Rorate Caeli

Wit alert

Ha! The "Pennsylvania Papal Blogger" is so witty! Read the caption he made regarding this shot from Pope Benedict's visit to Auschwitz:

Given two elements in this shot, it's an easy caption. Four words will suffice: "BAD DAY FOR SSPX."
Wow, that IS hilarious! First element: Marini, the god of proper liturgy. Second element: one of the buildings of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and extermination complex.

This is the logical sequence: SSPX = Anti-Semites = Holocaust Deniers = Nazis. Got it?


It would be even more hilarious if, not very far from Cracow, in the Polish town of Słonsk, near the German border, there had not been a small concentration camp and prison. In the Sonnenburg prison, a brave Catholic Frenchman died after years of torture and suffering in the hands of the Nazis.

His name was René Lefebvre (senior), loving father of the founder of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX).

Is this sophisticated humor or what?

Ut cuncto populo christiano pacem et unitatem largiri digneris, te rogamus, audi nos.

"It is due to the express counsel of Pope Benedict XVI...

...that I am come amidst you."

Words of the Primate of the Gauls, Cardinal Barbarin, during a ceremony of Confirmation (according to the Traditional rites of the Roman Church) today in Lyon.

Signo te signo Crucis + et confirmo te chrismate salutis...

This Peter

My friends, once again: what does it mean to build on the rock? Building on the rock also means to build on Peter and with Peter. In fact the Lord said to him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Mt 16:18). If Christ, the Rock, the living and precious stone, calls his Apostle "rock", it means that he wants Peter, and together with him the entire Church, to be a visible sign of the one Saviour and Lord. Here, in Kraków, the beloved city of my Predecessor John Paul II, no one is astonished by the words "to build with Peter and on Peter". For this reason I say to you: do not be afraid to build your life on the Church and with the Church. You are all proud of the love you have for Peter and for the Church entrusted to him. Do not be fooled by those who want to play Christ against the Church. There is one foundation on which it is worthwhile to build a house. This foundation is Christ. There is only one rock on which it is worthwhile to place everything. This rock is the one to whom Christ said: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16:18). Young people, you know well the Rock of our times. Accordingly, do not forget that neither that Peter who is watching our gathering from the window of God the Father, nor this Peter who is now standing in front of you, nor any successive Peter will ever be opposed to you or the building of a lasting house on the rock. Indeed, he will offer his heart and his hands to help you construct a life on Christ and with Christ.

They shall put you out...

"They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." From the Gospel for the Sunday after the Ascension

Appalling mistake! Is it thus thou wouldst please God by striking down the God-pleaser; and is the living temple of God by thy blows laid level with the ground, that God's temple of stone may not be deserted?

Accursed blindness! But it is in part that it has happened to Israel, that the fullness of the Gentiles might come in: in part, I say, and not totally, has it happened. For not all, but only some of the branches have been broken off, that the wild olive might be ingrafted.

For just at the time when the disciples of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, were speaking in the tongues of all nations, and performing many divine miracles, and scattering divine utterances on every side, Christ, even though slain, was so beloved, that His disciples, when expelled from the congregations of the Jews, gathered into a congregation of their own a vast multitude of those very Jews, and had no fear of being left to solitude. hereupon, accordingly, the others, reprobate and blind, being inflamed with wrath, and having a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, and believing that they were doing God service, put them to death.

But He, who was slain for them, gathered those together; just as He had also, before He was slain, instructed them in what was to happen, lest their minds, left ignorant and unprepared, should be cast into trouble by evils, however transient, that were unexpected and unprovided for; but rather by knowing of them beforehand, and sustaining them with patience, might be led onward to everlasting blessing. For that such was the cause of His making these announcements to them beforehand, is shown also by His words that followed: "But these things have I told you, that, when their time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them."

Their hour was an hour of darkness, a midnight hour. But the Lord commanded His loving-kindness in the daytime, and made them sing of it in the night ...
Saint Augustine

And the new Secretary of State is...

This Friday's L'Indipendente, repeating what many different news sources have been saying for many months, reports that the probable replacement of Cardinal Sodano will be Salesian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa (the see of the great Siri, whose centennial is being celebrated this year).

Bertone was for many years, as it is well known, then-Cardinal Ratzinger's second at the former Holy Office.

"The Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth"

The Holy See Press Office is providing English translations of all major papal pronouncements of the papal visit to Poland. In Pope Ratzinger's homily for today's Mass at Piłsudski Square, in Warsaw, pronounced partly in Polish and partly in Italian, the voice and concept of Sacred Tradition were once more heard. Tradition is clearly a theme which is very dear to this Pontiff's heart:
"He will give you another Counsellor – the Spirit of truth." Faith, as knowledge and profession of the truth about God and about man, "comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ", as Saint Paul says (Rom 10:17). Throughout the history of the Church, the Apostles preached the word of Christ, taking care to hand it on intact to their successors, who in their turn transmitted it to subsequent generations until our own day. Many preachers of the Gospel gave their lives specifically because of their faithfulness to the truth of the word of Christ. And so solicitude for the truth gave birth to the Church’s Tradition. As in past centuries, so also today there are people or groups who obscure this centuries-old Tradition, seeking to falsify the Word of Christ and to remove from the Gospel those truths which in their view are too uncomfortable for modern man. They try to give the impression that everything is relative: even the truths of faith would depend on the historical situation and on human evaluation. Yet the Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth. The successors of the Apostles, together with the Pope, are responsible for the truth of the Gospel, and all Christians are called to share in this responsibility, accepting its authoritative indications. Every Christian is bound to confront his own convictions continually with the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church’s Tradition in the effort to remain faithful to the word of Christ, even when it is demanding and, humanly speaking, hard to understand. We must not yield to the temptation of relativism or of a subjectivist and selective interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Only the whole [integra] truth can open us to adherence to Christ, dead and risen for our salvation.

Welcome to Poland!

One of the most important Polish magazines, Wprost, welcomes Benedict to Poland with this cover: "A Protestant Pope". The cover article is available here: a conservative pope who will want reform? A man in a crusade for the heart of Europe?

UPDATE: Below, we present a translation of the most important excerpts. For copyright reasons, we do not present the whole text of the article:

A Protestant Pope

"Wprost" Weekly, Nr 1224 (28 May 2006)

Oh, mein Gott!” was the reaction of the liberal German daily “Die Tageszeitung” to the election of Josef Ratzinger as Pope. Today that same choice should gladden the liberals in the Church, indeed liberals generally – for Ratzinger-the-conservative, as Pope, may be signaling his overall direction to be on a liberalizing path, particularly for the renewal of the state of the Church, in its fundamentals, for the secularized West. Visiting Poland is a conservative who has been sentenced to liberalism. And his visit is not merely to pay tribute to John Paul II, but above all to initiate the chief plan of his Pontificate - the recovery of the West for Catholicism.

During this pilgrimage, the Crusade of Benedict XVI to Europe will begin. John Paul II had frequently spoken of such a Crusade, and had even prepared himself for it, but was, finally, not in a fit state to begin it. An interesting fact is that Benedict’s Crusade will use methods developed not by John Paul II but by the interaction between Catholicism and the protestant churches.

Ratzinger, like Sharon?

The visit of Benedict XVI to his predecessor’s homeland will really be the debut of a new role for the Pope, since this is necessarily a “programmed visit”. Benedict's appearences in Cologne at World Youth Day were fundamentally in a role written for for John Paul II. It is another question whether the choice of his predecessor's homeland for the goal of his first foreign "programmed visit" was a good one. Poland, on the background of European Catholicism, seems problem-free, an oasis of peace and quiet. Probably that is the reason Benedict chose to come here – for here at least he can count on a lively reception. In the Polish parade-ground there are no mines waiting for a German Pope, as perhaps there might be if he began his Crusade in France or in his native Germany.

Can Ratzinger-the-conservative expect success for his plan – recovering the West for Catholicism – and will he really stand for a liberalization of the political structure of the Church? In this setting we should recall the experience of the previous Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon. A hard-liner, he earned for himself the epithet "The Hawk" during the course of the several wars in which he took part. Sharon-the-hawk seemed incapable of any kind of compromise with the Palestinians. And yet he embarked on the most daring policy towards them, even risking to appear as a traitor, by forcibly ejecting Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Ratzinger, the “Panzerkardinal”, became known as the greatest conservative in John Paul II's circle, apparently incapable of initiating any liberalization, and even of allowing liberal thoughts. And, yet, now Ratzinger is on the new track - with the help of liberalization - of pressing on with the dialogue between the Church (including even the whole of Christianity) with the contemporary world. This is the strategy by which the Church would be able to hold its current position and regain lost territory. And a pillar of the strategy would appear to be acceptance of "protestantization" of the Catholic Church.


A Theologian Beloved of Protestants

For many years Josef Ratzinger has been known as one of the most progressive of today’s Catholic theologians. To be a Progressive is not to be a Liberal, but to to be a Modern. The fundamental question which Ratzinger has asked himself from the beginning sounds like this: How can faith in God be made to fit the realities of the contemporary world? Burning questions for journalists – contraception, divorce, married priests – for Ratzinger always remained in the background. Perhaps because of this he can regard such problems without emotion or dogmatism.

Ratzinger contra Wojtyła

Even though Ratzinger and Wojtyła are of the same generation, their outlooks are unmistakeably different. Karol Wojtyła’s religiosity was formed by such mystical writers as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. From the experience of two totalitarianisms there arose for the Polish Pope the recognition that besides depth of theology, the realization of Christianity in society was essential. The Communist years also taught him that the Church retains considerable political power when it has the strong support of society. As Bishop of Krakow he brought this experience to the grounds of the universal Church. Mass demonstrations such as those during the millenium celebrations of Polish Christianity in 1966, the pilgrimages to Czestochowa, and the other mass manifestations of the faith of the people, showed him that the faithful have a great need to live and show their faith in a public setting. Joseph Ratzinger, even during the life of John Paul II, hardly hid his skepticism as to the value of such manifestations. Indeed not long before the death of the Polish Pope he spoke critically of the crowd Masses, and publically opined that celebrations of the Eucharist in sport stadiums could damage or destroy its mystical character.


The future German pope considered the divisions in Christianity as a weakening of its witness. Certainly he shared his views with John Paul II, who not only made ecumenism a sign of his pontificate, but even as bishop of Rome dedicated an encyclical letter to the subject in 1995: Ut unum sint / On commitment to Ecumenism. This revolutionary document has the stamp of Cardinal Ratzinger’s thought in many of its parts. It is enough to say that for the first time Rome opened for discussion the role of the Papacy, admitting that it represents a difficulty for Christian unification. The encyclical caused a storm in the conservative wing of the Church. Criticism of the document was so great that in 2000 Ratzinger was obliged to publish the declaration Dominus Iesus, which stated, among other things, that the fullness of the means of salvation were to be found only in the Catholic Church.

Scripture is Inspired - and also Gorgeous

When the subject is beautiful, the art which represents the subject should be beautiful as well - and often is. Music, paintings, poems, literature ... when they take the Divine for their subject, they become pleasing also to the eyes, and to the ears. This is what I discovered while reading Scripture in a new way, paying closer attention to its literary character.

A new essay examines just a few narratives in Genesis to show how Scripture is not only inspired by God, but is also great art from an aesthetic perspective.

To give a few examples, we will look at just a few stories from the book of Genesis that show this artistry at work.

As Genesis 10 takes the reader through passage after passage of genealogical data, we stumble upon this passage in the middle of Shem's lineage:

To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan. (Gen. 10:25)

The genealogy then proceeds to a rather hasty conclusion, only to start over again with Shem's line in Genesis 11, this time detailing his lineage without interruption up to the birth of Noah. There is an unmistakable aside in above verse: "the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan." This serves as a kind of advanced notice for the interruptive narrative that follows - the narrative of the Tower of Babel, after which the genealogy of Shem is resumed.

In other words, the Babel narrative is situated in the middle of the genealogy precisely to elaborate upon and give meaning to the statement that in Peleg's days "the earth was divided." The reader is naturally led to ask, "how was it divided?" To this inquiry the Babel narrative gives an answer, beginning with an opening phrase evocative of the classic story-introduction, "once upon a time":

Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Gen. 11:1-9)

The story serves the basic literary function of explaining how the earth came to be divided, but it must be noticed that it does so with a great deal of compositional artistry. Recalling that this narrative interrupts Shem's lineage, we can draw out a few details in the story that show it's literary relationship to Shem through the use of word-play.

The story begins and ends with a set of literary "book-ends" in the phrase "all the earth" (kol ha'aretz):

Now the whole earth [kol ha'aretz] had one language and few words ... and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth [kol ha'aretz]. (Gen. 11:1, 9)

In between these book-ends, there is a series of word repetitions that play off the name Shem:

Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there [sham]. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens [shamayim], and let us make a name [shem] for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there [sham] confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there [sham] over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there [sham] the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there [sham] the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

The key-note of the story is, perhaps, the statement that the men who built the tower did so in order to make a "name" (shem) for themselves. In the chapters of Genesis that have led up to this point, God is portrayed as having set up a kind of domestic covenant-kingdom; over this kingdom He first set Adam and gave him the command to "subdue" and "have dominion" over the earth - the language of kingdom rule used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to the Davidic King's universal rule over the nations. The authority of the father-figure, who is at once covenant head and domestic priest-king, is passed on to his son (ideally, the first-born) who is meant to be a kind of vice-regent or crown prince.

Also discussed is the story of Jacob and Esau, with special attention to the narrative use of dialogue as a means for communicating subtle truths.

Take a look at Narrative Beauty in Genesis: Art meets Inspiration, and come to appreciate Scripture not only as Divine, but also artistically beautiful!

Correcting the Course

The Holy See Press Office provided official translations in English of all major papal pronouncements in the first day of Pope Benedict's trip to Poland. In his beautiful speech to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Warsaw, in the city's Cathedral, Pope Ratzinger knew exactly how to send his message on one of the most controversial symbolic gestures of his predecessor:

On the occasion of the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II frequently exhorted Christians to do penance for infidelities of the past. We believe that the Church is holy, but that there are sinners among her members. We need to reject the desire to identify only with those who are sinless. How could the Church have excluded sinners from her ranks? It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. We must therefore learn to live Christian penance with sincerity. By practising it, we confess individual sins in union with others, before them and before God. Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in facile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. Moreover, the confessio peccati, to use an expression of Saint Augustine, must always be accompanied by the confessio laudis – the confession of praise. As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace which, even if contained in earthenware vessels, has borne fruit that is often excellent.

In other news (though not completely unrelated), Brian Mershon thoroughly examines the consequences of the papal decision in the case of Father M. Maciel Degollado -- and presents some interesting additional information. We thank him for mentioning the analysis of this outlet.

Auxilium Christianorum

Ora pro nobis

This very day, Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, exactly 30 years ago, for the first time in more than two centuries, a Pope publicly rebuked a prelate by name: Marcel Lefebvre (Speech of Pope Paul VI in the Secret Consistory of May 24, 1976). In this famous speech, Paul VI made his mind clear: "The new Ordo was promulgated in order to replace the old one".

Draw the living waters - 50 years of Haurietis Aquas - III
Pope Benedict's letter on Haurietis Aquas

[Parts I and II.]

This Tuesday's Bollettino publishes the letter (in Italian) Pope Benedict XVI sent last May 15 to the Superior-General of the Society of Jesus, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, for the 50th anniversary of that bright light of the Pontificate of Pius XII, of most glorious memory, the Encyclical Letter Haurietis Aquas, on devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The Society of Jesus has been, of course, the historical custodian of this most venerable devotion. Below, excerpts of Pope Benedict's beautiful letter:

The words of prophet Isaias - "You shall draw waters with joy out of the Savior's fountain" (Is 12,3) - which open the Encyclical with which Pius XII recalled the first centennial of the extension to the entire Church of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - have not lost today, 50 years later, any of their significance. ...

The worship of the love which renders itself visible in the mystery of the Cross, re-presented in every Eucharistic Celebration, becomes thus the foundation by which we may become people capable of loving and giving (cfr Enc. Haurietis aquas, 69), becoming instruments in the hands of Christ: only thus becoming credible announcers of his love. This opening up of oneself to the will of God, however, must renew itself at every moment: "love is never 'finished' and complete"(cfr Enc. Deus caritas est, 17). ... the adoration of the love of God, which has found in the symbol of the "pierced Heart" its historical-devotional expression, remains indispensable for a living relationship with God (cfr Enc. Haurietis aquas, 62).

miserere nobis.

The Curse of Pentecost?

With the Feast of Pentecost approaching rapidly, I thought it important to say a few things about the meaning of this feast as it is seen through the lens of Sacred Scripture - a feast which has a very strong element of judgment implicit in it. Seeing this judgmental element is very important for we who are caught in the midst of the Church's Passion.

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 heavenlike 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.


To return to the point of the liturgical year, this Gospel reading is set before us on the last Sunday of Pentecost because it does, under the "eschatological sense" of Scripture, speak to us of the end of time, when we will face the Divine Tribunal. The season of Pentecost symbolizes the duration of our time on this earth, and the duration of the Church's time on this earth. Thus, at the end of Pentecost season, which is symbolically either a) the end of our individual lives or b) the end of time itself, we are faced with a "last days" Gospel - a Gospel which, not coincidentally, deals on two levels with both the ultimate end of time, but also the end of the "Old Covenant Age" in 70 AD.

If St. Peter's Pentecost sermon effectively flips the hour-glass, so that the count-down begins and ultimately culminates in the literal/historical fulfillment of Jesus' words in Matthew 24, so also does the Feast of Pentecost which we celebrate on "Whitsunday" begin a kind of count-down towards the end of the liturgical year, symbolizing the end of our lives and the end of time. The aspect of impending judgment is no less present in our Pentecost celebration than it was at the First Pentecost.

If the Spirit was poured out in a special way then, to give Christians wisdom for interpreting "the signs of the times," and to fortify them against everything that would be thrown at them for the next 40 years until Jerusalem's judgment, then so also is the Holy Spirit given to us in a special way at this Feast, to give us wisdom in this increasingly "crooked generation" - from which St. Peter beckons us anew to "save yourselves" - and to give us fortitude against all attacks, whether spiritual or natural, as we march relentlessly onward towards that last Sunday of Pentecost, the end of time itself.

Read more of Pentecost: A Feast of Blessing and Judgment for this Crooked Generation.

Unsettling events in Rome

The Italian newsweekly Panorama reports [caution: graphic picture] in this week's issue: C.B., the high-ranking Monsignor employed at the Secretariat of State and caught by the police in a region known in Rome for its problematic male and transexual prostitutuion (first post here) has been fired and confined to a Benedictine abbey until further notice.

Panorama also reports late developments of two other embarrassing cases of homosexual behavior of clerics in Rome: that of Marco Agostini, now elected to the provincial government of his order, and the following case:

The Vatican webmasters have succeeded in expelling from the service of the Holy See, two weeks before Easter, three priests who spent their time surfing through gay [sic] pornographic websites.

One of them, who practiced his favorite activity from a PC in the department of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, after the involuntary "outing", lives happily with a Roman restorer [ristoratore, male]. And he says to everyone that he fell in disgrace only due to the jealosy of those for whom he had shown no interest.
[P.S. We do not enjoy reporting such news; but, since it was published in an Italian news outlet usually considered reliable, to remain silent and to pretend that the problem does not exist did not seem to be the best option.]

Kingdom of David, Kingdom of God

The Church is described by way of reference to many different models: Family of God, People of God, Mystical Body, Eucharistic Communion, etc. But most recently in the Second Vatican Council, one of the major images that bubbled to the surface over and over again was the image of "Kingdom of God."

A new essay looks at the prominence of this kingdom/church relationship in St. Luke's Gospel:

The Four Gospels each have their own distinctive personality, style, emphasis, theme, etc. St. Matthew's Gospel is the gospel written to the Jews, and as such has a very Jewish flavor to it; Jesus is cast in terms of Old Testament heroes, but more perfect; He is the New Moses, or the New Solomon, or even the New Israel; the emphasis seems to be on the Kingdom. In a similar way, we can look at St. John's Gospel and certain distinctive things come to mind: the emphasis upon the divinity of Christ, the contrast between light and darkness, the conflict between "the Jews" (a term he uses often) and their Messiah, the importance of belief, the mystical and sacramental outlook, etc.
To a certain degree, St. Luke's Gospel has also had it's general classification: St. Luke is the precise historian, the doctor with an eye for detail; his work is pure history, that "orderly account" which he wanted to set down for posterity's sake; the theme of "meal" and of "journey" are central.

It comes as a bit of a surprise, then, to find (upon closer reexamination) that St. Luke's Gospel is in fact saturated with Davidic Kingdom imagery; so much so, in fact, that it could be rightly stated that the Kingdom of David is the primary model for St. Luke's understanding of the Church, and that the presentation of Jesus as the Son of David who restores David's fallen throne is central to St. Luke's understanding of Jesus' mission and ministry.


For St. Luke, the kingdom of God is the Church, and the Church is the worshiping assembly of the Davidic Kingdom on earth.

This is no mere interesting theological speculation: it has profound ramifications for today's ecclesial crisis. Only when the Church recaptures her claim to royal manifestation will we begin to see Modernism vanish; when the pope insists on being a prime minister in this monarchy, the democracy of collegiality will dissipate; when liturgical priests begin to reflect royalty in their Masses, reverence will return - along with regal vestments, royal chalices, palace incense, and so on.

Read more of Jesus, Son of David: The Davidic Messiah and the Church in St. Luke.

Changes in the Curia

Rumors regarding changes in the Curia have been incessant in the Italian press in the past few days, but the positions which may be changed in the near future and the names of the substitutes are divergent in all reports -- which is why we have hesitated to report every single rumor of this sort, unless there are converging rumors (as it had happened regarding the names of Sepe and Dias for several weeks).

Church is Sanhedrin, Pope is Pilate, Maciel is Jesus.

Secularists often like to accuse men of faith of "self-righteousness", as if all religion were condensed in pharisaical concern and pride for self.

There are moments, however, in which even a Catholic who is only trying to save his soul must recognize what is charity and religious concern, and distinguish it from what is self-righteousness.

The Pope's decision (it was from first to last HIS decision: HE guided this process, HE knew what was to be offered, HE finally approved the measure) on the affair of Marcial Maciel Degollado was officially recognized through a communiqué which is an example of concern and charity.

Canonical legalism is absolutely irrelevant to this matter: Yes, the Pope could have punished Maciel Degollado with much harsher measures; he could have abolished the movements he founded. Those who dispute this have no idea of the absolute gravity of the charges and of the evidence involved in the case, or wish to portray events through false lights. As Il Giornale's Andrea Tornielli himself titles his article today: "The distress of the Legionaries of Christ: Their leader was a molester". Yet, the Holy Father is a man of justice, but he is first a shepherd: "Feed my lambs... Feed my lambs... Feed my sheep".

Perhaps, one of the regrettable features of the media-dominated environment of this age is the fact that all feel the need to speak, even when silence and restraint are much more appropriate. Hence, while the Holy See's communiqué was clear in the distinction between the founder and the movements he founded ("Independently of the person of the Founder, the worthy apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and of the Association 'Regnum Christi' is gratefully recognized"), the Legion of Christ institutionalized the personal misgivings of Maciel Degollado and rushed to issue its own "Response" to the communiqué, a response which can only be described as galling and offensive.

Read carefully this passage: "Facing the accusations made against him, he [Father Marcial Maciel] declared his innocence and, following the example of Jesus Christ, decided not to defend himself in any way".

Now, the imitation of Christ is a duty of every Christian -- but this proclamation of Christlike qualities surpasses every measure of virtue. For here, the accusers are the victims (or even the supposed victims) of most horrendous crimes. Even if the accusations were false, which does not seem to be the case, is it appropriate to compare a man accused of these most grievous offenses to the Spotless Lamb? The Lord was accused of specific points of law, not of offenses committed against specific victims: and was convicted for the "blasphemy" of declaring that He was, indeed, the Son of God and, thus, Divine.

Yet, that is not all: By comparing Maciel Degollado to Christ under trial, the "Official Response" makes clear the indirect reference it wishes to make. Maciel is Christ; the competent Church authorities -- the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Holy Father himself -- are the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate (and Herod, the only one before whom Christ was actually completely silent).

The man was accused of serious misdeeds. The investigations led to "results" -- this means (let no one be fooled by the Vatican's diplomatic words!) actual results, tangible results, which could have led to much harsher measures. Yet, in his exercise of Petrine authority and Christian Charity, the Holy Father guided his ministers "to invite the father to a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry" and gave his approval to this charitable measure.

It is certainly fair to call this "invitation" a "cross": even fair punishments are crosses we are to bear. Yet, here once again, the "Official Response" crosses the boundary of appropriateness: "he [Father Marcial Maciel] has accepted this communiqué with faith, complete serenity and tranquility of conscience, knowing that it is a new cross that God, the Father of Mercy, has allowed him to suffer and that will obtain many graces for the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement". The troubling messianic aspects of this paragraph are evident.

Instead of remaining silent (which one would expect from a "obedient" son) or of THANKING the competent ecclesiastical authorities for the unbound concern they showed for the health and age of the man, and for the future fortunes of the movements he founded, the "Official Response" even presents the "suffering" as a privileged means of grace for the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. This while the Holy See itself was careful to distinguish the person of the founder from the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.

"Salus animarum suprema lex" (Can.1752): it was wonderful to watch the Holy See apply this overarching principle of law once again. What a misfortune that such a beautiful spirit had to be squandered by sectarian gall. This official response only deepened the links between the Founder and his movements, which the Holy See had been careful to separate -- and, instead of the spirit of a Saint Joan of Arc, was filled with the spirit of self-righteousness. There may have been pharisees in this succession of events -- but they were not in the Vatican.

Sepe in Naples. Dias at Propaganda.

As rumors indicated (we had mentioned it here before), Cardinal Dias of Bombay was named succesor to Cardinal Sepe, who has been moved from the always-powerful Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (the old Propaganda Fide) to the see of Naples.

Legion of Christ Founder’s Public Ministry Suspended

By Brian Mershon

From the May 25 issue of The Wanderer
Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, one of the fastest-growing priestly communities in the Church, has been officially restricted by the Holy See in his public ministries, according to officials of the Holy See.
The restrictions, to be released officially by the Holy See perhaps as early as the week of May 21, essentially will conclude that at least some of the sex abuse accusations against Fr. Maciel are well founded. A source to the Vatican said that more than 100 interviews have been conducted by Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s promoter of justice and investigator in the Maciel case.
At press time, May 18, after a request for an interview, Legion of Christ spokesman Jay Dunlap said, “We know nothing about this. We do not have anything to say.”

While priestly laicization is an extremely rare canonical step, this action, approved prior to Easter by the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, is very serious, and will limit Fr. Maciel’s public activities such as offering Holy Mass publicly, giving public lectures and presentations, and giving media interviews, among others.

John Allen, of “The Word from Rome,” initially reported this story, with an unnamed Vatican official saying the action against Maciel should not be read as an indictment of the Legionaries of Christ or its lay branch, Regnum Christi.

However, with more than 100 essentially corroborating interviews from the U.S., Mexico and Ireland, the statement issued in a Legion of Christ news release last Fall (not dated on their website), had their newly-elected general director, Father Alvaro Corcuera Martinez del Rio, 47, saying the following: "I wish to express my desire to remain faithful to the charism of the congregation and to the person of the founder, and to continue his work at the service of the Church."

The questions that some former members of the Legion of Christ’s lay apostolate, Regnum Christi, are raising appear to question the prudence and wisdom of the Legion’s new general director in remaining to lead the congregation of priests in the charism of the person of the founder. The Legion news release cited Fr. Maciel’s age as one of the reasons he declined re-election last Fall on the heels of news that the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith was continuing interviews with new alleged sex abuse victims.

The late Pope John Paul II often praised Father Maciel publicly, especially for the tremendous growth of his priestly congregation. It has been speculated that the Pope’s upbringing under Communist rule made him automatically disregard any allegations against priests or others regarding homosexuality or sexual abuse, as this was a common smear tactic employed by Communists to ruin the reputations of their enemies. Indeed, as late as 2004, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to Fr. Maciel thanking Fr. Maciel for 60 years of "intense, generous and fruitful priestly ministry."

The Regain Network, an organization for former Legion of Christ priests, seminarians and members of Regnum Christi, the lay apostolate, was formed to assist those recovering from psychological, spiritual and sexual abuse within the priestly and lay groups.

Author Genevieve Kineke is a former women’s section head of Regnum Christi, and was in the apostolate for 7 years: “Members of Regain are delighted with this first step, understanding that laicisation of elderly priests is extremely rare,” she said. “The Holy See’s acknowledgement of probable misdeeds become magnified considering the stature of Fr. Maciel,” she said.

“It causes all members of the movement to consider the long-term suffering of the accusers who have been rebuffed and dismissed for so long,” Kineke said. “This first step will never ameliorate their pain, but it is a measure of balm for them to be taken seriously after so many years,” she said.

Back in 1997, after an initial group of nine ex-Legionaries reportedly filed canonical lawsuits and made public accusations against the Legion, the Legion’s crisis communications plan time was quickly disseminated throughout the Legion and its lay apostolate. After a hastily-called meeting of nearly all of Legion of Christ priests in North America to categorically deny the charges, they were instructed to relay to their Regnum Christi lay members the message that this was a modernist, liberal, anti-Church plot by those who hated the Church and wanted to destroy Fr. Maciel. The Legion of Christ website with details can be accessed here.

After the past several years of the hundreds of cases of sex abuse among clergy becoming public, perhaps the perspective that many Catholics need to move away from is that this happens only to “liberals” and to “dissenting” dioceses and priestly organizations. Perhaps the time has come for adult Catholics to realize that sin exists everywhere, and this problem is not limited only to liberal, homosexual-infested dioceses and religious priestly organizations, even if it may be more prevalent.

Father Maciel’s apparent unwavering support by the late Pope John Paul II has perhaps confused the faithful, and it is essential to understand how papal support was simply a clever bulwark employed by the Legion against criticisms, Kineke opined. “It allowed the Legion to dismiss all complaints about the Legion's as attacks on ‘orthodoxy.’"

Catholics need to understand in their very being that so-called “orthodoxy,” although necessary and desirable, does not shield anyone from sins of the flesh. Original sin and concupiscence are real and are just as much of the spiritual warfare for “orthodox” Catholics as they are for others. The other lesson may be that Catholics need to learn their Faith in its fullness and understand that infallibility and orthodoxy and even suspected holiness of popes, like Pope John Paul II, does not extend to every public word the pope utters nor necessarily to an endorsement of everything about a particular movement or movement’s founder, nor its charism.

Mike Petrik, 49, is a corporate tax attorney in suburban Atlanta, who cautions against drawing too many initial inferences from this apparent action against Fr. Maciel directly with the rest of the Legion or its lay apostolate, Regnum Christi. “It is important to remember that "St. Augustine said: 'God judged it better to bring good out of evil.’"

Petrik explained that it is quite common for religious orders to extol their founders, and it would be a serious challenge for the Legion of Christ to be able to overcome the practical difficulties associated with attempting to distance itself from its founder.

“It is understandable that there are people who welcome this apparent new development,” Petrik said. “I just hope that such responses are grounded in the desire for justice for any victims and the genuine love for truth rather than some disproportionate animosity for an order that by most accounts has brought many people closer to Christ and His Church,” he said.

Lee Podles is a journalist and author and is currently writing a book entitled, Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. His reaction to the current news against Fr. Maciel was the following:

“The Legion is disliked and even hated by some Catholics, and not only liberal Catholics, because of its secrecy and strict control of its members, tactics which are both foreign to the American and the modern mentality,” he said.

“A successful attack on Maciel would discredit not only him, but also the Legionaries,” he continued.

“The bishops and the Vatican tolerated abuse by obscure priests for decades; the bishops and the Vatican would have an even greater motive to cover up allegations against Maciel,” Podles said. “The Legionaries are a large and rapidly growing organization, extremely important in keeping Hispanics in the Catholic Church; the Vatican to this point has not been eager to discover any evidence its founder might be a pederast and homosexual.”

Update (1200 GMT): Vatican Information Service official communiqué:

VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2006 (VIS) - With reference to recent news concerning the person of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:

"Beginning in 1998, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith received accusations, already partly made public, against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, for crimes that fall under the exclusive competence of the congregation. In 2002, Fr. Maciel published a declaration denying the accusations and expressing his displeasure at the offence done him by certain former Legionaries of Christ. In 2005, by reason of his advanced age, Fr. Maciel retired from the office of superior general of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

"All these elements have been subject to a mature examination by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and - in accordance with the Motu Proprio 'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela,' promulgated on April 30 2001 by Servant of God John Paul II - the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, authorized an investigation into the accusations. In the meantime, Pope John II died and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the new Pontiff.

"After having attentively studied the results of the investigation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the guidance of the new prefect, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, decided - bearing in mind Fr. Maciel's advanced age and his delicate health - to forgo a canonical hearing and to invite the father to a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry. The Holy Father approved these decisions.

"Independently of the person of the Founder, the worthy apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and of the Association 'Regnum Christi' is gratefully recognized."

"The Church has NO INTENTION of adapting herself" to the times

Such strong words have not been heard in Italy for many decades: and the semi-official news daily of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Avvenire, was the one to publish them in an editorial.

The time for this surprising affirmation was set by last week's succession of speeches (two in three days) in which Pope Benedict forcefully reminded the faithful of their duty in the protection of the legal definition of family and marriage, first in a speech we have already mentioned here (AsiaNews has translated its most important passages):

"Authentic love transforms itself into a light that guides one's life to fullness, generating a society that man can live within. The communion of life and love that is marriage thus configures as an authentic good for society. Avoiding confusion with other types of union based on a weak love is of special urgency today. Only the rock of total and irrevocable love between man and woman is capable of founding the construction of a society that becomes a home for all mankind."
These words had already deeply irritated the Italian left. Then, on Saturday, in a speech (Italian) to the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Holy Father was even more forceful regarding the direct responsibility of the competent authorities:

"Family, established on marriage, is a 'heritage of mankind', a fundamental social institution; it is the vital cell and the pillar of society, and that is of interest to believers and non-believers. This is the reality which all States must hold in utmost consideration. ...

"In the modern world, in which some equivocal conceptions of men, of liberty, of human love are being spread, we must not prevent ourselves anymore from the portrayal of the truth of the familial institution, as it was willed by God since Creation.

"The historical moment we are living demands Christian families to witness with courageous coherence that procreation is the fruit of love. A similar testimony shall not be lacking so that politicians and legislators may be inspired to safeguard the rights of the family. It is well known, in fact, how legal solutions for the so-called 'civil unions' are being discussed, rejecting the duties of matrimony while intending to enjoy similar rights."

The Italian political mood, which is already feverish in regular days, is reaching boiling point regarding the strong words which the Pope has dedicated to the most important "social issue" currently before the Italian parliament: a bill, which has the support of a large number of deputies from the center-left alliance, the Unione, would establish the PACS, the "Civil Pact of Solidarity", that is, the civil union between any two adults of any sex.

The secretary of the secular "Rose in hand" (Rosa nel Pugno) party, indispensable for Prodi's majority in Parliament, had the following answer to the Pope's second warning already on Saturday: "It is a grave act from a foreign Head of State who wishes to write the calendar of parliamentary works and who treats the Italian Republic as the courtyard of his house."

Then, on Tuesday, the new Speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Fausto Bertinotti, a member of the Communist Refoundation party, had even stronger words regarding Pope Ratzinger:

"The reaction of the Pontiff is erroneous because it is restorational. He does not see that a couple of homosexuals who are together and who have loved each other for five years represent a value of solidarity; it is a recognition of the other..."

Which is why Avvenire, in an editorial piece (reported by La Stampa), rejects those "laymen far away from the Church"and explains: "The Church has no intention of adapting herself" to the times.
[We first made a reference to the issues which the new Italian government may try to force through in our analysis of the Martini interview and Italian politics.]

More on the Eucharist in Hebrews

Work continues on the series of essays that seeks to show the Eucharistic/Liturgical background of St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews. An excerpt from the second chapter:

Once again, the suggestion can be made that perhaps St. Paul even had a liturgical text before him as he wrote this epistle. Better still is the suggestion, adopted by many scholars (Lane, Attridge, Buchanan, etc.), that Hebrews was originally a homily or sermon; in this case, the connections with the liturgy are almost to be expected, if this was a homily delivered in the context of the Mass. We could say, then, that not only did St. Paul have the liturgical text in front of him, but that rather, he was in the midst of enacting the liturgy itself.

Another liturgical connection is suggested by the hapax legomenon (a word used only once in a given body of text - in this case, the entire New Testament) used by St. Paul in verse 1: "we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."

The word used here is pararuomen - certainly a rare word in the New Testament, as we have said, but significantly enough, it is used in the LXX of Proverbs, in a context very much agreeable with St. Paul's words:

My son, let them not pass [pararrues] from thee, but keep my counsel and understanding ... Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding (Prov. 3:21, 4:1)

Note the similar emphasis on hearing and attending to words of "counsel," and the exhortation against "passing" or "drifting" from this Wisdom. St. John Chrysostom caught the reference to Proverbs, and made mention of it in one of his homilies on Hebrews:

Why then ought we "to give more earnest heed"? "Lest at any time," saith he, "we should let them slip" - that is, lest at any time we should perish, lest we should fall away ... And he took this form of speech from the Proverbs. For, saith he, "my son [take heed] lest thou fall away" (Prov. iii. 21 LXX), showing both the easiness of the fall, and the grievousness of the ruin. (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Homily III, 5)

It should not surprise us that St. Paul has the opening chapters of Proverbs in his mind. He opened the epistle (or homily) by making a close comparison of Christ to Wisdom in the Old Testament. Compare:

He reflects [apaugasma] the glory of God and bears the very stamp [charakter, "image"] of his nature. (Heb. 1:3)

For [Wisdom] is the brightness [apaugasma] of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image [eikon, "image"] of his goodness. (Wis. 7:26, LXX)

That St. Paul thought of Our Lord in terms of Wisdom Personified is shown elsewhere in his writings. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, he twice made this comparison explicitly:

... to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God ... He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:24, 30)

Not only does St. Paul allude to Christ-as-Wisdom in Hebrews 1:3, but he seems to carry on that thought into verse 5. Here, he quotes from 2 Samuel 7:14 ("I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"), but the verse just previous to this stated, "He shall build a house for my name." (2 Sam. 7:13) We know that God was referring to Solomon here, the one who was to build the temple - the "house" - of God.

We can make a series of connections here that lead us up to a liturgical thought. Christ is the wisdom of God, and He is Wisdom Personified; He is the New Solomon, who built the house of God; Solomon was himself known around the world for his great wisdom, and thus he himself could be thought of as Wisdom Personified, in a lesser way. The connection of Solomon-as-Wisdom, the building of God's House, and the apparent fact that St. Paul has the "wisdom" chapters of Proverbs in mind, leads us to this convergence - a passage taken from the opening chapters of Proverbs, which makes mention of Wisdom, house-building, and striking liturgical symbolism:

Wisdom has built a house for herself, and set up seven pillars. She has killed her beasts; she has mingled her wine in a bowl, and prepared her table. She has sent forth her servants, calling with a loud proclamation to the feast, saying, Whoso is foolish, let him turn aside to me: and to them that want understanding she says, Come, eat of my bread, and drink wine which I have mingled for you. (Pr. 9:1-5)

Thus we have another subtle Eucharistic reference - a quiet echo, to be sure, but an echo nonetheless - sitting in the background of Hebrews.

To confirm the point, it may also be pointed out that St. Paul also quotes from the story of Melchizedek in later chapters of the epistle. This combination of Wisdom with Melchizedek was known in the early Church - they were seen as two very prominent types of the Eucharist. A passage from St. Cyprian shows this exact same pattern of pointing to both Wisdom and Melchizedek as symbols of the Eucharist, along with the very Pauline-Hebrews method of quoting from Psalm 110:

Also in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord ... And that Melchizedek bore a type of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares in the Psalms, saying ... "Before the morning star I begat Thee; Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek" ... who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered that very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, to wit, His body and blood?


Moreover the Holy Spirit by Solomon shows ... the type of the Lord's sacrifice, making mention of the immolated victim, and of the bread and wine ... and says, "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath underlaid her seven pillars ... saying, Whoso is simple, let him turn to me; and to those that want understanding she hath said, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled for you." (St. Cyprian, Epistle LXII, 4, 5)

Showing himself a master of the art of segue, St. Paul moves neatly from the subject of angels (and Christ's exaltation over them) to the subject of Man. There is much to untangle in the following section, so we will attempt a brief summary with an eye to making the passage easier to understand when we arrive at it.

May these meditations enrich your appreciation of this epistle and of the Mass. Read more of Eucharist and Liturgy in Hebrews: Chapter 2.

Adapting to the Needs of Modern Man

Engaging the culture and adapting to the ways of Modern Man are, we are told, the paramount objectives of the Church today (usually, it is the leaders of AmChurch telling us this). The Man-child must be powdered, swaddled, and sung lullabies by rotund clerics with guitars.
How, then, may the Church adapt to the needs of Baby Huey?
One modest suggestion: dispense green stamps in confessionals.
You remember green stamps? They were given by stores to purchasing customers, collected by those customers in books, then "redeemed" [pun intended] for valuable household items. Green stamps were successful in the market place -- so why not in the confessional?
GIVE PEOPLE A REASON TO CONFESS THEIR SINS!! A crock pot, a real wood chess set, a Hudson's Bay blanket, a collection of patio furniture!
FELLAS: have your eyes been wandering a bit lately? Are you a tad, er, passive in the area of maintaining custody? Well, maybe we could energize your conscience with the prospect of God's forgiveness, and . . . a BRAND NEW 24V ELECTRIC DRILL!
GALS: You'll be glad you tossed those birth control pills in the trash when you receive the gift of God's merciful forgiveness, and . . . a $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO LINENS 'N' THINGS!
KIDS: You may not be sorry now that you turned Billy / Susie upside down and shook the lunch money out of his / her pocket, but you sure will be when you receive God's forgiveness, and A ROCKIN' SET OF POWER RANGERS ACTION FIGURES / A SASSY SET OF BRATZ ACTION FIGURES!
Make Saturdays double-stamp days!

Now that's ministry!

Congratulations to Washington

Draw the living waters - 50 years of Haurietis Aquas - II
The Three Great Gifts of the Sacred Heart

Exactly 50 years ago today, Pope Pius XII signed Haurietis Aquas, the landmark document on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In the first part of this series, Haurietis Aquas and its prominent place among the writings of Pius XII were properly introduced, as well as the need for the encyclical: to present again to all the faithful why the Sacred Heart is such a noble and inherently Traditional object of adoration for all Catholics.

The Sacred Heart is also, Pope Pius reminds the faithful, the origin of the three most sublime gifts of the Lord to mankind: "Himself in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, His most holy Mother, and the office of the priesthood shared with us".

His ardent heart beat with intense Love as He was about to institute the eternal miracle of the Most Holy Sacrament:

Even before He ate the Last Supper with His disciples Christ Our Lord, since He knew He was about to institute the sacrament of His body and blood by the shedding of which the new covenant was to be consecrated, felt His heart roused by strong emotions, which He revealed to the Apostles in these words: "With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer." And these emotions were doubtless even stronger when "taking bread, He gave thanks, and broke, and gave to them, saying, 'This is My body which is given for you, this do in commemoration of Me.' Likewise the chalice also, after He had supped, saying, 'This chalice is the new testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you.'"

Naturally, the Priesthood of the New Covenant, established to perpetuate this most august Sacrament, is also a fruit of this same ever-loving Heart:

It can therefore be declared that the divine Eucharist, both the sacrament which He gives to men and the sacrifice in which He unceasingly offers Himself "from the rising of the sun till the going down thereof," and likewise the priesthood, are indeed gifts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

And what a wondrous gift the Most Sacred Heart gave the world in the Blessed Lady, source of immaculate and unlimited maternal love:

Another most precious gift of His Sacred Heart is... Mary the beloved Mother of God and the most loving Mother of us all. She who gave birth to our Savior according to the flesh and was associated with Him in recalling the children of Eve to the life of divine grace has deservedly been hailed as the spiritual Mother of the whole human race. And so St. Augustine writes of her: "Clearly She is Mother of the members of the Savior (which is what we are), because She labored with Him in love that the faithful who are members of the Head might be born in the Church."

Which is why the adoration of the Most Sacred Heart is linked, in an absolutely inseparable way, to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God:

It is, then, entirely fitting that the Christian people - who received the divine life from Christ through Mary - after they have paid their debt of honor to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should also offer to the most loving Heart of their heavenly Mother the corresponding acts of piety affection, gratitude and expiation.

Fellay speaks: a solution is "far away"

Today, Cantate Sunday, the Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, celebrated Mass and delivered a sermon at the main Traditionalist church in France, Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet.

Bishop Fellay mentioned both the possibility of the "liberation of the mass" and "lifting of the excommunications". In both cases he sounds reasonably optimistic, though cautious; he does not mention any specific date.

In that which refers to the intentions of liberating the Ecclesia Dei people [ecclésiadéistes] from the yoke of the bishops, it is known, through the voice of Cardinal Ricard, that the Pope has mentioned it. But, considering the reaction of the bishops of France and of Cardinal Ricard himself, one may believe that this is not for tomorrow.

In that which refers to us, it [a solution] is even farther, much farther.
This is the main point of the sermon, which we will not translate fully for lack of time. Its French original text is available at Le Forum Catholique.

Embarrassing denial by the Holy See

The Bollettino of the Holy See Press Office reports (other link to the same content):


Having checked the necessary information with the Secretariat of State, this Press Office is [now] in a position to clarify that the news published this morning by newspapers regarding a cleric in the service of the Vatican is completely devoid of any [factual] foundation.

It is assumed that legal remedies will be pursued against those who contributed to defame the good name of aforesaid employee.

What is this strange communique about? The news is unpleasant, and though I had been aware of it before, I would not mention it if the Holy See Press Office ITSELF had not raised the issue: La Repubblica, Il Giornale, and other respectable newspapers published the information.

"He was in his car, a Ford Focus, between Valle Giulia and Villa Borghese, perhaps waiting for a date with a transexual. When policemen approached the vehicle to check, he, C.B., 48 years old, a monsignor with the Secretariat of State and resident in the Vatican, tried to escape, hitting three cars. Still not satisfied, and in panic, the prelate, stopped by police officers, would have reacted [physically] and the 'cops' ended up in the hospital. The prelate will now respond before a judge for disrespect [of authority] and [unlawful] resistance."

La Repubblica adds that the priest lives "in the Saint Martha Residence" (Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the Cardinals are housed during conclaves) and tells its readers that the area in which the priest parked his car, in the middle of the night, "is known as an area of male prostitution and transexuals". La Repubblica reports that, after being questioned, the priest "admitted having been" in the area "to meet only adults, not minors".

Well, so the Press Office denies this scandalous piece of news -- but it is still full of embarrassing details, which would probably not be picked up by many different serious newspapers, of opposite editorial positions, out of thin air... The very fact that such news is considered believable and that it is not immediately dismissed as absurd by the serious press is, by itself, a terrible sign. Vatican officials must not only be innocent, but must never be under the suspicion of impurity, as CÆSAR declared of his family: "Quoniam meos tam suspicione quam crimine iudico carere oportere." ("Because I maintain that the members of my family should be free from suspicion, as well as from accusation.")

Upcoming Event: Understand
The Third Ordinary General Chapter of the SSPX
July 2006


Father Michel BEAUMONT*

The Fraternity of Saint Pius X [FSSPX/ Society of Saint Pius X - SSPX] will gather, in a few weeks, its Third Ordinary General Chapter, during which, in particular, the Superior-General for the next twelve years will be elected. What is a General Chapter? How is it held? Who takes part in it? What are the rules for the election of the Superior-General? Such are the questions which we tried to answer.
The General Chapter (which, in others institutes, may have a different name: among the Jesuits, General Congregation) is the supreme and extraordinary authority of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X (the ordinary authority being the Superior-General assisted by his Council).

The Chapter is the only [body] with the power, if the need for it is felt, to amend the Statutes. The Statutory (or "Ordinary") General Chapter meets every twelve years. Since the Fraternity of Saint Pius X was founded in 1970, the third Statutory General Chapter will take place as from Monday, July 3, 2006.

The Superior-General may convene, for exceptional reasons, an Extraordinary Chapter: the occasion for one has not yet arisen.

The Superior-General may convene a "Chapter of Affairs", which gathers only the superiors in charge and which has a merely advisory role (it is not a General Chapter in a strict sense).

The first and essential goal of the Ordinary General Chapter (as that of 2006, therefore) is the election of the Superior-General and of his Assistants. Its second goal is "to verify if the Fraternity of Saint Pius X applies the Statutes conscientiously and endeavors to preserve their spirit".

[The Composition of the General Chapter]

The General Chapter is composed initially of people designated by their "office".

By office

They are:
- the [standing] Superior-General and his two Assistants;
- the bishops;
- the former Superior-Generals;
- the Secretary-General and the Treasurer-General;
- the District superiors;
- the Rectors of the Major Seminaries;
- the Superiors of the Autonomous Houses.

[Members by Seniority]

The composition of the Chapter also includes the oldest priests, who do not have the above mentioned charges or offices, "in the proportion of one third of the [number of the] members by office".

The members of the Chapter of 2006 will be 40, 30 of whom will be present because of their office. The members by seniority, "in the proportion of one third of the members by office", are thus 10 (one third of 30) and represent the last quarter of the Chapter. These "Elders" entered the Fraternity of Saint Pius X between 1971 (the two oldest) and 1974 (the most recent two). They are not deprived of leadership experience: one finds among them, in particular, three former District Superiors and one former Seminary Rector.

A varied palette

It is necessary to note that the Chapter, which gathers men in high office or with great seniority, presents nevertheless a varied human palette, the assurance of a multiple and wise view of reality. For example, if the oldest of the Chapter members is 66, the youngest is only 32.

The oldest priest in priesthood was ordered in 1972, while the youngest was ordered only in 2001 [...]. The French account for 20 capitularies, exactly half (of which only 5 live in France).

This figure is higher than the [overall] weight of the French in the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, in which they represent a third of the manpower. In fact, the proportion is respected in the members by office: the French are 11 out of these 30 capitularies. But the members by seniority disturb this parity: the French are 9 out of the 10 "Elders", which testifies to the fact that, in its beginnings, the Fraternity of Saint Pius X recruited mostly in France.

The European dominance, on the other hand, is crushing: 32 European capitularies. These Europeans come from six countries: Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Great Britain, and Switzerland. Eight non-Europeans include: one Australian, one South-African, two Argentinians, two Canadians, and two Americans. The Slavic world, Asia, and Africa, thus, do not have, for the moment, representatives in the Chapter. Latin America, and even the United States, are still only lightly represented.

Preparation for the Chapter

Before the proceedings, the Chapter is prepared. First of all, each member of the Fraternity is invited to present his suggestions. For their part, the Superior-General and his Council prepare the matters to be presented to the Chapter, as well as a report on the [state of the] Fraternity of Saint Pius X during the past mandate. During this time, the Secretary-General draws up, according to the Statutes, the list of capitularies, which is definitively fixed (except for any intervening death) six months before the Chapter.

The same Secretary classifies and gathers in only one document the suggestions which arrived at the General House . Then, the Secretary-General sends to each one of the capitularies the list of the Chapter members and the summary of the themes and suggestions, for personal study and reflexion.

During this period, special prayers for the lights of Holy Ghost over the future Chapter are offered throughout the Fraternity. On their arrival for the Chapter, to prepare themselves to act according to the will of the Divine Spirit, the capitularies go to a spiritual retreat of at least three days.

Election of the Superior-General

After these spiritual preparations, the oath envisaged by canonical law is administered, followed by the verification of the titles of the members who are present to take part in the Chapter, the report of the outgoing Superior-General, and various preparatory meetings.

Then follows the election of the new Superior-General and of his two Assistants, with secret ballots. The Superior-General must be elected by at least two thirds of the ballots. The two assistants must be elected by at least the absolute majority of the votes. All three positions must be filled by priests who are at at least thirty years old and who are permanent members of the Fraternity Saint Pius X.

Another Superior or the current one?

Will the General Chapter reelect the current Superior-General, or it will choose another? Let us briefly study the reasons in favour of one option or the other.

The first argument for a possible renewal of the current term comes from the Statutes themselves: Archbishop Lefebvre mentioned this possibility in the first sentence which deals with the Superior-General: "the Superior-General and his two Assistants are elected by the General Chapter for twelve years. They are reelegible."

But one may interpret this same sentence of the Statutes in favor of the election of a new Superior, even if this argument is quite implicit. One may reasonably estimate, indeed, that Archbishop Lefebvre, in granting to the Superior-General a long mandate, wished to enable him to carry out a continuous policy, with the idea that, at the end of the mandate, another Superior would replace him and would follow an eventually different policy.

The second argument in favor of a reelection is that of [personal] experience. A new Superior would need one or two years to acquaint himself with all affairs, while, after twelve years at the helm, the outgoing Superior would be immediately operational and would profit from his know-how.

Against this argument, whose apparent value is considerable, one could present that of the need for a renewed approach to the problems by a new Superior, therefore of a different ability to face them and to solve them. If the argument of experience were exclusively determinant, the people in charge would never be changed, which is neither reasonable, nor in conformity with the usual practice of mankind.

The third argument in favor of reelection is that of custom. After twelve years, the qualities (and defects) of the outgoing Superior are known and everyone knows how and in which direction he will carry out his work. On the other hand, entrusting the Fraternity to another Superior would be jumping into the unknown.

A parallel argument is that of notoriety. The outgoing Superior is well known, which is an advantage in the representation of the institution. On the other hand, a "new head" would spend several years to make himself known, which would proportionately reduce much of the effectiveness of his government during this period.

However, these two arguments are not truly crucial. Admittedly, it is very human to want to preserve that which one knows well [...]. Yet, following this rule universally, without taking into account the circumstances, the people, and the need for renewal of any human society is to open the way towards routine and inactivity.

As it was seen, there is no absolutely convincing argument in a direction or the other, which is just as well, since it is the way willed by the Statutes. It will be for the capitularies, enlightened of the light of the Holy Ghost and making use of their reason, to freely choose the man (another or the current one) who will wisely guide the Fraternity of Saint Pius X for the next twelve years.

Resumption of the Chapter

After this election, the Chapter is not over. It resumes, under the presidency of the new Superior-General. The Chapter studies different questions (those related to the General House, to the members of Fraternity,those raised by the Chapter itself) and votes, in absolute majority voting, on the resolutions which will have force of law for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X.
*This text was published in the May-June 2006 issue of Fideliter, edited by the District of France of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX-SSPX). It was translated with some adaptations deemed necessary for better readability; it is reproduced here for mere documental purposes, without any judgment of any kind whatsoever.