Archbishop of Malta Claims Fidelity to Pope on Exhortation Guidelines



The focus is back on the Maltese bishops this week after it was revealed that in a meeting with the priests of his archdiocese, Archbishop Charles Scicluna had said that he had no choice in issuing the deeply controversial Maltese bishops guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, because in his conscience he could not oppose the wishes of Pope Francis.

The National Catholic Register‘s Rome Correspondent, Edward Pentin, reports:

At a meeting with Malta’s priests on Feb. 14, Archbishop Scicluna appealed for understanding, saying he had no choice in co-signing the guidelines. According to sources present, he said in conscience he could not go against the wishes of the Pope. He admitted it was a mistake not to consult the nation’s clergy on the Criteria before they were released, alluding to the fact that they wanted to be the first Bishops’ Conference to do so.

However, he also expressed “shock” at the fact that the C9 felt they had to pledge their allegiance of full support for the Pope. He asserted that to be Catholic, one is with the Pope. He also criticized the fact that people are questioning the Pope’s mercy. Such criticism came to a head earlier this month when 200 posters critical of what they viewed as unmerciful actions of the Holy Father appeared across Rome.

This same accounting of events was given to me by a source in Malta last week. The person then said:

So the logical conclusion is that they were told to issue those Guidelines from the very top.

My source then pointed me to a tweet from papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, who reiterated that the Maltese guidelines are according to the pope’s “authoritative” interpretation of the exhortation:


While Scicluna signaled his distaste that Catholics were questioning the pope’s “mercy,” my source said to me, “It has become unbearable here. We are living under the tyranny of mercy.”

We reported last month that strongarm tactics were alleged to have been used by Bishop Grech of Gozo to enforce compliance with the new guidelines. Pentin’s report gives evidence that the hard edge of the Dictatorship of Mercy is, in fact, being applied across the whole of Malta:

The Archbishop of Malta has confirmed to the Register that he told the country’s seminarians earlier this month that if any of them do not agree with Pope Francis, “the seminary gate is open,” implying they are free to leave.  

Archbishop Charles Scicluna’s remarks are the latest in what Church sources in Malta say is a heavy-handed crackdown on any ecclesiastic unwilling to subscribe to the Maltese bishops’ interpretation of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia — an interpretation the bishops say is identical to the Holy Father’s.


Since the Criteria were published Jan. 13, a number of clergy sources in Malta have contacted the Register alleging the bishops won’t tolerate any clergy having a different interpretation of Amoris Laetitia than the one presented in the Criteria among the clergy. 

According to the sources, three priests are allegedly intimidating anyone who does not agree with the Criteria. The three had been opponents of the previous bishop, Archbishop Paul Cremona, but have now become the present bishops’ allies. One of them reputedly attacks any priest who shares critical stories on the Internet.

“This group of priests, with a few others, have been hogging the conversation for decades,” said a Maltese priest on condition of anonymity. “No one else seems to be allowed to contribute to the debate and they have done untold damage to bridge-building since they brook no opposition.”

He said they “fall on any dissent like a ton of bricks” and “no other priests are given any opportunity to contribute to the conversation” except for priests who are “like-minded.”

When he was appointed Archbishop of Malta in 2015, many of the island nation’s clergy were initially hopeful that Archbishop Scicluna would reset the theological and pastoral agenda, but now feel these priests have “hijacked” the local Church completely.

“There is a lot of discontent in the rank-and-file clergy, for they see that after holding so much promise, Scicluna’s episcopacy has become one of bullying and betrayal,” the priest said. [emphasis added]

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Pope Francis Praises Soros-Funded Organization; Encourages “Resistance”

On 17 February, Pope Francis released a letter written for those gathered for the World Meeting of Popular Movementsheld in California from 16-19 February — a meeting organized by the Vatican. Such meetings regularly take place in the Vatican and are initiated by Pope Francis himself in his attempt to work together with a variety of grassroots movements world-wide.

In the letter, which is dated 10 February, Pope Francis publicly praises the organization PICO — People Improving Communities through Organizing — which was one of the promoters of this Vatican event. Francis writes:

I would also like to highlight the work done by the PICO National Network and the organizations promoting this meeting. I learned that PICO stands for “People Improving Communities through Organizing”. What a great synthesis of the mission of popular movements: to work locally, side by side with your neighbors, organizing among yourselves, to make your communities thrive. [my emphasis]

What Pope Francis does not mention here is that PICO is heavily funded by George Soros. Leftist watchdog website Discover the Political Networks describes PICO as a group that “uses Alinsky-style organizing tactics to advance the doctrines of the religious left.” As John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews reported in August of 2016, leaks from the Soros Foundation have shown how Soros funded PICO and other organizations in order to influence the Vatican in favor of certain policies and agendas. Westen reports:

Leaked emails through WikiLeaks reveal that billionaire globalist George Soros — one of Hilary Clinton’s top donors — paid $650,000 to influence Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the USA with a view to “shift[ing] national paradigms and priorities in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign.” The funds were allocated in April 2015 and the report on their effectiveness suggests that successful achievements included, “Buy-in of individual bishops to more publicly voice support of economic and racial justice messages in order to begin to create a critical mass of bishops who are aligned with the Pope.” […] Grantees were PICO, a faith-based community organizing group, and Faith in Public Life (FPL), a progressive group working in media to promote left-leaning ‘social justice’ causes. Soros has funded left-wing causes the world over and was  just found to have been funding an effort to eliminate pro-life laws around the globe.

