Rorate Caeli

Pope's Christmas Address: "Gender theory" is nonsense;
Dialogue: the Christian is confident because he is possessed by the Truth

The Holy Father's yearly Christmas Address to the Roman Curia:

Dear Cardinals,

Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great joy that I meet you today, dear Members of the College of Cardinals, Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governorate, for this traditional event in the days leading up to the feast of Christmas. I greet each one of you cordially, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his kind words and for the warm good wishes that he extended to me on behalf of all present. The Dean of the College of Cardinals reminded us of an expression that appears frequently during these days in the Latin liturgy: Prope est iam Dominus, venite, adoremus! The Lord is already near, come, let us adore him! We too, as one family, prepare ourselves to adore the Child in the stable at Bethlehem who is God himself and has come so close as to become a man like us. I willingly reciprocate your good wishes and I thank all of you from my heart, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the generous and competent assistance that each of you offers me in my ministry.

Once again we find ourselves at the end of a year that has seen all kinds of difficult situations, important questions and challenges, but also signs of hope, both in the Church and in the world. I shall mention just a few key elements regarding the life of the Church and my Petrine ministry. First of all, there were the journeys to Mexico and Cuba – unforgettable encounters with the power of faith, so deeply rooted in human hearts, and with the joie de vivre that issues from faith. I recall how, on my arrival in Mexico, there were endless crowds of people lining the long route, cheering and waving flags and handkerchiefs. I recall how, on the journey to the attractive provincial capital Guanajuato, there were young people respectfully kneeling by the side of the road to receive the blessing of Peter’s Successor; I recall how the great liturgy beside the statue of Christ the King made Christ’s kingship present among us – his peace, his justice, his truth. All this took place against the backdrop of the country’s problems, afflicted as it is by many different forms of violence and the hardships of economic dependence. While these problems cannot be solved simply by religious fervour, neither can they be solved without the inner purification of hearts that issues from the power of faith, from the encounter with Jesus Christ. And then there was Cuba – here too there were great liturgical celebrations, in which the singing, the praying and the silence made tangibly present the One that the country’s authorities had tried for so long to exclude. That country’s search for a proper balancing of the relationship between obligations and freedom cannot succeed without reference to the basic criteria that mankind has discovered through encounter with the God of Jesus Christ.

As further key moments in the course of the year, I should like to single out the great Meeting of Families in Milan and the visit to Lebanon, where I consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation that is intended to offer signposts for the life of churches and society in the Middle East along the difficult paths of unity and peace. The last major event of the year was the Synod on the New Evangelization, which also served as a collective inauguration of the Year of Faith, in which we commemorate the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, seeking to understand it anew and appropriate it anew in the changed circumstances of today.

All these occasions spoke to fundamental themes of this moment in history: the family (Milan), serving peace in the world and dialogue among religions (Lebanon) and proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ in our day to those who have yet to encounter him and to the many who know him only externally and hence do not actually recognize him. Among these broad themes, I should like to focus particularly on the theme of the family and the nature of dialogue, and then to add a brief observation on the question of the new evangelization.

The great joy with which families from all over the world congregated in Milan indicates that, despite all impressions to the contrary, the family is still strong and vibrant today. But there is no denying the crisis that threatens it to its foundations – especially in the western world. It was noticeable that the Synod repeatedly emphasized the significance of the family as the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence. This is something we learn by living it with others and suffering it with others. So it became clear that the question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human. The challenges involved are manifold. First of all there is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment. Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? Does this correspond to man’s nature? Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to freedom? Is commitment also worth suffering for? Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.

At this point I would like to address the second major theme, which runs through the whole of the past year from Assisi to the Synod on the New Evangelization: the question of dialogue and proclamation. Let us speak firstly of dialogue. For the Church in our day I see three principal areas of dialogue, in which she must be present in the struggle for man and his humanity: dialogue with states, dialogue with society – which includes dialogue with cultures and with science – and finally dialogue with religions. In all these dialogues the Church speaks on the basis of the light given her by faith. But at the same time she incorporates the memory of mankind, which is a memory of man’s experiences and sufferings from the beginnings and down the centuries, in which she has learned about the human condition, she has experienced its boundaries and its grandeur, its opportunities and its limitations. Human culture, of which she is a guarantee, has developed from the encounter between divine revelation and human existence. The Church represents the memory of what it means to be human in the face of a civilization of forgetfulness, which knows only itself and its own criteria. Yet just as an individual without memory has lost his identity, so too a human race without memory would lose its identity. What the Church has learned from the encounter between revelation and human experience does indeed extend beyond the realm of pure reason, but it is not a separate world that has nothing to say to unbelievers. By entering into the thinking and understanding of mankind, this knowledge broadens the horizon of reason and thus it speaks also to those who are unable to share the faith of the Church. In her dialogue with the state and with society, the Church does not, of course, have ready answers for individual questions. Along with other forces in society, she will wrestle for the answers that best correspond to the truth of the human condition. The values that she recognizes as fundamental and non-negotiable for the human condition she must propose with all clarity. She must do all she can to convince, and this can then stimulate political action.

