Rorate Caeli

Crisis in the Church in the Central African Republic

(I'm surprised that this isn't getting more attention. CAP)
The Catholic clergy of the Central African Republic launched a strike last May 27 to protest the removal of Bangui Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo -- who is only 54 years old and had been appointed as Archbishop in 2003 -- after the Vatican found him guilty of "a moral attitude which is not always in conformity with his commitments to follow Christ in chastity, poverty and obedience". Another bishop, François-Xavier Yombandje, had resigned last May 16, apparently for the same reason. Msgr. Yombandje had once been the President of the Central African Bishop's episcopal conference, while Archbishop Pomodimo had been the senior cleric in the whole country.
During the strike, all parishes were closed and all religious services and sacraments were suspended. The strike, initially intended to last indefinitely, was lifted on May 28; the spokesman of the country's diocesan clergy, Mathurin Paze Lekissan, asserted that their protest was aimed at the "lack of consultation" from the Vatican over the replacement of Archbishop Pomodimo. The strike itself came after a general gathering in Bangui cathedral of the indigenous clergy of the country had denounced the Holy See's "discrimination" against Archbishop Pomodimo.
The episcopal resignations came in the wake of a Vatican investigation into the Church in the Central African Republic, which confimed the widespread disregard for the vow of celibacy among the clergy of that nation. Reporting on the situation, a local newspaper claimed that in the majority of parishes in the country, the priests cohabit with women and often have children of their own.
The Central African Republic -- once a French colony -- is 21% Catholic, and is reputed to be a bastion of Catholicism in Africa. In the wake of the endless crisis in the Church in the West, Catholic publications have often taken to unreservedly praising Africa as the hope of the Church. Perhaps a reality check is needed.
Sources: Catholic Culture and Africa News. (Each linked site leads to other news articles on the same situation)

"Our father..."

The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, is celebrating the tenth anniversary of his weekly televised litany with a special edition, lasting four whole days. Yesterday, President Chávez greeted his god:
"A big applause for Fidel, our father who art in Havana!"
Dear Virgin of Tepeyac: pray for Latin America!

"'They' truly desire the demise of the Catholic Church"

Denis Crouan writing on the site of the Pro Liturgia association:
Let us state the case clearly and with suitable vocabulary: A certain clergy are perpetuating the degradation of the Church…and consequently the disgust of the Faithful.
The proof: On Sunday May 31, the Feast of Pentecost, there will be only one Mass offered in Nice for the entire diocese. It will be celebrated at the Palais Nikaïa (a concert hall - Mornac).
Obviously, the Faithful who will not be assisting at this Mass (one can guess at what the “style” of this “celebration” will be) are invited to pray for all the Catholics of the department.
Perhaps more telling is the fact that (according to the diocesan website) the Mass will be celebrated by none other than the Apostolic Nuncio.
Merci à XA au Forum Catholique

Castrillón could visit Écône on June 29?

The usually very well-informed French priest Claude Barthe (author of, among others, "Beyond Vatican II: The Church at a new crossroads"), wrote in this Wednesday's edition of French daily Présent that Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos has considered visiting the Seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) in Écône, Switzerland, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and may indeed do so, perhaps as a kind of farewell visit before his almost certain retirement from the presidency of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

Castrillón reaches the status of non-voting Cardinal next July 4, when he will turn 80.
Tip and transcript: Le Forum Catholique.

The Council, in Continuity with Tradition:
People of God and Body of Christ

The Second Vatican Council, wishing to pass on the pure and integral doctrine on the Church, matured over the course of two thousand years, gave it "a more meditated definition", illustrating mostly its mysterious nature, that is, as "a reality imbued with the divine presence, and for this always capable of new and deeper explorations" (Paul VI, Opening Address to the Second Session, September 29, 1963).
That is, the Church, which has her origin in the trinitarian God, is a mystery of communion. As a communion, the Church is not a solely spiritual reality, but lives in history, that is to say, in flesh and blood. The Second Vatican Council describes her "as a sacrament, or sign and instrument of the intimate union with God and of unity with the entire human race" (Lumen Gentium, 1). And the essence of the sacrament is exactly that [in it] the invisible is touched in the visible, that the touchable visible opens the door unto God himself. The Church, we said, is a communion, a communion of people who, through the action of the Holy Ghost, form the People of God that is, at the same time, the Body of Christ.
Let us reflect a little on these two key concepts. The concept of the "People of God" originated and developed in the Old Testament: to enter in the reality of human history, God elected a particular people, the people of Israel, so that it could be his people. The intent of this particular choice is to reach, through the few, the many, and through the many, all. The intent, in other words, of the particular election is universality. Through this People, God truly enters history in a concrete manner. And this opening to universality is effected on the Cross and by the resurrection of Christ. On the Cross, thus says Saint Paul, Christ destroyed the wall of separation. Giving us his Body, He reunites us in this his Body to make us one single thing. In the communion of the "Body of Christ", all become one single people, the People of God, where - to quote Saint Paul anew - all are one single thing, and there is no longer a distinction, a difference, between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, Hebrew, but Christ is all things in all. He destroyed the wall of distinction of peoples, of races, of cultures: we are all united in Christ. Thus, we see that both concepts - "People of God" and "Body of Christ" - complete each other and jointly form the concept of Church of the New Testament.
And, while "People of God" expresses the continuity in the history of the Church, "Body of Christ" expresses the universality established on the Cross and in the resurrection of the Lord. For us Christians, therefore, "Body of Christ" is not only an image, but a true concept, because Christ gives us the gift of his real Body, not only of an image. Risen, Christ united us all in the Sacrament to make us one single body. Therefore, the concepts of "People of God" and of "Body of Christ" complete each other: in Christ we truly become the People of God. And "People of God" means, therefore, "all": from the Pope to the last baptized infant.
The first Eucharistic Prayer, called the Roman Canon, written in the Fourth Century, distinguishes between the servants - "we Thy servants" - and "plebs tua sancta" ["Thy holy people"]; therefore, it wills a distinction, it speaks of servants and of plebs sancta, and the expression "People of God" expresses all together in their being the Church in common.
Following the Council, this ecclesiological doctrine was widely welcomed and, thanks to God, many good fruits matured in the Christian community. We must also recall, however, that the reception of this doctrine in the praxis and, therefore, its assimilation by the tapestry of the ecclesial conscience did not take place always and everywhere without difficulty and according to a just interpretation.
As I had the occasion to clarify in the address to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005, an interpretive current, appealing to a supposed "spirit of the Council", intended to establish a discontinuity and even a contraposition between the Church before and the Church after the Council, at times confusing the very objectively existing boundaries between the hierarchical ministry and the responsibility of the lay faithful in the Church.
The notion of the "People of God", in particular, was interpreted by some according to a purely sociological vision, with an almost exclusively horizontal severance, which excluded the vertical reference to God. This position was in open contrast with the word and the spirit of the Council, which did not will a rupture, another Church, but a true and deep renewal, in continuity with the one subject, the Church, which grows in time and develops herself, yet remaining always the same, the one subject of the People of God, on a pilgrimage.
Benedict XVI
May 26, 2009

