Rorate Caeli

Penance! Penance! Penance!

In a society which is barely conscious of the ills which assail it, which conceals its miseries and injustices beneath a prosperous, glittering, and trouble-free exterior, the Immaculate Virgin, whom sin has never touched, manifests herself to an innocent child. With a mother's compassion she looks upon this world redeemed by her Son's blood, where sin accomplishes so much ruin daily, and three times makes her urgent appeal: "Penance, penance, penance!" She even appeals for outward expressions: "Go kiss the earth in penance for sinners." And to this gesture must be added a prayer: "Pray to God for sinners."

As in the days of John the Baptist, as at the start of Jesus' ministry, this command, strong and rigorous, shows men the way which leads back to God: "Repent!" Who would dare to say that this appeal for the conversion of hearts is untimely today?
Pius XII
July 2, 1957

Penance for ourselves. Penance for the others. Penance for the Holy Church of God. Considering that we are in Lent, the most solemn of seasons, we once again invite our dear readers, under the permission or guidance of your pastors, confessors, or spiritual directors, to choose a special and additional penance for the government of the Church and the heavy responsibility that will be placed upon the College of Cardinals in the upcoming weeks.


Dear faithful, it falls upon us to live the upcoming days with hope. What if we trusted the Holy Spirit? True, it will be necessary that we wait, for some weeks, to view it in all its tones: as in 2005, we will hear the assembly of "experts" explain to us one more time that the Church must change, that the faith must change, that morals must change. Some will expect the election of a "modern" pope, "living according to his time", wearing a white suit and dark glasses and proposing the marriage of priests, opening the priesthood to women, favoring the remarriage of divorcees, and blessing the sacrosanct condom. We will hear, as usual, on television sets, before excited and obliging journalists, the priest who is outside the system, the defrocked one who wants to go back into service, the parishioner who is allergic to all things that recall the Church of the past, and, why not, some trendy exegetes or theologians who explain to us that everyone has been mistaken for two thousand years.

What matters, my dear friends, is to think that, after some inevitable disturbances, the Church will have a new leader, and that he will have the graces that are needed to accomplish his mission, just as his predecessor did.

He will know, as those who were before him on the chair of Peter, that nobody cares about an adulterated truth, and that the "evolutions" desired by some will fill neither our churches, nor our seminaries.

May the Lent that will begin this week move us to offer our prayers and our sacrifices for our Church, so that her future head will impart to us the love of truth and will guide us to heaven! (Fr. Philippe Jouachim, Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Nantes, France)

Rome, February 28, 2013, 8 PM

The See is vacant.

The last public words as Pope

From the balcony at Castel Gandolfo:

"Thank you, thank you from my heart. I am happy to be here with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your friendship that does me so much good, thank you for your friendship, for caring. You know that today is different from others… as of eight pm I will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. I will simply be a pilgrim who is beginning the last part of his pilgrimage on earth. But with my heart, my love, my prayer, with all my inner strength, I will work for the common good and the good of the Church and all humanity. And I feel greatly supported by your affection. Let us move forward together with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. I will now impart upon you all my Apostolic Blessing
Thank you and good night. Thank you all"!

The balcony is now empty. In two hours, as the February 10/11, 2013, declaration of renunciation enters into force, the Roman See will be vacant.

Above Rome for the last time as Bishop of the City

Benedictus vir qui confidit in Domino:
Gratitude to God for the hated and despised
Pope of Summorum Pontificum

Benedictus vir, qui confidit in Domino, et erit Dominus fiducia eius. Et erit quasi lignum, quod transplantatur super aquas, quod ad humorem mittit radices suas: et non timebit, cum venerit æstus. Et erit folium eius viride, et in tempore siccitatis non erit sollicitum, nec aliquando de sinet facere fructum. (From the Lesson of the Mass of Thursday following the Second Sunday in Lent: "Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots towards moisture: and it shall not fear when the heat cometh. And the leaf thereof shall be green, and in the time of drought it shall not be solicitous, neither shall it cease at any time to bring forth fruit.")

Please, Pope Weigel, resign from your Pontificate

Wouldn't I make a
dashing Pope?
"Not the 'Küng left', not the 'schismatic Lefebvrist hard-right', but I, the virtuous via media, hold the keys to authentic Evangelical Catholic reform, as I explain in my book, available in bookstores everywhere - just $ 9.99!," thus saith Supreme Pontiff Weigel descending from Mount Manhattan.

Can't Pope Weigel at least wait till the conclave is assembled to put forward his candidacy? Can't he at least wait till 8PM Rome time today to proclaim his declarations of apostasy and schism?... 

The lack of restraint from those who wish to "frame" the next pontificate is astounding. Küng has tried it, Weigel, still not fully recovered from the end of the Wojtyla pontificate, is trying it as well. As for the "schismatic Lefebvrists", their only program seems to be this novena for the election of the Sovereign Pontiff, starting tomorrow. Now, which of these programs seems to be the truly Catholic one?

Final address: to the College of Cardinals
"I vow unconditional reverence and obedience to the future Pope"

Dear beloved brothers

I welcome you all with great joy and cordially greet each one of you. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who as always, has been able to convey the sentiments of the College, Cor ad cor loquitur. Thank you, Your Eminence, from my heart.