In man’s present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue of religions has various dimensions. In the first place it is simply a dialogue of life, a dialogue of being together. This will not involve discussing the great themes of faith – whether God is Trinitarian or how the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures is to be understood, and so on. It is about the concrete problems of coexistence and shared responsibility for society, for the state, for humanity. In the process, it is necessary to learn to accept the other in his otherness and the otherness of his thinking. To this end, the shared responsibility for justice and peace must become the guiding principle of the conversation. A dialogue about peace and justice is bound to pass beyond the purely pragmatic to an ethical quest for the values that come before everything. In this way what began as a purely practical dialogue becomes a quest for the right way to live as a human being. Even if the fundamental choices themselves are not under discussion, the search for an answer to a specific question becomes a process in which, through listening to the other, both sides can obtain purification and enrichment. Thus this search can also mean taking common steps towards the one truth, even if the fundamental choices remain unaltered. If both sides set out from a hermeneutic of justice and peace, the fundamental difference will not disappear, but a deeper closeness will emerge nevertheless.

Two rules are generally regarded nowadays as fundamental for interreligious dialogue:

1. Dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at understanding. In this respect it differs from evangelization, from mission;
2. Accordingly, both parties to the dialogue remain consciously within their identity, which the dialogue does not place in question either for themselves or for the other.

These rules are correct, but in the way they are formulated here I still find them too superficial. True, dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at better mutual understanding – that is correct. But all the same, the search for knowledge and understanding always has to involve drawing closer to the truth. Both sides in this piece-by-piece approach to truth are therefore on the path that leads forward and towards greater commonality, brought about by the oneness of the truth. As far as preserving identity is concerned, it would be too little for the Christian, so to speak, to assert his identity in a such a way that he effectively blocks the path to truth. Then his Christianity would appear as something arbitrary, merely propositional. He would seem not to reckon with the possibility that religion has to do with truth. On the contrary, I would say that the Christian can afford to be supremely confident, yes, fundamentally certain that he can venture freely into the open sea of the truth, without having to fear for his Christian identity. To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us: Christ, who is the truth, has taken us by the hand, and we know that his hand is holding us securely on the path of our quest for knowledge. Being inwardly held by the hand of Christ makes us free and keeps us safe: free – because if we are held by him, we can enter openly and fearlessly into any dialogue; safe – because he does not let go of us, unless we cut ourselves off from him. At one with him, we stand in the light of truth.

Finally, at least a brief word should be added on the subject of proclamation, or evangelization, on which the post-synodal document will speak in depth, on the basis of the Synod Fathers’ propositions. I find that the essential elements of the process of evangelizing appear most eloquently in Saint John’s account of the calling of two of John the Baptist’s disciples, who become disciples of Jesus Christ (1:35-39). First of all, we have the simple act of proclamation. John the Baptist points towards Jesus and says: “Behold the Lamb of God!” A similar act is recounted a few verses later. This time it is Andrew, who says to his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah” (1:41). The first and fundamental element is the straightforward proclamation, the kerygma, which draws its strength from the inner conviction of the one proclaiming. In the account of the two disciples, the next stage is that of listening and following behind Jesus, which is not yet discipleship, but rather a holy curiosity, a movement of seeking. Both of them, after all, are seekers, men who live over and above everyday affairs in the expectation of God – in the expectation that he exists and will reveal himself. Stimulated by the proclamation, their seeking becomes concrete. They want to come to know better the man described as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist. The third act is set in motion when Jesus turns round, approaches them and asks: “What do you seek?” They respond with a further question, which demonstrates the openness of their expectation, their readiness to take new steps. They ask: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus’ answer “Come and see!” is an invitation to walk with him and thereby to have their eyes opened with him.

The word of proclamation is effective in situations where man is listening in readiness for God to draw near, where man is inwardly searching and thus on the way towards the Lord. His heart is touched when Jesus turns towards him, and then his encounter with the proclamation becomes a holy curiosity to come to know Jesus better. As he walks with Jesus, he is led to the place where Jesus lives, to the community of the Church, which is his body. That means entering into the journeying community of catechumens, a community of both learning and living, in which our eyes are opened as we walk.

“Come and see!” This saying, addressed by Jesus to the two seeker-disciples, he also addresses to the seekers of today. At the end of the year, we pray to the Lord that the Church, despite all her shortcomings, may be increasingly recognizable as his dwelling-place. We ask him to open our eyes ever wider as we make our way to his house, so that we can say ever more clearly, ever more convincingly: “we have found him for whom the whole world is waiting, Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and true man”. With these sentiments, I wish you all from my heart a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. [Source]


  1. Thank the Lord that the Holy Father is speaking out about this "gender theory" garbage. This moral catastrophe is rife in the universities in the US; one can hardly take any course in the humanities without encountering some (usually female, feminist) "professor" spouting this non-sense. Is it any wonder why American "Higher Education" is an incubator and bastion of immorality and debauchery?

