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Three Rules to Discern a Heretic

A dynamite two-minute video explains how.

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

HOW CAN you tell a heretic from a real Catholic? The answer to the question has always been of supreme importance to faithful Catholics confronted with the errors of the post-Vatican II age.

And of late, the answer has become even more pressing in the era of Francis, the “Media Star Pope,” whose statements have caused unease among cardinals and Vatican officials, causing one of the latter, in fact, to speak of implementing Francis’ ideas on sacraments for the divorced and remarried as “cross[ing] the line into heresy.”

The little video from Epicheia Media Productions presented here summarizes three rules for discerning a heretic, taken from Fr. Pietro Scavini’s Moral Theology according to the Teaching of St. Alphonsus de Liguori. It gives viewers a short, clear summary of principles to apply to Francis and others like him.

We encourage you to pass this link along to friends who may be unsettled by Francis’ program for the Church and wondering what to make of it.

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Bergoglio’s Got Nothing to Lose…

Never his to lose!

Never his anyway!

… so the sedevacantist argument must change.

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

SINCE JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO’S election in March 2013, I’ve heard from more and more traditional Catholics who are starting to wonder whether sedevacantism might now be the only coherent way to explain the state of affairs in the post-Vatican II church. As I noted in a post late last year:

“After all, how can you reconcile the countless outrageous public statements that Bergoglio has made (no Catholic God, who am I to judge, doctrinal security is not possible, proselytism is nonsense, etc.) with the claim that he is indeed the true Successor of Peter? On the face of it, you can’t.”

Since then, Bergoglio’s doctrinal body count has steadily continued to rise with his whitewashing of the vile Koran in Evangelii Gaudium, his “brother bishop” address to a Protestant Pentecostal gathering, his attaboy for a cardinal’s speech proposing sacraments for the invalidly married, his canonization of the modernists John XXIII and John Paul II, and only two weeks ago, his personal phone call to an invalidly married woman, telling her she should receive the sacraments.

Instituting a general policy of giving sacraments to the invalidly married, in fact, is one of Bergoglio’s main goals. That is too much even for some Vatican officials, one of whom recently told Vatican commentator John Thavis: “If that happens, we’ve crossed the line into heresy.”

As it accumulates, all this evidence reinforces the conclusion from our  November post last year:

“The only explanation that makes any sense alongside the Catholic (pre-V2) theology of the Church and the papacy is sedevacantism. Bergoglio is not a real pope, and the papal office is therefore objectively vacant (sede vacante = the Holy See is vacant). The man who deposited a beach ball on the altar of a Roman basilica and, more recently, donned a clown nose, is not, thank God, a real pope, despite the fact that he wanders around in a white cassock.”

Catholics who finally arrive at this conclusion will tell you that they feel a sense of relief. No longer do they have to square the duty of submission to the Roman Pontiff with the circle of Bergoglio’s three-ring circus.

High AnxietyI. Anxiety Attacks over Sedevacantism

On the flip side, the increased interest in sedevacantism is causing considerable unease in the R&R wing of the traditionalist movement — the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), The Remnant, Catholic Family News and many others. These traditionalists maintain that Catholics may “recognize” a pope and simultaneously “resist” him. For decades, the R&R folks have denounced sedevacantism as “schismatic,” a “false solution,” or an “exaggeration,” an assessment that seemed plausible to many trads because the heresies of JP2 and B16 were sometimes of a more subtle nature.

But with Bergoglio, the errors are up front and in your face. No Catholic God? Some Pentecostal Bible-banger is a brother bishop? Communion for the invalidly married? Even Aunt Helen would have trouble “recognizing” this guy as a true pope.

Faced with a burgeoning Bergoglio problem, R&R partisans stepped up their attacks against the sedevacantist thesis, especially as a lead-up to the canonization of John XXIII and JP2, which they naturally rejected.

So, beginning in January 2014, Bishop Richard Williamson posted a series of articles entitled Sedevacantist Anxiety, while his former SSPX colleagues in the U.S. promoted Sedevacantism: A Dead-End Error, a summary of links to past anti-sede articles. The Remnant ran “The Easy Way Out: Avoiding the Trap of Sedevacantism,” by contract law expert Brian McCall ( “easy way out,” I suppose, being a big preoccupation in contract law…), while Catholic Family News published Pope Francis, Archbishop Lefebvre and Sedevacantism by tax lawyer John Salza.

Attention, Bp. Williamson!

Attention, Bp. Williamson!

Catholic Family News returned to the topic in April with Robert Siscoe’s Bellarmine and Suarez on the Question of a Heretical Pope. Faithful to the level of scholarship one has by now come to expect from the R&R camp, Mr. Siscoe (1) attempted to trump what eventually became the unanimous teaching of academic theologians after Bellarmine on a heretical pope with a quote from a 19th-century American vernacular canon law manual, (2) recycled citations to works whose originals he had obviously never read (the cites are from Silveira’s 1971 Considerações), and (3) improperly cobbled together two passages from Bellarmine that occur four columns apart, in order to convey the false impression that Bellarmine requires two “warnings” before one can say that a heretical pope has fallen from office. ( For more on the game of hopscotch Mr. Siscoe played with the latter, see here)

Sooner or later, these and most anti-sede writings over the past thirty-five years all wend their way back to objections related to the loss of office by a heretical pope.

It occurred to me, therefore, that the time has come for sedevacantists to abandon this part of their argument, for the simple reason that it no longer applies in the Age of Bergoglio.

Paul 6 NoseconeII. Old Argument: Paul VI Lost It

The sedevacantist thesis arose from a need to explain how Paul VI, whom everyone at first recognized as a true pope when he was elected in 1963, could have used papal authority to promulgate doctrinal errors and evil laws.

The answer, as we now know, was to be found in a principle repeatedly laid down by pre-Vatican II theologians and canonists: A pope who became a public heretic automatically lost his office and papal authority. The principle applied on all fours to Paul VI, so one had a coherent explanation.

But what of his successors? Initially, many trads did not know exactly what to expect from John Paul I and John Paul II. (Believe it or not, the internet did not exist in those days, and information was hard to come by …) So sedevacantists tended to apply to both men the same theological principle they had previously applied to Paul VI — that is, the loss of office (authority) by a heretical pope who had validly obtained it.

In the 1990s, my own research into this question, first presented in Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope, turned up many quotes to support this principle. At the same time, I encountered another theological twist: Not only did a public heretic cease to be pope, but also a public heretic could not become pope in the first place.

Berg Promoted

Uh, not really…

III. New Argument: Bergoglio Just Didn’t Get It

It is to this theological principle (rather than “loss of office”) that sedevacantists must now appeal when discussing Bergoglio’s status. As a public heretic, he could not be validly elected pope.

Moreover, this is a matter of divine law. When treating the requirements for election to the papal office, numerous pre-Vatican II commentaries on the Code of Canon Law lay down just this principle. Thus:

WERNZ-VIDAL: “Those capable of being validly elected are all who are not prohibited by divine law or by an invalidating ecclesiastical law… Those who are barred as incapable of being validly elected are all women, children who have not reached the age of reason; also, those afflicted with habitual insanity, the unbaptized, heretics, schismatics…” (Jus Canonicum 1:415)

CORONATA: “III. Appointment of the office of the Primacy. 1. What is required by divine law for this appointment: … Also required for validity is that the appointment be of a member of the Church. Heretics and apostates (at least public ones) are therefore excluded.” (Institutiones 1:312).

BADIUS: “c) The law now in force for the election of the Roman Pontiff is reduced to these points… Barred as incapable of being validly elected are all women, children who have not reached the age of reason; also, those afflicted with habitual insanity, the unbaptized, heretics and schismatics…” (Institutiones, 160)

COCCHI: “For the validity of the election as regards the person elected, it suffices only that he not be barred from the office by divine law — that is, any male Christian, even a layman. The following are therefore excluded: women, those who lack the use of reason, infidels, and those who are at least public non-Catholics.” (Commentarium in C.J.C, 2:151)

SIPOS: “Any male who has the use of reason and who is a member of the Church may be elected. The following, therefore, are invalidly elected: women, children, those suffering from insanity, the unbaptized, heretics, schismatics.” (Enchiridion I.C., 153)

This general principle of divine law is even found in an ecclesiastical law promulgated by Pope Paul IV (1555–1559), who suspected that a cardinal who was a likely candidate for the papacy in the next conclave was in fact a secret heretic.

On 16 February 1559, therefore, Paul IV issued the Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. The pontiff decreed that if ever it should ever appear that someone who was elected Roman Pontiff had beforehand “deviated from the Catholic faith or fallen into any heresy,” his election, even with the agreement and unanimous consent of all the cardinals would be “null, legally invalid and void.”

So the possibility that a conclave could elect a heretic is not some post-Vatican II sedevacantist fantasy. A real pope actually promulgated a law to prevent this possibility. And his decree laid down the same principle which the canonists quoted above said was divine law: a heretic cannot be validly elected pope.

New ParadigmIV. How the Principle Changes the Discussion.

A. Clearing the Clutter. Appealing to the foregoing principle clears the clutter of irrelevant objections that the R&R camp raises against the loss of office principle. (For an idea of how many there are, see my article Sedevacantism and Mr. Ferrara’s Cardboard Pope — and yes, Mr. Ferrara is another lawyer…) No longer will one have to answer for the nth time R&R arguments like:

  1. The First See is judged by no one. (Response: “As a heretic, Bergoglio never truly obtained ‘the First See,’ so no one is ‘judging’ it.”)
  2. You need a Council to judge that a pope has fallen into heresy. (“As a heretic, Bergoglio was never pope in the first place.”)
  3. Due process rules dictate that a pope be given an opportunity to retract. (“As a heretic, Bergoglio was never pope in the first place.”)
  4. Cardinals must give a pope two canonical warnings before he can lose office. (“As a heretic, Bergoglio was never pope in the first place.”)
  5. Suarez and Cajetan support the idea that a pope does not lose his office until the Church somehow issues a judgement that he has. (“As a heretic, he never truly obtained the office in the first place.”)
  6. Honorius, John XXII and other popes “fell into heresy,” but were not considered to have lost their office. (“Even assuming they ‘fell into heresy,’ unlike Bergoglio, they were not heretics when elected.”)
  7. Pius XII’s conclave legislation allows a person to be validly elected pope even if he incurred excommunication or another impediment “of ecclesiastical law.”  (“Heresy is not an impediment of ecclesiastical law but of divine law.”)

Poof! In the face of the principle laid down in the foregoing section, all these spurious objections disappear.

B. Focus on the SIN of Heresy. Hitherto, the R&R camp, following the arguments of Michael Davies, has insisted that no one, especially a pope, can be considered a heretic unless all the principles and procedural rules in the Code of Canon law pertaining to the crime of heresy are punctiliously observed. Thus, one must have official warnings, the accused must be given an opportunity to mount a defense, some sort of tribunal must be convened, the excusing causes canon law provides must all be carefully considered, etc.