Hermeneutic of continuity - Address # 2

In his epoch-making speech of December 22, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI introduced the notion that the documents of the Second Vatican Council must be interpreted only according to what he implied to be the hermeneutic of continuity - that is, renewal in continuity with Tradition.

Today, the Pontiff developed this notion in his opening address of the Ecclesial Congress (Convegno Ecclesiale) of the Diocese of Rome. Excerpts:

"The Council was not a rupture which brought a new church into life, but a true and deep renewal of a single subject who develops."

According to the Pope, the Council "yielded good fruits", but was distorted by "an interpretive current which,  referring to a supposed 'spirit of the Council', intended instead to establish a discontinuity with the Tradition of the Church, confusing, for instance, the objetively existing boundaries between the hierarchy and the lay faithful, observing the Church accordinng to a horizontal cut which excluded the vertical reference to God, in open contrast with Catholic doctrine."

The entire transcript of the address is not yet available online.

Light from the East

Eastern Catholic bishops from 14 countries in Europe met recently in Ukraine, in Uzhhorod (in the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo) from May 12 to 14, 2009. Photo galleries of the magnificent hierarchical Divine Liturgies:

H/t ByzCath Forum

You report: Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Syracuse, NY

A glimpse of the past: TLM being offered in a private residence in Oswego in the 1980's, when there was still a "ban" on the TLM in the Diocese of Syracuse. The priest in this picture had a celebret from Cardinal Mayer, first head of the PCED. Thankfully the current situation is a lot better!

Mr. Byron Smith of Una Voce Syracuse sends us this report:
The diocese of Syracuse, New York splits the state in two, from the snowbound shore of Lake Ontario southward to the Pennsylvania border. Within its borders live 300,000 Catholics, organized in four deaneries, currently comprising 142 parishes served by 158 priests.

At the time of the papal indult, Quattuor Abhinc Annos (1984), the traditional Latin Mass was offered only in the cellar of the home of a retired priest in Homer. Petitions for the Mass began spontaneously in 1985. Bishop Frank Harrison permitted an experimental weekday evening Mass that year in each deanery, but when over 1,800 people attended the first week, he banned further celebrations. At that point, the Society of St. Pius X established a flourishing mission in Syracuse. Five years later, in the wake of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, Bishop Joseph O'Keefe reversed his predecessor's ban, authorizing a Sunday Mass in each deanery. For a time, the diocese had more indult Latin Masses (four each Sunday) than any other in North America.

Bishop James Moynihan succeeded Bishop O'Keefe in 1995. At present (May 2009), the Extraordinary Form Mass is offered each Sunday in Syracuse (Sacred Heart Basilica, 4:00 p.m.); Oswego (St. Mary's Church, 1:00 p.m.); Vestal (St. Vincent de Paul, 8:00 a.m.); and Utica (Our Lady of Lourdes, 9:00 a.m.) Approximately 400 Catholics regularly attend these Masses. In addition to these locations, Sacraments and Requiem Masses according to the 1962 Missal have been freely available in any parish with the permission of the pastor.

Over the years, relations between the chancery and the traditional Catholic laity have generally been positive. Una Voce-Syracuse, an apostolate incorporated in 1991, has attempted to represent the needs of the indult communities. Its goal is to make the Extraordinary Form visible in as many parishes as possible in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI's wishes recently expressed in Summorum Pontificum, while assisting the bishop in addressing the spiritual needs of the communities.

Syracuse has been afflicted by a severe shortage of priests, currently finding itself 16th from the bottom of all U.S. dioceses in comparing seminarians to Catholics. In 2007, the diocese announced that as many as 40 worship sites in the central New York area would close. This situation has affected the traditional Mass, as few trained new priests are available to fill the ranks left by the departure of older celebrants. To relieve the problem, Bishop Moynihan invited priests from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, in neighboring Scranton PA, to commute to Oswego and Utica in order to maintain the Mass venues. Another casualty of the priestshortage was St. Stephen's Church in Syracuse, which for 17 years hosted the indult Mass and which many hoped would become a traditional rite parish. Although that community migrated to the magnificent Sacred Heart Basilica, its Mass time was changed from morning to afternoon.

People of all ages attend the EF Masses, but particularly noticeable are large, homeschooling families. One of them has formed a schola to accompany the ancient liturgy in Oswego. It is edifying to newcomers to hear children render Gregorian chant and polyphony, under the direction of their musically-trained parents, even for a Low Mass.

Large families, have in turn, been formative vineyards for future priests. Although vocations have been scarce in the diocese, the four tiny Latin communities have been fruitful beyond their size. In 1993, a student attending Oswego State University discerned a vocation to Carmel after attending the traditional Mass; she took her final vows as a cloistered nun in 1999. In 2002, Carl Gismondi, who had begun serving the Latin Mass while a student at LeMoyne College in the 1990's, was ordained a priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter. Another seminarian in the diocese has been a regular attendee at the Syracuse and Utica indult locations. Like green shoots in the desert, vocations continue to spring from the reverent quiet of the ancient liturgy to nourish the Church.

To relieve the celebrant difficulties in Syracuse and across the nation, Una Voce America has launched a program aimed at teaching diocesan priests how to offer the traditional Latin Mass. UVA has partnered with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter: the Fraternity provides the training while the lay association (which now comprises over 65 chapters nationwide) provides financial assistance.

