Rorate Caeli

Nigerian Bishops hold the line on unnatural unions and immoral pressure groups - Vatican's Propaganda Fide does the opposite

Daddy, Mommy, and Children, that's Natural!

No faithful have suffered more in the past few years than the Catholic faithful in Nigeria - just last Sunday, 22 more were killed inside a church by Muslim terrorists.

So when the Bishops of Nigeria applaud their president for signing legislation designed to protect the family, one would think that the Vatican Congregations, out of respect for Bishops who know real life better than anyone, would at least remain silent. The piece of legislation in question is the so-called "anti-gay Law" - its real name is Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013. It is not really "anti" any specific person, or class of persons, but it has two main aims: to prohibit any kind of action that can be interpreted as a "marriage" between persons of the same sex; and to outlaw organizations promoting these immoral behaviors. 

Therefore, considering that this law would be beneficial to the dignity of the human person and that of families, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) sent a congratulatory letter to the president, as described by the official conference news agency:

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has described the recent signing of the Anti-Gay Bill into law by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a right step in the right direction for the protection of the dignity of the human person and commended the president for the courageous act, in spite of pressures from some international communities.

The conference made this remark in a letter of congratulations sent to the president on behalf of the Bishops and all Catholic faithful in the country by the President of the Conference, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos.

Archbishop Kaigama noted that the action of the Nigerian Government is in consonance with the moral and ethical values of the Nigerian and African cultures which uphold the sanctity of the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Expressing satisfaction with the action of the President, Archbishop Kaigama stated: “Your decision and that of your administration in conjunction with the Federal Legislature, not to bow to international pressure in the promotion of unethical and immoral practices of same sex union and other related vices is indeed a courageous one and a clear indication of the ability of our great country to stand shoulders high in the protection of our Nigerian and African most valued cultures of the institution of marriage and protection of the dignity of the human person.

While assuring President Jonathan of the prayers and support of the bishops, the CBCN President added: “We commend you for this courageous and wise decision and pray that God will continue to bless, guide and protect you and your administration against the conspiracy of the developed world to make our country and continent, the dumping ground for the promotion of all immoral practices, that have continued to debase the purpose of God for man in the area of creation and morality, in their own countries.

In a nation divided in half, in which Muslim groups kill Christians every week, it would seem that this is a  very good compromise between Christians and Muslims; and, compared with historical legislation on counternatural acts when there was a Christendom in Europe, it is extremely mild. In any event, it seems like the perfect example of the "new kind" of Vatican behavior, in which prudential local matters are left to the local episcopates: and what could be wrong, in Catholic doctrine, about outlawing fake unions and preventing the spread of immoral propaganda - the same "gay culture" the mere "support" of which remains an impediment to ordination to the sacred Priesthood (cf. Instruction on Criteria for the Discernment, 2005, n. 2). Certainly such legislation could never be enacted in historically Catholic countries these days, the same countries that find no fault in the widespread killing of unborn children, funded by public revenue in most cases, or in teaching in schools to young children that those same counternatural acts are natural, acceptable and even laudable. Yet this very fact does not make such legislation wrong or condemnable; quite the contrary, when faced with the challenges of the worldwide "gay marriage tide", there are only two ways to react, either by folding and conceding defeat, or by pushing back, as the Nigerians have chosen to do.

All this to say that the several bills discussed in different African countries are not on the same level - and it is to pander to the "most powerful lobby" to simply dismiss all of them as "draconian measures". That is the unofficial policy of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC), that in the editorial of its periodical "Southern Cross" simply condemned the law. What is worse, though, is that one of the official Vatican news agencies, Fides (the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Propaganda Fide) took sides and, instead of at least proposing both views, published only the editorial of the SACBC:

"Recently the Ugandan and Nigerian parliaments both passed severe anti-gay legislation. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has vetoed it; Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed it into law. Other countries, such as Cameroon and Tanzania, are proposing to pass similar legislation", recalls the editorial.

"These laws are not intended to render same-sex acts illegal — they already are, and punishable, in most African countries — but to persecute people on the basis of their sexual orientation", says the columnist and highlights that "Such laws are not only unjust, but they also have the potential to tear at the fabric of society if they are misused to facilitate false denunciations for gain, advancement or vengeance, much as what Christians are exposed to in Pakistan under that country’s intolerable blasphemy law".

In the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which prescribes to "avoid every sign of unjust discrimination" against homosexuals and even recommends to accept them "with respect , compassion and sensitivity", the editorial asks the Church in Africa to raise its voice "against discriminatory laws and violence against homosexuals, many of whom are Catholics".

