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OK, They Used the “H-Word.” Now What?

Red letters on black background which say "A Question of Heresy." Below that, yellow letters saying "Pray for Holy Mother Church"

They dropped the “H-Word” a few days ago.  It’s effect has been more like an H-bomb.

A group of prominent theologians and scholars (some of them priests) have issued a letter to all the bishops of the world outlining the case that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has committed multiple acts of formal heresy.

This is a big deal.  A terrifying deal.

Accusing Christ’s Vicar on Earth of heresy is one of those things that once said, is extremely difficult to retract.  The people who have done this have effectively ended their careers.  Think of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence:  in so doing, they all but put a British noose around their own necks.  Their signatures sealed their own death warrants.

No, I am not comparing this letter to the Declaration of Independence, nor am I comparing these theologians and scholars with the Founding Fathers of the American republic, so stop what you’re thinking.  What I am saying however, is that the signers of this twenty page letter have taken a step of the utmost gravity, which will have far-reaching consequences for them…and for us.

Back during the Cold War, a group of concerned scientists came up with something that became known as (among other things) the “Doomsday Clock.”  Whenever some incident between the Americans and Soviets served to increase tensions, the minute hand on clock (which was initially set sometime after 11:30 PM-ish) moved another minute closer to midnight, the idea being that once the clock reached midnight, WWIII would start and with it, of course, nuclear Armageddon.

If there is a “Schism Clock” counting down the minutes until a major disaster strikes the Roman Catholic Church, this letter surely must have moved the minute hand a notch or two.

The letter does not read like some sort of tinfoil hat manifesto; far from it.  The people who assembled it cited a series of specific incidents, documented them thoroughly, and provided excerpts from Church Councils, Holy Scripture, and other sources to demonstrate that each incident cited violated one or more critical aspects of Catholic Church teaching/dogma.

Can this document, in and of itself, convict a Roman Pontiff of heresy?  I’m not so sure.  It’s pretty much a given that the pope, being Christ’s Vicar and direct representative on Earth, is subject to the judgement of no man…only Almighty God Himself can sit in judgement of his actions.

And yet, these incidents–most of which I remember having been thoroughly amazed at when they transpired–do seem to directly contradict established Church teaching…or at least muddy them to the point where we laity are thoroughly confused.  A group of Cardinals asked Pope Francis to provide clarification (the famous Dubia of Cardinal Burke, et. al.) on some of the most troubling portions of his document Amoris Laetitia, but rather than providing the asked -for clarity, Francis made a point of completely ignoring them.  That tactic might have been considered a brilliant maneuver in the game of Vatican politics, but it didn’t do much to calm the brewing storm in the Church.  And that storm is reaching typhoon-intensity.

Correspondent Hank Igitur, the “Traditional Roamin’ Catholic,” shares his concerns in the following video, along with a set of recommended resources for those hoping to better understand the crisis which is upon us.

 

Martyrdom, Red and White

This Paschaltide has been like no other in recent memory.  The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral burnt down under circumstances which seemed to be all to readily classified as accidental.  Whether the famed cathedral was the victim of carelessness, an industrial accident, or something more nefarious may never be known.  What is beyond doubt, however, is the act of pure religious hatred which was behind the martyrdom of hundreds of Catholics across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.  It was clearly an act of Islamic terror, and it was difficult for even the most committed globalist to play down that fact. (Oh, but didn’t they try!  “Easter worshippers?” Really???)

Those who were murdered for their faith in Christ are martyrs, witnesses to the Savior who redeemed them.  Palm fronds in hand, they are ready to intercede for us here on Earth if we ask them.

Holy Martyrs of Sri Lanka, pray for us.

Martyrdom comes in two forms.  There’s the red martyrdom, such as took place Easter Sunday 2019 (and every other day of the year) when Christians shed their blood at the hands of those at war with Christ.  There’s also white martyrdom.  This can be thought of as a bloodless martyrdom, where Christians are subjected to hatred, vitriol, persecution, threats of violence, ridicule, social ostracism, and public humiliation.

As CCM correspondent Hank Igitur shows us in the following clip, not every persecutor of Catholics is to be found outside of the Catholic faith…

 

A Sign of Spiritual Conflagration

Image of Notre Dame Cathedral burning, crowds praying, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Many things have been said over the past few days concerning the tragic fire which swept through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  One of the first impressions which hit me was that this could be considered as a type of allegory for the fire which has swept through the Faith since the tumultuous days of the Second Vatican Council.  At the time I’m posting this little article, there has been no definitive determination as to the cause of the cathedral fire.  As for the conflagration which wrecked the Roman Catholic Church herself, more than a few of you consider it a clear-cut case of spiritual arson perpetrated by the “council fathers” and fanned by the so-called “spirit of Vatican II.”

I agree with that assessment as well.

But I’m a lousy writer.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider says it much better (which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the man’s writing).

LifeSite News has a good article on this.  An excerpt:

“According to the auxiliary of Astana, it is also a call to the entire Church to do penance for the spiritual conflagration that has ripped through the Church in the past fifty years.”

““Penance and reparation must also be made for the betrayal of Christ’s explicit command to evangelize all nations without exception,” including the Jewish and Muslim people, he adds.

“God will not indefinitely and shamelessly be mocked by so many Shepherds of the Church today, through their betrayal of the Faith, their sycophantic serving of the world and their neo-pagan worship of temporal and earthly realities,” he says. “To them as well are addressed these words of Christ, ‘I tell you, unless you repent you will all likewise perish’ (Lk 13: 5).””

Read the entire article here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bishop-schneider-notre-dame-fire-sign-of-spiritual-conflagration-in-the-church

Three reasons why bishops won’t excommunicate pro-death Catholic politicians

Meme shows Archbishop Becket asking why Cuomo hasn't been excommunicated. Cardinal Dolan tells Cuomo not to worry, because he's convinced everyone that excommunication "isn't a thing" anymore.

Sorry, Your Eminence.  Despite your best efforts to downplay the scandal, excommunication very much remains “a thing!!”   It is considered a harsh remedy for the salvation of a soul in desperate danger of damnation, but it is still very much a tool which a caring shepherd can use in a situation like this.

Notwithstanding our silly little meme which opens this article, why haven’t our bishops acted to excommunicate notable (and notorious) Catholic politicians who actively support infanticide and abortion?  Here are three reasons.  You might find Reason #1 hard to take, but please consider it.

Reason #1:  “It’s not ‘pastoral.'”

“Pastoral” is one of those handy post-Vatican II buzzwords that can mean pretty much just about anything the priest, bishop, or trendy theologian using the word wants it to mean.  In its most common use, “pastoral” appears to mean “we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”  If you pair this word up with the equally-potent term “mercy,” you have a powerful incantation which permits you remain inactive, even if public figures in your diocese are actively defying Church teachings, committing egregious mortal sins, and encouraging everyone around them to do likewise.

“We must show mercy.  We must be pastoral.”  That’s number one on on our hit parade.  Upon further considerations, that really isn’t a reason, so much as it’s an excuse.

Mercy is absolutely essential to our salvation, there’s no debating that point.  What is conveniently overlooked by so many of our modern theologians, prelates, and celebrity priests is the fact that mercy as a concept is meaningless if it does not remain paired with the concept of justice.  A person who sins (that’s all of us) will be subject to the Divine Justice unless they are saved by the Divine Mercy.  Mercy manifests itself through the sacrament of Reconciliation:  you acknowledge your sins in the confessional, you show true sorrow and perform penance, and you are once more under the protection of Mercy because you’re once more in a state of sanctifying Grace.

In His earthly ministry, Jesus showed true pastoral care and mercy towards His lost sheep by living among them, sharing meals with them, and calling them to repentance.  When He was dining with publicans and sinners, he wasn’t “accompanying them on their journey.”  While he was eating with them, He wasn’t affirming their present lifestyle; he was calling them out of it.  And in his preaching, Jesus made it abundantly clear what would happen to their souls if they failed to turn away from sin; if they failed to repent and follow Him.

He reminded them of the reality of hell, and of the horrifying consequences of dying in a state of mortal sin.  He offered them a way out of this eternal damnation which they had earned, if only they repented and accepted His gift of salvation through the Cross.  Now that’s being pastoral!

That’s what excommunication does:  it points out–in no uncertain terms–the state of danger a person’s soul is in as a result of mortal sin and calls that person to repentance.  And not only the person who is the object of this public call to repentance…an excommunication serves as an exhortation for all of us to repent, confess our sins, and to avoid the types of sins which have produced this grave set of circumstances for the public figure who is the object of this harsh remedy.

Bishops and cardinals:  you want to be pastoral?  Then call your people away from sin through whatever means necessary–including excommunication–in order that they may benefit from Christ’s divine Mercy!

Reason #2:  They don’t want to upset the applecart.

These bishops have a pretty good racket going.  They’re respected (well, maybe not so much these days), they’re considered pillars of the community, and they perceive themselves as being beloved of their people.  If they’re a big-city bishop, they’re probably rubbing elbows with the rich and famous.  They’re accepted by the local glitterati, and just might be considered a major celebrity in their own right.  They’re like the unpopular kid in school who suddenly finds themselves accepted by and hanging out with all the kids in the highest rung of the social ladder…jocks, cheerleaders…heck, they might even get chosen to have a big role in Homecoming!

And, equally important, there are those financial considerations.  Dioceses and archdioceses are big money operations.  Many of them receive government money to engage in social and charitable work.  These are not insignificant sums.  Initiating a God-vs.-Caesar type of conflict by excommunicating a very powerful politician could have some very serious financial implications.

And that’s unfortunate.  The role of a bishop is first and foremost to defend his sheep and do everything they can to help them get to Heaven.  When their excellencies and eminences look into the mirror each morning, they’re supposed to see shepherd willing to lay down his life for the sake of his sheep staring back at them.  Instead, too many of these men instead see the CEO of a charitable NGO (non-governmental organization) with obligations to “the bottom line”…and that vision informs all their actions.

Yes, there are certainly going to be consequences to a public excommunication.  Reason #2 means you’re more concerned with the temporal consequences than you are with the eternal ones.

Reason #3:  Moral cowardice and/or lack of supernatural faith.

Lacking the guts to do the right thing and call a Catholic politician who is endangering their own soul (and countless souls around them) to Judgement and everlasting fire…what can that be called other than cowardice?  This ties in with Reason #2 to a great extent; something as profound as a public excommunication is going to have consequences.  If the fears of earthly retaliation (social, political, economic) are strong enough, the prelate fails to act…even if he knows in his heart he is doing the wrong thing; knows in his heart that souls are in danger but he simply can’t muster the courage to do the hard thing…the right thing.

Pray for these men.  They are like the Apostles who dearly loved Jesus, but fled in terror from Gethsemane when confronted with the specter of temporal suffering which would arise from remaining at their Savior’s side.  They love their Lord, and may yet find their backbones.  Pray for them, support them, and encourage them to do the right thing.

And the other component of reason number one is a most terrifying theory:  what if these men simply don’t believe that it matters?

Has their faith been deadened to the point where they really don’t believe in the consequences of personal sin?  What if “mercy trumps all” dominates their mind to the point where they completely disregard justice?  Have they convinced themselves that there truly is “a reasonable expectation that all people go to heaven,” and–that aside from Hitler and people who throw plastics into the ocean–nobody will merit everlasting punishment?  It almost seems as if some of them are acting that way.

Pray for these men as well.

And, by all means, pray for the souls of those who promote, procure and perform abortions, as well as for those who support or assist them.  They–along with us–are being called to accept God’s eternal Mercy, but if they reject the gift of the Cross, what happens then?  “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)

Your Excellencies and Eminences, listen to Hank Igitur in this video.  He’ll explain it to you…

 

How Could Our Church Leadership Let It Get This Bad?

Book cover showing the back of a Catholic Cardinal's hat while smoke swirls around it.

I’m reading Phillip Lawler’s new book, The Smoke of Satan:  How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful…And What Can be Done About It (Available at TAN Press ).  For those of us who have managed to pull our heads out of the sand and acknowledge that the Church is indeed facing a crisis of massive proportions, one of the questions we often find ourselves asking is this:  Why didn’t the Bishops and the Popes DO something?!?! 

Bishop after bishop assures us with wide-eyed breathless sincerity that “Gosh!  I had no idea that Father X or fellow Bishop Y or Cardinal Z was doing that!  I’m as shocked and disturbed as you are…” And far too often, the tangible evidence backs up their claims, no matter how implausible they seem.  Some of them, perhaps, really are clueless rubes that had no inkling that such evil was taking place under their noses or in the diocese next door.  If that’s the case, then they’re lousy leaders at the very least.  Others knew full well what was going on, and took “plausibly deniable” steps to suppress knowledge of the crimes.  Still others (Lord help us!) may have been active participants in the evil.

“See no evil.  Hear no evil…”

But there are also too many clerics and prelates who simply convinced themselves that nothing bad was actually happening.  They have been behaving like those “See no evil, hear no evil” monkeys we are all familiar with.

None of the above postulated explanations are very reassuring.  Regarding the third category of clergy, Mr. Lawler offers the following explanation in his book:

Two common human traits strengthen the tendency to avoid problems.  One is the normal desire to avoid unpleasant confrontations.  The role of a pastor is to unite, not to divide, and most priests are not aggressive personalities.  The other, closely related factor is the willingness to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  In combination, unfortunately, these two characteristics–healthy and even laudable in themselves–can produce a sort of cockeyed optimism or willful blindness, a stubborn refusal to recognize reality.  We want to see virtue in others, and sometimes we can only see if our eyes are shut tight.

Sexual Abuse, Doctrinal Dissent, and Denial–They’re all linked.

“OK,” you say, “so we have some real jerks in our parishes and dioceses.  Why didn’t the Pope do something?  Pope Francis seems weak in this regard, but what about Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Saint John Paul II?  And not just regarding criminal conduct, but what about all the heresy, disobedience, and doctrinal dissent?”  That latter part of the question is crucial.  Although it may not appear to be linked with the current lavender mafia/sex abuse crisis, believe me:  it is!

Mr. Lawler continues:

For the sovereign pontiff, pastor for the universal Church, there is another consideration that weighs against stern disciplinary measures.  The duty of the Roman pontiff is to preserve unity among the faithful.  If he cracks down on abuses–any sort of abuses–the pope, any pope, might risk dividing his flock.  If he demands that recalcitrant priests and theologians end their dissent from formal Church teaching, they may choose instead to leave the Church, bringing their followers with them.  Rather than risk schism, the pope may choose to accept an uneasy truce between Catholic factions that seem irreconcilable.  This, it seems clear, was the path chosen by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

This tendency, this reluctance to address a problem head-on has been with us for some time, as Mr. Lawler points out:

If Church readers are prone to overlooking current problems, they are equally likely to downplay past failures.  Despite the grave losses that Catholicism has suffered during the past fifty years–the thousands who have left the Church, the families that have broken apart, the priests and religious who have forsaken their vows, the parishes and schools that have been closed–bishops remain reluctant to calculate the total damages and identify the root causes of the disaster.

In the years following Vatican II, thousands of priests walked away from their duties to begin a new life in the secular world.  When they left, there was no formal announcement.  The rumor mills buzzed, but there was no explanation of their departure.  They simply disappeared…Wouldn’t a healthier institution have been more forthright, admitting that these young priests had deserted their ministry?…for those who embraced a false optimism or willful blindness, it seems pointless to dwell on painful memories.  Far better to speak confidently about the future!

Just be glad the USCCB isn’t running the FAA.

Imagine a series of disastrous airliner crashes, one after another, and now try to imagine the Federal Aviation Administration delicately avoiding any mention of the crashes or investigations into their causes, but instead blithely opining about how much air travel safety is improving, and how bright the future for the airline industry looks!  Pretty darn absurd.

But that’s the attitude what passes for Church leadership these days is taking.

 

 

No Tinfoil Hats Required.

Three people sitting on a couch wearing homemade aluminum foil hats.

First, I hope that this post is not perceived as just another “tin foil hat” moment.  There still may be Catholics out there who think that the whole “Viganò Thing” is just another wild conspiracy theory concocted by “Rad Trads” bent on seeing the destruction of this papacy.  No tin foil hats are required to understand what the former Nuncio is saying, or why it’s still a big deal.

The Summer of Shame.

Most of the Catholic readers who wander through the blogosphere are aware of the ongoing crisis which is plaguing our beloved Church.  We are living through two rather massive challenges:  First, there’s what’s been called “the Summer of Shame” which has resulted from the seemingly never-ending series of allegations of sexual misconduct (old cases, new cases; child victims, post-pubescent victims; predatory priests, complicit and occasionally criminal bishops, etc. etc. etc.)  Second, there’s been the long-running uneasiness which many Catholics have with what looks like an increasingly heterodox direction we’re seeing from Rome when it comes to long-standing doctrines and dogmas.

The two are related, if for no other reason than those attempting to deflect anger over the first crisis charge that Traditionalists are attempting to incite anger against the Holy Father because they’re upset with what they perceive as the second crisis (and in fact, said Traddies are just rigid hypocrites and Pharisees, etc.)

Enter Viganò.

One of the most stunning events this summer were the claims made by Archbishop Carlos Maria Viganò.   His first letter contained eleven pages of what appeared to be rather specific allegations which provided a list of names, dates, and events, as well as information on where the source documentation could be found.  The first letter was reacted to with ad-hominem counter attacks, along with accusations of rumor-mongering and gossip.  Various statements and homilies from Rome seemed to equate Abp. Viganò with “the Great Accuser.”

There was a second letter from Viganò appealing to Cardinal Marc Armand Ouellet to describe what he knows about the documentation described in the allegations.  The Cardinal responded with attacks against Viganò, but did so in such a way which almost seemed to confirm some of Viganò’s original statements.

The Third Letter.

And now, in the past few days, a third letter has been released from Abp. Viganò.  I found his arguments compelling.  If his allegations are not true, they are certainly worthy of a point-by-point refutation by Vatican authorities…providing said authorities can provide convincing proof that the archbishop is making all this stuff up.

Vigano emphasizes the fact that he’ll be dead soon, and doesn’t want to face Christ’s judgement with the knowledge that he failed to disclose alleged crimes of his fellow priests and prelates on his conscience.  Fear of God’s judgement sounds like a pretty compelling reason not to simply make stuff up because you’re mad they didn’t make you a Cardinal.  Just sayin’…

For those interested in learning more about this, please consider viewing the following video.  The two scholars discussing this third letter are not crackpot Rad Trads; far from it.  Dr. Marshall (https://taylormarshall.com/) is the author of a number of books including _Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages:  A Quick Layman’s Guide to Thomism._  Dr. Marshal and Dr. Timothy Gordon offer a reasoned description of the history of the controversy and give a pretty good analysis of the contents of the third letter.

The link can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8WMHtZXgMw

Again, my intent is not to throw a hand grenade into the middle of our mutually-shared faith, kicking Holy Mother Church when she’s down, or anything of the like.  But we need to remember that we _are_ in a crisis of very profound dimensions.  These points are worth considering.

Note:  The contents of the third Viganò can be found here in its entirety (scroll down past the Italian original to find the English translation)à https://www.marcotosatti.com/2018/10/19/vigano-risponde-al-card-ouellet-la-terza-testimonianza/

 

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