On May 26, 2009, Syracuse will receive its tenth Ordinary, Robert J. Cunningham. Speaking at a press conference on April 21 in Syracuse, he emphasized that he comes to his new flock primarily as a "shepherd of souls... sent by Pope Benedict XVI, I come to teach and preach the Word of God; to love you with wholehearted affection and to serve your needs especially as a minister of the Eucharist and reconciliation." Tradition-minded Catholics join their brethren in welcoming their new Ordinary, and pledge to collaborate with him in his mission of sanctifying the faithful through the liturgy.

Request for Prayers for the Founder of the "Oasis"

From our friends, the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (slightly edited for posting on RC):
Your prayers are requested for
Reverend Father Pedro Muñoz Iranzo
the founder of the contemplative
Sisters of the Oasis in Spain.
Father Muñoz is in a critical condition following serious internal haemorrhaging.
The Oasis of Jesus the Priest is a contemplative religious congregation in Spain that worships exclusively according to the 1962 Missal. They were affiliated with the SSPX until their regularization in the aftermath of Summorum Pontificum

The Pope to Chinese Catholics

Today, May 24, liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians -- who is venerated with great devotion at the shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai -- we celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. My thoughts turn to all the people of China. In particular I greet the Catholics of China with great affection and I exhort them to renew on this day their communion of faith in Christ and of fidelity to the Successor of Peter. May our common prayer obtain an effusion of gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that unity of all Christians, the catholicity and the universality of the Church always will be deeper and more visible.

Benedict XVI
May 24, 2009

Please refer also to our earlier post on the Compendium of the Pope's 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics. Picture comes from the New Liturgical Movement

"In that Sacred Heart all our hopes should be placed"

But we should now give most special consideration to the declarations made by Jesus Christ, not through the Apostles or the Prophets but by His own words. To the Roman Governor who asked Him, "Art thou a king then?" He answered unhesitatingly, "Thou sayest that I am a king" John xviii. 37). And the greatness of this power and the boundlessness of His kingdom is still more clearly declared in these words to the Apostles: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew xxviii., 18). If then all power has been given to Christ it follows of necessity that His empire must be supreme, absolute and independent of the will of any other, so that none is either equal or like unto it: and since it has been given in heaven and on earth it ought to have heaven and earth obedient to it. And verily he has acted on this extraordinary and peculiar right when He commanded His Apostles to preach His doctrine over the earth, to gather all men together into the one body of the Church by the baptism of salvation, and to bind them by laws, which no one could reject without risking his eternal salvation.

But this is not all. Christ reigns not only by natural right as the Son of God, but also by a right that He has acquired. For He it was who snatched us "from the power of darkness" (Colossians i., 13), and "gave Himself for the redemption of all" (I Timothy ii., 6). Therefore not only Catholics, and those who have duly received Christian baptism, but also all men, individually and collectively, have become to Him "a purchased people" (I Peter ii., 9). St. Augustine's words are therefore to the point when he says: "You ask what price He paid? See what He gave and you will understand how much He paid. The price was the blood of Christ. What could cost so much but the whole world, and all its people? The great price He paid was paid for all" (T. 120 on St. John).

How it comes about that infidels themselves are subject to the power and dominion of Jesus Christ is clearly shown by St. Thomas, who gives us the reason and its explanation. For having put the question whether His judicial power extends to all men, and having stated that judicial authority flows naturally from royal authority, he concludes decisively as follows: "All things are subject to Christ as far as His power is concerned, although they are not all subject to Him in the exercise of that power" (3a., p., q. 59, a. 4). This sovereign power of Christ over men is exercised by truth, justice, and above all, by charity.

To this twofold ground of His power and domination He graciously allows us, if we think fit, to add voluntary consecration. Jesus Christ, our God and our Redeemer, is rich in the fullest and perfect possession of all things: we, on the other hand, are so poor and needy that we have nothing of our own to offer Him as a gift. But yet, in His infinite goodness and love, He in no way objects to our giving and consecrating to Him what is already His, as if it were really our own; nay, far from refusing such an offering, He positively desires it and asks for it: "My son, give me thy heart." We are, therefore, able to be pleasing to Him by the good will and the affection of our soul. For by consecrating ourselves to Him we not only declare our open and free acknowledgment and acceptance of His authority over us, but we also testify that if what we offer as a gift were really our own, we would still offer it with our whole heart. We also beg of Him that He would vouchsafe to receive it from us, though clearly His own. Such is the efficacy of the act of which We speak, such is the meaning underlying Our words.


Such an act of consecration, since it can establish or draw tighter the bonds which naturally connect public affairs with God, gives to States a hope of better things. In these latter times especially, a policy has been followed which has resulted in a sort of wall being raised between the Church and civil society. In the constitution and administration of States the authority of sacred and divine law is utterly disregarded, with a view to the exclusion of religion from having any constant part in public life. This policy almost tends to the removal of the Christian faith from our midst, and, if that were possible, of the banishment of God Himself from the earth. When men's minds are raised to such a height of insolent pride, what wonder is it that the greater part of the human race should have fallen into such disquiet of mind and be buffeted by waves so rough that no one is suffered to be free from anxiety and peril? When religion is once discarded it follows of necessity that the surest foundations of the public welfare must give way, whilst God, to inflict on His enemies the punishment they so richly deserve, has left them the prey of their own evil desires, so that they give themselves up to their passions and finally wear themselves out by excess of liberty.

When the Church, in the days immediately succeeding her institution, was oppressed beneath the yoke of the Caesars, a young Emperor saw in the heavens a cross, which became at once the happy omen and cause of the glorious victory that soon followed. And now, today, behold another blessed and heavenly token is offered to our sight - the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with a cross rising from it and shining forth with dazzling splendor amidst flames of love. In that Sacred Heart all our hopes should be placed, and from it the salvation of men is to be confidently besought.

Excerpts from Annum Sacrum
May 25, 1899

Posted in honor of this enyclical's 110th anniversary

"Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds!"

This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations. In the light of the biblical message, it should be seen primarily as a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God, who desires to make of all humanity one family. When we find ourselves drawn towards other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God’s call - a call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion.

The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator. Naturally, I am not talking about fleeting, shallow relationships, I am talking about the real love that is at the very heart of Jesus’ moral teaching: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" and "You must love your neighbour as yourself" (cf. Mk 12:30-31)...


