Rorate Caeli

“What Good is a Changing Catechism? Revisiting the Purpose and Limits of a Book” — Dr. Kwasniewski’s Chicago Lecture

Note: Below is the lecture I gave at the Union League Club in Chicago on Friday, June 14, 2019, as part of the lecture series of the Catholic Citizens of Illinois. My lecture could have been given the alternative title: “The Death Penalty for the Catechism? A How-To Guide for Excluding a Text from the Catholic Tradition.” Fortuitously, the lecture came at the end of an eventful week in Illinois and in Baltimore. On Wednesday, June 12, the state of Illinois disgraced itself by the passage of the most extreme pro-abortion legislation yet seen in the United States. Ironically, those who celebrate the indiscriminate murder of innocent children are usually opposed to capital punishment for guilty criminals, and the reasoning is consistent: the unborn, not having consciousness of their own personal dignity, cannot defend themselves, so the strong may do away with them at pleasure; but adults, no matter how wicked, are recognized as autonomous individuals with inviolable dignity who must be given free room and board by the state for the remainder of their lives. Then, on Thursday, June 13, the United States bishops voted, by a huge majority (194 in favor, 8 against, 3 abstentions), to alter the text of the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults to bring it in line with Pope Francis’s novel teaching on the death penalty. The revolution in moral teaching thus continues unabated.


What Good is a Changing Catechism? Revisiting the Purpose and Limits of a Book[1]

Peter Kwasniewski

What is a catechism? How would you answer that question?

A standard dictionary definition runs like this: “a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.” Wikipedia, which as we all know is hit or miss, does a decent job: “A catechism (from Ancient Greek κατηχέω, to teach orally) is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as an introduction to the Sacraments” and for the “Christian religious teaching of children and of adult converts. Catechisms are doctrinal manuals—often in the form of questions followed by answers to be memorized.”[2]

It seems to me that this is the answer of history, of Church practice, and of what we might call “supernatural common sense.” A catechism is a convenient guide to what the Church teaches; more than that, a guide to what she has always taught and will always teach. A good catechism is like a clean, smooth, untainted mirror that reflects the content of the Catholic Faith and nothing else.

A poor catechism—like the infamous 1966 Dutch Catechism that caused so much trouble after the Council—is, on the contrary, a cloudy, scratched, bent, or chipped mirror that does not lucidly reflect the Faith. Good catechisms preserve and pass on the teaching of Christ and His Church, while bad catechisms distort it, or one-sidedly exaggerate it, or muffle or silence it.

Francis’s change to the Catechism

On August 2, 2018, the world learned that Pope Francis approved a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church so that, whereas previously it admitted the legitimacy of capital punishment in principle while discouraging its use in practice, it would now exclude the legitimacy of any recourse to capital punishment, for any reason. The new text cites, as its only source, a speech given by the pope in October 2017 in which he stated that the death penalty is “per se contrary to the Gospel,” which means it must be an intrinsically evil action. In a meeting with 850 religious sisters of the International Union of Superiors General this past May 10, he doubled down: “I said clearly that the death penalty is not acceptable—it’s immoral. But, fifty years ago, no. Did the Church change? No. Moral conscience has developed.” This is only one of many statements in which the pope or his Vatican staff have breezily invoked “development,” as if this notion is automatically supposed to explain how we got from one position to its polar opposite.

Since the legitimacy of the death penalty will serve as my primary example today, I would like to start with an overview of the defense Christians have offered for it over the millennia, from the double vantage of reason and revelation.[3] Then, I will probe the question of what purpose a catechism serves, how the pope’s action undermines this purpose, and finally, what we should do as Catholics.

Natural law defense

A natural law defense proceeds on the basis of four truths.

First, God has authority over life and death. This is a crucial premise that liberalism has almost knocked out of people’s heads. Man has a right to life vis-à-vis his fellow men, but no such right to life vis-à-vis God, who is the author of all being and the source of all rights. God owes no man his life; it is a free gift. Moreover, human life is given with a purpose: to seek God and to be happy with Him. Therefore any man who turns against God by mortal sin has already forfeited his own life, and God with perfect justice could punish him with physical and spiritual death (i.e., damnation) at any moment. Scripture is clear that it is only God’s “patience” and mercy that give us many second chances before we are finally summoned to our particular judgment.

Second, the State’s authority derives from God’s, as the Magisterium teaches consistently and unambiguously, especially in the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII. Thus, when the State coerces or punishes, it does so by God’s authority, not by its own merely human authority. Modern political philosophy, in the social contract theory, derives all political authority from the consent of the governed, and this ought to make the death penalty absolutely unacceptable. The social contract theorists find various ways to justify it anyhow, but this is irrelevant, since Catholics do not and cannot hold the social contract theory, but rather derive all human authority of any kind—spousal, parental, or civic—from God Himself.

Third, the State’s first and only obligation is to preserve and promote the common good of its citizens, not the private good of its individual citizens. Some crimes are so opposed to the common good that society cannot flourish without these crimes being severely punished and, to the extent possible, eradicated from the body politic. Traditionally, murder was seen as so opposed to the basic good of society that it warranted death, without further discussion.

Lastly, punishment is primarily retributive, not corrective or instructive or dissuasive. That is, the point of punishing a criminal is not to ensure that he becomes better (although we may hope this result will follow, as it often has), or to educate him in morality (although he probably needs it), or to dissaude him or others from further crime (although again we expect and rely on this effect). No. The point is to punish the doing of moral evil with a physical evil that corresponds to the gravity of the damage done to the common good. As the ancient Greek philosophers put it, someone who abuses his freedom by taking away someone else’s good deserves to have his freedom curtailed and to have some good taken away from him, up to and including the greatest physical good he has, his life in the flesh. If a crime is contrary to the very foundations of civil life, as murder is, the criminal deserves to be removed from civil life altogether. This may take the form of temporary exile, as when someone is incarcerated or sent away to a distant land, or permanent exile, that is, death.

The testimony of revelation

Can we say that this, too, is the teaching of divine revelation? Yes, without a doubt.

