Sunday, 27 September 2020

Glorify God, Save Souls, Teach Truth

A summing up of a parish 'mission statement' that should be the mission statement of the entire Church. Unfortunately, many of our 'shepherds' disagtree.

From One Peter Five

By the Rev. Deacon James Toner

My pastor was trying to write a parish mission statement when, forsaking all modesty, I blurted out, “Father, you can write our mission statement in six words: Glorify God, Save Souls, Make Saints.  He liked it and promptly had it emblazoned on—the collection envelopes!  About a week later, trying (as writers do, to revise, and, in this case, to establish perfect first-letter parallelism), I changed it to Glorify God, Save Souls, Teach Truth.  It was too late, for the order was off to the printer.

Here, though, I concern myself with the third element of my parish mission statement (and our primordial duty as Catholics):  We are to teach truth, “using words when necessary.”  As we attempt to sort through the controversies surrounding priests who speak out “politically,” we have an acid test by which, in good measure, to determine if they should be commended or censured:  Do they boldly but benevolently speak the truth, knowledge of which and commitment to which will set us free?

In New York, Father Kenneth Boller, SJ, led a prayer, during Mass, against “white privilege.”  In Indiana, Father Theodore Rothrock denounced Black Lives Matter organizers as “maggots and parasites.”  In Wisconsin, Father James Altman contended that one cannot ethically be at once a Catholic and a Democrat.  There are—and will be—many other examples of such “free speech.”

The Boller case is perhaps the easiest to resolve.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal is clear:  “[T]he Priest will remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass” (#24; CCC #1125).  In leading a denunciation of “White Privilege” during Mass, Father Boller used the sacred liturgy to promote his political judgment; that constitutes liturgical abuse.

The Rothrock case is very different from the Boller case. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors maintains that she and her other organizers are “trained Marxists.” Marxist Socialism entails the worship of the omnipotent state (until it ostensibly withers away), which is idolatry violating the First Commandment.  Catholics therefore agree—or should agree—with Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno (1931) that  “Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism  . . .  cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth” (#117; cf. CCC #2425).  Thus, the Rothrock case seems to be more a matter of “style” than “substance.”  Father Rothrock is right about the irreconcilability of Catholics and Marxist socialists; he was wrong, though, in his rancorous speech.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice,” we read in Ephesians (4:31). This hardly means that there is no such thing as righteous anger, but St. Paul’s instruction may well be taken as basic to effective preaching.  If the priest’s language, rather than his message, becomes the focus of our attention, he has missed his mark. Bishop Sheen used to say that if you want someone to listen closely, whisper.  The stronger the message, the more aplomb is required to ensure its reception (see 1 Peter 3:15-16).

One might parenthetically add to the issue of speech the case of Notre Dame’s President Father Jenkins, who cavalierly and cravenly dismissed Coach Lou Holtz’s entirely accurate characterization of Biden’s attitude and actions as “abandon[ing] innocent lives” and as “Catholic in name only.”  Better by far the observation of Princeton Professor Robert George: “How can anybody who, as a Catholic, is committed to the proposition that every single member of the human family . . . is a creature made in the very image and likeness of God . . . expose an entire class of human beings to death?” After his triple denial, Peter came to his senses and found again his courage.  Honorary degree for Obama; Laetare Medal for Biden; pusillanimous dismissal of Lou Holtz’s analysis—Jenkins’s triple denial. May we hope for that Jenkins will come to his senses, please God, and finally find some moral courage?

Finally, the Altman case is another type of presbyteral expression.  Father Altman did not distort the liturgy.  He seems, to me, not to have been feral or even intemperate, in his choice of words and gestures.  His conclusion—that we cannot now simultaneously be Democrats and Catholics—alienates some, but, given the Jacobin ideology of the Democratic Party and its virtual celebration of sixty million murdered children, of the demolition of sacramental marriage, and of noxious gender ideology (cf. CCC #2333),  one can reach the conclusion that Fr. Altman (and every other priest) should indeed be shouting from the housetops (Mt 10:27) the teachings of Christ and to be warning others that traducing that teaching carries with it the grave risk of eternal punishment.

In his newest video message, Father Altman stands firmly by his previous message. No weak knees (Is 35:3, Heb 12:12) here—one finds boldness and, I think, benevolence. One may say that Father Altman appeals only to his “base,” that he is preaching to the choir. Many in the choir may well need such preaching, and many in the “base,” simply disgusted by having heard only the uncertain trumpet (1 Cor 14:8) from the ambo for many may well yearn for clarity and cogency of Father Altman and his (much too small) band of brothers.  One danger: Pray for Father Altman, lest his earnest and well-expressed conviction become pride.

Does inductive reasoning help us, in these types of cases, to find certain enlightening principles or concepts to teach us to navigate the turbid waters of our day?  I think so; three come to mind:

Substance:  Is what the priest says in perfect synchrony with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Sacred Teaching, which is the settled (bimillennial) Magisterium?  This excludes theological novelty and opinions rooted in the profane or the ideologically “progressive.” Blessed Pius IX seems to summarize the argument so far put forward here: “Decorous language should be firmly maintained so that whatever is Catholic, whatever proceeds from this See of Saint Peter, the safe harbor of the whole Catholic communion and the mother and teacher of all churches, may be welcomed and believed. May whatever is against it be rejected, so that every error and profane novelty may be repelled and eliminated” (Optime Noscitis [1854]: #4).