That there are already well-established ties between the Vatican and this progressive, often subversive, Soros-funded organization PICO can also be seen in this part of Westen’s report:

In order to seize on the opportunity provided by the Pope’s visit to the US, says the report, “we will support PICO’s organizing activities to engage the Pope on economic and racial justice issues, including using the influence of Cardinal Rodriguez, the Pope’s senior advisor, and sending a delegation to visit the Vatican in the spring or summer to allow him to hear directly from low-income Catholics in America.”

In 2013 Cardinal Rodriguez endorsed PICO’s work in a video during a visit from PICO representatives to the cardinal’s diocese. “I want to endorse all the efforts they are doing to promote communities of faith,” he said, “… Please, keep helping PICO.”

This same network is right now taking steps to oppose President Donald Trump’s policies with regard to immigration questions, specifically the so-called Immigration Ban. It is organizing protests an different locations in the U.S. As one statement on PICO’s website regarding “Organizing for the Resistance” says:

This morning, PICO National Network, United We Dream, and Church World Service declared together on a media conference call that faith communities in America are taking a prophetic stance against President-elect Trump’s promised persecution of immigrants, Muslims and people of color by providing Sanctuary in more than 800 congregations. And this is just the beginning. […] Now is the time for us to create empathetic space for uncommon encounters across difference, building bridges and disrupting patterns of isolation and fear in our communities. This is a moment for multi-racial, multi-faith communities to reimagine the Beloved Community, taking bold and prophetic action to realize it.

This is part of the managed chaos we have been witnessing in the U.S. for some weeks now. And it seems that Pope Francis, in his own 10 February letter, encourages such crises:

As Christians and all people of good will, it is for us to live and act at this moment. […] The direction taken beyond this historic turning-point—the ways in which this worsening crisis gets resolved—will depend on people’s involvement and participation and, largely, on yourselves, the popular movements. We should be neither paralyzed by fear nor shackled within the conflict. We have to acknowledge the danger but also the opportunity that every crisis brings in order to advance to a successful synthesis. [sic. The dialectical method.] In the Chinese language, which expresses the ancestral wisdom of that great people, the word “crisis” is comprised of two ideograms: Wēi, which represents “danger”, and , which represents “opportunity”. The grave danger is to disown our neighbors.

Pope Francis himself calls for resistance, and implicitly seems to encourage the self-proclaimed “chaos managers”:

But here we also find an opportunity: that the light of the love of neighbor may illuminate the Earth with its stunning brightness like a lightning bolt in the dark; that it may wake us up and let true humanity burst through with authentic resistance, resilience and persistence.

In reiterating some themes discussed before, Pope Francis adds:

Here are the roots of the authentic humanity that resists the dehumanization that wears the livery of indifference, hypocrisy, or intolerance. I know that you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth [sic] and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice and share two reflections in this regard.

The pope adds the importance of protecting nature and his plea for religious tolerance, namely that “no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist. Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist.” [my emphasis]

Does it surprise us that this Vatican meeting in California “criticizes Trump orders“? As the Miami Herald reports:

Speakers at a Vatican-sponsored conference in Northern California — including an archbishop — denounced President Donald Trump’s orders on immigration and travel and vowed to fight them at a meeting Friday. Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez said President Barack Obama deported a high number of people, but the harsh tone and cruelty coming out of the new administration was prompting mass fear and panic. [my emphasis]

In this context, this conference now called the Catholic Church to investigate its own “racism”:

The gathering of more than 600 clergy and social justice activists also included a session on racism Friday, where speakers encouraged religious people and institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church, to confront their own racism. [my emphasis]

In November of 2016, the Italian historian Professor Roberto de Mattei had informed us that, after Hillary Clinton’s loss of the election, Pope Francis might very well now become the world leader of the Left. De Mattei then wrote:

On his return flight from Mexico on February 18th of this year [2016], in commenting Trump’s plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico in order to slow down the migratory surge the Pope had said that “a person who thinks only of building walls and not bridges, is not a Christian.” […] Yet, no matter how strong the reservations towards Trump can be, for a Catholic it would be difficult to imagine a position of equidistance between him and Hillary Clinton, who had officially inserted a massive implementation of abortion and the LGBT agenda into her programme. [That is,] Unless self-defence against the migratory invasion is considered a graver sin than the legalization of abortion and so-called homosexual marriage.

De Mattei is to be commended for his far-sightedness. He not only predicted Pope Francis’ role as the leader of the Left world-wide, he also pointed to the increasing danger of incited and practiced violence in this regard:

For his part, after Clinton’s defeat, Francesco now remains the only point of reference for the international left, [now] lacking a leader. On November 5th at the conclusion of the Third World Meeting of the so-called “Popular Movements” in the Vatican, in the presence of revolutionary agitators from the five continents, Pope Francis turned to them saying: “I make your cry mine”. But the cry of protest, that is raised by the movements gathered in Paul VI’s audience hall, is, unfortunately, characterized by ideological fanaticism and incitement to violence. [my emphasis]

Not two weeks ago, major newspapers in this country came out with stories as to how Donald Trump’s closest advisor, Steve Bannon, now tries to influence the Vatican, with the help of Cardinal Raymond Burke. OnePeterFive’s author Christian Browne responded some of these attacks on Cardinal Burke with charitable indignation. However, if we are concerned about Trump’s advisor trying to influence Vatican policies, we might be just as concerned about Pope Francis trying directly to influence U.S. politics and supporting groups that are funded by George Soros, supporter of Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood. Worth noting in this context is the request made by The Remnant, on 20 January 2017, that the Trump administration should investigate “what appears to be a collusion between a hostile [Obama] United States government and a pope who seems to hold as much ill will towards followers of perennial Catholic teachings as he seems to hold toward” Trump himself.