And referring to the disciples of Emmaus, I would like to say to you all that it has also been a joy for me to walk with you over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord. As I said yesterday, in front of thousands of people who filled St. Peter's Square, your closeness, your advice, have been a great help to me in my ministry. In these 8 years we have experienced in faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the Churches’ journey along with times when clouds have darkened the sky. We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love which is the soul of our ministry. We have gifted hope that comes from Christ alone, and which alone can illuminate our path. Together we can thank the Lord who has helped us grow in communion, to pray to together, to help you to continue to grow in this deep unity so that the College of Cardinals is like an orchestra, where diversity, an expression of the universal Church, always contributes to a superior harmony of concord. I would like to leave you with a simple thought that is close to my heart, a thought on the Church, Her mystery, which is for all of us, we can say, the reason and the passion of our lives. I am helped by an expression of Romano Guardini’s, written in the year in which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, his last with a personal dedication to me, so the words of this book are particularly dear to me .

Guardini says: "The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ. "

This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square. We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: "The Church is awakening in souls." The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today. Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places. Let us remain united, dear brothers, to this mystery, in prayer, especially in daily Eucharist, and thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.

Prior to bidding farewell to each of you personally, I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope. May the Lord show you what is willed by Him. And among you, among the College of Cardinals, is also the future Pope, to whom, here today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart upon you my Apostolic Blessing.

[Translation: Radio Vaticana, slightly corrected]

Final Audience: "I am not abandoning the Cross"

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood!
Distinguished Authorities!
Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for coming in such large numbers in this last General Audience of my pontificate.

As the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart to have to especially thank God that guides and builds up the Church, which is sowing his Word and thus nourishes the faith in his people. At this moment my heart expands to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in recent years the Petrine ministry I could receive about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love that circulates in the body of the Church and to live in love, and hope that it opens and directs us towards the fullness of life, towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel I bring all in prayer, in a present that is of God, where I collect every meeting, every trip, every pastoral visit. Everything and everyone gather in prayer to entrust them to the Lord, because we have full knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and why we behave in a manner worthy of Him and His love, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1 0.9 to 10).

At this time, there is great confidence in me, because I know, all of us know, that the word of the truth of the Gospel is the power of the Church, it is his life. The Gospel purifies and renews, bears fruit, wherever the community of believers hears and receives the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my belief and this is my joy.

When, on April 19, almost eight years ago, I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I always had the certainty that has always accompanied me. At that time, I had already stated several times, words that have been spoken in my heart were: Lord, what do you ask of me? The weight that you place on my shoulders is very great, but if you ask me, at your word I will let down the nets, confident that you will guide me. And the Lord has really driven, I was close, I could feel his presence every day. It ‘was a part of the journey of the Church that had moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy. I felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee.

Final 401 § 2 cases:

At least in this pontificate. Of course, there could be a few left for tomorrow, and even some signed but still to be published.

The Holy Father accepted today:
- the resignation to the pastoral government of the Archbishop of Liverpool, Patrick Altham Kelly, according to can. 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law [the second Archbishop in Britain in 48 hours];
- the resignation of the Auxiliary of Armagh, Bishop Gerard Clifford, according to canons 411 and 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law. [Source: Bollettino]

One in Scotland, one in England, one (partly) in Northern Ireland.

Spanish Bishops show error in German abortifacient-friendly decision
And the dangers of weakening the Roman Curia
in favor of Conferences of Bishops

Some malicious news sources are saying today that "the Spanish bishops" have "followed the lead" of the German Bishops and authorized the use of the "morning-after pill" in case of rape.

But that is not at all what happened. First, of course, it was not "the Spanish Bishops", but the secretary of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Bishop Juan Antonio Martínez Camino. Second, this is what he said, with clear irony regarding the abortifacient-friendly bishops of Germany, and it makes a world of difference:

"If there is a pill that prevents that there be a conception in cases of rape, then it is licit to prevent it." [However,] "We have no knowledge of a morning-after pill without abortifacient effects. If it does exist, it may be used, with the doctrine we have." "If it does exist, we will be sure to know it .... all morning-after pills have this possible abortive effect. Therefore, its use is illicit. If it does exist in Germany, we are not aware of it. It is not known to us that this technical possibility exists." (Several sources, including El Mundo)

Which just goes to show that, despite all the talk about the need to "reform" the Roman Curia, there is no greater division in the Church than that caused by the existence of different "national" views on what is universal doctrine, espoused by each different Episcopal Conference. A reform of the Roman Curia without a reform of the disjointed and contradictory positions of the Conferences of Bishops is faded to failure.

Or rather, there seems to be in the air in these perilous days calls of reform with the clear attempt to weaken the Roman See (by way of weakening the Roman Curia) in order to submit this same Apostolic See, of supreme Divine Constitution, to the whims of the Episcopal Conferences, "national churches" that are not of apostolic origin. Bp. Carrasco, a Spaniard, who ditched the formal opinion of the appropriate dicastery of the Roman Curia (his own) to espouse what is, in practice, an abortifacient-favorable view by the German Episcopal Conference, is a living example of that. 

One should never forget that, just as the Roman Curia exists to aid the Apostolic See "in exercising [its] mission for the good of the universal Church," (Pastor bonus, introduction), also "[t]he binding effect of the acts of the episcopal ministry jointly exercised within Conferences of Bishops and in communion with the Apostolic See derives from the fact that the latter has constituted the former and has entrusted to them, on the basis of the sacred power of the individual Bishops, specific areas of competence." (Apostolos suos, 13) When an individual Conference of Bishops distorts universal doctrine, the consequences for the fundamental doctrinal unity of the Church can be grave (cf. Apostolos suos, 22: "For this reason the Bishops are to be careful to avoid interfering with the doctrinal work of the Bishops of other territories, bearing in mind the wider, even world-wide, resonance which the means of social communication give to the events of a particular region.") It is exactly for this reason that a strong, sound, Roman See is more needed now than ever.