Style: Does the priest speak from a gentle, kind, and humble spirit? The image of Rambo in the Ambo is precisely the wrong one!  Proverbs is customarily helpful: “A gentle response diverts anger, but a harsh statement incites fury” (15:1). This does not, though, mean diffidence or obsequiousness. The truth can be boldly championed with “grace under pressure,” as Hemingway put it.

Subordination:  Is the priest obedient to proper authority in saying/doing what he is?  The Church is, after all, hierarchical, and we must remember that. St. Paul saw the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5 and 16:26; his Epistle begins and concludes with that certain teaching) as fundamental to the Christian life.  All that said, obedience (except directly to God Himself [as Our Lady teaches by word and deed–Luke 1:38]) is always contingent, conditional, contextual, and circumstantial.  If a Catholic pastor, for example, were to instruct his parochial vicar or curate to preach a homily supporting abortion, the latter would, of course, refuse, becoming “insubordinate.” Our first duty is always to God:   substance trumps subordination.  When loyalty to a human being becomes disloyalty to our Lord, we must obey God (cf. 1 Sam 15:24-25 and Acts 5:29).

When one person–or many people or an entire political party– supports the slaughter of the innocent, our Catholic and baptismal duty is clear:  to testify to the truth (see CCC #1273). Confirmation, moreover, “gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the cross” (CCC #1303; my emphasis). This is, in fact, the obedience of faith.

In armies of old, the guidon was the standard or banner behind which the troops rallied. If the guidon-bearer fell, another would seize the guidon and, with it, the honor of “showing the way” to his comrades-in-arms.

When misguided, intimidated, or “juring” prelates grow silent in the face of evil–or, worse, instruct their subordinates to be quiet–the guidon has fallen. “Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights all who are helpless,” we are taught (Proverbs 31:8). Some–actually, most–cower in their chanceries, afraid of using the crosiers they carry to defend their flocks from the savage wolves lurking both outside and inside the very walls of the holy Church of which, ostensibly, they are teachers, governors, and sanctifiers (see Rev 21:8, Acts 20:29). Other bishops, and priests, and deacons, and lay people should be prepared to pick up that guidon, which is the holy Cross, and display it dauntlessly, remembering this great Thomist adage: agere sequitur esse (“what you do follows upon what you are”).

Bishops who refuse to defend Catholic art or statuary, or who perniciously tell us that abortion is not the preeminent issue of our day, or who chastise priests who have charitably spoken the truth flowing from the moral law—these are men who need to be reminded of the graces and obligations attending the Confirmations which they confer. They are men who need to be reminded to take up the Cross of Christ–His teaching, His truth–even, or especially, when it’s “inconvenient,” “unpopular,” or “counter-cultural.” There is a word for that: gutsWe don’t see much of that now, do we?

It was Pope Benedict XV who, in June 1917, reminded bishops that their paramount duty was preaching. “But,” the Holy Father continued, “since among the truths revealed by God there are some which frighten the weakness of our corrupt nature, and which therefore are not calculated to attract the multitude, they carefully avoid them, and treat themes, in which, the place accepted, there is nothing sacred. Not seldom it happens that in the very midst of a discourse upon the things of eternity, they turn to politics, particularly if any questions of this kind just then deeply engross the minds of their hearers. They seem to have only one aim, to please their hearers and curry favor with those whom St. Paul describes as ‘having itching ears’ (II Tim. vi:3).” See Humani Generis Redemptionem: #5, #10.

Every parish–and everyone connected with every parish and every diocese–should speak the truth concisely, clearly, and cogently. We glorify God and save souls by teaching truth. There is a word for that:  parrhesia, meaning “boldness in speaking.” We don’t see much of that now, do we? 

And when we do (as in the cases of Fathers Altman and Rothrock), it is often criticized from within. “Even from your own number,” we read in Acts, “men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (20:30).

“The greatest obstacle to the apostolate of the Church,” Pope St. Pius X taught us, “is the timidity or rather the cowardice of the faithful”—especially, he might add, if those “faithful” are wearing mitres.

All of us, in these days of moral and political peril, must take to heart the Pauline exhortation, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27).

Editor’s note: we recognize that, excepting violations of liturgical rubrics, some of the examples outlined above will be interpreted differently by Catholics of good will. The opinions offered in this article are those of the author, not 1P5. Nevertheless, we believe this to be an important contribution to a necessary discussion on the criteria for evaluation of such occurrences as they become more commonplace among those members of the clergy who are no longer willing to stay quiet. As St. Catherine of Siena famously said, “We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues – I see the world is rotten because of silence.”

The Italian Empire, A History to Take Pride In

Again, apologies for the formatting. I have no idea why it happens. It does nor happen with any other Blogger blog I share from and it doesn't happen with every post from MM.

