Rorate Caeli


1. The Apostolic Visitation within the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi had been widely known since at least before the Papal visit to Africa. It is good to see that it has been made public by the Holy See and the Legionaries today.

For the developments which led to the current Visitation, read our previous posts on the suspension of Father Maciel, the Founder, the praise of Father Maciel after his death by the leadership of the Legion ("Church is Sanhedrin, Pope is Pilate, Maciel is Jesus"), the suspension of the "Secret vows", and the new revelations regarding Father Maciel.

2. In other news, the very religious government of the People's Republic of China has once again arrested a Bishop, while the Chinese situation is being discussed in the Vatican.

70 years ago

March 29, 1939. Valencia, the capital and last stronghold of the Spanish Communist and Socialist forces is conquered by the federation of forces under Francisco Franco, whose government had already been recognized by most Western powers in the preceding months. The most brutal persecution of Catholics ever recorded is over after more than 30 terrible months. The intercession of the martyrs had been stronger than the might of the Soviet Union.
(Image: Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving for the end of the war - Valencia, May 14, 1939)

"I am for love"

Cardinal Barbarin

In yet another assault on the Pope before a French church, approximately sixty members of homosexual organizations rallied at the steps of the Fourviere Basilica in Lyon this morning to "denounce the irresponsibility of Pope Benedict XVI regarding AIDS."
While the faithful filed into the church for Sunday Mass offered by their archbishop, Philippe Cardinal Barbarin, protestors representing Lesbian and Gay Pride, the Gay and Lesbian Forum, and AIDS Rhône unfurled a banner reading “The condom is life - The Church prohibits it” while chanting, “No to the callote (zucchetto), long live the capote (condom)”.
Meanwhile, in front of the Basilica, about sixty Catholic parents and children, gathered in support of the Holy Father, wearing stickers that read “Hands off my Pope”.
"There is a painful lack of understanding" complained Cardinal Barbarin. "The issue of condoms is a taboo subject and we must create conditions for a dialogue in mutual respect.” He continued, "We must listen to all of the cries because they come from the heart, but that does not create the conditions for dialogue."
When asked whether he advocated "the capote" or "abstinence", the Cardinal replied: "I am for Love."
After the Mass, His Eminence invited a delegation of seven protestors to the archdiocese for a "respectful dialogue", "in a cordial and relaxed atmosphere" according to a source close to the archdiocese.
Details gleaned from La Croix


As the first week in Passiontide begins, beautiful words by Spanish writer Eugenio D'Ors (Eugeni D'Ors i Rovira), the author of one of our favorite aphorisms, "Todo lo que no es tradición es plagio" ("All that is not tradition is plagiarism").
The voice of Simeon already rises up, it elevates itself in the midst of the House of God. He had been there for many years, and he did not wish to leave it. He did not leave, nor did he die, in expectation of this, so that his eyes could see it. 

... His hands take the Child, Whom you had already once removed from the menaces of the Herod of Death. The prophetic voice rises up in the Temple:

-Behold this One is set for the fall and disorientation of many, and will lead to contradiction.

And to you he says:

- Your own soul shall be pierced by a sword.

Now - now, it pierces you. Now that you know the first Sorrow, from which all Sorrows shall come forth, and to its wound the other sorrows will not add anything else. Now that, with the fate of the Son, your fate has been set for ever. Now that, in the dust of your path, the footmarks of all future suffering have already been set. Now, when you already feel the Son to be lost, lost among the doctors, then among the apostles, then among the soldiers, then between the thieves, and in death, and in the tomb. Now that you can already see how the blessed flower of your flesh belongs to contradiction, and not to rest; to war, and not to peace; to your mission, and not to yourself...
Eugenio D'Ors

Traditional Ordinations in the Latium countryside

J.P.Sonnen, of Orbis Catholicus, was in Tarquinia as five members of the Franciscans of the Immaculate were ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Burke in a Traditional ceremony in the beautiful ancient church of Saint Francis (sets of pictures: 1 - 2 -3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9).

Ave, Sancta Dei Genitrix

Deus, qui de beatæ Mariæ Virginis utero Verbum tuum, Angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti: præsta supplicibus tuis; ut, qui vere eam Genitricem Dei credimus, ejus apud te intercessionibus adjuvemur. Per eumdem Dominum... (Collect of the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "O God, who didst will that Thy Word should take flesh, at the message of an Angel, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant to Thy suppliant people, that we who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee. Through the same Lord...")

He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father's Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled.

He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own.

Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt.
Saint Athanasius
On the Incarnation

SSPX Ordinations canceled in Germany
Transferred to Écône

The rumors are apparently being confirmed: several German-language news agencies report today that the ordinations which had been planned for next Saturday at the Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), in Zaitzkofen (near Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany) have been canceled.