"Pope Emeritus", in white

According to details made public today by the Holy See spokesman, Fr. Lombardi, in a press conference:

From Marcellus II to Benedict XVI and Beyond

A Personal Reflection on Two Eras of Crisis, Sorrow, and Rage

Dr. John C. Rao

“The right tactic for us is to be visibly and always what we are, nothing more, nothing less. We defend a citadel which cannot be taken except when the garrison itself brings in the enemy. Combating with our own arms, we only receive minor wounds. All borrowed armor troubles us and often chokes us.” (L.Veuillot, Mélanges, Oeuvres completes, iii series, 1933, v, 276).

The 2012-2013 Roman Forum Church History series in New York City covers the years from 1517-1563, a time both of terrible crisis in the life of Christendom as well as one of extraordinary hope for the future. Extending from the emergence of Martin Luther onto the public scene until the end of the Council of Trent, these forty-six years placed enormous burdens on the faith of the Christian population, repeatedly arousing profound sorrow and rage in its ranks.

Think, for a moment, of the life of a fervent, believing Catholic just reaching manhood in 1517. Such a man would have been in his mid sixties when the last acts of Trent were promulgated. In the interim, he would have seen an immoral, indifferent, politically obsessed, secularized, intellectually and spiritually clueless clergy and laity allow the Bride of Christ to be brutally lacerated and piteously mocked. He would have witnessed the seemingly irresistible spread of a heresy which proclaimed God’s world to be nothing other than a realm of total depravity wherein a war of all against all guaranteed the Triumph of the Will; a heresy whose consequences were so horrible that its Protestant proponents--- often much better men in practice than their ideas would logically allow them to be---immediately began a sophistic, many-headed, and impossible effort to escape from them.

Even in 1563, our tired believer, his patience repeatedly tried, his hopes regularly thwarted by foolish men with blinders fixed upon their eyes, might not have foreseen what glorious fruit would come from a Council that recognized that only the deepest concern for doctrinal orthodoxy could prevent heretical minds and spirits from twisting the most brilliant pastoral reforms to their own anti-Catholic purposes. Even then, our aging warrior might not have digested the tremendous significance of the worldwide spread of Catholicism that new and reinvigorated religious orders were rapidly bringing into being. Gloom might still have hovered over his long troubled soul.

It is impossible to enumerate all the twists and turns making those terrible decades almost unbearable for a faithful son of the Church, but one that is both poignant---and for me, personally, all too directly related to our contemporary sorrows---well illustrates the anguish and disappointments of our believing ancestors. This concerns Marcello Cervini (1501-1555) Pope Marcellus II, whom most of us perhaps know only indirectly through Palestrina’s magnificent Missa Papae Marcelli.

Virtuous, learned, and humble, Cervini was one of the three legates sent by Pope Paul III to preside over the Council of Trent, the first of whose three distinct sittings began in December of 1545. Not only did this highly trying legatine labor complete Cervini’s already formidable knowledge of the reality, the complexity, and the necessity for tackling the seemingly mortal wounds of the Church; it also contributed mightily to his growth in personal sanctity. I dare say that few of us could have responded to the trials of his position with the same combination of commitment to Catholic doctrine and Catholic charity.

So obvious was it that Cervini was the “right man at the right time” that the cardinals meeting in Conclave in April of 1555 upon the death of Pope Julius III, even those representative of political forces that normally would have opposed him, crushed the ambitions of one of their powerful self-interested colleagues and proceeded immediately to his election. Keeping his own given name, Marcellus II’s accession to the See of Peter was greeted by all who cherished the defense of the Faith and sought the purgation of the human evils marring the beauty of the Bride of Christ with the greatest joy---indeed, as a manifestation of the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. His first actions confirmed all of their expectations.

Nevertheless, within twenty-three days Marcellus had a stroke and was dead. The vultures hovering over the suffering Church rejoiced. Another chance had been given to them to pick at the remains of her still half-dead body---from within as well as without her official structures. No one quite knew who would follow him, given the division of the College of Cardinals into strong factions whose solidity might well presage a Conclave damaging for its length as well as for its outcome.

Instead, what the Church swiftly got---once again in defiance of seemingly impossible political opposition---was a man whose whole life had been dedicated to the most rigorous possible reform of Head and Members: Giovanni Pietro Carafa (1476-1559), the seventy-nine year old Pope Paul IV (1555-1559). Tired of impotent roundtables discussing the need for the defense of doctrine and the reform of Christendom, this ferocious pontiff saw no need for continuing the suspended Council of Trent. He demanded immediate Unconditional Surrender from everything and everyone that he saw to be a blight on the beauty of the Bride of Christ. Ambitious absentee bishops were booted out of Rome and told to go back home. Wandering monks were sent to row galleys in the Mediterranean. Not just heretics, but also the contemporary sodomite network active in the Eternal City was handed over to the tender mercies of the Inquisition. In fact, the sodomities were sent to row alongside the renegade religious in Mare Nostrum. Most importantly for the future of the Holy See, Carafa---one of the founders of that Theatine Order which dedicated itself from the outset to a life of total indifference to the property that the “practical world” considered indispensable for “success” in all realms---made it clear that no fears of lost revenue would prevent him from driving the moneychangers from their ignoble position of dominance within the shamefully corrupted Roman Curia. Everyone filled with long seething justifiable rage rejoiced.