From The Mad Monarchist (27 July 2016)

The Italian Empire, A History to Take Pride In

The Italian colonial empire was a short-lived affair but one that had far more extensive roots than most people realize. As a united country, the Kingdom of Italy is often described as the last to obtain an empire and the first to lose it but Italians had been colonizers for a very long time. One need not go back to the Roman Empire when the whole Mediterranean basin was ruled from Italy but simply going back to the Middle Ages or the Renaissance shows that various Italian states had minor colonial holdings of their own. The Republic of Genoa held territory on the Crimean peninsula, the Kingdom of Sicily held Tunisia for some time and the Republic of Venice had extensive holdings down the coast of the Adriatic and in the Aegean Sea as well as controlling Crete and Cyprus. The Grand Duke of Tuscany sent a preliminary expedition to South America with the intention of establishing an Italian colony in the New World but he died before the project could be completed. Unlike virtually every other colonial power, Italians were most often not treading on new ground but simply returning to lands which their ancestors had held, sometimes for centuries, before them.

Governor's Palace in Eritrea
The colonial empire of the Kingdom of Italy had humble beginnings. It started when the Rubattino Shipping Company bought land around the Bay of Assab on the coast of the horn of Africa from the Sultan of Raheita in 1869 to establish a coaling station. This holding was later bought by the Italian government and expanded to become the first overseas colony of the Kingdom of Italy with the first Italian settlers arriving in 1880. Hearkening back to the old Roman name for the Red Sea, the Italians named the territory Eritrea. In 1888 the first railroad in the country was built and another improvement of particular pride was the Asmara-Massawa Cableway which was the longest in the world at the time (the British later dismantled it after World War II). Laws against racial mixing were imposed but no one seemed to mind much as, for the first time in their history, the local Africans had access to modern medical services, improved sanitation, transportation and improvements in agriculture. Italy lost money in the enterprise on the whole but the lives of the natives certainly improved, particularly because of the Italian colonial army which prevented raids on the country from Ethiopia, particularly from the Tigray region.

As a result, many Eritreans enlisted in the Italian colonial army and many gained quite a high reputation. Marshal of Italy Rodolfo Graziani considered the Eritreans the best of the Italian colonial soldiers and the famous cavalry officer, Amedeo Guillet, referred to them as the ‘Prussians of Africa’. During the Fascist era there was also a huge increase in industrialization in Eritrea and a subsequent boom in the population, both African and Italian. Before the outbreak of World War II, Asmara was a growing, prosperous city dotted with coffee shops, ice cream parlors, pizzerias and even its own race track. The fact that it was a “planned” city meant that it had many modern conveniences that even some cities in Italy lacked and boasted scenic wide boulevards lined with trees. These many improvements as well as the threat from Ethiopia worked together to ensure that Eritrea remained a loyal colony.

Not long after the first foothold in Eritrea was established, Italy also gained new territory on the southern side of the Horn of Africa in Somalia. In 1888 Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid of Hobyo made his province an Italian protectorate. The following year the Sultan of Majeerteenia did the same and the colony of Italian Somaliland was established. Here, development was somewhat slower as the Italians left local affairs in the hands of the local rulers, paid them a pension and focused on foreign relations, defense and the establishment of port facilities. In 1905 the Italian government decided to establish a formal colony in the region, partly because it was discovered that the local company had been turning a blind eye to the continued operation of the slave trade in the region. By 1908 the legal formalities were finished to establish Italian Somaliland as a formal colony. The most determined problem, early on, was the trouble caused by Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, aka “the Mad Mullah” but that violent movement was duly done away with and in the Twentieth Century development began to spread from the coast further inland.

Prince Luigi Amedeo formed an Italian-Somaliland Agricultural Society that established new, model plantations in the colony for the growing of sugar, bananas and cotton. The same year, 1920, saw the first modern bank established in Somalia when the Banca d’Italia opened a branch in Mogadishu. Surveys were done, after which more development proceeded such as the establishment of model farms, schools and hospitals. Before the end of the decade, Crown Prince Umberto had come to witness the opening of a new Catholic cathedral in Mogadishu and the region’s first international airport was established. The Sultan of Hobyo was usually very loyal to the Italians, the only problem occurring when he was excepted to allow British troops to land in his territory and Somalis tended to resent the British for their colonial rule over Somali tribes in the north (British Somaliland). After this, the Sultan was replaced by the Italian authorities and the population was disarmed but there were no major problems in the future and the Italians continued to abide by their agreements and allow the original, northern protectorates to govern themselves in their own way. Somalians were also enlisted in the Italian colonial army and included such colorful units as a corps of camel-born artillery.

The Battle of Adowa
There were, of course, bound to be setbacks. When the Italians took control of Eritrea, one of the local chieftains who had given his approval was one Sahle Maryam of Shewa. In exchange for this, Italy gave him support such as modern weapons in defeating his rivals to take control of Ethiopia as Emperor Menelik II. A treaty was signed that was supposed to ensure peace between the two, however, there was a discrepancy in the wording as it read differently in the Italian-language and Amharic-language versions. One established, essentially, an Italian protectorate over Ethiopia and the other said that Ethiopia could have Italian protection but only if and when they wanted it. Each side, of course, accused the other of changing the text in their version, Menelik II broke off diplomatic relations with Italy, effectively declaring war. A small Italian colonial army of a little over 17,500 men was later attacked by an Ethiopian army of around 100,000 and almost totally wiped out, ending, for the time being at least, any idea of Italy establishing any sort of control or influence over Ethiopia.