UPDATE: The ordinations have not been canceled, but merely transferred, "at the request of the Holy See", to the Swiss seminary of the SSPX, the Seminary of Saint Pius X, in Écône, as confirmed by the Superior General of the Fraternity, Bishop Bernard Fellay (Source: DICI - permanent link).

Full text of the communiqué (our thanks to the Rev. Fr. Anthony, our reader, for the translation):

At the request of the Holy See, we decided to move the ordinations to the sub-diaconate that were supposed to take place at Zaitzkofen, in Germany, this Saturday March 28th. They will take place at the seminary of Ecône, in Switzerland, on the same date.

This decision is intended to be a peaceful gesture after the lifting of the unjust condemnations that weighed on the Bishops of the Society and the violent reactions that followed. In fact, we regret that some Episcopates have taken advantage of this to conduct an open rebellion against the Sovereign Pontiff. We are particularly disheartened by the attitude of the German Episcopate that has not ceased to show its hostility stripped of charity and its continuous judgements of intention, treating us “hatefully, without misgiving or restraint”, as the Holy Father justly said in his letter of last March 10th.

We know that our situation, before the law of the Church, is imperfect. This is not new, and is intimately linked with the crisis that is affecting the Church and the state of necessity that flows from it. Then, it is useless to invoke law to try to suffocate the life of our priestly society. The other ordinations will take place as planned. There has never been any question of cancelling them. Indeed, the kind act of the Holy See should not be interpreted as a determination to strangle the Society of Saint Pius X.

We are sticking to the schedule as indicated by the decree of last January 21st which provides for the “necessary talks” concerning the Council Vatican II and its novelties. To the Holy Father, we repeat our promise of our prayer so that the full light of the whole Truth may bloom from these doctrinal discussions.

Menzingen, March 24th 2009.

+ Bernard Fellay

43% of French Catholics wish to see Benedict XVI go

(Reuters, 21/03/2009)
PARIS - According to an Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche, 43% percent of French Catholics desire the departure of Pope Benedict XVI who has been widely criticized after his recent statements about condoms. If 54% want him to remain in the Vatican, 83% of the Catholics of France believe that the Church must change its discourse and its positions on abortion to reflect changes in society.
According to the survey which is to be published on Sunday, they also want the Church to change its discourse and its positions on homosexuality (69%), remarriage for the divorced (77%), and contraception (85%).
The survey was conducted from March 19 to 20 among a sample of 620 Catholics representative of the French population aged 18 and over, following the remarks of the pope.
From the plane which brought him to Africa last Tuesday, Benedict XVI asserted (estimé) that distribution of condoms was not a means to fight the AIDS pandemic, but on the contrary it aggravates the problem.
The first CSA poll for Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui published on Saturday showed that the image of the pope had deteriorated significantly in France, including among Catholics.
According to this study, 23% of the French say they have a good opinion of Benedict XVI while that figure was 53% in September. There are now 57% who have a poor opinion of him in contrast to 25% six months ago.
Among Catholics, 29% of those responding say they have a good image of the pope compared to 65% in September. 55% expressed a negative opinion compared to 19% six months ago.
The declining image of the pope is also confirmed by Catholics who practice regularly of which only 52% (compared to 86% in September) have a good opinion of him.
The CSA poll was conducted by telephone on March 18 and 19 from a sample of 1012 people representative of the French population.
France Wednesday expressed "its profound concern" ("sa très vive inquietude") in the wake the of the pope’s comments.
"These words are regressive and we are very concerned about these statements which call into question the spirit and the struggle of several decades" against AIDS, said Rama Yade, Secretary of State responsible for human rights.

Mission: it is our duty to offer everyone
the possibility of attaining eternal life

At this moment I would like to go back in thought five centuries, to the years following 1506, when, in these lands, then visited by the Portuguese, the first sub-Saharan Christian kingdom was established, thanks to the faith and determination of the king, Dom Alphonsus I Mbemba-a-Nzinga, who reigned from 1506 until his death in 1543. 

The kingdom remained officially Catholic from the sixteenth century until the eighteenth, with its own ambassador in Rome. You see how two quite different ethnic groups – the Bantu and the Portuguese – were able to find in the Christian religion common ground for understanding, and committed themselves to ensuring that this understanding would be long-lasting, and that differences – which undoubtedly existed, and great ones at that – would not divide the two kingdoms! For Baptism enables all believers to be one in Christ.

Today it is up to you, brothers and sisters, following in the footsteps of those heroic and holy heralds of God, to offer the Risen Christ to your fellow citizens. So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers. 