Update: Motu proprio Normas nonnullas: English translation

Full translation: see original post.

Vatileaks - final chapter in this pontificate

The Holy Father received in audience this morning Cardinals Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko, and Salvatore De Giorgi, who formed the commission to investigate the leaks of private information. They were accompanied by the commission’s secretary, Fr. Luigi Martignani, O.F.M., Cap.

At the conclusion of their mission, the Holy Father thanked them for the helpful work they did, and expressed satisfaction for the results of the investigation. Their work made it possible to detect, given the limitations and imperfections of the human factor of every institution, the generosity and dedication of those who work with uprightness and generosity in the Holy See at the service of the mission entrusted by Christ to the Roman Pontiff.

The Holy Father has decided that the acts of this investigation, known only to himself, remain solely at the disposition of the new pope.

Apostolic Letter given "motu proprio" Normas nonnullas,
on some modifications of the norms concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff

on some modifications of the norms 
concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff
[Latin typical text following this translation]

With the Apostolic Letter 'De aliquibus mutationibus in normis de electione Romani Pontificis' given Motu Proprio in Rome on 11 June 2007 in the third year of my pontificate, I established some norms that, rescinding those prescribed in n. 75 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis' promulgated by my predecessor Blessed John Paul II, having reestablished the regulation, sanctioned by tradition, according to which a two thirds majority of the votes of the Cardinal electors present is always required for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff.

Considering the importance of ensuring the best implementation of what is concerned, albeit with a different significance, regarding the election of the Roman Pontiff, in particular a more certain interpretation and execution of some provisions, I establish and prescribe that some norms of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis', as well as what I myself set forth in the above-mentioned Apostolic Letter, be replaced with the following norms:

The Electors - Update:
Cardinal O'Brien resigns and will miss the Conclave

Well, following years of being attacked by the media for defending the only possible concept of marriage, being the new sweetheart of the British press lasted for only a couple of days for Cardinal O'Brien, who resigned today following allegations of inappropriate behavior and is not going to the Conclave anymore.  (Bollettino publication)

Yes, Cardinal-Electors should not be submitted to undue "pressure", but perhaps they should keep their hip, "modern", opinions meant to shock ordinary Catholics to themselves, and other Cardinal-Electors might consider following the lead of Cardinal O'Brien if their presence in the conclave will shame the Holy Roman Church. And, no, once again the married priesthood, or anti-apostolic post-ordination marriage, would not have prevented this mess.

It seems unlikely that O'Brien would have resigned (or been asked to resign) so promptly - making the 2013 conclave the first one since 1958 without a representative from England, Wales, or Scotland - without concrete evidence against him in the allegations, forwarded by the Apostolic Nuncio to Rome in early February, before the papal renunciation announcemment.

[Update: as it can be seen in the Osservatore publication above, the Pope accepted the resignation on February 18, 2013. The British press reported that the accusations came to the knowledge of the Apostolic Nuncio in the United Kingdom before the renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI, which is also implied by the date above, merely one week after the papal declaration - therefore, the accusations cannot be construed as an attempt by the accusers to influence the conclave in any way.]

Benedict XVI responds: "No, I am not abandoning you!"

Dear brothers and sisters!

On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John , the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, "This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him" (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new "exodus" (9:31) , not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter’s words: "Master, it is good that we are here" (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: "[Peter] ... on the mountain ... had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labours and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? "(Sermon 78.3).

We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action. "The Christian life - I wrote in my Message for Lent - consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love "(n. 3).

Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to "climb the mountain", to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.
Benedict XVI
February 23, 2013
[Transl.: Radio Vaticana]

"No more nice words: The resignation is a catastrophe"
"Benedict XVI: why have you abandoned us?"

In the semi-official daily of the French Church, La Croix, two conservative Catholic thinkers express their dismay (note: the authors, as it can be noticed, are not Traditional Catholics; the declaration, "we are all Sedevacantists", is a mere statement of fact regarding the upcoming period of vacant see.)
La Croix

The Pope's abandonment is a catastrophe 
OP-ED Pierre Dulau & Martin Steffens, philosophy professors

In view of death, John Paul II addressed the world and told it: "Be not afraid". Reaching what seems to be the same position [in life], Benedict XVI resigns. One could see in these so diametrically opposed attitudes two complementary aspects of man: one, by which a supernatural courage pushes, to the very heart of unspeakable sufferings, to continue to fulfill his responsibility; the other, by which a very human weakness (in this sense a true inheritor to Saint Peter) leads to resignation.

Nevertheless, whatever may be the justifications we may give to this decision, the fact is there: this resignation by the pope is a catastrophe. It is an event that is rarely found in History, a fact that, in its symbolic violence, is a portrait of our time.

The Papacy is, in the West, the very last function of which it is commonly accepted by all that it engages the one who entered it "up until death". This "till death" means at least two things. First, that human life is not its own goal: our life has no meaning if not linked to a greater Life to which we may, in justice, sacrifice everything - exactly as the love of the spouses, "till death" as well, takes its meaning from beyond itself, in a promise that does not cease existing.

This "till death" recalls consequently that the pope, a "pontiff", is the arch that links Earth to Heaven, that is, by the threshold of death, finite life to infinite Life. A pope who resigns is a bridge that decides not to reach the other side where promise lies, [a destination] of which it is the assurance, and that leads there all those who left the point of departure.

To rupture this arch by way of a unilateral decision means as well to join hands with the global movement of non-commitment that strikes the entire Western symbolic order (and of which the mounting moral barbarity is the necessary flip side). Parenthood? Yes, but if we are in the mood for it, as long as we are in the mood for it. Marriage? Yes, if I can get divorced. To be in charge? Why not, if that does not deprive me of my right to happiness... There where a word is given that opens the door of life to something greater than itself, there also that word is broken, mocked, relegated as an old oddity. And even a pope should resign? A CEO or a president may resign. A pope is fired by death.

We hear everywhere, amidst the usual mockery and vulgar comments, that this decision by the pope is eminently respectable, that it shows great humility, a great interior freedom. That same individual freedom that the Pope himself never ceased denouncing, viewing it in the more generous perspective of rendered service? As for humility, does it not consist rather of accepting a responsibility that bothers our own immediate nature? The weight that he must carry is, undoubtedly, too heavy for him. But, if it were not, he would not be the pope.

What is the point, therefore, in order to justify this historic rupture, of alluding to changes that affect the world, the inhuman speed of a reality made technical even in its most intimate recesses? Christians are capable of following a sick, infirm, wounded leader, drained of his forces: they proved it in the past by following a guilty man according to the law. They proved that gentleness is invincible, and that pain is not eternal for the Just. They proved it, precisely because, at regular intervals, someone as frail as them would tell them: "Be not afraid".

What is the point of speaking of the need of having at the helm of the Church one who is in full possession of his powers? A person who can say this demonstrates by this very fact that he is in full possession of his own means and that, unless he takes medical predictions as oracles, he still enjoys full use of his own self.

Let us then brutally affirm, in other to render justice to the confusion that is that of a not small number of Catholics: today, in fact, we are all Sedevacantists. We say it in an unreasonable fashion in order to express this dismay that the polite comments of those who wish to keep up appearances wish to shut down: after February 11, the seat of the papacy is vacant, as if to give reason to those who are most extreme in the field occupied by the Society of Saint Pius X.

Of course, Christianity has never been more needed than at those times of its own impossibility. This religion welcomes crisis as Christ welcomed the Cross. Without a Pope, as incredible as it may seem, it is in frailty that Catholicism will have to reveal its strength. But it is still necessary that this ordeal be named and recognized by those affected by it. Hope cannot ignore this cry that, today, calls out for it strongly: our pope, why have you abandoned us?

Setting the stage for accurate reporting?

In the same press conference where Fr. Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office made what Vatican Radio has characterized as his call for "accurate reporting", he was accompanied by Fr. Thomas Rosica CSB of Salt and Light TV. During the interregnum, conclave and papal installation, Fr. Rosica will be taking care of the Vatican Press Office's English-language media bulletins and will, no doubt, be one of the Vatican's leading point men for the English-speaking media. It is only fair, then, to ask if Fr. Rosica has a strong understanding of the papacy that will serve him well under pressure from a media looking for soundbites. Unfortunately, as Vox Cantoris reports

While charity suggests that we should give him the benefit of the doubt that he was caught up in the discussion and that he was running off at the lip to the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, we do need to ask Father Tom Rosica, Executive Producer of Salt + Light, President of Assumption University, Papal Consultor to the Pontifical Council on Social Communications and spokesman for the English media for the upcoming Conclave; was this a sequencing conflict in grammar production, was it a "Freudian slip" (1) or does he really believe this which he stated at 7:28 of this interview. The Catholic people deserve a clarification; the people do not deserve to be lead into scandal or heresy by such a prominent priest.
 So, may we have a clarification? 

"the leader, that figurehead, this first among equals in the person of the pope"

This passage comes in as Fr. Rosica explains how the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has taken the Church one step further into examining the role and nature of the papacy. (The part of the interview between 5:50 and 8:24 is particularly revealing about his view of the papacy and how it and the Church need to "go forward".)

Communiqué of the Secretariat of State on the upcoming Conclave

The freedom of the College of Cardinals, which alone, under the law, is responsible for the election of the Roman Pontiff, has always been strongly defended by the Holy See, as a guarantee of a choice based on evaluations solely for the good of the Church.

Over the centuries, the Cardinals have faced multiple forms of pressure exerted on the individual voters and the same College, with the aim of conditioning decisions, to bend them to a political or worldly logic.

If in the past it was the so-called superpowers, namely States, who sought to condition the election of the Pope in their favour, today there is an attempt to apply the weight of public opinion, often on the basis of assessments that fail to capture the spiritual aspect of this moment in the life of the Church.

It is regrettable that, as we draw near to the beginning of the Conclave, when Cardinal electors shall be bound in conscience and before God to freely express their choice, news reports abound which are often unverified or not verifiable, or even false, even subsequent damage people and institutions.

It is in moments such as these that Catholics are called to focus on what is essential: to pray for Pope Benedict, to pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten the College of Cardinals, to pray for the future Pope, trusting that the fate of the barque of St. Peter is in the hands of God.

[Source: Radio Vaticana, corrected translation, Feb. 23, 2013]

1700th Anniversary of the Edict of Milan
Address by Pope Saint Pius X to the faithful gathered in Rome
on its 1600th anniversary

On the 1700th anniversary of the glorious recognition in Milan of the rights of the Church by Constantine the Great throughout the Empire, we are honored to provide a first online English translation of the address given on this occasion exactly one century ago by the Holy Successor of Saint Peter, Saint Pius X, in the Eternal City, soon before the end of his resplendent pontificate dedicated to the restoration of all things in Christ.


Address of the Holy Father
to the faithful gathered in Rome 
on the occasion of the sixteen hundredth Anniversary
of the Promulgation of the Edict by Constantine

Sunday, February 23, 1913

The Liberator on the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge 
(Bernini, Vatican Basilica)

Your presence, beloved children, fills Us with great joy, as all over the Catholic world we are commemorating the sixteen hundredth anniversary of acknowledging the guardianship of freedom, which Jesus Christ gave to His Church. So, it was quite right that to give proof of their joy and devotion to the Chair of Peter, the uncorrupted children of those who tasted the fruits of that salutary Edict, would be among the first to rejoice. 

Thus let Us exult with you, since with this act you are revealing the spirit which is alive in you, as well as your vow which goes back to the time when the Church was granted the power of enjoying that freedom essential to the fruitful exercise of Her ministry for the good of souls and society. We thank Divine Providence for calling Constantine from the darkness of the Gentiles to erect temples and altars to that Religion which his predecessors had tried to exterminate for three centuries. He returned the property stolen from the Christians and granted Christianity full religious liberation. 

Now, amidst so much progress in civilization and in so much light in the sciences, we must reclaim that freedom for the Church, even from Christian Governments, which they themselves recognize or should recognize and which is essential in continuing the Church’s supernatural action on earth.

The Liberator presents Constantinople to the Mother of God 
(Sancta Sophia, Constantinople)
The Church, this great religious society of men, who live in the same faith and in the same love under the guidance of the Supreme Pontiff, has a higher purpose distinct from that of civil societies, which aim at attaining temporal prosperity here on earth, while She has the goal of perfecting souls for eternity. The Church is a kingdom, which has no other Lord but God Himself, and has a very lofty mission which surpasses all limits and makes of all peoples of every tongue and nation one great family. Therefore, it cannot even be supposed that the kingdom of the soul is subject to that of the body; that eternity becomes an instrument of time, that God Himself becomes a slave to Man.

Jesus Christ, in fact, the Eternal Son of the Father, to Whom all power in Heaven and Earth was given, impressed this mission on the Apostles, the first ministers of the Church: “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.” (Jn XX,21) – Going therefore; teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” (Mt XXVIII, 19-20)

So the Church has the mission from God Himself to teach, and His Word must be made known to everyone, without obstacles which may hold It back, and also without impositions which may restrain It. Since Christ did not say: your word be directed to the poor, the ignorant, the multitudes - but to all, without distinction, because in the spiritual order you are above all the sovereigns of the earth

 The Church has the mission of governing souls and administering the Sacraments; and since no one for no reason whatever can claim to enter the Sanctuary, She has the duty to rise up against those who claim to invade Her ground with arbitrary interference or unjust encroachments. The Church has the mission of teaching the observance of precepts and exhorting the practice of the evangelical counsels. Woe to those who would teach the contrary thus bringing disorder and confusion to society! The Church has a right to ownership, since it is a society of men and not angels and needs the material goods given to Her through the piety of the faithful. She safeguards legitimate ownership for the accomplishment of the duties of Her ministers, for the exterior exercise of worship, for the construction of churches and for works of charity, entrusted to Her in order that She may live and perpetuate until the end of time.

And such rights are so sacred, that the Church has always had the duty to sustain and defend them, knowing well that if She gave in an inch to the demands of Her enemies, She would not be obeying the mandate received from Heaven and would fall into apostasy. So history points to a series of protests and claims by the Church against those who wanted to render Her a slave. The first words by Peter and the other Apostles to Judaism were: “We ought to obey God, rather than men.” (Acts V, 29). These sublime words were always repeated by their successors and will be repeated until the end of time, perhaps even being confirmed in a baptism of blood.

And of this our adversaries themselves are persuaded, and repeat continuously that every sort of freedom exists under the shadow of their banners. But, in reality, freedom  –or rather  license  – is for everyone, but not for the Church
The Liberator and his holy Mother

Freedom for everyone to profess their own faith and to manifest their own systems; but not for the Catholic, who, as such, is marked for persecutions and mockery as well as discouraged and deprived of those offices of which he has the sacred right. 

Freedom to teach; but subject to the monopoly of Governments, who permit the propagation and the defense of every system and of every kind of error in schools. They even prohibit the study of the Catechism to the children. 

Freedom of the press, and thus freedom to the most irascible journalism which dishonorably insinuates other forms of government into laws, in order to rouse the mob to revolt, to ferment hate and hostility, to impede the welfare of the workers and the tranquil lives of citizens through strikes and to revile the most sacred things and the most venerated people. By contrast, Catholic journalism, which defends the rights of the Church and champions the principles of truth and justice, must be put under surveillance, recalled to duty and is indicated as antagonistic towards free institutions as well as an enemy of the state. 

Freedom to carry out the most rowdy public demonstrations to all of the most subversive associations is granted, but Catholic processions are not allowed out of the church, as they provoke the rival parties, upset public order and disturb peaceful citizens. 

Freedom of ministries for all, schismatics and dissidents, but not for Catholics.