  2. Our Holy Father lifted my heart with his teaching about the two sexes and then he dashed my heart to the ground with his teaching on Dialogue with the world.

    As it is incontestably an irreformable doctrine that Holy Mother Church is the Ark of Salvation, and as it is incontestably part of Catholic Tradition that Holy Mother Church is The Ecclesia Docens then how can it conceivably be claimed that the new Ecclesiastical Praxis of Ecclesia Dialogus is in continuity with the past and Catholic Tradition when the novel praxis is incontestably in opposition to the past?

    This is profoundly dispiriting.

  3. A. M. D. G.3:10 PM

    "The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper."

    The Chief Rabbi of France? It took the Chief Rabbi of France? Well I guess someone has to say it... since no one in the Vatican has to the knowledge of Benedict XVI.

  4. Glenn4:15 PM

    ¨To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us¨ A nice Modernist dichotomy. It is a sign of our times that Catholics must keep one eye closed when reading Papal pronouncements and that we have to explain, ¨No, I do love and pray for the Holy Father¨.
    Why can not bishops now speak with that clarity which the Gospel demands?

  5. Dear IANS,

    How is EPED "in opposition to the past?" As long as we do not abandon the principles you cite in our dialogues with the adherents of false religions, seeking to guide the ignorant to the Truth, how could we go astray? Even St. Paul conceded to the Greeks and Jews that their doctrines contained kernels of the Truth.

  6. Dialogue?

    The Church is collapsing throughout the West.

    Catholics do not know the dogmas of the Faith.

    The enemies of the Catholic Faith are winning, because they are certain of their dogmas.

    The Council has failed, and the magnitude of the disaster is upon us.

    When the world needed the Gospel, proclaimed powerfully and with Signs accompanying, what it got was a step by step search for the "truth", which was never proclaimed in the first place, but instead "sought for".

    Utter disaster.

  7. gender theory is nonsense since it has no empirical basis. Nothing the gender constructivists have proposed debunk Darwin's theory of sexual selection.

  8. It's quite strange he cites the chief rabbi in France. He could've used his own papal authority to back up his statements.


  9. I find the negative comments here on dialogue very superficial.

    The problem with 60s and 70s "dialogue" is that it forgot about truth. The Holy Father is CLEARLY not doing that.

    Have any of your negative commentators every engaged anyone who doesn't share The Faith? My Goodness.

    All the Holy Father is saying is backed up by countless Fathers of the St. Augustine, for crying out loud! Read Aquinas!

  10. Are we all happy the Pope said that we do not possess the truth?

  11. In man’s present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities

    Dear Mr. Allen. I could post responses to this assertion all day long but I think the words of Pope Saint Pius X are an apt refutation:

    "Peace is the work of justice" (Is. xxii., 17). There are many, We are well aware, who, in their yearning for peace, that is for the tranquillity of order, band themselves into societies and parties, which they style parties of order. Hope and labor lost. For there is but one party of order capable of restoring peace in the midst of all this turmoil, and that is the party of God. It is this party, therefore, that we must advance, and to it attract as many as possible, if we are really urged by the love of peace.


    You see, then, Venerable Brethren, the duty that has been imposed alike upon Us and upon you of bringing back to the discipline of the Church human society, now estranged from the wisdom of Christ; the Church will then subject it to Christ, and Christ to God. If We, through the goodness of God Himself, bring this task to a happy issue, We shall be rejoiced to see evil giving place to good, and hear, for our gladness, " a loud voice from heaven saying: Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ." (Apoc. xii., 10.) But if our desire to obtain this is to be fulfilled, we must use every means and exert all our energy to bring about the utter disappearance of the enormous and detestable wickedness, so characteristic of our time -- the substitution of man for God; this done, it remains to restore to their ancient place of honor the most holy laws and counsels of the gospel; to proclaim aloud the truths taught by the Church, and her teachings on the sanctity of marriage, on the education and discipline of youth, on the possession and use of property, the duties that men owe to those who rule the State; and lastly to restore equilibrium between the different classes of society according to Christian precept and custom. This is what We, in submitting Ourselves to the manifestations of the Divine will, purpose to aim at during Our Pontificate, and We will use all our industry to attain it. It is for you, Venerable Brethren, to second Our efforts by your holiness, knowledge and experience and above all by your zeal for the glory of God, with no other aim than that Christ may be formed in all

    Dear Mr. Allen. Having a chin wag with mahometans, or smoking a peace pipe with the disciples of the Great Thumb may be a blast but is that a fulfillment of the great Commission?


  12. The more I read malicious interpretations of the Holy Father here, the more I understand why many Catholics think Trads are weird.