Who can go to them to proclaim that Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers (cf. Eph 1:19-23; 6:10-12)? Someone may object: “Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves.” But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real – indeed, the most real thing of all – is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life.
Benedict XVI
Mass with religious of Angola and São Tomé
Luanda, Angola
March 21, 2009

Tunicled Acolytes in Manila

The Hermandad de la Sagrada Pasion de Jesus held a procession last March 15 in Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila. Just like the Grand Marian Procession last December 7 in Intramuros, the procession featured the traditional Hispanic practice of vesting the acolytes, thurifers and crucifers in tunicles.
Intrmuros was the capital of Spanish Philippines from 1571 to 1898. Until their destruction during World War II, the monasteries and churches of the Walled City had lovingly preserved many medieval liturgical practices from Spain, such as the use of the cortina to hide the sanctuary during Lent, and tunicled acolytes. Since the 1980's, there have been modest attempts to revive the liturgical and devotional traditions associated with Intramuros. Pray that eventually, the life-giving heart of these traditions -- the Usus Antiquior -- will find its way back to Manila Cathedral (the massive church in the middle picture) .

Martyrological nature of the primacy of Peter

In October 1998, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger issued a document on the Primacy of the Successor of Peter. This document is available here:

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote: "The Roman Pontiff - like all the faithful - is subject to the Word of God, to the Catholic faith, and is the guarantor of the Church's obedience; in this sense he is servus servorum Dei. He does not make arbitrary decisions, but is spokesman for the will of the Lord, who speaks to man in the Scriptures lived and interpreted by Tradition; in other words, the episkope of the primacy has limits set by divine law and by the Church's divine, inviolable constitution found in Revelation. The Successor of Peter is the rock which guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism: hence the martyrological nature of his primacy."

It is given today to Pope Benedict XVI to live in his flesh this reality of his ministry. Let us pray to Saint Joseph, Protector of the Holy Church and Patron Saint of the Holy Father to assist, guide and strengthen Pope Benedict XVI in his difficult task. God bless the Holy Father!
Father Laurent Demets, FSSP

Saint Joseph: Complete submission to the will of God

I ... encourage you to look to Saint Joseph. When Mary received the visit of the angel at the Annunciation, she was already betrothed to Joseph. In addressing Mary personally, the Lord already closely associates Joseph to the mystery of the Incarnation. Joseph agreed to be part of the great events which God was beginning to bring about in the womb of his spouse. He took Mary into his home. He welcomed the mystery that was in Mary and the mystery that was Mary herself. He loved her with great respect, which is the mark of all authentic love. Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing. In contemplating Joseph, all men and women can, by God’s grace, come to experience healing from their emotional wounds, if only they embrace the plan that God has begun to bring about in those close to him, just as Joseph entered into the work of redemption through Mary and as a result of what God had already done in her.
Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life. In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a “just man” (Mt 1:19) because his existence is “ad-justed” to the word of God.
The life of Saint Joseph, lived in obedience to God’s word, is an eloquent sign for all the disciples of Jesus who seek the unity of the Church. His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of his plan to gather together all mankind into one family, one assembly, one “ecclesia”. Dear friends from other Christian confessions, this quest for unity among the disciples of Christ represents a great challenge for us. It leads us first of all to be converted to the Person of Christ, to let ourselves be drawn more and more to him. In him, we are called to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. During this year dedicated to the Apostle Paul, the great herald of Jesus Christ and the Apostle of the Nations, let us all turn towards him so as to hear and learn “the faith and truth” which are the deepest reasons for the unity of Christ’s disciples.
Benedict XVI
March 18, 2009

Ite ad Ioseph


In Solemnitate Sancti Ioseph,
«Protector Sanctæ Ecclesiæ»,
Eum deprecemur pro Beatissimo Papa Nostro Benedicto XVI,
olim Cardinalis Iosephus Ratzinger

Ad te beate Ioseph,
in tribulatione nostra confugimus, atque, implorato Sponsæ tuæ sanctissimæ auxilio, patrocinium quoque tuum fidenter exposcimus. Per eam, quæsumus, quæ te cum immaculata Virgine Dei Genitrice coniunxit, caritatem, perque paternum, quo Puerum Iesum amplexus es, amorem, supplices deprecamur, ut ad hereditatem, quam Iesus Christus acquisivit Sanguine suo, benignus respicias, ac necessitatibus nostris tua virtute et ope succurras.

