Rorate Caeli

Homosexuality on the threshold of the Synod: Two Conferences in Rome.

by Sandro Magister
[from his Italian-only blog] Settimo Cielo

Homosexuality is per se outside of the topics of discussion at the Synod convened to discuss matters of the family.  But in fact it was present in a powerful way in the debates themselves.  According to the media hype, the dominant leanings in the Catholic world are for a radical change in the doctrine and practice of the Church, with the full acceptance of the practice of homosexuality and with the blessing of unions between persons of the same sex.

But there are also others who want to take a new path with respect to the pastoral ministry to homosexuals that is firmly based on Catholic doctrine.  Both these approaches will be represented in Rome in these feverish days before the Synod.

The first approach will have its moment in the sun on Saturday, October 3 at the international conference with the title “Ways of Love:  Snapshots of Catholic Encounters with LGBT Persons and their Families”.  The program in Italian, English and Spanish can be found at  LGBT is an acronym for Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual.  At this meeting in Rome, they explain, they will initiate “a global network of LGBTQI Catholics”, extending the acronym to include “queer” and intersexuals.  Their stated objective is “a Catholic Church in which the whole people of God—LGBT and heterosexual persons—can live, pray and offer their service together in harmony”. Speakers at the conference include Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, José Raúl Vera Lopez, Bishop of Saltillo in Mexico, himself a Dominican, the Jesuits Pedro Labrin from Chile and Pino Piva from Italy, the American Sister Jeannine Gramick and the Italian Sister Anna Maria Vitagliani, Martin Pendergast from England, Rungrote Tangsurakit, from Thailand, and also “a priest who works in Africa whose anonymity was requested by his superior”.

“Relax and get with the times”: Christianity Lite

With the confidence born of divine faith and true ecclesiastical authority, Pope Leo XIII was able, in 1899, to diagnose one of the characteristic errors of modern times and the only proper response a Catholic can make to it:

The underlying principle of these new opinions [he is speaking of Americanism] is that, in order the more easily to attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. … Let it be far from anyone’s mind to suppress for any reason any doctrine that has been handed down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ. (Testem Benevolentiae)

Can papal writing get clearer than this? That which belongs to the doctrine of faith and morals handed down by the Church is immutable, unassailable, always relevant, always required; it is from God as its author, for God as its final end, within man’s power by the help of God’s grace—and by it every man will be judged, for God is no respecter of persons.

Bishop Fellay's Anxious Petition to Holy Father before the Synod
- Annulment Reforms "will open the door to 'Catholic divorce'."

Most Holy Father,

It is with great anxiety that we observe all around us a persistent degradation of marriage and the family, the origin and foundation of all human society. This decay is rapidly accelerating, particularly because of the legalization of the most immoral and depraved sorts of behavior. Today the law of God, even the simply natural law, is being publicly trampled underfoot; the gravest sins are multiplying in a troubling way and cry out to Heaven for vengeance.

Most Holy Father,

We cannot conceal from you the fact that the first part of the Synod dedicated to “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” greatly alarmed us. From ecclesiastical dignitaries we heard and read statements so contrary to the clear and constant doctrine of the Church concerning the sanctity of marriage, that our souls were deeply disturbed. These men claimed to have your support, and their claims met with no public denial. What worries us even more is that certain of your words give the impression that it might be possible for doctrine to evolve in response to new needs of the Christian people. Our disquiet comes from the fact that in his encyclical Pascendi, Saint Pius X condemned an alteration of dogma that would make it conform to so-called requirements of the present time. Both Pius X and you, Most Holy Father, received the fullness of the authority to teach, sanctify, and govern in obedience to Christ, Who is the head and pastor of the flock at all times and in all places, and whose faithful vicar the Pope must be on this earth. That which has been subject to a solemn condemnation cannot, over time, become an approved pastoral practice.

God, the author of nature, established the stable union of a man and a woman for the purpose of perpetuating the human species. Old Testament revelation teaches us, in the most obvious way, that indissoluble marriage between one man and one woman was established directly by God, and that its essential characteristics were not left by Him to the free choice of men, such that marriage remains under a very special divine protection: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” (Exodus 20:17)

Please, pray with us, along with many Catholics around the world, this Novena to Saint Michael the Archangel for Holy Mother the Church

[This post will remain on top of the blog until the end of September 29, 2015]

Rorate Editorial: The Pope in the United States - Ambiguous on what should be clear, clear only on his political priorities

Pope Francis' visit has shown us once more that he can be clear and unambiguous on his priorities, and vocal and forthright in saying what he wants to say. He did not hesitate to make direct statements on immigration, on the environment, on the abolition of the death penalty and in praise of religious liberty (that is, religious liberty as understood by the Western secular consensus rather than the defense of the Church's right to proclaim the truth in any society). There was no question left about the importance he placed on these issues. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the importance he accords to the defense of the unborn and of true marriage.

We affirm -- and we are not alone in doing so -- that the entire papal visit to the US and the UN was a series of missed opportunities and a monumental failure to affirm Church teaching precisely where it is under greatest threat from public opinion and secular power. These will come back to haunt the very same Catholics who have tried so hard to justify all of the Pope's omissions in the past week. 

"But he spoke against abortion! He spoke about the right to life! He spoke about the need to defend marriage and the family!" Of course he did. Equally clear is that he treated these issues as having marginal importance. No one can in all honesty point to his brief and often vague reminders on abortion and declare that the defense of the unborn was one of his primary interests during his visit. Even less can it be said that he gave a clear and ringing defense of true marriage as only between a man and a woman. During his main address on the topic of the family -- the address at the "Prayer Vigil for the Festival of Families" in Philadelphia -- the Pope focused on the material needs of families rather than the defense of the very essence and identity of the family. At least the Pope had mentioned the word "abortion" in the course of his visit, but on the defense of true marriage he was never as forthright.