But note: the canonists quoted in section III explicitly state that it is divine law that prevents a public heretic from being validly elected. This means that the sin of heresy suffices to prevent someone from becoming a true pope. There is no requirement that he first be convicted under ecclesiastical law of the canonical crime of heresy before the impediment applies.

In the case of heresy, warnings and the rest of the canonical rigmarole come into play only for the crime. These are not required as a condition for committing the sin of heresy against divine law. The canonist Michel draws the clear distinction for us:

Pertinacity does not of necessity include long obstinacy by the heretic and warnings from the Church. A condition for the sin of heresy is one thing; a condition for the canonical crime of heresy, punishable by canon laws, is another.” (Michel, “Héresie,” in DTC 6:2222)

If meeting all the canonical criteria were a requirement, rest assured that Wernz-Vidal, Coronata, Badius, Cocchi and Sipos would have explicitly told us so in the passages quoted above by qualifying the word “heretic” with the precise canonical terms employed for someone formally convicted of that canonical crime. Instead, they simply said heretic.

Power of the key?

Power of the key?

C. The “Pope-by-Default” Objections. Defeated by an unassailable general principle that leads to a logical conclusion, the R&R camp will no doubt continue to offer the usual “Pope-by-default” objections, implying these can somehow turn a heretic into a true pope by default. “The Church must  have one, and who else is there?” Here are the common ones, together with responses, based on the teachings of various pre-Vatican II theologians:

  1. Vatican I taught there would be “perpetual successors” in the Primacy. Response: “Perpetual successors” means that the office of the Primacy is perpetual — was not limited to St. Peter alone, but  “a power that will perpetually endure to the end of the world.” (Salaverri, de Ecclesia 1:385)
  2. A long vacancy would change the nature of the Church. The monarchical nature of the Church “does not prevent the Church, for a short time after the death of a pope, or even for many years, from remaining deprived of her head.Her monarchical form also remains intact in this state.…The perennial physical presence of the person of the head, however, is not so strictly necessary.” (Dorsch, de Ecclesia 2:196–7)
  3. How could we then get a true pope one day? The various theories are direct divine intervention, the material/formal thesis and an imperfect general council, the latter of which is taught by the theologian Cajetan. (de Comparatione 13, 742, 745)
  4. Sedevacantism destroys the visibility of the Church. There is nothing to prevent the Church from being reduced to a small number (“the Son of Man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth,” Lk 18:8). Moreover, the very purpose of visibility — the Church as the “column of truth to the nations” — is defeated by the heresies of the post-Vatican II body.
  5. The universal acceptance of the post-Conciliar popes confirms that they are true popes. Circular argument: Heretics, who are outside the Church, confirm as head of the Church another heretic who is outside the Church. Well, nice if you can manage it! And besides, sedevacantists reject the post-Vatican II popes. What are we? Chopped liver? So the acceptance is clearly not universal.
  6. It is impossible that so many Catholics could be wrong and only the sedevacantists right. “There seems to be no reason why a false Church might not become universal, even more universal than the true one, at least for a time.” (Berry, Church of Christ, 155)

Look closely at each of the objections again. None of them even pertain to — still less defeat — the underlying principle for the sede thesis: That a public heretic who lacks the faith of Peter cannot by divine law obtain the authority of Peter.

Even HE know what it means!

Even a baby could figure it out!

V. Just Apply the Principle to What Is Obvious

This principle makes for a very straightforward and easy-to-understand argument that Bergoglio is a false pope. All one need do is apply it to what is now clear as day. It should be obvious to anyone who has the Catholic faith that Bergoglio did not have it, and that when he was elected, was already a heretic, if not a total apostate

How else could a supposed cleric assert there is no Catholic God, doctrinal security exists no more, he who claims to have all the answers does not have God within him, proselytism is nonsense, atheists can go to heaven, etc. — declarations that blow away the meaning of the Creed, the nature of God, the possibility of arriving at doctrinal truths, the divine mission to convert others to those truths, and faith as a requirement for eternal salvation?

How else could a cleric assert that moral teachings (on the 6th and 9th commandments) are a disjointed multitude of doctrines that cannot be imposed insistently, one must not obsess about such matters (abortion, gay “marriage” and contraception), what is objectively adultery admits of a “pastoral solution,” who am I to judge, each one has his own vision of good and evil, spiritual interference in personal life is impossible, etc. — declarations that portray mortal sins as trifles, trivialize adultery, reprove moral judgments, enthrone the conscience as autonomous and supreme, and effectively renounce the right of the magisterium to tell the individual conscience anything?

Are we supposed to believe that Bergoglio suddenly began to profess these heresies during his walk from the Sistine Chapel to the Loggia of St. Peter’s on March 13, 2013?

Heretic then, nothing to lose now.

Heretic in Argentina — nothing to lose in Rome.

Or should we not rather say that his statements thereafter merely confirm the modernist heresy Jorge Bergoglio already publicly professed in Argentina long before his election — his adherence to a system that rejects the possibility of religious truth and the objective moral law, that rejects proselytizing those who are atheists, that rejects “judging” such persons, that “cannot say what [God] is,” that classifies “as arrogant those theologies… that had the pretense of saying who He was,” that believes “there is another life because we have already begun to feel it,” that denies Church moral teaching on suicide, that speaks of adulterers as “those who live on the margin of what indissolubility and the sacrament of marriage require of them,” that says “the religious minister does not have the right to force anything on anyone’s private life,” and that insists, contradicting the teaching of all the Church Fathers and even St. Peter himself, that “the Jewish People can no longer be accused of killing God”? (See Bp. Donald Sanborn’s analysis of On Heaven and Earth, which Bergoglio co-authored in Argentina with a rabbi, in Most Holy Trinity Seminary Newsletter, May 2013)

Faced with this mountain of evidence, can we really still take seriously the objection of the R&R camp — Bp. Williamson, SSPX, The Remnant, Catholic Family News, countless bloggers, and moonlighting contract, tax and personal injury lawyers — that the cardinal-adherents to the heresies of Vatican II and John Paul’s 1992 Catechism must give Jorge Mario Bergoglio two warnings, and then launch their own trial before we can dare say out loud that their companion in heresy is not a real pope?

The teachings of the canonists we have quoted give us the answer: We are not obliged to engage in such exercises in pretzel thinking and pseudo-Suarezian legal rigmarole before arriving at a conclusion.

A man who is not a Catholic — is a public heretic — cannot become a true pope and the rule is a matter of divine law. Bergoglio is a public heretic, so he cannot be the pope. It’s as easy as that. Bergoglio never got the papacy in the first place — so he’s got nothing to lose.

Bibliography

  • Badii, C. Institutiones Iuris Canonici. Florence: Fiorentina 1921.
  • Bellarmine, Robert. De Romano Pontifice. De Controversiis, Opera Omnia, t.1. Naples: Giuliano 1836.
  • Berry, Sylvester. The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise.  St. Louis: Herder 1941.
  • Cajetan, T. de Vio. De Comparatione Aucoritatis Papae et Concilii. Rome: Angelicum 1936.
  • Cocchi, G. Commentarium in Codicem Iuris Canonici. 4th ed. Turin: Marietti 1940.
  • Coronata, M Conte a. Institutiones Iuris Canonici. Rome: Marietti 1950.
  • Dorsch, A. Institutiones Theologiae Fundamentalis. Innsbruck: Rauch 1928.
  • Michel, A. “Héresie, Héretique,” in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique. Paris: Letouzey 1913–50.
  • Paul IV, Pope. Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. 16 February 1559.
  • Salaverri, J. Sacrae Theologiae Summa. 5th ed. Madrid: BAC 1962.
  • Sipos, S. Enchiridion Iuris Canonici. 6th ed. Rome: Orbis Catholicus-Herder 1954.
  • Wernz, F.X., P. Vidal. Ius Canonicum. Rome: Gregorian 1943.

 

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A Hymn to St. Pius V, “Saint of the Mass”

st-pius-vby Rev. Anthony Cekada

AS A CHURCH musician and priest who offered the traditional Latin Mass, I always thought it a pity that the pope-saint who promulgated the Missal in 1570 did not seem to have a hymn honoring him. So more than twenty-five years ago, when I was a priest at St. Pius V Chapel, Oyster Bay Cove, New York, I decided to write one.

The first question was the melody. I happened upon a lovely Irish tune (Is there any other kind?), occasionally used with the text “Hail Glorious Saint Patrick, and arranged by the eminent Richard Runciman Terry. ” Since my poetic gifts are rather limited, I also noticed that the St. Patrick text and its rhyme scheme could be nicely adapted to the praise the virtues of the “Saint of our Mass,” as well as to explore the theme of exile and persecution — the fate not only of the Irish, but also of the Mass of St. Pius V and those Catholics who remained faithful to it. (At that point, we had just moved our Mass to a church after fifteen years in a beer hall.)

Here is the hymn text, a copy of the sheet music and a recording of our choir singing it after Mass on May 4, the day before the saint’s feast. Happy St. Pius V Day!

(1) Hail, glorious Saint Pius, great Vicar of Christ,
O keep us e’er faithful to the true Sacrifice,
Its splendor and beauty, the light of the earth,
Its law of believing, the right of our birth.
 
(2) Hail, glorious Saint Pius, thy voice was once strong
Against all false worship and a heretic throng;
Though great is the courage thy words yet impart,
Still greater thy power, in heav’n where thou art.
 
(3) In the war for the Mass, in the fight for the faith,
Dear Saint, may thy children resist unto death;
May their strength be in Mary, her Ros’ry their prayer,
Her Son’s royal banner the standard they bear.
 
(4) Though barren and empty the altars once raised
To honor Christ’s presence and resound with His praise;
Though exiled the worship thou once didst restore,
Dear saint, keep us faithful till time be no more.
 
 (5) And now thou art near to Christ’s altar above,
On our scattered altars look down in thy love;
And our hearts shall yet burn, wheresoe’er we may roam,
For the Mass and Saint Pius, and our heavenly home.
                                                         — Rev. Anthony Cekada
                                                                                                1988
 
 

 
St Pius Hymn Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addendum: After this was posted, a correspondent very kindly send me a link to a Latin hymn to St. Pius V to which Pius VII attached a plenary indulgence. See here.

Bergoglio’s New “Marriage Mess”

Berg IPhoneA papal phone call and sacraments for the invalidly married.

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

“I want a mess,” said Jorge Bergoglio during World Youth Day in Rio last year — and boy, is he making one.

I’m not referring to the John XXIII/John Paul II canonization but to another potentially more momentous incident that’s been obscured by it.

On Easter Monday, Francis phoned an Argentine woman who had been refused communion by her parish priest for living in an invalid marriage. Bergoglio told her she could “safely receive Communion, because she is doing nothing wrong.”

Such advice, of course, would baldly contradict — make a mess of — the divine law on the indissolubility of marriage and on the worthiness required for those who receive the Eucharist.

Absolutely everyone knows the Church has always taught that marriage is indissoluble, that divorce and subsequent attempted remarriage is a sin, and that those living in the latter situation cannot receive the sacraments, period.

It's been tried before.

