Rorate Caeli

“Christians want to be Christians”

Don Divo Barsotti with Cardinal Biffi (1998)

Reflections by Don Divo Barsotti,
 “Christians want to be Christians”

“To think that in two months they threw out what we held most sacred. Gregorian chant is truly religious singing. It was thrown out with such conviction and so easily – actually, with a total sense of irresponsibility. At first they even wanted to throw out the Blessed Virgin, but we had a Pope who was very devoted to Her and so She found Her place again in the heart of the Catholic Church. 

"I don’t know what they wanted to accomplish with all this.

A Vatican II Moment - True Liturgical Movement: Pontifical Bike Mass in Palermo, Italy

April 27, 2016

All vested, all wheeled: the Biking Mass, celebrated by the Archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice, part of the Jubilee for Sportsmen celebrated in the Cathedral.

(Tip: Le Forum Catholique)

CONSIDÉRATIONS - The Schmidberger Letter urging SSPX acceptance of regularization: English translation and French original

The document that the former Superior-General of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Fr. Franz Schmidberger, current rector of the SSPX seminary in Germany sent to other officials of the Society a few weeks ago, and that was leaked in its French original text (update. - caveat: the first draft might have been in German, but the widest circulation was given to the French version), now has an approved English translation. In his Considerations on the Church and on the state of the Society of Saint Pius X in it, Fr. Schmidberger defends that the time has come for a normalization of the position of the Society in the Church, under Pope Francis.

The New Liturgical Movement (translation by contributor Richard Chonak) has provided the translation, which we post here for the record of current and ongoing events. The French original text follows the translation below, also for the record.


[English translation:]

Thoughts about the Church and the Place of the Society of Saint Pius X in it

Those that undermine the Papacy

Below is a short but important reminder of those who are truly destroying the authority of the Papacy these days. Here's a hint: It's not traditional Catholics. 

From our friends at The Remnant

"Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations."

In an interview with the German regional newspaper Aachener Zeitung on April 22, Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke of the further church-reform plans of Pope Francis and his intention "not to preserve everything as it has been of old." With Pope Francis, "things are not anymore so abstract and permeated with suspicion, as was the case in earlier times," he said. 

No reservations about supporting this effort

Please see below and consider helping the Traditional Latin Mass flourish on this Indian reservation:

When the Church came to our reservation back in 1884, it has been said by one spiritual elder in our community, "It was really easy for Indians to be Catholic. There was so much that came natural to us. Like a priest praying to the East, we've been praying to east long before the Black Robes came to us." He also went on to say, "Then in the 60's the Church changed, and a lot of people left the church because they felt that the Church had lied to them. They said this was important and a part of God, then all of sudden it didn't matter anymore. Our people felt lied to, like the the white man has done so many times before."

Official response of Bishop Athanasius Schneider to Amoris Laetitia

The following was written by His Excellency Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan. 

This is the official response to Amoris Laetitia from the good bishop. He wishes this to be read by all so please repost and forward far and wide. 

"Amoris laetitia": a need for clarification in order to avoid a general confusion

The paradox of the contradictory interpretations of "Amoris laetitia"

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (AL), which contains a plethora of spiritual and pastoral riches with regard to life within marriage and the Christian family in our times, has unfortunately, within a very short time, led to very contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate.

There are bishops and priests who publicly and openly declare that AL represents a very clear opening-up to communion for the divorced and remarried, without requiring them to practice continence. In their opinion, it is this aspect of sacramental practice, which, according to them, is now to undergo a significant change that gives AL its truly revolutionary character. Interpreting AL with reference to irregular couples, a president of a Bishops’ Conference has stated, in a text published on the website of the same Bishops’ Conference: “This is a disposition of mercy, an openness of heart and of spirit that needs no law, awaits no guideline, nor bides on prompting.  It can and should happen immediately”.

This opinion was further confirmed by the recent declarations of Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., after the Synod of Bishops in 2015, that the Synod had established the “foundations” for the access of divorced and remarried couples to communion by “opening a door” that had still been closed during the previous Synod in 2014. Now, as Father Spadaro alleges in his commentary on AL, his prediction has been confirmed. There are rumours that Father Spadaro was a member of the editorial group behind AL.

Conference on the Family in London

Readers in England may be interested in this conference in which not only myself, but Prior Cassian Folsom, Fr Serafino Lanzetta and others will be speaking, organised by the Latin Mass Society.

LMS One-Day Conference - Saturday, 14 May 2016

Edmund AdamusFr Serafino
John SmeatonPrior Cassian
Folsom of Norcia
Dr Joseph Shaw

This is the third bi-ennial One-Day Conference organised by the Latin Mass Society, the theme of which is 'The Family'.

VENUE: Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London W1C 2DJ [map]
(opposite BHS, less than 5 minutes’ walk from Oxford Circus)
Doors open at 10.30am and the conference is expected to end around 5.00pm

Book here.

"The Pope's Weakness" - Submitting himself to Allah

Passage from the article "Liberalism caresses Totalitarian thinking"

The Pope's Weakness
Ivan Rioufol
Le Figaro
April 22, 2016

The obvious: nothing is less evident than a compatibility of political Islam, a totalitarian ideology, with democracy. Yet it is this problem that the Pope evades, due to his refusal to contemplate the confrontation between the West and the Muslim world, despite History and the facts. 

You Suggest: Solemn High Mass in NYC

A reader asked us to bring this to your attention. This is taking place in Brooklyn:

The Isenheim Altarpiece, Part II

by Rorate Contributor
Maureen Mullarkey

Stay awhile, please, with the Isenheim Altarpiece. It has no equal in Western art. Grünewald makes palpable that mystic strain in the medieval mind that prompted Hugh of St. Victor to write: “Logic, mathematics, physics teach some truth, yet do not reach that truth wherein is the soul’s safety, without which all else is in vain.”

[Grünewald. The Resurrection wing of the Isenheim Altarpiece (1516)]

Cardinal Sarah attends the funeral of young Traditional Catholic brother to whom he dedicated God or Nothing

Robert Cardinal Sarah dedicated his book God or Nothing to a Msgr. Louis Barry and to "Brother Vincent, and to all those who take turns without a break at his bedside". Msgr. Barry was Cardinal Sarah's countryman from Guinea, who endured much for the Church during the dictatorship of Ahmed Sékou Touré and who died last year at the age of 93. (More on him here.) As for Brother Vincent -- Vincent Mary of the Resurrection -- he was a brother of the "Lagrasse Canons" or the Canons Regular of the Mother of God, one of the French monastic congregations dedicated to worshiping God exclusively through the Traditional Latin liturgy. 

Cardinal Sarah's dedication gently alludes to Brother Vincent's battle with multiple sclerosis, which finally claimed his life at the age of 39 on April 10, Good Shepherd Sunday according to the traditional liturgical calendar. A few minutes before he died, his Abbot gave him the last sacraments in the presence of his mother, sister and fellow Canons. 

Cardinal Sarah by the bedside of Brother Vincent

Update on the Norcia Summer Theology Program -- Still Accepting Applications

As mentioned here before, the beautiful ancient town of Norcia -- home of the traditional Benedictine monks famed for their Gregorian chant and artisanal beer -- will be the backdrop of the fifth annual Summer Theology Program of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies. The course runs from July 10–24, 2016 (the instructional part runs until July 22, with an optional weekend in Rome the last couple of days).

This year our theme is the Epistle to the Hebrews. With this short but inexhaustibly profound sacred text as the primary point of reference, participants will follow the great interpretive tradition of the Church, especially as found in St. Thomas Aquinas's unsurpassed commentary.

I am glad this year to be on the faculty, together with Fr. Thomas Crean, OP, Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB, and other tutors.

The daily schedule will allow participants easy access to the rich liturgical life of the Benedictine monks -- daily Low Masses, High Mass, and the chanted Divine Office, celebrated at the birthplace of SS. Benedict & Scholastica. The schedule includes the town’s festive celebration of the Feast of St. Benedict on July 11th, pilgrimages to the nearby towns of Assisi and Cascia, and the aforementioned final weekend in Rome.

You Suggest: Sancta Missa Latin Mass Workshop for the Laity April 30

We were asked to bring this opportunity to our readers: 

On Saturday, April 30th, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse will be hosting a Sancta Missa Latin Mass Workshop for anyone who would like to learn about the basics and theology of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (also known as the Traditional Latin Mass or the Classical Roman Rite).

The Day of the Great Battle

Reflections by Don Elia* and a message from Our Lady of the ‘Tre Fontane’

“Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place of first fruits before thee, that we may find thy mercy:” (Daniel 3,38).

It is the triumph of darkness. The authorization, if not the order, has finally arrived ... to feed hardened, obstinate public sinners, His Most Precious Body, which I provided for Him from my own most pure substance, united in an indissoluble way to His Divinity; that flesh with which He immolated Himself on the Cross in expiation for humanity’s sins and that Blood which He shed to redeem fallen humanity as a result of its transgression. That same humanity which has now returned to its vomit trampling on that inestimable grace, absolutely undeserved, but that the Fruit of my womb deserved with Me  one with Him – on Calvary. They no longer believe in the redeeming Sacrifice, they no longer know of the inconceivable love with which We have loved, they are not aware of the risk they are running… for they no longer acknowledge their sins. Now they feel they are fully confirmed by what they think is the supreme moral authority – and it would be, if it did not occupy that place in an illegitimate and unworthy way.

HOPE: Celebration of the 1050th Anniversary of the Baptism of Poland

It went little noticed over the weekend by the media (including "Catholic" media) but Poland marked the critical anniversary of the nation's baptism in the year 966. If only all the nation's presidents would proclaim the truth Faith in this way.

See below for his address to the National Assembly. There is hope. 

Event: Pilgrimage and Solemn High Mass at New Jersey Cathedral (UPDATED)

Una Voce asked us to alert you to this event:

UPDATE: Meeting place has changed. Please see below.

On Saturday, April 23, 2016, there will be a pilgrimage to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It will proceed through Branch Brook Park, known for its cherry blossoms, for two-and-a-half miles to the Holy Doors of Mercy at the cathedral. The pilgrimage will culminate in a Solemn High Mass in the extraordinary form offered at the main altar. 

8:00a.m.: Meet at Barringer High School parking lot west of the cathedral across Ridge St. 
9:30a.m.: Crossing of the Holy Doors of Mercy (Confessions available)
10:00a.m.: Solemn Traditional Latin High Mass 

The Isenheim Atarpiece, Part I

by Rorate Contributor
Maureen Mullarkey

Can the work of Protestant artists speak to pious Catholics?

It is an odd question, one that surfaces from time to time in regard to visual art only while leaving music to itself. We listen to Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and Handel’s Messiah with no concern that both composers were devout Lutherans. Yet a recent article in Aleteia asked: “Protestant Art, Catholic Setting: Is This Kosher?”

The headline brought to mind the Master Mathis, commonly called Matthias Grünewald. His sublime Isenheim Altarpiece, a nine-piece polyptych, is now housed in the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar, Alsace. One of the glories of sixteenth century European art—to me, the most profound—it is largely overlooked by Catholics on pilgrimage to more familiar names.

[Crucifixion panel on the opposite side.]

Sermon for the Second Sunday after Easter - "The True Mercy of the Good Shepherd"

by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla

“I am the Good Shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.”  (John 10:11)

The gospel today is part of the famous Good Shepherd discourse in the gospel of John. Jesus is the sole shepherd of his people.  There is no other shepherd who is the true shepherd, and this is why they know him and follow him if he calls them.  There are other sheep in the sheepfold, but they do not know him and do not follow them.  

But those who recognize his voice he leads to a rich pasture.  Jesus is the legitimate shepherd.  He does not climb over the fence to get into the sheepfold.  He uses no tricks, no illusions.  His purpose in getting into the sheepfold is not to steal or slaughter like the thief or the robber.  Rather he enters by the proper gate, the gate of his own body, the gate which he tells us is himself.

Three Tiny Notes on Amoris Laetitia

1. An apostolic exhortation is not, by its very nature, a non-magisterial document. It is the content of a papal document that reveals its magisterial relevance, not its name or category -- no one doubts Familiaris Consortio, the John Paul II exhortation on his synod on the family, was extremely relevant in sorting out important Magisterial points. Amoris Laetitia itself does not say that it is not itself magisterial: what it says, in its highly explosive paragraph 3, is that the Magisterium does not need to be invoked or suffer intervention to sort all Catholic questions. On the other hand, this same paragraph opens up a Pandora's Box of decentralization of the Magisterium, creating a centrifugal force which can ruin Catholic doctrinal unity.

2. Saying Amoris Laetitia is not a big deal, and not magisterially relevant is simply not true. The present Pope and his successors will not act as if it were not magisterially relevant, and bishops on the ground will certainly invoke it in their own Magisterial pronouncements. Amoris Laetitia will certainly have its place in future editions of the Denzinger and in any future revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

3. Francis, with some of his previous documents, but particularly with Amoris Laetitia, introduced a kind of "uncertainty principle" in Catholic doctrine and hermeneutics on morals, marriage, and family life, and that itself is magisterially relevant.

Pope to extend validity of confessions of SSPX priests beyond Year of Mercy

Several thousand people were assembled in Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire) during the pilgrimage organized this weekend by the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X on the occasion of the jubilee year celebrated in  this Mecca of Christendom. During the Mass celebrated Saturday in St. Paulien, Father Christian Bouchacourt, District Superior of France, said that this pilgrimage constituted a prayer for (France). He noted that many saints are linked to this holy place (Joan of Arc, Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort, John Francis Regis, etc.) and urged the faithful to recite the Angelus  every day for Muslims so they can know, love and serve Jesus Christ. [...]

'More Catholic than the pope'

We beseech Thee, O Lord, mercifully to receive the prayers of Thy Church, that, all adversity and error being destroyed, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who livest and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

O God, the Shepherd and Ruler of all the faithful, look down favorably upon Thy servant Franciscus, whom Thou hast been pleased to appoint pastor over Thy Church. Grant, we beseech Thee, that he may benefit both by word and example those over whom he is set, and thus attain unto life eternal, together with the flock committed to his care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who livest and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Due to the publication of the papal exhortation Amoris laetitia, Catholics who seek to hold fast to the Church's perennial teachings which conflict with the reflections and counsel of Pope Francis will inevitably find themselves being assailed as thinking themselves "more Catholic than the pope."

The old expression "more Catholic than the pope" has historically referred to the kind of Catholic who (usually unwittingly) relies upon his own limited or defective grasp of the Faith and his own preferred Catholic devotions and religious practices as the ruler by which he measures orthodoxy and orthopraxis.  If someone is described as thinking himself, or acting like he thinks himself, "more Catholic than the pope," it's supposed to mean he's self-righteous, priggish, a rigorist or perhaps suffers from scrupulosity -- or so the accuser would say.

The Catholic view of "sex education"

Let us never forget the words of the great, late Dietrich von Hildebrand, who rightly called sex education an "abomination":

"If representatives of the Church, who should be the great protectors of the sacred rights of the individual and of the family, act in a totalitarian way (and thereby exhibit the worst type of clericalism), it is simply treason, a denial of the spirit of the Church and of the spirit of Christ. It is a complete abdication in front of the spirit of the world.

"Our clear duty as Catholics is to resist this totalitarian enslavement and, above all, to protect the souls of our children from the damage which threatens them. If the response to the triumph of impurity, the shamelessness, and the barbaric murder of modesty in our epoch is to introduce in Catholic schools this alleged sex education, then let us protest with every available means. Let us fight relentlessly all the Catholic schools which introduce such practices. Not one penny should be given to a pastor who tolerates or endorses this abomination.

"I am no friend of picketing, and I thoroughly dislike this kind of demonstration. But when so grave a question as the souls of our children is at stake, then demonstrations are legitimate and even necessary. We must ceaselessly inundate the bishops with protests, so that if - which, may God forbid! - we do not succeed in opening their eyes to the abomination of sex education, they will at least yield to the pressure exerted by truly Catholic parents. I mean those parents who are the glory and strength of the Church, who believes firmly the Credo of Pope Paul VI, who believe in the infallibility of the Church in matters of faith and morals, and who, unlike the small but noisy group of avant-gardists, accept obediently and lovingly the teaching of Humanae Vitae. It is these quiet millions whose parental rights are being usurped. It is their children whose souls are endangered."

(von Hildebrand, Sex Education: The Basic Issues; 1969, p. 24)

Main Vatican (Ecclesia Dei) official: Vatican II disagreements no obstacle to SSPX structure

Abp. Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, spoke to the semi-official daily of the French episcopate, La Croix, on the relations between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, and among other relevant things said the following:

'Amoris laetitia' in conflict with the Catholic Faith

Hagios o Theos.

Hagios Ischyros.

Hagios Athanatos, eleison hymas.

God have mercy on His Holy Church.

There's no other way to put it: The pope's Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia is a catastrophe.

Though released only this morning, Catholic observers and commentators have already begun to identify several objectionable passages in which the doctrine and discipline of the Church's Faith are elided, wrested, and contradicted. We at Rorate Caeli will have more to say on this subject, but we can affirm that the headline of Dr. Maike Hickson's commentary at OnePeterFive is correct: "Pope Francis Departs from Church Teaching in New Exhortation."  Also correct is Voice of the Family's observation, "There are many passages that faithfully reflect Catholic teaching but this cannot, and does not, lessen the gravity of those passages which undermine the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church." (Be sure to read all of Voice of the Family's excellent critique.)

New Cardinal Sarah Interview: "being good" is not enough

The following interview, which first appeared today in, was conducted by the great Izabella Parowicz, Phd. Miss Parowicz asked us to share this interview with our readers, and we are very pleased to do so. 

“Just being good” ideology is one of the most dangerous. This leads us to consider everything as “good”, falsifying in this way even all that is truly part of the life of man. Jesus did not say to the adulteress, “Well, go and continue to do what you are doing since I forgive you. No! Because she threw herself at his feet and begs forgiveness, he says: “Go and sin no more”. Only if we understand this can we fully enjoy the fruits that the Jubilee of Mercy, offers us - says Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship cardinal Robert Sarah.

Q: It is a great honour for me to be allowed to carry out this interview with Your Eminence, especially in view of the recent release of the Polish edition of His beautiful interview book entitled “God or Nothing. A Conversation on Faith”. While expressing my great joy about the fact that this book has been made available to Polish readers, I would like to start from asking about its above, very captivating title. Is it to be understood merely as a summarizing of Your Eminence’s own life and service to the Church or rather as a reminder and a message to all people of good will?

An essay on the postures of the congregation at a Traditional Latin Mass

While we are all waiting for the official publication of Amoris Laetitia and the inevitable polemics that will accompany it, I am posting a couple of essays on liturgical matters, as a form of "recreation" (so to speak) before the battles to come. The rites and minutiae of the liturgy are a topic of great interest to many and I hope that this essay will be an occasion not for recriminations and angry debate but for a more thorough discussion of our participation -- internal as well as external -- in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

Pope and SSPX superior Fellay met Friday evening in Rome (updated)

Greg Burke, Vatican Press Office vice-director, announced on Monday that a meeting took place in the Casa Santa Marta on Friday, April 1, between Pope Francis and the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX / FSSPX).

We have learned that it was a very positive meeting.

UPDATE: SSPX statement has been released.

Traditional lighting of a Paschal fire

The following video is of the Paschal fire being lit by flint, steel and flax, in the vestibule of St Aloysius Church in Australia.

Holy Mother Church directs that the Paschal fire itself should be lit from stone, traditionally flint (struck against steel). The prayer blessing the fire invokes Christ as the corner stone of the Church, Who has enkindled in the Faithful the fire of Divine Splendor.

The lighting of the Paschal fire then refers not only the stone of the tomb, but to Christ Himself Who is the Cornerstone. The sparks coming from the contact between the flint and the steel ignite the flax seemingly out of nowhere, and the flax immediately gives off a bright flame. This evokes perfectly the sudden splendor of the Resurrection.

Secondarily, it makes us think of God’s creation of the world “ex nihilo," that we will hear related in the very first lesson from Genesis, and which begins with the creation of light. Finally, we are reminded of the essential connection between Creation and the Resurrection, when we realize that Christ’s Resurrection is the beginning, the "first fruits” and exemplary cause, of the New Creation (the "New Heavens and the New Earth”) that is being prepared.  

Event: Rome Life Forum (and an incredible speaker lineup)

From Voice of the Family: 

The Forum is open to all who have, or aspire to, a leadership position in the life and family movement – whether it be internationally, nationally or in your local parish or community. In this critical hour for the Church it has never been more necessary for such leaders to come together to defend and promote Catholic teaching on the family.

Reminder: Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society

This is our monthly reminder to please enroll Souls of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society. We now stand at 71 priests saying weekly or monthly traditional Latin Masses for the souls. 

Priests: The Souls still need more of you saying Mass for them! Please email me to offer your services. There's nothing special involved -- all you need to do is offer a weekly or monthly TLM with the intention: "For the Souls enrolled in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society."

The overwhelming majority of our priests are diocesan with all the time crunches that parish life brings. So we are making a special plea today for you traditional order priests -- join the Society! Our traditional Mass only priests must lead by example. This is a great way to do just that. We are only asking for one TLM a week or a month. Nothing more. 

How to enroll souls: please email me at and submit as follows: "Name, State, Country." If you want to enroll entire families, simply write in the email: "The Jones family, Ohio, USA". Individual names are preferred. Be greedy -- send in as many as you wish and forward this posting to friends as well.