  13. Francis7:31 PM

    For nearly two millenia, up until the 1960's, the world, including false religions, looked to the Catholic Church to defend the affirmation of Divine and natural law and morality from those who are its enemies. That of course changed after 1965 for the most part. Now the conciliar church is more concerned with "dialogue" than the conversion of non-Catholics to the one true faith, and more politically correct and "sensitive" on matters such as traditional marriage etc. Hey, perhaps the Lord, at least in this instance, used the Chief Rabbi of France to light a fire under His Vicar here on earth to start defending more vigorously the tenets of His Catholic Church and basic natural law.

  14. Grasping At Straws9:33 PM

    Unfortunately, St. Paul was writing about this issue 2,000 years ago w/out all the blather:

    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes: to the Jew first and to the Greek. 17 For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man lives by faith.
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: 19 Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God has manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable. 21 Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God or given thanks: but became vain in their thoughts. And their foolish heart was darkened. 22 For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. 23 And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts and of creeping things.

    24 Wherefore, God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness: to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause, God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. 27 And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts, one towards another: men with men, working that which is filthy and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. 28 And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient. 29 Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness: full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity: whisperers, 30 detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, dissolute: without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. 32 Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death: and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them."

    Too bad it is the pope and his cardinals who are ashamed of the gospel. They can't preach "creationism" (that we have a creator) because 'modern man' might laugh at them, original sin (because can't preach creationism), Adam & Eve because that is a myth, heaven (per Pope Benedict heaven isn't a real place) or hell. Blame this on Simone de Beauvoir (?!) - why not on the new catechism that says we don't know where homosexuality comes from? Maybe Simone de Beauvoir created us or wrote the New Catholic catechism or turned the Catholic priesthood into a homosexual country club. Did Simone de Beauvoir teach 49% of Catholics in the U.S. that homosexuality was just peachy keeno?

  15. IANS,

    I see absolutely nothing in that long quote repudiating dialogue with those outside the HMC. Believe me, I have learned a great deal from your posts here and over at the PP. I usually find myself in complete agreement with you. But in this once instance, I believe that you are being uncharitable towards the HF.

    We have no choice, if we are to evangelize, but to reach out to non-Catholics, which is certainly possible sans compromising our faith. No one is talking here about participating in any of their silly rituals. But, for example, what if Jerry the Atheist happens to be a fellow baseball fan and I use that common interest to strike up a conversation. Suppose we even end up seeing a few ballgames together. As long as my intent is to proceed to a discussion of Catholicism, should the opportunity arise, I cannot see what is wrong with my approach. Do you imagine that St. Paul simply launched into a proclamation of the Gospel the minute he ran into some pagans?

  16. Concerning "Dialogue with the world":

    The Church owes quite a bit to our 2000 years of "dialogue with the world". The works of the eminent Philosophers of antiquity such as Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus and the rest of the crew. The works of the Poets have inspired centuries of of hymnody and praise. The legacy of the Mathematicians and Engineers is engraved in the long-worn tool marks of our cathedrals, the artistic technique of the ancient Greeks adorns our holy basilicas, etc, etc. When St. Gregory the Great sent holy St. Augustine and his brave followers into England's Saxon heathenry, told them to dialogue: show them the truth that they lack.

    Needless to say, they tried to Torch the works of St. Thomas, our beloved Angelic Doctor. Individual looney cases running around Paris opining the evils of Aristotle. The same episode occurred much earlier with Plato, and we have St. Augustine and Boethius.

    And What does St. Augustine say on the matter of dialogue in De Civitate Dei? As the Israelites took from the Egyptians an immense sum of gold before their departure, we too, as the church, are justified in taking whatever is good in the works and words of the world which is good according to the standard of truth; we may appropriate it as though it was stolen from us to begin with, because it is the property of our father (and so our inheritance), to whom there is nothing which exists that is not his possession.

  17. Libera Me12:34 AM

    Regarding "the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world"...

    Jesus said...

    "Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And as a man's enemies shall be they of his own household." Matthew 10:34-36.

  18. Dear James. It is a tautology that Christians had contact and intercourse with all manner of man but to claim that St Gregory the Great sent St Augustine to England to dialogue is just silly; he sent him to convert the heathens.

  19. igneasagitta1:54 AM


    You are right. Most of trads are weird. I say weird because I dont dare say malicious, since I cannot judge intentions (as they usually do with others, specially the Pope, wich, of course, is forbidden). Twisting the Holy Father´s words is just the tip of the iceberg: they often dont think, just repeat. Thats why if you say something with other words, you are anathema.

    Its very hard to say that I really understand why some good bishops put impediments to the Tridentine Mass: not because of the Mass itself, but because it is a corner for radtrads come in and spread this scornful spirit on the Church and the Holy Father, to whom they usually pay lip service. That was on the Holy Father Summorum Pontificum where He warns that the Extraordinary Form should not be said for those who oppose the Magisterium of the Church.

    I really love the Tridentine Mass, and I prefer it over the Ordinary Rite, but I really stopped going where it is offered: I really hate, with all my strenght, those twists and distrust on the HF they often take the opportunity to show after Mass is said.

    The radtradas, its too sad to say, are on the sure road to make Tradition discredited, much more than the modernists, as a bad thing.

    May God have mercy on us.

  20. Mike said..."The more I read malicious interpretations of the Holy Father here, the more I understand why many Catholics think Trads are weird."

    I am a Catholic who favors Tradition. I used to find myself amazed whenever Catholics outside the Traditionalist Movement failed to join our side.

    But I now realize that whatever comes from Rome will be attacked by more than a few Traditionalists.

    His Holiness has said that a sick element exists within a certain priestly society.

    Unfortunately, that sick element is also found within the Traditionalist Movement as a whole.

    It is sad and tiring that certain Traditionalists feel the need to attack everything...everything...everything that His Holiness and our bishops say and do.


  21. "And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whomever defends God is defending man."

    This about sums it up. In the secularism going on in society and also this oddity with the Church's nouveau theology, this is exactly what is happening. Both society and the Church at large are trying to extoll and magnify *human* dignity while trying to eliminate or at least minimize God from everything altogether.

  22. There is no problem with dialogue if the end goal is to lead others from error to truth. This is the exact plan that St. Thomas sets forth in the Summa Contra Gentiles, and the same plan many other Catholic apologists have used for over 2,000 years. Yes, the term "dialogue" can, at times, be used to express a limp-wristed, endless, and, thus, fruitless discussion over a nice meal and wine, but that sort of "dialogue" is, thankfully, going out the window. Do Catholics believe the Orthodox will return to communion without dialogue? What about mainline Protestants fed up with the rot in their own confessions? I could go on, but you get the point.

    The temptation of trads to twist the words of the Holy Father and other Vatican officials is perhaps due to a number of problematic aspects of their culture.

    First, most aren't theologically educated, nor, for that matter, particularly sophisticated when it comes to other academic disciplines such as philosophy. While that's all fine and good (I mean, how many theology majors do we really need?), the problem is that they won't admit they might not know what they are talking about. So, instead, they resort to a very superficial analysis of Papal/Vatican statements. Then they go ahead and hold them up to some lines from a 19th C. encyclical they saw quoted on a blog some where; conclude that "one of these things is not like the other"; and then believe they've rooted out heresy. Great.

    Second, trad culture is insular, and so by nature many trads are suspicious (even vicious) when it comes to "outside" views (even when these "outside views" are from the Holy Father!). They believe a period of about 200-300 years in Church history has furnished everything they will ever need to know. To some extent that is true because insofar as any period of the Church properly reflects the entire tradition, one can find all of the proper means of Salvation within it. But in doing so, one needs to be humble enough to realize that they'll never fully appreciate the entire tradition unless they learn to look to it.

    Third, despite many trads claiming to uphold "classic Christian theology," Scholasticism, Latin, etc., most know very little about any of these things. All they know is that when Bishop Muller writes on theology, it doesn't sound like popularly written, generally accessible lines they find in their kid catechisms and therefore they throw a hissy. Some trad writers, admittedly, have a good deal of theological and philosophical knowledge. Hence their stuff is worth reading. But on a blog like this, what you are going to find is the lowest common denominator of understanding -- and it's pretty darn low.

    None of this is to say that mainstream Catholics are, by and large, brighter, more knowledgable, etc. As gets pointed out here all the time, many Catholics are very ignorant of their faith (and thus apathetic). I give the trad movement all the credit in the world for driving out apathy and putting devotion at the center of their lives, but the almost obsessive anti-intellectualism, reactionarianism, and uncharitable banter undercuts the integrity of the whole.

  23. Dave K3:16 PM

    I'm glad the Pope quoted the Chief Rabbi on this subject. Now any criticism of the Pope on this issue can be attributed to anti-Semitism!

  24. Barbara4:01 PM


    "But on a blog like this, what you are going to find is the lowest common denominator of understanding -- and it's pretty darn low."

    And your credentials to back up all that you say...?

    And this:

    "None of this is to say that mainstream Catholics are, by and large, brighter, more knowledgable, etc".

    So, by and large, according to you there are very few bright Catholics around - except perhaps, yourself and a few other exceptions tossed in along the way?


    Come on, Gabriel 'tis the season to be jolly ...



  25. Gabriel,

    Thank you for that thoughtful comment. Lots to ponder and pray about.

    I don't mean to imply that I think Trads are weird. I don't.

    I really am referring to posts here that strike me as not very bright when it comes to theological interpretation. In addition, their malign interpretation of the Holy Father--just so wrong.

    That said, my impression of the Trad influence on the Church is quite positive and optimistic. I have served some Masses with my NO parish, and from my experience, most of these people have little idea of what they are actually doing.

    Let's pray for the whole Church--that we may welcome the Savior this Christmas with pure and trusting hearts--trusting, that is, in the Divine Promises, which cannot fail.

  26. Dear Gabriel. The expressed intentionality of Our Holy Father is that The Catholic Church will participate in a dialogue that omits conversion as an object.

    Now, I have already confessed my dearth of intellect, and I willingly concede that my culture is as you say it is but, give me a break, this is not continuity with Tradition.

    In fact, if you can produce a quote for us from any Pope prior to Vatican II proposing a praxis that excludes conversion, then I will eat every single Palm Tree in Florida - without barbecue sauce.

  27. Generally speaking, most people don't have the time, inclination, talent, training, etc. to gain a great deal of sophistication with not only the Church's extraordinarily vast theological and philosophical patrimony, but also the currents of modern/postmodern thought. And that's fine. God does not call all people to do all things. However, in noting that, it does stand to reason that people should be a bit more humble about what it is they do not know. It might help curtail some uncharitable and irresponsible comments.

    As for my "authority," I have none. I am expressing my point of view based on many months of regularly reading this (and other) trad Cath blogs. At some point a discerning reader has to start calling the wheat wheat and the chaff chaff. My impression from these readings is, as stated, that many trad Caths are anti-intellectual, reactionary, and ill-informed. They want tag lines, buzz words, and polemical potshots, not an open discussion. So be it. But why on earth do they think anybody else is going to listen to them? They can pat themselves on the back until the cows come home, but that won't do a single thing to fix the crisis in the Church.

    A good example of what I am talking about is the recent post on Muller's "extreme ideology" comments. I wrote a critique of the post which was open to further comments and criticism. Instead one of the blog authors decided to delete it because what I said didn't fit within the ideology of R.C. Yes, when push comes to shove, the trads will suppress discussion. Once again, why on earth do they think anybody is going to listen to them?

  28. James9:12 PM

    Dear "i am not sparticus",

    The Mission of St. Augustine exemplifies just exactly what "dialogue" is. As has been said above, the term is predicated equivocally by two different groups of people: perhaps only the Lord knows what the hippies mean, but the Greek root of the word itself, "dia logou", means "through reason". As a reselut of the mission, Catholicism in England accrued some great traditions, some beautiful poetry, and some magnificent art. St. Augustine was told to go, talk to the Saxons, and tell them what they lacked: Christ, the "Logos" himself.

    Do we simply stop using a word because it is being misused? Not according to St. Thomas. In his discussion on whether or not the word "person" (Hypostasis) ought to be used when talking about God (Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Question 29, Article 3), St Thomas addresses the objection that since the word is misused elsewhere it ought not to be used at all. St Thomas states that the word is our word and we can use it with our definition, and misunderstanding simply requires clarification.

    From what I've read of the Holy father, albeit only a few books with his signature, I'm quite confident he's not using a "limp-wristed" definition of "dialogue".

  29. Francis9:17 PM

    "My impression from these readings is, as stated, that many trad Caths are anti-intellectual, reactionary, and ill-informed".

    If you believe we trads and RC are all of those things then why do you click on and read our posts on RC, or on any other traditional blog? Perhaps you will find more "enlightenment" on such sites as Catholic answers.

  30. Jean-Francois10:36 PM

    Are we all happy the Pope said that we do not possess the truth?

    Where did he say that?

  31. Dear Gabriel and James. Here is The old Catholic Encyclopedia. They too seem confused (as did the King who met with St. Augustine) about dialogue and conversion;although, to be fair to the King, he knew the purpose of the Mission of Saint Augustine- CONVERSION

    All that we know for certain is that they landed somewhere on the Isle of Thanet (Bede, H. E., I, xxv) and that they waited there in obedience to King Aethelberht orders until arrangements could be made for a formal interview. The king replied to their messengers that he would come in person from Canterbury, which was less than a dozen miles away. It is not easy to decide at this date between the four rival spots, each of which has claimed the distinction of being the place upon which St. Augustine and his companions first set foot. The Boarded Groin, Stonar, Ebbsfleet, and Richborough — last named, if the present course of the Stour has not altered in thirteen hundred years, then forming part of the mainland — each has its defenders. The curious in such matters may consult the special literature on the subject cited at the close of this article. The promised interview between the king and the missionaries took place within a few days. It was held in the open air, sub divo, says Bede (Bede, H.E., I, xxv), on a level spot, probably under a spreading oak in deference to the king's dread of Augustine's possible incantations. His fear, however, was dispelled by the native grace of manner and the kindly personality of his chief guest who addressed him through an interpreter. The message told "how the compassionate Jesus had redeemed a world of sin by His own agony and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all who would believe" (Aelfric, ap. Haddan and Stubbs, III, ii). The king's answer, while gracious in its friendliness, was curiously prophetic of the religious after-temper of his race. "Your words and promised are very fair" he is said to have replied, "but as they are new to us and of uncertain import, I cannot assent to them and give up what I have long held in common with the whole English nation. But since you have come as strangers from so great a distance, and, as I take it, are anxious to have us also share in what you conceive to be both excellent and true, we will not interfere with you, but receive you, rather, in kindly hospitality and take care to provide what may be necessary for your support. Moreover, we make no objection to your winning as many converts as you can to your creed". (Bede, H.E., I, xxv.)

    But, of course y'all seem to be engaged in a tendentious quibble as y'all pretend that the novel praxis of a dialogue that excludes conversion is equivalent to the conversion of Tradition which, to belabor the obvious, includes speaking to others; dialogue (unless the Mission is lead by Mary Matlin).

    Now, y'all could address the actual words of our Holy Father who teaches that the new dialogue Holy Mother Church is engaged in excludes conversion, but, there are very obvious reasons why you can't do that - you can't claim continuity when the old conversion included dialogue whereas the new dialogue excludes conversion.

  32. igneasagitta1:30 AM

    It seems all these people talking about dialogue didnt think the Holy Father´s word were worth listening.

    The Pope makes a fine distinction between dialogue and evangelization. There is a time for both. If you read with a open heart, as a true catholic child of the Church should do, would learn that the dialogue is about clarifying each other creed to make it possible 1) to work together for the justice and peace. We cannot afford to just work with catholics when the needes of the poor and unborn, for instance, are at stake. It is only good sens, 2) to make evangelization fruitful. Or do you think that if S. Paul didnt know what the creeds of the jewish people really were he could have preached for them so frutifully? Or, to take Gabriel example, S. Thomas Aquinas in Summa contra Gentiles? S. Thomas was the true master os dialogue as the Church understands it to be done.

    The Pope ends the message talking about the need to evangelize, to preach do whole Gospel.

    I give up on radtrads. I will pray instead.

  33. igneasagitta1:31 AM

    As a last comment: Gabriel, you hit the spot. Thanks for saying what the other good catholic readers dont deem worthy to thrown in this confused place.

  34. Maria5:04 AM

    When I hear the word dialogue a few different kinds of meanings come to mind:

    1- being nice to each other and ignoring differences to celebrate communalities (worthless as dialogue, but similar to working with others in areas of shared concern, which is valuable & necessary on a practical level)

    2- giving 'Catholics' the freedom to argue unopposed for heretical positions (what said 'Catholics' seem to mean by dialogue)

    3- both sides mutually coming to a better understanding of what the other side's position really is (necessary for anything to follow through an appeal to reason, unless by chance)

    4- its impersonator, a representative of one side trying to come to a better understanding of what the other side's position really is, without remembering the prerequisite of thoroughly understanding the position of his own side -- or, at least without remembering to try just as hard to understand why his own side holds its position

    5- both sides trying to work together to come to a better understanding of what the truth is. This is of course impossible without 3 having been done first, partly because 3 clears up differences in how words are used and makes it so that people aren't talking over each other's heads or getting hung up on what words are used.

    What I saw Pope Benedict talking about was type 3 and type 5, with the addition that the Christian/Catholic has the added assurance that the truth that such dialogue brings one to, inasmuch as it is truth, can in no way be contrary to our faith. Thus dialogue is different from evangelization because dialogue says "let's try to understand what the truth is" and evangelization says "this is the truth, and it's called Christ. Be baptized!" In either case the goal is to bring the other to the truth, and Christ is always the Truth. Dialogue is useful because it seems less like an imposition from the outside and (in a way) gives reason more respect. Furthermore, it demonstrates humility on the part of the Catholic representative, who is also trying to better understand the truth. This same humility is important also for the evangelizing method: there it takes the form of being honest about when one doesn't know or understand what the Church teaches, and then going about trying to understand it. Dialogue has the weakness of people not being very good at it -- of people thinking that trying to understand what the truth is can mean being willing to see something one knows to be false to be true, or not having the ability to see or the skill to show, from reason, why truth can't lie there.

  35. I read this blog often. I am not a Catholic, though I should like nothing so much as to convert (I think). I rejoice in the 'Traditionalist' movement, for it defends the Church which has against all odds attracted me so powerfully. Yet, I despair because of the 'Traditionalist' movement, for while winning me to the Church it also drives me from it: your criticisms are so often so just and effectual, but then how can the Church (and thus the Faith) be what it claims?

    I comment here for the first time because, in having read much of what the current Pontiff has written, I am always struck by the same problem. His language is ambiguous and it is very difficult to get clear on what he means. This is not because I detest philosophy or theology or intellectual life (I am myself a philosophy student), but because it is genuinely ambiguous more often than not, and what he writes is very often open to several interpretations, even under the principle of charitable interpretation. This is very frustrating to me: sometimes Benedict XVI writes things so clearly true and so estimable, but in the next moment he writes something muddled or that contradicts what earlier he said (often in the very same work). What is one to do? How can one proceed in interpreting what is said and written? It is hardly clear. That, it seems to me, is the principal problem in responding to the works and speeches of the Pontiff. I believe that applies here, too, in this address to the Curia.

