Rorate Caeli

Aparecida Notes: The Pope in Brazil - IV
A Remarkable Speech

Not even the setting (the beautiful and vast Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo), the music (some tasteful polyphonic pieces and an aesthetically deficient, yet dignified, use of plainchant for the psalms and hymns of Vespers -- unfortunately, in the vernacular), nor the overall attentive mood of those who were present at the event could possibly have prepared the largest episcopate in the world for the remarkable speech of the Holy Father to the Bishops of Brazil.

The Holy Father delivered a precise diagnosis of the deep crisis of the Catholic Church in Brazil - extensive to many other nations: all important topics were covered by the Pope, from liturgical disobedience to attentiveness to the sexual maturity of seminarians, from a condemnation of the use of the Church as a field for ideological confrontation to the need to be clear in all ecumenical settings that the only Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church presided by the Successor of Peter.

In our modest opinion, this remarkable speech (in English - called a "homily" in the Official Program, due to its liturgical setting, but not particularly homiletic) is one of the most important of the Pontificate, along with the Christmas Address of 2005 and the Regensburg Address of 2006. The true question is, however: will the bishops of the world understand and take heed of this Papal reprimand?

Some excerpts (our translation from the actual Portuguese text spoken by the Holy Father):

The mission which is entrusted to us [bishops], as Masters of the faith, consists in remembering, as the same Apostle of the Gentiles wrote, that our Savior "wishes all men to be saved and to reach the knowledge of truth" (I Tim 2, 4-6). This, and not anything else, is the purpose of the Church: the salvation of souls, one by one. the Church's bosom, when the worth of priestly commitment -- as a total pledge to God through the apostolic celibacy and as total availability to serve souls -- is questioned, with preference being granted to ideological and political, even partisan, questions, the structure of total consecration to God begins to lose its deepest significance. How can we not feel sorrow in our soul? But be confident: the Church is holy and incorruptible! (cf. Eph. 5, 27). Saint Augustine said, "The Church will fail if its foundation fails, but shall Christ fail? As Christ cannot fail, the Church will remain intact until the end of time."


It seems clear that the main cause, among others, for this problem [of Catholics who leave the Church] can be attributed to the lack of an evangelization in which Christ and His Church are in the center of every explanation.


It is not enough to observe reality through faith; it is necessary to work with the Gospel in the hands and grounded on the rightful heritage of Apostolic Tradition, without interpretations caused by Rationalist ideologies.


A stern message to the strong centrifugal forces in the Brazilian episcopate:

Some among you have fomented movements of evangelization to help the gathering of the faithful in a line of action. The Successor of Peter counts on you so that your groundwork shall always be anchored to that spirituality of communion and fidelity to the See of Peter, so that the action of the Spirit will not be in vain.

In effect, the integrity of the faith, along with ecclesial discipline, is and will always be a theme which will demand attention and zeal from all of you, especially when one considers the consequences of the fact that there is "one only faith and one only baptism".

A warning about the problems of Ecumenism:

... Ecumenism, that is, the search for the unity of Christians, becomes in this our age, in which the meeting of cultures and the challenge of Secularism take place, an ever more urgent task for the Catholic Church. However, with the multiplication of always new Christian denominations, and above all due to certain varieties of frequently aggressive proselytism, the ecumenical effort becomes a complex task. ...the principle of fraternal love and the search for mutual comprehension and understanding always matter; but also the defense of the faith of our people, confirming them in the joyful certainty that "unica Christi Ecclesia... subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernata” (the one Church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him - Lumen Gentium, 8)


  1. I think that it is significant that the Pope stresses that the main reason for the Brazil trip, is to be present at the opening of CELAM. It seems, almost, that he is trying to catechise the Bishops. A friend of mine, said that his Wednesday Audience addresses were mainly aimed at the Roman Curia and clergy living in the city and it seems to me here that he is trying to get the Bishops to take their rightful place in the government of the Church but that he can only do this if they understand their role as "present day Apostles" and take that role seriously.

    I wonder if at the actual CELAM opening session we might expect something of real significance, to mend the "hermeneutic of rupture".

  2. The Holy Father also strove to encourage the bishops to follow the Second Vatican Council's directives on the Liturgy. I detect here a subtle hint that he would like the bishops to follow the directives in the manner that they were originally intended - prior to the explosion of the various post-conciliar "bombs".

    It should not be forgotten that Msgr. Lefebvre also noted that in the first part of the Mass there was some need to draw closer to the people.

  3. Anonymous1:25 PM

    He is the Pope the Church had needed.


  4. In this speech by Benedict XVI is clear that follows the path laid down by JPII during these conferences. To speak very traditional, but with no real substance. As long as these principles are not lived inside the Church, then all these words will be gone with the wind. JPII in Puebla 1979 spoke very clearly about the real identity of the priest which is not a political or social leader, but a priest. As facts have demonstrated 28 years later, these words were gone with the wind because the Holy See in its policies for forming priests and appointed bishops is not looking for priests, but for social leaders. How much hypocresy will the Church of Christ have to endure until honesty finally reigns in? Nice words do mean nothing is they are not reflected in the internal life of the Church, and that is not happening. Bascially it is in the seminaries where sound doctrine has to be teached to new priests, and this is not happening. How much longer will we have to wait until real charity is lived in the Church.

  5. The Pope and the magisterium are failing to insist that obedience is rendered to Divine Revelation, and that the bishops, and the Pope as head of the order of bishops, has to set and example on obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ. Authority has been given to the bishops to serve charity, not to serve themselves, as it is happening now.

  6. The bishop who was involved in one of the miracles attributed to the newly canonized Brazilian saint sounded very good. But he's now retired.

    Does anyone know anything specific about the Brazilian bishops appointed under Benedict? Any good ones?

  7. Humboldt:

    I don't know about Brazil, but in the US seminarians are great in the main. They are very much interested in the old Mass and very attached to Catholic doctrine.

    The professors aren't always so hot, but the seminarians just laugh at them.

  8. Anonymous9:45 PM

    The Pope just moments ago made an award of the Golden Rose.

    It was granted to the Basilica of the "National Shrine" of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception "Aparecida", Queen and Patroness of Brazil, the largest (though sadly not aesthetically beautiful) Marian basilica in the world, consacrated by Pope John Paul II in 1980 (before that the image of the Virgin of Aparecida was kept in another basilica in the same city).

    The Pope is currently reciting the Rosary in the Basilica, and he made the award just before starting the Marian prayer.


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