As to the strategic and tactical networks of “revolutionary agitators,” we might recall the gifted Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881) in nineteenth century revolutionary France, and why Vladimir Lenin himself so greatly admired him and learned from him. Pope Francis himself would probably agree that Louis Blanqui was a greater revolutionary agitator and organizer than Saul Alinsky.

This post has been updated.

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San Diego Bishop Tells Catholics to ‘All Become Disrupters’

Image: San Diego Bishop Tells Catholics to 'All Become Disrupters'
(Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)
By Deal W. Hudson
Monday, 20 Feb 2017 12:33 PM
 Both the Catholic bishops of the United States and the Vatican have now virtually endorsed the strategy of “disruption” being used across the nation to oppose the new administration of President Trump.
Held in Modesto, California, the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements (WMPM), was sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican’s Department of Integral Human Development to address issues of “land, labor, and lodging,” as well as racism and immigration.
The 700 attendees applauded and cheered as Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego told them, “President Trump was the candidate of disruption. . . . Well now, we must all become disrupters.”{emphasis by Abyssum} Bishop McElroy, along with Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Blaise Cupich, has emerged as a leading voice among “social justice” Catholics determined to rally the Catholic Church to reject President Trump’s leadership and policy agenda.
Bishop McElroy specifically cited the deportation of the illegal immigrants, the “undocumented,” the plan to dismantle Obamacare, and “those who train us to see Muslim men and women and children as sources of fear rather than as children of God.” McElroy decried the use of “alternate facts” and the “industries [that] have arisen to shape public opinion in destructively isolated and dishonest patterns.” Finally, the bishop urged attendees to, “Let all the world know that this economy kills.”
The message delivered by the Bishop of San Diego would not be so notable were it not for the context and its sponsorship. Vatican sponsorship came from the newly-created Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (IHD), headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, one of the closest advisors to Pope Francis. Cardinal Turkson was the primary author of the papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. It was Turkson who delivered the keynote address in Modesto. Under Turkson’s leadership similar conferences of “Popular Movements” have been held in the Vatican and other regions around the world.
Not only was the Modesto Conference co-sponsored by the Vatican and the USCCB but also by groups such as the PICO National Network. The PICO logo is displayed on the conference website alongside that of the Vatican, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and Terra Domus Labor. In addition to PICO — People Improving Communities through Organizing Service Employees International Union — the organizing committee included representatives from the Gamaliel Foundation. It has been widely reported and documented that both PICO and Gamaliel are recipients of funding from George Soros through his Open Society Foundation. PICO took Soros funding specifically aimed at controlling the media coverage of the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. in April 2015 {emphasis by Abyssum}.
Given Bishop McElroy’s message, the context, and the sponsorship, two questions must be posed to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and to each Bishop individually: Do you support Bishop McElroy’s message of “let us disrupt and rebuild”? Are you content with participating in events, protests, and “disruptions,” that are supported with funding from George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation is directly opposed to the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, and marriage?
With President Trump already well on his way to keeping all of his pro-life promises, it’s shocking that the Catholic bishops would align themselves with such of strategy of disruption and with allies sworn to oppose the core of the Church’s moral teaching. Lay Catholics, and many clergy, across the nation are not merely shocked, but disheartened and beginning to wonder if a formal schism is in the making.
The USCCB should, in my opinion, issue a press release distancing itself from the remarks of Bishop McElroy {that will never happen – Abyssum} to make sure Catholics know he was expressing his individual opinion and not that of the bishops collectively. At the same time, the USCCB should reconsider its partnership with groups like PICO and Gamaliel {that will never happen – Abyssum} for the simple reason that they do not share the moral vision of the Catholic Church on basic human rights and duties, and the connection to George Soros has become a highly visible scandal.
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Death row inmate may get a new trial, a potential juror was dismissed because she was a Christian

In 2004, Christopher Young was convicted of killing the owner of a mini-market in San Antonio TX. As a result, he was sentenced to be executed. Today he still awaits execution on Texas’ infamous death row. More than 500 leaders of various faiths are petitioning for him to be given a new trial. One leader is the retired bishop of the Diocese of West Texas, the Rt Revd Robert Hibbs. He joins leaders from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Islamic faiths in the petition.

Bishop Hibbs makes it clear that they requesting a new trial on one specific reason, that a potential juror was eliminated from the jury for Young’s trial because of her association with a Baptist Church which had a prison ministry. The bishop and other faith leaders state that their petition for a new trial has nothing to do with a belief of whether Young is or isn’t guilty. Nor is the petition brought because of an opposition to capital punishment.

The potential juror was a participant in her church’s Outreach Ministries, a program that was their congregation’s attempt to fulfill the example of Jesus to minister to the poor, the hungry, those without shelter & clothing, the imprisoned and the sick. The woman herself did not work in the prison ministry of the Outreach program but was dismissed as a juror because of her affiliation with a church that had such a ministry.

Indeed, the government struck this juror even though she did not personally work with prisoners, she was removed, in short, because of her mere association with a church that pursued its mission of aiding the weak.
– Robert Hibbs, Retired Bishop of West Texas

Next week the US Supreme Court is scheduled to look into the matter of a new trial on the basis of the excluded juror in a conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices were they discuss the case and decide whether to take it up.

