Friday 28 September 2012

Rome-SSPX: Fr. Franz Schmidberger on the Negotiations

In an interview recently conducted by Fr. Franz Schmidberger of the SSPX the following key point regarding the SSPX position was made on the Second Vatican Council. It should be noted that central to the SSPX position is the strong belief that certain pastoral elements of the Council are contrary to previous Papal teaching. One may agree or disagree with the SSPX on this, but the fact remains that they do refer to Magisterial teaching. 

It has become evident in the talks that took place since October 2009 until April 2011 that there are significant differences of perspective concerning the Second Vatican Council, certain texts of the council and the postconciliar magisterium. Everybody had agreed that it would not be easy to find an agreement between the views of the postconciliar magisterium and the view that we support along with the Popes of the 19th century and the constant teachings of the church. And I think as long as these wounds are not healed with the correct medicine, and that would be to talk openly about those points that do not fit together, there will be no real solution for the crisis in the church.

The full interview may be read here

The video may be watched here with English subtitles. 

Islam: Heaven and Hell

Following on a number of entries on Islam, and the need to have constructive dialogue,  it is also important to not forget the grave theological problems and errors that Islam presents vis-a-vis Christianity. From the Catholic Encyclopedia

The torments of hell and the pleasures of Paradise, but especially the latter, are proverbially crass and sensual. Hell is divided into seven regions: Jahannam, reserved for faithless Mohammedans; Laza, for the Jews; Al-Hutama, for the Christians; Al-Sair, for the Sabians; Al-Saqar, for the Magians; Al-Jahim, for idolaters; Al-Hawiyat, for hypocrites. As to the torments of hell, it is believed that the damned will dwell amid pestilential winds and in scalding water, and in the shadow of a black smoke. Draughts of boiling water will be forced down their throats. They will be dragged by the scalp, flung into the fire, wrapped in garments of flame, and beaten with iron maces. When their skins are well burned, other skins will be given them for their greater torture. While the damnation of all infidels will be hopeless and eternal, the Moslems, who, though holding the true religion, have been guilty of heinous sins, will be delivered from hell after expiating their crimes.

The joys and glories of Paradise are as fantastic and sensual as the lascivious Arabian mind could possibly imagine. "As plenty of water is one of the greatest additions to the delights of the Bedouin Arab, the Koran often speaks of the rivers of Paradise as a principal ornament thereof; some of these streams flow with water, some with wine and others with honey, besides many other lesser springs and fountains, whose pebbles are rubies and emeralds, while their earth consists of camphor, their beds of musk, and their sides of saffron. But all these glories will be eclipsed by the resplendent and ravishing girls, or houris, of Paradise, the enjoyment of whose company will be the principal felicity of the faithful. These maidens are created not of clay, as in the case of mortal women, but of pure musk, and free from all natural impurities, defects, and inconveniences. They will be beautiful and modest and secluded from public view in pavilions of hollow pearls. The pleasures of Paradise will be so overwhelming that God will give to everyone the potentialities of a hundred individuals. To each individuals a large mansion will be assigned, and the very meanest will have at his disposal at least 80,000 servants and seventy-two wives of the girls of Paradise. While eating they will be waited on by 300 attendants, the food being served in dishes of gold, whereof 300 shall be set before him at once, containing each a different kind of food, and an inexhaustible supply of wine and liquors. The magnificence of the garments and gems is conformable to the delicacy of their diet. For they will be clothed in the richest silks and brocades, and adorned with bracelets of gold and silver, and crowns set with pearls, and will make use of silken carpets, couches, pillows, etc., and in order that they may enjoy all these pleasures, God will grant them perpetual youth, beauty, and vigour. Music and singing will also be ravishing and everlasting" (Wollaston, "Muhammed, His Life and Doctrines").

Thursday 27 September 2012

St. Vincent de Paul: Apostle of Charity

St. Vincent de Paul
Today, September 27th, the Church commemorates  the great St. Vincent de Paul. Most people have some awareness of this man through familiarity with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, or any of the religious orders drawing inspiration from him. 