A Vatican II Moment in Philadelphia: Widespread Concelebration is the Celebration of Man

"Concelebration, whereby the unity of the priesthood is appropriately manifested, has remained in use to this day in the Church both in the east and in the west. For this reason it has seemed good to the Council to extend permission for concelebration..."
Sacrosanctum Concilium, 57

Yep, great idea! Click!
[Image: CNS]

"Christ's New Homeland - Africa" - Book review
- Cardinal Sarah and other African Prelates demolish Pre-Synod Documents

Cardinal Sarah and Bishop Adoukonou
Strongly Criticize the Preparatory Synod Documents

a guest book review by 
Dr Maike Hickson

In addition to the earlier “Eleven Cardinals Book” (Eleven Cardinals Speak On Marriage and the Family), Ignatius Press published this month a book written by eleven African Prelates – Cardinals and Bishops – dealing also with the topics Marriage and the Family, in preparation for the upcoming October Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome: Christ's New Homeland – Africa (Ignatius, 2015, transl, by Michael J. Miller)

This review deals specifially with the first part of the book, which include two specific essays in which two prestigious African prelates, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and Bishop Barthélemy Adoukonou, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, have analyzed and sharply criticized the essential preparatory Vatican documents for the upcoming Synod – both the Lineamenta (questionnaire which contains the Final Report – Relatio synodi – of last year's Synod) and the Instrumentum laboris (working document). Even though I recommend reading and savoring the entire book, I shall here in the following exposition only concentrate on these important, first two contributions in the book.

First of all, Cardinal Sarah discusses the problems contained in the 2014 Synod's own Final Report (Relatio synodi) as it was sent out in December 2014 to the whole Catholic Church in the form of the Lineamenta, together with an additional set of questions inviting further world-wide commentaries. Sarah says that, in this Final Report, there is “some confusion and even some serious errors that need to be pointed out, because, coming from an official Roman body, they could very well be troubling and confusing for those whose consciences are weak.” I propose now to present a few specific points from Cardinal Sarah's fuller critique.

Tosatti: The election of Jorge Bergoglio by the Martini-led "Mafia"

Pedophile-enabler and protector Danneels was Bergoglio's Godfather
Marco Tosatti
[Senior Religion Correspondent for Italian Daily] La Stampa
September 24, 2015

The election of Jorge Bergoglio was the fruit of secret meetings that cardinals and bishops, organized by Carlo Maria Martini, held for years at St. Gall in Switzerland.  This is what is claimed by Jürgen Mettepenningen and Karim Schelkens, the authors of a just published biography of the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who refer to the group of cardinals and bishops as the “Mafia-club”.

Danneels, according to the authors, had worked for years in preparation for the election of Pope Francis, which happened in 2013.  He himself, however, in a video recorded during the presentation of the book admits that he had taken part in a secret club of cardinals that were in opposition to Joseph Ratzinger.  While laughing he calls it “a Mafia club whose name was St. Gall”. 

The group wanted a drastic reform of the Church, much more modern and up to date, with Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis at the head.  And this is just as things turned out.  In addition to Danneels and Martini, among the others who made up the group according to the book were the Dutch bishop Adriaan Van Luyn, the German cardinals Walter Kasper and Karl Lehman, the Italian cardinal AchilleSilvestrini and the English cardinal Basil Hume. [Rorate note: from the earliest days of the group, later replaced after his death.]

The Belgian newspaper “Le Vif” wrote:  “On March 13, 2013, an old acquaintance was at the side of the new Pope [at the St. Peter's Basilica loggia], Francis: Godfried Danneels.  Officially he stood there in his role as the dean of the cardinal-priests, but actually he had operated for years in secret as the king-maker.”

On the Pope's Visit to America, First Days.
- The Hierarchy May Go Silent, but the Lay Stones Will Cry Out

Some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." (St. Luke 19)

EXCLUSIVE: CARD. MÜLLER'S pre-Synod presentation of Card. Sarah's book in Germany - Liturgy, Grace, Marriage, and the New Danger of Schism

Since the date of Cardinal Gerhard Müller's presentation of the German translation of Cardinal Robert Sarah's book "God or Nothing" in Regensburg, much has been said of his dire warnings that the Catholic Church may be on the verge of schism, once again originating from a confusion originated in Germany, today as in 1517.

In his September 1, 2015, lecture, Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the presence of Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, had much more to say - a strong lesson on how true, actual poverty (as exemplified by the life and strong and orthodox beliefs of Cardinal Sarah) is translated into "full apostolic candor and zeal", not in a false doctrine that bends to the whim of the current preference of the post-modern European. That will not do.

We leave you with our exclusive translation of the main excerpts of the original German text provided by the Vatican website:

God or Nothing
Thoughts Concerning the Book by Cardinal Robert Sarah
by Cardinal Gerhard Müller

First of all, I would like to thank Cardinal Robert Sarah for his witness to the Faith, which he presents with his book Dieu ou rien. Entretien sur la foi, which has been published just this year. At the same time, I congratulate the German-speaking world that is able now to get to know in their own language the richness of thought of a great theologian and spiritual man.