On the specific matter of the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013 (which should not be conflated with any other, including the vetoed Ugandan bill), as we said above, there is no question of "unjust discrimination": false marriages are outlawed, and so are the organizations promoting immoral behavior as moral. One would think that the Bishops of Southern Africa would be commending their Nigerian counterparts for supporting a measure that is both fully consistent with what the Church has always taught and that increases bonds of peace and commonality between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. At the very least, one would expect the Vatican Congregations not to take sides in this dispute and let the Nigerian bishops apply Catholic moral doctrine in their circumstances. Propagation of the Faith does not mean bending to the secularist bien-pensance tyranny. It means acting decisively, as the Nigerian Bishops recalled in their letter to their president, "against the conspiracy of the developed world."

[Tip for the Nigerian link: Settimo Cielo]

You Suggest/Events: Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

From a reader:

Canon Jean Marie Moreau, Rector of St. Anthony's (West Orange, NJ), invites you to travel with him to the Holy Land from April 23-May 2, 2014, where he will offer the “Mass of the Ages” each day! 

Among the highlights are Mt. Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, Mt. of Beatitudes, Jericho, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the “City of David”! Discover the greatest mysteries of our Faith anew! All-inclusive cost from Newark, NJ is $3,795.00. Inquire for the cost from all other cities. Deadline to sign up is Feb. 28th! Space is limited. 

For more information click here or call Canon Moreau at 1-973-325-2233. For a brochure/application, click here.

Event - Feb. 9: 1st Traditional Mass in MIT since the advent of the Novus Ordo

A local reader asks us to announce the following event:

Pope Francis to Notre Dame: do not let the moral teaching and the freedom of the Church be diluted

In my recent Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions. This commitment to “missionary discipleship” ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 132-134), which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life. Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it!
January 30, 2014

Now it’s a Trifecta

So the Pope has now appeared on the front cover of three American periodicals:  Time Magazine, The Advocate, and Rolling Stone.  For the first two, the Pope was declared Man of the Year.  The caption on the cover of Rolling Stone was “The times they are a-changing”.  What does it mean when the Pope is the cover guy for a main stream but very secular American weekly, for the most prestigious, in some sense, gay periodical in the United States, and now Rolling Stone, the print symbol of the hip culture born of the 1970s?  All is needed now is for the Pope to appear on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine with an inside article written by the now ubiquitous and never shy representative of ‘70s Jesuitism, Fr. Thomas Reese.

All three periodicals that have featured Pope Francis on their cover and in a lead story, in their own way, are inimical to the teaching of the Catholic Church:  Time for the Catholic Church’s audacity to resist the inevitable triumph of secular liberalism; The Advocate for the Church’s teaching that homosexual sex is sinful and disordered and therefore her refusal to join the militant and intolerant chorus extolling the equality of both “forms of sex”, hetero and homo;  Rolling Stone, because the Catholic Church is just irrelevant in the post 70s world, a relic of the oppressive  past swept away by the revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. 

What is it that drove the editors of these three rather disparate periodicals to put Pope Francis on the cover and to celebrate, each in their own way, his accession to the Papacy?  Because they see in him evidence that the Catholic Church will become a completely tamed opposition to what they see as the inevitable outcome of history in their image and likeness, that the lion will become a cute cub that is nice to have around, or like the dowager empress that can be trotted out to fulfill religious niceties at important occasions. And they base this on the now famous, or infamous, statements that Pope Francis has made, or not made according to some, in various interviews, chats and homilies about various key topics like life issues, homosexuality, traditional Catholics, sin in general, the nature of the Church, and much more.  Whether or not the Pope’s statements have been misunderstood by the editors of Time, The Advocate and Rolling Stone, they are nevertheless using those statements to push their agenda, an agenda that includes if not the destruction certainly the emasculation of the Catholic Church. 

The Pope’s press secretary, Father Lombardi, a Jesuit himself like the Pope, spends much of his time explaining away what the Pope has said.  Yesterday he had to express his displeasure at the attacks on Pope Benedict in the Rolling Stone article. He said that despite the welcome attention given to the Pope in various media it was not necessary to say scurrilous things about the last Pope in the context of lauding the present Pope.  But the fact is that the praise heaped on Pope Francis by the secular press is most often accompanied by a negative, to say the least, assessment of his predecessor, or rather of that Pope Benedict who lives next door to that Pope Francis in the Vatican.  The fact is that Rolling Stone said in a much milder and secular based way what some Cardinals, Bishops and priests in Rome and elsewhere are saying about Benedict, those who have chafed and waited for a long time to go back to the 1970s and that peculiar agenda that resulted in the collapse of the priesthood, the religious life, the liturgy and Catholic moral teaching. 

It will not be pleasant to have to go through a period in the Church that tries to pick up where Pope John Paul II halted the march to New Church.  It will be like being at a Rolling Stones concert, always a bit embarrassing even for their faithful fans, who all have grey hair,  are a bit paunchy and are all in their 60s and 70s.   But you see, time is always on the side of the Church.  The mantra chanted today, even by Catholic politicians, that those who oppose gay marriage, assisted suicide, abortion and all the liberal agenda based on the rights of the insatiable naked self—these are on “the wrong side of history”.  But this is not possible for the Church, for her Lord is the Lord of history.

Abp. Gänswein, via Fr. Lombardi: want to read pure Ratzinger? Read his Letter on the Remission of Excommunication of SSPX Bishops

We have long considered the Letter to the Bishops on the remission of the Excommunications of the Bishops of the Society of St. Pius X as the most beautiful of the documents of the Ratzinger Pontificate, and we have often quoted from it, including at the time of the abdication. And that is not because it involves a matter that is close to the heart of every traditional Catholic, but because it is a deeply loving and moving document, that is almost a testament to the spirit of Benedict XVI himself, the Pope who was most persecuted by opinion-makers (the same who now laud his successor endlessly) since St. Pius X.

We now learn from the lips of the Holy See spokesman himself, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, that the document was completely written by Benedict XVI himself, a great rarity in the modern papacy. When receiving a prize in Toledo, Spain, on Monday, Jan. 27, this is what Lombardi had to say (conference audio in Spanish - mp3 file):

Yet I recall even more the letter to the bishops after the debate on the remission of the excommunication of the Lefebvrist bishops and the Williamson affair. It is a document in which the Pope answered with great humility, but also with true evangelical passion, the criticisms that had been raised. A document of the highest spiritual nobleness. I recall that, when Abp. [then Msgr.] Gänswein spoke to me before its publication, he told me that the letter was entirely from the hand of the Pope, and that it showed - I cannot forget it - Ratzinger in a pure state. It is worthwhile to read this letter, that is very characteristic. It is still to me one of the most expressive documents of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and of his spirit.

In February 2012, we made a special post in honor of Benedict XVI, quoting only from the letter, and would like to propose it for your reflection again: pure beauty in prose, ex corde Benedicti.


"... in all circumstances as God’s ministers..."


"Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation! We give no offense to anyone, that our ministry may not be blamed. On the contrary, let us conduct ourselves in all circumstances as God’s ministers, in much patience; in tribulations, in hardships, in distresses..."

Some groups, on the other hand, openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed, whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment. 


" stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults; in labors, in sleepless nights, in fastings; in innocence, in knowledge, in long-sufferings..."

I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility.


" kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unaffected love; in the word of truth..."

[S]ome of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.


" the power of God, with the armor of justice on the right hand and on the left..."

Was this measure needed? Was it really a priority? Aren’t other things perhaps more important? Of course there are more important and urgent matters. ... In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses "to the end" (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effectsCan we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them? ... [S]hould not the great Church also allow herself to be generous in the knowledge of her great breadth, in the knowledge of the promise made to her? Should not we, as good educators, also be capable of overlooking various faults and making every effort to open up broader vistas? And should we not admit that some unpleasant things have also emerged in Church circles?


" sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet enriching many..."

At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.


" having nothing yet possessing all things."
Saint Paul (2Cor vi, 1-10)
Epistle for the First Sunday in Lent

Mary teaches us trust. She leads us to her Son, in whom all of us can put our trust. He will be our guide – even in turbulent times. And so I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many Bishops who have lately offered me touching tokens of trust and affection, and above all assured me of their prayers. My thanks also go to all the faithful who in these days have given me testimony of their constant fidelity to the Successor of Saint Peter. May the Lord protect all of us and guide our steps along the way of peace. This is the prayer that rises up instinctively from my heart at the beginning of this Lent, a liturgical season particularly suited to interior purification, one which invites all of us to look with renewed hope to the light which awaits us at Easter.

Benedict XVI
Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church
on the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops
March 10, 2009

[Video: Organ Prelude based on Tu es Petrus, by young composer Jan Gorjanc.]
[Audio source: Diocesan Radio of Toledo. Tip for the Lombardi quote: Secretum Meum Mihi]

Socci: Ratzinger is the true target of the New Inquisitors
The Self-Demolition of the Church bemoaned by Paul VI begins anew

The Self- Demolition of the Church recommences

Antonio Socci

January 26, 2014

There have been some great popes whose pontificates have been practically discarded by the errors of the clerics in their entourage. This risk is also present for the pontificate of Pope Francis.

In fact, there have been episodes, decisions and “bizarre outbursts” by some prelates that have been quite disturbing. I am thinking of Cardinal Maradiaga and Cardinal Braz de Aviz, who feel they are so powerful in the Vatican that they can ‘use the club’ on both the Prefect of the former Holy Office, Müller, as well as on the ‘Franciscans of the Immaculate.’


The targets of their “club-beatings” (given obviously in the name of mercy) are those who, for different reasons, have been targeted as paladins of Catholic orthodoxy and have had dealings with Pope Benedict XVI.

The real target in fact, appears actually to be him: “guilty” of so many things: from his historical condemnation of Liberation Theology and the defense of correct doctrine, to the Motu Proprio on the liturgy.

