Monday, March 31, 2014

Yeah, I know, sorry,

...but the stats are still really high. I check every couple of days and they're still way higher than normal. So, just hang tight, you regulars.

They'll be gone soon...

Meanwhile, I share a little of what's on my mind lately.

A conversation by FB with my old bloggie-buddy Steve. Steve's been a little worried lately too. And as it turns out, he's not the only one.

HJW: Did I tell you my latest zombie dream?

Steve Skojec: No. you haven't

HJW: I was in a big city, like Vancouver or Toronto, maybe New York, but definitely N. America and the zombies were swarming the whole city, coming on like a wave. But so fast that half the city didnt know.

I escaped to a section where things were still normal, and ran around this mall yelling at everyone to STOP SHOPPING... trying to get them to understand that they needed to run RIGHT NOW.

They were shopping, shopping, and talking on their cellphones and acting completely normal.

Steve Skojec: yeah, no metaphor there at all

HJW: I looked up one street and saw the wave coming about three blocks up, and people started screaming up there and running, shots fired, cops, sirens, fires, couple of explosions, but still all the people around me refused to listen.

...Then they started falling on us out of windows of the skyscrapers.

Steve Skojec: I don't like your dreams

HJW: Me neither

A little... preoccupied lately: Russia, China, Iran, Russia and China, Korea, N. Korea, troops and hardware moving to Russia's western borders, the US sending planes to Poland. Finland. Estonia. Latvia. Lithuania. All the names I really never wanted to hear mentioned every night in the news again.

Getting that paralysis feeling again... it was soooo long ago...I thought I'd forgotten what it felt like.

We really thought it was over. We weren't idiots; we knew that there was still plenty of Bad out there, but we thought at least the chances of getting vapourised had diminished a bit. My twice or thrice-weekly nightmares about The Blast diminished and finally dried up all together.

The _____ ____ing Cold War went a long way to blighting the lives of my entire generation. And we thought it was over.

It wasn't much, but we figured at least that one was behind us. As long as they weren't going to blow up the world, we'd make it. We could deal.

It's like the end of the movie when you thought (but you didn't really) the monster was dead, and it roars back to life. Only this time, it eats everybody...

...and there's no credits.

People talking about how it might be a good idea to learn how to make a fire without matches.

Oh, and there's this. Remember ebola? Oh, I do.

How does it go again? War, plague, famine and... and... what was the last thing again?

Suddenly, it's 1980 again, and I'm 15, listening to Heart, and wondering if there's any point to doing anything. (That was the real reason, by the way that "Gen-X" never did anything with ourselves. The "slacker" generation had been told by their hippie parents that none of us were going to live to see thirty, so what did we care? We were, to put it simply, paralysed by the terror our parents had instilled in us. We spent our whole lives staring unmoving at the headlights we'd been told were coming at us. Yeah, thanks for that Boomers...)

Oh, how well I remember that weird, nauseating pressure between my shoulder blades and at the base of my throat at the phrase "emergency NATO meeting..."

After Friday's urgent meeting of the UNSC, U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, called upon Moscow to withdraw its armed forces from Crimea, while Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that Russia is acting within existing agreements on the stationing of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council and is able to block any proposed action by its members.

Foreign ministers of the European Union will convene at an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss Russia’s potential use of armed forces in Ukraine.

Thousands of Russian soldiers doing nuke drills.

Nuke drills.


(...nuke drills...)



Not much blogging for a while.

Why don't y'all go say a Rosary or two.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Right you lot, I'm off

I'll be not blogging for a week or so. Working, but absent here. If you've been misbehaving, I'll find out about it from Dale or Steve, so be good.


Meanwhile, out here in Grownup Land...

There are Real things going on...

Ukrainian Catholic priest abducted in Crimea

Something you can offer your Mass for tomorrow.


I guess It's just the Ides

But I came home from Rome this evening feeling stabby. The conversation on the train-o was about whether Putin was going to keep going when he was finished taking Ukraine back into the warm embrace of Mother Russia. The conversation was made doubly interesting by the company; two of my companions were from the Baltics, one from a former Soviet state and another from Finland, where they fought one of the very few successful wars to fend off the enthusiastic ardour of the Stalinists.

So, y'all will forgive me when I say that I've not got a whole lot of patience for the stupidity that passes for Catholic debate in these difficult times. My friends were wondering whether they were going to have a country to call home in a few weeks or months. All the Europeans are wondering if they are going to be dragged into another war, either cold or hot.

So, really, Just at the moment, I've not got a lot of patience for the self-indulgence and chronic self-deception that American Catholics tend to be prone to. The grown-ups have things to think about over here.

But I see that my reservations about having a huge influx of new readers were justified. There has been an annoying little inflammation of itchy argumentation in the commbox below, with the newcomers apparently unable to understand that when I say we do not engage in such rudeness here, I really do actually mean it.

I see that I will also have to clarify what kind of site we have here.

This is the site of a Traditionalist Catholic. I do not adhere to the self-deception of the neocatholics. I gave all that up some years ago, and after much study and a good deal of pain, I have learned to reject the NewChurcian lies. I don't blame anyone for not being either ready to do this, or for not knowing enough to know the difference, but the one thing I really don't have any patience for are those who come in here and try to tell me that I don't know what I know. I also don't have any patience for rude, crass, American neo-Catholics trawling the blogs trying to generate arguments in order to boost their readership. It might be useful for the newbies here to remember that I am not an American and that in general, Americans do not endear themselves to the rest of the world with this kind of behaviour.

It's late, and I've had a very nice birthday in town, went to see the absolutely gorgeous Lawrence Alma-Tadema/Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Santa Maria della Pace this afternoon, followed by an insanely huge meal of fish at my favourite Sardinian place near St. Peter's. There were presents and ridiculously overpriced tea at the Viennese Tea Room, and a long gaze at my all-time favourite Bruegel painting at the Doria Pamphilj gallery (and a couple of pretty good Caravaggios and Raphaels) and a nice private Mass at the St. Philip altar at the parish. More or less a perfect day.

So I'm not going to spoil it by staying up too late and getting into a big unpleasant thing, just because there are some people who don't have either any manners or enough to do with themselves, and who don't know how to disagree pleasantly.

I am only going to leave this:

I'm a Trad. I've been a Trad for ten years. I used to be a neo-con, but after a while, I just couldn't keep feeding that crocodile. Therefore, I not only know the difference between a Trad and a neo-con; much more importantly, I know that there is a difference. This is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of taxonomy. The recognition and identification of objectively discernible traits. And I've got exactly no patience at all for the people who try to tell me that by admitting the existence of these clearly discernable differences I am somehow trying to be "divisive" or "political".

Truth is divisive. Adherence to The Real is as divisive as Christ himself always told us it would be.

Suck it up.

Here are some links, in case you are wondering if I have ever had anything to say about it before:

First, define your terms:
Real things, things that exist in nature, have characteristics, observable accidents that can be quantified to help us decide what sort of things they are, and what sort of other things they are related to.

Of course, people don't like to be quantified in this way, and it is especially unfashionable now that political correctness has entered the fray. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the indignant cry, "I'm not a ____, I'm just a Catholic." Well, may I suggest that in the modern Church, if that is true, then you are, most likely, simply a lazy Catholic who has never bothered to learn anything about the Faith, to discover its depths and surprises and has never had an opportunity to find out what your reactions to those surprises will be. The Church is in crisis and is fragmented from top to bottom. If you are trying to claim that you are "just a Catholic" I suggest that you are attempting to wish these realities into the cornfield, a power you do not have. Grow up and get into the fight.

Very few modern Catholics know half of what the Church teaches, and if they did, it would scare them silly. Don't forget, most of them, even the "conservatives" think that feminism can be "Christianised," that it is natural and good for Church and State to be separated, that "freedom of speech" is a natural human right... a lot of rubbish, but it is rubbish upon which their entire universe is founded. It is no wonder, then, that they are scared stiff of the fullness of the Faith and get angry with Trads and call us names when we point out that they are infected with the Disease. (That and I think I mentioned Trads tend to be jerks about it.)

Traditionalism, therefore, is not "extremely conservative conservatism". "Traditionalist" is not a sliding term, it cannot be used as an adjective and it is certainly not part of a scale from Trad to Modernist. THERE IS NO SCALE.

Traditionalist can't be used as an adjective; it is only a noun. You can't be "more traditionalist" than someone else. You are, or you are not a Traditionalist. There could be such a thing as a conservative Traditionalist, I suppose, because "conservative" can be used as an adjective. And in theory there could be such a thing as a "liberal" Traditionalist, but the thing is what it is.

I am a Traditionalist. This totally precludes me from being "a conservative" (noun). I do indeed also happen to be quite a conservative Trad, but that is using the term "conservative" as an adjective to describe my personal style and attitudes. The issue here is the difference between substance and accident. I am not a conservative of any kind. I am a Traditionalist.

My buddy Chris explains it all to you
Where there are differences, one must make distinctions. And in the Church there are differences (and how!) and therefore we make the distinctions as best we can. (Taxonomy is the least exact of all the biological studies).

It is not pious or noble to try to ignore these differences or to sneer at the people who are attempting in good faith to clear away the dishonest effort made by many churchmen over the last 50 years to paper over and ignore these differences, to the harm of millions.

Now, I'm going to bed. And tomorrow I'm going to be out, and after that I'm going to Umbria for a week. So you can all just go look at cat videos for a while.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Attention New People: this is not your regular kind of blog...

I know we've picked up a bunch of carpetbaggers in the last few days. I spose that's OK, but New People, be aware that this is not your regular kind of blog. It's more like a little club. I have many times described it as a kind of salon, where polite people can talk about things over tea and cake. I have had pretty much the same five hundred readers a day for most of the ten years we've been doing this, and I look upon newcomers with grave suspicion.

Disagreement is welcome, and almost required to keep me from getting bored, but the slightest hint of rudeness brings out the vengeful pagan deity in me. This blog is my universe; I am not your warm, fuzzy New Testament kind of God, and I've got my finger poised over the Smite button, and am not afraid to use it. For those who have been drawn here expecting Catholic polemical fireworks, be warned that you will be expected to be able to talk about, music, art, gardening, Canadiana and the state of the weather with equal facility. Anyone being rude to me or the other guests or picking fights will be shown the awesome power of my wrath in short order. A disciplined congregation is a happy congregation.

Commbox rules are posted on the sidebar to your left. You will note that snark, anonymous posts or obvious pseudonyms are among the high crimes which will merit my swift and awful justice. Those New People I don't know caught flouting the rules will be smoted instantly without warning or apology. Are we clear?


I've been thinking in the last little while, as regulars will know, about the value of all this. I am made more and more acutely aware every day that the internet, the new Great Conversation, is, quite honestly, a realm of deception and distraction, as well as perhaps grave temtpation.

Are we not obliged to take pains to "avoid near occasions for sin"? Well, this week, I've been thinking about it more. I watched an interesting thing from the BBC last night, about a rather naive Church of England minister who went to live for a few weeks in a monk's cave in the Egyptian desert. It was full of hints and little naggings for me.

I just sent [more or less] this note to a friend who is a magazine publisher who is pestering me to write Catholic things for him:

Well, thanks to a couple of links the other day, one to the Remnant and the other to PewSitter, my Phil Lawler piece got picked up by gazillions and we had our first (nearly) 3000 pageview day at O's P. It's only one in the afternoon over there today and I'm already up to 1600.

And it's definitely making the temptations whisper in my ears again: "You could totally do this for a living. Zillions... at least thousands, of people would read you, everyone would think you're cool and smart. And they'd throw money at you..."

"And you'd be doing the world a favour! The Church neeeeds your voice, it neeeeeds your blunt honesty and clear thinking... everyone says it... you'd be doing the work of God..."

Approval, affirmation, fame... they've always been my biggest worldly desire and temptation. But I know exactly what this is. My parents got rid of me, like yesterday's embarrassing trash when I was fifteen and I spent the next 30 years fending for myself, convinced that I was the only person in the world whom I could count on and that if I didn't make it in the world, no one would help me or catch me if I crashed.

"You're on your own kid, and you'd better find a way to make people like you. All you've got going for you is your brain and your words, so baby, you better get smart, witty and clever in a hurry, or you're dead in a ditch." Buzz buzz buzz...

"You could be one of them famous polemicists...Become the Trad edition of Jimmy Akin...He makes barrels of money...You know you could, and you really want to..."

But in truth, I know exactly what that voice really is playing on. It's a combination of my neuroses, the result of fashionable 1970s parental neglect. It's telling me it's OK to looking to the world for the love I didn't get when and where I was supposed to. Which means it's really an indulgence in Fantasy, a chasing after something that isn't Real. And I'd rather be done with that.

I'm starting to think that what I've really been doing is steadily and single-mindedly pursuing my own fame and popularity since I started writing full time ten years ago (almost to the day, now I think of it). And for me it's the road to perdition.

Frankly, I'm lazy as hell, and if I were to actually put some effort in, I know I have the capacity to become one of those one-man industries, to that old crass self-promotion thing that you have to do to become a Media Personality, a "professional Catholic". I know I've got the necessary superpowers. It's in there. But I also think I'd be turning myself into the monster I've been trying to avoid becoming all this time.

Things are getting past the point where we have the leisure to pursue such things. That stuff is for peace time. In war, we have to stop playing games.

Oh great. A link from Kathy. Now I have to get the sails down.

Oh well, I'm going back to Norcia next week for a while, so things are going to be shut down here for a while anyway.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Who makes the Faith?

"Never criticise the pope" has never been a Catholic rule. Ever.

There has also never been a rule that says, "Only saints can criticise popes". Nor has there ever been any rule that says you can't criticise a pope on the internet or other public forums.

All that stuff is in fact made up. And pretty recently. Mostly since we started feeling, in the early 1980s, with more and more bishops going weird and wiggy on us, that the pope was the last bastion of sanity in a world gone pazzo. But the history of the Church is longer than the last 40 years.

To say that a pope is above any criticism simply because he's the pope is becoming one of the favourite mantras of the neocatholics and "conservatives" and it is not only "solemn nonsense" it is dangerous nonsense. To suggest that the pope is above criticism is to suggest that he makes the Faith. He doesn't. The pope is the servant of the Truth, not its maker. To say that a pope cannot be corrected by the faithful is really to suggest that the Faith, the Truth, is a subjective thing dependent upon the pope's personal approval. This would render it as fragile as political opinion (which, by the way, is precisely what the world/liberal Catholics want it to be.)

Here's a few snippets for consideration.

There's no "except the pope" caveat in the following:
Can. 212 §3 [The faithfull] have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.
John XXII (r. 1316-1334) in a series of Sunday sermons asserted that the blessed departed do not see God until after the General Judgment­. This would have undone the doctrine of the efficacy of prayers for the dead in Purgatory, among other consequences. The pope at the time was opposed, publicly, by theologians at the University Paris who said that while (by that time) the matter had never been defined as dogma, the Pope was in error, and they petitioned him to recant his opinion. Which he finally did. John XXII added at the time that he had never proposed the idea for the whole Church, and everyone had been free to disagree with him.
The Pope is infallible only when he: “speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church…” (First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Sess. 3, cap. 4).
The Pope has no power to define doctrines as he pleases, for as Vatican I also teaches: “the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.”

More to think about here.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?

Seeing a lot of the "gates of hell" quote. Of course, I've had lots and lots of conversations with smarty-smart learned types about what, exactly, that really means. In the end, it was clear that it does not mean that the Church structures that we are used to seeing are going to survive. The conclusion reached in these discussions was something along the lines of, "As long as there is one Catholic left on that day," and, "Try to be that guy."

The Church will remain "visible" because this is one of its indefectible marks, but the question will be, "visible to whom?"

The late, lamented Mario Palmaro leaves us with a last note of encouragement:

In some little, out of the way church there will be always be a priest who celebrates the Mass in a holy way; in a little apartment a solitary old woman with unshakeable faith will say the Rosary; in a hidden corner of a House of Divine Providence a Sister will look after a baby considered by all as having no worth. Even when all seems lost, the Church, the City of God, continues to radiate its light on the City of Man.


"...A massive, looming threat that bids fair to pierce, penetrate and rend in twain Peter's barque..."

(Trust me, I'd rather be posting kitten videos...)

I just got this from a regular reader who forwarded it from Fr. Brian Harrison, a theology professor and writer who has done much to answer the sedevacantists' claims.

It is addressed to Dr. Robert Moynihan, who published it in the February edition of Inside the Vatican:

Dear Dr. Moynihan,

In your latest Letter from Rome, commenting on the new appointments to the College of Cardinals, you report rather nonchalantly that "[Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig] Müller is also known for having said that the Church's position on admitting to divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacrament of Communion is not something that can or will be changed. But other German Church leaders, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, have recently gone on record saying the teaching may and will be changed."

Your brief, matter-of-fact report on this controversy reminds me of the tip of an iceberg. It alludes to, but does not reveal the immensity of, a massive, looming threat that bids fair to pierce, penetrate and rend in twain Peter's barque – already tossing perilously amid stormy and icy seas. The shocking magnitude of the doctrinal and pastoral crisis lurking beneath this politely-worded dispute between scholarly German prelates can scarcely be overstated. For what is at stake here is fidelity to a teaching of Jesus Christ that directly and profoundly affects the lives of hundreds of millions of Catholics: the indissolubility of marriage.

The German bishops have devised a pastoral plan to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, whether or not a Church tribunal has granted a decree of nullity of their first marriage. Cardinal-elect Müller, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has not only published a strong article in L'Osservatore Romano reaffirming the perennial Catholic doctrine confirmed by John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio; he has also written officially to the German Bishops' Conference telling them to rectify their heterodox pastoral plan. But the bishops, led by their conference president and by Cardinal Kasper, are openly defying the head of the CDF, and predicting that the existing doctrine and discipline will soon be changed!

Think of the appalling ramifications of this. If German Catholics don't need decrees of nullity, neither will any Catholics anywhere. Won't the world's Catholic marriage tribunals then become basically irrelevant? (Will they eventually just close down?) And won't this reversal of bimillennial Catholic doctrine mean that the Protestants and Orthodox, who have allowed divorce and remarriage for century after century, have been more docile to the Holy Spirit on this issue than the true Church of Christ? Indeed, how credible, now, will be her claim to be the true Church? On what other controverted issues, perhaps, has the Catholic Church been wrong, and the separated brethren right?

And what of Jesus' teaching that those who remarry after divorce commit adultery? Admitting them to Communion without a commitment to continence will lead logically to one of three faith-breaking conclusions: (a) our Lord was mistaken in calling this relationship adulterous - in which case he can scarcely have been the Son of God; (b) adultery is not intrinsically and gravely sinful - in which case the Church's universal and ordinary magisterium has always been wrong; or (c) Communion can be given to some who are living in objectively grave sin - in which case not only has the magisterium also erred monumentally by always teaching the opposite, but the way will also be opened to Communion for fornicators, practicing homosexuals, pederasts, and who knows who else? (And, please, spare us the sophistry that Jesus' teaching was correct "in his own historical and cultural context", but that since about Martin Luther's time that has all changed.)

Let us make no mistake: Satan is right now shaking the Church to her very foundations over this divorce issue. If anything, the confusion is becoming even graver than that over contraception between 1965 and 1968, when Paul VI's seeming vacillation allowed Catholics round the world to anticipate a reversal of perennial Church teaching. If the present Successor of Peter now keeps silent about divorce and remarriage, thereby tacitly telling the Church and the world that the teaching of Jesus Christ will be up for open debate at a forthcoming Synod of Bishops, one fears a terrible price will soon have to be paid.

Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S.
St. Louis, Missouri


I think I would add only one reminder to Fr. Harrison's letter.
He writes,

But the bishops, led by their conference president and by Cardinal Kasper, are openly defying the head of the CDF, and predicting that the existing doctrine and discipline will soon be changed!

and I add that these men, whose express purpose has been to sunder the German Church from the Catholic Church and launch a new "Reformation", is opposed from Rome, thus far, by only one voice: that of Cardinal Muller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The same men have since mocked and ridiculed Muller in public for this task, and among these men have been at least two members of the pope's "council of eight" - a body with no juridical or canonical status whatsoever. A third has been invited by the pope himself to give the keynote address on the business of the upcoming Synod of Bishops.

And the pope has said nothing.

Nothing, that is, except to praise Cardinal Kasper for his "serene" theology.

How can we imagine, after fifty years of unremitting and unprecedented crisis in the Catholic Church, that what is happening right now does not constitute a final culmination, a consummation of the unholy catastrophe we have endured for the five decades since the close of the Second Vatican Council?

And what is coming next?

Frankly, I think we all know.


Monday, March 10, 2014

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.

2003 from Ratzinger:
"In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty."

~ * ~

Today from Magister:
"Fernández explains the reserve of the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires:

"There were sectors that were putting a strong emphasis on doctrinal certainty, on the honor of the Church and its self-preservation, and that felt that they were represented by few ecclesial authorities. The sectors that had a plan even slightly different from these latter, like Cardinal Bergoglio and many others, were very respectful of these choices, or at the very least met them with silence.”


On February 22, 2011, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Bernardini delivered a homily that was interpreted by almost everyone as a harangue in defense of Benedict XVI but in reality was a concerted attack on Bergoglio.

The nuncio placed under accusation those priests, religious, and above all those bishops who were keeping a “low profile” and leaving the pope alone in the public battle in defense of the truth.

"We have to acknowledge," he said, “that there has increased year after year, among theologians and religious, among sisters and bishops, the group of those who are convinced that belonging to the Church does not entail the recognition of and adherence to an objective doctrine.”


In 2010, at the height of the episcopate's battle of to block the legalization of marriage between persons of the same sex in Argentina, there emerged the idea of holding a prayer vigil [in front of parliament]. Esteban Pittaro, of the 'Università Australe of Opus Dei, sent an e-mail to the chancery of Buenos Aires, telling them about the event. The following day he saw that he had missed a phone call and realized that it was a number of the archdiocese.

Esteban called back and Bergoglio answered in person. 'It seems like a wonderful thing to me that you should pray. But the fact that you want to spend all night in the plaza . . . It will be cold, go home, pray at home, as a family!” the cardinal told him. 'He supported the march, but he was right to discourage the vigil, because the following day there were demonstrations in fa for of homosexual marriage. And he wanted to avoid the contrast,' Pittaro recounts.”

The then-archbishop of Buenos Aires could not bear the “obsessive rigidity” of certain churchmen on questions of sexual morality. “He was convinced,” writes Elisabetta Piqué, " that the worst thing would be to insist and seek out conflict on these issues.”

Are we really still wondering about this?


Saturday, March 08, 2014

What the pope really meant was...

Long post alert! Long post coming... move along...

Yes, it's a rare treat here at the Picnic: I'm going to tell you all, at tedious and tendentious length, exactly. what. I. think. (Oh BOY!!)

Those who've heard it, or don't care, may watch cat videos on YouTube until the bell rings.

~ * ~

I've written a lot in the past about the difference between "conservative" Catholics and Traditionalists. Perhaps I have failed to mention one of the most recognisable, however; that conservatives tend naturally towards any line that will maintain the status quo. Thus, in the face of deliberate campaigns to create change, conservatives respond with efforts to keep things the same, and so necessarily give ground a little at a time. Combine this with their unfortunate recent tendency towards an uncritical hyper-ultramontanism (sometimes derided as "papolotry" by people like... well... me,) that accepts everything and anything a pope says or doesn't say because he is the pope, and we have the phenomenon of incremental retreat, a long, slow giving-away of Catholic doctrine and practice in order to maintain the peace.

Now, before we go any further, I'd like to say that this is a position, a tendency, for which I have huge sympathy. Having at one time been among their ranks, I can say that the conservative reaction to what is happening in the Church is, for any believer, the natural one, particularly in a time when the Faith in its fullness is taught to almost no one outside the Traditionalist enclaves (all that scary, scary stuff about the Social Kingship of Christ... Yeee!) And in any time but ours, perhaps it would be sufficient. We have had so few times in history when the Faith of the Church has been under such constant attack from its own ministers and obedience to lawful authority is a virtue. I am not the only writer to have pointed out that the greatest trick the Devil ever played was not making everyone think he doesn't exist; it was using the virtue of obedience to destroy the Church.

I'd also like to say that I think conservatives are smart, sensible and cool. They are good Catholics, and many of them are heroic in their work to spread and defend the Faith. In a word, there's really not much important difference between us. In all the important, cosmic ways, they are us and we are them and we are all togethahh... kookoo ka joo. (That's a Gen-X pop culture reference.)

I say this because I was, through most of the John Paul II pontificate, a thoroughgoing neo-conservative who thought that if we only did what the pope says, we'll be fine. I saw the battle lines clearly drawn between The World - secularism, relativism, media-ism, feminism, even Marxism - and the Church, with the pope as the heroic figure leading us in the war. And let me tell you, it was a MIGHTY nice and appealing way to see the world. I knew that there were bad bishops and bad priests, but this was because there had been infiltrations at the national levels. I knew the war had entered the Church, but maintained the belief that the pope (and mostly by extension "the Vatican" he led,) was the place to look to for the answers.

And life was good. The world made sense. Then I started looking a little more deeply, and oh dear... oh deary me!

The thing that pushed me into being a clearly self-identified Traditionalist, and to recognising the difference between a Trad and a neo-con, was the presence of just too many logical contradictions, and too many places where the conservatives either didn't know about or were desperate to explain away the portions of the Faith that have been dropped (mysteriously?) since the council.

Seriously, becoming a Trad is no fun. It's like being forcibly removed from the Matrix, where things are difficult but do-able, and being tossed down the Rabbit Hole of Awful. It's why my friends and acquaintances are often puzzled when I tell them not to read LifeSite or even this blog. At least, don't read it too often. The facts we talk about at LSN can cause some acute discomfort for people who are given to connecting logical dots with too much facility. If you're not ready for it, it can be kind of traumatising.

All that being said, I can't help but think, again, that in his own painful way, Pope Francis is doing something for the Church that another "conservative" pontificate could not have done. He is making it very, very difficult to maintain that comfortable conservative middle ground. There are a lot of "conservatives" who are being forced to go to increasing lengths to try to maintain their position. This is a good thing. I believe that their position is the fence, and the fence is pointy and impossible to sit on forever. It's actually a good thing to get shoved off, for them and for the rest of us.

We have seen a lot of people, including a lot of priests, watching the goings on in Rome and starting to definitively pick sides. We've had a lot of indications that more people every day are realising that their position has been untenable, unsustainable.

The thing that makes me feel there is growing urgency for the conservatives to give up what I consider to be an untenable middle ground, is that as we go along, the "highest authorities in the Church" are putting more and more of the Faith down that post-conciliar memory hole. This is more or less what I mean when I say that Pope Francis, through his words and actions, and more importantly in his silences and inactions, is "closing the conservative middle ground".

All of this is by way of introduction, and disclaimer, when I go through an article that appeared on Wednesday on, by Phil Lawler, that doughty Catholic culture warrior. Usually, I go to Phil when I need the Sensible Perspective. I don't always agree with his assessments, but I know that when I read him, I'm at least never going to be presented with the truncated and carefully edited version of the truth that one has come to expect from most Catholic media.

But today, Phil has taught me something in a different way. A more backhanded way. I'm not looking to pick a fight here, but Phil has given an opportunity to make a critique of the conservative position by laying it out in particularly stark terms. The subject is Pope Francis' latest interview, and the reaction to it by the mainstream media.

In my LSN thing on Thursday (published on Friday) I more or less said that the pope's own comments, (whether deliberately or not was beyond my ability to judge) had allowed and even invited the MSM and the Catholic world to take away that there could be some acceptance by the Catholic Church of homosexual civil unions. The ambiguities of the pope's own comments was what led the media to jump up and down with glee.

Phil, on the other hand, calls their reaction "astonishing".

Really? Seriously? I read the Corriere della Sera interview in English and Italian, and quite honestly, it looked to me like there was room enough to drive an aircraft carrier through the ambiguity-gap Francis left.

I honestly think Phil has missed the point. I'm sure he'll disagree. But I think the discussion could be useful. I thought a little fisking could be helpful to allow readers to do a compare and contrast and maybe come to some kind of conclusion.

Phil: Seven months before the Synod of Bishops meets to discuss pastoral care for the family, one can easily foresee how the mass media will cover the prelates’ discussion. It is not easy to predict which themes will emerge as most prominent in the Synod fathers’ debates. But it is very easy to predict which themes will dominate the media coverage.

HJW: Yep, it totally is easy. We know exactly what the media's Catholic memes are, what they are and are not interested in. We also know that they have framed the discussion in a particular way, with particular parameters. Which is why when a pope or a cardinal or bishop says anything about anything, we sometimes cringe because we can see, as media-savvy people, exactly and in detail how the media is going to ram it into their meme-boxes. We know exactly what kinds of things bishops sometimes say - those little ambiguities and vaguenesses - that make the media slaver, and Francis has said exactly those things, [in a way that Benedict NEVER would have, I might add].

Phil: From the perspective of the secular media, the key question pending at the bishops’ meeting—really the only question that the media consider worthy of coverage—is whether the Catholic Church will back away from her traditional teachings on contraception, homosexuality, and divorce. The answer to that question is No. But reporters, prodded by "progressive" Catholics, keep implying that the question is unresolved. Regrettably, some conservative Catholics are encouraging them.

HJW: Yes. We know from long, long experience that the mainstream secular media believe the Catholic Church's teachings consist entirely of prohibitions against sex. We also know that the Catholic media spends a lot of its time following this lead. We can't help it. The MSM is in charge of the debate-framing, so we really have no choice but to talk about those things. But we cannot blame them alone for "implying that the question is unresolved". We can certainly track very clearly indeed the many places where high-ranking prelates have helped to create that impression. The names Nichols, Danneels, Mahoney, Martini, etc, spring to mind. Why would we think that a pope could not be among this group?

About the second thing: about how the Church is absolutely and inevitably going to say "No" to changes in doctrine. Here is where I begin to differ with Phil. Of course, the Church is not going to change the doctrine any more than a committee of physicists could rescind the law of gravity. But there is a lot that a pope, a pontificate, can do, as we have seen in the last fifty years to make the actual, written-down doctrine of the Church functionally irrelevant. And I'll prove it: Phil, go to Mass on Sunday at any suburban American parish. Find a parishioner who knows what Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae were about, and ask him, "What doctrine of the Faith was the papal encyclical Quas Primas about?"

The fact that the Church officially "teaches" this or that unpopular thing can be rendered utterly moot by a global decision of all prelates never, ever to mention it to anyone ever again.

But it's in the next bit of Phil's article that things really get interesting...

Phil: Influential voices within the Church are already calling for wholesale doctrinal changes.

HJW: Yes, they definitely have. Very, very loudly. And what has the pope, perhaps the chattiest pope we've ever had, said in response to this? Anything? Anything at all?

We've had Muller saying quite a few things. And then we have had two of the members of pope's own hand-picked group of eight cardinals saying that he needs to "loosen up". And what has the pope said about that? Anything? < crickets chirping> ... Bueller?

So the man appointed to the office whose purpose is to defend the doctrine of the Church is being left in the cold, while two of the members of this "in-group" that has, as far as anyone knows, no juridical or canonical status whatsoever, are allowed to attack him publicly for doing his job, with total impunity.

I wonder if Francis has ever heard the legal expression, "He who remains silent is understood to agree." I know I am not the only one who has observed that Francis is approaching "curial reform" by totally sidelining the Curia, undercutting its work and ignoring the outcome, all while favouring this "group".

Phil: The bishops of Germany, having found that most lay Catholics in their country reject or ignore Church teachings, have thrown up their hands and hinted—or in a few cases said quite clearly—that Church stands on sexual issues must change.

HJW: Oh, I don't think we need to be doing any polite little tiptoes around the situation in Germany. They certainly aren't being coy about it. The German bishops have gone beyond saying that the Church's teaching and practice must change on sexuality; they are now quite openly calling for separation of the German Catholic Church from Rome: (what we used to call "schism,") and the creation of national Churches.

And again, has the pope had very much or anything at all to say about this? In other times, we might have thought that an entire national episcopate calling openly for schism might be a little more ... newsworthy... But the only thing we have is, again, one statement from poor, ignored and beleaguered Muller, echoing in the context of a ringing silence from his superior.

Phil: An American bishop has made the illogical claim: “Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium suggests the rejection of Church teaching on this subject.” An English Catholic newspaper has published an editorial referring to the Church’s stand on sexual issues as a “state of denial,” and lauding the Catholics who find Church teachings “incomprehensible or just plain wrong.”

To be sure, then, there are plenty of calls for change—as there have been demands for change in Catholic doctrine since time immemorial. But to complicate matters, the proponents of change today claim that Pope Francis endorses their ideas.

HJW: Now hold on there for just a second. Has the Holy Father said or done anything, anything at all in the last year, that might have justified that impression? Nothing? Can't think of a thing? Really?

Phil: That English newspaper, the Tablet, quoted the Holy Father’s reference to “pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness,” and leapt to the conclusion that the Pope was advocating some major changes in Church teaching.

HJW: I have been noticing a little dodge that some conservatives are using. They point to something like the Tablet and say, with widened and innocent eyes, "What was there in this article that could possibly have given this impression? You're leaping to some pretty wild conclusions there, buddy."

But the Tablet, and others, are not looking solely at this or that one article, are they? They are looking at all the signals big and small that Francis has given over the last year taken together, and reading the current piece in that context. And isn't this what they're supposed to be doing? Haven't we heard for decades that the "liberal press" is always taking this or that papal statement out of the greater context of the other things he's said and done?

In case after case, when Francis has talked he has been vague, ambiguous and even obstreperous, ("We don't need to go on and on about it...") and when there have been opportunities to make strong, clear statements, he has remained silent. Tell me, Phil, what other conclusion do you expect them to take away?

Phil: Virtually every day’s news headlines include at least one story suggesting that the Pope is questioning some long-standing Church policy. Today, for instance, a USA Today headline announces: “Pope Francis leaves door open for same-sex unions.”

In fact, in the interview on which the story was based, the Pope only said that secular governments might have various reasons of their own for providing legal protection for non-marital unions.

“One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety,” the Holy Father said.

The interviewer did not press him on the subject, so we do not know under what circumstances—if any—the Pope might think the Church could accept some legal recognition of same-sex unions.

HJW: Hooo-Kay, we're really going to just accept this? We're OK with the unmistakable fact that he did, in fact "leave the door open" to acceptance, in some realm or other and on a case-by-case basis, to legal recognition of same-sex civil unions, then.

So, let's just let that sink in: a pope has said, with not a whiff or hint of disapproval that "secular governments" could have "reasons of their own" for giving recognition to "non-marital unions," aaaand we're OK with this...

He has said it blandly and with total neutrality, as if it is absolutely none of his business whatsoever what "secular governments" do. His business is only with the Church. And this is no big deal.

Are we saying that what a pope says or does about the moral realm stops at some invisible line between the Church and the State? Is that what you're going with?

Phil: In the full interview the Pope did, however, firmly reassert the Church’s teaching on a closely related issue: “Marriage is between a man and a woman.”

HJW: Oh well then, we can all go home. I feel so much better.

Let's take another look at the full quote:

Corriera della Sera: Many countries have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?

Holy Father: Marriage is between one man and one woman. The secular States want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of coexistence, spurred by the need to regulate economic aspects between persons as, for instance, to ensure healthcare. Each case must be looked at and evaluated in its diversity.

It must? That's funny, because I think I remember another recent pope who said ... not to put too fine a point on it.. exactly the opposite.

Let's imagine for a moment that Corriere della Sera was interviewing Benedict XVI. What might he say about it? Hmmm... let's look through the blue magic mirror of our imaginations and see if we can guess...

There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”

Woah! That was easy, huh? Let's see if the magic mirror has anything else for us...

Faced with the fact of homosexual unions, civil authorities adopt different positions. At times they simply tolerate the phenomenon; at other times they advocate legal recognition of such unions, under the pretext of avoiding, with regard to certain rights, discrimination against persons who live with someone of the same sex. In other cases, they favour giving homosexual unions legal equivalence to marriage properly so-called, along with the legal possibility of adopting children.

Where the government's policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the various aspects of the problem:

Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve:

- unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology;

- stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions;

- reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality

- and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon.

- Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.

1) Until now, the papal statements, even since the Council, on moral issues have started with the assumption that the pope gets to talk about what the State should and should not do. We have never before made the distinction that a pope, when speaking on a matter of public morals, was "only" addressing what the State should do or what the Church should do, and that the two things have nothing to do with each other.

We know, or at least we did know, that when a pope talks about moral things, he means for it to apply to everyone, in every sphere, everywhere. No one ever suggested that John Paul II, in talking about the moral evils of abortion and euthanasia in Evangelium Vitae, was only talking about what the government should do, or what the Church could accept or not accept. He said, simply, abortion is wrong, a grave moral evil and outrage against justice. That means, it can't be accepted by anyone, anywhere, ever. We used to know that when a pope said something, anything, about something to do with the moral life, he meant it to be applicable across the board, in public and private life.

2) We used to understand, as Catholics, that this whole notion of "separation of Church and state" was a barely tolerable legal fiction, at best. It was, in fact, condemned by the popes in the past because of precisely this, that it might lead people to make a radical separation in their lives between their "Church selves" and their "civil selves" between Christian life and their day-to-day life in the world. That we could be "good Catholics" on Sundays and "good secularists" at work through the week. That we could be, for instance, a politician who is "personally opposed to abortion" but would not dream of trying to impose "his views" on others through the law.

Phil: Yes, it is true that in that interview with an Italian newspaper, Pope Francis might have “left the door open” to acceptance of some legal same-sex unions—by the state, not the Church.

HJW: And this distinction is important... wwhhhyyyy, exactly? I'm pretty sure the pope, the interviewer and all the readers knew the question was about the pope's opinion about what the state does. No one thought he was asking about the Vatican City State. Is it OK that he allows it for the State, as long as we don't have to have civil unions ceremonies in St. Peter's?

Phil: At least he did not slam the door shut.

HJW: But that's the whole point. He was supposed to do exactly that. He's the pope. He's supposed to say things like, "It's wrong. It's wrong for anyone, either the Church or the state." Let's look at it another way: if the interviewer had asked the pope his opinions about whether the Church could possibly see its way to approving legalised brothels, and he had said, "Well, not for the Church, of course. For us, the sexual act is restricted to a married man and woman. But what the state does has to be examined on a case-by-case basis, in all their diversity."

I'm slightly confused by Phil's use of the expression "at least" and "slam the door shut," as though this is undesirable behaviour in a pope. Isn't that what we want and expect from popes on grave matters of morals, both public and private? If he had been talking about any other subject, abortion, slavery, genocide, or even divorce, would we really be asking whether he meant only to allow consideration of the possibility...but only by the state...? What does that even mean?

Phil: But in an interview in which he offered that clear defense of marriage—an interview in which he also praised Pope Paul VI for his controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, and offered a defense of the Church’s response to the sex-abuse scandal—how could a journalist conclude that the Pope’s vague, off-hand remarks on same-sex unions were the most newsworthy part of the interview?

HJW: OK, here's where I go out on a limb. The issue of natural marriage is a closed one for the Church (for now) and the interviewer, the pope and the readers, including the homosexualist activists, knew he would say exactly that. This is not where the wedge is being placed. There isn't, for the moment, a weak spot there yet. Which is why they have all given him an easy pass on it. Every one of the "gay rights" campaigners interviewed said as much. What they were all looking for was exactly what the pope gave them: ambiguity, a maybe and a "let's talk about it." So, no. His "defence of marriage" isn't newsworthy at all. (And contraception? Srsly? Does anyone still even know the Church is against that? Does anyone care?)

So, yes, Phil, obviously the pope's ambiguities, his "vague offhand remarks" about the Church accepting same-sex civil unions in any way, even for governments, even on a case-by-case basis, is every bit as huge, as earth-shattering a story as the media is (still today) making it out to be.
How could it be otherwise? They know better than anyone where the weakest point of the weakest point is found in the modern Church. They know that we've had decades of moral discontinuity on homosexuality, civil unions and "gay marriage" among the clergy. They know that there are thousands of active and inactive homosexual priests, bishops and prelates in the Church currently agitating, in quiet ways and loud ways, for the Church to accept homosexuality.
And they know that within the broader issue of homosexuality, this spot right. here. is where to aim the blows: right at the oh-so-reasonable argument that it's really just about dealing justly with people already in such situations, to give them legal and economic and financial protection. It's such a little spot, isn't it? But the whole weight of the Faith is resting behind it... and they know it.

And as Catholics, Phil, you and I are better positioned even than they to understand exactly why. What the secularists in the media sense dimly, we know concretely: that everything, every. single. thing. the Church teaches dogmatically is inextricably connected to every other thing. We know, as they sense, that if the Church caves on this, the whole thing is going to go. Not because, as Francis once put it, it is a "house of cards" waiting to fall at the slightest pressure. But because of the nature of Truth itself, that True things cannot contradict one another. And so for the Trinity, the Eucharist, the Ascension to be true, all the rest of it must also be true, absolutely without exception.
They know that if they can bring the Church to admit just this one little thing, just pinch this one, tiny little fragment of a grain, the whole thing will follow. If truth is not consistent with itself, if it contradicts itself on any single point, it fails utterly.

Phil: That could happen only because the reporter (or the headline writer) was looking at the transcript with the issue of same-sex marriage uppermost in his mind, and exaggerated the importance of an exchange that formed only a small part of a long interview. (It is astonishing that the Catholic News Service, the agency supported and subsidized by the US bishops’ conference, ran the story under a headline quite similar to that in USA Today.)

HJW: No. That happened because the reporter understood better than most conservative pundits, that the Truth is a zero-sum game; there can't be any grey areas, any compromise. Truth is not a political or diplomatic project. So, really it's not astonishing at all, it simply means that they know their job. They understand: that you hit the Church very precisely there. And hit it as hard as you can, with an interview with the Pope himself.

The other reason CNS, and the rest of the world, ran the headlines is, simply, because it's true. And you have said it yourself. The pope, even by suggesting that the Church could consider accepting any legal equivalency to marriage by anything other than actual marriage, a man and a woman bonded for life, by the state or anyone else, has said something utterly novel, utterly shocking. It is, in the purest sense, news.

Phil: Actually it should be no surprise that, in a quick response to a quick question, the Pope did not slam the door shut. Pope Francis has made a determined effort to avoid blanket prohibitions. He does not want to be perceived as another “Pio Nono,” because he does not want to reinforce the popular caricature of the Church as stern and inflexible. Rather, he wants to make winsome arguments, to appeal to a world that has lost its moral compass, above all to drive home the message that everyone can enjoy the benefits of God’s unlimited mercy.

HJW: Wait...what?! Are you serious?! He doesn't want to be perceived as another Pius IX? Making "blanket prohibitions"?
Perceived? ...
Blanket prohibitions?! ...
Phil, can you explain to me how you think the world "lost its moral compass" in the first place? Could it be that this has been lost in, oh let's say, the last 50 years or so, because we have had two or three generations of church leaders who refuse to make "blanket prohibitions" against immorality? We've had decades of with-it grooviness from the Church and the world, all congratulating each other on how they have moved beyond making "blanket prohibitions" against sexual or other kinds of sins.
Could this total failure to give the world any sound direction in morals have had anything at all to do with priests, bishops and prelates being overly concerned with how the world "perceives" them? More concerned with not being "perceived" as overly ... oh, what's the term again... judgmental? than they are with either defending the Faith, or with saving souls from everlasting death?

And here's another little question for you. Are you absolutely sure you meant to say that he doesn't want to be "perceived" as another Pio Nono? There mightn't have been anyone else in mind, mightn't there? Someone more recent?

Phil: Thus the Pope has challenged the Synod of Bishops to find new ways to address the problems of families, especially those families that are struggling.

Err... struggling with what, exactly, Phil? What is the Synod going to address? Have there been any signs, any signs at all, about which particular struggles of the family the Synod might be addressing? No? Not a single hint? Have there been any highly-placed and highly-favoured theologian-cardinals saying anything about it? Any who might have been described glowingly by Francis as giving a "serene" theological discussion? Nothing coming to mind?

Phil: Following his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, he has made a special call for pastoral attention to Catholics who, because they are divorced and remarried, are barred from the sacraments. Nowhere has he suggested that the Church should change her teaching or her perennial practice. He has merely called for a discussion. But again commentators have gleefully leapt to the conclusion that the Pope favors such changes

HJW: OK, maybe there's some "discussion" to be had on how to better teach divorced and civilly remarried why they cannot receive Communion, or something else that does not involve changing the doctrine. But that doesn't seem to be what his closest advisors think, and it certainly isn't what the German bishops (who put huge pressure on Benedict for exactly this Synod and failed to get it) want. What the men he trusts as his "inner circle" are thinking and wanting is coming clearer by the day. And who is fighting the battle against this pressure? Is it Francis? No, no it isn't. It's Muller. And he's been doing it alone.

Phil: A substantive change in Church teaching is highly unlikely. The Synod may recommend some pastoral provisions, such as steps to allow easier access to annulments. (Such provisions would probably not have much practical impact in the US, where annulments are already granted to nearly everyone who applies.) In his address to a special consistory in February, Cardinal Walter Kasper proposed a special penitential process that might allow for reconciliation of remarried couples under rare circumstances.

HJW: Uhhh... Phil? That's not what Kasper was suggesting. Kasper was suggesting that while the Church can't change it's doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage, she should just ignore it. To make people feel better about themselves.

Oh, and that priests should be made to desecrate the Eucharist by giving it to people whom he knows to be in a state of objective mortal sin.

We're sailing merrily past this pretty easily here and I'm just wondering why.

Phil: The coverage from the October Synod meeting will suggest that the “moderate” forces for change were stymied by the entrenched “ultraconservatives.” Insofar as Pope Francis will ultimately support existing doctrine, journalists who have been enthralled by the new Pontiff will be devastated, just as liberal journalists of an earlier generation were disappointed when Pope Paul VI confirmed Church teaching in Humanae Vitae.

HJW: Yeah, it's funny you should mention H.V. because I've been talking about the similarities too. And I think these similarities are more important than anyone has yet realised. These liberal journalists (anyone else? *cough*Canadianbishops*cough*) weren't disappointed for long. They immediately went out and simply changed the public perception of Humanae Vitae so that the world figured they had permission to just shrug and keep on fornicatin'.

As I commented the other day on FB:
As always, it's important to take our lessons from history, and we have a good 'un from Humanae Vitae: now that the Kasper Solution has been "leaked" we have simply to wait and allow the media dispersal do its work.

The process will be even more efficient this time, since we have the internet to help aerosolize the ...errr... shall we say, "new teaching" into the general culture, released, so to speak, into the atmosphere.

By the time the Synod rolls around in October, it won't matter a tinker's damn what Pope Francis says or writes. He could issue Humanae Vitae II after the Synod, but by that time, the new practice will be universal, and the national conferences will have their Winnipeg Statements all ready to launch, and bob's yer uncle...

A job well-done, your eminences and excellencies of [Kasper's] "New Paradigm".

Phil:At the Synod meeting and in the weeks that follow, some German bishops will keep pushing the car, assisted by dissident theologians. Journalists, watching from a nearby hill, will wonder why Pope Francis and other bishops are resisting them. In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, debates along these lines wreaked havoc within the Church.

HJW: Well, I have a rule about never talking about the future in concrete terms. It doesn't pay. But if you're right about Francis choosing the right side, I'll buy you a beer the next time you're in town.

I must say, though, that one of the things I miss about being a neo-con was the unquestioning confidence I had that the pope would never, ever do anything to deliberately hurt the Church.

Then, altar girls.

I'll leave Phil alone from there, but I'd like to leave y'all with one more little bit of the imaginary interview with Benedict:

Interviewer: Holy Father, what are Catholics obligated to do in situations where same-sex civil unions have already been established? Can we accommodate them as a fait accompli? Can we simply tolerate them, and move on?

Benedict XVI: In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.

One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application.

In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.


Pope Francis gives another interview

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the apocalypse...

While the MSM seems only to be concerned with the pope and gays, there is a lot more going on here. Pope Francis answered questions on a stream of “hot-button” Catholic issues, including (translating the politely coded language) female ordination, divorce, abortion and contraception. And as before, there were comments in this latest interview that have a lot of people worried.

I know (from the flurry of emails and Facebook messages I received) that I am not the only one who noticed that he talked about contraception and Humanae Vitae, for example, in the same way that Cardinal Kasper talked the other day about the indissolubility of marriage: that it is a wonderful, unchangeable doctrine of the Faith, “prophetic” and given to us by the highest possible authorities…but…

Did I feel a faint whisper of Winnipeg’s cold breeze blowing in my ear when I read this?

It all depends on how the text of ‘Humanae Vitae’ is interpreted. Paul VI himself, towards the end, recommended to confessors much mercy and attention to concrete situations…The object is not to change the doctrine, but it is a matter of going into the issue in depth and to ensure that the pastoral ministry takes into account the situations of each person and what that person can do.


one, two, three...

Click it!


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Not much time to talk today, but I thought I would toss this out there. It's about the lack of discussion over what, exactly, "rights" means, and where these "rights" come from and what they are for. I'm just doing a quick story on a talk by Cardinal Peter Turkson today on the subject, and I was very chuffed to see that he's been reading Orwell's Picnic regularly...

"...Perhaps proponents [of 'ideologies that attempt to rewrite human rights or create new ones'] are misled by the fact that fundamental rights can be expressed in different particular manners in different social and cultural contexts. A “healthy realism” will recognize that this variation is compatible with the universal character of the underlying rights, and it will block the misguided proliferation of pretended rights:

A healthy realism, therefore, is the foundation of human rights, that is, the acknowledgement of what is real and inscribed in the human person and in creation. When a breach is caused between what is claimed and what is real through the search of so-called 'new' human rights, a risk emerges to reinterpret the accepted human rights vocabulary to promote mere desires and measures that, in turn, become a source of discrimination and injustice and the fruit of self-serving ideologies"

Something that very few people ever talk about is just where "human rights" come from. Many secularists assume that "rights" are really privileges granted by governments, and as such are changeable by human decree. But Cardinal Turkson said today that they have a transcendent origin, and our understanding of them is dependent upon our observation of and adherence to The Real.

Something that STILL isn't being said, however, even at the highest levels of the Vatican, is that rights are inextricably connected with duties. In reality, we only have those "rights" which we require to do our duties.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Shooting starts at 4 am, Rome time

KIEV (Reuters) - Russia's Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry as saying.

The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet's commander.

The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.

"If they do not surrender before 5 a.m. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea," the agency quoted the ministry source as saying.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage,)

Umm... Holy Father? Now might be a good time for that consecration of Russia to Our Lady.


Kakure Kirishitan

Here's an interesting bit of the history of the Church ...apropos of absolutely nothing whatever.

Japan's "Hidden Christians," or Kakure Kirishitan. In the 1540s, Jesuit, Franciscan and Dominican missionaries came to Japan and set up shop, converting lots and lots of people, including members of the aristocracy. Then one day, there was a regime change (as they say these days) and suddenly, the Christians were considered enemies o the state. So, Christianity was banned and the left-over Christians were arrested and executed... but not nicely.

On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians – six European Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen Japanese laymen, including two young boys, were crucified. On September 10, 1632, 55 Christians were martyred in Nagasaki. In the end, the number of martyrs reached about 1000, with about 200,000 Christians surviving and retaining the Faith in secret.

The ones who survived became this thing, Kakure Kirishitan. There were no sacraments, no hierarchy and few priests until Christians were re-admitted to the country in the 19th century. The remaining believers had nothing but the Faith.

Ongoing persecution included the attempt by the State to force everyone to formally adhere to the recognised state religion, Buddhism in this case.

The Buddhist ecclesiastical establishment was made responsible for verifying that a person was not a Christian through what became known as the "temple guarantee system" (terauke seido). By the 1630s, people were being required to produce a certificate of affiliation with a Buddhist temple as proof of religious orthodoxy, social acceptability and loyalty to the regime.

The Japanese government used Fumie to reveal practicing Catholics and sympathizers. Fumie were pictures of the Virgin Mary and Christ. Government officials made everybody trample on these pictures. People reluctant to step on the pictures were identified as Catholics and then sent to Nagasaki. The policy of the Japanese government (Edo) was to turn them from their faith. If the Catholics refused to change their religion, they were tortured. Many of them still refusing to abandon their faith were executed on Nagasaki's Mount Unzen.

Hidden Christians continued to practice their faith in secret: "As time went on, the figures of the saints and the Virgin Mary were transformed into figurines that looked like the traditional statues of the Buddha and bodhisattvas. The prayers were adapted to sound like Buddhist chant, yet retained many untranslated words from Latin, Portuguese and Spanish. The Bible and other parts of the liturgy were passed down orally, due to fears of printed works being confiscated by authorities. Because of the expulsion of the Catholic clergy in the 17th century, the Kakure Christian community relied on lay leaders to lead the services."


Is it time to freak out yet? ... How about now?

Awake half the night, alternately worrying about signs and portents and looking up the rental prices of caves in Umbria.

This morning was a three-cup coffee morning.


Saturday, March 01, 2014


The Military airport in Crimea has been taken over by Russian troops.

Click it!


What a GREAT plan!

I'm excited to be a part of it...

What direction is Pope Francis taking the church in? …

Well, it’s the same direction that the Catholic Church has been taking, especially in Latin America, since 1978, and then before since 1968.

I, for one, welcome our new Liberation Theology Overlords. Everybody start practising their liturgical tangos.