In ten circles of questions, the Cardinal reflects theologically and spiritually upon the situation of the Catholic Church in the world of today and offers not only a diagnosis, but also a therapy for the postmodern man who has no orientation any more: that is to say, the Faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of the whole world. […]
In the liturgy, the Faith expresses itself as an immediate response to the Triune God Who reveals Himself to each person in His Incarnate Word, in His Son Jesus Christ, and Who means Himself to be seen as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. […] It is not about an external staging of rites and symbols in which man plays with himself, turns around himself, honors and adores himself – but still without crossing over into the true transcendence of God. In the liturgy, there happens the elevation of man through Grace. Because it is the opposite of an egotistical trip full of self-pity; the liturgy means to elevate one's heart to God, Whom alone deserves adoration and glorification; it is not like in a Pagan cult and myth where man flatters the gods in a servile manner, or revolts against them in a Promethean way, but it is, rather, as in Christ, where God and man encounter each other. That is how Christians worship God. “The Glory of God lives in man (who lives in Grace), but man lives in the vision of God.” That is how Saint Irenaeus of Lyon put it in the 2nd century (Adv. Haer. IV, 20, 7: Gloria enim Dei vivens homo, vita autem hominis visio Dei). The Triune God is adored, glorified, and loved, He Who Himself Assumed our flesh and Who in Jesus Christ in His truly human nature, in His human history, in His sacrificial death for us on the Cross and in His real Resurrection from the dead overcame death and the separation from God. This is the same Jesus Christ Who as the Exalted Lord meets us historically, bodily, and communally, in the Church and in Her Sacraments realistically from person to person. […]

In the age of the creeping or noisy de-Christianization of the Global Society, the true understanding of the liturgy and of its dignified celebration becomes a crucial question of survival for Christianity in the world of today and tomorrow. In order to be able to fulfill this task, one needs more than a professional knowledge of the art of the liturgy in the stricter sense. The intellectual horizon of a Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship has to have permeated intellectually the philosophical, fundamentally theological, the dogmatic and cultural, as well as political preconditions and conditions of being a Christian in modern and postmodern times. Only a deep and thorough diagnosis of the spiritual and cultural structure of the globalized world can also lead to the development of a therapy which overcomes the Nihilism – as the common denominator of all expectations and yearnings of a world without God – and thus can make the Faith in God as the reason and purpose for man to shine anew. The liturgical incapacity of the modern man – of which Romano Guardini already spoke in 1948 at the Katholikentag in Mainz – and the “crisis of the sacramental idea” in a conscience which is reduced only to the aspect of immanence (as observed by Joseph Ratzinger), both have their roots in the monistic system of a naturalism which denies the transcendental dependency of man – both in spirit and in freedom – upon the Mystery of God. Consequently, this naturalism limits man one-dimensionally and intra-worldly and it is not capable of seeing man as a listener of the word that points to a supernatural Revelation of God in the world, in history and in the spirit of man. […]

Man is oriented toward the absolute. Only where God is above and in man, there is truth in freedom and justice in love. Where man tries to take power over the absolute, he turns himself into an idol who, with the help of the clench for a totalitarian dominance, brings man sternly into line and thus enslaves him by means of a political exercise of power which makes use of the media. […]

Rorate review: Saints for All Occasions

A while back, we brought you a wonderful new product, an app filled with the top novenas. Now, from our friends at, we want to bring to your attention a beautiful new product that we know some readers have been looking for: a set of Catholic note cards to send friends and family for special occasions along with the patron saint of the cause. 

October 7th: Event in NYC for the Monks of Norcia

We would like to remind our readers in the New York area that the Lumen Christi Association, about which we have posted previously, is hosting an event in support of the monks of Norcia on October 7th at the New York Athletic Club. In addition to a presentation by the Fr. Cassian Folsom, prior of the the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, there will be a speech by Ross Douthat, Catholic convert and New York Times columnist, on Religion and the Fate of the West: Being Catholic in a Secular Age.

Religious Liberty in the United States

In his speech on the South Lawn of the White House, Pope Francis spoke of members of the American Congress as being “called” to “fidelity to [the] founding principles [of the United States],” and praised the American tradition of religious liberty:

With countless other people of good will, [American Catholics] are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Chastity is Impossible: The Kernel of the Kasperite Position

Regarding the debate over marriage and divorce, serial polygamy, and admission to communion, Cardinal Kasper does not dismiss the need for the sacrament of Penance prior to reception of the Eucharist when one is conscious of grave sin. Nevertheless, he does not seem to affirm the necessity of a firm purpose of amendment for Penance, since in the case at hand such a purpose would demand the renunciation of the use of marriage—the repudiation of an adulterous union. Or, if he does admit the necessity of amendment, then he must not affirm the objective gravity of divorce itself (a mere fiction of civil law, no more real, in the spiritual order, than a pink elephant) and especially of attempted “re-marriage” or of sexual relations with someone other than one’s legitimate spouse. Kasper’s error seems to be simultaneously an error about the indissolubility of marriage, the preconditions of absolution, and the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist.

"The Pope has denied that he's a leftist!" Or has he?
How the Catholic mainstream media spins just as much as the secular media. - PLUS:What the Pope REALLY said about Cuba

[Read also our post on Francis' meeting with Fidel Castro: Has the Church surrendered to Fidel Castro?]

Tonight, various news agencies and websites representing what some would call the "Catholic mainstream media" are going wild with reports that the Pope has just denied that he is a leftist. 

Now, let's have a look at what he really said during his in-flight press conference from Cuba to the United States. The full transcript (in translation, naturally) of the in-flight press conference can be read on the Catholic News Agency's website. (Full transcript of Pope's in-flight interview from Cuba to US.) 