Event: Free Traditional Conference, Jan. 31-Feb 2, in Indiana

A reader sends us the following event notice:

The Saint John Bosco Latin Mass Community will be presenting the first annual "Da Mihi Animas Conference" Friday, January 31st through Sunday, February 2nd at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chuch, 10655 Haverstick Road, Carmel, IN.

The weekend will begin Friday, 7 P.M., with the community’s first-ever Solemn High Mass, in celebration of the patron saint of the community, St. John Bosco. The conference will continue the next morning, Saturday, 9 A.M., with Low Mass followed by brunch. (Confessions will be available before and after Mass.) Brunch will be followed by a series of talks: Fr. Pendergraft , FSSP, will speak on "The Sacred Liturgy - the Fitting Worship of God", and the topic of Fr. Cano, FSSP, will be "The Eternal Priesthood of Christ and the Theology of Worship". The weekend will culminate in a Sung Mass in celebration of the Feast of Purification, Sunday, 3 P.M. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, e-mail us at or check out the Community's website here.

1895 Liber Responsorialis in full and complete version

Guest-post by Jeffrey Ostrowski

The 1895 Liber Responsorialis was published two years after Dom Joseph Pothier left the Abbey of Saint Peter of Solesmes to become Prior of Saint Martin of Ligugé, but was entirely the result of his research:

In addition to those parts of Matins which do not change, it contains first class feasts and the Common of the Saints: martyrs, confessor bishops, virgins, etc. This book is only for Matins, but the hymns are often repeated at Vespers. The pre-Urban hymn texts (i.e. non-corrupted) were employed, just as Dom Pothier had done in his 1891 Liber Antiphonarius. For instance, we find “Praelium certaminis” instead of “Lauream certaminis” in Fortunatus’ Pange Lingua. About a decade later, in September of 1904, the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican Edition would adopt the following motion:

22. The Congregation of Sacred Rites shall be requested to return to the medieval text of the Hymns (a.) because the text corrected by Urban VIII is ill-suited to the needs of the chant; (b.) in consideration of the artistic unity of the whole of the liturgical work; and (c.) out of respect for the ancient and holy authors of a great portion of these chants.

They were not granted permission at that point, but some publishers included the ancient texts as an option. 

The 1895 Liber Responsorialis is also significant because of its relationship to Solesmes' Chants Abrégés.

Pope Francis appoints a Tradition-friendly Bishop in Italy

It cannot be said that the appointment of bishops has gotten worse in the new Pontificate: as in the past ones, one finds great names favorable to Tradition along with mediocre liberals and liberal careerists. Not any different from what used to happen in the Benedictine years, which did not give us, alas, and contrariwise to what had been expected, a continuous parade of solid episcopal appointments.

The appointment on January 25 by Pope Francis of the rector of the seminary of the diocese of Albenga-Imperia (Liguria), Msgr. Antonio Suetta, as new bishop of the neighboring diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo, on the border with France, was widely welcomed by Tradition-minded Catholics throughout Italy. As we have often reported here, the bishop of Albenga-Imperia, Mario Oliveri, has made his diocese an "oasis for the 1962 Missal in Italy". In contrast the diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo has not been as welcoming. Bishop-elect Suetta has been a faithful follower of Bp. Oliveri, and will hopefully proceed with at least being open to Traditional practices in the diocese he will now head.

(Tip and image source: Cordialiter)

Sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany

From the Gospel:  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed.”

Last week we heard the gospel from St. John that recounts Jesus’ first miracle, the changing of water into wine.  Today we hear of two more miracles performed by our Lord:  the healing of the man with leprosy and the healing of the centurion’s servant.  The gospels in the season of the Sundays after Epiphany concentrate on the miracles of Jesus as the answer to the seminal, the basic, question asked and answered in the Gospels: who is this man Jesus?  These miracles are not offered as proof to the gospel answer to this question, that he is the Son of God, the Word of God incarnate, the Savior of the world.  But they are offered—and they are offered in a historical sense, not in some sort of symbolic sense—to point to the answer to the seminal question.  Many who call themselves Christians have been having problems with these miracles for a long time, and they have done so because they have succumbed well over a century ago to a rationalistic and moralistic understanding of the person of Jesus Christ. And they are locked into a totally outdated and false understanding of the physical world: they live in a imaginary Newtonian world in which surprise is absent. It is absent by decree, since there can be no surprises in a clock-world understanding of the physical universe.  One does not have to be conversant with the ins and outs of contemporary physics to know that physical reality is full of surprises and that these surprises happen with alarming frequency.  The irony is that in an age in which science is seen to be the basis and the touchstone of what is real, most people, certainly including theologians, are locked into a view of reality that corresponds in no way to the mysterious and in a way crazy picture of physical reality that contemporary physics paints for us.  And the verb "paints" is very apt, for physical reality is much more like a painting whose meaning can never be fully grasped, rather than the rather boring view of reality that is like a Patek Phillipe watch: expensive, elegant in its own way, keeps good time, but in the end not very interesting.

There is no doubt that we are living through one of the worst crises the Church has faced in her 2000 year history.  The roots of this crisis do not lie in yesterday.  The roots have been growing for at least three centuries, some would say much longer than that, and these roots are firmly grounded in the soil of that radical and myopic view of reality that places the individual at the center of the universe and as the ultimate meaning of what is real and true and good.  The cry of Martin Luther: “Here I stand, I can do no other”, finds its logical and inevitable consummation in the world in which we live, a world that loves to talk about community only in terms of a reality that is totally circumscribed by a radical denial of what has formed communities in the past:  family, friends,  shared values grounded in something beyond the community, and a sense of the transcendent.  This is a world in which any objectivity in morality is denied, morality is defined in terms of the freedom of the individual to do whatever he wants, with the exception of hurting another person, and that hurting another person is seen in terms of making that other person “unhappy”.  Even killing another person does not get in the way of this morality based on the self and a selfish understand of freedom, as we can see in the painful example of the contemporary acceptance of abortion as a personal right.

Guest-post: Optional Adherence to Vatican II:
If it's Ecumenical, why deny it? If it's not, why the selective enforcement?

Guest-post by an anonymous longtime academic reader:

As we all know, Fr. Volpi, Apostolic Commissar for the Franciscans of the Immaculate, has been exercising a sort of Anti-"Crypto-Lefebvrian" Inquisition, let us call it an “inquisitio haereticae pravitatis”..., and one of the measures he has imposed is the formal acceptance of the Second Vatican Council according to the authority which the Magisterium of the Church attributes to it. One might therefore ask, does the Church consider the Second Vatican Council an ecumenical council? What is the authority attributed to it?

The late Melkite Patriarch Maximos V did not, as seen in 30 Days (no. 2, 1997). Maximos declared it “unthinkable” to treat the second millennium “Councils of the Western Church” (!) as a condition for unity with the Orthodox, “including papal infallibility”(!!). And: “ must be recognized that all the Councils after the first millennium, including Vatican I and II, cannot be described as ecumenical... . The decisions taken in those assizes cannot regard the Eastern Churches which did not participate in them.” (A whole set of theological presuppositions, not to mention lack of historical rigor, lies behind those statements. The Patriarch of Constantinople, the metropolitan of Kiev and about 60 Greek bishops co-defined the Filioque and the Roman primacy at Florence in 1439. See the standard exhaustive treatment in Joseph Gill, SJ, of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, The Council of Florence, Cambridge, 1959).

In a similar vein, over a decade later, we have world-renowned Byzantine scholar Fr. Robert Taft, SJ, professor for 38 years at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (now retired), who indicates that the Catholic Church could “specify more clearly” which councils are ecumenical. “Are the purely Roman Catholic post-schism councils to be considered ecumenical councils of the undivided Church? If so, says who?” (Interview, “Building Bridges Between Orthodox and Catholic Christians,” in Sophia, Summer 2013, pages 7-9, reprinted from The Holy Land Review.)

Fr. Taft summarizes the “new” Catholic “Sister Churches” ecclesiology as a “startling revolution in how the Catholic Church views itself: we are no longer the only kid on the block, the whole Church of Christ, but one Sister Church among others.” In former times, the Catholic Church considered herself as the original and true Church from which others had split, and “Catholics held, simplistically, that the solution to divided Christendom consisted in all other Christians returning to Rome’s maternal bosom.” In the next lines, Taft qualifies the earlier view as “historically ludicrous, self-centered, self-congratulatory”.

That Vatican II was an ecumenical council will certainly not be foreign to the minds of the Franciscans who will sign what Fr. Volpi puts in front of them in the name of Church and obedience. And probably many readers of this blog would obey a Commissar of the Roman Pontiff, if they were religious and clerics, because they firmly hold what Fr. Taft and many well-read and clerical Catholics today dismiss as “ludicrous”. With divine faith and human perplexity, we ask Pope Francis and the Curial inquisitors over the Franciscans of the Immaculate, what kind of communion with the Church is that?

Optional adherence is either open to all or to none.

"Credo, Domine! Credo, Domine!”

Those were the last recorded words of Queen Mary Christine soon before her death, on January 31, 1836, days after giving birth to her only son (the future Francis II, last King of the Two Sicilies). She believed in her Lord, Who welcomed her for all eternity.

Reginella Santa, pray for us!

Maria Cristina di Savoia (Mary Christine of Savoy)
Queen of the Two Sicilies
Beatified on January 25, 2014

A Call for Unity

Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum...
The division of the Traditional Catholic world was a master stroke by the enemies of the 1962 Missal and of the Roman Catechism. They have managed to sow discord between friends and to establish fratricidal hatred among priests who used to march together hand in hand. The first group began to treat their brothers as radicals, the second called the others sellouts. The former were convinced that those who remained under Abp. Lefebvre would soon fall in total schism, and the latter thought with certitude that their former brothers would abandon both Mass and Catechism.