Freedom of ownership for all, but not for the Church and for Religious Orders, whose properties are tampered with and given to lay institutions by Governments.

This then, as you well know, is the freedom that the Church enjoys even in Catholic countries! And so We are right then to comfort Ourselves with you fighting for Her in the field of action which up until now is conceded to us. So, courage, beloved children; the more the Church is opposed from every part, the more the false maxims of error and moral perversion infect the air from their pestiferous miasma, the more merit will be acquired by you before God, if you will make every effort to avoid contagion and will not be diverted from your convictions in remaining faithful to the Church. And with your firmness you will work for a fruitful apostolate in persuading adversaries and dissidents that freedom for the Church will provide admirably towards the well-being and tranquility of the people, since in the exercise of the Magisterium divinely entrusted to Her, She will conserve intact and in vigor the principles of truth and justice, on which every order is based and from which springs forth peace, honesty and all culture. In this fight, difficulties, molestations and fatigue will certainly abound, but do not lose heart, because in this battle the Lord will sustain you, bringing you abundant assistance and divine favors.

Such be the pledge of Our Apostolic Benediction, which from the depths of Our heart We impart to you and all your loved ones. We bless the objects you are carrying, with all the indulgences attached and We grant to Parish Priests, Superiors of Institutes and Confessors of Religious Communities, the faculty of imparting, the Apostolic Benediction with a Plenary Indulgence to all those who have confessed and received Holy Communion. Benedictio Dei Omnipotentis Patris + et Filii + et Spiritus + Sancti descendat super vos, et maneat semper.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]

Vatican versus Vatican: will the "Real Vatican" stand up, please?
Abortifacient in 2000 and 2008, "example to be followed" in 2013

Could it be another instance of "real" versus "virtual"?

If so, first the REAL VATICAN:


As is commonly known, the so-called morning-after pill recently went on sale in Italian pharmacies. It is a well-known chemical product (of the hormonal type) which has frequently - even in the past week - been presented by many in the field and by the mass media as a mere contraceptive or, more precisely, as an "emergency contraceptive", which can be used within a short time after a presumably fertile act of sexual intercourse, should one wish to prevent the continuation of an unwanted pregnancy. The inevitable critical reactions of those who have raised serious doubts about how this product works, namely, that its action is not merely "contraceptive" but "abortifacient", have received the very hasty reply that such concerns appear unfounded, since the morning-after pill has an "anti-implantation" effect, thus implicitly suggesting a clear distinction between abortion and interception (preventing the implantation of the fertilized ovum, i.e., the embryo, in the uterine wall).
Considering that the use of this product concerns fundamental human goods and values, to the point of involving the origins of human life itself, the Pontifical Academy for Life feels the pressing duty and definite need to offer some clarifications and considerations on the subject, reaffirming moreover already well-known ethical positions supported by precise scientific data and reinforced by Catholic doctrine.
*   *   *
1. The morning-after pill is a hormone-based preparation (it can contain oestrogens, oestrogen/progestogens or only progestogens) which, within and no later than 72 hours after a presumably fertile act of sexual intercourse, has a predominantly "anti-implantation" function, i.e., it prevents a possible fertilized ovum (which is a human embryo), by now in the blastocyst stage of its development (fifth to sixth day after fertilization), from being implanted in the uterine wall by a process of altering the wall itself.

The final result will thus be the expulsion and loss of this embryo.

Only if this pill were to be taken several days before the moment of ovulation could it sometimes act to prevent the latter (in this case it would function as a typical "contraceptive").

However, the woman who uses this kind of pill does so in the fear that she may be in her fertile period and therefore intends to cause the expulsion of a possible new conceptus; above all, it would be unrealistic to think that a woman, finding herself in the situation of wanting to use an emergency contraceptive, would be able to know exactly and opportunely her current state of fertility.

2. The decision to use the term "fertilized ovum" to indicate the earliest phases of embryonic development can in no way lead to an artificial value distinction between different moments in the development of the same human individual. In other words, if it can be useful, for reasons of scientific description, to distinguish with conventional terms (fertilized ovum, embryo, fetus, etc.) different moments in a single growth process, it can never be legitimate to decide arbitrarily that the human individual has greater or lesser value (with the resulting variation in the duty to protect it) according to its stage of development.

3. It is clear, therefore, that the proven "anti-implantation" action of themorning-after pill is really nothing other than a chemically induced abortion. It is neither intellectually consistent nor scientifically justifiable to say that we are not dealing with the same thing.

Moreover, it seems sufficiently clear that those who ask for or offer this pill are seeking the direct termination of a possible pregnancy already in progress, just as in the case of abortion. Pregnancy, in fact, begins with fertilization and not with the implantation of the blastocyst in the uterine wall, which is what is being implicitly suggested.

4. Consequently, from the ethical standpoint the same absolute unlawfulness of abortifacient procedures also applies to distributing, prescribing and taking the morning-after pill. All who, whether sharing the intention or not, directly co-operate with this procedure are also morally responsible for it.

5. A further consideration should be made regarding the use of themorning-after pill in relation to the application of [Italian] Law 194/78, which in Italy regulates the conditions and procedures for the voluntary termination of pregnancy.

Saying that the pill is an "anti-implantation" product, instead of using the more transparent term "abortifacient", makes it possible to avoid all the obligatory procedures required by Law 194 in order to terminate a pregnancy (prior interview, verification of pregnancy, determination of growth stage, time for reflection, etc.), by practising a form of abortion that is completely hidden and cannot be recorded by any institution. All this seems, then, to be in direct contradiction to the correct application of Law 194, itself debatable.

