Thursday 28 February 2013

Joseph Ratzinger: A Pilgrim on the way to the House of the Father

"Thank you, thank you from my heart. I am happy to be here with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your friendship that does me so much good, thank you for your friendship, for caring.

You know that today is different from others… as of eight pm I will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. I will simply be a pilgrim who is beginning the last part of his pilgrimage on earth. 

But with my heart, my love, my prayer, with all my inner strength, I will work for the common good and the good of the Church and all humanity.

And I feel greatly supported by your affection. Let us move forward together with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world.

I will now impart upon you all my Apostolic Blessing

Thank you and good night. Thank you all" 

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Pope Benedict's Final Angelus: why he resigned

This morning, the Holy Father opened his mind to the Church and the world. Anyone who has followed the life of Joseph Ratzinger, when reading this, knows how authentic it is. Our Holy Father did not step down due only to frailty; but rather, for the good of the Church. The full text may be read here

Excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's February 27th 2013 Angelus:

In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.

Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was committed always and forever by the Lord. Always – he, who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one’s life precisely when he offers it as a gift. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.

The “always” is also a “forever” - there is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.

I thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have welcomed this important decision. I continue to accompany the Church on her way through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and to His Bride, which I have hitherto tried to live daily and that I would live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter, that the Lord might accompany him with the light and the power of His Spirit.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community: to her we entrust ourselves, with deep trust.

Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love. Thank you! 

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Pope Benedict will be known as "Roman Pontiff Emeritus"

According to reports, Fr. Frederico Lombardi, in a press conference today, stated that Pope Benedict will continue to be known as "Benedict XVI", will receive the title "Roman Pontiff Emeritus" or "Pontiff Emeritus" and will continue to wear the white cassock. As an observation, the inability to have a finality and accuracy on the present reigning Pope's future title reflects the ongoing curial chaos... 

Monday 25 February 2013

GetReligion on Coverage of the Vatican Gay Lobby

Barona suggested I write something about this issue... but why bother. The folks as have offered us a pretty good analysis of the journalistic aspects of this issue along with a delicious clip of Captain Louis Renault closing Rick's bar. Now get yourselves over to GetReligion and let me get some lunch...

Unnecessary words and the Vatican’s ‘gay lobby’

Interference with the Conclave

The UK's only cardinal eligible to vote in the conclave has been accused of impropriety.  Apparently Cardinal Keith O’Brien has been outed by four priests with whom he was accused of committing inappropriate acts. Not content with forwarding the brief to the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Mennini, someone leaked the file to the Observer once Benedict XVI announced his resignation. One of the priests had left the priesthood, apparently discouraged at the thought of spending his life subject to the authority of the cardinal, who was due to resign next month. This action has been calculated to produce the maximum embarrassment during the run up to the conclave.

We are somewhat confused. On the surface this seems to be a case of payback for the cardinal's strident stand against same sex marriage. However, on other matters such as clerical celibacy Cardinal O'Brien has expressed rather progressive views. Who then benefits from his exclusion from the conclave?

In Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahoney has been under investigation for his alleged participation in an abuse coverup. An activist group called Catholics United has been gathering signatures on a petition asking that Cardinal Mahoney not participate in the conclave. He has decided to depart for Rome.

In Italy the papers are full of unsourced accounts of the report issued by the three cardinals tasked with investigating the leaked Vatican documents. They attempt to link the resignation of the pope to reports of a gay lobby which exercises undue influence in the Vatican. The Holy Father has decided that the acts of this investigation, known only to himself, remain solely at the disposition of the new pope.

In our own backyard Cardinal Collins has been accused by Star writer Dan Smith of not subscribing to his own views of  the pressing issues facing the Church. Asked to say what the world’s cardinals will be looking for in choosing Benedict’s successor, Collins pointedly made no mention of the conservative social issues — the ban on women priests, celibacy for the priesthood, opposition to birth control — that liberal Catholics in the West so desperately want the church to revisit. Dan Smith has performed the journalistic miracle of quoting the Cardinal as not saying something! The Cardinal instead identified persecution and rampant individualism as issues facing the Church. “In some parts of the world, the challenge is persecution, and rampant individualism in other places — like this part of the world,” said Collins.