Information for this story is from WOIA News RadioThe main photo is the Huntsville Unit, site of Texas’ execution chamber. The second photo is the chamber.

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Until things change, nothing will change.

February 20, 2017

Michael Voris



Last week, in Friday’s Vortex, we asked the question directly to Fr. James Martin: Do you identify as a homosexual? Yes or no?

There are many reasons for that question to be asked, and those reasons criss-cross over theological, spiritual and political lines. Let’s begin our further examination of this question about Fr. Martin with the understanding that there are many priests and bishops and even cardinals who are either secret homosexuals, or at least way too friendly to that agenda. Pope Benedict said so. Pope Francis has said so, and the raw facts of the state of the Church these days say so, not to mention the gigantic homosexual priest sex abuse scandal that cost the Church in the U.S. nearly $3 billion.

Men who identify as homosexuals who go on to get ordained are an extreme danger to the Church and the average Catholic. It’s why the Church forbids them from being ordained in the first place — a rule that many liberal and Church of Nice bishops simply ignore — and they were doing it long before Pope Francis arrived on the scene.

Many bishops today still seem unconcerned about ordaining a man who identifies as homosexual — perhaps because they feel an affinity with them — as long as that man doesn’t appear to display traits which might make him a financial or legal liability down the road for abusing altar boys.

For the man who sees himself, his sexuality, as homosexual, something that needs to be incorporated into his spirituality as a priest, such a man is lying to himself. And he will substitute in a heartbeat Church teaching as a result of his own deep, inordinate desire to be accepted.

Father Martin claims that priests who are homosexual are more fit and able to identify with those who suffer. They may feel more at home with them — probably true — but they are considerably less likely, because of their own psychological illness and perhaps guilty consciences, to instruct them in the hard truths of the Church.

In fact, priests who self-identify as homosexual have created a virtual cottage industry of actually undermining those hard truths of the Church. They see the Church and Her teachings as oppressive, hurtful, marginalizing and all that — the very way they feel all the time, precisely because they identify as gay. Their entire self-perception is wrapped up in their homosexuality, and in that great interior struggle which comes from their own longsuffering, they are quick to reject the hard truths because they create a scenario in their minds that these hard truths make them more of a victim class.

So they tell young men in confession that masturbation is okay. They tell other homosexual travelers that sex between them is okay as long as it’s monogamous. And they get into positions of power and influence in the Church and rain down terror on anyone who promotes authentic Catholic teaching. And they feel completely justified in doing so because the pain of their past and present needs to find an enemy on which to seek revenge.

Martin paints the ordained homosexual as approaching sanctity. He conveniently never addresses the vindictiveness present in the homosexual subculture — the personal pettiness and jealousy and rage. Nor does he ever approach the topic of promiscuity present among those who identify as homosexual males.

For a man who spends so much time cheerleading for homosexuality to be accepted in the Church, it’s odd that he almost never mentions these aspects of life in the homosexual world, aspects which are very present on that scene. Men like Martin and many others — so many that the average Catholic would be revulsed if they knew the reality — go about their insidious work not because they care about the “other,” but because they care about themselves and want to be relieved of the desperate guilt and anxiety they feel.

They have this affliction and never moved beyond it. They will not preach the hard truths because what the man who self-identifies as homosexual fears more than anything on earth is rejection. They don’t really accept themselves, and if others reject them, a psychological tailspin of grief and despair sets in that it is nearly impossible to pull out of.

So the self-identifying homosexual priest (whether he is sexually active or not) will want to be crowd-pleaser. The Mass becomes a grand stage for him to be “accepted” by the “audience” in the pews — not the Sacrifice of the Son to the Father. Even those who cannot overcome their personal shyness and be great performers still suffer from the affliction of needing acceptance.

If they can’t get the crowd to applaud them and give them a false sense of self-worth, they can always have security in not offending so as not to be rejected. This particular strategy is a favorite among self-identifying homosexual prelates. Never offend, or at least do everything in your power to give as little offense as possible so nobody rejects you, even if they don’t really applaud you.

What a woeful, crippling platform from which to govern as a successor of the Apostles.

They heard in seminaries — all on the quiet, of course — that it’s okay to have gay sexual partners, as long as they are other priests, that they should never go outside the clerical state to relieve themselves sexually — too much chance of the reality getting known. This has been the standard in at least the American priesthood for decades now.

The priestly ministry has been crippled in its exercise because of the intrinsic disorder of the homosexual priest. The priesthood, which is intrinsically “other”-related, has become largely a “me” experience. Self-identifying homosexual priests, because they suffer from a deep psychological disorder, are not capable of being “Father.” They are only capable of being hurt and deeply wounded son. And because of this, they will throw aside Holy Mother Church any time they perceive a contest between themselves and the teaching.

The priesthood for these men is not a place where, as Abp. Sheen described it, the man burns himself out like a candle for the good of his spiritual children, but rather a place where they can nourish their own hurts at the expense of their spiritual children. And those of them that do ascend to the office of bishop — the destruction to the Faith is multiplied a thousand times over.

Until this ecclesiastical swamp is drained, little is going to change in the Church. There is too much overlooking and embracing of homosexuality in the ranks of Catholic priests and bishops.

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A “Climate of Fear” in the Vatican?

January-February 2017

Several independent reports out of Rome paint a troubling picture of the working situation at “headquarters.” Indications are that the Eternal City is on edge. And in the midst of the palpable sense of unease, anxiety, and, yes, even fear, one man looms large. That man is Pope Francis.

Much, though not all, of the distress radiates from a remarkable development: Four high-ranking prelates have publicly challenged the Pope over Amoris Laetitia, his murky and verbose apostolic exhortation in which he seems to suggest that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can be admitted to Holy Communion. On November 14 cardinals Raymond Burke of the U.S., Carlo Caffarra of Italy, and Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner of Germany made public a dubia, a set of five short yes-or-no questions addressed to Pope Francis about passages in Amoris Laetitia that, they say, have caused “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful.”

The cardinals decided to go public with the dubia after submitting it to Francis privately in September — and then waiting two months for a reply that never came. The dubia calls on the Pope, “with profound respect,” to “dispel ambiguity” and “resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity.”

So far, not only has Francis refused to respond privately to the cardinals’ request, he has also refused to respond publicly. In fact, he’s made only one public comment about the dubia. In an interview in Avvenire, an Italian Catholic magazine (Nov. 18), Francis referred obliquely to “a certain legalism” that wants to see everything as “black and white,” and he wondered aloud whether such criticism doesn’t come “from an evil spirit” or “the desire to hide one’s own dissatisfaction under armor.” Yes, you read that correctly: Francis actually suggested that the men who asked him to make specific some of his (intentionally?) ambiguous ramblings might be under the influence of demons!

While maintaining a certain aloofness about it in public, the Pope is apparently very agitated about the dubia. Edward Pentin, a respected Vatican correspondent, told Raymond Arroyo, host of EWTN’s The World Over (Nov. 18), that Francis is “boiling with rage.” Reportedly, the Holy Father has been working hard behind the scenes to vilify and isolate the four cardinals and their supporters.

Pentin offered further insight in an interview with Beverly Stevens, editor of Regina, an online Catholic magazine (Dec. 8). The Pope, he said, instead of addressing the cardinals’ concerns — either in public or private — is treating them as “adversaries.” He has even questioned the cardinals’ “mental state.” Observers are reading this as a manifestation of Francis’s “anger at having his agenda taken off course,” Pentin went on to say. And so, one hears the phrases “reign of terror” and “Vatican martial law” frequently bandied about in Rome these days.

Pentin’s report was echoed by Steve Jalsevic, managing director of the pro-life news service LifeSiteNews.com. Blogging from Rome during a recent visit, Jalsevic wrote that there is a “consistent pattern of widespread anxiety and very real fear among faithful Church servants,” the likes of which he’d never witnessed before in his ten years of making biannual trips there (Dec. 16). The tension gripping the Vatican is by no means limited to those embroiled in the dubia controversy. Many curial functionaries, Jalsevic said, are “afraid of being removed from their positions, fired from their jobs in Vatican agencies or of encountering severe public or private reprimands and personal accusations from those around the pope or even from Francis himself.”

That the Pope could be so vindictive would be startling if he hadn’t already given us glimpses of the man behind the magnanimous papal persona. “Severe reprimands” and “personal accusations” don’t seem all that out of character. As anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to this papacy knows, Francis rarely passes up an opportunity to deliver a tongue-lashing to Catholic prelates or laymen (see, for example, our New Oxford Note “Pope Francis: Put-Down Artist?” Apr. 2014) — especially to those whom he considers excessively orthodox (or “rigid,” as he likes to label them). It is odd — isn’t it? — that the alleged “Pope of mercy” would so readily indulge his mean streak.

“Widespread anxiety” in the workplace is perhaps all the more understandable when one’s boss commemorates the birth of the company’s Founder (if we may be so banal) by haranguing and insulting his underlings. Francis has made it his own peculiar Yuletide tradition to lambast his audience during his annual Christmas address to the Curia. He raised a lot of eyebrows in 2014 when he let loose with what was described as “scathing critique of the church’s highest-ranking officials” (The Guardian, Dec. 22, 2014). In that year’s Christmas address, Francis called the Curia “a sick body” and accused its members in attendance of having “spiritual Alzheimer’s,” “existential schizophrenia,” and a “funereal face,” of feeling “superior to everyone and everything” while at the same time being “victims of careerism and opportunism.” Most notably, Francis decried “the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”

Yup, it was a real barn-burner. The reaction among those in attendance was said to be stony silence.

In his 2016 Christmas address (Dec. 22), Francis sprinkled his seasonal greetings to the Curia with sharp denunciations of the different types of “resistance” his reform measures have encountered. He excoriated resistance that is “born of fearful or hardened hearts content with the empty rhetoric of ‘spiritual window-dressing’ typical of those who say they are ready for change, yet want everything to remain as it was before.” And he condemned resistance that “springs up in misguided minds and comes to the fore when the devil inspires ill intentions (often cloaked in sheep’s clothing).” This “malicious resistance,” he continued, “hides behind words of self-justification and often accusation; it takes refuge in traditions, appearances, formalities, in the familiar, or else in a desire to make everything personal, failing to distinguish between the act, the actor, and the action.”

Yes, Francis doubled down on his earlier accusation of demonic influence over those who aren’t onboard with his program — those with “hardened hearts” who use “words” to “justify” their resistance. Could this be a veiled attack on the dubiapresenters and their supporters? It doesn’t stretch the imagination to think so.

As usual, Francis’s words leave a lot of room for interpretation. But what seems clear is that he wants to rid the Vatican of a certain mindset — one that clings to “traditions” and resists “change” of the type Francis favors. Rather, he seems to want a Vatican made up of likeminded minions — with minds like unto his own.

Indeed, a fondness for tradition is something Francis simply can’t seem to comprehend. This November a book of his homilies and speeches from his time in Buenos Aires was released. Titled In Your Eyes Are My Word, the book includes a new interview with Fr. Anthony Spadaro, S.J., editor of the Rome-based publication La Civiltà Cattolica. In it the Pope sets his acid tongue against young people who attend the Traditional Latin Mass. “Why so much rigidity?” he says of them. “Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.” One would guess, then, that the Holy Father thinks that people who prefer the Latin Mass lack true love. How he came to that conclusion is unclear. But it won’t do any good to ask him because, according to Spadaro, “The pope doesn’t give binary answers to abstract questions.”

If the Pope’s words are not clear, his actions speak volumes. This November (it was an eventful month!) Francis gutted the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments — not the first dicastery that comes to mind when one thinks of necessary curial reform. In the process, he expelled Raymond Burke and George Pell, two cardinals who are on public record as supporting the Latin Mass and who have even celebrated it themselves. Not to go unnoticed: Burke was also one of the signatories of the dubia.

One of Francis’s new appointees in the Congregation for Divine Worship is the reliably liberal Rainer Cardinal Woelki of Germany. How liberal is he? A Reuters report (Jul. 11, 2014) quoted Woelki as saying, “If two homosexuals take responsibility for each other, if they are loyal to each other over the long term, then one should see this in the same way as heterosexual relations.” This sense of false equivalence evidently informs much of his thinking. “Someone who lets people drown in the Mediterranean also drowns God — every day, thousands of times,” Woelki said during his homily at last year’s Corpus Christi Mass, reprimanding Europeans who are hesitant to accommodate a mass influx of Middle Eastern migrants. The German cardinal turned that entire Mass into a political statement: He used an overturned refugee boat as an altar. The altar of sacrifice as a prop! Talk about a Francis clone: Woelki could have easily ended his soliloquy on homosexual relations with, “Who am I to judge?” And Francis is, of course, one of the world’s most vocal proponents of European resettlement of Muslim migrants from the Middle East — despite the almost daily acts of horror they have been committing against their host nations (see, for example, our New Oxford Notes “Barbarians at the Gates of Civilization,” Jul.-Aug. 2015; “Barbarians Inside the Gates,” Mar. 2016; and “Barbarians Inside the Temple,” Sept. 2016).

Speculating on what these changes to the Congregation for Divine Worship mean for the liturgy, Pentin told Stevens that “most of the new members, though not all, are in favor of innovative approaches to the Novus Ordo.” It’s likely that this will be the “liturgical emphasis” coming out of the Vatican “in the months and years ahead.” Right, because that worked out so well the first time around. If this is Francis’s idea of curial reform, it’s no wonder he’s encountered resistance.

As for the larger picture, Pentin said that the upheaval at the congregation is “just a small part of an acceleration in changes being enacted by Francis who has privately voiced his wish for his legacy of radical change to continue after he is no longer Pope…. Some say it shows a revolution in full swing.”

A revolution? It sounds an awful lot like the same failed revolution of the 1970s that wrought so much damage to the Church — a revolution Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI spent so much time and energy turning back.

Whether or not Francis’s reform measures amount to a full-blown revolution, his vindictive style of Church governance has some observers comparing the mood in and around today’s Rome to that of post-revolutionary Bolshevik Russia. “Dialogue seems to be accepted only if you think like everyone else — that is practically like a regime,” observed Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan. And he would know: He grew up in the Soviet Union; Stalin sent his parents to the gulag. In Rome today, as in Soviet Russia, those who don’t “follow the line of the party” aren’t allowed a voice (LifeSiteNews.com, Dec. 6). “We live in a climate of threats and of denial of dialogue towards a specific group,” Bishop Schneider said in reference to Cardinal Burke and his dubia cosigners — and anyone else not in lockstep with Francis’s reform movement. “We need to be able to ask questions openly without being afraid of repressions.”

Not only that, but it would be helpful to receive straightforward, honest answers to important questions — those posed with respect but also with a sense of urgency. “The Holy Father has to bring clarity and support to his brothers in resolving doubts,” said Bishop Schneider. “Only clarity will bring unity. If there is to be an answer from the Pope, then it must be unambiguous. He must say what is the truth.”

An unambiguous answer? Let’s face it: That’s probably asking for too much from this Pope — especially if he reacts to requests for clarity with rage, reprimands, and threats of repression.

Welcome to Francis’s Vatican, where fury, fear, and fractionalization rule the day.


“Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia”: The Dubia*

1. It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (nos. 300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio [in a marital way] without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio (no. 84) and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (no. 34) and Sacramentum Caritatis (no. 29). Can the expression “in certain cases” found in note 351 (no. 305) of Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?

2. After the publication of Amoris Laetitia (cf. no. 304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor (no. 79), based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?

3. After Amoris Laetitia (no. 301), is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (cf. Mt. 19:3-9), finds himself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration, June 24, 2000)?

4. After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (no. 302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of Veritatis Splendor (no. 81), according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?

5. After Amoris Laetitia (no. 303), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of Veritatis Splendor (no. 56) that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

* The four cardinals’ plea to Pope Francis, “Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia,” contains four parts: a foreword, a personal letter to the Pope, the dubia (or questions) themselves, and an explanatory note. This is the official English translation of the dubia, slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

DOSSIER: The Episcopacy in the Catholic Church

DOSSIER: Pope Francis

New Oxford Notes: January-February 2017

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Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican’s doctrinal chief, has said that local bishops cannot reinterpet Church teaching subjectively.

Cardinal Müller: bishops should not give ‘contradictory interpretations’ of doctrine

In an interview with the German magazine Rheinische Post, Cardinal Müller said it was “not his style” to criticise publications by bishops. However, he added, “I do not think it is particularly beneficial for each individual bishop to comment on papal documents to explain how he subjectively understands the document.”

In recent weeks, the bishops of Malta and Germany have issued guidelines permitting Communion for the remarried. The Maltese bishops said that it might be “impossible” for some couples to avoid sex, and that people could not be refused Communion if they discerned that they were “at peace with God”.

However, several bishops have affirmed the traditional teaching that the remarried cannot receive Communion, except when they endeavour to live “in complete continence”.

Cardinal Müller has recently endorsed the traditional teaching. He has also pointed to magisterial teaching, most recently that of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which says continence is necessary. The cardinal told an Italian magazine that this teaching was “not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments.”

Theologians distinguish between positive law, which can be changed, and divine law, which cannot. Cardinal Müller thus effectively said that Communion for the remarried was against God’s law.

In the new interview, he said: “It cannot be that the universally binding doctrine of the Church, formulated by the Pope, is given different and even contradictory regional interpretations. The basis of the Church is the unity of faith. The Church no longer experiences a new revelation.”

Cardinal Müller also said that, in order to be absolved of adultery, a penitent must resolve not to sin again. He said: “No one can alter the sacraments as a means of grace according to their own choice – for example, so that the sacrament of Confession can be given without the intention to sin no more.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the cardinal said that he thought papal resignations would remain a rare exception in future. He also said that it was important to honour Church leaders because of their role, not just because of their human qualities. “Everyone is weak and mortal,” the cardinal said. “Jesus did not choose the wisest, the richest, and the most prominent among his apostles, but simple people, craftsmen, fishermen. We depend on the grace of God and not on what we achieve every day.

“That is why it is important not to look for supermen in the pope, the bishops, or priests, and, if they cannot fulfil these exaggerated expectations, turn away disappointed in the Gospel and the Church. Everyone needs forgiveness. But the grace of God proves itself in human weakness. We give honour to the Pope not because of his human achievements, but because Christ has given him a special ministry for the whole Church.”

The cardinal paid tribute to Pope Francis’s “moral authority”, pointing out that the Pope was recognised by atheists as “an authentic guide”.

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Answers to a different “Dubia” from the Vatican! About the Traditional Mass and overly restrictive bishops.

012_SolemnMass_2Epiphany_2017_SMPB (1)If you are a priest who has been hassled by your bishop about saying the traditional Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum, pay attention.  Help has arrived.

Recently a priest of my acquaintance sent two questions to my old haunts the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.  Here are the priest’s questions with the answers from the PCED following the answers.  The original response follows, below.

1. Do the provisions of Summorum Pontificum permit an ordinary to require that all priests first obtain his permission to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, or do the provision of the motu proprio itself grant such permission?

Ad primum: as to the first part: negative ; as to the second part: affirmative.  It should however be clear that it pertains to the Local Ordinary to ensure that the priest is idoneus as required by Art5§4 of the Motu Proprio.

2. Do the provisions of Summorum Pontificum require a pastor (parochus) to obtain the permission of his ordinary to have the Extraordinary Form of the Mass said in his parish, or is the pastor obligated only to consult his ordinary?

Ad secundum: in a case such as those referred to under Art. 5§1 of the Motu Proprio, the Pastor should inform the Local Ordinary, insofar as the latter, as Moderator of the liturgical life in the Diocese (Can. 835 §1), is competent to verify the existence of the coetus fidelium and the availability of a qualified priest ; in the case of occasional celebrations, Art. 5 §3 of the Motu Proprio is to be applied.

To review:

1 a) Under Summorum Pontificum a priest does NOT need the permission of a local ordinary (read in effect: the diocesan bishop – there are more than one type of “ordinary”) to use the 1962MR.

1 b) The Local Ordinary, however, can determine of the priest is “idoneus“.

2) Pastors do not need permission of the bishop to have regularly scheduled Masses with the 1962MR at the parish.  The Bishop can still make determinations about whether or not there is a coetusand if there is a qualified (idoneus, I suppose) priest available.  Otherwise, for occasional Masses the pastor is pretty much in charge.

We have to look at two issues here.  What is “idoneus” (“fit for, suitable, apt, capable”) and what is a “coetus” (“an assemblage, group, meeting together”).  In years past I have been over this ground thoroughly.  Here are some pointers.

First and foremost, idoneus means a minimum capability.  It does not mean “expertise”.  Remember that the Church’s law must be interpreted in the most favorable way when it comes to people’s rights (favorabilia ampliantur).  Summorum Pontificum establishes that, if priest has faculties to say Mass at all, he therefore automatically has the faculty also to use the 1962 Missale Romanum.  If he has faculties he must be assumed to be idoneus and also not impeded.  He is capable of celebration Mass with the Roman Rite in either use. That is the juridical point of view.  But we know that the practical view is a little different.  It is reasonable that a priest should know the language he is going to use for Mass.  His Eminence Edward Card. Egan of New York, who was a well-known canonist, said for his Archdiocese when Summorum Pontificum came out in his policy statement:

II. Priests who choose to celebrate Mass in the “extraordinary” form must have a sufficient knowledge of the Latin language to pronounce the words correctly.

Card. Egan was correct.  The priest does not have to be an expert Latinist.  That is what idoneus is all about: it is minimum qualification (faculties, etc.), not expertise in the Latin language. Idoneus cannot be interpreted so widely as to restrict a priest’s rights unreasonably.  To impose a Latin test for the older form of Mass would be a supreme injustice without also imposing a test of every priest of the diocese for the newer form.  It would be a hypocritical, punitive double-standard not also to test every priest who says Mass in, say, Spanish, not to mention what the GIRM and rubrics of the Novus Ordo really say and then confirm that the priest sticks to them.

Do we want priests to be able to do more than say the words properly?  Sure.  Remember that the 1983 Canon Law states that seminarians should be very well trained in Latin (can 249).  Thus, if the bishop doesn’t insist that his seminarians get some Latin, he is being negligent, and when someone stands up to say publically that the seminarians are properly formed, they aren’t exactly telling the truth.  The same can be said for the emphasis on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas stressed in canon law, as well as knowedge of the whole of the Roman Rite, which includes the TLM.  But I digress.

As far as a “stable group”, a coetus, is concerned, Summorum Pontificum indicates:

Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is stably present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962. …

The usual liberal common-sense defying questions arose about how big the group had to be and whether or not they had to be registered in the parish in question, blah blah blah.  Those questions were clearly answered.  The Instruction about Summorum Pontificum called Universae Ecclesiae:

15. 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 a coetus (“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.

The law on this says “some people”.  There is no minimum number identified by the Holy See.   Some have mentioned that a coetus in other contexts can be as few a three.  And the priest himself can be a part of the coetus!  It is, therefore, wrong to try to impose a minimum number.  For example, Bp. Fatty McButterpants of the Diocese of Libville writes to Fr. Joe Wlotrzewiszczykowycki, who tried to get something good going at his parish, St. Christine the Astonishing, for the many refugees from Fr. Bruce Hugalot’s Sing A New Faith Community Into Being Faith Community: “There must be at least 100 people!  They must live in the parish boundaries!  And you have to be able to write an essay in the Latin style of Tacitus about why you want to do this!”  No.  Fatty is acting ultra vires.  Also, the people in the group do NOT have to be from the same parish, either as registrants or territorial residents. They don’t even have to be from the same diocese.  They just have be coming around regularly for the purpose of attending Mass.  As it turns out, however, Bp. McButterpants will wind up crucifying Fr. Wlotrzewiszczykowycki in a thousand other ways, which prompts him to flee to Bp. Noble in the nearby Diocese of Black Duck with the help of Msgr. Zuhlsdorf at St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle.

The Response:


I hope this helps.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)

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Force of Lake Erie Storm Waves
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes in North America and the thirteenth largest globally if measured in terms of surface area. It is the southernmost, shallowest and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes , and therefore it also has the shortest average water residence time. 
Lake Erie’s northern shore is bounded by the Canadian 
province of Ontario , with US states of Ohio , Pennsylvania and New York on its southern and easternmost shores and Michigan on the west. 
PS:  The Great Lakes are actually not lakes. 
They are inland seas!  
The Edmond Fitzgerald sank in November of 1975 in a horrible hurricane on Lake Superior … 100 mph winds and a blizzard of blinding snow & ice.  More ships have sunk in the Great Lakes than anywhere else!
The following photos give you some idea why. 
Looks like the ocean but it’s the Great Lakes .
Dave                                                          Sandford has                                                          always
Dave Sandford

He recently spent time on Lake Erie shooting the Great Lake ‘s turbulent fall 
season. From mid-October to mid-November, the longtime professional sports photographer traveled each week to Port Stanley, Ontario, on the edge of Lake Erie to spend hours taking photos.
This series of images shows what this Great Lake looks like after the sunbathers and boaters leave and the weather begins to turn.

1. His goal was to capture the exact moment when lake waves driven by gusting winds collide with a rebound wave that’s created when the water hits a pier and collection of boulders on the shore.

His goal                                                          was to                                                          capture

2. “The best way I can describe the water is it’s like a washing machine. It’s not like ocean waves, where you 
have a nice set that’s rolling in. They are really erratic, they go all over the place, and there is a strong undertow there so it can be a very dangerous place.”


4. “I’ve had a number of people, who used to live by the Great Lakes, contact me  …. and they said the photos really stirred something inside them because they grew up there and know what the water can be like.”


6. “I’m hearing from other people that are blown away. They say, ‘This can’t be a lake, it’s got to be an ocean.’   They had no idea that a lake could generate waves of this size and force.”


8. “The wave [in this photo] looks sort of like a mountain. I’ve already had it printed up for my own wall at home. These waves move so fast. It’s insane how fast they form, and then from the time that they form to that nice peak to exploding, it’s a mere second.”


9. “I really enjoyed that challenge, when I was out there, of getting it when it’s in that almost perfect peak on both sides before it explodes, so it has that look of a mountain or a volcano.”


10. “There was only one evening where the sun broke through.  Most were very overcast days.”


12. “I enjoy the challenge of freezing things in time. Getting them at the right moment ­ at the peak moment.”


13. He said his sports photography and his waves series share one importantcharacteristic. “In all the things I’ve made my living doing in photography there are no do-overs no re-dos. You get one shot at it and that’s it, so it really helps you to hone your craft.”

He said                                                          his sports

15. “When you’re on a beach you don’t have a studio setting where you can set something or someone up and have multiple opportunities to get it. It’s one and done.”


19. “No two waves are ever the same…… you either have it or you don’t.”

We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea,
and you don’t believe in Miracles?

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You don’t get it?  It is the same guy in both photos !!!




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