Italian troops landing in Libia
However, of all overseas territories, none seemed more near at hand to Italy than Tunisia. Not only was it extremely close, but it had a sizable Italian population that had been present for a very long time. In the “Scramble for Africa” the Italian government sat back, taking the moral high road as it were, only to see Tunisia snatched up by the French. This caused quite a backlash in Italy and a renewed effort to make sure that such a thing did not happen again with the other north African lands south of Italy, three provinces still held by the Ottoman Sultan of Turkey, known to Italians as “the fourth shore”. Determined not to let another power snatch this region away from them, the Italian government began investing in the area and when the Turkish government started to clamp down on the increased Italian interest, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire in September of 1911. Italian military forces landed on the coast and quickly seized control of the major ports while the Ottoman forces, largely Arab raiders with Turkish officers, fell back into the interior to strike at any Italian attempt to move south. The situation produced a stalemate as Italy had been counting on the support of the local Arab population and resources had not been allocated for a major campaign in the desert interior of the country. The Turks, likewise, could rule the desert but proved incapable of dislodging the Italians from the coast or of challenging Italian naval supremacy.

In 1912 the Turks finally agreed to come to terms with Italy, prompted by the Italian seizure of Rhodes and other nearby islands and the threat of an attack on the Dardanelles, which all powers were anxious to avoid. The former Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan were ceded to Italy which, in due time, merged them into one colonial administration, resurrecting the old Roman name for the region, “Libia”. Actual Italian control, however, continued to remain mostly on the coastal region and during the First World War, attacks by Islamic insurgents, backed up by Turkey and Germany in an effort to restore Ottoman Turkish control over the whole of north Africa, forced the Italians back into the major port cities as the overwhelming bulk of Italian military strength was concentrated on the critical border region with Austria. However, all of that changed after the acquisition of power by Benito Mussolini and his Fascist party. From 1923 until 1932 a fierce irregular war raged in the region, known as the Pacification of Libya. Stopping the terrorist attacks on Italian settlers and ending the insurgency took time but finally Italian forces resorted to repressive measures and the rebellion was ended, with the primary insurgent leader actually being captured by a troop of Libyan cavalry fighting on the Italian side. The first modern roads were built, port facilities were modernized and new model farming communities were established. Much progress was made under the governorship of Air Marshal Italo Balbo and when he was killed at the start of World War II, witnesses remarked that the Libyans showed more grief than the Italians at his loss because he had made things so much better.

Victory parade in the Ethiopian capital
The next colonial acquisition for Italy was Ethiopia, which, of course, was the cause of much controversy. It was sparked by an attack on an Italian outpost which was on land that the Ethiopians claimed as their own. The fact that this was not something instigated by Italy is evident enough by the amount of time it took to transfer military forces to Eritrea and Somalia to fight the actual war. The League of Nations opposed this and the issue became larger than Ethiopia but was, rather, seen by Mussolini as a struggle against the leaders of the existing international world order, embodied by the League. The fighting was harsh but, in the end, Italian forces conquered Ethiopia in seven months and merged it, administratively, with Eritrea and Somalia into “Italian East Africa”. Tensions were high at first and when the Viceroy, Marshal of Italy Rodolfo Graziani, was badly wounded in an assassination attempt, there were bloody reprisals. However, he was replaced by the Duke of Aosta under whose administration the country was at peace and began to see considerable improvements, including the abolition of slavery in the country. Plans for the modernization of the capital and other projects were ultimately canceled by the outbreak of World War II.

Italian troops enter Durazzo, Albania
The Kingdom of Albania was occupied by Italian forces with practically no opposition by the native population shortly before the outbreak of World War II, however, again, the fact that Italy joined World War II so shortly thereafter, and the Italian presence was removed after 1943, meant that the Italians were able to have very little impact on Albania. Although, it is worth pointing out, that the period of union with Italy, following the conquest of Greece and Yugoslavia, was the only time that the nationalist goal of “Greater Albania” was actually achieved, albeit for a short time. Before World War II had ended, all Italian colonial possessions were, of course, taken away and given independence or, short of that, given nominal independence under the temporary stewardship of a parent country. It is worth pointing out though that, at the time of Italian entry into World War II, there was no widespread opposition to Italian rule in any of the colonies.

The Italian presence in Albania was not entirely welcomed but not entirely opposed either and most of those in the Albanian government had previously been in the government of Ahmed Zog, the previous potentate of the country. Libya, Eritrea and Somalia were all quite calm and peaceful under Italian rule, the only place where any opposition at all existed was in Ethiopia. That is understandable given that, unlike all the others, the Ethiopians had a history as a previously independent country with their own sense of nationhood. However, even there, serious opposition had been dealt with and most accepted the change and got on with things. In fact, of all the colonial troops who served in the Italian royal army in World War II, the only native soldier to earn the highest Italian decoration for bravery was an Ethiopian. So, even there, considerable levels of support and devotion did exist. What is illustrative of the Italian colonial enterprise overall, and why Italians should not be ashamed of their short-lived period of imperialism, is the fate of the former Italian colonies after Italian rule was removed and these places became independent.