Born probably in 1581, he was ordained at 19 years, and spent two years in captivity. Upon his return to France in 1600, Vincent became chaplain to the wealthy Di Gondi family, but his experience with the slaves inspired him to begin preaching missions. A major influence upon Vincent's spiritual life was St. Francis de Sales. 

In 1625, he founded the Congregation of the Missions. In 1633, with Louise de Marillac, he co-founded the Daughters of Charity. By 1660 Vincent's health - after a life of intense service - had deteriorated greaty. Though barely able to walk, he refused any help getting to chapel for Mass until the very last weeks of his life. St. Vincent died on 27th of September, his final word was “confido” - I trust. In this manner he gave up his soul to God, In 1737, he was canonized by Pope Clement XII. In 1997, Bl. John Paul II, beatified one of Vincent's spiritual sons, Frederic Ozanam, the founded of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

Further suggested reading: The Catholic Encyclopedia

Friday 21 September 2012

Archbishop Muller Speaks on Traditionalists and Progressives

In a wide ranging interview, Archbishop Muller, new CDF head, spoke of the need for unity in the Church. He certainly has a point about "party" programs, "personal ideology". Indicative of the any future Rome-SSPX negotiations, the Archbishop commented: 

So above all, I asked myself; what ails the life of the Church? In many countries, there is a strong polarization: Traditionalists against progressives or whatever you would call them. This must be overcome, we need to find a new and fundamental unity in the Church and individual countries. Unity in Christ, not a unity produced according to a program and later invoked by a partisan speaker. We are not a community of people aligned to a party program, or a community of scientific research, our unity is gifted to us. We believe in the one Church united in Christ. And if you believe in Christ, really believe - not manipulating the teachings of the Church, or singling out individual points to support your own personal ideology, but rather unconditionally entrusting yourself to Christ - then the unity of the Church is also important. Then the Church will not be – as it is sometimes described in Scripture – torn apart by jealousy and ambition. This is my underlying aim: To reduce the tensions within the Church"

I do not believe the Archbishop would have commented in this manner without the approval of the Pope. Look for the SSPX to - in some manner  - "accept" Vatican II or there will be no reconciliation. The full interview may be read and heard here

Pope Benedict to the French Bishops: Defend Marriage and Life

Vatican Radio reports today on the  ad limina visit of French bishops to Rome where, the Holy Father encouraged them to uphold life and marriage. This is the way out for France: a return to the Gospels, a return to natural law, a return to French traditions as guided by the bishops in union with the Pope. The secular press will - naturally - not report on this important event. Instead, they will concentrate on the recent buffoonery of a plethora of cartoons on Mohommed.  These drawings will not solve France's deep spiritual and moral problems. A return to the Gospels will, and with it the "problem" of Islam will be solved. As I have written in an earlier post, the problem is not so much with Islam as with us. I refer, in this context, to nations founded on and permeated (at least at one time) by the Gospels. If my memory serves me correctly, we are to evangelize the Muslims through a witness of an authentic Christian lifestyle: name-calling, idiocy, secularism, pornography, promiscuity, an explosion of venereal diseases, un-natural vice, and so on do not impress.  

The Church is called to defend the family and marriage from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, said Pope Benedict on Friday, as he greeted the first group of Bishops from France to travel to Rome on their 5 yearly Ad Limina pilgrimage. Emer McCarthy reports: The group from western France – led by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard - were received by the Holy Father in Castel Gandolfo, who focused his address on the role of the laity in the life of the Church as well as the risk of an excessive "bureaucratization" of ministry in the diocese. He urged the prelates to defend the family, which is threatened today by wrong conceptions of human nature. "Defense of life and the family in society - the Pope said - is not retrograde, but rather prophetic" because it helps to "promote the values ​​that allow the full development of the human person created in the image and likeness of God" ...

The full report may be read here.

Thursday 20 September 2012

Archbishop Cramner reflects on "the Innocence of Muslims"

The blog by "Archbishop Cramner" carries a thoughtful reflection on the recent Islamist riots over the anti-Mohommed film. It should be noted, that only this year the Venice Film Festival carried an anti-Catholic film that drew some criticism in Italy, but was not met by street riots, murder and mayhem. Perhaps this reflects the nominal Christianity of once Christian nations. For, after all, if people really believed Christ was God, then action - legal action by the State would be taken - and not an unruly mob (c.f. Quas Primas, Pius XI). 