The Old Testament portrays God many, many times asking for the death of particular individuals at the hands of men, or requiring by law the death of certain kinds of sinners.[4] If Pope Francis were correct in saying that the death penalty is per se contrary to the Gospel, or that it is contrary to the dignity of the criminal, that would instantly result in Marcionism, that is, the heresy that the God of the New Covenant contradicts the God of the Old Covenant; it would require seeing the Bible in general to be erroneous because it never recognizes, indeed it contradicts, any absolute dignity in the human person that would be off limits even to God’s just sentence. Or if the pope would not say this about God, he would say it about the state, thus denying unanimous Catholic teaching about the state receiving its authority from God and acting as His representative.

But not even the New Testament teaches what the pope of mercy seems to think it does. In the Gospel of John 19:11, we read that Jesus answered Pilate: “Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” Here Jesus confirms, in words that have never given interpreters any trouble, that the power Pilate wields to have Him crucified has been given from above—in other words, the power of the civil authority to administer capital punishment comes from God, even when exercised by an imperial power in a usurped colony. Of course, Pilate’s sentence is manifestly unjust, but Christ does not question that he has received from God—indeed, from Christ Himself standing before him!—the authority that belongs to any public office. It is nothing other than this divine origin of power that requires of civil officials a total conformity to the law of God as knowable by reason and bestowed by revelation.

This truth is confirmed in the dialogue between Our Lord and the criminals on Golgotha, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, 23:39–43:

And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.

Here we see that Christ did not deny the words of the “good thief,” St. Dismas, who said about the death penalty: “we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds.” Then, this thief explained why it was a sin of Pilate and a greater sin for those who had delivered Jesus to Pilate: “this man hath done no evil,” as if to say: “had he done evil, his punishment would be just, like ours.” Then one beholds the manifestation of true mercy and justice by Christ, when he says: “Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” This came after Dismas had said to his fellow criminal: “Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation?,” and then to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.” Justice for the criminal; mercy for the one who converts. Isn’t this passage in Luke a fundamentally clear example of both justice and mercy in action?

The witness of tradition

Is my reading of the Bible idiosyncratic, or is it what we find in the Catholic tradition? To answer that question, we cannot do better than to turn to our greatest theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, who writes in his Catechetical Instructions of circa 1260:

Some have held that the killing of man is prohibited altogether. They believe that judges in the civil courts, who condemn men to death according to the laws, are murderers. Against this, St. Augustine says that God by this commandment [“Thou shalt not kill”] does not take away from Himself the right to kill. Thus, we read: “I will kill and I will make to live” (Deut 32:39). It is, therefore, lawful for a judge to kill according to a mandate from God, since in this God operates, and every law is a command of God: “By Me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things” (Prov 8:15). And again: “For if thou dost that which is evil, fear; for he beareth not the sword in vain. Because he is God’s minister” (Rom 13:4). To Moses also it was said: “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live” (Ex 22:18). And thus that which is lawful to God is lawful for His ministers when they act by His mandate. It is evident that God, who is the Author of laws, has every right to inflict death on account of sin. For “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Neither does His minister sin in inflicting that punishment. The sense, therefore, of “Thou shalt not kill” is that one shall not kill by one’s own authority.

Note that St. Thomas, in this typically compact, luminous, watertight argument, cites one of the heavyweight Fathers of the Church, St. Augustine, and half-a-dozen biblical texts.

Fair enough; but is St. Thomas to be taken as a reliable guide in this matter? After all, he was wrong about the Immaculate Conception, and a few others things, too. Well, the Church evidently thinks his arguments hold water, because in the other universal catechism published by a pope—the Roman Catechism of 1566, issued by Pope St. Pius V three years after the conclusion of the Council of Trent—we read the following rather bold appropriation of Thomistic reasoning:

Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted the power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to the commandment that prohibits murder. For the end of the commandment is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord” (Ps 100:8).

We are living in a world in which the word “catechism” immediately brings to mind a single book: The Catechism of the Catholic Church from 1992, revised in 1997.[5] As I just mentioned, however, this was the second universal catechism of the Catholic Church. And these two are not a solitary pair, like the Pillars of Hercules. There were a host of national or regional catechisms published in every language. Famous examples included the three catechisms published by the Jesuit St. Peter Canisius in Germany in 1555 in its long form, 1556 in its short form, and 1558 in its medium length form—the Papa Bear, Baby Bear, and Mama Bear of German catechisms for centuries to come. So popular were these books that the expression “knowing your Canisius” became synonymous for “knowing your faith.”[6] Other very popular works included the Baltimore Catechism of 1885, based on St. Robert Bellarmine’s Small Catechism of 1614; the The Douay Catechism of 1649; and the “Penny Catechism” of Great Britain from the start of the 20th century. Such books were translated into many non-European languages by the missionaries who planted the standard of the Cross on every continent.

How many catechisms were published prior to the Second Vatican Council, in all languages? Has anyone ever counted? Five hundred? One thousand? Now think of it: nearly every one of these catechisms would have stated that the death penalty is legitimate.[7] Let me offer just a few examples from a wide array available online: two from the 16th century, one from the 17th, one from the 19th, and two from the 20th.[8]

An influential catechism published in 1567 by Fr. Laurence Vaux nicely connects the rationales for civil and ecclesiastical punishments:

What is the fifth Commandment of God? Thou shalt not kill. That is to be understood: thou shalt not without just authority kill or hurt any man in body or in soul. And therefore both the Judge in the commonwealth does lawfully put offenders to death, or otherwise punish them bodily, and the Bishop does lawfully excommunicate wicked or disobedient persons, for the preservation of peace and tranquility in the commonwealth, and in the Church.

Fr. Henry Tuberville’s An Abridgement of Christian Doctrine from 1649 asks: “Is it not lawful to kill in any cause?” and responds:

Yes, in a just war, or when public justice requires it: “For the magistrate beareth not the sword without cause” (Rom 13:4). As also in the blameless defence of our own, or our innocent neighbour’s life, against an unjust invader.