What can we say more than a quarter-century later? That, on both sides, these judgments were, in great measure, overreactions.

On its own side, for all its known problems, the Society of Saint Pius X did not become schismatic or a parallel "church". It has always kept contacts with Rome and has made what it considered necessary in order to regularize its situation with the successive popes, even if, for reasons that its superiors considers prudential (and with which we ourselves may prudentially disagree), regularization has not been achieved for the moment. On the other side, the Ecclesia Dei communities never abandoned the Traditional Mass, nor traditional Catechesis.

It must be said in all honesty: on the side of the SSPX, recognition of the Pope remains, and the desire for its work to be recognized is still sought, according to different measures that vary from person to person. On the side of the Ecclesia Dei communities, there remains a disapproval of the new Mass (regardless of the fact that it is considered both valid and legitimate) and of the alteration of traditional doctrine, both of which are also expressed differently from person to person. The exceptions within these groups confirm the rule in both communities.

IMPORTANT - Prayer request for Rorate Contributor

One of our oldest and most active contributors had a sudden health scare this week. Tests and exams will be conducted in the upcoming days while he rests.

We kindly ask all of you for Masses and prayers for the health of this dear contributor!

Catholic life is life in prayer: thank you!

Photos: Solemn High Mass following the March for Life

On 22 January 2014, the annual March for Life was held in Washington, D.C.  Several traditional Latin Masses were offered before and after the March, including Low Masses in the morning at Saint Mary, Mother of God church in the District by priests such as Canon Michael Stein of the Institute of Christ the King and Father Kevin Cusick.  (Sadly absent this year were the Franciscans of the Immaculate, who have visited Saint Mary's before the March for Life over the past few years to offer Low Masses.)

In the evening, a Solemn High Mass was offered for the repose of the soul of Miss Nellie Gray, foundress of the March for Life.  The celebrant was Dom Philip Anderson, O.S.B., abbot of Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey; the deacon was Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, oratory moderator of the newly-founded Community of Saint Philip Neri in D.C.; and the subdeacon was Father Gregory Pendergraft, F.S.S.P., development director for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in the U.S.

A surprise (and very welcome) guest at the Mass, which became a Solemn High Mass in the Presence of a Greater Prelate, was His Excellency Thomas Paprocki, bishop of Springfield, Illinois.

Several priests and religious assisted in choro (with others in the pews due to space), and MCs and acolytes included servers from the parish as well as other young men from the region.  The pastor of the church, Father Alfred Harris, attended and graciously hosted the standing-room-only congregation (the church holds about 400), almost all of whom spent the day outside in freezing temperatures.

The music was sung by the schola cantorum of the Lyceum School, an Ohio-based Catholic classical education program serving grades seven through twelve.  The choir sang Palestrina's Missa Brevis for the ordinary, Gregorian chant propers and several Renaissance polyphonic motets. The chant and sacred polyphony were well-rehearsed, demonstrated through tasteful, magnificent singing and exemplary direction.

For the record - Francis: Fraternity is fine, if there is a Transcendent Father

Pax et Bonum
One of the main problems of the extensive and incessant release of papal words in the past few decades, and even more so in the past year, has been that very relevant statements are often overlooked.

It was thanks to the breathtakingly beautiful sermon of Fr. Eric Iborra (Parochial Vicar of Saint Eugene, the most traditional-friendly Parish in Paris, in the memorial Mass for Louis XVI) that it was possible for us to see the deep significance of this passage of Pope Francis' Message for January 1st ("World Peace Day").

Globalization, as Benedict XVI pointed out, makes us neighbours, but does not make us brothers. The many situations of inequality, poverty and injustice, are signs not only of a profound lack of fraternity, but also of the absence of a culture of solidarity. New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that “throw away” mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered “useless”. In this way human coexistence increasingly tends to resemble a mere do ut des which is both pragmatic and selfish.

At the same time, it appears clear that contemporary ethical systems remain incapable of producing authentic bonds of fraternity, since a fraternity devoid of reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation is unable to endure. True brotherhood among people presupposes and demands a transcendent Fatherhood. Based on the recognition of this fatherhood, human fraternity is consolidated: each person becomes a “neighbour” who cares for others.

To understand more fully this human vocation to fraternity, to recognize more clearly the obstacles standing in the way of its realization and to identify ways of overcoming them, it is of primary importance to let oneself be led by knowledge of God’s plan, which is presented in an eminent way in sacred Scripture.

According to the biblical account of creation, all people are descended from common parents, Adam and Eve, the couple created by God in his image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26), to whom Cain and Abel were born. In the story of this first family, we see the origins of society and the evolution of relations between individuals and peoples.

Abel is a shepherd, Cain is a farmer. Their profound identity and their vocation is to be brothers, albeit in the diversity of their activity and culture, their way of relating to God and to creation. Cain’s murder of Abel bears tragic witness to his radical rejection of their vocation to be brothers. Their story (cf. Gen 4:1-16) brings out the difficult task to which all men and women are called, to live as one, each taking care of the other. Cain, incapable of accepting God’s preference for Abel who had offered him the best of his flock – “The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering; but for Cain and his offering he had no regard” (Gen 4:4-5) – killed Abel out of jealousy. In this way, he refused to regard Abel as a brother, to relate to him rightly, to live in the presence of God by assuming his responsibility to care for and to protect others. By asking him “Where is your brother?”, God holds Cain accountable for what he has done. He answers: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). Then, the Book of Genesis tells us, “Cain went away from the presence of the Lord” (4:16).

We need to ask ourselves what were the real reasons which led Cain to disregard the bond of fraternity and, at the same time, the bond of reciprocity and fellowship which joined him to his brother Abel. God himself condemns and reproves Cain’s collusion with evil: “sin is crouching at your door” (Gen 4:7). But Cain refuses to turn against evil and decides instead to raise his “hand against his brother Abel” (Gen 4:8), thus scorning God’s plan. In this way, he thwarts his primordial calling to be a child of God and to live in fraternity.

The story of Cain and Abel teaches that we have an inherent calling to fraternity, but also the tragic capacity to betray that calling. This is witnessed by our daily acts of selfishness, which are at the root of so many wars and so much injustice: many men and women die at the hands of their brothers and sisters who are incapable of seeing themselves as such, that is, as beings made for reciprocity, for communion and self-giving.
The question naturally arises: Can the men and women of this world ever fully respond to the longing for fraternity placed within them by God the Father? Will they ever manage by their power alone to overcome indifference, egoism and hatred, and to accept the legitimate differences typical of brothers and sisters?

By paraphrasing his words, we can summarize the answer given by the Lord Jesus: “For you have only one Father, who is God, and you are all brothers and sisters” (cf. Mt 23:8-9). The basis of fraternity is found in God’s fatherhood.

In a particular way, human fraternity is regenerated in and by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection. The Cross is the definitive foundational locus of that fraternity which human beings are not capable of generating themselves. Jesus Christ, who assumed human nature in order to redeem it, loving the Father unto death on the Cross (cf. Phil 2:8), has through his resurrection made of us a new humanity, in full communion with the will of God, with his plan, which includes the full realization of our vocation to fraternity.

From the beginning, Jesus takes up the plan of the Father, acknowledging its primacy over all else. But Christ, with his abandonment to death for love of the Father, becomes the definitive and new principle of us all; we are called to regard ourselves in him as brothers and sisters, inasmuch as we are children of the same Father. 

The Vatican "Gay Lobby" - a Timeline
- Full translation of article: former Swiss Guard chief confirms existence of secret homosexual network in the Vatican
- Vatican stonewalls

Here are the main episodes of this ongoing story.

1. June 11, 2013: "Gay lobby" mentioned. Rorate was the first venue to lift the matter from an obscure Chilean source: the content of the Pope's informal conversation with the leaders of the Latin American Conference of Religious (CLAR), in which the Pope himself spoke of a "gay lobby"; we were also the first bring it to worldwide attention with our translation. For more detail, see our original post.

2. July 18, 2013: Sandro Magister mentions strong hints of homosexual liaisons of one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, Msgr. Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca, manager of the Domus Sanctae Marthae (where the Pope lives) and named for relevant overseeing positions in the Vatican  - in a series of posts, see here, here, and here.

Sandro Magister's several articles and the evidence detained by his magazine, L'Espresso, have never been publicly refuted.

3. July 28, 2013: Pope downplays "gay lobby".

During the press conference in the return flight from Brazil, the Pope is asked about Msgr. Ricca. He says the following:

In this case, I conducted the preliminary investigation and we didn’t find anything. This is the first question. Then, you spoke about the gay lobby. So much is written about the gay lobby. I still haven’t found anyone with an identity card in the Vatican with “gay” on it. They say there are some there. I believe that when you are dealing with such a person, you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is not good. If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?

As it can be seen, the now famous "Who am I to judge?" was indeed a specific answer to Sandro Magister's accusation, and to the "gay lobby" expression mentioned by the Pope himself to CLAR.

4. January 4, 2014: In revelations published by Swiss weekly Schweiz am Sonntag (a summary of the publication available here at the Daily Mail), an anonymous former member of the Swiss Guard makes breathtaking declarations:

A former Swiss Guard has claimed he was regularly asked for sex by a 'gay lobby' of high-ranking clergy in the Vatican.

Cardinals, bishops, priests and other officials in the Vatican had regularly attempted to engage the unnamed man, who was responsible for the Pope's security, in illicit rendezvous, according to new claims.

The former guard said he received up to 20 'unambiguous requests' from members of the clergy and was asked for sex by a dignitary close to Pope John Paul II, a Swiss weekly newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag reported.

The former guard said his experiences, several years ago, added weight to allegations of a 'gay lobby' being active in the Vatican.

5. January 18, 2014: First, a note: we tweeted about this on Sunday, soon after Mäder's interview was published in Schweiz am Sonntag.

Probably because no stern reaction came from the Vatican, the team of Schweiz am Sonntag went looking for Swiss Guards who would agree to go on record. And they found not just one Swiss Guard, but a former high Commander himself, former Kommandant Elmar Theodor Mäder, who served in the Guard for ten long years (1998-2008), and served in the highest position for six years (2002-2008). Despite denying the wilder details of the anonymous Guard to the same paper a fortnight earlier, his revelations are nothing short of explosive. Here is our translation of the actual article:

Ex-guard chief warns of secret society
Saturday, January 18, 2014 23:28

Elmar Mäder sees security problem in the Vatican.

He knows the Vatican and its secrets from his own experience: 50-year-old Elmar Mäder served ten years as a Swiss Guard. In 1998 Pope John Paul II appointed him Deputy Commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guards, which he then headed from 2002 to 2008 as Commander.

The man from Saint-Gall was responsible, along with his over 100 Guards, for the security of the Holy Father. He was therefore able to gain deep insights of the inner workings of the Roman Curia. Mäder denies statements by former Guards to Schweiz am Sonntag that they had been on the receiving end of sexual advances by clerics. In his opinion these somewhat "wild tales" that were told "obviously lacked any factual basis."

But the former Commander does not deny the existence of the much mentioned gay lobby in the Vatican, quite the contrary: "I cannot refute the claim that there is a homosexual network," Mäder affirms. "My experience speaks for the existence of such [a network]."

You should be aware of the following: according to Schweiz am Sonntag's own investigation, Mäder was the Commander who is said to have warned the Guards about some lustful clerics, telling them to stay away from the latter. It is even said that Mäder intervened in writing in the Curia [regarding this matter]. This fact would not have been much appreciated in the Vatican, and might have been one reason for his resignation. Mäder, who today is the CEO of a medical technology corporation will not comment on this himself: "It is not my intention to speak publicly about my conversations and correspondence with my superiors."

However, unrelated to former [specific] events, Mäder talks "generally speaking about the homosexual network." And these statements are themselves significant. "A work environment in which the vast majority consists of unmarried men is by itself a magnet for homosexuals, whether they seek it consciously or are unconsciously following an urge," says the former Commander of the Swiss Guards. "The Roman Curia is certainly this kind of environment. Just as it is unsurprising that pedophiles are to be found in many environments such as schools or sports clubs."

Mackey makes it clear that homosexuality itself poses no problem for him. Even the Church does not condemn «Homosexuality itself, because they are there, obviously."

But Mäder sees threats to the security of the Pope. His statement is explosive: "I have learned that many homosexuals tend to be loyal to each other rather than to other persons or institutions. If this loyalty goes so far as to become a network, or even a kind of secret society, I would not be able to tolerate within my decision-making area. In the Vatican, decisive people now seem to feel the same way."

This clearly means Mäder agrees with Pope Francis, who said at a private audience: "Yes, there is a 'gay lobby' [in the Curia]. We need to see what we can do about it." That even a man with a deep knowledge of the Vatican as Mäder called the network a "secret society" will lead to turmoil in Rome.

The mistrust of the former Commander of the Swiss Guards [regarding homosexuals] is clear in his following statement: "I have even asked myself the hypothetical question, would I have promoted a homosexual? No, I would not have." Mäder explained this difficult statement as follows: "Not in fact because of his homosexuality, but because I can only have an absolutely loyal cadre in the security profession. The risk of disloyalty would have been too great for me."

6. January 21, 2014: The sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Abp. Becciu, says to La Repubblica "enough" (basta!) to "anonymous accusations".


Note: It looks like stonewalling... 

Why is this network dangerous? Not because homosexuals are dangerous people themselves or bound to promote "conspiracies", but because, as Mäder describes, in order to protect themselves, active homosexuals and their friends end up trading their loyalties to their superiors and the Institution founded by Christ for personal loyalties and blackmail. That is, since they know it is both wrong and condemned by permanent Catholic doctrine and practice, they create an underground loyalty network, and their loyalties go to their accomplices rather than to the Bride of Christ.

Why would revealing names make any difference? Sandro Magister could not have been more explicit in name-revealing and not much happened. All signs and hints seem to indicate that in the immense dossier that in all likelihood prompted Benedict XVI to consider his abdication and was personally handed by him to Francis in Castel Gandolfo there was information on the networks of influence inside the Vatican, in particular a "homosexual network". And no network seems to be more powerful there than the homosexual network - precisely for the reasons indicated by Mäder, that is, because, barring strict moral discipline and permanent enforcement at admission, an environment dominated by single men is bound to attract a disproportionate amount of homosexuals looking for likeminded people.

Instead of stonewalling (no pun intended), the Vatican should once and for all really start investigating and extirpating the secret network revealed by former Commander Mäder.