It’s been tried before!

But thanks to Vatican II, the overwhelming majority of those who now call themselves Catholics want to see that teaching overthrown. And Bergoglio has repeatedly made it clear he sides with them. (See my article Divorce Bergoglio Style.)

The implications of the story are overwhelming. In an extremely perceptive article that appeared in The New York Times, Ross Douthat discusses several scenarios of what the phone call portends for Catholic teaching. The “most perilous,” he says, is this:

“Francis could actually be considering a truly major shift on remarriage and communion, in which the annulment requirement is dispensed with and (perhaps) a temporary penance is substituted.

Such a shift wouldn’t just provoke conservative grumbling; it would threaten outright schism. The Church has famous martyrs to the indissolubility of Christian marriage, and its teaching on divorce and adultery is grounded not just in tradition or natural law, but in the explicit words of Jesus of Nazareth.

“This means that admitting to communion people the Church considers to be in permanently adulterous relationships wouldn’t just look like a modest development in doctrine. It would look like a major about-face, a doctrinal self-contradiction.”

After word of the Bergoglian cold-call spread, appalled conservative bloggers like Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Jimmy Aiken went into full spin mode, trying to minimize its import. Damien Thompson, on the other hand, called the story “a hand grenade into traditional teaching on divorcees and Communion,” and predicted that “the Catholic world will divide into celebration and panic.”

And the official word from the Vatican? A firm denial, perhaps, coupled with a declaration that “The Holy Father did not and would never make such a statement, because to do so would undermine the Church’s constant teaching and practice on the matter”?

Uh, no.

Confusion!

YOU’RE confused!

The Holy See Press Office, instead, tried to downplay the account — but did not deny that it was substantially accurate. Reports about the call, said Fr. Federico Lombardi, were a “source of misunderstanding and confusion.” (!)

He added, “consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences.”

That is just the sort of consoling thought conservatives would like to take refuge in when faced with the latest Bergoglio mess: “Francis may be a little naïve and unpredictable, but there’s nothing to worry about here.”

But the very opposite is true, and it is time for uneasy conservatives to focus on the unpleasant reality that the “naïve” Francis has quite deliberately launched an across-the-board process of radical transformation.

For this we have the word of Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, head of Bergoglio’s eight-cardinal advisory council. Francis, he said recently, is seeking to build a “new way of being church”

“There is a new concept of church here… There is a new way of thinking, including the way of governing in the church, here.”

What is this “new way”? Looking back over the catalogue of Bergoglian messes, we can see a pattern emerge.

Bergoglio sows the seeds of change through what at first appears to be chaos. But far from being misrepresented in the secular media, he manipulates it to his ends with a peasant-like cunning.

In a few short months, therefore, Francis has positioned himself as “the people’s pope” and become a world-wide object of adoration, thanks to self-aggrandizing gestures designed to showcase his “humility,” “compassion,” “simplicity,” contempt for “small-minded rules,” indifference towards sexual immorality, and moralizing on social issues dear to the left (immigration, income disparity, unemployment and “climate change.”)

All this Francis does in hopes of reversing the disastrous effects of Vatican II. Modern man abandoned the Church after the Council, and the JP2/Ratzinger attempt to lure him back by putting a traditional veneer on the revolution fell flat on its face — or on its lace and silk damask-upholstered posterior, if you prefer.

The cardinals elected Bergoglio hoping a new direction would work. So on his watch, the prescription for the cure has changed to still more Vatican II, still more innovations, still more accommodations with the world, still more “renewal.”

Tradition is out. Transformation is in.

To this end, Bergoglio is, as the saying goes, “a man with a plan.” He’s set on using new methods to transform Catholic doctrine and moral teaching into the modernist dream. And his method is the “mess.”

Next interview encyclical.

Next interview encyclical.

1. Press Interviews

Bergoglio is particularly adept in using this tool to speed the transformative process along.

One-liners from his press interviews are repeatedly quoted, the most popular being “Who am I to judge?” Francis has told us there is no Catholic God, doctrinal security exists no more, he who claims to have all the answers does not have God within him, proselytism is nonsense, atheists can go to heaven. Other pithy sayings include a whole array of barbs against “small-minded rules,” “Pelagian” traditionalists, “ideology,” “casuistry,” and generally, any vestiges pre-Vatican II Catholicism.

The effect overall, as the modernist writer Richard Rohr pointed out, is that Francis

“.. has forever changed the Catholic conversation. We can never go completely backward. No one can ever say a validly elected pope, with all that implies in anyone’s mind, did not say the things Francis said in the interview published Thursday. They will be quoted for a long time to come. It is now a part of the authoritative data, like the Gospels themselves, and must be reckoned with.”

Indeed, as the title of Rohr’s article says, “It will be hard to go backward after Francis’ papacy.”

It was no accident therefore that in his first press interview, given in July 2013, Francis hinted at changing the policy on sacraments for the invalidly married. (See my post on this interview here.)

The pope said WHAT?

The pope said WHAT?

2. “Private” Communications

Bergoglio has repeatedly used other informal, supposedly private communications to get his message out. His “brother bishop” video for the Copeland Ministries Conference, his meeting with South America religious superiors, and his comments to an Austrian missionary bishop allowing for the possible married priests immediately come to mind.

His latest phone call is another example of making a mess to get out the message. Francis, the Argentine woman said, “told me to go and take Communion in a different parish.” He also said he was “dealing with the issue” of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.”

Of course this woman is going to repeat to others what he said to her! A phone call from the pope is news. The first question from anyone, especially a reporter, is “What did the pope say?” And if the answer causes a controversy, all the better!

And that’s why Bergoglio made this particular mess — to get the word out that the teaching on sacraments for the divorced and remarried is going to change.

Playing his boss's tune!

Playing his boss’s tune!

3. “Cardinal Communicators”

This is another necessary ingredient in chef Bergoglio’s mess hall, as we can see from the February consistory (meeting of cardinals).

Bergoglio used this occasion as well to promote his proposal to give sacraments to the invalidly married. He deputed Cardinal Walter Kasper to speak on the topic, and when some of the cardinals pushed back, Bergoglio doubled down. He gave the speech an explicit and public endorsement the next day — “serene theology,” he called it — and then authorized leaking its text to the press.

And the advisory council top banana, Cardinal Maradiaga, has become Bergoglio’s principal conduit for circulating radical “reform” proposals and for promoting more openly modernist theological teachings.

Having Maradiaga as his stalking horse allows Bergoglio to encourage fellow modernists, to acclimate the laity to future changes and to undermine potential conservative opposition. At the same time, Maradiaga provides Bergoglio with a cushion of “plausible deniability” if one of his proposals goes awry or provokes too much open opposition.

Bergoglio used Maradiaga very effectively in the public controversy over the German bishops new policy favoring sacraments for the invalidly married. When the head of the Vatican’s own Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, issued a letter reproving the bishops, Maradiaga was dispatched to give an interview dismissing Müller’s criticisms.

The new bark of Peter?

The new bark of Peter?

4. Ignore the Rules

This guarantees a mess, especially since a superior who ignores the rules encourages contempt for law in his subjects. Bergoglio has done it time and again, be it for customs connected with papal office, liturgical regulations, or most recently, canonization procedures.

In the course of a year, Bergoglio has bypassed even the liberalized post-Vatican II canonization rules no less than six times. In the case of John XXIII and John Paul II, the requirement for miracles had to be set aside because canonizing these two men is a symbolic way to canonize the Vatican II revolution, which Bergoglio wants to carry to its logical conclusion.

In bending these rules, moreover, Bergoglio is telegraphing a not-so-subtle signal to laggards and potential opponents: He won’t allow “small-minded rules” to stand in the way of his larger goals, cuz he be da man!

Nor will he, as we saw in the latest phone call incident, hesitate to ignore normal decision-making channels in the Church, especially if he can manifest his…

Incense? Ugh!

Incense? Ugh!

5. Contempt for Conservatives

This Bergoglio has conveyed on countless occasions in countless ways since his election. For proof, one need look no further than the tongue-in-cheek but utterly factual Pope Francis’ Little Book of Insults that was posted on the web several month ago. Virtually all of his targets are “on the right.”

Bergoglio’s recent phone call is a particularly outrageous example of this contempt. The parish priest who told the Argentine woman that she was forbidden to receive communion or absolution until she removed herself from an occasion of sin had faithfully applied what are still the official rules in the Novus Ordo.

Yet according to the woman, Bergoglio told her to go to another parish for sacraments, adding “there are some priests who are more papist that the pope…”

This statement is utterly consistent with Bergoglio’s well-documented vitriol against conservatives.

The consequences of the phone call incident will be devastating. The all-out modernists among the post-Vatican II clergy who give sacraments to the invalidly married will now be able to say that they are only following the pope’s example of “pastoral solicitude.”

Priests who have tried to be faithful to what is still officially post-Vatican teaching, on the other hand, will be reproached by modernist colleagues and members of the laity for trying to be “more papist than the pope.”

Many traditionally-minded priests in the Novus Ordo institution will simply surrender on the issue and give sacraments to the invalidly married. Why bother to fight with people, to play the bad guy, to enforce principles if even the Pope not only undermines me and others like me, but also speaks of us with utter contempt?

*     *     *

The stealth magisterium

The stealth magisterium

“Chaos Frank” is the pithy moniker that Novus Ordo Watch conferred on Jorge Bergoglio not long after his election, and it’s one that beleaguered conservatives, especially after his latest cringe-inducing cold call, may now think is not that far off the mark.

But should they feel reassured by the statement of another Vatican spokesman, Rev. Thomas Rosica, that any comments made by the Francis should not be construed as a change in church doctrine? “The magisterium of the church,” he declared, “is not defined by personal phone calls.”

Well don’t bet on it. Bergoglio and others like him will never directly deny the doctrine of the indissolubility of sacramental marriage, or state that Church teaching on it has changed. Rather, they will do an end run around it in practice, stating that the Church is merely taking a “more pastoral” approach in applying the doctrine.

The Bergoglio buzzword “pastoral,” as we have explained elsewhere, is the’60s modernist code for undermining faith and morality through experience and actions.

And that, of course, is just what Bergoglio did here. The advice he gave to the Argentine woman was to ignore Church doctrine in practice. In effect it is to DENY the teaching.

A typically pessimistic sedevacantist reading of what’s going on here, perhaps?

Well not unless we’ve pulled off a stealth takeover of the New York Times op-ed page. Here’s yet another possible explanation that Ross Douthat offers for the Bergoglio phone call:

“One is what you might call the late-Soviet scenario, in which Catholic doctrine is officially unaltered, but the impression grows that even the pope doesn’t really believe these things, and that when the church’s leaders affirm a controversial position they’re going through the ideological motions — like Brezhnev-era apparatchiks — and not actually trying to teach a living faith.”

“Even the pope doesn’t really believe these things” — that was Mr. Douthat’s emphasis, not mine.

And “going through ideological motions,”  “not actually trying to teach a living faith” — not the words of a sedevacantist blogger either.