UK's top cardinal accused of 'inappropriate acts' by priests

Cardinal Mahony Determined to Help Elect New Pope

Toronto Cardinal dashes liberal Catholics’ hopes for social reform

Friday 22 February 2013

Canada's Maronites Get New Bishop

Although it has been somewhat overshadowed by recent events in the Vatican, we have not forgotten. On January 10, 2013 Fr. Marwan Tabet was named to head Canada's Maronite community, replacing Bishop Joseph Koury. He was consecrated on January 26, 2013 by Béchara Boutros Cardinal Raï, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch for the Maronites and will be installed in St. Maron de Montreal (Maronite) this coming Sunday, February 24, 2013. Congratulations. 

Thursday 21 February 2013

Scouting the Papabile

I ran across this list of papabile put forth for the 2005 conclave. Notably absent is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Such speculation should be taken with a grain of salt at the best of times. Of course this is the National Catholic Reporter... your predictions will likely be more sagacious and in tune with the minds of the Cardinal electors. Yeah...right...

Who Will Be the Next Pope?

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Cardinal Mahoney to be arrested by LA Police?

The recent public removal of Roger Cardinal Mahoney by Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, and the on-going investigation of the Cardinal by the LA police could see the Cardinal being arrested possibly on or after February 23rd (the date set for the Cardinal to appear in court). The Cardinal, presently, is eligible to vote in the up-coming Conclave - and has said that he is eager to be in Rome to vote. The question now becomes: is there enough evidence against the Cardinal (it would seem that there is), and if so, will the police move quickly enough before the man leaves the United States for Rome? 

Saturday 16 February 2013

Pope Benedict: the Pope of Love

Our beloved Holy Father with children
I've had some time to read and re-read some of Pope Benedict's writings as a cardinal: Salt of the Earth and Spirit of the Liturgy. I'll try to give a more comprehensive review of the former, as it is very instructive considering the Holy Father's reflections over the past week: the failures following the Council, the crisis of faith etc. Even in the Holy Father's most recent address to the Roman clergy, one sees his restraint. Yet, at times - for very good reasons - our Holy Father has (out of love) used such strong language as "the filth in the Church..." There is no doubt that the filth of sexual deviancy is still there. Part of combatting this filth is not only the removal of perverts, but the the teaching of correct doctrine after decades of a hermeneutic of discontinuity. 

What I wish to emphasize at the present is one underlying theme that has resonated throughout his pontificate: a profound love for sinners and the world as manifested through gentle admonishments and a recalling to the truth of the Faith - even as the Pope combated the filth.

Underscoring this is the Pope's encyclicals and sermons on his Apostolic journeys. Who can forget his homilies and public address in Scotland and England? What of his astonishing speech to the Bundestag? His visit to the United States, Cuba etc? The list of the Holy Father's challenge to the world to break with the banal and dehumanizing global cultural triad of economics, technology and mass media is constant and a development of writings as a cardinal. His call that faith and reason go hand in hand, that relativism is a monstrous rejection of truth - and one of the greatest enemies of humanity; all of this will be a legacy of love. 

His lifting of the excommunications of the bishops of the SSPX likewise was an act of love. As was his issuing of Summorum Pontificum. In everything, the Holy Father was calling for humility, unity and brotherly exchange of love. The fruit of this action will play out in the Church with a new appreciation of tradition, yet a dynamic for the future through continual innovative evangelization. 

Finally, there is the call for a "new" evangelization: a call to seek out those fallen away Catholics who may yet have embers of the Faith within them.  What greater love can there be to teach the Gospel of Christ? 

Your Holiness, thank-you. 

Thursday 14 February 2013

Pope Benedict: "... this Council created many calamities..."

In an address today, February 14, 2013, to the Roman clergy, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict spoke of the catastrophic effects of a false "council of the media" that paralleled the true Second Vatican Council. Never has the Holy Father spoken out so clearly on the devastating effects of a false manipulation and interpretation of the conciliar texts, and the post-conciliar reforms. A full review can be found at Vox Cantoris

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Are You a Protestant?

I am becoming quite disturbed by what seems to be a prevailing protestant mindset in the Church today.