First, regarding his denial of being a leftist, here's what Pope Francis actually said:

A cardinal friend of mine told me that a very concerned woman, very Catholic, went to him. A bit rigid, but Catholic. And she asked him if it was true that in the Bible, they spoke of an antichrist, and she explained it to him. And also in the Apocalypse, no? And, then, if it was true that an anti-pope, who is the antichrist, the anti-Pope. But why is she asking me this question, this cardinal asked me? “Because I’m sure that Pope Francis is the anti-pope,” she said. And why does she ask this, why does she have this idea? “It’s because he doesn’t wear red shoes.” The reason for thinking if one is communist or isn’t communist. I’m sure that I haven't said anything more than what’s written in the social doctrine of the Church. On another flight, a colleague asked me if I had reached out a hand to the popular movements and asked me, “But is the Church going to follow you?” I told him, “I’m the one following the Church.” And in this it seems that I’m not wrong. I believe that I never said a thing that wasn’t the social doctrine of the Church. Things can be explained, possibly an explanation gave an impression of being a little “to the left”, but it would be an error of explanation. No, my doctrine on this, in Laudato si', on economic imperialism, all of this, is the social doctrine of the Church. And it if necessary, I’ll recite the creed. I am available to do that, eh.

Look! There! Aha! The Pope denies being a leftist! In fact what the Pope does here is to refer to an unspecified explanation of the things he has said that "give an impression" of being left-leaning ("a little to the left") and then says that it is an erroneous explanation. The fact is we do not know exactly what he is describing here as the "erroneous" explanation of his thinking, or even what he means here by being "to the left", which can mean vastly different things on either side of the equator. If anything, this looks like a non-denial denial. This, like so many other things coming from this Pope, is cloaked in so many verbal vagaries that it is hard to have a precise idea of what he actually has in mind.  More to the point is what he says about Cuba in the rest of the interview, Cuba being an unmistakably Communist regime. 

The U.S. churches Francis will visit

Pope Francis is currently in the United States, for the first time in his life.

During his visit in America, he will step inside five churches (not including chapels): the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and Saint Patrick's church, all in Washington, D.C.; the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in New York City; and the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Remarkably, four of the five churches still have altar rails, which of course will not be used during any of the liturgies with this pope.  All of the churches were built before the Second Vatican Council, and three of them have seen traditional Latin Masses offered at their main altars since the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988.

Having visited each of these churches, we thought it may be of interest to present a brief summary, from a traditional viewpoint, of the sacred spaces the Holy Father will encounter.

1) The Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle started out as a parish church when Washington, D.C. was part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. It is most known for the Requiem Low Mass offered by Richard Cardinal Cushing, archbishop of Boston, for President John F. Kennedy's funeral in 1963.

Today, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, it is considered one of the most liberal parishes in the region, with a notable portion of its congregation opposed to Church teachings and natural law (to put it kindly). Although the cathedral offers a Sunday morning novus ordo partially in Latin (except when something more important bumps it) attempts to offer traditional Latin Masses have been denied.  The cardinal-archbishop lives at another parish, not at the cathedral.

Repost: Ember in September

The equinox has just arrived, bringing with it the beautiful days of Autumn (and Spring in the Southern Hemisphere). The Roman Church once again reminds us of the cycle of the seasons in these Ember Days in September.

We re-post, for those who are not aware of it, this article first posted by us in 2008. May you all have fruitful days.

By Michael P. Foley

Rorate book review: "Letters to an Altar Boy"

Once in a while Rorate reviews books, calendars and other items for our readers we believe will be beneficial to them or their families, helping them grow in the Faith. We receive no compensation for this -- ever. We do it only as an act of charity, the same reason for which we take the time to run this blog. We have never received payment for these reviews nor have we ever ran advertisements or accepted the numerous and generous offers of donations or stipends.

Today's quick review is on the book "Letters to an Altar Boy" -- and it's a quick review because the book, while very compelling, is a quick read to boys (yes, boys, there are no stories on girl altar boys in this book!)

As Saint John Berchmans -- the patron saint of altar boys -- will attest, besides the priest, there is no one more important in the church during Mass than the altar boys. And that's exactly what your boys will come to understand after reading this book or, better yet, after you read the book to them

Written by Father David E. Rosage in 1952, the book does a wonderful job explaining to boys why what they're doing in the service of God is so critical. The language is masculine, which boys respond to. It's also touching at times, when a father and a mother both write notes to their sons, explaining why they are so proud of them every time they see them assisting at the altar. And it's informative and gets very granular with what the boys should and shouldn't do when serving pertaining to demeanor and decorum. 

Letters to an Altar Boy is a rare book we would say is a must-read for all altar boys and those thinking of becoming one.  

Catholic Divorce - Canonical critiques of annulment reform are piling up: Will the Vatican, the bishops, and the Francis "Amen corner" listen?

See also our previous pieces:

Can zealous Bishops and Cardinals question the Annulment Reform and ask for its abrogation? 

For the record: Cardinal Burke's latest address on the Synod and "Annulment" Reform. Rorate reminder: 2015 Synod poised to assault Humanae Vitae too.

Head of Vatican Commission Admits in Official Paper: Surge in Number of "Annulments" Intended

The Excommunication of Robert II "the Pious" - painting by Jean-Paul Laurens. 

Something is definitely in the air: Prominent canonists initially lauding the marriage nullity reforms, then backtracking, then public coming out strongly against these, and very real talk of discontent among a significant number of canon lawyers and prelates. And we're not talking about traditionalists here! The Pope's arbitrary and highly problematic reforms of the process for declaring marriage nullity, worked out with no widespread consultations and in relative secrecy and published on September 8 through the motu proprio Mitis Iudex, is fast turning into an unprecedented crisis of authority for his rule. The crisis of authority is real and no amount of denial and snubbing by the Catholic media establishment and by "respectable" Catholic bloggers can hide it.

In the first days after the promulgation of Mitis Iudex the critical assessments of it by canon lawyer Kurt Martens and the professor of systematic theology Chad Pecknold, both professors at Catholic University of America, reached a wide audience through Washington Post's report on the reform (Pope Francis announces biggest changes to annulment process in centuries). To our knowledge it was Martens who first publicly referred to the reforms as the "Catholic version of no-fault divorce". Please keep this in mind next time you see a bishop or professional apologist blaming a secularist conspiracy for allegedly fabricating the idea that the Pope has just instituted "Catholic divorce". But we digress...

Despite the Washington Post article, the initial at-length analyses of the reforms in the "conservative" Catholic press tended to be either neutral or positive about it. Aside from Jimmy Akin's neutral "things to know and share" take on the motu proprio, three essays initially lauding or downplaying the seriousness the reforms and written by canon lawyers made the rounds in social media:

Has the Church surrendered to Fidel Castro?

As widely reported on secular media Pope Francis met yesterday (Sunday, September 20) with the retired ex-dictator of Cuba, Fidel Castro. It is reported on good authority that it was Francis, not Mr. Castro, who sought this meeting; it was not on the official calendar of the visit. Francis had expressed his "sentiments of particular respect and consideration" specifically for Fidel Castro during his first speech in Cuba on Saturday evening and their actual meeting was, in Fr. Federico Lombardi's words, "'familiar and informal," with the two speaking about "protecting the environment and the great problems of the contemporary world." Lombardi also notes that Francis and Castro's exchange was "more of a conversation" (in other words, more relaxed and cordial) compared to the 2012 meeting between Castro and Pope Benedict XVI, when the former had peppered the latter with questions. 

Conclusion of the Apostolic Visitation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

Communiqué published by the General House of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Fribourg, Switzerland, September 17, 2015:

Infusing the spirit of the Novus Ordo into Eastern Catholicism:
Notes on Piero Marini's new appointment, the legacy of the 2010 Synod of Bishops, and the modernizing Chaldean Catholic liturgical reform of 2014

Patriarch Louis Raphael celebrating Mass at the Chaldean church of the Queen of the Holy Rosary in Baghdad, 2014. (Source)

On Piero Marini and the "Special Commission on the Liturgy" for the Eastern Catholics

September 1 saw, in addition to the Pope's letter on the Jubilee of Mercy with its historic gestures to the SSPX and on abortion, the announcement that he had also renewed the membership of the Special Commission on the Liturgy of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. (Some news sites reported this as a "reconstitution" of the Commission.) As President of this Special Commission he appointed Archbishop Piero Marini who will also remain as President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses (a post he has held since 2007). Marini is of course better known as the former Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations and disciple of Abp. Annibale Bugnini, having been at one point the latter's personal secretary. 

"The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law"

Everything about the annulment reforms that led to what is now being overwhelmingly called "Catholic Divorce" was done by Pope Francis in an untraditional and authoritarian manner. Rather - it was untraditional precisely because it was so authoritarian. A Church in which such a foundational Sacrament as Matrimony is affected by a mere pen-stroke by such "changes in usage" as those proposed by the new motu proprio is a Church "torn to pieces".

It was precisely the opposite of the exercise of papal authority as defined by his immediate predecessor in his memorable homily of May 7, 2005:

[S]cience alone cannot provide us with a definitive and binding interpretation; it is unable to offer us, in its interpretation, that certainty with which we can live and for which we can even die. A greater mandate is necessary for this, which cannot derive from human abilities alone. The voice of the living Church is essential for this, of the Church entrusted until the end of time to Peter and to the College of the Apostles.

This power of teaching frightens many people in and outside the Church. They wonder whether freedom of conscience is threatened or whether it is a presumption opposed to freedom of thought. It is not like this. The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the faith. The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope's ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God's Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.

Catholic Divorce: Can zealous Bishops and Cardinals question the Annulment Reform and ask for its abrogation?

Can the governing acts of the Pope be questioned?

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
September 18, 2015

Sandro Magister has documented the vulnus inflicted on Christian matrimony by Pope Francis’ two Motu Proprio with an in-depth article, which adds to Antonio Socci’s comments in “Libero”, Paolo Pasqualucci’s on “Chiesa e Post Concilio” and to my article in Corrispondenza Romana. Confirmation that there is an atmosphere of deep unease in the Vatican has come from the other side  from the news service “Die Zeit” of September 10th, concerning the dossier that is apparently circulating in the Vatican against the marriage annulment procedures of Pope Francis.

At this point a delicate problem is now placed before many consciences. Whatever judgment we have about the Motu Proprio, it is [nonetheless] presented as an act of personal and direct government by the Supreme Pontiff. Yet, can a Pope be mistaken in the promulgation of ecclesiastical laws? Further, if there is dissent, is it not however respectful to have an attitude of silence in his regard? 

The answer comes to us from the doctrine and history of the Church.  Many times actually, it has happened that Popes have been mistaken in their political, pastoral and even magisterial acts, without in any way undermining the dogma of the Roman Primate’s  infallibility.  The resistance of the faithful to these erroneous acts, and in some instances illegitimate by some Supreme Pontiffs, has always been of benefit to the life of the Church.

Washington Post on papal confusion

As Pope Francis prepares to visit Cuba, Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, numerous mainstream media articles are in the midst of publication concerning the Church and the pope, as seen by the faithful.

One such piece today, in The Washington Post, highlights traditionalist and conservative concerns, further illustrating the ever-increasing unity of those two camps thanks to this pope -- a Francis Effect that is actually quantifiable, unlike the myth of increasing Mass attendance during this pontificate.

From the article:

When Steven Skojec heard that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected pope, he got a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He can’t say why, exactly — though he follows Vatican politics closely, he didn’t know much about Francis then. But as he watched the new Catholic leader greet the crowds on his office television in Manassas, Va., he was filled with dread.

“I felt a discontinuity,” he said. “A disruption.” ...

The Traditional Latin Mass and the active participation of the laity

by John R. T. Lamont

A standard criticism of the traditional Latin mass is that it leaves little or no place for the active participation of the laity. The Novus Ordo promulgated by Paul VI is held up as being far better suited to such participation; this is presented as a reason for preferring the new ritual to the earlier, and for revising the old ritual to bring it closer to the new one – if not for suppressing the old ritual altogether. I will argue that this is not only false, but the opposite of the truth; and that the greater scope for lay participation in the traditional Latin mass arises from the fact that its design aims at achieving the purpose of a liturgy, while the design of the Novus Ordo is not suited to this purpose.

Schola-Sainte-Cécile during the Traditional Latin Mass for the
Feast of St Cecilia, in the Parish Church of St-Eugène-St-Cécile, Paris (2014) - from their website
'Active participation' in magisterial teaching

The first step in addressing this question is to determine what is meant by 'active participation' in the magisterial documents of the Church that call for such participation on the part of the laity.

The first use of the phrase 'active participation' as a desideratum for lay involvement in the liturgy was in the Italian version of St. Pius X's motu proprio Tra le Sollicitudini in 1903; it did not appear in the official Latin text.

Event: Relics of St. Maria Goretti coming to Chicago

The good priests at St. John Cantius in Chicago asked us to bring this to our readers' attention. Their church alone is worth the trip:

Socci: With Papally-Mandated "Catholic Divorce" destroying a Sacrament, Schism Looms Large on the Catholic Horizon

After 2000 years, Divorce is Enforced in the Church -- 
and a Schism Looms Larger than Ever

Antonio Socci
September 12, 2015

"Newsweek" recently had a photo of Pope Francis on their front-cover with the headline: “Is the Pope Catholic?”. Subtitle: “Of course he is. You just wouldn’t know it from his press clips.”

Indeed, it is a legitimate question, seeing that the Argentine Pope has prayed in a Mosque and said in an interview to Scalfari: “There is no Catholic God.” The anxiety in the Church is now becoming enormous after the 8th of September. In fact with two Motu Proprios on the nullity of marriage, we have an official act by Bergoglio where we are going off the rails – according to authoritative opinions - by the institution of a sort of “Catholic divorce”.

This would mean the negation of Christ’s commandment on the indissolubility of marriage and the cancellation of two thousand years of Church teaching. So as to understand the gravity of the issue it is enough to remember that the Church suffered the very grave Anglican Schism in the XVI century and lost England completely, simply because the Pope did not recognize King Henry VIII’s divorce, based on a flimsy reason for the nullity of the first marriage.

Could Bergoglio’s Motu Proprio create a new schism? It may.

Yet, if Cardinal Muller himself, Head of the former Holy Office, spoke recently of a possible schism referring to the Synod, there is fear of it even more so after the 8th of September. There have already been signs of some very strident quarrels with some important cardinals at Santa Marta over the past few days. And the Synod promises to be explosive.

Bergoglio, in spite of “collegiality”, which he proclaims in words, decided everything before the Synod he convoked specifically on this issue; not to accomplish what the bishops asked for in October 2014, since the Commission which drew up the Motu Proprio was instituted by him with that mandate, two months earlier on 27th August 2014.

In practical terms, why will the Motu Proprio be contested from the Catholic point of view?


For the record: Cardinal Burke's latest address on the Synod and "Annulment" Reform. Rorate reminder: 2015 Synod poised to assault Humanae Vitae too.

His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke gave a talk on Sunday, September 13, 2015 to Credo St. Louis, Missouri. The title of this talk was "The Truth of Christ in Marriage". An audio recording is now available on Youtube (h/t Vox Cantoris.)


A summary of the talk is on the LifeSite News article What do we do if the Synod takes a ‘strange turn’? The simple answer just got Cardinal Burke big applause, authored by the eminent theologian Fr. Brian Harrison, which also summarizes the Cardinal's reservations about the radical reform of the canonical process for the declaration of nullity (our emphasis):

... His Eminence also noted that certain problems could arise in connection with Pope Francis' new marriage nullity legislation, promulgated on September 8th.

Sermon: Welcoming the refugee, but not forgetting the opportunity to evangelize him

A Sermon for the 16th Sunday After Pentecost

Delivered by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla
on September 13, 2015
From the Epistle: “That Christ may dwell by faith in your hears; that being rooted and founded in love, may have the strength to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  (Eph. 3:17-19)

Francesca Cabrini (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini), at
age of 30, in 1880.
The images are heartbreaking and startling, these images in photos, in news clips, of the thousands upon thousands of refugees seeking asylum in Europe.  No one can forget the terrible photos of bodies of dead children on the seashore who were the victims of terribly overloaded rafts of refugees—now they are called migrants—from the hell of their homelands, mostly from Syria. And they trek over mountains to get into Greece, a country that could hardly be called economically viable and through the poverty of Macedonia to get into Hungary and then Austria and further into Europe.  The reaction in Europe has been both late and mixed.  The Syrian situation has been ignored for so long. The sheer numbers now trying to escape from the Balkans and the Middle East are staggering.  And there are those in Europe who are trying very hard to absorb these refugees. And there are those who refuse to do so. The New York Times, from its lofty pedestal of limousine liberalism, pleads for the refugees on humanitarian grounds, that this is how human beings should act, and decrying the small number of 10,000 refugees that President Obama has said this country should accept, after, apparently, a screening process that would take up to two years. There is much to ponder indeed about this response from a country that was greatly enriched in many ways by immigration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. "Give me your tired, your poor,
 your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
 the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me."  So the words of Emma Lazarus affixed to a plaque on the Statue of Liberty. 

Deutschland—Church of the Rich or Church of the Poor?

News reports have been showing us for some time now that the rich German church is the main mover and shaker behind the synodal armageddon, past and future.

As we know, there are two kinds of poverty: material and spiritual. The African church, in many ways materially poor (certainly as compared with Germany), is spiritually rich, with Catholics striving, often in terribly difficult circumstances, to live what Pope John Paul II called as “the Gospel of life.”

The German church, in contrast, appears to be spiritually impoverished in proportion to its immense material assets, once more establishing a law as old as divine revelation: “One is as it were rich, when he hath nothing: and another is as it were poor, when he hath great riches” (Proverbs 13:7). “Better is a little to the just, than the great riches of the wicked” (Psalm 36:16). “And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit” (Luke 8:14). The earthly riches of the German church will be the millstone that drags it down to Gehenna—all but the remnant that, despising these vain pomps, cleaves to the untarnished Word of God.

In his magnificent little work On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life, St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us about the dangers of material wealth and the urgent need to abandon them for the sake of Christ:

Double-standards at work in the selection of Synod members? The curious cases of Cardinal Tong Hon and Archbishop Cordileone

I. Did the Vatican lie in excluding Cardinal Tong Hon?

The final list of the members of the 2015 Synod of Bishops includes a good number of prelates past the "retirement age" of 75, including a handful of octogenarian Cardinals: Tettamanzi (81), Kasper (82), Danneels (82), Sgreccia (87), and Sodano (88 in November of this year). Many others are between the ages of 75 and 80, such as Cardinal Damasceno Assis (one of the four President-Delegates of the Synod, who is 77), the Curial dicastery heads Cardinals Coccopalmerio (77), Amato (77), Veglio (77), and many others. Without falling into blind faith in the "biological solution" against liberalism -- there are, after all, a good number of liberal theologians and prelates in their 40's, 50's and early 60's -- it should be noted that the "Kasperite camp" has as its most prominent leaders and promoters, Cardinals in their late 70's and 80's, including a majority of the prelates mentioned above. (Sgreccia and Amato are staunch conservatives on moral issues, though, as is the 77-year-old Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna.)

Why, then, was Cardinal John Tong Hon, the 76-year-old Archbishop of Hong Kong, one of three President-delegates of the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization, and papally-appointed delegate to the 2014 Synod, told by the Vatican that he could not attend this year's Synod because he is too old? The Asian Catholic news agency UCANews broke the news on August 31:

Breaking News; Kasper, Danneels, Schonborn, Cupich, Wuerl and Maradiaga appointed by Pope Francis to 2015 Synod

The finalized, complete list of participants in the Synod of Bishops in 2015 was published in today's Vatican Bollettino: XIV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 4 to 25 2015) - List of Participants, 15/09/2015.

In addition to the Synod officers (who are all hold-overs from last year's "Extraordinary Synod"), delegates elected by the Bishops' Conferences and the Union of Superior Generals and confirmed by the Pope as Synod members months ago, and ex officio participants (the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Prefects or Presidents of Curial dicasteries), the final list contains the names of prelates appointed by the Pope (as is his prerogative) as members of the Synod. This is the first time that the list of direct papal appointees to the Synod of 2015 has been officially published, although rumors have been circulating for weeks about the impending appointment of Archbishop Cupich.

(Members of the "Council of Cardinals" are not ex officio members of the Synod, and of its nine members two have not been made members of the Synod either by election or papal appointment - Cardinal O'Malley of Boston, USA and Cardinal Errazuriz Ossa of Chile.)

Among those attending the Synod due solely to papal appointment are the following liberals or "moderates": Cardinals Godfried Danneels, Walter Kasper, Christoph Schonborn OP, Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga SDB, John Dew (a vocal supporter of communion for the "divorced and remarried" long before the current Pontificate), Donald Wuerl, Dionigi Tettamanzi (former Archbishop of Milan who last year emerged as a supporter of Kasper's proposal) and Daniel Sturla SDB (more about him here); Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and one of the Pope's closest advisers and ghostwriters; Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago (USA), and Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto (Dean of the Roman Rota and head of the Pope's commission for annulment reform).

They add to the liberal-leaning representatives elected by their respective bishops' conferences to be Synod members and already confirmed by Pope Francis (as we reported in June): Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp (Belgium), Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco OP of Oran (Algeria), "Shadow Synod" participants Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey of Sion (Switzerland), Archbishop Georges Pontier and Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin of France; the three German delegates and "Shadow Synod" participants Cardinal Marx, Archbishop Koch and Bishop Bode; Cardinal Mario Poli of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin (Ireland), and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster (England & Wales). 

Notable as well among the attendees are Rev. Fr. François-Xavier Dumortier SJ (Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, which played host to the "Shadow Synods" of May and September) and Rev. Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, Director of the La Civilta Cattolica and a leading proponent of the new pastoral direction of the current Pontificate. Fr. Dumortier is the only Rector of a Pontifical University among the delegates. 

Among the more conservative-leaning papal appointees (at least when it comes to the Kasper proposal) are Cardinals Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Timothy Dolan of New York, Gualtiero Bassetti (Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve), and Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life and one of the most prominent members of the Wojtylian old guard in the fight against the "culture of death". Cardinals Philippe Ouédraogo (Archbishop of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso) and Alberto Suárez Inda (Archbishop of Morelia, Mexico) are also reckoned among the conservatives.

As expected, Cardinal Burke is not a Synod Father this time around. 

The 'Eucharistic' Rosary?

It is perhaps no surprise and only natural that basic knowledge of the Church's traditional liturgical rites and pious devotions, let alone a real understanding of and sympathy for them, are scarcely to be found among adherents and advocates of the unprecedented and disastrous post-Vatican II construction of a new liturgy that was meant to replace the ancient liturgical rites of the Latin Church and thereby weaken or eliminate perennial Catholic eucharistic doctrine and theological emphases. Among the pious devotions for which they have no sympathy and understanding, we may count the old practice, formerly widespread but today all but fallen into desuetude, of praying the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary and meditating on its mysteries during Holy Mass. As noted here before, the current reigning Sovereign Pontiff earlier this year spoke of this devotional practice as if it were an obstacle to participation in the liturgy. Opposition to this devotion in the modern Church sometimes extends as far as virulent hatred, with one lay Catholic blogger expressing his personal opinion that praying the Rosary at Mass is an "execrable habit" and "a practice born of the rankest of ignorance, generally performed by people completely unschooled in the Faith."

To Catholics living a hundred years ago, however, such sentiments would be not only unintelligible but indecent, irreverent, and prideful if not blasphemous and proximate to heresy. Not only was this devotion not thought to be an obstacle to participation in Mass, but the entire purpose of the devotion was to provide the laity with another way to enhance their participation in the liturgy. No doubt at least partly underlying the post-Vatican II antipathy toward the devotion is the widespread, lamentable inability or even refusal on the part of many Catholics to distinguish between the liturgical roles and functions of the priest and the laity at Mass and in all aspects of Catholic life. This blurring of ordained priesthood with the lay state -- a "laicising" of the priest and "clericalising" of the layman -- was behind, and helped by, the former intentional mistranslation of the Orate fratres (corrected in the current English translation of the Missal). Whereas the liturgy distinguishes between the oblation of the priest and the offerings of the laity at Mass -- "Orate frates: ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem" [Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty] -- the former approved mistranslation of the Orate fratres erroneously spoke of "our sacrifice."

Catholic Divorce - Head of Vatican Commission Admits in Official Paper: Surge in Number of "Annulments" Intended

Since Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and its companion document Mitis et misericors Iesus were published on September 8, there has been little reference to the article published by L'Osservatore Romano on that same day to explain the thinking behind the reforms of Canon law. This is a pity, as this article was written by no other than the head of the Commission for the reform of the canonical matrimonial process, the Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto: 

La riforma del processo matrimoniale per la dichiarazione di nullità - Voluta e decisa da Papa Francesco.

As such this article is of even greater importance than Vatican Radio's summary and introduction of the reforms as a guide to understanding the intentions behind the reforms. The second part of the title forthrightly states that the reforms were "desired and decided by Pope Francis", which should help preempt any future attempts to explain away these reforms as an abuse or a misunderstanding of the Pope's will (the typical excuse of certain quarters once a measure or reform ordered by a Pope goes terribly wrong). This article is not an expression of the Magisterium but without doubt offers irrefutable insight into the mentality behind the current Pontiff's approach to the very important topic of divorce and "remarriage".

It is clear from this article -- from which we present significant passages here, in a translation made expressly for Rorate -- that we are facing not a mere procedural reform but a true revolution regarding the "divorced and remarried" and the Church's very understanding of justice and mercy. The reforms are bluntly described as coming from 'Our Lord' and from the 'Holy Spirit', acting through Francis. The "divorced and remarried" are now redefined as forming part of "the poor" for which the Church should have a special solicitude; anyone aware of the heightened place held by "the poor" (e.g . the "preferential option for the poor") in the post-Conciliar Magisterium should be aware of the magnitude of the shift involved here.

The reforms are frankly described as part of the Pope's call to the bishops to undergo "metànoia" (conversion, specifically the conversion of one's mind, attitudes and way of life -- a very strong word) regarding "divorce and remarriage"; they are clearly invited to facilitate an enormous increase in declarations of nullity. Judgment is passed on the pre-Francis Church as a Church that merely spoke or thought about mercy and collegiality but did not actually practice these. Furthermore the Holy See's intention to help the bishops expedite declarations of nullity will be given concrete form by the multiplication of short formation courses to be held by the Roman Rota for priests and laypeople designated by their bishops to assist them in their judicial ministry. (The formation course described below was held in Mexico City from August 31 to September 4, 2015.)

Perhaps this is one reason why this commentary has been ignored by most of the English-language Catholic press and commentariat: it stands in the way of any and all attempts to pretend that it is still business as usual in the Church.

The reform of the matrimonial process for the declaration of nullity -- desired and decided by Pope Francis. (Excerpts)
Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto
 Dean of  the Roman Rota
September 8, 2015 - L'Osservatore Romano.

... But there exists an essential novelty that is defining Pope Francis’ actual mission. It is no longer time simply for analyses, it is time for action in order to begin that work of justice and mercy so long awaited -  by re-ordering the pastoral practice and canon law, to a large extent in effect for almost three centuries. Francis  had already announced this at that the beginning of his pontificate on July 28th 2013, at the conclusion of World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.


Texts of the Abstracts from the Steubenville Symposium on Marriage and the Family

Those who watched the livestream of the September 8, 2015 symposium with Cardinal Burke and a panel of experts heard an abstract read aloud by each of the panel members. Cardinal Burke's address, as well as the full-length papers of the panelists, will be published in a book from Emmaus Road entitled From the Beginning:The Mission and Vocation of the Family in the Contemporary World. Those who pre-order between now and September 14 will receive a 35% pre-publication discount (click here): $12.95 instead of the list price of $19.95.

Meanwhile, for those who did not watch the livestream or who would prefer to have the abstracts in writing, here they are, in the order in which they were given at the event. Some of the abstracts were read in modified form.

The Synod on the Family:

Addressing the Instrumentum Laboris

His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Followed by a Panel Discussion

September 8, 2015
Franciscan University of Steubenville


The Indissolubility of Marriage and the Problem of Relativism
Fr. Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, JD, JCD