  36. Gabriel,

    Something about your position doesn't ring quite true. Speaking about yourself you say: "At some point a discerning reader has to start calling the wheat wheat and the chaff chaff." Yet when others do likewise you call them "anti-intellectual, reactionary, and ill-informed". Why is that? A case of cognitive dissonance?

    If you respect the other person's right to call the wheat wheat and the chaff chaff according to their lights - as you do according to yours - you will be off to a good
    start. And if you descend from your heights where you opine about why anybody would listen to those so-and-so's (whom you hold in low esteem), perhaps some of them might start listening to you - and that could be the beginning of the discussion that you so long for.

  37. Alphege1:35 PM

    I do hope those railing against dialogue with the world aren't holding up the pre-reformation English church as an example - that bastion of sin, full of horrible people like Alcuin, who insisted on reading filthy pagan works like the Aeneid...

  38. Alphege1:44 PM

    Another thought: In what way is "dialogue with the world" different from the old Jesuit dictum to be "in the world but not of the world"?

  39. Francis2:08 PM

    I hope and pray, with the help of the Holy Ghost, that you will finally convert to the one true Church/faith that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ established on St. Peter and his successors, who is the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, and all of the bishops who are the successors of the other Apostles. As a life long Catholic I have dreaded the course that Vatican II, its creators, promoters and its "spirit" have taken the Church of Christ these last fifty years. The Catholic Church and her de-fide dogmas (which come from sacred tradition and Holy Scripture) are protected from error by the Holy Ghost. While fallible men run the Church an infallible person established it, who is the word made flesh. Therefore while unholy people like modernists, liberals, relativists, freemasons, marxists and religious indifferentists are in powerful positions within the Catholic Church the Catholic Church, and her teachings are still holy. It's sort of like criticizing your brother when he says and does stupid things, you call him out, but he's still your brother. Probably not the best analogy but while many people running the Church are not upholding two-thousand years of Catholic tradition, the truth is still there because while sinners run the Church and are in the Church, myself included, the Catholic Church itself is still the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ outside of which there is no salvation. Sometimes writing what i'm trying to say doesn't come out as planned, so I hope you will understand what it is I'm trying to convey. God Bless.

  40. Picard10:33 PM

    John yes - as also rightly IANS observed an remarked.

    The solution:

    The Pope is not infallible - only if he speaks ex cathedra, what is not very often / very rare!

    So there is no real problem here:
    The infallible teachings of the Chruch - whole the Tradition and the ex cathedra-decisions - are true and clear and the Church was founded by CHrist Himselfe. The Catholic Church thus is the true, GODly Church.

    Bishops and Popes can be wrong and bad. But the Holy Ghost will not allow that they teach something wrong infallibly.

    Vat. II and the post-Vat. II utterances of the bishops and Popes are not infallible, not ex cathedra and neither extraordinary nor ordinary infallible magisterial teachings, so they can be wrong (and often are - or they are at least ambiguous and "mixed", as you rightly remarked).

    Then we stick to the infallible "semper ubique". That´s it.

  41. Picard10:49 PM

    @alpheg, Gabriel, James, et al.

    As IANS (Not-Spartacus)correctly pointed to:

    Here dialogue is not used in its old Catholic way of understanding as a special form of conversation with the goal of converting the other (like Augustin, Thomas or the Jesuits did)

    but Benedikt XVI explicitly excludes an intent of converting or mission:

    "...Dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at understanding. In this respect it differs from evangelization, from mission; ... True, dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at better mutual understanding – that is correct.", Benedikt says.

    The following "but..." (parts of it bold by the blogadmin) does not help it, not change it!

  42. Picard11:09 PM


    You accuse the "Traditionalists" of beeing theologically uneducated ("The temptation of trads to twist the words of the Holy Father and other Vatican officials is perhaps due to a number of problematic aspects of their culture.
    First, most aren't theologically educated, nor, for that matter, particularly sophisticated when it comes to other academic disciplines such as philosophy."

    and of many other things (including "twisting the words of the Holy Father", as we just read here!).

    And you also write that "There is no problem with dialogue if the end goal is to lead others from error to truth. This is the exact plan that St. Thomas sets forth in the Summa Contra Gentiles, and the same plan many other Catholic apologists have used for over 2,000 years."

    But then - as I qouted in my last post/comment - the Pope exactly excludes - expressely!! - the intention of converting others from their errors to the true faith and of doing evangelization and mission by dialouging.

    So anybody who can read will see who is twisting or misinterpreting the words of the pope here and who is "theologically uneducated" and "philosophically unsophisticated" - anybody who can read and knows a little bit of English - even without some special theological and philosophical education and sophistication!

    (Btw. I am holding an exam in theology as well as in philosophy but that were not necessary to see who is right and wrong here and who is theologically educated and philosophically sophisticated: the derided & libeled "trads" or the derider and libeler! It´s only necessary to have eyes to see...)


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