Tuere, o Custos providentissime divinæ Familiæ, Iesu Christi sobolem electam; prohibe a nobis, amantissime Pater, omnem errorum ac corruptelarum luem; propitius nobis, sospitator noster fortissime, in hoc cum potestate tenebrarum certamine e cælo adesto; et sicut olim Puerum Iesum e summo eripuisti vitæ discrimine, ita nunc Ecclesiam sanctam Dei ab hostilibus insidiis atque ab omni adversitate defende: nosque singulos perpetuo tege patrocinio, ut ad tui exemplar et ope tua suffulti, sancte vivere, pie emori, sempiternamque in cælis beatitudinem assequi possimus.
A Leone XIII scripta

“This Pope is becoming a real problem”

Former Prime Minister of France speaks his mind to France Culture about Benedict XVI

Former Prime Minister Alain Juppé (UMP), interviewed Wednesday by France Culture concerning the words of Benedict XVI denouncing condoms, said that "this pope is becoming a real problem" because he is living “in a situation of total autism."

The current mayor of Bordeaux who says he is Catholic "because I was born into it" and because "I am committed to Christian values" assured that, “This pope is becoming a real problem." He cited the reinstatement of Bishops "one of which is the apostle - dare I say – of negationism." Juppé also commented on the excommunication in Brazil and the question of condoms.

In Brazil, "that a nine year old girl who was raped, whose life is in danger, should be – if not herself, then at least her parents and the doctor who helped her abort – excommunicated; that is an extraordinary lack of Christian charity" continued the former head of government.

"To go say in Africa that condoms increase the danger of AIDS is, first of all an untruth and it is inacceptable for the African people and for everyone else," he continued. "There is a real problem, I feel a profound sense of uneasiness all around me" said Mr. Juppe, who has "the impression" that the pope "lives in a situation of total autism.”



Regarding the article entitled "Dalla parte della bambina brasiliana” [by Archbishop "Rino" Fisichella] and published in L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO on March 15, we the undersigned declare:

1. The fact [the rape of the little girl] did not happen in Recife, as the article states, but in the city of Alagoinha (Diocese of Pesqueira).

2. All of us - beginning with the parish priest of Alagoinha (undersigned) - treated the pregnant girl and her family with all charity and tenderness. The Parish priest, making use of his pastoral solicitude, when aware of the news in his residence, immediately went to the house of the family, in which he met the girl and lent her his support and presence, before the grave and difficult situation in which the girl found herself. And this attitude continued every day, from Alagoinha to Recife, where the sad event of the abortion of the two innocent [babies] took place. Therefore, it is quite evident and unequivocal that nobody thought in "excommunication" in the first place. We used all means at our disposal to avoid the abortion and thus save all THREE lives. The Parish priest personally joined the local Children's Council in all efforts which sought the welfare of the child and of her two children. In the hospital, in daily visits, he displayed attitudes of care and attention which made clear both to the child and to her mother that they were not alone, but that the Church, represented by the local Parish priest, assured them of the necessary assistance and of the certainty that all would be done for the welfare of the girl and to save her two children.

3. After the girl was transferred to a hospital of the city of Recife, we tried to use all legal means to avoid the abortion. The Church never displayed any omission in the hospital. The girl's parish priest made daily visits to the hospital, traveling from the city which is 230 km [140 mi] away from Recife, making every effort so that both the child and the mother felt the presence of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who seeks the sheep who need most attention. Therefore, the case was treated with all due care by the Church, and not 'sbrigativamente' [summarily], as the article says.

4. We do not agree [with Archbishop Fisichella] that the "decision is hard... for the moral law itself". Our Holy Church continues to proclaim that the moral law is exceedingly clear: it is never licit to eliminate the life of an innocent person to save another life. The objective facts are these: there are doctors who explicitly declare that they perform and will continue to perform abortions, while others declare with the same firmness that they will never perform abortions. Here is the declaration written and signed by a Brazilian Catholic physician: "...As an obstetrician for 50 years, graduated in the National Medical School of the University of Brazil, and former chief of Obstetrics in the Hospital of Andarai [Rio de Janeiro], in which I served for 35 years until I retired in order to dedicate myself to the Diaconate, and having delivered 4,524 babies, many from juvenile [mothers], I never had to resort to an abortion to 'save lives', as well as all my colleagues, sincere and honest in their profession and faithful to their Hippocratic oath. ..."

5. The affirmation [in the article] that the fact was made public in the newspapers only because the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife rushed to declare the excommunication is false. It suffices to notice that the case was made public in Alagoinha on Wednesday, February 25; the Archbishop made his pronouncement to the press on March 3; and the abortion was performed on March 4. It would be too much to imagine that the Brazilian press, before a fact of such gravity, would have silenced during the period of six days. Therefore, the news of the pregnant girl ("Carmen") was made public in the newspapers before the consummation of the abortion. Only after that, when asked by journalists, on March 3 (Tuesday), the Archbishop mentioned canon 1398. We are convinced that the disclosure of this therapeutic penalty (the excommunication) will do much good to many Catholics, making them avoid this grievous sin. The silence of the Church would be very prejudicial, especially considering that fifty million abortions are being performed every year around the world, and in Brazil alone one million innocent lives are ended. The silence may be interpreted as collusion or complicity. If any doctor has a "perplexed conscience" [as the article says] before performing an abortion (which seems extremely improbable to us), he should - if he is a Catholic and wishes to follow the law of God - seek a spiritual director.

6. The article is, in other words, a direct attack of the defense of the lives of the three children vehemently made by Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho and leaves evident how much the author does not have the necessary data or information to speak on the matter, due to his utter ignorance of the facts. The text may be interpreted as an apologia of abortion, violating the Magisterium of the Church. The abortionist doctors were not in the moral crossroads mentioned by the text; on the contrary, they performed the abortion with full knowledge and coherence with what they believe and teach. The hospital in which the abortion on the little girl was performed is one of those in which this procedure is always performed in our state, under the cover of "legality". The doctors who acted as executioners of the twins declared, and still declare in the national media, that they did what they are used to doing "with great pride". One of them declared even that: "Then, I have been excommunicated many times".

7. The author believed he could speak about [a situation] he did not know, and, what is worse, he did not even have the trouble of first speaking to his brother in the episcopate, and, for his imprudent attitude, he is causing great scandal among the Catholic faithful in Brazil who are believing that Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho was rash in his pronouncements. Instead of seeking his brother in the episcopate, he chose to believe in our openly Anti-clerical press.

Recife-PE, March 16, 2009

Fr. Cícero Ferreira de Paula
Chancellor - Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife

Mons. Edvaldo Bezerra da Silva
Vicar General - Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife

Fr Moisés Ferreira de Lima
Rector of the Archdiocesan Seminary

Dr. Márcio Miranda
Attorney for the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife

Fr. Edson Rodrigues
Parish priest of Alagoinha-PE - Diocese of Pesqueira

Live Event

The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate will broadcast live the Missa Cantata (yes, a Traditional Mass) for the Solemnity of St Joseph on Thursday, March 19, at 7pm EDT (11pm GMT) from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, in Connecticut

Live broadcast will begin below at the time of the event.

The Christian message always brings hope

I come among you as a pastor, I come to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith. This was the role that Christ entrusted to Peter at the Last Supper, and it is the role of Peter’s successors. When Peter preached to the multitudes in Jerusalem at Pentecost, there were visitors from Africa present among them. And the witness of many great saints from this continent during the first centuries of Christianity – Saint Cyprian, Saint Monica, Saint Augustine, Saint Athanasius, to name but a few – guarantees a distinguished place for Africa in the annals of Church history. 

Right up to the present day, waves of missionaries and martyrs have continued to bear witness to Christ throughout Africa, and today the Church is blessed with almost a hundred and fifty million members. How fitting then, that Peter’s successor should come to Africa, to celebrate with you the life-giving faith in Christ that sustains and nourishes so many of the sons ad daughters of this great continent! 
Even amid the greatest suffering, the Christian message always brings hope. The life of Saint Josephine Bakhita offers a shining example of the transformation that an encounter with the living God can bring to a situation of great hardship and injustice. In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent. The saving message of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loud and clear, so that the light of Christ can shine into the darkness of people’s lives.
Benedict XVI
Welcoming ceremony - Yaoundé, Cameroon
March 17, 2009

For continuing coverage of the Papal visit to Africa, visit the special websites of Radio Vaticana and of the Holy See.

Ongoing Vatican wars
Rino Fisichella, saboteur

On the matter of the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, in Brazil, and his brave defense of Church doctrine and Canon law, as well as the pathetic and repulsively lukewarm article written by the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop "Rino" Fisichella, there is nothing else to add to the combative words of the great Spanish blogger Francisco José Fernández de la Cigoña.

The late intervention of Fisichella happened after Cardinal Re had already assured the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife of the support of the Holy See. But the careerists and showmen in the Vatican always have to appear when they are not being noticed.
Something is not working at the Vatican

The contradictions, the denials, saying something today when something else was said yesterday: it is all too much. With evident delight of all the enemies of the Church. Nothing of the sort has ever been seen. Some want the Church of certainties to become the Church of doubts. Where everything goes. Both black and white.

Morals a la carte, renouncement to principles, the [notion that] everything goes according to what is convenient is being imposed de facto. Or at least this is what some intend. The result is that the walls of the fortress are being breached. And some are delighted. The truth is not in the Church anymore. Some say one thing, and others say the opposite. If all kingdom divided shall fall, there are some who are already popping the champagne.

The news of the excommunication of those who participated in an abortion was not really [news], even though some wished to exploit the repugnant circumstances of the fact to attack the Church. Human life was sacred until the day before yesterday, from its conception to its end. Now, it seems it varies. It is [sacred] in some cases, and less so in others.

