Rorate Caeli

The Mercy Memo: "Like it, swallow it – or get out…”

Radio Maria, a conservative radio station, used to be the most popular Catholic Catholic radio in Italy -- and quite understandably, since it provided an oasis of orthodoxy in a sea of post-conciliar platitudes.

Not anymore: less than 24 hours following the death of Mario Palmaro, whom he had fired last year for an article critical of the current pope (not pronounced on the Radio, but printed in an altogether different medium, the daily Il Foglio), the radio president, Fr. Livio Fanzaga, made the new directives clear: "Like it, swallow it - or get out."

The Mercy of Radio Maria

by Marco Bongi

“Recently it was necessary for me to do 'a cleanup' with the programme-hosts at Radio Maria. I had to make someone get down from their cathedra and sit them at a school-desk…because it must be very clear: like it, swallow it – or get out…”

It is about 9am on Thursday, March 13, 2014. Not even 24 hours have passed since Professor Mario Palmaro’s funeral. With these words, so full of mercy, Father Livio Fanzaga comments on the news of the day, especially about the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.

He carries on commenting with a logic all of his own; about the pastoral ineffectiveness of condemnations; about the need to present the beauty of the Christian life without manifesting sharp judgments; about the importance of the pastoral reflection which the Bishops are engaged in concerning matters of the family.

The contrast between the two parts of his talk (which has been already obvious anyway in all occasions [now] with the new direction [of the Radio]) today appears to be particularly strident. A punch in the stomach takes away my serenity for the rest of the day.

I am thinking of the luminous example of Mario Palmaro, about his splendid and courageous Christian figure, about his faithful perseverance right to the end of his earthly existence. I am thinking about some of the things he wrote in his last letter to the editor of “La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana”, when he mentioned that he hadn’t been able to sleep one night towards the end, when he wondered why Catholics were not capable of shouting their indignation from the roof-tops because of the doctrinal drift of contemporary pastors.

Thinking like this – I am almost on the verge of tears.

But then the “affable” voice of Padre Livio continues his tirade. He moves on to comment a recent book written by the first Argentine Bishop of the Bergoglio era:

“Even in Buenos Aires Cardinal Bergoglio didn’t enjoy the sympathy of the traditionalists . And it’s also the same today here in Italy…dear friends…they are the rigorists, the ethicists, the traditionalists, in a nutshell – Christian ideologists. No need to be surprised. Let’s carry on peacefully, following our Pastors…”

Condemnations, judgments, sentences… what are you saying! The prohibition of such stances is only for the enemies of God, not for good Christians at all!

For them Mercy is “like it, swallow it - or get out!”

Now, the book mentioned by Fr Fanzaga was the one recently published in Italy by Paolo Rodari, an interview with the Pope's main speechwriter, the president of the Catholic University of Argentina, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández. The book is now becoming famous as an attack on the non-negotiable values clearly defined by Pope Benedict XVI. We see clearly that Archbishop Fernández is filled with resentment. It is transparent that traditional Catholics in Buenos Aires did not have the best relationship with their previous Archbishop, but how can this be blamed on them, when it was the Archbishop who created all obstacles for the Traditional Mass, and even after Summorum did all he could to not truly implement it, as we explained in detail a year ago?

In a diocese, it is the bishop who is in a position of utmost power: when he blocks the legitimate aspirations of some of the most faithful Catholics, what are these supposed to feel?

For some days now, the homily of Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland (Oregon) during the celebration of a Solemn Pontifical Mass has been spreading around - we were waiting to post it alongside a report that alas never came. It is an example of a different kind of attitude. Here, the question is the opposite one: how can traditional Catholics not love a shepherd who, without forgetting his other sheep, shows his love and care for them? A shepherd who understands their legitimate love of the traditional liturgy and catechesis?

This is not to create a false opposition between the Pope and Archbishop Sample, but to show that the resentment clear from Archbishop Fernández's words, mirrored by Father Fanzaga, is explained quite simply by the prior lack of spiritual care for the faithful that was (and still remains) the daily burden of traditional Catholic faithful in one diocese, and is now the daily burden of many elsewhere. And the result is the sound of silence (cf. our editorial).

Love comes first from the top. Love in the universe came first from God, Creator and Redeemer - "who so loved the world..." - not from men. Love in a diocese must first spread down from the bishop. Love in a Catholic medium must first spread down from its director. When love calls, love answers back.

[Source for the quoted article: Riscossa Cristiana, March 14, 2014 - Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana. Video tip: several readers.]