Colonial Mogadishu
The Kingdom of Albania was occupied by the Germans and then, after the Allied victory in World War II, fell to the communists of Enver Hoxha who established a Marxist tyranny, so fanatical and so murderous that it alienated Stalinist Russia, Maoist China and Tito’s Yugoslavia in turn. Albania fell into oppressive poverty and had the lowest standard of living of any European country. To this day, it has not fully recovered. Italian East Africa was occupied by the Allies (mostly British imperial troops) and broken up into the countries that exist today. Somalia was under the military administration of Britain and became nominally independent though in 1949 stewardship over the country was given to the Italian Republic until 1960 when it was joined with the former British colony of British Somaliland to create the country as we know it today. And, as we know, Somalia has become the go-to example in the world for a “failed state”, being reduced by poverty, crime and internal warfare to a state of total chaos. When one thinks of Somalia today it is only as a place of anarchy, warlords and a nest of pirates. Somalis have fled their failed independent homeland in huge numbers, going as far abroad as Minnesota and Sweden to get as far away from their nightmarish native land as possible.

Asmara station, Eritrea
In Eritrea, the first Italian colony, the British military ruled the place until 1950 because no one could decide what to do with it. One person who knew exactly what he wanted to do with it was the de-throned Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie who was pushing for Allied support for the Ethiopian annexation of Eritrea even before British imperial forces had set him back on his own throne. The United Nations, in the 1950’s, finally agreed that Eritrea would be joined with Ethiopia in a “federation” with Eritrea officially remaining independent. That charade ended in 1962 when Haile Selassie dissolved the Eritrean parliament and unilaterally declared the country to be part of Ethiopia. Not surprisingly, war broke out immediately as the Eritreans fought the Ethiopians in a brutal conflict that spanned the next thirty years, only ending when the Eritreans made an alliance with a faction of Ethiopian rebels after which the UN stepped in to hold a referendum. This, of course, resulted in the Eritreans voting for their independence in 1993. Eritrea got it, established a dictatorship and haven’t had another exercise in democracy since. Needless to say, thirty years of war, terrorism and finally Marxist dictatorship have left the country an impoverished wreck.

Haile Selassie & Winston Churchill
Ethiopia, again, is really in a class by itself and cannot entirely be compared to the others. Still, the post-Italian period has not been pleasant for the country, though it would also be worse than the pre-Italian period as well. Haile Selassie was put back in control of the country and money poured in from the victorious Allies through various aid funds. Still, this did not benefit the country overall as serious divisions and problems remained which Haile Selassie struggled to deal with. He championed the cause of pan-African unity and opposition to European colonialism in Africa (even while imposing his own sort of colonial rule over the unwilling population of Eritrea) but this ultimately proved to be not so beneficial to the “Conquering Lion of Judah” as he styled himself. Most of the anti-colonial movements in Africa were communist and after some particularly hard times the communists managed to overthrow Haile Selassie in 1974. This time there was no British Empire to put him back on his throne again and he was murdered the following year. His replacement was a communist dictatorship so vicious and so oppressive that it must rank among the very worst in the entire world. Oppression, murder and misery prevailed to the point that the very name of Ethiopia became synonymous with “starvation” in the rest of the world. Again, even after the communist regime officially fell, the country has still not recovered from the decades of murderous misery the communists inflicted on it.

King Idris
Finally, we have the case of Libya. British military rule gave way to the creation of a new monarchy under the former Emir of Cyrenaica who became King Idris I of Libya in 1951. The British and Americans established close ties with the new regime, built military bases there and in 1959 Exxon discovered vast deposits of oil in the country which changed things considerably. New wealth brought greater resentment and efforts to promote unity failed, mostly because neither the King himself nor any of his people recognized him as a “Libyan” but rather as the Emir of Cyrenaica who had been imposed by western powers over the whole country. He was accused of favoring his own circle when it came to dishing out the oil revenues and of being too friendly with foreign powers and foreign oil companies. This culminated in King Idris being overthrown while on holiday by a military coup led by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 1969.

Gaddafi with African chiefs
Gaddafi, as we know, established a brutal and farcical dictatorship over the country, marked by tyranny at home, support for terrorism abroad and for the increasingly bizarre behavior of Gaddafi himself. Whether it was his painfully long orations at the UN, his threats of war against Switzerland or his bevy of buxom female bodyguards, no one could accuse Gaddafi of being boring. He also used the threat of floods of illegal immigrants to extort huge financial benefits as well as groveling apologies from the Italian government. In 2011 the hated dictator was overthrown, with air support from NATO, and given mob justice on the streets of Sirte. Since that time, Libya has fallen into chaos and is increasingly becoming a hotbed of terrorism, economically stagnant, politically unstable and extremely dangerous. Certainly, a far cry from what it had been during the tenure of Air Marshal Italo Balbo to be sure. And this in a country, it is worth remembering, where Italian-born Roman legions marched long before the first Arab ever cross the Sinai or the name of Mohammed was known to the world.