The Church chose the excommunication of the qualified authors of abortion confronted with the astounding crime multiplied by millions. She could not have done so, and it would still be a crime and a sin. But she did it. I suppose that by weighing the pros and the cons. The terrorist attacks in which hundreds are killed, the cases of abuse of children of very young age, ... multiple rapes, the bombing of defenseless populations... [sic] Their perpetrators, guilty of most grievous sin, are not excommunicated latae sententiae. But those who perform an abortion are. Or at least they were until yesterday. It is unknown today.

Because it seems that there are good abortions. Such as the one of Brazil. Quite a box has been opened! Let us now see how it will be closed.

... Whoever participated directly and effectively in the abortion of the Brazilian girl is excommunicated. With the declaration of the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife or without it. The Brazilian prelate might not have declared what already had taken place. And, considering what happened, perhaps that would have been more prudent. But he did not do other than expressing what the Church affirmed until yesterday. And I would like to suppose that she still affirms it.

I criticized the fact that a French bishop meddled in the Brazilian affair, and with words which almost justified that abortion. I believe that the Frenchmen are four at least by now. And they are now strengthened by an Italian who is none other than the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. And the encomium mortis of the one who should in theory be the defender of life deserved the pages of L'Osservatore Romano. It is all absurd.

You will now see the attempts, difficult if not impossible, to put the toothpaste back in the tube. The general interpretation, and it is enough to read the world media, is that the Church legitimizes an abortion. That there are good abortions. That the Church has at last given in. And that she has recognized her error.

I am convinced that once again nothing will happen. ... I personally believe that Salvatore Fisichella, Rino to his friends, should resign today. Or be dismissed. And also the director of L'Osservatore.

Vianney, the model priest

[Pope Benedict XVI:] "In order to favor this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". [This year marks] "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".

The Pope will inaugurate the Year on 19 June, presiding at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica where the relics of the saintly 'Cure of Ars' will be brought for the occasion by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France. He will close the year on 19 June 2010, presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as patron saint of all the priests of the world. A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Supreme Pontiff on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The Congregation for the Clergy, together with diocesan ordinaries and superiors of religious institutes, will undertake to promote and co-ordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives which are being organised to highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society, and the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians.
Holy See Press Office

Note: Currently,  Saint John Mary Vianney, is the Patron Saint of Parish Priests - declared so by the Pope who canonized him, Pius XI. More papal words on Saint John Mary Vianney: Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia  (John XXIII).

Words of Doctrine: 
Primacy at the service of Church unity
Fr. Nicola Bux and Fr. Salvatore Vitiello

Seventy years ago, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, a Roman, was elected Pope with the name Pius XII. In those days, no one could imagine that the college of cardinals or the college of bishops would ever fail to be “in agreement in what you profess – according to the words of the Apostle – so that you are perfectly united in your beliefs and judgements” (1 Cor 1,10). Also John XXIII, in his opening discourse to the Council, could speak of “renewed, serene and tranquil adhesion to all the teachings of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council”. Could we ever imagine that the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, could speak not in unison? Could we ever conceive ecclesiology of communion, overlooking what the Council said about the primacy (cfr Lumen gentium 13, 22 e 23) ?

Therefore, the whole Church, bishops, priests and lay faithful, would do well to reflect on the meek and argued words of the Holy Father Benedict XVI at the Major Roman Seminary and at the Angelus on Sunday 22 February and put an end to “polemics that are born where faith degenerates into intellectualism and humility is substituted by the arrogance of being better than the other … a caricature of the Church that should be one in mind and heart ”. These words express a patient exercise of Primacy and should be accepted by all Catholics with humble docility.

The Holy Father knows that Primacy has its own 'martyrological structure' because “God's message cannot be chained up. ”(2 Tm 2,9) and this is true for every Pope. The Primacy of Peter exists and operates because ecclesial communion cannot be destructive, indeed the Creed calls it ‘Catholic’. On this matter it is better to turn to what he wrote as a theologian, in Introduction to Christianity: “one fundamental idea is documented, since the beginning, as determinant: the words refer to unity of place: the ‘Catholic church', is only a community united with the bishop, not partial groups, which, for some reason or another, have separated themselves from it. Secondly, what is referred to here is the unity of local Churches among themselves, since they are not to close in on themselves they are the Church only if they remain open to one another, forming the one Church […] the adjective ‘Catholic’ expresses the Church's episcopal structure and the necessity for unity of all the bishops among themselves […]” (It. edition, ed. Queriniana-Vaticana, 2005, p 335).

After observing that this idea does not constitute the primary element, he states: “Fundamental elements of the Church are rather forgiveness, conversion, penance, Eucharistic communion and then, on this basis, plurality and unity: plurality of the local Churches, which are Church only through insertion into the body of the one Church […]Episcopal constitution appears in the background as a means of this unity[…]. An ulterior stage, again in the order of means, will be constituted by the service of the Bishop of Rome. One thing is clear: the Church is not to be seen starting from her organisation, instead her organisation must be understood starting from the Church. However at the same time it is clear that, for the visible Church, visible unity is something more than simple ‘organisation’.[…] Only by being ‘Catholic’, that is visibly one but with multiplicity, can she respond to what is demanded by the Symbol. In a torn and divided world the Church must be a sign and a means of unity, she must cross barriers and unite nations, races, classes. To what point, also in this task, has she failed, we know all too well […]despite everything…instead of simply denigrating the past, we should above all demonstrate that we are ready to answer the call of the present, striving not simply to confess the Catholicity of the Creed, but to achieve it in the life of our torn world ” (It. edition, p 336-337). [FIDES]

Editorial Note:
The buck stops here!

"I am Peter. God gave me, and nobody else, the responsibility to govern His Church and foster her unity. I have vowed to do so, and I will fulfill it to the best of my ability." That is the main thrust of the Papal letter to the bishops, an "encyclical" in the etymological sense of the word, that is, a circular personal letter addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church. 

"I believe that I set forth clearly the priorities of my pontificate in the addresses which I gave at its beginning. Everything that I said then continues unchanged as my plan of action." 

In that plan of action, the "first priority for the Successor of Peter was laid down by the Lord in the Upper Room in the clearest of terms: 'You… strengthen your brothers' (Lk 22:32)". Strengthen, certainly, but for what? To fulfill the mission of the Church, salus animarum, which includes struggling against the real problem of our time.

"The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects." And he clarifies it: "Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses 'to the end' (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen." 

To the end, to the end... "Whoever proclaims that God is Love 'to the end' has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity..." And Peter is willing to suffer, to suffer abuse even from Catholics: "even Catholics who... thought they had to attack me with open hostility". He does not have to add explicitly, but it should be clear: "even from many of you, brother Bishops, to whom I adress this letter". The Catholics who offend him have lost track of what the priority of the Church is.

Their hostility, their hatred, is the same hatred that the world has always reserved for Christ and His followers. Yes, you world leaders, as well as you pseudo-Progressive Catholics, ambassadors of the world in the Church, whom do you serve when you hate? The Church? Why do you feel the need to hate? The world, following its prince, needs "to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint." 

The Pope's message is clear: "this 'biting and devouring' also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom". Freedom in the Church must be a freedom subjected to the "supreme priority, which is love". Liberty not for its own sake (Liberalism), but always obedient to Christ through His Church, and though the only true "great defender" of all its Councils, the Pope: "Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life."

of the Superior General
of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX]

Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, dated March 10 2009, in which he made them aware of the intentions which guided him in this important step which is the Decree of January 21, 2009.

After "an avalanche of protests was unleashed" recently, we greatly thank the Holy Father for having placed the debate at the level on which it should take place, that of the faith. We fully share his utmost concern for preaching to "our age, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel".

The Church lives, in fact, through a major crisis which cannot be solved other than by an integral return to the purity of the faith. With Saint Athanasius, we profess that "Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the Catholic faith: whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally." (Quicumque Creed)

Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this Tradition which Saint Vincent of Lérins defined as that "which has been believed everywhere, always, by all" (Commonitorium), without rupture and in a perfectly homogenous development. It is thus that we will be able to contribute efficaciously to the evangelization asked for by the Savior (cf. Matthew, 28,19-20).

The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its will to address the doctrinal discussions considered "necessary" by the Decree of January 21, with the desire of serving the revealed Truth which is the first charity to be shown towards all men, Christian or not. It assures him of its prayers so that his faith may not fail and that he may confirm all his brethren (cf. Luke 22 32).

We place these doctrinal discussions under the protection of Our Lady of All Trust, with the assurance that she will obtain for us the grace of faithfully delivering that which we received, "tradidi quod et accepi" (I Cor. 15,3).

Menzingen, March 12 2009

+ Bernard Fellay

concerning the remission of the excommunication
of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre

Dear Brothers in the Episcopal Ministry!

The remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without a mandate of the Holy See has for many reasons caused, both within and beyond the Catholic Church, a discussion more heated than any we have seen for a long time. Many Bishops felt perplexed by an event which came about unexpectedly and was difficult to view positively in the light of the issues and tasks facing the Church today. Even though many Bishops and members of the faithful were disposed in principle to take a positive view of the Pope’s concern for reconciliation, the question remained whether such a gesture was fitting in view of the genuinely urgent demands of the life of faith in our time. Some groups, on the other hand, openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed, whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment. I therefore feel obliged to offer you, dear Brothers, a word of clarification, which ought to help you understand the concerns which led me and the competent offices of the Holy See to take this step. In this way I hope to contribute to peace in the Church.

An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately suddenly appeared as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the Council had laid down in this regard to guide the Church’s path. A gesture of reconciliation with an ecclesial group engaged in a process of separation thus turned into its very antithesis: an apparent step backwards with regard to all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews taken since the Council – steps which my own work as a theologian had sought from the beginning to take part in and support. That this overlapping of two opposed processes took place and momentarily upset peace between Christians and Jews, as well as peace within the Church, is something which I can only deeply deplore. I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news. I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility. Precisely for this reason I thank all the more our Jewish friends, who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust which – as in the days of Pope John Paul II – has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to exist.

Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects individuals, not institutions. An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope. Consequently the Church must react by employing her most severe punishment – excommunication – with the aim of calling those thus punished to repent and to return to unity. Twenty years after the ordinations, this goal has sadly not yet been attained. The remission of the excommunication has the same aim as that of the punishment: namely, to invite the four Bishops once more to return. This gesture was possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council. Here I return to the distinction between individuals and institutions. The remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" – the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope – to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes. The collegial bodies with which the Congregation studies questions which arise (especially the ordinary Wednesday meeting of Cardinals and the annual or biennial Plenary Session) ensure the involvement of the Prefects of the different Roman Congregations and representatives from the world’s Bishops in the process of decision-making. The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

I hope, dear Brothers, that this serves to clarify the positive significance and also the limits of the provision of 21 January 2009. But the question still remains: Was this measure needed? Was it really a priority? Aren’t other things perhaps more important? Of course there are more important and urgent matters. I believe that I set forth clearly the priorities of my pontificate in the addresses which I gave at its beginning. Everything that I said then continues unchanged as my plan of action. The first priority for the Successor of Peter was laid down by the Lord in the Upper Room in the clearest of terms: "You… strengthen your brothers" (Lk 22:32). Peter himself formulated this priority anew in his first Letter: "Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses "to the end" (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.

Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith – ecumenism – is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light – this is interreligious dialogue. Whoever proclaims that God is Love "to the end" has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity – this is the social dimension of the Christian faith, of which I spoke in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

So if the arduous task of working for faith, hope and love in the world is presently (and, in various ways, always) the Church’s real priority, then part of this is also made up of acts of reconciliation, small and not so small. That the quiet gesture of extending a hand gave rise to a huge uproar, and thus became exactly the opposite of a gesture of reconciliation, is a fact which we must accept. But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who "has something against you" (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation? Should not civil society also try to forestall forms of extremism and to incorporate their eventual adherents – to the extent possible – in the great currents shaping social life, and thus avoid their being segregated, with all its consequences? Can it be completely mistaken to work to break down obstinacy and narrowness, and to make space for what is positive and retrievable for the whole? I myself saw, in the years after 1988, how the return of communities which had been separated from Rome changed their interior attitudes; I saw how returning to the bigger and broader Church enabled them to move beyond one-sided positions and broke down rigidity so that positive energies could emerge for the whole. Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?

Certainly, for some time now, and once again on this specific occasion, we have heard from some representatives of that community many unpleasant things – arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions, etc. Yet to tell the truth, I must add that I have also received a number of touching testimonials of gratitude which clearly showed an openness of heart. But should not the great Church also allow herself to be generous in the knowledge of her great breadth, in the knowledge of the promise made to her? Should not we, as good educators, also be capable of overlooking various faults and making every effort to open up broader vistas? And should we not admit that some unpleasant things have also emerged in Church circles? At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.

Dear Brothers, during the days when I first had the idea of writing this letter, by chance, during a visit to the Roman Seminary, I had to interpret and comment on Galatians 5:13-15. I was surprised at the directness with which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: "Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." I am always tempted to see these words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in Saint Paul. To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this "biting and devouring" also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians? That at the very least we are threatened by the same temptations? That we must always learn anew the proper use of freedom? And that we must always learn anew the supreme priority, which is love? The day I spoke about this at the Major Seminary, the feast of Our Lady of Trust was being celebrated in Rome. And so it is: Mary teaches us trust. She leads us to her Son, in whom all of us can put our trust. He will be our guide – even in turbulent times. And so I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many Bishops who have lately offered me touching tokens of trust and affection, and above all assured me of their prayers. My thanks also go to all the faithful who in these days have given me testimony of their constant fidelity to the Successor of Saint Peter. May the Lord protect all of us and guide our steps along the way of peace. This is the prayer that rises up instinctively from my heart at the beginning of this Lent, a liturgical season particularly suited to interior purification, one which invites all of us to look with renewed hope to the light which awaits us at Easter.

With a special Apostolic Blessing, I remain
Yours in the Lord,


From the Vatican, 10 March 2009