Now there are also those, including "Catholics" who claim that though these anti-Catholic "artistic" undertakings are grotesque and in bad taste, the authors have the "right" to make and distribute their art. This is a grave error: The Vatican Council II document on Communications also underscores that public morality is to be maintained. 

Leo XIII in Immortale Dei wrote: 

 So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is the fountain-head and origin of many evils. Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object. But the character of goodness and truth cannot be changed at option. These remain ever one and the same, and are no less unchangeable than nature itself. If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native fullness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of corruption. Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law.

We also - on issues pertaining to Islam and our relations with them, should follow the  teachings of the Popes. I'd prefer to listen to them, rather than degenerate lapsed and/or nominal Christians permeated with the ideology of the so-called Enlightenment. Publishing silly cartoons is not one of them. We need dialogue, not name calling (or bomb throwing, for that matter.  Islamists beware, I will call a spade a spade). 

"Archbishop Cramner" writes: 

In their condemnation of the puerile, amateurish film The Innocence of Muslims which appears to be being used as a pretext for riots, destruction and murder in some Islamic countries (not to mention in some non-Islamic countries with significant Muslim populations), Anglican leaders from across the Communion have written a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, demanding a UN declaration to outlaw ‘intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets), symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith’.

Note the specific parenthetical insertion of ‘such as prophets’: if they had dared to specify ‘such as the Son of God’, there isn’t a Muslim nation on the planet that would vote for such a declaration. It is a bizarre point of emphasis in any case, for why should the divinely-inspired prophets of the Abrahamic religions be granted higher recognition than the rishis of the Indian subcontinent? Why should the declaration allude to Mohammed but not to Vasishtha? 

The full text of the "Archbishop" may be read here

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Catholics Then, Muslims Now

This is a bit of a rarity... an op ed piece from the New York Times worth bothering with. In the face of the recent hysteria over an anti Muslim film produced in the US, it might be useful to look closely at where this sort of thing comes from. There is a long history of anti Catholicism in the US. I am not talking about the recent fashionable trend in intellectual circles but the sort of greeting Irish immigrants met with when they got off the boat in the 19th century. 

There has always been a significant nativist sentiment in the US. In 1844 there was a series of riots and attacks on Catholic churches in Philadelphia which resulted in the destruction of two churches and numerous deaths and injuries. This sort of violence perpetrated against Catholics occurred in a number of cities throughout the 1830's and 1840's.

This nativist sentiment has never entirely disappeared from the scene and can be seen in the deliberate targeted provocation of the recent film. 

 This famous Thomas Nast  cartoon illustrates the prevailing attitude.

Sunday 16 September 2012

The Pope in Lebanon: the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente

The Holy Father with the Maronite Patriarch
The Holy Father, in an address in Beirut, Lebanon formally consigned the Apostolic Exhortation: Ecclesia in Medio Oriente (The Church in the Middle East). Included in his address were the following words of encouragement to the Catholics of Lebanon and the Middle East:  

Dear Church in the Middle East, draw from the source of salvation which became a reality in this unique and beloved land! Follow in the footsteps of your fathers in faith, who by tenacity and fidelity opened up the way for humanity to respond to the revelation of God! Among the wonderful diversity of saints who flourished in your land, look for examples and intercessors who will inspire your response to the Lord's call to walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will wipe away every one of our tears (cf. Rev 21:4)! May fraternal communion be a support for you in your daily life and the sign of the universal brotherhood which Jesus, the firstborn of many, came to bring! Thus, in this region which saw his actions and heard his words, may the Gospel continue to resonate as it did 2,000 years ago, and may it be lived today and for ever!

The full text of the Apostolic Exhortation may be read here

We should never forget Lebanon is part of the cradle of Christianity, and a major contributor to Western civilization. Lebanon is not Islamic, though her demographics have been seriously altered due to continued invasion. She is Phoenician. An example of her contribution to civilization is the Phoenician alphabet that would give birth to the Greek and Roman. Nor should we forget the close and civilized relationship between Kings Solomon and Hiram. Though this beautiful, Christian country is under increasing attack from Islamist forces, God will draw good out of evil. Pray for Lebanon. 

Saturday 15 September 2012

Pope Benedict in Lebanon: Address to Religious and Government leaders

"We need to be very conscious that evil is not some nameless, impersonal and deterministic force at work in the world. Evil, the devil, works in and through human freedom, through the use of our freedom. It seeks an ally in man. Evil needs man in order to act. Having broken the first commandment, love of God, it then goes on to distort the second, love of neighbour. Love of neighbour disappears, yielding to falsehood, envy, hatred and death. But it is possible for us not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21). It is to this conversion of heart that we are called. Without it, all our coveted human “liberations” prove disappointing, for they are curtailed by our human narrowness, harshness, intolerance, favouritism and desire for revenge". 

The full text may be read here

Wednesday 12 September 2012

The Battle of Vienna, 1683, September 12th

King John III Sobieski, entering Vienna in triumph.
Painting: Jan Matejko
Venimus, vidimus et Deus vicit: so wrote King John III Sobieski to Pope Innocent XI, after the armies of the Polish and Lithuanian Commonwealth with additional Ukrainian knights smashed the Turkish hordes of Grand Vezir Kara Mustapha after a fearsome siege of Vienna. We easily forget that on that fateful September 12th, European history hung in the balance; had the Turks won the day, the road would have been open to Rome, and the Turks had planned to take Rome. Indeed,  the Grand Vezir's had pledged to feed his horse oats on the High Altar of St. Peter's.

Kahlenburg Plaque of commemoration
Prior to his departure for Austria, King John placed himself and his army in the hands of the Black Madonna at Czestochowa. Remember this great victory and this great man. Remember his faith and his courage.

Vatican Insider on the Islamist Riots

Giacomo Galeazzi of Vatican Insider on the recent Islamist riots:

... Vatican Insider has learnt that it is fundamentalist Muslims who are putting the responsibility on the backs of the local Christian minority. The film director is an Israeli-American  living in California, who got together the five million dollars raised from the contributions of about a hundred Jewish donors, mostly from the U.S. The director apparently distributed the film with the help of a radical Christian association and one Christian Copt, who shares the association’s aversion to Islam. The Coptic Church has nothing to do with the film which is inflaming the Muslim world, to the extent that Christian religious leaders have been forced to speak out against the film, condemning certain provocative aspects of the film which reference to religious symbols.

Sunday 9 September 2012

Christians in Israel

Vatican Insider is carrying a report from Israel indicating that a fringe Jewish Israeli group is targeting Christian sites with hate propaganda. This situation reflects the powder-keg that Israel sits on: not just Islamic, but also the various factions - albeit very small - within the Jewish community and its response to internal and external pressure seeking to destroy Israel as a political entity. Those conducting these acts are also undermining Israel. The tragedy is that Christian Arabs are disappearing and the vacuum is being filled by extremist Islamist forces. Richard Nixon may not have been a moral man, but he was an extremely intelligent man with a great awareness of geo-political forces and history. It was his assessment that Israel's long-term prospects for survival were not good.  

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Pope John Paul I also hoped to reconcile the SSPX

Andrea Tornielli of Vatican Insider reports on the concerns that Patriarch Luciani had prior to his election as John Paul I over the SSPX: 

Reconciliation with traditionalist archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was also close to Pope Luciani’s heart. This was revealed to the director of the Italian Episcopal Conference’s television channel TV2000, Dino Boffo, by John Paul I’s secretary, Diego Lorenzi, during an interview on the occasion of the centenary of the “smiling Pope’s” birth. 

The full article may be read here

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Rome-SSPX: Williamson's comments ensure SSPX split

Bishop Richard Williamson's latest Kyrie Eleison comments for September 1, 2012 are highly significant given his detailed opposition to the official SSPX position. It is this month of September that Rome will give a definitive reply to the SSPX following further exchanges after the SSPX General Chapter. 

Williamson writes: 

The sixth and last condition desires a Commission to be set up in Rome to look after Tradition, with  a strong representation from Tradition, but “dependent on the Pope”. Dependent on the Pope? But have the Conciliar Popes not been ringleaders of Conciliarism? Is Conciliarism no longer a problem?

In conclusion, these six conditions are excessively grave. Unless the Society’s leadership is shaken out of its dream of peace with Conciliar Rome as revealed by them, then the last worldwide bastion of Catholic Tradition risks being on its way to surrendering to the enemies of the Faith. 

Whatever the result will be regarding the SSPX, one thing remains a near certainty: the rebel Society will have an internal split, and it is only a matter of from where and how many may go with Williamson. My own suspicion is that most of his following will be in the English speaking world. Not so much due to the sad man being English speaking, but, rather that the vast majority of the English speaking world is heavily imbued with a protestant ethos. Hence, the near schismatic "traditionalist" press, websites, blogs etc. that on one hand ostensibly bend their knee to Pope Benedict; yet in the next breath undermine him at every turn by harbouring, encouraging, winking at a form of "traditional" Catholicism which is really protestantism with bells and whistles. Examples would include the recent outrage by many that the Anglicans who have returned home after nearly 500 years did not take up the Tridentine Mass as their normative liturgy! Thus, liturgy is more important than schism and heresy. 


Today's Daily Telegraph reports on the legal cases of four British Christians and their persecution by the British State for their religious beliefs; the issue at hand being the wearing of a small cross in public. We have commented on this blog a number of times about fascism and its gradual growth in western Europe and North America. This is where the fight is; we are talking about absolute basics - not liturgical fetishes and troll baiting about the latest scandal - real and imagined- in the Church. (Scandal has been with the Church since the Apostles; just read the Gospels). 

Parallel to the British situation is the undermining of the Catholic Church in the United States by the Obama Administration; in Canada, we have the equally real, yet not so well known undermining of the Catholic Church in education in Ontario by the McGuinty Administration acting with the approval of the leaders of the militant teachers' union, OECTA.  In these two cases the episcopal reaction has been interesting: the Americans have reacted with gusto and rigor; the Canadians have made an official protest to then go silent. A very historical reaction in both cases. Silence is no longer an option. Caesar only grows stronger with each advance. 

The evangelization of culture is all the more important in our times, when a “dictatorship of relativism” threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good. There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatize it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister. For this reason I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom and vision in the public forum. Society today needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility. Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation.

Pope Benedict, (Homily in Glasgow, September 16, 2012). 

Sunday 2 September 2012


The word modernism is a bit of a misnomer. After all, how can something that was described by Pope Pius X as the synthesis of all heresies be anything but ancient? Moreover, the word seems to imply an excessive attachment to innovations and progress. This is not the case because the essential definition lies with one's attitude towards dogma. Modernism is characterized by a willingness to pervert dogma in an effort to make it conform to one's own notion of progress or the spirit of the age. It is the twisting of dogma that is the identifying characteristic of modernism, not the presence of innovations. Appearances can be deceiving as Cardinal Ferrari pointed out in 1908:

We are deeply pained to find that certain persons, in public controversy against modernism, in brochures, newspapers and other periodicals, go to the length of detecting the evil everywhere, or at any rate of imputing it to those who are very far from being infected with it.  CE

This association of modernism with innovation has led many to indiscriminately toss the epithet about. However sometimes there are changes which are badly timed, poorly carried out or taken to extremes. There are treasures in the Church's store which have been sorely neglected. Badly done liturgy has been with us for a very long time. However bad these things are, none of them in themselves cut to the core of the issue. The smoking gun with modernism is the perversion of doctrine and unless you have identified that core problem you have nothing in hand at all.

Here, however, it is needful to speak a word of warning against unreasonable attacks. Not every novelty is to be condemned, nor is every project of reform to be dubbed modernist because it is untimely or exaggerated.   CE

One more thing needs to be said about modernism and that is its use of language. You will notice the words with which I have described the modernist attitude towards dogma. I have described it as a perversion or as a twisting. In the past heresies were characterized by a picking and choosing of one doctrine over another. The word comes from the Greek and means to choose or a choosing. Each party in the controversy believed that they were dealing with divine revelation and their differences consisted of a disagreement over the content or interpretation of that revelation. Modernism is different in that it attempts to adhere to the terms the Church uses to define dogma while subtly changing their meanings to suit whatever their agenda is. Thus the  Oath Against the Errors of  Modernism rejects these misinterpretations and changes in meaning.

Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical' misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously.  

The bottom line here is that if one is rejecting one or another doctrine of the Church, one is not a modernist but a protestant, but more on that in another post. Modernists do not wish to leave the Church and will go through all sorts of contortions to seem to conform.

On the other hand, it is regrettable that certain avowed leaders of modernism, carried away perhaps by the desire to remain within the Church at all costs — another characteristic of modernism — have taken refuge in equivocation, reticence, or quibbles. Such a line of action merits no sympathy; while it explains, if it does not altogether justify, the distrust of sincere Catholics.  CE

How then should the ordinary Catholic recognize modernism? The guitar group at the folk mass may be playing music that is modern and out of keeping with the Church's tradition, but are they modernist? Well, you are not likely to find out without talking to them and looking for the perversion of dogma. However, it may well be a case of bad taste. How about the parishioner who wishes wistfully that she or someone like her might be ordained a priest someday? Definitely a modernist inclination there because what she is really saying is that the papal pronouncements on women's ordination are subject to change over time. "Just keep up the pressure, they're bound to change eventually." Even conservatives are not immune from this tactic.

Unfortunately the word modernism has so degraded over time that few Catholics are likely to know what you are talking about except to note that you have called them something bad. This is why recent pronouncements by Benedict XVI have used words like relativism and secularism to describe this phenomena. As he said in his homily before the conclave that elected him:

To have a clear faith, according to the creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, that is, allowing oneself to be carried about with every wind of "doctrine," seems to be the only attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the "I" and its whims as the ultimate measure.

CE - Catholic Encyclopedia, 1917 ed.,

Saturday 1 September 2012

September 1st: Anniversary of the War - a personal reflection

This day, 73 years ago, the forces of satan crossed the Polish border and unleashed on the world a torrent of bloodshed. In the early hours of that fateful day, Nazi aircraft began to bomb Warsaw leading to the eventual occupation of that nation with co-conspirator, Soviet Russia. The Bolsheviks attacked Poland on the 17th, following the secret protocols in the vile Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. In fact, Nazis had even been training in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s. The right and left hand of satan met at the river San - the dividing line between the two totalitarian States. Eventually, due to far greater organization and international connections and assorted fellow travelers,  the communist empire would devour more than half of Europe and lead to its monstrous extension over the globe leading to such a death count, that even the fiendish Hitler would end up looking like a choir boy. 

Stalin directing Hitler into a losing war 
The result for Poland was the virtual extermination of Poland's Jews - protected by King Kazimir the Great centuries earlier, when Jews were being hounded out of other European states. Nazi hatred for the Catholic Church too was on display with arrests and executions of priests. Mass was proscribed, with the sole Mass at the Wawel Cathedral under the eye of the Gestapo. It was in this environment that the great Archbishop Sapiecha would take on a seminarian named Karol Wojtyla. 

My father was a witness to Nazi brutality. Early during the war, he and my grandmother on a number of occasions would sneak food to the Jews of Przemysl and pass food through the wired off area where the Jews were kept, prior to deportation to the death camps. My father always remembered this, and he remembered to his horror seeing behind the wire a young teenage boy from his class in school. Eventually my father would be arrested in a "Lapanka" (or street catch) and sent to Germany for slave labour. He then ended up in Norway on an island doing tree cutting; transfered to a camp near the Swedish border, he and another teenager escaped up into the mountains and to freedom in Sweden. He always remembered seeing the German Army motorbikes traveling along the road far below looking for them. In fact, this escape was even more daring for two young men had tried it earlier and had been shot. From Stockholm he eventually he would end up in Scotland in the armed forces... from then, onto London where he met my very English mother (who spent her war years in Llandudno, Wales) - and the rest is history. 

So, please pray for Poland that she may remain true to her ancient Faith.