The wartime peak of Italian expansion
No, the historical record clearly shows that Italians have no reason to feel ashamed of their colonial past overall. Certainly there were unpleasant episodes in a couple of places but, on the whole, these parts of the world often saw their only periods of sustained stability and progress while under the Italian flag and the Crown of Savoy. Without exception, none of them have fared better after Italian rule was withdrawn. On the contrary, their record as independent states has been a record of failure. That does not mean, of course, that anyone in any of these places is nostalgic for the colonial past. National and racial awareness exists today in a way that did not exist in those days, though it is interesting to note that the Albanian government recently requested the return of the Italian military to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants (aka “refugees”) into their country, many of them fleeing former Italian colonies that have since become failed states. That, in itself, rather tells the story doesn’t it? European rule once came to Africa and, now that it is gone, Africans (and others) are now coming to Europe to live once more under their former imperial rulers.

27 September, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

 Prudence and Simplicity

1. Prudence is one of the cardinal virtues frequently recommended in the Sacred Scriptures. “If you receive my words and treasure my commands,” the Holy Spirit tells us in the Book of Proverbs, “turning your ear to wisdom, inclining your heart to understanding… if you seek her like silver, and like hidden treasures search her out: then you will understand the fear of the Lord: the knowledge of God you will find.” (Prov. 2:2-6) Then, He promises, God will counsel and protect you, “for wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will please your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you; saving you from the way of evil men.” (Cf. Prov. 2:2-12)

The word ‘prudence,’ as St. Thomas explains, is derived from the word ‘providence,’ and it consists in ordering everything correctly towards its proper end. (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 49, a. 6) From that we can see how necessary this virtue is. A man who can order everything correctly towards its own end, does everything as it ought to be done. He will have achieved true wisdom, which is the foundation of sanctity.

To speak when we should speak; to be silent when we should be silent; never to leave unsaid what ought to be said, but to know when we should speak, and how much; to pay attention mainly to necessary things, that is, to God and to the supernatural; to avoid every thought which would separate us from God and endanger our salvation; to love God more than anything else and more than ourselves, because He is the supreme good and our supreme happiness; to love other things only in God and for Him solely; to direct all our actions proportionately towards God, towards our neighbour, and towards ourselves, and to avoid every act which would alienate us from God, which would be contrary to His precepts, or which would endanger our eternal salvation.

And this is true prudence, which is founded on divine wisdom and must be continually nourished by the grace of God and inspired by charity. Since this virtue pervades and embraces all the others, a man who achieves perfection in it has reached the peak of holiness.

But perhaps we are too preoccupied with worldly interests, and so stray from the straight path which leads to God and to sanctity.

2. Apart from the Christian virtue of prudence, there is also the prudence of the world and of the flesh. This, however, as St. Francis de Sales explains, is really duplicity and craft; it does not avoid dissimulation and falsehood; it seeks its own profit only and is prepared to obtain its end by any means. “I know nothing at all about the art of falsehood, dissimulation, and pretence,” St. Francis wrote to the Bishop of Belley, “which is the centre of political activity and the mainspring of human prudence. That which I have on my lips I have in my heart. I hate duplicity like death.” (Letters of St. Francis de Sales (Spirito), Bk. II, c. 24. Letter 178) Our prudence should likewise be united with rectitude, sincerity, and simplicity. We must speak the truth with charity and never lie or deceive. “For we can do nothing against the truth,” says St. Paul, “but only for the truth.” (2 Cor. 13:8) He advises the Ephesians “to practice the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15) To the Romans he writes: “I would have you wise as to what is good, and guileless as to what is evil.” (Rom. 16:19) The virtue of Christian prudence, then, consists in complete exactitude in all that is good combined with a holy simplicity free from any taint of duplicity or evil.

3. “Be therefore wise as serpents,” Jesus directs us in the Gospel, “and guileless as doves.” (Mt. 10:16) We must be prudent, but also simple and straightforward.

St. Francis de Sales comments on these words of the Gospel: “A white dove is more pleasing than a serpent. Should we try to combine their gifts, we could not transfer the simplicity of the dove to the serpent, because he would still be a serpent; but it would be easier to bestow the prudence of the serpent on the dove, because in doing so the dove would not cease to be beautiful. Let us therefore embrace this holy simplicity, which is the sister of innocence and the daughter of charity.” (Letter 119)

Christian prudence must always be united with holy simplicity, which is an ornament of the soul.


IN LUMINE FIDEI: 27 SEPTEMBER – SAINTS COSMAS AND DAMIAN (Martyrs): The brothers Cosmas and Damian were Arabians of noble extraction, born in the town of Aegae. They were physicians, and during the reign...


IN LUMINE FIDEI: 27 SEPTEMBER — SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: Dom Prosper Guéranger: The Gospel which is now assigned to the Mass of the Seventeenth Sunday has given it the name of the Sunday of...

27 September, A Chesterton Calendar


Individually, men may present a more or less rational appearance, eating, sleeping, and scheming. But humanity as a whole is changeful, mystical, fickle, delightful. Men are men, but Man is a woman.

'The Napoleon of Notting Hill.'

The Holy Rule of St Benedict, Fathyer of Western Monks

CHAPTER VII. Of Humility

27 Jan. 28 May. 27 Sept.

Let him consider that he is always beheld from heaven by God, and that his actions are everywhere seen by the eye of the Divine Majesty, and are every hour reported to Him by His angels. This the prophet telleth us, when he sheweth how God is ever present in our thoughts, saying: “God searcheth the heart and the reins.” And again “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of men.” And he also saith: “Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off”; and “The thought of man shall confess to Thee.” In order, therefore, that he may be on his guard against evil thoughts, let the humble brother say ever in his heart: “Then shall I be unspotted before Him, if I shall have kept me from mine iniquity.”

28 September, The Roman Martyrology

Quarto Kaléndas Octóbris Luna decima Anno Domini 2020

September 28th 2020, the 10th day of the Moon, was born into the better life:

In Bohemia, the holy martyr Wenceslaus, Duke of that country, glorious for his holiness and his miracles, who was murdered in the house of his brother, and thus gained the palm of victory.
At Rome, the holy martyr Privatus. He had been full of sores, whereof he had been healed by the blessed Pope Callistus. Under the Emperor Alexander, for Christ's faith's sake, he was flogged to death with scourges loaded with lead.
Likewise at Rome, the holy martyr Stacteus.
In Africa, the holy martyrs Martial, Lawrence, and twenty others.
At Antioch, in Pisidia, (in the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian,) the holy martyrs Mark, who was a shepherd, Alphius, Alexander, and Zosimus who were his brethren, Nicon, Neon, Heliodorus, and thirty soldiers who were brought to believe in Christ by beholding the wonders wrought by the blessed Mark, and were crowned with martyrdom in diverse manners and places.
Upon the same day, under the Emperor Decius, the holy martyr Maximus.
At Toulouse, (at the beginning of the fifth century,) the holy Confessor Exuperius, Bishop (of that see,) concerning whom holy Jerome hath told how sparing he was to himself and how open-handed to others.
At Genoa, (likewise in the fifth century,) the holy Confessor Salomon, Bishop (of that see.)
At Brescia, (also in the fifth century,) holy Silvinus, Bishop (of that see.)
On the same day, the holy Virgin Eustochion, the daughter of blessed Paula, (and disciple of holy Jerome,) who was brought up with other virgins at the Lord's birthplace, and passed away, glorious for. eminent good works, to be for ever with this same Lord.
In Germany, (in the eighth century,) the holy Virgin Lioba, eminent for the gift of miracles.
V. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
R. Thanks be to God.

Memes of the Day

Saturday, 26 September 2020

/Satire/ Becciu Gets the Sack /satire/

Eccles has a bit of fun with Cardinal Becciu's resignation, which is probably in advance of indictment for financial corruption.

From Eccles is Saved

The phone rang. "Headmaster wants to see you, Eminence," said Gonzalo Aemilius, the Pope's personal secretary. "Better stick some books down the back of your cassock, you're in for a caning."

Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, cautiously entered the Pope's study, known colloquially as the Awful Office. Was the Headmaster going to tick him off for recommending Ruth Bader Ginsburg for canonization on the advice of James Martin, Massimo Faggioli, and several others who had the Pope's ear? Or was it something else?

Pope and Becciu

No, Cardinal, I really can't accept your cheque while people are watching."

"I have here a letter from the Count of Monte Ballarat," said the Pope. "In fact it's really Cardinal Pell, the man imprisoned in the Château Wallaby for fifteen years on trumped-up charges. He has now escaped and is starting to take revenge on the people who betrayed him. I'll Becciu weren't expecting that! (Joke!)"

"But why does he use the alias 'Count of Monte Ballarat'?" asked Becciu.

"He knows very well that my secretary has orders to tear up all letters from cardinals on sight. We don't want any more Dubia slipping through! Now, Pell was looking into the finances of the Vatican before he was sent away, and has laid some very severe charges against you."

Cardinal Pell laughing

Cardinal Pell is deeply grieved by the downfall of Becciu.

"Does he know about my private company Vatican Embezzlement Inc.?"

"More than that. He has been following the money, and knows that it is wholly owned by Becciu Slushfunds, which in turn is a shadow company that sends money to Becciu Investments, and this in turn funnels its profits into Becciu Laundries and Dry Cleaning. It seems that all you launder is money..."

"It's just accounting, Holy Headmaster, you wouldn't understand it."


Suspicious going-on in the Vatican laundry.

"I'll have to do something about this you know. Apparently all the newspapers have been carrying the story for over a year, except the ones I read: La Civiltà Cattolica, The National Catholic Reporter, America, the Tablet and the Beano. You're FIRED!"

"You mean...?"

"Hand over your red hat and your key to the Cardinals' washroom. Cardinal Cocainepusher wants me to tell you that you're not invited to any more Saturday night parties. Gammarelli's will no longer be giving you a staff discount."

"Can I keep my email business, sending messages to gullible people offering them a million euros if they let me use their bank account?"

"Yes, no problem, Giovanni. And don't worry - I'm going to commission a full report on the whole affair, but it's in a queue after the McCarrick report, so you're all right for ten years or so."


"Just one thing though... the Count of Monte Ballarat says that there are more people he wants to expose, including FATHER BIG, himself. Do you think he knows about that money we've been getting from Soros and Xi Jinping?"

Cardinal Becciu, Top Vatican Hatchet Man, Has Unexpectedly Resigned

Consecrated Bishop, 1 December 2001; appointed Sostituto, the second-ranking official at the Secretariat of State, 2011, both when Benedict was Pope.

From One Peter Five

By Steve Skojec

Allow me to briefly bury the lede.

I’ve often said that I’m not a journalist, I’m a commentator, and as such, I don’t make an attempt to hide my bias in the interest of the expected, but in most cases fictitious, ideal of journalistic objectivity.

Today, I’m feeling the need to actually turn the bias up a few notches.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu was, as far as I could tell from my work covering the Vatican 6,000 miles away, one of the dirtiest political operatives in Bergoglian Rome — and unsurprisingly, this made him one of the Vatican’s most quickly rising stars. He was at the center of shady real estate deals, the ouster (and possibly the framing) of Cardinal Pell, the ouster (and possibly the framing) of Vatican auditor Libero Milone, the coup to take over the Knights of Malta, and, in Archbishop Vigano’s original testimony, it was alleged that he was one of those who “knew in every detail the situation regarding Cardinal McCarrick.”

And today, very unexpectedly, this newly-minted Cardinal and central player in the Francis regime, who appeared every bit the untouchable hatchet man of the Vatican Mafioso, resigned both from his office as the recently-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, and from any rights appurtenant to members of the College of Cardinals.

And Francis accepted this resignation, apparently without comment. Which to my mind means — and I’m just spitballing here, so check my math — that whatever is coming for Becciu is something they can’t control, and they’re trying to get ahead of it. I’m guessing civil action of some kind, most likely related to financial malfeasance. It’s hard to guess for sure when you’re dealing with so many cretinous possibilities. I really just want to grab some popcorn and let the mystery unfold as I settle in for the show.

The usually reserved Ed Condon of CNA seems as pleased as I am at the announcement:

CNA takes the time to outline some of the scandals associated with his name. Here’s a bit:

Becciu served as “sostituto,” or second-ranking official at the Secretariat of State, from 2011 to 2018, when Pope Francis named him a cardinal and moved him to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. During his tenure in that position, he was linked to a number of financial scandals, most recently the Secretariat’s investment of hundreds of millions of euros with the Italian businessman Rafaelle Mincione and the controversial purchase of a London building.

CNA has previously reported that a substantial part of the $200 million used to finance the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a luxury development at 60 Sloane Avenue came through credit extended by BSI, a Swiss bank with a long track record of violating money-laundering and fraud safeguards in its dealings with sovereign wealth funds.

CNA has also reported that in 2015 Becciu seemed to have made an attempt to disguise the loans on Vatican balance sheets by cancelling them out against the value of the property purchased in the London neighborhood of Chelsea, an accounting maneuver prohibited by new financial policies approved by Pope Francis in 2014.

The alleged attempt to hide the loans off-books was detected by the Prefecture for the Economy, then led by Cardinal George Pell. Senior officials at the Prefecture for the Economy told CNA that when Pell began to demand details of the loans, especially those involving BSI, then-Archbishop Becciu called the cardinal in to the Secretariat of State for a “reprimand.”

Becciu has previously defended the London investment as “accepted practice,” despite Vatican prosecutors staging raids on the offices of several of Becciu’s closest collaborators in the Secretariat, and despite the arrest of one of the businessmen involved.

CNA has also reported that Becciu was involved in a complicated series of events and financial transactions around the purchase of the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), an Italian hospital that collapsed in 2013 under 800 million euros of debt through theft and fraud.

In 2016, Becciu was instrumental in bringing to a halt Vatican financial reforms initiated by Cardinal George Pell. Although Pope Francis had given the newly created Prefecture for the Economy autonomous oversight authority over Vatican finances, Becciu interfered when the prefecture planned an external audit of all Vatican departments, to be conducted by the firm PriceWaterhouseCooper.

CNA says that Becciu cancelled these reforms without the approval of his boss, the pope, but if you believe that I’ve got a hot tip on the Ponte Sant’Angelo being for sale — for you, special price!

It’s possible, of course, that we’ll never know what prompted Becciu’s rapid departure from his very promising career — after all, he was only made a cardinal in 2018 — but I suspect we will hear something soon enough. This isn’t the sort of about face one makes mid-soar unto the heights of ecclesial power for no particular reason.

All I know is that another crooked Francis henchman got taken to the woodshed, and that’s very happy news indeed. Another one bites the dust.

UPDATE – 9/24/2020 3:09PM MST: The inimitable Catholic Sat just tweeted the following, and as I thought, the Vatican was trying to get ahead of a story coming out about just how corrupt Becciu is.It’ll be interesting to see what we can learn once this story is translated into English: