tool to guide these conversations – to help families and loved ones really talk to each other about what deeply matters to them. The Form could often prove confusing and difficult to navigate.

As a Catholic health care ministry established in the Northwest over 160 years ago, Providence Health & Services’ Mission, to reveal God’s love for all through our compassionate service, is rooted in the arts and science of medicine, centuries old Catholic tradition and practices of care for the dying, and a profound commitment to walking one another through this journey of life as a community. This Mission speaks to the importance of embracing those who are suffering and honoring the dignity of every person.

Every day, at Providence, we commit ourselves to practice those caring behaviors that nurture the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of those we serve. This is never more important than when patients become most vulnerable ,are unable to express their wishes, and health care representatives and family are faced with impending grief and loss, while struggling to make extremely difficult decisions. An earlier conversation resulting in an Advance Directive to guide medical treatment based on a patient’s wishes is truly a God send at this time. I have seen it so often ease the anxiety and stress—I’ve heard, as perhaps you have as well, “ We know what mom wanted”

At these times I’m reminded that, like an iceberg, nine-tenths of who we are is below the surface – made up of those often unspoken and unconscious values that shape each of us and provide the richness of our personal story. A story, a narrative, we must be encouraged to reflect on and tell often to those who care for us and about us.

Oregon’s current, binary checklist Advance Directive form, however, does not encourage this full personal reflection or discussion with loved ones – a component that U.S. Catholic bishops recognize, noting in their pastoral message, the Blessings of Age that “You may worry about being unable to communicate your desires regarding such serious matters as life support systems. Advance directives can help your loved ones know your wishes.”

To that end Senate Bill 494 does two important things:

Ensures a clear, concise process for appointment of a health care representative; and
Provides a thoughtful framework for a more inclusive form that, in addition to a checklist of medical interventions, will promote and encourage discussion about how an individual wishes to be treated and cared for when they become seriously ill.

Catholic teaching recognizes that death is an inevitable part of life, but, as best we can, it need not be a lonely or terrifying event. We believe , from within our experience as a Catholic health care ministry, that an individual’s health care preferences and desires and wishes are most likely to be carried out when they are captured in an Advance Directive that is the finest and most effective tool we can offer them.

{What does all the above mean? It can mean simply that “if we can help them end their life we will be happy to do all we can to cooperate with them in having their wishes fulfilled” !!!
BEWARE of signing an medical form that contains boxes to be checked. Why? Because ANYONE including a doctor, a nurse, a janitor who has access to the form, can check a box that may give the hospital the right to terminate your life !!! – Abyssum}

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Cycle A

Bishop Rene Henry Gracida

God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast (1) kindle the faith of the people you have made your own, (2) increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that (3) all may grasp and rightly understand
(4) in what font they have been washed,
(5) by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
(6) by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God,
forever and ever.
Amen !!!

That prayer, the opening prayer of today’s celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is one of the most perfect Collects in the entire missal of the Church. That Collect truly “collects” in one prayer what our Mass today is all about.

The petitions expressed in the prayer cover the Preaching of the Good News, the Last Supper, the Passion, the Crucifixion and Death, and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They sum up what our journey through the forty days of lent were all about.

That is what the Sacred Liturgy is all about: expressing and realizing the essential elements of the Catholic Faith.

Here is the metaphysical definition of Liturgy:

The sacred Liturgy is the complexus of sacred signs instituted by Jesus Christ or his Church which both signify and confer sanctifying grace.

The Second Vatican Council in one of its most important declarations said:
… the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 10)

Let me illustrate this important truth by recounting one of the most important experiences of my life.

I began my studies in Architectural Engineering at Rice University in 1942 one year after I graduated from Central High School in Texas City, Texas.

As happens at many colleges and universities, I soon encountered the hostility of professors who were either agnostics or perhaps even atheists. Somehow they came to learn that I was a Catholic.

I was then indirectly subjected to a lot of ridicule of the Catholic faith. At nineteen years of age I was not experienced enough in defending my faith and, along with all of the other pressures of college life, especially the pressures of college social life, I began to drift away from the practice of my faith.

In 1943 I was called to active duty with the United States Army Air Corps Reserve (the United States Air Force did not come into existence until 1946, after the Second World War). With the erosion of my faith that had started at Rice combined with the difficulties of going to Mass in the armed services, I stopped going to Mass.

In April, 1944 I was temporarily assigned to Kearns Air Force Base near Salt Lake City, Utah, awaiting reassignment to the aerial gunnery school at Kingman Air Force Base in Arizona.

On Sunday morning, April 9, I woke up and realized that that day was Easter Sunday.
Even though I had not been to Mass in over a year I suddenly felt an irresistible desire to go to Mass and to do so in Salt Lake City, which was just half an hour away.
So I obtained a pass, caught a bus and got off in the middle of Salt Lake City, the home of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, and started looking for a Catholic Church.

I had only walked a few blocks when I came upon the Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine. I entered and after genuflecting I took a seat in the last pew in the back of the cathedral.

Soon the cathedral filled up and much to my surprise a Bishop processed up the main aisle and began celebrating the Mass for Easter Sunday.

The Liturgy was, of course, in 1944, the Latin liturgy of the missal of the Council of Trent.
That missal was not changed until 1962 (which is the missal I am using for this Mass).

The Bishop was Bishop Duane Hunt, Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. He preached a moving and thought-provoking homily and I hung on to his every word.

I did not know it at the time, but the choir of the Cathedral of the Madeleine was world famous and the music of that day’s Mass made a profound impression on me.

Years later I read what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy.

“The importance of music in biblical religion is shown very simply by the fact that the verb ‘to sing’ (with related words such as ‘song’, and so forth) is one of the most commonly used words in the Bible. It occurs 309 times in the Old Testament and 36 in the New. When man comes into
contact with God, mere speech is not enough. Areas of his existence are awakened that spontaneously turn into song. Indeed, man’s own being is insufficient for what he has to express, and so he invites the whole of creation to become a song with him”

The Liturgy I experienced in the Cathedral of the Madeleine on that Easter Sunday had all the essential elements for a truly great Liturgy: a good celebrant, a great homilist, great music, and a great ambience/ambiente. Consequently I was moved by the experience like I had never been moved by the Liturgy before.

I realized what a fool I had been. I was the proverbial prodigal son who had returned to his father’s house to a welcome that reduced him to tears. And I was reduced to tears. I stayed in the Cathedral for about an hour after the Mass had ended reflecting on my life during the past eighteen months.

Again, here are the essential elements of a great celebration of the Liturgy:

God enkindles in his people the faith he has revealed
God increases the faith he has given
God enables his people to understand
that they have been washed clean in the font of baptism
that they have been washed clean by the power of the Holy Spirit
through the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In that Easter Liturgy God kindled anew that faith that had previously been strong but had grown weak (1).

There is no doubt in my mind that that Easter Liturgy renewed in me and gave me a great increase in the grace God had previously bestowed on me (2).

With that infusion of actual grace I clearly grasped and rightly understood (3) that like those who had just been washed in the waters of the baptismal font at the Easter Vigil the night before and were now
celebrating their rebirth (4) I also had experienced a rebirth through grace that
renewed in me my own baptism and that now my relationship with the Holy Spirit was made secure (5) through the Passion, Death and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.

Such is the power of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in which the whole meaning of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is made clear to those who enter into the celebration of the Eucharist with total commitment of body and soul.

Almighty God,
Eternal Father,
grant that through our participation in Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today you will
(1) kindle the faith in us, the people you have made your own, (2) and increase the grace you have bestowed on us, so
that (3) we may grasp and rightly understand
(4) in what font we have been washed,
(5) by whose Spirit we have been reborn, and
(6) by whose Blood we have been redeemed.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God,
forever and ever. Amen !!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Benedict XVI: Erasing God from liturgy has put Church ‘in danger’

Benedict Xvi , Crisis In The Catholic Church , Liturgy , Summorum Pontificum , Vatican Ii

ROME, April 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A mistaken liturgical reform following Vatican II that emphasized human “activity and creativity” in place of giving “priority” to God has jeopardized the very existence of the Catholic Church, according to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“In such a situation, it becomes ever clearer that the existence of the Church lives on the just celebration of the liturgy, and that the Church is in danger when the primacy of God does not appear anymore in the liturgy, and therefore in life,” he wrote in the preface to the newly released Russian edition of the Opera Omnia (complete works) of Benedict XVI / Ratzinger.

“The deepest cause of the crisis that has subverted the Church is located in the effacing of the priority of God in the liturgy,” he added, according to a translation provided by Rorate Caeli.

Benedict, who just turned 90, said that the “absolute priority” that Catholics should give to attending mass over and above any other consideration has been lost.

“In the conscience of the men of today, the things of God — and with this the liturgy — do not appear urgent, in fact,” he said.

“There is urgency for every possible thing. The things of God do not ever seem urgent. […] If God is no longer important, the criteria to establish what is important are changed. Man, by setting God aside, submits his own self to constraints that render him a slave to material forces and that are therefore opposed to his dignity,” he added.

The Pope Emeritus said that he dedicated himself to the theme of the liturgy after witnessing after the Vatican II Council how a man-centered liturgy “led almost to forgetting of the presence of God.”

“I knew that the true renewal of the liturgy is a fundamental condition for the renewal of the Church,” he said.

It has now been 10 years since Benedict issued his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, an edict that restored the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, allowing priests to use the ancient form without having to request permission from their bishop.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said in a March 31 address that Pope Benedict showed a path forward to rediscovering authentic liturgy by opening the door to the “extraordinary” form of the mass which he said the pope hoped would help “enrich” the ordinary form of the mass.