The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures and religions. The new digital arena, the so-called cyberspace, allows them to encounter and to know each other’s traditions and values. Such encounters, if they are to be fruitful, require honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening. The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this "digital continent". Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News" of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds!

Benedict XVI
May 24, 2009

Image sourced from this webpage.

Killing of Catholics in Nepal

From The Times of India comes news of the bombing of a Catholic church - the Church of the Assumption -- in Kathmandu, Nepal yesterday, May 23, 2009. Two were killed, including a 15-year-old schoolgirl, and 14 injured -- mostly teenagers --when a bomb exploded towards the end of morning Mass in the church. The bombing was apparently the work of the Nepal Defence Army, a rebel group dedicated to re-establishing the "divine" Nepalese monarchy that was abolished last year, and intent on rededicating Nepal as a Hindu state.

The NDA has been blamed for a series of bombings and other attacks on the Christian and Muslim minorities in Nepal, apparently culminating in the murder -- widely attributed to the Hindu-inspired terrorist group -- of Fr. Johnson Prakash SDB last July 1, 2008. The Indian Salesian was hailed as Nepal's first priest-martyr. After Fr. Prakash's murder, the NDA committed acts of intimidation against as many as 70 Catholic educational institutions and social programs.

The situation of the tiny Catholic minority in Nepal (7,500 souls as of last year in a nation of 27 million) has always been precarious, although it has been improving in the past two decades. Prior to 1991 religious conversions to Christianity were forbidden and penalized; until 2008 the state was officially Hindu, ruled by a king who was regarded as the reincarnation of the god Vishnu. At present public worship is allowed and in 2007, Nepal gained its first Catholic bishop -- the Vicar Apostolic Anthony Sharma SJ, himself a convert from Hinduism.

Although Parliament abolished the national Nepalese monarchy in May 2008 -- and with it the country's designation as a Hindu state -- and instituted a republic that became Communist-led, the country remains devoutly Hindu and there are signs the majority of the (Hindu) populace had wanted the institution of the monarchy itself to remain, despite the unpopularity of the last king, Gyanendra.

In contrast the Christian minority had been vocal in its support for a purely secular state, with representatives of the Catholic Church vocally declaring their faith in the Maoist government last year. The Maoist government, in turn, promised to respect religious freedom; so far the government has apparently not taken steps to break this promise.

"There can be no society of darkness with light"

...We are pleased to let you know the intimate sentiments of Our will. We also think it helpful to communicate those things from which the Christian cause may benefit. For the duty of Our office is not only to feed, rule, and direct the lambs, namely the Christian people, but also the sheep, that is the clergy...


Although God may console Us with you, We are nonetheless sad. This is due to the numberless errors and the teachings of perverse doctrines which, no longer secretly and clandestinely but openly and vigorously, attack the Catholic faith. You know how evil men have raised the standard of revolt against religion through philosophy (of which they proclaim themselves doctors) and through empty fallacies devised according to natural reason. In the first place, the Roman See is assailed and the bonds of unity are, every day, being severed. The authority of the Church is weakened and the protectors of things sacred are snatched away and held in contempt. The holy precepts are despised, the celebration of divine offices is ridiculed, and the worship of God is cursed by the sinner. All things which concern religion are relegated to the fables of old women and the superstitions of priests. Truly lions have roared in Israel. With tears We say: "Truly they have conspired against the Lord and against His Christ." Truly the impious have said: "Raze it, raze it down to its foundations."

Among these heresies belongs that foul contrivance of the sophists of this age who do not admit any difference among the different professions of faith and who think that the portal of eternal salvation opens for all from any religion. They, therefore, label with the stigma of levity and stupidity those who, having abandoned the religion which they learned, embrace another of any kind, even Catholicism. This is certainly a monstrous impiety which assigns the same praise and the mark of the just and upright man to truth and to error, to virtue and to vice, to goodness and to turpitude. Indeed this deadly idea concerning the lack of difference among religions is refuted even by the light of natural reason. We are assured of this because the various religions do not often agree among themselves. If one is true, the other must be false; there can be no society of darkness with light. Against these experienced sophists the people must be taught that the profession of the Catholic faith is uniquely true, as the apostle proclaims: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Jerome used to say it this way: he who eats the lamb outside this house will perish as did those during the flood who were not with Noah in the ark. Indeed, no other name than the name of Jesus is given to men, by which they may be saved. He who believes shall be saved; he who does not believe shall be condemned.

Also watch the seminaries more diligently. The fathers of Trent made you responsible for their administration. From them must come forth men well instructed both in Christian and ecclesiastical discipline and in the principles of sound doctrine. Such men may then distinguish themselves for their piety and their teaching. Thus, their ministry will be a witness, even to those outside the Church and they will be able to refute those who have strayed from the path of justice. Be very careful in choosing the seminarians since the salvation of the people principally depends on good pastors. Nothing contributes more to the ruin of souls than impious, weak, or uninformed clerics.


We also want you to imbue your flock with reverence for the sanctity of marriage so that they may never do anything to detract from the dignity of this sacrament. They should do nothing that might be unbecoming to this spotless union nor anything that might cause doubt about the perpetuity of the bond of matrimony. This goal will be accomplished if the Christian people are accurately taught that the sacrament of matrimony ought to be governed not so much by human law as by divine law and that it ought to be counted among sacred, not earthly, concerns. Thus, it is wholly subject to the Church. Formerly marriage had no other purpose than that of bringing children into the world. But now it has been raised to the dignity of a sacrament by Christ the Lord and enriched with heavenly gifts. Now its purpose is not so much to generate offspring as to educate children for God and for religion. This increases the number of worshippers of the true divinity....

May 24, 1829

Posted in honor of this enyclical's 180th anniversary.

A short but vigorous encyclical that deserves to be re-read.

"The Eucharist is basically a community meal"

Holy Thursday footwashing in India
(This is another proof of how the Benedictine program of liturgical renewal is being completely ignored in Asia -- a frightening fact, given that the Asia has the largest number of Catholic seminarians and priestly ordinations among all continents and is slated to exercise increasing influence on the universal Church. Emphases are mine. CAP)

ASIA Forum on Eucharist and community sends message to bishops

May 22, 2009

SEOUL (UCAN) -- Some Catholic theologians and Church workers from across Asia have sent a message to Church leaders saying the Eucharist, the core of Catholicism, should be a bridge connecting faith in God with everyday life.

Some 80 theologians, missioners and lay activists from 11 Asian countries attended the forum, titled "Eucharist and Community - Beyond All Barriers." The International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA) and Seoul-based Woori Theology Institute (WTI) jointly organized the May 18-20 event at St. Benedict Retreat Center in Seoul.

The two groups held the forum ahead of the ninth plenary assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), scheduled to take place in Manila Aug. 10-16 under the theme of "Living the Eucharist in Asia."

At the end of their gathering they issued a declaration saying they were committed to developing a more comprehensive catechesis on the Eucharist, showing its relevance to daily life. They also said they are committed to using the power of the Eucharist for a more effective appreciation of the FABC's triple dialogue with Asia's peoples, cultures and religions.

The keynote speaker, Jesuit Father Michael Amaladoss, had pointed out that the Eucharist is basically a "community meal," a symbolic action that he said has ritual, social and mystic levels.

"The symbolic action to be real and authentic should celebrate life. But if the community does not actively strive for it, then the community should not celebrate. That is why reconciliation involving mutual forgiveness may have to precede the celebration," said the director of the Institute for Dialogue with Cultures and Religion in Chennai, southern India.

The basic principle of the Eucharist is the full, conscious and active participation of the people, he stressed. "The community as the Body of Christ is the celebrant, while the priest is a 'minister' and thus a servant of the community," he added.

Lawrencia Kwark Eun-kyung, ICMICA secretary general, told UCA News on May 20 that the forum was an attempt by the laity to communicate with Church leaders in Asia ahead of the FABC plenary. "Another aim was to build and strengthen networks among theologians and Church activists," the Korean woman added.

Participants also included Bishop Johannes Pujasumarta of Bandung, Indonesia; Protestant Bishop Dhirendra Kumar Sahu, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India; and Maryknoll Father William LaRousse, ecumenical secretary of the FABC Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Taking "the five loaves and two fish program" that Bishop Pujasumarta described as an example, their declaration also pledged to develop a variety of "sharing plans and projects" at the local community level.

The Indonesian bishop told UCA News he initiated the movement for the poor in 1992, while serving as vicar general of Semarang archdiocese. He said the sharing program was aimed at students in Catholic schools, who saved and collected money for poor students and their families. "Since I've learned about reality and the Eucharist in various countries, this meeting seems to me a 'living catechism' on the Eucharist," he said.

Father LaRousse, also a presenter at the forum, told UCA News it was a good experience of how Christians from diverse countries reflect on living the Eucharist in Asia.

"From my experience in Davao, Philippines, I expect bishops will hear the good result of this forum," he said.

+ Monsignor Mario Marini +

Monsignor Mario Marini, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", and a true friend of Tradition, died this morning in Rome.

Monsignor Marini, originally of the Archdiocese of Ravenna-Cervia, was, until March 2007, undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He had previously worked in the Secretariat of State and was office head of the Congregation for the Clergy. He was also a canon of the chapter of the Vatican Basilica.

May he rest in peace.

"Spiritual reconciliation" and "Structural merger"

The "Compendium" of the Pope's 2007 Letter to China was released by the Holy See yesterday (PDF file). The very important matter of the structure of the Catholic Church in China, filled with important lessons for other areas of the universal Church, is once again discussed, with notes, particularly notes 2 and 6:

2. We can see that the Holy Father is talking about a spiritual reconciliation, which can and must take place now, even before a structural merger of official and unofficial Catholic communities takes place. As a matter of fact, the Holy Father seems to make a distinction between “a spiritual reconciliation” and “a structural merger”. He recognizes that the reconciliation is like a journey that “cannot be accomplished overnight” (6.6): however, he emphasizes that the steps to be taken on the way are necessary and urgent, and cannot therefore be postponed because - or on the pretext that - they are difficult since they require the overcoming of personal positions or views. Times and ways may vary according to local situations, but the commitment to reconciliation cannot be abandoned. This path of reconciliation, furthermore, cannot be limited to the spiritual realm of prayer alone but must also be expressed through practical steps of effective ecclesial communion (exchange of experiences, sharing of pastoral projects, common initiatives, etc.). Finally, it should not be forgotten that all without exception are invited to engage in these steps: Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. It is by means of practical steps that spiritual reconciliation, including visible reconciliation, will gradually occur, which will culminate one day in the complete structural unity of every diocesan community around its one Bishop and of every diocesan community with each other and with the universal Church. In this context, it is licit and fitting to encourage clergy and lay faithful to make gestures of forgiveness and reconciliation in this direction.
6. With regard to participation in the Mass and in the other sacraments in an officially registered church, the Holy Father distinguishes two cases. If the Bishop or the priest celebrant is in communion with the Pope, the faithful “should not hesitate” to receive the sacraments from him. If, on the contrary, the Bishop or priest celebrant is not in communion with the Pope, the faithful “may” receive communion and the other sacraments from him on two conditions: when they do not succeed in finding legitimate Pastors “without grave inconvenience to themselves”, and yet they feel the need of the sacraments for their own spiritual good. In the second case, the final decision will be taken by the individual Catholic, taking into serious consideration the possibility indicated by the Holy Father.

Let us not forget that today, Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, was the day established by the Holy Father for the whole Church to pray for the Church in China.

Years of discussions

Amidst some well-known talking points, the interview granted by Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta to District magazine Iesus Christus (one of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X - FSSPX / SSPX in 1988 and whose excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI last January) included the following:

-What prospects do you see for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X in the future? An agreement with Rome? A canonical recognition?

-[Galarreta:] No, absolutely not, whether in the immediate or in the mediate future. We specifically exclude this possibility. We know that while there is no return to Tradition on the part of Rome, any practical or canonical agreement is incompatible with the public confession and defense of the faith, and would mean our death. In the best of cases, humanly speaking, we will have several years of discussions.

Source: Iesus Christus, monthly of the SSPX District of South America, via Radio Cristiandad Blog (whole interview in Spanish).

The Novena to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete: A tradition that must not be neglected

... we ought to pray to and invoke the Holy Spirit, for each one of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more a man is deficient in wisdom, weak in strength, borne down with trouble, prone to sin, so ought he the more to fly to Him who is the never-ceasing fount of light, strength, consolation, and holiness. And chiefly that first requisite of man, the forgiveness of sins, must be sought for from Him: "It is the special character of the Holy Ghost that He is the Gift of the Father and the Son. Now the remission of all sins is given by the Holy Ghost as by the Gift of God" (Summ. Th. 3a, q. iii., a. 8, ad 3m). Concerning this Spirit the words of the Liturgy are very explicit: "For He is the remission of all sins" (Roman Missal, Tuesday after Pentecost). How He should be invoked is clearly taught by the Church, who addresses Him in humble supplication, calling upon Him by the sweetest of names: "Come, Father of the poor! Come, Giver of gifts! Come, Light of our hearts! O best of Consolers, sweet Guest of the soul, our refreshment!" (Hymn, Veni Sancte Spiritus). She earnestly implores Him to wash, heal, water our minds and hearts, and to give to us who trust in Him "the merit of virtue, the acquirement of salvation, and joy everlasting." Nor can it be in any way doubted that He will listen to such prayer, since we read the words written by His own inspiration: "The Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings" (Rom. viii., 26). Lastly, we ought confidently and continually to beg of Him to illuminate us daily more and more with His light and inflame us with His charity: for, thus inspired with faith and love, we may press onward earnestly towards our eternal reward, since He "is the pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. i. 14).

Such, Venerable Brethren, are the teachings and exhortations which We have seen good to utter, in order to stimulate devotion to the Holy Ghost. We have no doubt that, chiefly by means of your zeal and earnestness, they will bear abundant fruit among Christian peoples. We Ourselves shall never in the future fail to labour towards so important an end; and it is even Our intention, in whatever ways may appear suitable, to further cultivate and extend this admirable work of piety. Meanwhile, as two years ago, in Our Letter Provida Matris, We recommended to Catholics special prayers at the Feast of Pentecost, for the Re-union of Christendom, so now We desire to make certain further decrees on the same subject.

Wherefore, We decree and command that throughout the whole Catholic Church, this year and in every subsequent year, a Novena shall take place before Whit-Sunday, in all parish churches, and also, if the local Ordinaries think fit, in other churches and oratories. To all who take part in this Novena and duly pray for Our intention, We grant for each day an Indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines; moreover, a Plenary Indulgence on any one of the days of the Novena, or on Whit-Sunday itself, or on any day during the Octave; provided they shall have received the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and devoutly prayed for Our intention. We will that those who are legitimately prevented from attending the Novena, or who are in places where the devotions cannot, in the judgment of the Ordinary, be conveniently carried out in church, shall equally enjoy the same benefits, provided they make the Novena privately and observe the other conditions. Moreover We are pleased to grant, in perpetuity, from the Treasury of the Church, that whosoever, daily during the Octave of Pentecost up to Trinity Sunday inclusive, offer again publicly or privately any prayers, according to their devotion, to the Holy Ghost, and satisfy the above conditions, shall a second time gain each of the same Indulgences. All these Indulgences We also permit to be applied to the suffrage of the souls in Purgatory.

And now Our mind and heart turn back to those hopes with which We began, and for the accomplishment of which We earnestly pray, and will continue to pray, to the Holy Ghost. Unite, then, Venerable Brethren, your prayers with Ours, and at your exhortation let all Christian peoples add their prayers also, invoking the powerful and ever-acceptable intercession of the Blessed Virgin. You know well the intimate and wonderful relations existing between her and the Holy Ghost, so that she is justly called His Spouse. The intercession of the Blessed Virgin was of great avail both in the mystery of the Incarnation and in the coming of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles. May she continue to strengthen our prayers with her suffrages, that, in the midst of all the stress and trouble of the nations, those divine prodigies may be happily revived by the Holy Ghost, which were foretold in the words of David: "Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth" (Ps. ciii., 30).
May 9, 1897

Two-Child Policy in the Philippines?

My article entitled "A Two-Child Policy in the Catholic Philippines?" has been published in the May, 2009 issue of the Catholic World Report published by Ignatius Press. It can be found at pp. 34-35.
The Philippines remains one of the bastions of pro-life legislation in the world, with a Constitution that explicitly proclaims the family as the foundation of the nation (Article XV section 1) and affirms the sanctity of unborn life beginning from conception (Article II, Section 12). Nevertheless, creeping secularization and the spread of "modern" sexual mores to the Philippines has been manifesting itself in the decline of Church marriages, the increase of cohabitation, the widespread use of contraception (the Philippines is now down to 1.95% annual population growth rate) and the public's acceptance of permissive sexual attitudes.
The current legislative drive for laws pushing for more aggressive promotion of contraception and legalizing divorce and abortion has the "two-child policy" as one of its cornerstones. While the legislators pushing for this claim that no force and no punitive measures will be employed as the state "assists" families in meeting this ideal, the reality on the ground is that local government officials can be expected to be rather aggressive in pushing for zero or negative population growth in their areas, once the bills that embody this mentality are passed into law.

Traditional Latin Mass in Moscow, Russia

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Moscow

From Una Voce Russia, and edited for posting on Rorate:

The next 'approved' Traditional Latin Mass will be on May 31 (Pentecost), but usually it is offered every 1st Sunday of the month, at 1700 H (5:00 P.M.) in the basement chapel of the Cathedral (of the Immaculate Conception, Moscow).

The priest who offers the Mass is Fr. Augustyn Dziedziel SDB (pronounced Dzendzel and written in Polish with a special mark under the first e, ę in HTML). Catholic guests of Moscow are most welcome. (Father also speaks some English in addition to Polish and Russian, so confessions are possible before Mass.)

Abuse rewarded

One of the dozens of shocking stories of neglect and institutional failure in Ireland included in the Report of The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published today:

Br Dacian [fictional name of a member of the Christian Brothers] was the subject of a complaint of sexual abuse in the early 1960s in Salthill. He was transferred from Galway to a day school in Dublin and was later sent to serve in Letterfrack [Industrial School] in the 1970s.

In a letter to the Superior General, the Provincial in Salthill elaborated on the allegation. A child awoke to find someone with his hand inside his pyjamas. Although it was dark the boy identified the person as Br Dacian by his voice and size. Br Dacian admitted doing this, but offered the defence that he was checking to see if the child, who was a known bed-wetter, had wet his bed. The Provincial continued, ‘It is apparent that this does not explain everything’. A letter sent three days later to the Superior of the School noted that he was sorry for the lapse of Br Dacian and that all the members of the Council thought that a change was necessary for him, as ‘no doubt some of the boys know of this lapse’.

Br Dacian was moved to a school in Dublin less than five months later. He stayed there for nearly 10 years before being moved to Letterfrack.

He spent a year in Letterfrack before moving to another day school in Dublin where he taught for over 10 years. Br Dacian admitted sexually assaulting a boy in this day school and he had to be transferred out of it in the early 1980s. Although it did not emerge until some five years later, another allegation that abuse had occurred at the same time was made by a pupil in an Irish College where Br Dacian was working during that summer.


Br Dacian was appointed Principal of a rural school in 1984 less than a year after his removal from the Dublin school but, once again, he had to be removed from his position because of his sexual abuse of a young boy in 1987.

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse
in the Republic of Ireland

Russian Orthodox theologian weighs in on the liturgical reform after Vatican II

Divine Liturgy being offered by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow

Patriarchia.Ru, the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate (Russian Orthodox Church) has posted a very interesting interview with Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, a Russian Orthodox theologian and commentator on Catholic-Orthodox relations. The interview was posted on the said website last May 7, 2009.

Mr. Oleg-Michael Martynov of Una Voce Russia has kindly translated the article for Rorate Caeli.

According to Mr. Martynov, "Rt. Rev. Maksim Kozlov, born in 1963, ordained in 1992, is a popular preacher whose target audience are young educated people. A man of scholarship himself, he graduated Moscow State University with a degree in Latin and Greek, and has been teaching at the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy since 1985. Among his subjects there have been Catholicism in the course of Western Confessions History and then Comparative Theology, two fields where he showed himself as a dedicated anti-Catholic but not a good expert in these areas, something quite fitting the needs of modern ROC education."

It should be noted that the interview also contains many factual errors, which will be noted in the comments box.
Nevertheless, Fr. Maksim's ideas on the liturgical and ecclesiastical reforms in Catholicism post-Vatican II, and his view of Marcel Lefebvre are of interest in that these have now been published on the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate. Hence this post.

Text of the interview in Russian is here

Translation of the interview, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Martynov, with portions pertaining to the liturgical reform of Vatican II highlighted by Rorate:

Protoiereus Maksim Kozlov. How is the Catholic Church’s reform experience useful for us publishes this interview of protoiereus (archpriest) Maksim Kozlov, professor at the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy and rector of St. Tatiana Martyr church in the Moscow State University. It was first published by the Neskuchny Sad magazine, issue 5, 2009.

The Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church (1962-65) has caused the most radical reforms in her history. One of the main tasks was to bring in a ‘Church open to the world’ by ‘modern exposition of religious truths’. One of the results, reproaches cast upon the Church for becoming too modern and worldly. Protoiereus Maksim Kozlov believes the main mistake to be thinking that the society in general is willing to live in a Christian way.

What do you think was the reason behind Vatican II’s radicalism?
– We need to understand the situation of the Catholic Church by early 1960s, as well as the general situation in the world. It was the time when people both in Western Europe and, to a certain degree, in the Americas were abandoning regular participation in church life in mass. It was the era of the starting sexual revolution, of considerable parts of the society, especially the young, showing extreme sympathy towards radical left ideas, both pro-Soviet and Maoist. It was since then that Che Guevara started to be perceived as a kind of a self-sacrificing symbol, one perhaps even greater than that of Christianity. It was the time of a profound spiritual crisis, churches were deserted, and under these circumstances the Catholic Church had to react to the situation, try to find new possibilities of dialoguing with the society as it was then – perhaps, even at the price of errors. Vatican II became an attempt at the Church’s answer to the world’s secularism, like once upon a time the Catholics’ Trent answered to the Lutheran Reformation. This move itself, requiring courage and resolution, can definitely be praised.

Which of the reforms of Vatican II do you think to be positive?
– Among the most positive turnabouts I would number the understanding, in a new way declared and, to a considerable degree, experienced by the Catholic Church, of all-Christian unity in the face of danger, of which Alexander Solzhenitsyn was writing during the same period: there are considerable powers in the world that would like no Christians to exist at all. Facing the challenges of modern era, in spite of all our doctrinal differences and their indisputable importance, there is something that unites the Christians. This is a new approach to, let me utter some terrible words, the ecumenical problem, and it was expressed by the Catholic Church and should, of course, be welcomed: at Vatican II, the Catholic Church has renounced equating herself and the Universal Church. Before the Council, Catholics have been stating: Catholic Church is the Universal Church, and now the Catholic Church describes herself as a ‘part of the Universal Church’, recognizing also the way of Orthodox East. The Orthodox are no longer schismatics (heretics) for the Catholics. The direct consequence of this is that the Catholics now recognize the validity of Sacraments celebrated in the Eastern Churches (both Orthodox and Oriental), i. e., in the Churches that retain historical episcopate. An Eastern Church Christian can receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church without first accepting her teaching as it has been before. Of course this does not mean that we should take a similar approach to recognizing all the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Orthodox theology goes not currently provide an unequivocal answer to the question of the existence of Eucharist in Christian Churches that retain historical episcopacy but are outside of Universal Orthodoxy, such as the Catholics and the Monophysites.

As far as the changes in Vatican’s internal ‘policies’ are concerned, here I would mention a move to overcome Rome’s centuries-old clericalism as a very important issue. I mean a very stern division of the Catholic Church into two unequal parts, the teaching Church, which is the clergy, and the taught Church, which is the laity, framed already in Trent. Vatican II has repeatedly emphasized the importance of lay people, who were now able to take a more active part in the Church. The status of lay organizations has been increased, the ecclesiastic communities were recognized as an important component of the Church. This penetrates the life of Catholic Church considerably. For example, in the town of Rimini, Italy, there are annual conventions of Christians with about a million participating every year. These includes exhibitions and lectures on the Bible, there was, by the way, a large section dedicated to Solzhenitsyn this year. These conventions are initiated and conducted by lay volunteers only, the priests are not an organizing force there. Priests can be invited, take part, etc., but the lay people are the main organizers and inspirers.

As something positive, I would also mention Vatican II’s new approach to liturgical worship. Before the Council, Catholic mass was celebrated in Latin, which even among the Europeans few could understand by the middle of 20th century. And after the Catholic Church’s mission to Latin America, Africa, Asia – countries with obviously connection to Romance culture – it became clear that Latin liturgy has come into obvious conflict with the pious needs of many millions of Catholics. This [caused] switching into national languages, which, by the way, was carried out in the spirit of Eastern Christian tradition, that supposes liturgy to be celebrated in the national language of the faithful.

But the methods by which these, reforms, per se right, were carried out, were of diverse value, and the implementation of the reforms itself can not be numbered among the Council’s positive results.

When reforms are declared, there often appears a certain managerial ardor, and at times it’s not the most wise people who find themselves in the lead of the process. In practice, alas, it was not simply permitted to celebrate in national languages, but pre-reform Latin mass virtually prohibited, for it was required to get very many permissions virtually from Vatican itself in order to celebrate it. People who wanted to pray in the old way, especially the clergy, appeared so disloyal and suspicious in the eyes of the predominating trend that Latin worship has virtually ceased to exist.

From the very beginning already, the Council’s reforms have invoked criticism from two directions. The ‘left’ majority were unhappy with lack of radicalism. People who lived in the Western secular society with its priority of human rights as a humanist secular value, and still identifying themselves as Catholics, wondered why has not the Council permitted female priests, abolished celibacy, granted even more rights (like those enjoyed by the priests) to the laity, or allowed divorce and abortions.

The ‘right’ criticism is connected with the name of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991). He and his followers criticized Vatican II in a number of aspects: for its excessive ecumenism, for the liturgical reforms that have, in their view, caused the loss of sacral language of worship as well as the secularization of liturgical awareness. Indeed, the secularized understanding of liturgy was one of the reforms’ negative consequences. This manifested in excessive emphasis on the ‘horizontal’ component, i. e. the fellowship of the faithful, to the prejudice of ‘vertical component’, which is the congregation’s aspiration for Heaven. The altars were taken out of the sanctuary into the middle of the churches, the priests were now celebrating facing the people and not what we would call the synthronon, as it was before, there were unrestrained and numerous variants of translations and ordos for celebrating mass. There was a rupture, loss of the liturgy’s identity and sameness. Before, for example, a Catholic could everywhere, from Africa to Polynesia, come to a service and realize that he was attending a mass, but this is not so now.
Lefebvre is absolutely correct in his criticism of the progress ideology, adopted by the Catholic Church, where ‘progress’ as progressive motion of the society is considered as a religious value regardless of this society’s religious status. This means that growth of material benefits, gentler morals, tolerance towards different value systems, human rights – regardless of their connection with Christianity are taken as a positive value. The society is estimated more by the presence or growth of these categories of progress than by the grade and quality of its piety. This is something which the Orthodox Church, of course, can not agree with.

The idea of progress is associated with the notion of ‘anonymous Christianity’, developed at Vatican II. It means that not only people who visibly belong to the Church, but also those who do not openly run counter to her, to her spirit, are recognized as those not alien to her. This can perhaps be true for non-Christian countries, for communities that have not encountered the Gospel. But this is absolutely inapplicable to European and American society that is, step by step, turning away from Christianity. This is not anonymous Christianity but rather apostasy from God and the Church.

The Catholic Church’s experience after the reforms shows: in spite of the Church’s coming to meet the society trying to become more modern, intelligible, and close to this society, the society did not come to meet the Church. This is to be realized and admitted, practically, historiosophically, and eschatologically: to expect that the society in its majority will be willing to reaccept Christian values not as declarations but as norms implemented in real life means to live in an illusion.

Another important lesson that we can learn from the experience of Vatican II is how cautiously should we approach the centuries-old Church Tradition, first of all in the field of liturgy. It is important to recognize that we are on the same side with the Catholics, also suffering from certain impenitence among a considerable part of churchgoing folk, a view that service is something not to be understood but rather to incite a kind of pious mood. On the other hand, it is important to realize that the way to modifying the liturgy should not be through its adaptation to the society’s simplistic conceptions formed by the mass media and simply by the very low level of education in the humanities. Christianity as such is something complicated. But understanding Church Slavonic it is not the most complicated thing in Christianity. Rather we should put the question, and look for the answer, on how to bring the beauty and significance of this liturgy to the people.
(Note: The final paragraph refers to the current debates in the Russian Orthodox Church on whether to allow the celebration of the liturgy (within Russia) in modern Russian instead of only in Church Slavonic. Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Hilarion have both indicated that they are against the use of modern Russian in the liturgy. CAP)
H/t to my friend J. Felix Valenzuela for first tipping me to the existence of this article.

"The task of announcing Christ to all peoples..."

The secret to a true and efficacious evangelization is in the search for holiness. The Church and the world need credible witnesses of love for God and a life of holiness. It is in the contemplation of Christ's face that we are filled with an irrepressible passion to preach Him and give Him to others and recognize Him in the face of the poor and suffering. Only if one is led by the Spirit, can he truly experience the depth of Christ's love, the source of the fruitfulness of the mission and testimony that should fill the Church and the world with the aroma of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 2:14-15). Prayer, contemplation, and imitation of Christ are the soul of every apostolic activity, which lead the apostle – as I wrote in the Encyclical Deus caritas est – to drink “from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God” (no. 7). This is the timeless methodology of missionary activity. Every Christian is called to be a credible witness to this love of God, to reveal the attractiveness of the Gospel, to make the Church known and loved, and to contribute to the expansion of God's Kingdom. The real missionary is the saint and the world needs saintly missionaries.

The task of announcing Christ to all peoples is certainly an immense one, one that surpasses human strengths. However, we know that those who evangelize are Christ and His Spirit. We are only their collaborators, aware of the fact that we will only be effective preachers to the degree in which we learn to bend our knees in prayer and lift our hands towards heaven: in a word, if we allows ourselves to be permeated by God's love “poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rm 5:5).
Benedict XVI
May 6, 2009