The same process we see at work in the phone incident will be repeated over and over throughout the Bergoglio “pontificate,” as he speedily turns Catholicism into nothing more than a content-free “brand.” Like your favorite beer, basketball shoes or sports team, you will have a certain loyalty to it born of habit, but you won’t look to it for God’s immutable truths or for objective moral principles by which you actually run your life. If “even the pope doesn’t really believe these things,” why should you?

Yes, Papa Gaga loves a mess. But when it comes to what he’s really after – a radically transformed Catholicism — he’s not so gaga after all.

 

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Holy Week Webcast Schedule 2014

HWkClipCan’t attend? Watch over the Internet!

Once again, St. Gertrude the Great Church, West Chester, Ohio, will be simulcasting its Holy Week services live over the internet. If you can’t assist at services in person, this is an opportunity for you to do so using the proverbial “wonders of modern technology.”

If you are not familiar with the pre-1955 (“Bugnini-free”) Holy Week rites, moreover, our simulcasts are a good opportunity to view them. For a brief explanation of the differences between the old and new services, see the short series of articles I published several years ago on my blog Quidlibet. Have a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter!

— Fr. Anthony Cekada

Link to web simulcasts

Don’t forget to donate to support our webcast apostolate!

PALM SUNDAY:

  • 7:30 AM Low Mass
  • 8:50 AM Blessing of Palms, Solemn High Mass
  • 11:30 AM Low Mass
  • 5:45 PM Low Mass

SPY WEDNESDAY:

  • 6:30 PM Tenebrae

HOLY THURSDAY:

  • 9:00 AM Pontifical Mass
  • 12:30 PM Maundy (Washing of Feet)
  • 6:30 PM Tenebrae

GOOD FRIDAY:

  • 12:15 PM Pontifical Mass of the Presanctified, Tre Ore
  • 6:30 PM Tenebrae

HOLY SATURDAY:

  • 8:00 AM Easter Vigil, Pontifical Mass.

EASTER SUNDAY:

  • 7:30 AM Low Mass
  • 9:00 AM Pontifical High Mass
  • 11:30 AM Low Mass. Benediction

 

Should I Assist at a Mass that Names “Pope Francis” in the Canon?

OK to put it here?

No problem here?

Sedevacantists should be consistent, especially since the advent of Bergoglio.

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

ONE HOT TOPIC endlessly discussed on traditionalist forums over the past few years is whether traditional Catholics should assist at a traditional Latin Mass in which the priest would mention the name of a false pope (like John Paul II, Benedict XVI or, currently, Francis) in the first prayer of the Canon.

These Masses are sometimes referred to as “una cum Masses,” because the Latin phrase into which the name of a reigning pope is inserted reads: una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. (together with Thy servant N., our Pope)

Now, those of us who have arrived at a correct understanding of the actual situation in the Church — so-called “sedevacantists” — affirm that Bergoglio/Francis is a heretic (if not an apostate) and therefore no true pope. So, on the face of it, it makes no sense whatsoever for us to participate in a Mass where, a few moments before the consecration, the priest proclaims that Bergoglio is Papa nostro — “our pope.”

In many parts of the world, however, the only traditional Latin Mass available may be one offered by a priest (Motu Proprio, FSSP, Society of St. Pius X or independent) who puts the false pope’s name in the Canon. Faced with choosing this or nothing, a sedevacantist layman is sometimes tempted to assist at the Mass anyway. Why could he not simply overlook the name, and “just go for the Mass”?

To answer this question, I turned to the writings of pre-Vatican II liturgists, canonists and theologians, as well as to various papal pronouncements and decrees. This is where we priests are supposed to look for answers, rather than just relying on gut, personal opinion and shooting from the hip.

Based on that research, I wrote a lengthy study entitled “The Grain of Incense: Sedevacantists and Una Cum Masses” and published it in 2007.

My answer (roughly) was this: No, you can’t just “overlook” a false pope’s name in the Canon of a traditional Mass if you are a sedevacantist. His name there affirms that he is a true pope, and by actively assisting at such a Mass, you participate in that false affirmation. Since you know he’s not the pope, this is sinful.

I provided all the theological documentation for that answer in “Grain of Incense.” But since reading a long article is not every traditionalist’s cup of tea (even if I did manage to slide a few wisecracks into the footnotes…), I decided to write a short resumé of my arguments which was published in 2008.

Since then, of course, the supposedly “traditional” Ratzinger has been replaced by Bergoglio, and his crazy antics have started to make the previously unthinkable thought of sedevacantism quite thinkable for a lot of people. I thought it would be a good idea to update the original article here, in order to help these Catholics reason out the practical conclusions that flow from an understanding that the post-Vatican II popes are no true popes at all.

Una cum Francisco!

Might as well wear THIS!

I. What Does the “Una Cum” Prayer Mean?

There are two ways of looking at this phrase: its linguistic meaning (What do the grammar, terms and context mean?) and its theological meaning (What doctrines does it express?).

(a) Linguistically. From this perspective, putting Bergoglio’s name into the una cum in the Canon affirms that he is a true pope (“our pope”). Obviously, sedevacantists reject that.

It also affirms that Bergoglio is a member of the true Church, because his name is mentioned in the prayer for the Church.

Sedevacantists reject this too. For the very basis of our position is the teaching of canonists and theologians that loss of membership in the Church effects the automatic loss of the pontificate in a heretical pope. Heresy in a pope puts him outside the Church and thus out of office.

(b) Theologically (Doctrinally). In “Grain of Incense” I summarized the standard theological meanings that various theologians, canonists and liturgists assigned to the una cum phrase in the Canon.

When we plug Bergoglio’s name into the prayer and apply these meanings to that phrase, here is what results:

  • The heretic/false pope Bergoglio is “the head of the Church, the vicar of Christ, and the successor of blessed Peter.”
  • The acknowledgment of the heretic/false pope Bergoglio in the Canon is “the chief and most glorious form of communion” with him, “the profession of a mind and will which firmly espouses Catholic unity.”
  • The inclusion of the name of the heretic/false pope Bergoglio in the Canon specifies him as “the principle of unity.”
  • Mentioning the name of the heretic/false pope Bergoglio in the Canon is a sign that you “are not separated from communion with the universal church.”
  • The mention of the name of the heretic/false Pope Bergoglio in the Canon “is a proof of the orthodoxy of the offerer.”
  • The heretic/false pope Bergoglio is the “ruling Pontiff, the visible pastor and the authorized intermediary with almighty God for the various members of his flock.”

Since we sedevacantists are logical about the situation in the Church — that Bergoglio is a heretic and no pope — these propositions are ridiculous.

Yet they are what results when a priest professes in the Canon that he offers the traditional Mass una cumtogether with Thy servant Francis, our Pope.

Follow the Nancy solution?

The way out?

II. Can’t I “Withhold My Consent”?

The priest at an una cum Mass, of course, is the one who utters the objectionable phrase. Couldn’t the sedevacantist in the pew who objects to it simply “withhold his consent” from that part of the Canon, but still assist at the Mass otherwise in order to fulfill his obligation or obtain sacramental graces?

Well, no. To fulfill your Sunday obligation or obtain sacramental graces at Mass requires active assistance or participation. This is an all-or-nothing proposition. You either actively assist or you don’t.

In “Grain of Incense,” I listed at least nine ways in which a Catholic actively assists at a traditional Mass when it is celebrated. Each of these is a true form of active assistance or participation, and according to Catholic teaching constitutes “cooperation or common action with another in the prayers and functions of worship.”

I quoted various popes and pre-Vatican II theologians who taught that the laity who assist actively at Mass, in so doing, manifest their consent and moral cooperation with the priest as he offers the sacrifice. Indeed, moral unity with the priest is required to fulfill the Sunday obligation.

Finally, I demonstrated that the Fathers of the Church, and indeed Pope Pius XII himself in the Encyclical Mediator Dei, teach specifically that the faithful who actively assist at Mass ratify, assent to and participate in the prayers of the Canon that the priest recites, even though they do not vocally recite these prayers themselves.

Thus there is no way for the sedevacantist to avoid it. The same active assistance at Mass required for fulfilling your Sunday obligation also inextricably joins you to the action of a priest at the altar. So, when the priest proclaims during the Canon that he offers the sacrifice together with Thy servant Francis, our Pope — the arch-heretic and false pope Bergoglio, the priest’s prayer is your prayer.

III. What is Wrong with Participating?

In “Grain of Incense,” I answered this question at great length. I demonstrated that if you have become a sedevacantist — concluded that Bergoglio is not a true pope — but actively assist at an una cum Mass nevertheless, by that fact you:

  1. Tell a pernicious lie.
  2. Profess communion with heretics.
  3. Recognize as legitimate the Ecumenical, One-World Church
  4. Implicitly profess a false religion.
  5. Condone a violation of Church law.
  6. Participate in a sin.
  7. Offer Mass in union with the heretic/false pope Bergoglio.
  8. Recognize the usurper of an ecclesiastical office.
  9. Offer an occasion for scandal
  10. In the case of Masses offered by “resistance” clergy (SSPX, its affiliates, and many independent clergy) participate in gravely illicit Masses and condone the sin of schism.

This list, I assure you, is not merely the product of my own personal whims and musings. It is based on the teachings of the various canonists, moralists, theologians, and papally-approved decrees I cited and quoted in my original article. If you are skeptical, read it.

Such acts are not ones you want to have on your conscience. A simple layman in good faith who had confused ideas about the pope question might not be subjectively culpable. But a sedevacantist who has figured out the issues?

The priest MEANS well...

But he MEANS well…

IV. Objections, Please…

In “Grain of Incense,” I listed ten (10) anticipated objections to my argument, and, based on various theological sources, responded to each.

Here, I will recap only the more common ones and offer a brief response. For a fuller explanation, once again, see the article.

(a) My Sunday obligation takes precedence? False. There are many legitimate causes that excuse from this. Active assistance at an una cum Mass implicates you in (among other things) the recognition of the false church and religion of Vatican II. Obviously, that constitutes “notable spiritual harm” — one of the conditions that excuse Catholics from the Sunday obligation.

(b) The priest “means well”? Irrelevant. This does not change what the una cum means or the fact that you participate in it. The priest may not know any better — but as a sedevacantist, you certainly know better.

(c) “Sedevacantist” priests have different opinions? These opinions are only as good as the reasons behind them, and from what I’ve seen, these are mostly off the cuff reactions. But theology, not gut, has to be the basis for addressing such an important issue.

If any priest disagrees with my conclusions in “Grain of Incense,” I invite him to research the issue in the various sources I cited, and then offer a point-by-point refutation of my arguments. In the years since “Grain of Incense” first appeared, no one has yet attempted this, so I am confident that my arguments and conclusions stand.

(d) My family and I will lose the graces of the Mass and thus the faith itself? I will be blunt: You can obtain no graces at a Mass where you knowingly and actively participate in a sacrilegious lie that affirms the legitimacy of the false hierarchy and religion of Vatican II.