The Baltimore Catechism of 1885 says, with admirable nuance:

Human life may be lawfully taken (1) in self-defense, when we are unjustly attacked and have no other means of saving our own lives; (2) in a just war, when the safety or rights of the nation require it; (3) by the lawful execution of a criminal, fairly tried and found guilty of a crime punishable by death, when the preservation of law and order and the good of the community require such execution.

The beloved Catechism of St. Pius X, published in 1908, poses the question “Are there cases in which it is lawful to kill?” and replies:

It is lawful to kill when fighting in a just war; when carrying out by order of the Supreme Authority a sentence of death in punishment of a crime; and, finally, in cases of necessary and lawful defense of one’s own life against an unjust aggressor.

Canon Henry Cafferata’s 1922 book The Catechism, Simply Explained, true to its title, simply explains the matter as follows:

The fifth Commandment forbids all wilful murder, fighting, quarrelling, and injurious words; and also scandal and bad example. Wilful murder is one of the sins crying to heaven for vengeance. Suicide, which is self-murder, is forbidden by this commandment. Also the direct deliberate killing of an unborn child. But it is not murder when the State executes a criminal; it has the right to do so. Nor is it murder when the State orders its armed forces to kill the enemy in a just war. And one may always kill in self-defence, when there is no alternative.

Believe me when I say that such examples could be multiplied all the day long. There is simply not the slightest bit of deviation from common orthodox teaching.

Adding Aquinas and the Roman Catechism, what we are seeing here, in seven exemplary texts from a span of 700 years, is nothing less than a glowing example of the universal ordinary Magisterium of the Church—namely, the verbalization of that which is taught and believed “by everyone, always, and everywhere,” displaying the three hallmarks of the Vincentian canon: antiquity, universality, and the consensus of authorities. As an online catechist reminds us:

Because Christ committed to His Church a single, “defined body of doctrine, applicable to all times and all men,” one should expect to peruse not only decades, but centuries of Catholic catechisms and theological manuals and discover harmonious agreement and unbroken continuity on all matters of faith and morals. And find it one can; for when Catholic bishops spread throughout the world and across time give unified voice to their teaching office in catechisms approved by them, this is an authentic expression of the universal ordinary magisterium, an organ of infallibility, and an effective antidote in our own time against the erroneous notion (long since condemned by the Church) that dogma can evolve.

Evaluating Pope Francis’s change

Along comes Francis, and by a stroke of the papal pen—I had almost said magic wand—suddenly falsifies hundreds of other catechisms on a point of no small significance. Think of it: contrary to every catechism from ancient times to the Counter-Reformation down to the era of John XXIII who convened the Second Vatican Council, the “new and improved” Catechism speaks alone.

This, I would argue, is a sign of dangerous megalomania—the evidence of a pope disconnected from his office and from reality. And this case is far from unique: every week, it seems, gives us another example of deviation from the common heritage of Christians. A breathtaking example of episcopal and papal arrogance was given to us quite recently by the bishops’ conference of Italy, whose decision to change the wording of the Lord’s Prayer was approved (as expected) by Francis—in spite of the fact that not a single theologian or scholar from ancient to modern times has disagreed even slightly about the meaning of the Greek text of the Lord’s Prayer recorded in the New Testament, which is precisely what the Church herself has prayed in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, and every other language, for 2,000 years without interruption. In other words, the Italian bishops and the pope have changed the Our Father to say something that it simply does not say, and in doing so, they have implied one of two heretical positions: either Our Lord made a mistake and was wrong in saying what He did, in which case He is not God, or the evangelists made a mistake in reporting His most solemn utterance on prayer and attributed something false to Him, in which case the Gospel text is not inspired by the Holy Spirit and is, as a consequence, not infallible and inerrant. A similar point can be made about the Italian bishops’ change to the opening words of the Gloria, which are taken from St. Luke’s Gospel. They have distorted them past recognition. A true Christian does not dictate to God what He should say, but humbly accepts His word, not only when it is easy to understand, but also, and even more so, when it is difficult, challenging, perplexing, mysterious, or strange.

I turn again to the death penalty. Pope Francis went so far as to dismiss his papal predecessors, some of whom actively promoted capital punishment in the Papal States, as “having ignored the primacy of mercy over justice.” Commenting on this astonishing statement, Fr. John Hunwicke said: “Dear dear dear. Pretty nasty, that. What silly fellows they must all have been to make such an elementary error. But Don’t Worry. All, apparently, can be explained by ‘development.’”[9] Never mind that in dismissing all of them at once, he is undermining his own authority. If all the earlier popes can be wrong, a fortiori Francis can be wrong—and, indeed, is far more likely to be wrong, with a witness of 265 against 1.[10]

The change introduced by Francis fundamentally misconstrues the nature and purpose of a catechism; indeed, it misconstrues the nature and purpose of papal authority. A catechism is not, and has never been seen as, an instrument for introducing novel doctrine or for pushing forward the so-called “development of doctrine.” It is not an opportunity for dare-devil avant garde speculative theology, or a trial balloon to see how the media or the masses will react, or a wedge to open up a “safe space” for further changes to doctrine or morality. Neither should it marginalize or silence unpopular truths by giving them short shrift or no shrift at all. A catechism’s function is far humbler: to pass on, simply, accurately, and integrally, the pre-existing teaching of the Church.[11]

As Edward Feser recently wrote:

What Catholics who are concerned about the revision to the Catechism want to know, specifically, is whether the revision is meant to teach that capital punishment is always and intrinsically evil, and not just ill-advised under current circumstances. If that is indeed what is being taught, then that would be a direct contradiction of Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and all previous popes, and thus would not be a true development of doctrine but a reversal or corruption of doctrine. Calling something a “development” doesn't make it a development, otherwise the Church could reverse any teaching at all—concerning the Trinity, the Resurrection, you name it—and simply label it a “development” reflecting a “dynamic tradition,” etc. The great Catholic theorists of the development of doctrine, such as St. Vincent of Lerins and Blessed John Henry Newman, are always very clear that a genuine development can never contradict past teaching.[12]

The false understanding of “development of doctrine,” in the name of which today’s churchmen contradict the plain meaning of Scripture as received by the unbroken tradition of the Church, was in fact condemned in Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors under the following thesis: “Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding to the advancement of human reason.”[13] This notion of endless “progress” always hides a form of relativism: we can never actually attain certainty of anything at any time, since we must await the latest deliverances of theologians or politicians who, in some mysterious shamanistic way, have access to the elusive “truth” called for by the “signs of the times.”

I think we can dig deeper into what is going on here. The death penalty vexes progressives and liberals because it reminds them of the existence of objective truths and absolute norms on which both justice and mercy are necessarily based; it reminds them of the final judgment each of us must undergo before the God of the Decalogue and the Beatitudes, the God who has revealed Himself in and through the “scandal of the particular”: in the Incarnation, in the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments, in the organic development of the liturgy. To face this most personal God, and to be judged according to His absolute and particular truth, is the unspoken nightmare from which liberals are running away in every direction, even at the cost of contradicting reason, sanity, history, reality itself. In this way, they have already chosen hell, although they do not yet realize it, since hell is the place of irrationality, insanity, meaningless repetition, and banishment from the God who is the most real and contains all reality in Himself.

As Joseph Ratzinger pointed out some decades ago, hell is already breaking into this world and annexing portions of it, as people increasingly abandon the protection of the Holy Cross, the name of Jesus, the sacraments and sacramentals, the sacred liturgy. We might say that Satan has established colonial governors in, just to name three of his colonies, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Democratic Party.

What is the value of the “new” Catechism?

Francis’s change to the postconciliar Catechism prompts another train of thought. What, after all, is the value of this very catechism?

Years ago, it was pointed out to me that the Catechism omits mention of the New Testament teaching on the headship of the husband in marriage—despite the fact that this teaching is given multiple times in the New Testament, with a clarity greater than that of many other doctrines we typically consider crystal-clear, and despite the fact that the doctrine was often repeated by the Magisterium, at least up through Pius XI’s classic encyclical Casti Connubii, where it was given a winsome interpretation: the wife is the heart of the family, as the husband is its head (with all of the responsibilities each of these roles entails!), and the wife owes him lawful and rational obedience, even as he owes her the highest respect, devotion, and love. Why was this aspect of Christian teaching on marriage omitted in what was purported to be a trustworthy guide to the Catholic Faith? Oh, feminism and things like that. How do we know? Because the Catechism dances around the question, cites NT texts adjacent to the “offensive” ones, and does all that it can to avoid bringing up the subject.[14] In short, it is embarrassed about a truth revealed by God, because that truth fails to harmonize with the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.

Should this bother us? Absolutely. If we discover only one important teaching that is missing from a catechism by design and not by editorial oversight, then in principle the reliability of this catechism is called into question. It is seen to be under the curse of political correctness to some extent—how much would be difficult to say without exhaustive study, but the seed of doubt is already planted. We start to feel that this guide may not, after all, be entirely trustworthy.

If I might digress for a moment: the same thing can be said of the omission of 1 Corinthians 11:27–29 from the reformed missal and revised multi-year lectionary. These verses of St. Paul state the following:

Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink of the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eatheth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord.

This passage—the clearest text in the Bible warning against unworthy or sacrilegious Eucharistic communion, a problem that has exponentially increased in the decades since the Council—was deliberately removed from the new liturgy, even though it had always been prominently present in the traditional Latin Mass, for as far back as we have records of the Church’s worship. Similarly, the omission of many psalm verses from the Liturgy of the Hours means that whoever follows these liturgical books no longer prays the Psalter as given by God. Such omissions, against the backdrop of a hitherto uninterrupted practice, call into question the value and legitimacy of the entire projects to which they pertain. At this point in my life, knowing what I do, I cannot trust the new lectionary or the new Liturgy of the Hours to give me an accurate formation in the Catholic Faith as received and professed by the Church from the time of her founding to the time of the Second Vatican Council. The lex orandi or law of praying was deeply modified, which means the lex credendi or law of believing has also been modified. The problems we are dealing with in catechesis are exactly paralleled by the problems we are dealing with in liturgy. It is all a single package deal, and the sooner Catholics realize this, the sooner they will stop pretending that they can have their cake and eat it, too—that they can entrust their minds to the Novus Ordo liturgy, while remaining, in the words of the Roman Canon, “orthodox believers and professors of the Catholic and apostolic Faith.”

To return to the Catechism of 1992, and the problem of tinkeritis: we remember how there were already changes to the new Catechism almost before its ink was dry. The second edition, published in Latin in 1997, featured a few substantive changes, including one already on the death penalty to reflect the liberal European manner in which John Paul II was thinking about it. Another change, on homosexual inclinations, was admittedly a significant improvement—and yet one wonders why the original editorial team, headed by Christoph Schönborn, later Archbishop of Vienna, would have expressed the point so badly to begin with. This doesn’t inspire confidence in the competence of the drafters. Indeed, in the case of Cardinal Schönborn, whom I admired and spent time with in the period between 1999 and 2006, we have seen a gradual decline into progressivism and outright heresy, especially on the subject of sexual ethics.

The “Church of tomorrow”

Since at least Dignitatis Humanae, there’s been a tendency to think doctrine is malleable, according to the whims of the reigning pontiff or the consensus of academic theologians. Back in the day, conservative Catholics tried to do this with social doctrine when they refused to accept John Paul II’s critique of certain aspects of modern-day capitalism in Centesimus Annus and other documents. Now, under Francis, it’s the liberals’ turn in the limelight, railing against the death penalty, but there’s been a general tendency for just about every modern school of Catholic thought to play this game. The ultimate source of this tendency is poor theology and even poorer philosophy; a refusal to acknowledge, on the one hand, that truth is a correspondence between thought and reality and, on the other, that the content of our faith is divinely revealed to us and is not subject to a process of mutation and evolution, no matter how many centuries we spend pondering its inexhaustible truth.

A friend recounted to me how a devotee of Hans Urs von Balthasar, a dazzling synthesizer of orthodoxy and modernism who could deceive even the elect, once told him that Balthasar’s concept of what our Lord did during His time in the grave on Holy Saturday couldn’t get into the Catechism right now, because it hadn’t been “received” yet, but in time it might. According to this notion of revelation, a theologian gets a brilliant idea; it catches on with other theologians; and after a time, lo and behold!, we have a new doctrine. Or perhaps just a “deeper grasp” of a doctrine, albeit one that actually contradicts just about everything held on the subject until now. One is reminded of the eulogy pronounced upon Teilhard de Chardin by one of his disciples, Henri Rambaud: “He was already thinking then what the Church did not yet know she would be thinking shortly. … Instead of being in agreement with the Church of today, he is in agreement with the Church of tomorrow.”[15]

If any of this were true, then nothing in the Faith would ever be certain; our house would be built on shifting sand, not solid rock. We know this to be false, because all twenty ecumenical councils prior to the sui generis experiment of Vatican II solemnly declared, in the name of God, binding dogmas of truth and condemnations of error. One who walks down the path of novelty is not deepening our collective grasp of truth, but simply departing from the Catholic Faith. As the ancient “Athanasian” Creed thunders: Quicumque vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est, ut teneat catholicam fidem: quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit, absque dubio in aeternum peribit. “Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith; for unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever.”

As good as much of it is, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church is not the “be-all and end-all” that many make it out to be. One would have felt ashamed to admit such misgivings back in the misty-eyed days of its promulgation when, after decades of doctrinal chaos and almost no guidance from Rome at the catechetical level, the Catechism came forth like Lazarus from the tomb. And perhaps it was something of a miracle in the early nineties. Even so, the well-respected Jesuit Fr. John Hardon—himself an author of copious catechetical materials, and by no means a “traditionalist” in the sense in which that term is used today—wrote at the time a detailed critique of certain formulations in the working draft of the new Catechism that he considered ambiguous, incomplete, misleading, or erroneous. While most of the problems were fixed, others remained.[16]

Other “catechism shenanigans” include Benedict XVI’s strategic deployment of the shorter Compendium of the Catechism to make up for defects in the larger one, and the multi-lingual release of a hipster youth catechism or “YouCat” that continues the process of dumbing-down the Faith that began with the first translations of the liturgy into the vernacular.

Seeking guidance from better sources

What Pope Francis has done will backfire, like the hubris of the protagonist in an ancient Greek tragedy. For he has given us a new and, I would say, pressing invitation to close the new Catechism and place it on the upper shelf, and to reach instead for the Roman Catechism, the Baltimore Catechism, or dozens of other books that, sidestepping political correctness, are more accurate guides to what the Church has believed and taught in her 2,000-year pilgrimage.[17] In his Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum of October 11, 1992, Pope John Paul II declared his new Catechism “a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” Recent abuses of papal authority are pushing us (helpfully, I would say) to recognize that the “sure norm” in catechesis is not one single book, especially not a book that has trouble walking in a straight line, but rather the collective unanimous witness of centuries of catechisms. The uniform testimony of a host of traditional Catholic catechisms is an undimmed light amid the doctrinal darkness now besetting the Church in an age dominated by secularism, liberalism, and relativism.

What the confusion of our day requires, and what the much-touted dignity of man deserves, is not the new and improved Catholicism of the ever-newer Catechism, but the illuminating Faith of our fathers, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). May the Most Holy Trinity have mercy on us and deliver us from the tyranny of novelty.

Thank you for your kind attention.


NOTES

[1] An earlier version of a portion of this lecture was published at OnePeterFive on December 21, 2018, as “The Pope Forces the Question: What Good Is the New Catechism?” The argument is here considerably expanded.

[2] The reason we memorize things as children is that we expect them to come in handy for the rest of our lives. We don’t anticipate the alphabet, the rules of grammar, or the circle of fifths changing on us by surprise.

[3] Those who wish to see a detailed argument should read the book by Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, published by Ignatius Press in 2017. This work is not without its flaws, but by the end of it, one cannot escape the conclusion that the legitimacy of capital punishment is as deeply lodged in the bones and marrow of the Judaeo-Christian tradition as the content of the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai, or the Beatitudes handed down by Our Lord to His disciples on the mountainside. Several fine articles have been published by First Things: J. Budziszewski’s “Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice”; Michael Pakaluk’s “Capital Punishment and the Sex Abuse Crisis”; Ed Feser’s “Pope Francis and Capital Punishment”; and of course, “An Appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church,” signed by 75 clergy and scholars, which contains this ringing paragraph: “Since it is a truth contained in the Word of God, and taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Catholic Church, that criminals may lawfully be put to death by the civil power when this is necessary to preserve just order in civil society, and since the present Roman pontiff has now more than once publicly manifested his refusal to teach this doctrine, and has rather brought great confusion upon the Church by seeming to contradict it, and by inserting into the Catechism of the Catholic Church a paragraph which will cause and is already causing many people, both believers and non-believers, to suppose that the Church considers, contrary to the Word of God, that capital punishment is intrinsically evil, we call upon Your Eminences to advise His Holiness that it is his duty to put an end to this scandal, to withdraw this paragraph from the Catechism, and to teach the word of God unadulterated; and we state our conviction that this is a duty seriously binding upon yourselves, before God and before the Church.”

[4] When Jesus deflected the stoning of the woman caught in adultery, it was not because He knew she did not deserve it, but because He wished to reprieve her in His mercy and give her a second chance. Civil governors may also choose to reprieve criminals, but it cannot be a simple rule that every criminal guilty of capital crime must be reprieved. There is no basis for this in either divine law or natural law.

[5] See http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/updates.htm for a complete list of revisions.

[7] If the topic went unmentioned, it was owing to the brevity and simplicity of a given catechism, not to any disagreement on the part of its authors with what was received as common doctrine. Indeed, in an age as sensitive to ecumenical concerns as our own, it merits mentioning that the vast majority of Protestant catechisms transmitted exactly the same doctrine about capital punishment as Catholic ones did, and for obvious reasons: it is not especially difficult to mount a defense of it.

[11] In other words, a catechism is a witness to the universal and ordinary Magisterium of the Church taught by all the bishops throughout the world over time (not just at the present moment) as well as to the extraordinary Magisterium consisting of de fide definitions of dogma by councils or popes.

[13] Recall Francis speaking to the International Union of Superiors General of Woman Religious about how much can change in 50 years. What also happened 50 years ago? Humanae Vitae. One can see where all this is going. It isn’t even necessary for Francis to connect the dots himself; he knows that others will do so. He gives the inch so that others will take the mile.

[14] The Catechism of the Catholic Church avoids teaching the subordination of wives to husbands, replacing it with a novel doctrine of mutual subordination (see n. 1642, but also nn. 369–72, 1616, and 1659, eloquent in their omissions). In contrast, the Roman Catechism unambiguously transmits the teaching of Scripture on this point: see the Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, trans. John A. McHugh and Charles J. Callan (Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1982), 339, 346, 352.

[15] From Gerard Verschuuren, The Myth of an Anti-Science Church: Galileo, Darwin, Teilhard, Hawking, Dawkins (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2018), 120.

[16] See “On Doctrinal and Moral Disorders Abiding in the Church: Father John A. Hardon’s 1990 Commentaries on the ‘Revised Draft’ of the Catholic Catechism,” prepared and elaborated by Robert Hickson: Part I, https://www.christianorder.com/features/features_2016/features_jan16.html; Part II: https://www.christianorder.com/features/features_2016/features_feb16.html. For example, the Catechism does not unambiguously teach that, because the old covenant with Israel has been fulfilled in Christ as the new covenant in His blood, the Jews are no longer God’s “chosen people,” but should be regarded as called to faith in Christ and baptism, even as all other unbelievers are; or that Christ enjoyed the beatific vision throughout His earthly life, including in His most bitter Passion. The first draft of the Catechism, ca. 1991, was much more explicit about Christ’s direct vision of God during His earthly life than the final version. See CCC 151, 473, and 478, from all of which, and from their footnoted sources, one may deduce the doctrine. Fr. Georges de Nantes’ Book of Accusation, which claims to find twelve heresies in the Catechism, is far from sound on all points, but it does raise a few potent criticisms: http://crc-internet.org/further-information/liber-accusationis/against-ccc/. The SSPX has also presented cogent objections: https://sspx.org/en/faq-page/what-are-we-think-of-the-new-catechism-faq14 and https://sspx.org/en/new-catechism-catholic.

[17] As we read at Whispers of Restoration: “For the average Catholic seeking to learn this Faith and hand it on to others in an error-plagued age, few things will bear this out like the reading of traditional catechisms. The continuity found in such study is both clear and compelling, and little wonder; for it illustrates the teaching of the universal ordinary magisterium” (https://whispersofrestoration.blog/2018/07/09/resource-traditional-catholic-catechisms/).

Visit www.peterkwasniewski.com for events, articles, sacred music, and classics reprinted by Os Justi Press (e.g., Benson, Scheeben, Parsch, Guardini, Chaignon, Leen).

The Spectator: "Is the Pope a Catholic? You have to wonder."

By Melanie McDonagh, for The Spectator:

Is the Pope a Catholic? You have to wonder. In the old days, a pope’s remit was modest: infallible, but only in the vanishingly rare cases when he pronounced on matters of faith and morals concerning the whole Church. But even at their most bombastic and badly behaved, earlier popes would have hesitated to do what nice Pope Francis has done, which is to approve changes in the liturgy which amount to rewriting the Lord’s Prayer.

That bit that says ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ is, for Pope Francis, a bad translation. ‘It speaks of a God who induces temptation,’ he told Italian TV. ‘I am the one who falls. It’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that; A father helps you to get up immediately.’

De Mattei: An Exceptional Document - Monsignor Vigano’s Interview to The Washington Post

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
June 12, 2019

"The bottom line is this: Pope Francis is deliberately concealing the McCarrick evidence."


The extensive interview that Archbishop Maria Viganò gave to Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli in the Washington Post of June 10th is of exceptional importance for several reasons.
The first and most important reason is that this interview indicates the utter failure of the Vatican’s  strategy of ‘silence’, faced with the detailed accusations of the former Nuncio to the United States. Those in charge of the Vatican media were convinced that Monsignor Viganò’s revelations would have been confined to a ‘niche audience’, ready to be forgotten after some moments of emotional excitement. This did not happen..
The Washington Post is one of the most widely read newspapers in the planet, with millions of readers and the Archbishop’s interview was, for almost three days, the second most popular article  on its site. Monsignor Viganò’s voice has had an impact world-wide, shattering the wall of silence and imposing evidence that cannot be ignored or minimized.
The second reason, connected to the first, is that with his interview, The Washington Post recognizes Monsignor Viganò as a historical witness, whose credibility cannot be placed in doubt by anyone.  The Archbishop does not enter into the theological problems arising from documents like Amoris Laetitia, but limits himself to addressing the facts that he knows: the existence of a “corrupt mafia” which “has taken control of many institutions of the Church, from the top down, and is exploiting the Church and the faithful for its own immoral purposes”. This mafia “is bound together not by shared sexual intimacy but by a shared interest in protecting and advancing one another professionally and in sabotaging every effort to reform the sexual corruption”.                                                                    
Regarding the clumsy efforts of the Vatican media to discredit him, by accusing him of having  ambitions of power: “In any case, my motivation is not the point, and questions about it are a distraction. The truly important question is whether my testimony is true. I stand by it, and I urge investigations so that the facts may appear. Unfortunately, those who impugn my motives have been unwilling to conduct open and thorough investigations”.

Communiqué of the International UNA VOCE Federation on Order of Malta ban of the Traditional Latin Mass

Rome, June 13, 2019

The FIUV notes with regret the letter, dated 10th June, from Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaler Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta (the ‘Order of Malta’), forbidding the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (the Extraordinary Form) in the context of the Order’s liturgical life.

Since this letter has become public, we would like to observe that it does not accurately present the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, given motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum. Article 3, cited in the Grand Master’s letter, explicitly allows religious communities to have not only private but conventual celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, without reference to the Major Superior (in the case of the Order of Malta, the Grand Master or the Prelate). His permission is required only in cases where the community ‘wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently’.

The Grand Master’s letter also neglects the right of the faithful, from which the religious and lay members of the Order of Malta are not excluded, from requesting celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Article 4). Celebrations in the context of special occasions such as pilgrimages are explicitly anticipated (Article 5 §3). Pastors and rectors of churches are directed to accede to such requests (Article 5, §1 and §5).

The Federation would like to emphasise that the Extraordinary Form is a part of the liturgical patrimony of the Church which represents ‘riches’ for the Church, which should not be neglected or excluded, and certainly not on the basis of a narrow conception of unity which excludes the variety of liturgical expressions permitted in the Church. As Pope Benedict expressed it:

‘These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.’ (Summorum Pontificum, Preamble)


Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce

Events: Numerous Corpus Christi events in London

Make sure to click "read more" to see two more events that follow the first:

Saint Anthony warns negligent superiors and prelates of the dire personal consequences of their omission

Exsulta, Lusitania felix! O felix Padua, gaude! -- with these words, Pope Pius XII, of most glorious memory, started his Apostolic Brief naming Saint Anthony of Padua Doctor of the Church. The Doctor Evangelicus was a fiery preacher, filled with the righteous indignation of a true saint -- not at all like the emasculated simpleton some seem to believe him to have been.

We present below two excerpts of his "Sermon on the justice of hypocrites and of true penitents", commonly included, in the "Sermones Dominicales", in the sermons for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost. Saint Anthony warns negligent superiors and prelates of the dire personal consequences of their omission -- and the danger of ambition, particularly of superiors ("In superiori gradu præferuntur, ut lapsu graviore ruant.")

___________________________

If the ox was wont to push with his horn yesterday and the day before, and they warned his master, and he did not shut him up, and he shall kill a man or a woman: then the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. [Exodus xxi, 29] The ox that pushes with his horn is the carnal appetite, which with the horn of pride kills a man or a woman: that is to say, his reason or his good will. Because his owner, the spirit, does not shut him up, he is killed along with the ox: body and soul will be eternally punished together. Hear this, you abbots and priors! If you have an ox that pushes with his horn, a monk or canon who is proud, a lover of wine and pleasure, and you will not shut him up, so that men and women are not scandalized by his bad example: the ox shall be stoned to death, and die in his sin, and the abbot or prior who would not restrain him will be punished eternally.

Knights of the Condom ("Malta") formally forbid Summorum Pontificum

The Knights of Malta ended in 2017, with the illegitimate coup promoted by the bishop of Rome. Ever since that time, as we said then, they have simply become the Knights of the Condom.

So, it is not surprising that in their new incarnation their wicked and devilish leaders are formally suppressing the Traditional Latin Mass -- it is actually expected.

Document below (click for larger view):


 What a joke they have become. Ridiculous.

But, as ridiculous as this is, it is a sign: THEY are testing the waters.

(Image: @holysmoke, Damian Thompson; confirmed as genuine in the early morning by Knights' spokeswoman to top Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin.)

Archbishop Viganò speaks up: Washington Post interview - "This archbishop called on the pope to resign. Now he’s in an undisclosed location."

For the record of events of the current pontificate, we post the main excerpts of the article published this Monday by the Washington Post:
By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli
June 10, 2019

ROME — In the instant he became one of the most controversial figures in modern Catholic Church history, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò went dark.

The retired Vatican ambassador to Washington wrote a bombshell letter last summer calling on Pope Francis to resign on the grounds that he had tolerated a known sexual abuser. As that letter was published, Viganò turned off his phone, told friends he was disappearing, and let the church sort through the fallout.

Nine months later, in his first extended interview since that moment, Viganò refused to disclose his location or say much about his self-imposed exile. But his comments indicate that, even in hiding, he is maintaining his role as the fiercest critic of the Francis era, acting either as an honorable rebel or, as his critics see it, as an ideological warrior attacking a pope he doesn’t like.

For the Record: “Declaration of the truths relating to some of the most common errors in the life of the Church of our time”

Explanatory note

In our time the Church is experiencing one of the greatest spiritual epidemics, that is, an almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation, which is a seriously contagious danger for spiritual health and eternal salvation for many souls. At the same time one has to recognize a widespread lethargy in the exercise of the Magisterium on different levels of the Church’s hierarchy in our days. This is largely caused by the non-compliance with the Apostolic duty - as stated also by the Second Vatican Council - to “vigilantly ward off any errors that threaten the flock” (Lumen gentium, 25).

Our time is characterized by an acute spiritual hunger of the Catholic faithful all over the world for a reaffirmation of those truths that are obfuscated, undermined, and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time. The faithful who are suffering this spiritual hunger feel themselves abandoned and thus find themselves in a kind of existential periphery. Such a situation urgently demands a concrete remedy. A public declaration of the truths regarding these errors cannot admit a further deferral. Hence we are mindful of the following timeless words of Pope Saint Gregory the Great: “Our tongue may not be slack to exhort, and having undertaken the office of bishops, our silence may not prove our condemnation at the tribunal of the just Judge. (…) The people committed to our care abandon God, and we are silent. They live in sin, and we do not stretch out a hand to correct.” (In Ev. hom. 17: 3. 14)

Fontgombault Sermon for Pentecost 2019: "Television and the Internet are invasive weeds on our soul, occupying the place that belongs to the Holy Spirit."

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
(Fontgombault, June 9th, 2019) 

Mansionem apud eum faciemus.
We will make our abode with him.
Jn 14:23

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

Today, the Church celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, who were gathered praying with Mary in the Upper Room. The narrative of this event is taken from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The Gospel is taken from the discourse after the Last Supper, and recounts the Lord’s words to His disciples:

If any one love me, he will keep my word. And my Father will love him and We will come to him and will make our abode with him. (Jn 16:5-7)

Jesus adds the promise of a Defender, “the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name”. His role will be to teach the Apostles and bring to their remembrance all the words of Christ. 

This morning, I beg leave to point out the most topical character of this feast. What are we expecting from this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, from His presence, in our lives, our families, our communities, our countries? One thing, and one thing only: that He should make of all these places His abode, according to the promise made by Jesus to those who love Him.

Yet, is it indeed necessary to beg for the coming of the Spirit? Today, knowledge reaches us through media such as the television, the internet… Those are the competitors of the Holy Spirit. They can make their abode in us, to such an extent as to arouse in us an unquenchable need. The tawdry nature of a manifold and superficial knowledge dazzles our intelligence. As compared with that, an in-depth knowledge of God, of a few close persons, seems to be but a poor surrogate.

The "curse" of Pentecost


If we pay close attention, we can see implicit signs of self-curse in the New Covenant oaths which we swear via the sacraments (sacramentum means "oath" in Latin) - for example, in Baptism there is the grace of new life, but it is accomplished via the symbolism of death and burial in the water. To forsake the grace of Baptism is to return to the waters of death from which we were raised up in the sacrament. Blessing and curse are both operative here.

It should not surprise us, then, if we see in the liturgy several "both-ward" pointing signs - the plea of the priest at the prayer before the Gospel explicitly evokes the mission of Isaiah, a mission which was guaranteed by God to end in the curse and condemnation of those who heard it; the action of the priest in kissing the altar stone recalls the symbolism of Christ as the "cornerstone" of the New Jerusalem, but it also recalls the prophecies of Isaiah and the Psalmist that those who rejected the cornerstone will soon be crushed by the weight of this stone.

This dual meaning is more-than evident in the Feast of Pentecost, although certainly the aspects of judgment and curse have rarely been noticed by those attending the liturgical worship. There is an urgency in this Feast that we would do well to feel and hear - and this urgency, this climactic moment of decision, is especially strong in the narratives that describe the Descent of the Holy Ghost.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

Many Old Testament images come to mind here, all of them related to a decisive moment that would result in either blessing or curse.

Three New Books in English by Roberto de Mattei

The year 2019 has turned out to be a special year for English readers of the fine historical work of Roberto de Mattei. Before now, his only book in our language was The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story (Fitzwilliam: Loreto, 2012). Now, however, three new books have appeared almost simultaneously from three different publishers (Angelus, Angelico, and PCP).

De Mattei: Pope Francis, the philosopher of inclusion

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
June 4, 2019




On June 2, in Italy, the traditional military parade celebrating the birth of the Republic, took place under the sign of “inclusion”. “The theme of inclusivity, which has characterized this event, represents well the values engraved in our Constitutional Charter, which stipulates that no citizen may feel they are abandoned, rather, that the full exercise of their rights be guaranteed,” declared the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella.

The same day in Blaj, Romania, Pope Francis offered a “mea culpa”, in the name of the Church for the discriminations suffered by the Roma [gypsy] community: “I ask forgiveness – of the Lord and you, in the name of the Church, whenever, in the course of history, we discriminated against you, maltreated or looked at you in the wrong way, with the look of Cain instead of Abel, and weren’t able to recognize, appreciate and defend your uniqueness.”    

When The Twitter Mob Came After Me

by Fr. Kevin Cusick

Twitter has a dark, demonic side, raging against God and the Church. That brood of vipers and braying, bloodthirsty hounds lurking in readiness was visited upon me with nearly unrelenting fury and incredible magnitude last week. Wave after wave of calumnious, blasphemous, and obscene memes, gifs, and messages were posted with comments, likes, and retweets ranging up to the tens of thousands. Those who styled themselves my enemies crowed with pleasure that I had been “ratioed” — when negative comments outnumber likes and retweets. Many called for me to delete my account when they weren’t wishing a more horrible fate upon me. Blue check mark accounts with nearly 200k followers piled on.

Aldo Maria Valli: If even the BBC wises up to the fact that Christians are being persecuted…



Aldo Maria Valli
H/T Ricognizioni 
(once known as Riscossa Cristiana)
June 4, 2019

Our persecuted and forgotten brothers and sisters in Christ



“The persecution of Christians is at a level near that of genocide.” This statement is from an unexpected source - the British BBC, which reports on a study commissioned by the Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt, and carried out by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, Philip Ian Mounstephen.

Reportedly, one out of three people in the world is suffering religious persecution, and Christians are decidedly “the most persecuted group, so much so, that in three areas of the world the level and nature of the persecution is ostensibly nearing the international definition (adopted by the United Nations) of genocide.”
In this regard, Jeremy Hunt, notes how Western Governments seem to be “fast asleep” and incapable of reacting or at the very least of showing sensitivity in the face of such a situation. 

The Ottaviani Intervention Turns 50: A Perceptive and Still Relevant Critique

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass, better known as the “Ottaviani Intervention” after one of the two cardinals who signed it (Alfredo Ottaviani and Antonio Bacci). The study bears the date of Thursday, June 5, 1969, which was the feast of Corpus Christi that year.

The study was, however, not delivered to Pope Paul VI until almost four months later, with a cover letter dated September 25, 1969. In this letter the Cardinals aver:

The accompanying Critical Study is the work of a select group of bishops, theologians, liturgists, and pastors of souls. Despite its brevity, the study shows quite clearly that the Novus Ordo Missae -- considering the new elements widely susceptible to widely different interpretations which are implied or taken for granted -- represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session 22 of the Council of Trent. The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that time erected an insurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the Mystery.

Reminder: Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society


This is our monthly reminder to please enroll Souls of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society. We added three new priests to the ranks in the last 30 days (two of them the day they were ordained!) and the Society now stands at 93 priests saying weekly or monthly traditional Latin Masses for the Souls. Come on Fathers, let's get this to 100!

** Click here to download a "fillable" PDF Mass Card in English to give to the loved ones of the Souls you enroll. It's free for anyone to use. CLICK HERE to download in Latin and CLICK HERE to download in Spanish

Priests: The Souls still need more of you saying Mass for them! Please email me to offer your services. There's nothing special involved -- all you need to do is offer a weekly or monthly TLM with the intention: "For the repose of the Souls enrolled in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society." And we will always keep you completely anonymous unless you request otherwise. 

How to enroll souls: please email me at athanasiuscatholic@yahoo.com and submit as follows: "Name, State, Country." If you want to enroll entire families, simply write in the email: "The Jones family, Ohio, USA". Individual names are preferred. Be greedy -- send in as many as you wish and forward this posting to friends as well.