6. In the end, since these procedures are becoming more widespread, we strongly urge everyone who works in this sector to make a firm objection of moral conscience, which will bear courageous and practical witness to the inalienable value of human life, especially in view of the new hiddenforms of aggression against the weakest and most defenceless individuals, as is the case with a human embryo.

Vatican City, 31 October 2000.

Five years ago Bishop -- now Cardinal -- Elio Sgreccia (Vice President of the Pontifical Academy for Life from 1996 to 2005 and President from 2005 to 2008) declared that the "morning-after pill" cannot be used even in cases of rape. As reported at that time by LifeSite News (Head of Pontifical Academy for Life Reconfirms Morning After Pill Cannot be Used Even in Cases of Rape): asked Bishop Sgreccia if there was an exception in cases of rape. The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life replied, "No. It is not able to prevent the rape. But it is able to eliminate the embryo.  It is thus the second negative intervention on the woman (the first being the rape itself).


German bishops’ decision on morning-after pill is an example to be followed:
Vatican Insider interviews the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He defends the German Catholic Church saying: Catholic hospitals have been handing out contraceptive pills to rape victims for 50 years

...The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Mgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, spoke to Vatican Insider about this at the end of the Academy’s plenary assembly.

Critics say this type of medication can cause an abortion, albeit unintentionally, and that this is not a risk we can afford to take. What are your thoughts on this?

The Church needs to shape people’s consciences. What Church teaching says in this case is: in cases of rape all possible action must be taken to prevent a pregnancy but not to interrupt it. Whether a given medicine is classed as a contraceptive or abortion-inducing medication, is up to doctors and scientists, not the Church.

Bp. Carrasco: your own Pontifical Academy, 13 years ago and as is well known, made clear that the "morning-after pill" is abortifacient. Being abortive (preventing, among other things, the implantation of a newly-formed human being) is one of its stated goals. It not only may be abortive - as a flight of stairs may provoke abortions if a pregnant woman accidentally falls off it -, it has among its objectives not only preventing a future fertilization but preventing the implantation of an already formed human being.

Once again, the enemies of life, the promoters of the culture of death, use extreme cases to make the Church seem fickle and unprincipled in the defense of life. And once again, with malice or naïveté, Church officials fall for it. And once again the media takes the hit: the Bishop says that, "journalistic language is different from theological or clinical language. The 'morning-after pill' is a journalistic, not a medical term"; when the Pontifical Academy itself, in its document, does not have any problem in using the popular name of the pill.

[P.S. - Augustinus] Unfortunately this is not the first time that Msgr. Carrasco has acted questionably in his capacity as President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, a post he has held since 2010 after the "promotion" of his predecessor Abp. Salvatore Fisichella in the aftermath of the Olinda and Recife Abortion case. It was under Carrasco's leadership that, almost exactly a year ago, the Academy held a conference with speakers who openly spoke in favor of IVF. (Cf. Trouble in Vatican: Pontifical Academy members upset with ethics deficit at infertility conferenceVatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life is in ‘great danger,’ warns eminent member in open letterControversies prompt call for resignation at Vatican's pro-life academyVatican board courts controversy with neutral scientists.) During last year's controversies Msgr. Carrasco received the backing of another influential figure in the Roman Curia -- Cardinal Ravasi, who denounced the "opponents of dialogue" as fundamentalists.

The Electors - the men who will choose the next Pope
I - Cardinal O'Brien

Cardinal-Elector Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of Edinburgh, Scotland:

"For example the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry - Jesus didn't say that. There was a time when priests got married, and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church - in some branches of the Catholic church - priests can get married, so that is obviously not of divine of origin and it could get discussed again." (BBC, Feb. 22, 2013)

As is well known, priests can never get married in the Catholic Church, unless they are have been "laicized" (removed from ordained ministry). Married men may be ordained to the priesthood in Eastern Churches and, as an exception that is not to be perpetuated, in the Latin Church in the case of those who exercised a priestly-like ministry in some historic Western "ecclesial communities". After priestly ordination, as established from time immemorial, no priest can ever "get married". (Cf. Sacerdotalis caelibatus, 40) And, of course, Our Lord had something to say about this: "For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it." (Cf. Mt. xix)

For the record: La Repubblica's summary of
the Herranz-Tomko-De Giorgi report.
The "improper influence" of the "underground"

For the largest Italian daily La Repubblica, the key part of the "300-page" cardinalatial report ("relatio") on the Vatican leaks ("in two red hardbound tomes") -- delivered to the Pope in December 2012 and currently under pontifical secret, and that supposedly influenced him to present his renunciation of the Supreme Pontificate -- was the identification of a hugely powerful and highly influential "homosexual underground" in the Curia and in the universal Church. (Note: the first time the Holy Father was supposed to have been warned of this part of the report was in "October" 2012, in one of his weekly unnanounced audiences about the investigations with Cardinal Herranz.)

This is curiously related to Fr. Dariuz Oko's article published in June 2012 and whose translation was posted last week here.

The original article is available here in Italian (here in Bing Translator's side-by-side view), and an image of the article is presented below, in case the first link becomes unavailable. The Guardian's reasonable summary of the article is available here. In his press conference today, Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi refused to confirm or deny any detail of the report.

Click for larger view