And as for your children, the crypto-modernism of the Motu Mass clergy — even if you do get the “good” ciborium with the validly-consecrated hosts — or the poisonous errors of SSPX on the papacy will eventually corrupt your children’s faith. In three decades as a priest, I have seen many families that were once solidly traditionalist surrender step by step to the new religion because of a decision to go to a “convenient” una cum Mass.

Don’t take the first step on that path.

Center of unity!

In union with THIS???

V. And Now, in Union with Bergoglio?

I suspect that many souls allowed the una cum issue to slide by because of the general perception that John Paul II and Benedict XVI at least gave the appearance of being somehow more “traditional,” and that this would somehow mitigate the act of a clueless priest who named either John Paul or Benedict in the Canon.

On this point, though, the election of Bergoglio is game-changer. He is an open modernist set on a course of implementing Vatican II and destroying the very foundations of the Church’s magisterium. As I noted in a previous article in October 2013, this becomes apparent when you group together summaries of the outrageous statements Bergoglio has made on questions of faith and morals:

(a) Faith: There is no Catholic God, doctrinal security exists no more, he who claims to have all the answers does not have God within him, proselytism is nonsense, atheists can go to heaven, etc.

These declarations blow away the meaning of the Creed, the nature of God, the possibility of arriving at doctrinal truths, the divine mission to convert others to those truths, and faith as a requirement for eternal salvation.

(b) Morals: Moral teachings (on the 6th and 9th commandments) are a disjointed multitude of doctrines that cannot be imposed insistently, one must not obsess about such matters (abortion, gay “marriage” and contraception), what is objectively adultery admits of a “pastoral solution,” who am I to judge, each one has his own vision of good and evil, spiritual interference in personal life is impossible, etc.

These declarations portray mortal sins as trifles, castigate as “obsessed” those who say otherwise, trivialize adultery, reprove moral judgments, enthrone the conscience as autonomous and supreme, and effectively renounce the right of the magisterium to tell the individual conscience anything.

Since I wrote the foregoing, we have seen Bergoglio misrepresenting the contents of the (blasphemous) Koran and publicly encouraging Moslems to follow it, address a Protestant layman his “brother bishop,” characterize Protestant pentecostalism as a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, wink at contraception and “civil unions,” and most recently, praise a speech by Cardinal Walter Kaspar that paved the way for giving sacraments to Catholics in (adulterous) second marriages.

Could any sedevacantist in his right mind now defend the proposition that assisting at a Mass where such a heretic is proclaimed a true pope, and indeed offered in union with him, is not offensive to God, and simply a matter of mere indifference?

*     *     *     *     *

Martyrs Nicomed

Martyrs of Nicomedia

FOR THOSE who have not yet read our original article, its title, “Grain of Incense,” might seem a little puzzling. It alludes to the Roman practice during the persecutions of allowing a Christian to escape death if he would put but a single grain of incense into a fire set up to honor false gods. Time and again, Christians chose martyrdom rather than make this one small act of tribute to a false religion. One touching account is found in the Roman Martyrology and chanted each year on the Vigil of Christmas:

At Nicomedia, many thousand holy martyrs. Upon the feast of Christ’s birth they had come together unto the Lord’s house, and the Emperor Diocletian ordered the doors of the church to be shut, and all things made ready for fire round about it. Then he set a tripod and incense in front of the door, and sent an herald to proclaim in a loud voice that whosoever would escape burning should come forth and offer incense unto Jupiter. Whereunto they all replied with one voice, that they would far rather die for Christ’s sake; whereupon he kindled the fire and they were consumed, and were born in heaven upon that same day whereupon it had pleased Christ to be born into this world to save it.

Vatican II and the post-Conciliar “popes,” as we know, have sought to create a dogma-less, ecumenical, one-world religion — a big tent for all religions, under which each is regarded as more or less good. There is a place for you in this circus, even if you are “attached” to the traditional Latin Mass. All you have to do is recognize Bergoglio as your ringmaster

This is what you do when you actively assist at a Mass in which the priest — Motu Proprio, FSSP, SSPX, or independent — proclaims in the Canon that he offers Mass together with Thy servant, Francis, our Pope and all true believers and professors of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

Better to have no Mass at all, than partake in such a blasphemy. Better to die than offer this grain of incense to the ecumenical religion of the anti-Christ.

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SSPX, “Resistance” and Sedevacantism: A New Video

A conference by Most Rev. Donald J. Sanborn

IN A clearly-presented and tightly-reasoned 110-minute talk, delivered in London on Dec. 21, 2013, Bishop Sanborn lays out the case for sedevacantism. He explains that the fundamental question every Catholic must ask himself in our times is: “Does the religion of Vatican II represent a substantial or merely an accidental change as regards the Roman Catholic religion? In other words, do the doctrines, disciplines, and liturgical practices of the Novus Ordo Church represent Roman Catholicism?”

Bp. Sanborn explains how one must answer the question, and then offers a dispassionate theological critique of the answers given by Indult/Motu Proprio groups (e.g. the Fraternity of St. Peter), the “recognize and resist” groups (the Society of St. Pius X and many others) and those in “conservative” Novus Ordo circles.

The bishop also refutes many of the objections commonly made against sedevacantism such as:

  • We cannot judge the pope”
  • “These popes are only material heretics, not formal heretics”
  • “Only the Church can declare the pope a non-pope”
  • “A bad father is still a father”
  • “We have had bad popes before”
  • “Sedevacantism denies the visibility of the Church! Where is the hierarchy?”
  • “How then could we ever get a true pope back?”
  • “All this is just your opinion!”

One of the advantages of Bp. Sanborn’s argument is that it eliminates the need to address the issue of personal guilt for the sin or the crime of heresy, a topic that some find unsettling or confusing.

This conference is destined to become a classic!

For further information on the topic, see our earlier post: Sedevacantism: A Quick Primer.

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Personal Recollections of Abp. Thuc

 

Abp. Thuc offering Pontifical High Mass in Munich, 1982, a few months after the consecrations

Abp. Thuc offering Pontifical High Mass in Munich, 1982, a few months after the consecrations

A priest who lived with the archbishop as a seminarian in 1982–3 offers insights into the prelate’s personality and character.

By Rev. Anthony Cekada

 

IN A PREVIOUS post, I presented a video I had made on the validity of the episcopal consecration conferred by Archbishop Pierre-Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc in 1981. The video deals mainly with various theological and factual issues I had researched, but in passing, I mention the testimony of Fr. Francis Miller OFM of Lafayette LA as to the piety, the virtue and the mental acuity of the archbishop when Fr. Francis was a seminarian and lived in the same house with him in 1982-3. This, I noted, was another nail in the coffin for the slanderous accusation that the good archbishop did not possess the requisite “mental state” to confer a sacrament validly.

The end of Abp. Thuc’s stay in Rochester came more than a year later when he was spirited off to New York City by Novus Ordo Vietnamese priests. He was eventually taken to a Vietnamese community in Carthage MO, where he died in 1984.

Last month, a priest in Europe wrote to Fr. Miller for details of his recollections. Father sent the priest a copy of a lengthy affidavit he had sworn to in late 2005 for a book on the Thuc consecrations. I have reproduced the text of the affidavit below, followed by some additional comments from Fr. Francis.

I highlighted a few particularly interesting passages. The account of the remark’s of the archbishop’s doctor about his complete competency are extremely significant. Even more interesting, Mgr. Thuc taught himself Spanish during his time at Rochester, so he could teach Latin in Spanish to the Mexican seminarians. Moreover, with the arrival of the archbishop, the friars instituted speaking conversational Latin for one day a week:

On that day the Archbishop’s voice would ring through the house. Latin was as easy for him as his mother language, Vietnamese. His fluency overwhelmed our untrained ears, and the days offered an opportunity for him to exercise and direct his students in their lessons.

I can assure readers that none of the clergy I know who have attacked Abp. Thuc could pull off either one of these feats. And if you doubt that, you might want to ask one of them!

For those who are truly objective and interested in the facts, Fr. Francis’ words should once and for all dispel their unreasonable prejudices against this devout and edifying prelate.

———————————

Affidavit of Francis Miller OFM

 

Abp. Thuc in Rochester, 1982, Fr. Miller 3rd from right.

Abp. Thuc in Rochester, 1982. Fr. Miller, 3rd from right.

My name is Francis, a solemnly professed religious of the Order of Friars Minor, O.F.M.: Franciscans. My entrance into Religion was August of 1980, in Rochester, New York, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 3376 Mt. Read Blvd., Rochester NY 14616. I was ordained to the priesthood in 1985 by Bishop Louis Vezelis. Currently I dwell in Lafayette, LA and serve at the Church of Christ the King, where the traditional Mass, and faith, of the Roman Catholic Church is offered. I write this short testimonial to review my memories of Archbishop Peter Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc, and to give a first-hand witness in order that others may know more of His Excellency.

About the middle of October, 1982, it was announced that Archbishop Ngo-dinh-Thuc would join our life in the Friary at Rochester, New York. Preparations were made to receive him, and an escort was sent to smooth the way for his coming. Upon his arrival, His Excellency joined immediately into the rhythm of our religious life and schedule: midnight Office, meditation and community meals. For every Divine Office he joined us in chapel. His Mass was offered where the public might and did attend. On Sundays he would occasionally offer Holy Mass both in Rochester and in Buffalo, New York at Sacred Heart Church. The year and almost four months that I knew and lived with His Excellency ran much like this.

Dinner with Bp. Musey, Fr. Vida, Fr. McKenna, Bp. Vezelis.

Dinner in Louisiana with Bp. Musey, Fr. Vida, Fr. McKenna, Bp. Vezelis.

Other Activities

His Excellency looked after all his personal needs by himself. These included care for needs of daily living such as bathing, dressing, etc. Often he would go into the yard and walk though the grass, sometimes with a seminarian, for fifteen to twenty minutes almost every day. Winter was more difficult as New York weather must be considered. The house staircases within the Friary, two of which he negotiated several times a day, were never a major barrier to him. But for the most part he walked unassisted outside of ice, stairs new to him or without a banister. He used no walker but we encouraged the cane, which he used sometimes. His posture was only a little stooped, his gait short and occasionally studied, especially on the stairs. This may be because he was not both limber and strong. However, his sense of duty gave him determination when he had an end in view with much to do physically. At Holy Mass he was willing to sing the Mass and did a beautiful job. There was as well as singing the Divine office with the community. I never knew the Archbishop to drive a car.

His Excellency desired to be useful and help as best he was able. His energy was not that of his youth, but it allowed him to offer himself in several ways. At that time, the house had seven seminarians in their first year of Latin. He taught them regularly in a classroom setting using Latin and Spanish to speak with them.

When an occasion arose for His Excellency and Bishop Louis to travel to Mexico I accompanied them as an aide. His Excellency was most insistent on greeting the parents of the seminarians whom he had instructed in Rochester. Small exchanges were made, which were tokens of respect and gratitude for their parental sacrifices for Holy Mother Church, and His Excellency delighted to have greeted these good families. He was able to speak with them, with his newly learned Spanish, of their sons. Acapulco, Guadalajara and Colima were the locations of these homes and travel between the last of these two cities is no small feat on such highways. This is an example of His Excellency’s determination of purpose of meeting with the family in Colima, Mexico.

It was very often the case that I would accompany His Excellency to the doctor’s office for his regular visits. He particularly enjoyed these visits, as the good doctor spoke excellent French. It was the doctor’s opinion that his health was good, except for some difficulties he had with sweets affecting the good Bishop’s blood sugar levels. This was the only concern of the good and respected Doctor. In all of my conversations the Doctor never was expressed concern for Archbishop’s mental condition. He stated, rather, that I need not worry at all, that His Excellency was quite competent. He holds this position to this day. To my knowledge the doctor, though a Catholic, has never regularly attended the Tridentine Mass.

Offering Mass, Rochester, 1982.

Offering Mass, Louisiana, 1982.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Of all the memories of my life, among the sweetest and most edifying were to watch His Excellency offer Holy Mass. His observance of the rubrics was impeccable. His poise, prayerfulness and attention were keen. He truly prayed the Mass. Many times he required help to rise from a genuflection and for this reason the older cleric friars stood by his side to assist Him. Many times his example caused me to aspire to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as well as did the Archbishop. Anyone who attended His Mass could not miss his keen attention and devotion at the Altar. Here he was at his finest and edified us all.

Other Memories

On a winter’s day we walked to the chapel, a distance perhaps of 100 feet, over pavement. The ground was frozen, and the Archbishop lost his footing. Slipping, he fell upon his back. Immediately fear and shame came upon me for not taking better care of him for a broken hip could be too much for a man of his age. Rocking to an upright position he began to laugh Ça ne fait rien de tou. Un peu souffrance pour le purgatoire, which means “it does not matter at all. A little more suffering for purgatory.” While on the ground, he offered his hands, and we pulled him to his feet. We then went into the chapel for Prime, Holy Mass and meditation. He never complained of the incident.

Consecration of Bp. Guérard, 1981

Consecration of Bp. Guérard, 1981

Another often repeated saying of His Excellency was: Une petite croix pour le bon Dieu: A small cross (to offer to) for the good God.

To return for a moment to the Mexican seminarians, it was for their sake that he began to practice and perfect his Spanish. His mastery of languages permitted him to make quick progress with that language over the months he was in Rochester.

Among the young seminarians who joined the house that year, two Mexicans drew the Archbishop’s attention in particular. They were quick of mind, cordial and focused. Had he been able to patronize them, they might have enjoyed great favors, if I dare speculate. His encouragement and interest made a difference in their enthusiasm for the studies and work before them.

Among the practices taken up at the Friary with the coming of the Archbishop was the speaking of Latin, exclusively, one day a week. On that day the Archbishop’s voice would ring through the house. Latin was as easy for him as his mother language, Vietnamese. His fluency overwhelmed our untrained ears, and the days offered an opportunity for him to exercise and direct his students in their lessons. The Archbishop enjoyed these days, even though he saw us struggle in our Latin.

Consecration of Bps. Carmora and Zamora, 1981.

Consecration of Bps. Carmora and Zamora, 1981.

Overall Impressions

As a young man, I did not always understand His Excellency’s opinions and judgments. His wisdom often surprised and still surprises me even as I’ve grown older. The western mind must appreciate that he was of the mandarin culture and was certainly not egalitarian. From those who belonged to his household he expected reverence and obedience. He was careful to be charitable and fulfill the duties towards those who had a claim upon him, but, again in charity, he himself would not be a burden or overreach. He trusted others, and that was clearly a habit with him.

His Excellency was attentive to the world around him. He took interest in his students, their progress and their interest. His health was good, except for some the concern about sugar. His sense of humor was good, and he was long suffering. He was proud of his healthful appearance, but not absorbed by such things. He kept the religious schedule exactly, and his prayerful offering of the Holy Mass was a thing to be admired. In short, I never witnessed any loss of the faculties of reason and memory. Even in his interests in the world around him he was lucid. Above all, He loved Our Lord and Holy Mother Church and this was obvious to me and I believe to all who witnessed him in action.

Signed this December 7th and I declare it to be true to the best of my memory.

/s/ Fr. Francis Miller O.F.M.

Witnesses: /s/ Bruce Billeaud /s/ Miles Duthile [followed by attestation Donna M. Thibodeaux, Notary, Id # 23574]

——————————–

Abp. Thuc's coat-of-arms

Abp. Thuc’s coat-of-arms

Subsequent Comment from Fr. Miller

This [affidavit] is straight from my files and contains what was used [in the book] I believe.

I would be glad to add a few points that have always weighed heavily and recently been brought to my attention again:

Archbishop Ngo was not one to speak to freely when needled (agitated by others). He generally would go silent and suffer abuse. Knowing him so well taught me to listen and wait for a better disposed moment to approach a subject. He knew what he was up to, clearly. Again, he had his favorites some may fault him for that — but this choice seemed based on the good will of the person, intelligence, and sometime generosity toward himself. He did go out of his way to make himself lovable to the youngest of the Mexican seminarians, 13 years old at that time, and that is generosity on his part. No one who ever was known to attend the Archbishop’s Mass ever accused him of not being attentive, devout and exact in his rubrics of the Mass. He is renowned for his beautiful Masses. Never did I see him defect in the Mass’s action, his only clear weakness being occasional difficulty in genuflecting at the altar, for which reason I stood beside him to steady and lift him throughout the moments of the Mass this might occur. In fact you will find many praise his rubrics and piety throughout his life.

With such experience as this if is impossible to concede that he did not know what he was about when conferring sacraments as I never witness reason to doubt the clarity of the mind. As a much older and experienced man that impression only grows stronger.

As His doctor told me over and over again on 3 separate (by over 20 years time) “only someone who never knew Archbishop Ngo would make such an accusation”.

Further, I heard in a debate between Bishop Donald Sanborn and Dr. Robert Fastiggi that a claim was made that the good archbishop reconciled before his death. This point I could not concede as:

  1. No signed document was ever brought forward, though they show [the archbishop] smiling in a picture, pen in hand suggesting he had done so.
  2. Among His last words to me as he was being abused in New York [City, where the Novus Ordo Vietnamese clergy had taken him — ed.] during the terrible events that lead to the loss of our shared household, he said: “They want me to sign a reconciliation and renounce all that I have done. [Laughing now, he continued:] Why would I do this? [Then very serious:] This would destroy the work God gave me to do of preserving the sacraments for the future. I cannot do that!“
  3. There is no written evidence to my knowledge that that last statement of a change of mind was ever given privately or publicly, only assertions have been offered.
  4. I know that he was very lonely, and wanted more companionship which he may have privately thought a change of residence may have brought. It may be that he, as I could tell that his mind was not clear in New York [City] due to the severe change of diet and reflected by lack of interest in doing anything but sleeping at that time, would have induced him to be silent and wait till a better time to act, to decide how to proceed. A time that never came for him, and he was never permitted [by the Novus Ordo clergy who had taken him away] to see me again, nor to see any of his sons in the Faith to my knowledge.

These last statements of mine have never been offered in the public forum, but Restoration Radio has asked for an interview and there would be a place to examine many other points perhaps.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Francis Miller OFM

February 26, 2014

 

Abp. Thuc: A Conversation with Fr. Cekada

A video from True Restoration Media and some links

 

Thuc Guer Anoint

Abp. Thuc consecrating Bp. Guérard, 1981

ANYONE familiar with my writings and the history of the traditionalist movement knows that while I was initially skeptical of the validity of the episcopal consecrations Archbishop Pierre-Martin Ngô-dinh-Thuc conferred on three traditional Catholic priests in 1981, I became firmly convinced of their validity, once I researched the theological and factual issues myself.

The result was The Validity of the Thuc Consecrations, which appeared in the priests’ magazine Sacerdotium in Spring, 1992. Since that time, I produced a few other pieces touching on this matter, including a short article on the claim that Abp. Thuc had incurred automatic excommunication (Pius XII, Excommunication and Traditional Catholic Bishops), and a brief discussion of validity again in the concluding section of The Great Excommunicator, an article dealing with a number of related controversies.

My research and writings on the question, together with those of the then-Father Donald Sanborn, eventually led eight of the twelve former-SSPX priests who had formed the Society of St. Pius V to accept Abp. Thuc’s consecrations as valid. Since then, an ever-increasing number priests in the traditionalist movement have accepted the consecrations, to such an extent that only a small number of hold-outs among the traditionalist clergy still exists, and this among Bishop Clarence Kelly’s SSPV/CSPV

In January 2013, Stephen Heiner of True Restoration Media interviewed me about how I came to my conclusions. I am now happy to present that video here.

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In the foregoing video, I mention that in 1989 Father Kelly’s principal objection to the validity of the Abp. Thuc’s consecrations was that no certificate existed. About three years later, however, I discovered a certificate which Abp. Thuc wrote out in Latin in his own hand the day after he consecrated Bps. Carmona and Zamora. (See accompanying document) In translation the text reads:

Thuc Cons Cert“We, Peter Martin Ngô-dinh-Thuc, Titular Archbishop of Bulla Regia, give notice of the following to all: on the 17th day of the month of October, in the year 1981, we conferred the episcopal rank of the Catholic Church on Father Moses Carmona Rivera, with all rights pertaining to said rank. Given on the 18th day of the month of October, in the year of Our Lord 1981. [signature] +Peter Martin Ngô-dinh-Thuc. The eyewitnesses were: Doctor Kurt Hiller and Doctor Eberhard Heller. [signature] Dr. Kurt Hiller. [signature ] Dr. E. Heller.

Once this came to light, Fr. Kelly denied that the foregoing was a consecration certificate (not really “authentic,” “official,” “formal,” “public,” etc.), and in a series of monthly bulletins in the 1990s, began began attacking Abp. Thuc’s “mental state.”

The argument was so ridiculous (Insufficient “mental state” to confer a sacrament one day, but able to write about it in Latin the next?), that my response in 1994 was a satire, written in the same, grim, choppy, Fr. Kelly style, entitled The Dental State of Abp. Thuc. (= there was no authentic certificate to prove that the prelate’s teeth were not decayed; tooth decay could have interfered with how he pronounced the essential sacramental form; therefore the consecrations were “doubtful,” etc., etc.)

For those interested in further pursuing such issues (apart from that of tooth decay…), I highly recommend the site ThucBishops.com and Mario Derksen’s January 2011 Open Letter to Bp. Kelly. Mr. Derksen presents unassailable evidence and airtight arguments that lead to an inescapable conclusion.

Divorce Bergoglio Style

Divorceitalian-2Francis applauds “profound theology” that blesses adultery.

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

JUST ABOUT anyone who claims to be a Catholic can tell you that the Church teaches that divorce and remarriage are forbidden. He might even be able to tell you that the teaching is not just a “Church” law, but one that comes from Our Lord Himself: “Whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” And he might even add that if you remarry while your first spouse is alive, you commit adultery.

Until now that is. For as we predicted last year, Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”) is pressing forward with his program to dismantle Catholic teaching on giving the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried, one of the six key points of Bergoglio’s revolutionFor some reason Bergoglio believes that implementing this change will lure hordes of disaffected nominal Catholics back to the emptied and emptying churches of Europe and South America.

Since the traditional teaching is so deeply rooted not only in Catholic dogmatic and moral teaching, but also (despite Vatican II) in the consciousness of many Catholics, it was necessary to engage in extensive preparation for such a seismic shift. The biggest step came recently with Cardinal Walter Kasper’s keynote address to a meeting of all the cardinals in Rome on February 20-21, a gathering intended to prepare for the October Bishops’ Synod, which will have the family as its theme. Bergoglio’s personal choice of Kasper as keynote speaker for this topic was considered very significant. The cardinal has a reputation for being one of the more “liberal” modernists in the once-Sacred College.

The text of Kasper’s address to the cardinals was not supposed to be made public, but it was leaked to the Italian paper Il Foglio, which printed it in full. (It has yet to appear in English.) On February 21, at the end of the consistory, Bergoglio lavishly praised the speech:

Yesterday, … I read or rather re-read the work of Cardinal Kasper, and I would like to thank him because I found profound theology, and even serene thinking in theology. It is pleasant to read serene theology. And I also found what Saint Ignatius told us about, that sensus Ecclesiae, love for Mother Church. It did me good and an idea came to me — excuse me, Eminence, if I embarrass you — but the idea is that this is called “doing theology on one’s knees.” Thank you. Thank you.

Vatican commentator Sandro Magister says that Kaspar’s proposals represent nothing less than “a paradigm shift” on the issue — a complete change of context or perspective —  and that it enunciates the program that Bergoglio intends to implement.

So what is Bergoglio’s program for the question of giving the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried, and what are the problems with it?

The cardinal rules!

I. Kasper’s “Serene Theology”

The speech begins with a lengthy introduction, followed by four sections on the family in the order of creation, the “structure of sin” in family life, the family in the Christian order of redemption and the family as “domestic church.” This consists of several thousand words of convoluted modernist piffle which few in the Novus Ordo church will bother to read.

The fifth section, however, contains the real point of the speech: to provide Bergoglio and the “left” of the post-Vatican II hierarchy with a theological fig leaf for giving the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried. Here is Kasper’s warm-up before he gets to the nitty-gritty of practical proposals:

  • The situation of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics poses a thorny problem.
  • We can’t just consider it from a sacramental and institutional perspective. We have to “change the paradigm” and consider it from the point of view of those who “suffer.”
  • Priests have to strive to reconcile the parties when marriages are in crisis. [Brilliant, Your Eminence! Brilliant!] They shouldn’t cease doing so “after the failure of a marriage.” [Wow!]
  • After the “bitter experience of the past” with a Catholic marriage that ended in divorce, civil marriage and the new “relationship” can seem “like a gift from heaven.”
  • What should the Church do? “[The Church] cannot propose a different or a contrary solution to the words of Jesus…. The indissolubility of sacramental marriage and the impossibility of a new marriage during the lifetime of the other partner is part of the tradition of the Church’s binding faith that cannot be abandoned or undone by appealing to a superficial understanding of cheapened mercy.”
  • But now in the modern age, we face a “new situation” [of course!]. While formerly church law imposed the penalties for bigamy on those civilly married, including excommunication, these are gone. They are now invited to participate in the life of the Church. “This is a new tone.”
  • Why not apply to their situation the same strategy Vatican II did with religious liberty and ecumenism? Sure, encyclicals and decrees of the Holy See “seemed to preclude other ways. Without violating the binding dogmatic tradition, the Council opened doors. We can ask ourselves: is it not perhaps possible that there could be further developments on the present question as well?”

Although he doesn’t say it, Kasper’s real aim is to allow the parties in the invalid second marriage to engage in marital relations with each other. Since the spouse from the first sacramental marriage is still alive, he must find a way to excuse them from adultery, either by claiming the first marriage didn’t really exist (was invalid) or by justifying adulterous marital relations on some other grounds. Kaspar proposes two possible solutions along these lines, both of which are “already mentioned in official documents.”

Better than a tribunal!

Better than a tribunal!

1. Let Parish Clergy Annul Marriages. This would, in effect, ditch the whole system of church marriage tribunals, and allow a member of the local clergy to decide whether or not a first marriage was valid.

  • “Some of the divorced and remarried are in conscience subjectively convinced that their irreparably broken previous marriage was never valid.” In many cases their local priest is also convinced of this.
  • Evaluating the validity of marriages was left to church tribunals, but this isn’t a matter of divine law and can be changed to a more “spiritual and pastoral” procedure.
  • Perhaps a priest with “spiritual and pastoral experience” designated by the bishop could decide the validity of the marriage.
  • This would be in line with Pope Francis’ January 24, 2014 speech to the Roman Rota (supreme marriage tribunal) in which he said “the juridical dimension and pastoral dimension [of resolving marriage cases] are not in opposition… Pastoral care and mercy are not opposed to justice, but they are so to speak the supreme justice, because behind each appeal they discern not only a case to be examined through the lens of general regulations but a human person who, as such, can never represent a case and always has a unique dignity.”
  • The different levels of higher appeal in the marriage tribunal system cannot effectively decide “the good and the bad of persons” on the basis of “paperwork… without knowing the person and his situation.”

The consequences of the foregoing we will discuss below. However, merely expanding the procedure for annulling marriages this way, the cardinal says, is not enough. “This would create the dangerous impression that the Church is proceeding in a dishonest manner in granting what in reality are divorces.” Hmm. With the divorced and remarried one could also therefore allow…

Showing the way forward

Have a great escape!

2. “Penitential” Second Marriages. Kaspar’s argument runs thus:

  • In 1994 and 2012, Ratzinger said that “that the divorced and remarried cannot receive sacramental communion but can receive spiritual communion.” This reflects “true openness.”
  • “But it also brings up a number of questions. In fact, someone who receives spiritual communion is one with Jesus Christ. [. . .] Why, then, can he not also receive sacramental communion?”
  • The answer was: Out of concern for “the sanctity of the sacrament.”
  • “The question that is posed in response is: is it not perhaps an exploitation of the person who is suffering and asking for help if we make him a sign and a warning for others? Are we going to let him die of hunger sacramentally in order that others may live?”
  • “The early Church gives us an indication that can serve as a means of escape from the dilemma.”
  • The basis is an article Joseph Ratzinger wrote in 1972: “In the individual local Churches there existed the customary law on the basis of which Christians who, although their first partner was still alive, were living in a second relationship, after a time of penance had available [. . .] not a second marriage, but rather through participation in communion a table of salvation. [. . .]“
  • This would be “the way of conversion.” It would apply to a divorced and remarried person who (1) repents of his failure in the first marriage, (2) “clarified its obligations,” (3) can’t avoid abandoning the civil marriage “without further harm,” (4) does his best to “live out the possibilities” of the second marriage, and (5) has the desire for the sacraments, after a “conversion” or “a period of time in a new direction.”
  • It would “not be a general solution.”
  • “Should we not take into account the fact that we will also lose the next generation and perhaps the one after it too? Our long-established practice, is it not showing itself to be counterproductive?”
  • The foregoing was the practice of “the early Church,” according to the studies of Cereti (1977) and Crouzel/Ratzinger (1972).
  • “There can be no doubt however about the fact that in the early Church, in many local Churches, by customary law there was, after a time of repentance, the practice of pastoral tolerance, of clemency and indulgence.”
  • This is proven by reference to the Council of Nicea (against the rigorism of Novatian), Origen, Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen.
  • “J. Ratzinger suggested that Basil’s position should be taken up again in a new way. It would seem to be an appropriate solution, one that is also at the basis of these reflections of mine…. In the changed current situation we can however recover the basic concepts and seek to realize them in the present, in the manner that is just and fair in the light of the Gospel.”

And for those who find Kasper’s proposals appalling and who still long for the days of the Rottweiler of Orthodoxy, let us note in passing here that the cardinal bases his arguments on the work of Ratzinger himself.

A slap in the face

A slap in the face

II. Analysis and Consequences

Even to many souls with only a limited understanding of the traditional Catholic doctrine on divorce and remarriage, Kasper ideas will seem extremely fishy: You’re “subjectively convinced” that your first Church marriage was invalid, and all you need is a priest’s say-so before marrying again? Spiritual communion is equivalent to sacramental communion? Receiving communion while still in an adulterous relationship is OK? The early Church permitted this?

But Kasper’s address will have enormous consequences, so we must look at it a bit more closely. And to aid us in our analysis, we are very fortunate to have Professor Roberto de Mattei’s extensive critique, also published in Il Foglio, and then promptly posted in an English translation on Rorate Caeli.

1. A Slap in the Face to the Virtuous and the Suffering. In my priestly life, I have known many men and women whose marriages in the Church ended in bitter conflict and civil divorce, but who despite tears, suffering and human loneliness, remained resolutely faithful to the vows they had pronounced before God, even though their spouses did not. They knew what their obligations were and made every effort to sanctify themselves in order to live up to God’s law. I have also known Catholic couples who contracted an invalid second marriage from which they could not depart due to children, old age or poverty, but who, in order to return to the sacraments, vowed before God to live henceforth as brother and sister. Kasper’s proposals are a slap in the face to souls like these who struggled mightily and long to observe the divine law whatever the cost, and who, unlike the cardinal and his master, Bergoglio, took God’s law seriously enough to suffer for it.

2. “Pastoral” Camouflage for Overthrowing Dogma. In a post late last year, we pointed out that in his public discourses Bergoglio repeatedly employs the term “pastoral,” a ’60s modernist code word. After discussing how the term was applied to bishops in the post-Vatican II era and after summing up Professor de Mattei’s analysis of how Francis uses it in his public pronouncements, we concluded that

The key to decoding what Bergoglio and other modernists like him mean by “pastoral” [is that] through actions, silence or dissimulation one seeks to undermine Catholic dogma and morality by changing men’s experience of them.

This is exactly the dynamic at work in Kaspar’s speech. He pays lip service to the traditional Catholic teaching, saying we cannot undo it by “appealing to a superficial understanding of cheapened mercy.” And guess what? He then proposes practices which offer exactly that — “cheap mercy” purchased at bargain basement prices without true repentance for sin and without a firm purpose of amendment. When it comes to the first, valid marriage, the dogmas of the unity and indissolubility of the marriage bond are ignored, because you are free to continue the adulterous marital relations of the second invalid marriage.

In practice, the dogmas no longer exist, because Bergoglio and Kasper have come up with a “pastoral” workaround that renders them moot. De Mattei latches onto the connection Kaspar makes between his proposals on marriage and Vatican II’s “opening of the doors.”

Opened the doors to what? To the systematic violation, on the level of praxis, of that dogmatic tradition where the words affirm it legally binding.

3. No Mention of Sin. “Cheap mercy” of the sort Kasper and Bergoglio envision, moreover, becomes possible because, as de Mattei says, “the word sin does not enter into Cardinal Kasper’s vocabulary and never appears in his report to the Consistory.” This is probably because anything more than a generic notion of sin (against the environment, against “the poor,” against “the immigrants,” etc., as opposed to particular sinful acts by an individual) is considered “negative” theology in the modernist system. Moreover, “Cardinal Kasper does not express even one word of condemnation on divorce and its disastrous consequences in western society.” This in turn allows him to use the weaselly expression…

sarah-clarke-quote-theres-no-one-at-fault-its-the-normal-course-of-bus4. “Failed Marriages.” Here, after reading Kaspar, one is left with the impression that impersonal objects called “marriages” are constantly floating around,  and that when they somehow undergo enough stress fractures from causes unknown, they fly apart on their own, damaging the husband and the wife who happen to be nearby. “Marriage failure” is something like getting cancer. Stuff happens, marriages explode, etc.

The notion constantly pops up in Bergoglian discourse. Here is Francis talking about marriage on Feb. 28, just a few days after the appalling Kasper speech:

When this love fails — because many times it fails — we must feel the pain of the failure and accompany those who have failed in their love. Not condemn them! Walk alongside them.

The love-fails/marriage-fails formulation intentionally sidesteps the issue of the moral responsibilities of the respective spouses in a marriage that breaks up. The husband fails, the wife fails, or they both fail. By this we mean that one or both do not live up to the moral responsibilities of their state of life, commit sins, and as a result, destroy a grace-filled union that is blessed by God. The husband, the wife or both, drink, fight, commit adultery, show contempt for the spouse, scandalize the children, pout, seek revenge, lie, abandon the other, take drugs, use porn, contracept, undermine the other’s authority, spend money recklessly, are miserly, talk endlessly at the other, refuse to communicate at all, disappear, control every aspect of the spouse’s life, show no interest in the spouse’s life, or intentionally wound the other. In any break-up, at least one of the spouses has not tried to overcome his sins and faults, and to live up to the duties of his vocation by cooperating with the graces of the sacrament he has received.

This is not to say that one or both spouses cannot repent of the habitual sins that ultimately led to their separation, and achieve sanctity thereafter. But Kasper’s formulation, abstracted from any clear notion of individual sin and moral responsibility for the divorce, conceals the reality that the illicit second relationship — far from being what Kasper calls “a gift from heaven” — is the consequence of sin in the first marriage.

Available for annulments, too!

Available for annulments, too!

5. Drive-Thru Annulments. The Church established an elaborate system of ecclesiastical tribunals and a whole body of procedural and substantive law to protect the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage. It was difficult to obtain an annulment before Vatican II precisely because the grounds for declaring a marriage contract null were very few (e.g. force, grave fear, error) and the system was weighted against deception or self-serving claims by the parties. Even though annulments were granted on spurious grounds after Vatican II and handed out like candy, the fiction of a legal system that protected the sanctity of matrimony was at least maintained.

This fiction may disappear. Kasper says that since some of the divorced and remarried are “subjectively convinced” that their first marriage in the Church was invalid, and that the clergy involved in their care often agree with them, let a priest with “spiritual and pastoral [that word again!] experience” decide the issue. Maybe a confessor or the bishop’s vicar for the area.

This is the ’60s “internal forum” solution followed by modernist clergy of the era, but writ large and officially canonized.

Poof, no need for all those tribunals! Father Chuck can decide! And what do you think Fr. Chuck will decide if you walk into his office or confessional, say you were really immature when you got married, did not understand its “covenant” aspect, felt pressured because you were living together, didn’t really know what love was, just wanted to make mommy and daddy happy, and cry Fr. Chuck a river? Poor boy, poor girl, you didn’t really intend to get married, did you? I’m sure you’re in perfectly good conscience. And didn’t good Pope Francis say we should be merciful? So repent of that bad, old, first “failed marriage,” do penance for it (a decade of the Rosary if you remember how, or alms to Greenpeace if you don’t), feel free henceforth to approach extraordinary minister Ms. Gauleiter for the Eucharist, and now go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

If this procedure were allowed, says Professor de Mattei, “it is easy to imagine how the annulment of marriages would spread, introducing de facto Catholic divorce, if not by law, and incurring devastating damage to the human good.”

6. An Invitation to Derision and Scandal. As for the foregoing proposal, as we noted above, even Kaspar himself says it “would create the dangerous impression that the Church is proceeding in a dishonest manner in granting what in reality are divorces.” The impression of dishonesty? The impression of divorce? It would create the REALITY of both.

Any Protestant, any non-believer, who had an ounce of sense would say that the Catholic Church has changed its teaching and now permits divorce and second marriages. To dress the procedure up as an “annulment” — as if a real marriage never existed in the first place — is to invite mockery and accusations of utter dishonesty, even (according to a recent poll of Austrian and German Catholics) from people who would supposedly benefit from it:

But reforming and streamlining the church’s annulment process would not make a big difference in Germany, the bishops’ report said, because most remarried people do not regard their original unions as “null and void,” but rather as having failed. “They therefore frequently consider an annulment procedure” — which declares that an apparent marriage was null from the start —”to be dishonest.”

Maximum limit?

Henry’s maximum limit?

7. Make It a Six-Pack? The change would also be a source of scandal in countries where polygamy is rife, as even some African bishops recently said. Those who join the Church must choose one wife and leave the rest. If the Church can permit Westerners in developed countries to engage in serial polygamy, why not allow Africans to engage in simultaneous polygamy? And once you set aside the principle of indissolubility of marriage through the praxis of Kasper’s new “juridical and pastoral hermeneutic,” is there a limit to the number of marriages you can, in good conscience, declare “failed”? The one to Catherine of Aragon, say, then followed by another to Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Paar? No need to send anyone to the scaffold, Your Majesty! You don’t even have to bother Archbishop Tom, because his delegate, Father Chuck, can handle it all for you.

8. Fraudulent Appeals to the Fathers. Kasper, as we have seen, says that in the first centuries a “praxis” existed for some Christians by which they contracted a second relationship after “a period of penitence,” even if their first spouse was still alive. 

Professor de Mattei demonstrates, however, that this claim is entirely false.

Father George H. Joyce, in his historical-doctrinal study on Christian Marriage (1948) showed that during the first five centuries of the Christian era, no decree by a Council, nor any declaration by a Father of the Church, which sustains the possibility of dissolving the matrimonial bond, can be found.

In the second century, when Justin, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, mention the evangelical prohibition of divorce, they do not give any indication of exceptions. Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian are even more explicit. And Origen, even if he looks for some justification in the practices adopted by some bishops, specifies that this contradicts Scripture and the Tradition of the Church [...] Two of the first Councils in the Church, Elvira (306) and Arles (314) repeat it clearly. In every part of the world, the Church regarded the dissolving of the marriage bond as impossible and divorce with the right to a second marriage was completely unknown.

De Mattei continues his argument, adding proof after proof from the Fathers to refute Kasper’s claim, and makes the damning statement:

The “canonical, penitential practice” that Cardinal Kasper proposes as a way out of the “dilemma” had the exact opposite significance in the first centuries to what he seems to attribute to it. It was not done to expiate the first marriage, but to repair the sin of the second one, contracted only under civil law, and obviously demanded repentance of this sin, and the abandonment of the pseudo-matrimonial condition.

Note well: The exact opposite.

Kasper even distorted the famous Patristic phrase about “the second plank after the shipwreck of sin” by applying it to the Eucharist instead of to Confession, as the canonist Thomas Peters pointed out.

Too late now!

Too late now!

9. The Horse Has Left the Stable. Naturally, those who in the post-Vatican II church still try to adhere to traditional Catholic doctrines hope that the October Bishops’ Synod and Francis himself will not officially endorse Kasper’s proposals. But endorsement or non-endorsement will make no difference in the practical order. As with artificial contraception issue in the ’60s, once you allow for widespread and well publicized debates over whether to retain a Catholic moral principle or not, temporize over resolving the issue, and link ignoring the principle to the feel-good bromides of modern secular discourse (tolerance, individual conscience, human values, no-fault marriage failure, accommodation to “reality,” etc.), the game is over. Those who reject the principle have already found their justifications for doing so.

And to boot, our beloved, media-anointed Holy Father has already said we must not have a pharisaical, old-fashioned, “casuistic” approach to moral issues, but “walk with” people, show “mercy,” be “pastoral,” and respect the supremacy of the individual conscience, even for atheists, who can also get to heaven. So why can’t I, with my second marriage “in good conscience”? Or my third, or fourth, for that matter?

10. The First Step towards More. In his devastating critique of the Kaspar address, published on March 1, Professor de Mattei warned:

Once the legitimacy of second-marriage cohabitation is admitted, one cannot see why pre-matrimonial cohabitation, if it is stable and sincere, should not be permitted. 

Well, it doesn’t take much time in the Bergoglio pontificate to be proved a prophet. Sure enough, only three days later, we encounter an article entitled “Church teaching must change on sexual morality, says German bishop.” According to an account of an interview published in National Catholic Reporter, Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, stated:

Declaring a second marriage after a divorce a perpetual mortal sin, and under no circumstances allowing remarried divorced people ever to receive the Sacraments, was not helpful… “We bishops will have to make suggestions here. We must strengthen people’s sense of responsibility and then respect their decisions of conscience.

It was also no longer tenable to declare that every kind of cohabitation before marriage was a grievous sin, and “the difference between natural and artificial birth control is somehow artificial.”

And speaking of contraception, we see in an interview with Bergoglio published the following day, the same duplicitous approach that Kasper, with his approval, took on the question of sacraments for the divorced and remarried. Bergolio pays lip service to the principle, and then hints that it can be ignored in practice on “pastoral grounds.”

The question is not that of changing the doctrine, but to go deep and to ensure that pastoral care takes into account situations and what is possible for people.

And how did modernist clergy in the ’60s ensure that “pastoral care” took into account “situations and what is possible for people”? As Bergoglio well knows, by either remaining silent when Catholics confessed using contraception or by telling them, “Follow your conscience.” Think it’s “possible” not to pop that birth control pill?

*    *    *

“Life is not all black and white, but is in fact full of little nuances,” Cardinal Kasper assured his listeners.

But the faithful Catholic knows that law of God is indeed black and white about those very principles that Kasper and his fan, Bergoglio, pay lip service to in theory but seek to overthrow in practice  — that marriage is indissoluble, that adultery is wrong, and that the unworthy reception of the Eucharist is sacrilege.

Where, though, is the outrage at this frontal attack on Catholic dogma? Apart from Professor de Mattei in Italy and the Rorate Caeli blog in the English-speaking world, there is nothing but silence from conservatives or traditionalists who are still part of the post-Vatican II church. Is there not even one Novus Ordo bishop who still retains enough of the moral law and enough courage to denounce Divorce Bergoglio Style with all the force he can muster?

After fifty years of Vatican II, apparently not. So the revolution presided over by Jorge Bergolio will increasingly gain momentum — motus in fine velocior, as Professor de Mattei predicts — causing everything that Catholics once regarded as solid to melt into air.

 

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