There is significant mistrust of authority in the Church. What began as a failure on the part of some bishops to protect the most vulnerable members of their flock has resulted in all bishops being cast into disrepute. This has evolved into a stance that claims loyalty to the pope while completely sidestepping the most fundamental discipline in the Church. Consecrating bishops without permission is merely the tip of the iceberg. Doing something that is illicit is not even seen as a problem because all that matters is validity. Style has replaced substance wherein people will argue over the cut of a priest's chasuble or the length of a candle but neglect the more serious demands of the gospel. We have become a Church of teenagers rebelling against their parents. What is even worse, we rejoice at the wrongdoing of others, pleased to become inquisitors.

The notion of a smaller, leaner, more faithful Church once discussed in one of Cardinal Ratzinger's interviews has given rise to a kind of impatience to get rid of the chaff. Somehow convinced that they belong to this elect, many have succumbed to this arrogance and wonder why excommunications are not handed out more freely. The Catholic notion of unity that regards any division or separation as a serious wound in the Body of Christ has been replaced by another, more sinister notion more reminiscent of Calvinism than Catholicism. Rather than mourning the loss of a brother, we are eager to see them go.

Thus the Church is seen as an inquisition or a court of law wherein we determine who has the right to be in her midst and who doesn't. The Catholic notion of the Church as a hospital for sinners in whose midst all are welcome is being lost. Rather it is seen as the assembly of the elect, those who are predestined for the kingdom. Again, Calvinism is slowly displacing Catholicism in the minds of many.

The mistrust of the episcopacy has given rise to the exercise of private judgement amongst Catholics. After all, how can you submit yourself to someone who is manifestly corrupt? They believe because it seems reasonable to them and they reserve the right to decide for themselves. This was not so in apostolic times as Newman points out in Discourses to Mixed Congregations:
Men were told to submit their reason to a living authority. Moreover, whatever an Apostle said, his converts were bound to believe; when they entered the Church, they entered it in order to learn. The Church was their teacher; they did not come to argue, to examine, to pick and choose, but to accept whatever was put before them.
Now, my dear brethren, consider, are not these two states or acts of mind quite distinct from each other;—to believe simply what a living authority tells you, and to take a book, such as Scripture, and to use it as you please, to master it, that is, to make yourself the master of it, to interpret it for yourself, and to admit just what you choose to see in it, and nothing more?
In the Apostles' days the peculiarity of faith was submission to a living authority; this is what made it so distinctive; this is what made it an act of submission at all; this is what destroyed private judgment in matters of religion. If you will not look out for a living authority, and will bargain for private judgment, then say at once that you have not Apostolic faith. And in fact you have it not; the bulk of this nation has it not; confess you have it not; and then confess that this is the reason why you are not Catholics. You are not Catholics because you have not faith.
The magisterium is becoming a book. This smacks of sola scriptura wherein the protestant reformers wanted to find some sort of authority that would allow them to ignore Rome, which they regarded as corrupt. In some Catholic circles this has transmuted into a belief that the magisterium consists of the sum total of the authoritative written documents of the Church. This serves the same function as sola scriptura, that is to divorce the living magisterium from the written documents, allowing the person to follow one but not the other. The modern mind rebels at the very notion of submission to a living person and it seeks any means of avoiding it. Reducing authority to a written record or to a person so remote as to be inaccessible accomplishes this quite nicely.

The Catholic Church has always had corruption in her midst and at times it extended to the papacy itself. We have had to cope with clergy whose sins were as scarlet. We have had to deal with power brokers who thought nothing of passing the papacy on to their illegitimate children. The list is endless. Anyone who is shocked at the current state of affairs is sadly ignorant of history. The real question is whether someone who is a sinner like myself may also speak the truth.

Monday 11 February 2013

Pope Benedict: "We are facing a profound crisis of faith"

With the recent publication of the Archdiocese of Toronto's Pastoral Plan, I thought it opportune to call attention to a few key themes identified by the Holy Father for the re-evangelization of society. It should be noted, that the "New" evangelization refers to the re-proposal of the Faith to those Catholics who have fallen away. Donald Cardinal Wuerl has an excellent post on the New Evangelization which is well worth reading. In an address to the CDF on the need for a reinvigorated evangelization, the Holy Father regards the greatest challenges to the Church as: a crisis of faith, religious indifferentism, and ethical confusion.

The entire address can be found here

"As we know, in vast areas of the earth faith risks being extinguished, like a flame that is no longer fed. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of the religious sense that constitutes the greatest challenge to the Church today."
Religious Indifferentism
"However, we must also recognize that the risk of a false irenism and of indifferentism — totally foreign to the thinking of the Second Vatican Council — demands our vigilance. This indifferentism is caused by the increasingly widespread opinion that truth is not accessible to man; hence it is necessary to limit oneself to finding rules for a praxis that can better the world. And like this, faith becomes substituted by a moralism without deep foundations".
"Finally, I would like to mention one last matter: the moral problem, which is a new challenge to the ecumenical process. In the dialogue we cannot ignore the great moral questions regarding human life, the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace".

Pope Benedict XVI to resign at the end of February

Reports coming from the Vatican, as well as major news agencies that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI will be resigning the Papacy at the end of February. 

Pray for the Pope, pray for the Church. 

          The Holy Father's Resignation Statement:

Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

Friday 8 February 2013

Anti-Catholicism: the new "anti-semitism" of the 21st Century?

Archbishop Gerhard Muller in a wide ranging interview with Die Welt (reviewed in La Stampa) referred to the subtle and at times not so subtle anti-Catholicism in Europe and North America as paralleling a number of aspects from the anti-semitism and Jew-hatred from the 1930s stemming from pagan Nazi ideology (that would eventually lead to the complete dehumanization and attempted extermination of the race of people to which Our Blessed Saviour, His Mother and the Apostles belonged and continue to belong). 

It it therefore not surprising that the forces of evil would persecute Israel and the new Israel, the Church. 

"The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, has launched a biting attack of the mood toward the Catholic Church in the U.S. and Europe, comparing it to an anti-Jewish “pogrom” in German weekly Die Welt. “The campaigns which are specifically targeted at discrediting the Catholic Church in the U.S. and Europe have led to clerics in some sectors being publicly insulted in a vulgar way,” the former bishop of Regensburg said. “An artificially instigated anger is building, occasionally echoing the sentiment of the pogroms against Jews in Europe,” he added. Attacks against the Church are launched on many blogs and on television. The instruments adopted in these attacks “recall the struggles of totalitarian ideologies against Christianity.”

Thursday 7 February 2013

Will Richard III be granted a Catholic Requiem Mass?

The recently discovered mortal remains of King Richard III has caused an interesting question to be raised at the Catholic Herald. Will the last Plantagenent king be buried as a Catholic? After all, the man was, according to history, a serious Catholic. To bury him as a protestant would be an insult to his memory and to cast a lie upon his life. 

The full report can be read here. Interesting. 

Wednesday 6 February 2013

The Year of Faith is the Year of Catechesis

 The more the Church, whether on the local or the universal level, gives catechesis priority over other works and undertakings the results of which would be more spectacular, the more she finds in catechesis a strengthening of her internal life as a community of believers and of her external activity as a missionary Church.
Bl. Pope John Paul II  (Catechesi tradendae)

Talking with friends, about the recently launched Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese of Toronto, the conversation keeps reverting to the crisis of faith and the need for catechesis. Indeed, one friend asked a poignant question: what is the point about discussing the subtleties (indeed hairsplitting) over the usus antiquoir Mass, when the vast majority of Catholics are confused with the basics of the Faith: e.g. confused about the Real Presence, what the Mass actually is, why the Catholic Faith is the one, true religion, why contraception is intrinsically evil and so on. Before a person will obey, they must understand; so that - again, for example - the Holy Father will not be rejected as "that old man in Rome telling me how to live my life"; rather, " the Holy Father is the Vicar of Christ, he speaks for Christ, he loves me..."

My concern about the lack of catechesis is a long standing one. The Pastoral Plan does not read or flow well, well, and raises many, many questions due to its incoherency. Are the points under the five main headings in order of importance? This is not mentioned, and if so, we have a very serious problem with the theme "Parish Life". Here, catechesis is buried near the bottom; outweighed in importance (it would seem) by the need for lay pastoral involvement in running parishes! Further, the mention of the "New Evangelization" is inaccurate. The New Evangelization refers explicitly to the re-proposal of the Faith to those Catholics who have left it

Catechesis was dear to the heart of Pope John Paul II. In his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesis trandendae, he emphasized that the knowledge and study and then living of the faith will then lead into a natural extension into missionary activity. This was accomplished by the Apostles and early Christians who believed, knew and lived the Faith during the Roman Empire. It was catechesis that enabled the fledgling Japanese Christian community to survive hundreds of years of persecution. 

Pope Benedict, in 2012, in a talk to priests of the Archdiocese of Rome spoke these words of catechesis: 

Therefore “The Year of Faith”, the Year of Catechism — to be very practical — are linked inseparably.... A serious problem for the Church today is the lack of knowledge of the faith, “religious illiteracy”... with this illiteracy we are unable to grow, unity is unable to grow. We ourselves must therefore recover this content, as a wealth of unity, not a packet of dogmas and orders but a unique reality which is revealed in its depths and beauty.

We must do our utmost for a catechetical renewal, so that the faith may be known and in this way God may be known, Christ may be known, the truth may be known, so that unity may develop in truth.

... One last point. St Paul speaks of the growth of the perfect man, who reaches the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. We will no longer be children at the mercy of the waves, tossed to and fro and carried about by any wind of doctrine (cf. Eph 4:13-14). “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him” (Eph 4:15). It is not possible to live in spiritual infancy, in an infantile faith: unfortunately, in this world of ours we see this infancy. Many have made no further progress after the first catechesis; perhaps the nucleus has remained, or perhaps it too has been destroyed. And, moreover, they are on the waves of the world and nothing else; they cannot, as adults, with skill and with profound conviction, explain and make present the philosophy of faith — so to speak — the great wisdom, the rationality of faith which also opens the eyes of others, which actually opens eyes to what is good and true in the world. Adulthood in faith is lacking and what remains is infancy in faith.

Of course in recent decades we have also experienced another use of the term, “adult faith”. People speak of an “adult faith”, namely, emancipated from the Magisterium of the Church. As long as I am under the mother I am a child, I must emancipate myself; emancipated from the Magisterium, I have finally reached adulthood. But the result is not an adult faith, the result is dependence on the waves of the world, on the opinion of the world, on the dictatorship of the media, of the opinion which is in all minds and which all want. This is not true emancipation, emancipation from the communion of the Body of Christ!

On the contrary, it is falling under the dictatorship of the wind and waves of the world. True emancipation is, precisely, freeing oneself from this dictatorship, in the freedom of God’s children who believe together in the Body of Christ, with the Risen Christ, and thus see reality and are able to respond to the challenges of our time.

Recommended further reading: 

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Pray for the United Kingdom

Earlier today, the British House of Commons passed the so-called "same-sex marriage" bill. This is a day that will live in infamy. Much could be said. Perhaps it is best to leave any words up to the Pope, who provides an a priori critique of today's tragedy. The words are from the Holy Father's address in Westminster Hall, September 17, 2010.

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.
Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Fr. McGrath on the SSPX

Following the anonymous statement issued from the CCCB on the "schismatic" Society of St. Pius X, an excellent post by Fr. Brendan McGrath discusses the statement in some depth. There is no doubt that the present trajectory of the SSPX would seem to indicate a future schism (that is, a declaration from Rome on the bishops and priests of the Society being in such a state) barring corrective action by Bishop Fellay and a formal agreement with Rome. 

The full article can be read here.

Update: Bishop Fellay's latest comments made during an ordination ceremony are not happy reading. I ask: how can one keep the Faith yet believe that unity with Peter "is something trivial"?

We are living in an age in which this faith is abused, attacked, slashed, everywhere, outside the Church and inside as well.  It will be one of your duties, after the Mass, to impart this faith, to communicate it to souls, so as to lift them above human realities and to lead them toward the reality of God.  And this faith will also have to be defended.
This is our history, the story of the Society, and of our founder.  And this history, my dear brothers, continues.  I would even say that, in comparison with this sublime reality, talking about whether or not to reach an agreement with Rome is something trivial.  To defend the faith, to keep the faith, to die in the faith, this is the essential thing!  We get the impression that the Roman authorities do not understand us, because they have not understood that we are ready to lose everything in order to keep this Catholic faith.  We absolutely do not want to let this faith go.  Now unfortunately (and this is a fact that we can observe every day), with the Council, through the Council, and in the Council, some poisons were introduced that are harmful to the faith;  they lead souls into error and no longer defend them, no longer defend them in their faith.  We denounce this fact, and this is why they condemn us.  Even today, the condition that they want to impose on us in order to recognize us with the title “Catholic” is to accept those very same things that demolish the faith.  But we cannot, and that is all, quite simply.  In no case do we agree to diminish what is absolutely essential in order to go to Heaven:  the faith, with all its consequences.  That is why this combat is necessary, an everyday combat.

Saturday 2 February 2013

Archdiocese of Toronto's Pastoral Plan: Cardinal Collins' invitation to the faithful

The following is Thomas Cardinal Collins' statement on the newly released Pastoral Plan. Please pray for him. Please pray for the local church in Toronto.
To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto:
H. E. Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto
This brief summary of the pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Toronto offers us the opportunity to reflect prayerfully on how Jesus asks us to live as His disciples.
Our pastoral plan is deeply rooted in prayer, the foundation of our efforts.
Our mission is two-fold. Our pastoral (inward) mission is to nurture and strengthen the faith experience of committed Catholics, drawing on the model of St. Peter, to whom Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Our apostolic (outward) mission is to announce the Gospel, both to the faithful and to those outside the Church. Our model for this effort is St. Paul, who first encountered Christ through conversion and then proclaimed Him throughout the world.
Our pastoral plan invites each Catholic in the archdiocese to reflect on our role as stewards of God's many gifts, calling us to a profound inner conversion that leads us to a spirit of generosity, most fully revealed in the sharing of time and talent with others. We live every moment in a spirit of gratitude, looking for ways to use fruitfully all that has been given to us, in the service of God and neighbour.
We are mindful of key threads that will be woven throughout the pastoral plan. To do our work effectively we must ensure that we: engage the family, especially youth; celebrate our cultural diversity; use resources wisely; and communicate effectively.
This summary will draw on the biblical image of the vine (Jesus) and the branches (his people). Five key priorities will help guide us on the journey.
I invite you to learn more about our “roadmap” for our journey by visiting a special online space: visit to access the complete pastoral plan in addition to other resources and tools for reflection.
I am grateful for the role that you play in strengthening our community. Be assured of my prayers as we joyfully labour together in the vineyard of the Lord.
Sincerely in Christ,
Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto

More on Social Networks

Social networks need more logic, love and less ranting, rage, pope says

Social media "need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation," the pope said.

Social forums need to be used wisely and well, which means fostering balanced and respectful dialogue and debate, he said, and paying special attention to "privacy, responsibility and truthfulness."

Too often, popularity -- garnered either from fame or strategic powers of persuasion -- determines the "significance and effectiveness" of online communication, not "intrinsic importance or value," he said.

Catholics can "show their authenticity" by sharing their hope and joy, and its source in Jesus Christ. Catholics also should give witness by the way they live their lives and how their "choices, preferences and judgments" are fully consistent with the Gospel, he added.

Sitting on the Basket

Fr. Mark at Vultus Christi wrote an excellent piece worth reading...

I grieve over the prevalence of the culture of Schadenfreude that modern technology facilitates. Schadenfreude is a kind of perverse delight taken in the weaknesses, falls from grace, or misfortunes of another. Why is there a frenzied rush, even among some Catholics, to point to the latest scandal, to comment on it, and discuss it? What is there in us that prompts us to take a morose delight in uncovering the sins of others?


Pope Benedict's Message for Lent: The relationship between Faith and Charity

Pope Benedict XVI  (Copyright: Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI released his Lenten Message this past Friday. In part, the Holy Father wrote [emphasis added]: 

In my first Encyclical, I offered some thoughts on the close relationship between the theological virtues of faith and charity. Setting out from Saint John’s fundamental assertion: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16), I observed that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction … Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Deus Caritas Est, 1). Faith is this personal adherence – which involves all our faculties – to the revelation of God’s gratuitous and “passionate” love for us, fully revealed in Jesus Christ. The encounter with God who is Love engages not only the heart but also the intellect: “Acknowledgement of the living God is one path towards love, and the ‘yes’ of our will to his will unites our intellect, will and sentiments in the all-embracing act of love. But this process is always open-ended; love is never ‘finished’ and complete” (ibid., 17). Hence, for all Christians, and especially for “charity workers”, there is a need for faith, for “that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love” (ibid., 31a). Christians are people who have been conquered by Christ’s love and accordingly, under the influence of that love – “Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14) – they are profoundly open to loving their neighbour in concrete ways (cf. ibid., 33). This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God’s love.

“Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! … Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light – and in the end, the only light – that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working” (ibid., 39). All this helps us to understand that the principal distinguishing mark of Christians is precisely “love grounded in and shaped by faith” (ibid., 7).

The entire message can be read here.