“Now, it is enough to pick up [Vatican II’s] Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy again and to read it honestly, without betraying its meaning, to see that the true purpose of the Second Vatican Council was not to start a reform that could become the occasion for a break with Tradition, but quite the contrary, to rediscover and to confirm Tradition in its deepest meaning,” Sarah said at that time.

“It must be reaffirmed that Vatican Council II never asked to make tabula rasa (blank slate) of the past and therefore to abandon the Missal said to be of Saint Pius V,” he added.

Sarah said that the liturgy called for by Vatican II has yet to be realized and many places in the world.

Following the lead provided by Pope Benedict in his Summorum Pontificum, Sarah said he would like to see the relaunch of a “liturgical movement.” Not one that is based on what he called the “ravings of some theologians who long for ‘novelties,’ but one based on a disposition towards discovering God in silence, adoration, and though a proper liturgical formation based on the teachings of the Church.


Cardinal Sarah: Many Church leaders ‘underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through’​

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


VATICAN CITY, VATICAN – MARCH 13: Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Fake canon law goes on goin’ on
by Dr. Edward Peeters
April 22, 2017
Fr. James Keenan writing in Crux this week makes his own a question raised (last July, it seems) by Rocco Buttiglione in L’Osservatore Romano: “Is there any contradiction between the popes who excommunicated divorced and remarried persons and Saint John Paul II who lifted that excommunication?”

That’s fake canon law. John Paul II never lifted any excommunication against divorced and remarried Catholics because, quite simply, there was no excommunication against divorced and remarried Catholics for him to lift. Shall we talk about it?

Buttiglione writes in the L’OR piece upon which Keenan draws: “Once upon a time, divorced and remarried persons were excommunicated and excluded from the life of the Church. That kind of excommunication disappears from the new Code of Canon Law and Familiaris Consortio, and divorced and remarried persons are now encouraged to participate in the life of the Church and to give their children a Christian upbringing. This was an extraordinarily courageous decision that broke from an age-old tradition. But Familiaris Consortio tells us that the divorced and remarried cannot receive the sacraments.”

Gracious! however far back in Church history Buttiglione needs to search for an excommunication of divorced-and-remarried Catholics, he apparently thinks that the 1917 Code itself excommunicated divorced and remarried Catholics and that, only by making a “courageous decision that broke from an age-old tradition”, could John Paul II ‘disappear’ that “excommunication” from the new (1983) Code of Canon Law.

There is just one problem with Buttiglione’s and Keenan’s canonical narrative of a pope kicking down a penal door locked against divorced-and-remarried Catholics—and thus with their broader ‘if-John-Paul-could-then-Francis-can’ claim, namely: the 1917 Code did not excommunicate divorced and remarried Catholics.


Neither Buttiglione nor Keenan provide a citation for their claim about what canon law allegedly did up to the time of John Paul II (nor, come to think of it, did Abp. Scicluna who was, it now seems, uncritically repeating Buttiglione’s claim and extending it to embrace adulterers!), so one is left to guess at what they had in mind. But a couple of ideas occur to me, some of which I have addressed before.

Maybe Keenan and Buttiglione had in mind the Pio-Benedictine excommunication levied against Catholics who attempted marriage in violation of canonical form; problem is, this sanction was applicable to all Roman Catholics (not just to divorced-and-civilly-remarried ones) and, more importantly, it had already been abrogated by Paul VI in 1970, a dozen years before the 1983 Code went into force!

Or maybe Keenan the American (if not Buttiglione, an Italian) recalled when American Catholics who divorced and civilly remarried were indeed excommunicated for that offense; problem is, that rule was peculiar to American (not universal) canon law, it dated back only to 1884 (hardly ‘age-old’), and, most importantly, it too had already been abrogated in 1977—again by Paul VI, not John Paul II—several years before the 1983 Code was promulgated.

Or maybe by “new” Code of Canon Law, Buttiglione and Keenan meant the 1917 Code which, in its day, was certainly new; problem is, I can’t find an excommunication for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics in the main, pre-Code, penal document of the 19th century, Pius IX’s Apostolicae Sedis moderatione (1869). Do Buttiglione and Keenan know of one? Of course, even if one were found lurking somewhere, it had obviously ‘disappeared’ from codified canon law some 65 years before John Paul II arrived on the scene.

Or maybe Buttiglione and Keenan understand by the term “excommunication” a much older usage that sometimes blurred the distinctions between “excommunication” (as a canonical penalty, c. 1331) and “denial of holy Communion” (as a sacramental disciplinary norm, c. 915); problem is, their claim about what John Paul II supposedly did demands that they use canonical terms as he and the Church understand them today—and as Buttiglione himself recognizes when he notes above that, despite the (alleged) lifting of a (non-existent) excommunication, divorced-and-remarried Catholics are still prohibited the sacraments (a statement wrong in some respects, but right enough in this regard).

So much contextualizing and back-storying, just to address one more fake canon law claim. But at least such research allows one to argue better not ‘if-John-Paul-could-then-Francis-can’, but rather ‘John-Paul-didn’t-and-Francis-shouldn’t’.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment