Sunday, 5 February 2023

Even Abortion Freedom Has Become a Matter of Contention. Two Bishops in a Duel

VII strikes again! The last living Italian bishop to have taken part in it says that early abortions are no sin. No wonder it was a disaster!

From Settimo Cielo

By Sandro Magister

It could very well come as a stunner that a bishop would see the need to speak out in defense of a doctrine that at first glance is beyond dispute, within the Church: the inviolability of every new human life from its conception. The bishop is Domenico Sorrentino (in the photo), age 74, head of the dioceses of Assisi, Nocera Umbra, Gualdo Tadino, and Foligno, former secretary of the Vatican's congregation for divine worship. He has done so with a two-page article in the historic Catholic magazine of the birthplace of Saint Francis, “ Rocca ,” in its latest issue dated February 1.

Yet there is a reason, and of no small account. Because a few months before, in this same magazine, another highly esteemed bishop, Luigi Bettazzi, age 99, the last Italian bishop still alive to have taken part in Vatican Council II, resolutely contested none other than that doctrine, arguing that one is a “human person” only “after the fourth/fifth month” of pregnancy, and therefore prior to this stage abortion is not murder and not even a sin, if carried out for good reasons.

It was in “Rocca” of August 15 that Bettazzi upheld this disruptive thesis. And in mid-November, still in the same magazine, an accomplished moral theologian, Giannino Piana, also stepped in to give him a helping hand. Seventh Heaven reported the story on November 23 in this post:

> Free to Abort Up to the Fifth Month. A Bishop and a Theologian Explain Why

To Bettazzi and Piana, the bishop of Assisi objects and explains that the reasons they have adopted are unacceptable. Of course, he admits, Catholic doctrine “recognizes development,” but not “in the opposite direction” as they have gone, meaning backwards, digging up again as they do “the medieval theory of the delayed animation of the fetus.” Because modern scientific discoveries have by now verified that “from conception one is dealing with a quite individuated human being, with his own genetic makeup that characterizes him throughout his life,” immediately an “other” with respect to the mother.

And this new human being, Sorrentino continues, is from the first moment also a “person.” He is so for reasons “philosophical and juridical, in connection with genetics and biology.” He is so even for those who do not believe in an immortal soul infused by God into the just-fertilized egg.

To the objection of Bettazzi, who from the fact that many fertilized ova are lost before implanting in the mother's uterus came up with the question: “Then even nature kills 40 percent of human beings?”, Sorrentino replies: “Who authorizes us to consider non-implanted ova as simply lost? We can but enter on tiptoe into the logic of nature and the Creator when it comes to the mystery of life, which in its multifaceted expression largely exceeds our grasp. Here we are truly between earth and heaven.”

Also to the primacy that Bettazzi accorded to intuition more than to reason, meaning the intuition that grants recognition as a “person” only to the human being who is already well formed and capable of breathing, after the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, Sorrentino replies by warning against “mistaking intuitive for prescientific knowledge,” because then “we would risk still believing that it is the sun that revolves around the earth.”

“In any case,” the bishop of Assisi continues, “the discussion on when man becomes a person is of little help in making the sin of abortion less serious, since the mere well-founded probability that the zygote is a human being entails the duty to respect its right to life.” But be careful – he warns – not to heap words like “murder” on the woman who has chosen to abort. “In human and pastoral terms one must always weigh one's words, in order to tell the truth without crucifying people, delicately opening them to a reparative awareness, to regenerating mercy, to hope.”

And how to judge a law that allows abortion, like the one in effect in Italy as well? Sorrentino rules out the notion that its application can be considered, under certain conditions, a “lesser evil,” as asserted by the theologian Piana. “The laws that have liberalized abortion have fostered a culture that has become accustomed to its practice, even considering it a right. Cultural, moral, and political approval on this issue is now protected by taboo. All the courage of prophecy is needed to publicly declare oneself in favor of respect for every life conceived. However, it is a prophecy for which the humanity of tomorrow will thank us.”

In concrete terms, Sorrentino continues, what needs to be done is “to alleviate the burden of women, when everything is driving them to abort. I maintain that there must be more investment in a culture of fraternity, which also includes specific help for mothers in difficulty, in the footsteps of what the pregnancy resource centers do.”

The bishop of Assisi concludes:

“In the aforementioned reflection on rational knowledge and intuitive knowledge, Bishop Bettazzi attributes the latter, in a special way, to women, leaving to her the prerogative of recognizing the human being in her womb, also drawing the conclusion that it is mainly, if not exclusively, up to her to decide whether to carry on or terminate a pregnancy, within the first four/five months. Looking at the faces of mothers, this seems to me such a sad deduction. [...] In reality what each of us perceives of himself is no less intuitive. And I know (and I really believe I'm not the only one!) that in retracing my life I come to that tiny cell that my mom Irene – blessed be! Lei – took care not to expel from her womb di lei. She knew nothing – with her fifth grade education – about DNA and the rest. But she knew (intuited?) that that invisible little creature (perhaps only suspected, in any case awaited) in her womb was me. I know tiny. I'm fragile. But that was really me. And I thank the good Good infinitely for that.”

*

The complete text of the article by Assisi bishop Domenico Sorrentino, in “Rocca” of February 1 2023:

> Abortion. That conceived was me


We Have a Date for The Consecration - The Immaculata Project

Mark your calendar! Wednesday, 3 May 2023!

Sung Mass - Septuagesima Sunday

Today's Holy Mass from the SSPX District of Asia. You may follow the Mass @ Divinum Officium.

St Agatha, Virgin & Martyr

A sermon for today's Saint. Please, remember to say 3 Hail Marys for the priest.

Septuagesima Sunday

A sermon for today's Feast. Please, remember to say 3 Hail Marys for the priest.

Collect of St Agatha, Virgin & Martyr - Indulgenced Today

According to the Apostolic Penitentiary, a partial indulgence is granted to those who on the feast of any Saint recite in his honour the oration of the Missal or any other approved by legitimate Authority.


V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
Let us pray.
O God, Who, amidst the wondrous work of thy Divine power, dost make even weak women to be more than conquerors in the uplifting of their testimony, mercifully grant unto all us who do keep the Birthday of thy blessed handmaiden and witness Agatha, grace to follow her steps to thee.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.

I would assume that this indulgence also attaches to the recitation of the Troparion and Kontakion of the Saint of the day in the Eastern Calendar which are in my Eastern Rite post at 00.06.

1st Friday Devotion - Promises of the Sacred Heart

St Agatha Virgin & Martyr, A Bi-Ritual Saint

St Agatha is mentioned by name in the Roman Canon. Today, in both West and East, is her Feast.

From the West:


The holy virgin Agatha was born in Sicily of noble parents. The cities of Palermo and Catania both claim the honour of having been the place of her birth. She received the crown of a glorious martyrdom at Catania under the persecution of the Emperor Decius. Her beauty, which was as great as her chaste and innocent life was praiseworthy, attracted the notice of Quintianus, the governor of Sicily. He spared no means by which to compass his lustful designs on the innocent virgin, but seeing that she scorned his offers, he had her apprehended as being guilty of the Christian superstition, and gave her in charge of a woman named Aphrodisia, who was noted for her power of alluring to evil. But finding that her words and company had no effect on the holy maiden, and that she was immoveable in her resolution to maintain both her faith and her virginity, Aphrodisia told Quintianus that she was but losing her time with Agatha. He then ordered the virgin to be brought before him, and he said to her: “Are you not, that are so noble by birth, ashamed to lead the life of a base and slavish Christian? She replied: “Better by far is the baseness and slavery of a Christian than the wealth and pride of kings.”

Angered by her words, the governor bids her choose one of these two: adoration to the gods or sharp tortures. On her refusal to deny her faith, he ordered her to be buffeted with blows and cast into prison. On the following day she was again led to trial. Finding that she was still firm in her purpose, they hoisted her on the rack and laid hot iron plates on her flesh, and cut off her breasts. While suffering this last torture, she thus spoke to Quintianus: “Cruel tyrant, are you not ashamed to cut a woman’s breast, that was yourself fed at the breast of your mother?” She was then sent back to prison where, during the night, a venerable old man, who told her that he was the Apostle of Christ, healed her. A third time she was summoned by the governor and being still firm in confessing Christ, she was rolled upon sharp potsherds and burning coals. Suddenly, the whole city was shaken by a violent earthquake and two of the governor’s intimate friends were killed by the falling of two walls. The people were in such a state of excitement that the governor began to fear a sedition, and therefore ordered the almost lifeless Agatha to be secretly conveyed back to her prison. She thus prayed to our Lord: “O God! that has watched over me from my infancy, that has separated me from the love of this world, that has given me strength to bear the tortures of my executioners, receive my soul!” Her prayer being ended, her soul took its flight to Heaven on the Nones of February (February 5th), and the Christians buried her body.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:

Since the commencement of the Ecclesiastical Year we have kept the feasts of two out of the four illustrious Virgins whose names are daily honoured in the Holy Sacrifice of the Lamb: the third comes today, lighting up the Heaven of the Church with her bright soft rays. Lucy, first. Then, Agnes and now the gracious visit of Agatha. The fourth, Caecilia, the immortal Caecilia, is to be one of that magnificent constellation which gives such splendour to the closing of the year. Today, then, let us keep a feast in honour of Agatha, the Virgin Daughter of that same fair Sicily which can boast of her Lucy. We must not allow the holy sadness of our present Season to take anything from the devotion we owe to our Saint. The joy with which we celebrate her merits will lead us to study her virtues. She will repay us by her prayers. She will encourage us to persevere in the path which is to bring us to the God she so nobly loved and served, and with whom she is now forever united.
*****
How lovely are your palms, Agatha! But how long and cruel was your combat for them! The day yours. Your faith and your virginity triumphed but the battlefield was streamed with your blood, and your glorious wounds bear testimony to the Angels how stern was the courage of your fidelity to Jesus, your Spouse. When your enemies left you, it was to Him you looked up, and then your soul flew to its rest in the bosom of your King and God. The whole Church keeps feast today, praising her Lord in you, great Martyr and Virgin! She knows the love you bear her and how, amid the joys of Heaven, her interests and her wants are the object of your prayers. You are our Sister. Be too our Mother by interceding for us. Centuries have passed away since that day on which your soul quitted the body you had sanctified by purity and suffering, but the great battle between the spirit and the flesh is still waging here on Earth, and will so to the end of time. Assist us in the struggle. Keep up within our hearts the holy fire which the world and our passions are ever seeking to quench.
It is now the season when every Christian should renew his whole being by repentance and compunction. We know the power of your prayer. Let it procure us these gifts: the fear of God, which keeps down the workings of corrupt nature; the spirit of penance, which repairs the injuries caused by our sins, and a solid love for our dear Lord, which sweetens the yoke and ensures perseverance. More than once a whole people has witnessed how a relic of yours, your veil, has checked the stream of lava which rolled down the sides of Etna. We are threatened with a torrent of vice which will drive the world back to pagan corruption unless Divine Mercy stay its wild fury, and prayers such as yours can obtain it for us. Delay not, O Agatha! Each day gives strength to the danger. Not a nation but what is now infected with the poison of a literature that is infidel and immoral. By your prayers keep the poisonous cup from them that have not tasted, neutralise its power in them that have drunk its venom of death. Oh! spare us the shame of seeing our Europe the slave of sensuality and the dupe of Hell.

From The Golden Legend of Blessed Jacobus Voragine, translated by William Caxton in 1483.

St Agatha the virgin was right fair, noble body and of heart, and was rich of goods. This glorious virgin served God in the city of Catania, leading a pure and holy life. Quintianus the provost of Sicily, being of a low lineage, was lecherous, avaricious, and a miscreant and paynim, and for to accomplish his evil desires fleshly, and to have riches, did do take St. Agatha to be presented and brought tofore him, and began to behold her with a lecherous sight; and for to have her himself, he would have induced her to make sacrifice unto the idols.

QUINTIANUS CONSIGNS AGATHA TO THE KEEPING OF APHRODISIA

And when he saw her firm in her purpose, he put her in the keeping of a woman named Aphrodisia, which had nine daughters, over foul, like unto the mother. This did he for to induce St. Agatha to do his will within thirty days. Aphrodisia and her daughters entreated the holy virgin to consent to the will of the provost, and sometime they made to her great promises of temporal goods and of great eases, and sometimes they made to her menaces of grievous torments for to suffer, and great pains, to which St. Agatha answered freely: My courage and my thought be so firmly founded upon the firm stone of Jesu Christ, that for no pain it may not be changed; your words be but wind, your promises be but rain, and your menaces be as rivers that pass, and how well that all these things hurtle at the foundement of my courage, yet for that it shall not move.

In this manner answered she, and alway wept in making her prayers, and much great desire had she to come to Jesu Christ by martyrdom and by torments. When Aphrodisia saw well that in no wise she would be moved, she went to the provost Quintianus, and said to him: Sooner should the stones wax soft, and iron turn to soft lead, than turn the courage of this maid, or to take from her the Christian faith. I and my daughters have done none other thing night ne day, one after another, but to labour how we might turn her heart to your consenting. I have promised her in your name your precious adornments, clothes of gold, houses, lands, towns, servants, and great meinys and all this she despiseth and reputeth them at no value.

REFUSING QUINTIANUS’ COMMAND TO WORSHIP IDOLS, AGATHA IS IMPRISONED

When Quintianus heard this, anon he made her to come tofore him in judgment, and demanded her of her lineage, and at the last he would constrain her to make sacrifice unto the idols. And St. Agatha answered that they were no gods, but were devils that were in the idols made of marble and of wood, and overgilt. Quintianus said: Choose one of two; or do sacrifice to our gods, or thou shalt suffer pain and torments.

St. Agatha said: Thou sayst that they be gods because thy wife was such an one as was Venus, thy goddess, and thou thyself as Jupiter, which was an homicide and evil.

Quintianus said: It appeareth well that thou wilt suffer torments, in that thou sayst to me villainy.

St. Agatha said: I marvel much that so wise a man is become such a fool, that thou sayest of them to be thy gods, whose life thou ne thy wife will follow. If they be good I would that thy life were like unto theirs; and if thou refusest their life, then art thou of one accord with me. Say then that they be evil and so foul, and forsake their living, and be not of such life as thy gods were.

Quintianus said: What goest thou thus vainly speaking? Make sacrifice unto the gods, or if thou do not I shall make thee to die by divers torments. St. Agatha abode firm and stable in the faith. Then Quintianus did do put her in a dark prison, and she went also gladly, and with as good will as she had been prayed to go to a wedding.

AFTER A SECOND REFUSAL, QUINTIANUS ORDERS HER BREASTS REMOVED

On the morning Quintianus made her to be brought tofore him in judgment, and said to her: Agatha, how art thou advised for thy health? She answered: Christ is mine health.

Quintianus said: Reny Christ thy God, by which thou mayest escape thy torments.

St. Agatha answered: Nay, but reny thou thine idols which be of stones and of wood, and adore thy maker, that made heaven and earth, and if thou do not thou shalt be tormented in the perpetual fire in hell.

Then in great ire Quintianus did her to be drawn and stretched on a tree and tormented, and said to her: Refuse thy vain opinion that thou hast, and thou shalt be eased of thy pain.

And she answered: I have as great dilection in these pains as he that saw come to him that thing which he most coveteth to see, or as he that had found great treasure. And like as the wheat may not be put in the garner unto the time that the chaff be beaten off, in like wise my soul may not enter into the realm of heaven, but if thou wilt torment my body by thy ministers.

Then Quintianus did her to be tormented in her breasts and paps and commanded that her breasts and mammels should be drawn and cut off. When the ministers had accomplished his commandment, then said St. Agatha: Over felon and cruel tyrant, hast thou no shame to cut off that in a woman which thou didst suck in thy mother, and whereof thou wert nourished? But I have my paps whole in my soul, of which I nourish all my wits, the which I have ordained to serve our Lord Jesu Christ, sith the beginning of my youth.

ST. PETER HEALS AGATHA IN PRISON

After, Quintianus did do put her in prison, and commanded that none should enter for to heal her, ne none should give to her meat ne drink. And when she was fast closed in the prison, there came an ancient noble man, and tofore him a child bearing a light, and divers ointments in his hand. This noble man said that he was a surgeon, and in comforting her said: How well that the tyrant hath tormented thee bodily, nevertheless thou hast more tormented him in his heart by thy answers. I was there when he made thy paps to be cut off, and saw how I might well heal them.

Then said she: I knew never of medicine corporal, and it were shame to me to take it now. That which I have avowed and kept to my Lord, sith mine infancy, yet I shall keep it if it please him.

The ancient nobleman answered: I am also Christian, and a good master and leech, be not ashamed.

She answered: Whereof should I be ashamed? Thou art ancient and of great age, and how well that I be a young maid, nevertheless my body is defeated by the torments, that the wounds suffer nothing to enter into my thought whereof I should be ashamed, and not for but I thank thee, fair father, that thou art so diligent to heal me, but know that my body shall receive no medicine of no man.

And this nobleman said: Wherefore sufferest thou not me that I may heal and guerish thee?

She said: Because I have Jesu Christ, my Saviour, which with a word healeth all, and if he will he may heal me.

And the good man smiling said: And he hath sent me hither for to heal thee; I am his apostle, and know verily that thou art whole in the name of him. And anon the apostle vanished away.

Then she fell down in prayers and said: Lord Jesu Christ, I yield thee thankings that thou hast remembered me, and hast sent thine apostle St. Peter to me, which hath comforted me, and healed my wounds. And after the orison made, she saw that her paps were again restored to her and all her wounds healed.

And all that night was the prison fulfilled with great clearness and light, so that the keepers fled for the great dread that they had, and left the prison all open. Then said to her the other prisoners that were in the prison, that she should go their way, and she said: That shall never happen that the keepers of the prison shall suffer any harm for me, ne that I shall lose my crown; I shall abide in the faith of Jesu Christ my Lord, which hath comforted and healed me.

THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. AGATHA

After four days Quintianus made her to be brought tofore him in judgment, and said to her that she should do sacrifice to the idols.

She answered: These words be vain, and thy commandments evil, they make the air to stink, he is much mechant that believeth in a stone without entendment, and leaveth our Lord the very God that hath healed me, and hath restored to me again my paps.

Quintianus demanded her: Who is he that hath healed thee?

She said: Jesu Christ.

Quintianus said: Namest thou yet Jesu Christ?

She answered: I shall have in my heart Jesu Christ as long as I shall live.

Quintianus said: Yet shalt thou see if he may help and heal thee. And then he made her, all naked, to be rolled upon burning brands, and anon the ground where the holy virgin was rolled on, began to tremble like an earthquave, and a part of the wall fell down upon Silvain, counsellor of Quintianus, and upon Fastion his friend, by whose counsel she had been so tormented. And then all the city of Catania was abashed, and the people came running unto the house of Quintianus, saying, in a great bruit that the city was in a great peril for the torments that he did to St. Agatha.

Quintianus redoubled the bruit of the people, and went out behind and commanded that she should be remised in prison. When she came into the prison she joined her hands, holding them up to heavenward, and said in praying: Lord God Jesu Christ which hast created me of nought, and sith my youth hast kept me and hast suffered me to live well in my youth, which hast taken from mine heart the love of the world and hast made me to overcome the torments, and hast lent me patience among the pains, I pray thee that thou take my spirit, for it is time that thou make me to depart from this world and to come to thy mercy.

This orison and prayer made she on high tofore many persons. And anon after she gave up the ghost, and rendered her soul, the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-three in the time of Decius, the emperor of Rome.

HER BURIAL

After this the Christian people took the body for to bury it worshipfully, and whiles they arrayed it with ointments for to embalm the corpse, anon came a young man clad in silk, and well an hundred that followed him, richly clothed, which were never tofore seen in the city, ne never after also. This young man, whom followed the fair company, set him on that one side of the tomb in which the body should be put, and when the body was embalmed within the tomb, this young man set, at the head of the body, a short table of marble stone, in which was written this scripture: Mentem sanctam, spontaneam, honorem deo dedit et patriae liberationem fecit; which is as much to say: The holy saint Agatha had always holy thought and pure, and gave honor to God with a free will in all her works, and purchased by her prayers peace and deliverance to all the country.

After that the table containing this scripture was set at her head, the young man and all his company departed from the tomb, being closed, without appearing any more afterward, wherefore it is supposed that this young man was her good angel. This was published over all, whereof the Jews and Saracens began to sing and worship the sepulchre of the tomb of St. Agatha. Quintianus, the provost, died of an evil death in the way as he went for to seek the goods and riches of St. Agatha, and also for to have taken her parents, and never after could be known where her body became.

A MIRACLE OF ST. AGATHA

And for to prove that she had prayed for the salvation of the country, at the beginning of February, the year after her martyrdom, there arose a great fire, and came from the mountain toward the city of Catania and burnt the earth and stones, it was so fervent. Then ran the paynims to the sepulchre of St. Agatha and took the cloth that lay upon her tomb, and held it abroad against the fire, and anon on the ninth day after, which was the day of her feast, ceased the fire as soon as it came to the cloth that they brought from her tomb, showing that our Lord kept the city from the said fire by the merits of St. Agatha. To whom pray we that she by her prayers may get and impetre grace of our Lord to be kept from all perils of fire in this world, and when we shall depart hence to eschew the perpetual fire, and to come to the glory and joy in heaven. Amen.

From the East: 

The Holy Virgin Martyr Agatha was the fifteen-year-old daughter of rich and respected Christian parents from the city of Palermo (formerly Panormos) in Sicily. During the persecution under the emperor Decius (249-251), the city prefect of Catania, Quintianus, having heard about Agatha’s wealth and beauty, sent his soldiers after her to bring her to trial as a Christian.

At Catania, they housed the saint with a certain rich woman, who had five daughters. They all attempted to tempt Saint Agatha with fine clothes, amusements and entertainment, urging her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saint disdained all these things. The more they tried to move her, the more resolute she became. She prayed that she might soon face martyrdom.

During her interrogation under Quintianus, the holy martyr was swayed neither by the flattery, nor by the threats, and she was subjected to cruel torments. They also tried to remove her breasts with metal tongs, and when this failed, they used knives.

The holy Apostle Peter appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds. Saint Agatha was led to torture again, and Quintianus was astonished to see her completely healed, with no trace of cutting. Then the torture began once more.

At this moment an earthquake took place in the city, and many buildings were destroyed. Among those killed were two of Quintianus’s advisors. The terrified inhabitants rushed to Quintianus, demanding an end to Agatha’s tortures. Fearing a revolt by the people, Quintianus sent Saint Agatha back to prison. There the martyr, offering thanks to God, peacefully surrendered her soul to the Lord.

Troparion — Tone 4

Your lamb Agatha, calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice: / “I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering. / In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You. / Accept me as a pure sacrifice, / for I have offered myself in love.” / Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

Kontakion — Tone 4

May the Church be robed today in a garment of glorious porphyry, / dyed by the pure blood of the martyr Agatha, / and let us cry out: “Rejoice, pride of Catania!”

The EU is Not Europe, Part I: A United Europe—An American Project

'[T]he United States of Europe has always been the Europe of the United States.' Now, of course, the EU has become an all absorbing Leviathan.The first of at least two parts.

From The European Conservative

By John Laughland

The U.S.A. was determined to unite Europe militarily, politically, and economically for its own purposes, and the Cold War provided much of the pretext.

Europeans who are unhappy with the European Union find themselves at a disadvantage. The expression ‘Europe’ has a positive allure which Eurosceptics have not been able to puncture. This is why the EU’s supporters exploit it as a synonym for the organisation. Yet the confusion is decidedly unjust, not only because, as is well known, Europe is bigger and older than the EU but also for a more substantial and concrete reason. The process of European integration has historically not been a European project but rather an American one.

It is an American project both ideologically and politically. Ideologically because, from the American viewpoint, the European continent is home to quarrelsome micro-states still trapped in their own history, unlike the United States of America which broke away from its past, discovered the secret of good government in 1776, and never looked back. That secret is to be found in federalism and constructivism—the idea that a polity can be created ex nihilo, based on rational principles alone, and free from the determinisms of history. It is this invented nature of the American republic that gives it its famous millenarianism—novus ordo saeclorum or “the end of history” as it has been more commonly known in recent years. The European project is inspired by the same idea that Europe should turn its back on its own history and embrace a constructivist and rationalist project in order to achieve peace.

Politically, this deep American conviction that Europe should Americanise has been conjugated since 1945 with the conviction that the U.S. needs to maintain a military presence in Europe to ensure its global hegemony. Without a bridgehead on the Eurasian continent, the “island” state cannot hope to dominate the “World Island,” to use Sir Halford Mackinder’s terms for the U.S.A. and the Eurasian continent. Americans hold their inter-war isolationism responsible for the outbreak of World War II because, with a Hobbesian logic, they believe that their power is the only antidote to the otherwise anarchical society of international relations.

American politicians started to formulate these ideas as war raged in Europe, specifically attacking the sovereignty of European states. In the summer of 1941, the future secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, who had spent much of the 1920s and ’30s campaigning for world peace through internationalism, having been Robert Lansing’s secretary at Versailles, expressed his conviction that Europe’s “system of sovereign states” had “constantly and inevitably bred war.” Continental Europe, he urged, had to be organised as a “federated commonwealth.” This was several months before the U.S.A. even entered the conflict.

Dulles returned to this theme after the war. In January 1947, in a speech entitled “Europe must federate or perish,” he specifically said that American federalism was the model for Europe. Two months later, on 21 March, the U.S. Senate voted a resolution calling for “the creation of a United States of Europe.” In June, George Marshall, the Secretary of State, announced his plan in a speech at Harvard: it was accurately spun by the New York Times the following morning as “Marshall pleads for European Unity” because the 1948 European Recovery Act which his speech led to specifically called for an integrated European market. The Organisation for European Economic Cooperation was set up to create this integrated market, and in November 1949 it called for trade to be liberalised in Europe and for the creation of “a large single market in Europe”. 

All these American initiatives long predate the famous Declaration of 9 May 1950, read out by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, which announced the French proposal to create a Coal and Steel Community. This is usually but wrongly presented as the starting point of today’s European construction but the impetus for European unity did not come from Europe. It came largely from the U.S.A. 

The U.S.A. was determined to unite Europe militarily, politically, and economically for its own purposes, and the Cold War provided much of the pretext. Indeed, the American determination to forge a bridgehead on the European continent was a contributory factor to the outbreak of the East-West conflict which continues to wrack the continent to this day: the Soviets protested, as soon as the Marshall plan was announced, that it would compromise the independence of the states which agreed to be involved. Moscow did not, at that stage, envisage Europe being divided into two blocs. Stalin hoped until the 1950s that Germany would remain neutral like Austria and Finland.

Certainly, the first stages of European integration were inseparable from the creation of specifically trans-Atlantic structures. The dates speak for themselves. May 1948: the Europe Congress at The Hague; summer 1948: the creation of the American Committee on United Europe, chaired by the former head of the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA), Bill Donovan, with Allen Dulles, future Director of the CIA, as his Number 2; October 1948: the creation of the European Movement, secretly financed by the ACUE; 4 April 1949: the signature of the Washington treaty creating NATO; 5 May 1949: the signature of the Treaty of London creating the Council of Europe; 29 May 1949: the division of Germany by the creation of the (Western) Federal Republic out of the American, British, and French zones. NATO and the European construction are two sides of the same coin.

As the historian Richard Aldrich has shown, the European Movement would never have survived without the covert financial support it received from the U.S.A. Indeed, there was little appetite among Europeans themselves for reconciliation so the Americans decided to create it, or at least the appearance of it. The secretary of state, Dean Acheson, played an especially important role in the years 1948-1950. He helped marginalise the new Council of Europe as soon as the ink was dry on the London treaty which created it, because it had British intergovernmental—and not federalist—fingerprints all over it. Acheson told his continental European counterparts in October 1949 that nothing should stop them creating a federal structure, without Britain if necessary.

This is what they did when Schuman announced the Coal and Steel Community on 9 May 1950, an initiative from which Britain was excluded even though it was the biggest producer of coal and steel in Europe at the time. The real purpose of the Coal and Steel Community was to create a supranational structure with teeth in order to side-line the neutered talking-shop in Strasbourg. It was no coincidence that Dean Acheson met Schuman and Jean Monnet, the author of the Schuman plan, in Paris on 8 May 1950, the day before the famous Declaration. The countries concerned—the Benelux states and Italy—were themselves only told of the impending Declaration during the course of that same day, while the French waited until the next morning, the day of the Declaration itself (read out at 6pm) before informing the German Chancellor’s office of their plans, which had been concocted in secret: Jean Monnet himself referred to it as “a conspiracy.” So much for “Europe” coming together: the Schuman Declaration was a Franco-American ambush. In any case, the new “European Coal and Steel Community” took over from the International Authority for the Ruhr which the Americans had created, in collaboration with Jean Monnet, in 1947, to control Germany’s coal and steel production.

Events accelerated after the Schuman Declaration, largely because of the outbreak of the Korean war in June 1950. At a NATO meeting in September, Dean Acheson told Ernest Bevin and Robert Schuman that the U.S. had decided to rearm Germany, abandoning five years of U.S. policy based on demilitarisation, and also to station American troops permanently in Europe in order to redress the military imbalance vis-à-vis the Soviets. This, the Americans feared, could enable a Korean scenario to occur in Europe. “I want to see the Germans in uniform by the end of the year,” Acheson told his colleagues. 

The minutes of that meeting show Robert Schuman demurring, saying that French public opinion was not ready for the re-creation of the Wehrmacht which had occupied France only a few years previously. The dilemma was resolved when the French decided to dress up the American proposal as a European plan. Just over a fortnight after Schuman returned from New York, his boss, the French Prime Minister, René Pleven, announced a “European Defence Community” or European army. When Pleven addressed the French National Assembly, he specifically said that the new European army was intended to defend “the Atlantic community”. It was also at this time that an integrated command structure was created within NATO, placing all NATO armies under American command. (The decision was taken in late 1950 and actioned in April 1951.) This had not been in the original Washington treaty. 

Ever since these decisive U.S. initiatives, American policy has been consistently in favour of European integration under American leadership—with the single exception of the Trump administration. Eastern Europeans are more lucid than Westerners about this: they invariably talk about “Euro-Atlantic” and not just “European” integration. Over the decades, successive U.S. presidents have reiterated this long-standing position, often re-launching it with new initiatives; concomitantly, tensions have arisen between London and Washington over the UK’s Euroscepticism. 

Of course, the Americans have always worked together with Europeans to achieve their aims. But these European allies have invariably been both federalist and pro-American. The key figures from this early period are the most emblematic of this Euro-Americanism: Jean Monnet himself, the first president of the Coal and Steel Community, and its architect, who was as much at home in New York and Washington DC as he was in Paris, and who worked at different times for the French, British, and U.S. governments; Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who sponsored the Congress of Europe in The Hague in 1948 and who then went on to create the Bilderberg Group in 1954, its role being specifically to foster relations between Europe and North America; and Paul-Henri Spaak who went from being president of the European Movement from 1950-1955 to becoming the Secretary-general of NATO in 1957.

As the extraordinary EU-U.S. solidarity in the face of the war in Ukraine has shown, in which the EU pays the price for decisions taken in Washington—it was Joe Biden, not the German chancellor, who announced in February that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would not enter into operation if Russia invaded Ukraine—the United States of Europe has always been the Europe of the United States.

Royal News: A Prince in the State of Nature

Ah, yes! Back when HRH the Duke of Sussex still had his cojones, before he became plain Mr Markle. Those were the days! Drinking with his mates and generally raising hell!

From The Mad Monarchist (25 August 2012)


Everyone in the world knows by now. I don’t doubt that everyone from natives in the Fiji Islands to pygmies in darkest Africa have heard about Prince Harry and a mystery girl frolicking in the nude in a hotel room in Las Vegas. It has even made primetime news in the United States though why exactly any American citizen should be concerned about what Prince Harry does on his vacations is quite beyond me. That is the real story as far as I am concerned; why on earth is this a story at all? Perhaps someone can explain it to me because the more I think about it the more I am utterly baffled as to why this is newsworthy at all. Even those who simply wish to look at naked bodies will be disappointed, the Prince did cover his ‘naughty bits’ so, in that regard, a number of royals have been caught at greater disadvantage. He was not photographed actually engaged in any sort of “activity”. So, what is all the fuss about really? A game of strip pool? Wild parties with women of questionable integrity? I’m sorry folks, but there really isn’t much reason to be in Las Vegas at all if these sorts of things bother you and no one seemed to have a problem with the Prince visiting “Sin City” before. And if you’re going to get naked, isn’t your hotel room a perfectly acceptable place to do that? It’s not as if he was letting it all hang out in public or bothering anyone else. The cohort of co-eds who have been making the rounds of the news shows in America seemed perfectly thrilled to be there.


So, what exactly is it that people (mostly the media) have a problem with about this? Is taking your clothes off in your hotel room a crime? I hope not, or I’m in trouble myself. Is it the fact that there was a girl present, likewise in her birthday suite? I have pretty “old fashioned” views when it comes to this sort of stuff but I didn’t think so many other people did, particularly the news media. It cannot be that shocking that the Prince could be engaging in sexual behavior before marriage, after all, does anyone honestly think that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were sleeping in separate beds all that time they were living together up in Balmoral before their wedding? Does the Church of England even consider premarital sex a sin these days? I have to ask that sincerely because, if they do, it would seem rather hypocritical considering what they DO consider perfectly acceptable behavior in other areas. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not a big fan of what Prince Harry did here. Not the strip pool part, that could be perfectly innocent, but he went to a “Wet Republic” party and I absolutely oppose any prince of the blood attending any function with the word “republic” in its name.

No, my problem here is that the same people who claim that royals are no better than anyone else, that they should not be treated differently than anyone else and that they shouldn’t even be royals at all are the same ones who hold them to an entirely different standard and who expect them to embody values their society as a whole abandoned a long time ago. I object to the invasion of privacy and I object to the oh-so-phony pretended “outrage” of people in the media over this. And I just don’t understand why people act like this is news! Prince Harry has been to Las Vegas before, I’ve been to Las Vegas before and let me tell you: *this is what happens there*. It probably happened last time but no one got a picture of it. And let me assure everyone that even if the Prince had not been in Las Vegas, even if he had not been partying, even if there had not been one slutty chick in sight, the media is going to run with any picture of an unclothed royal they can get their grubby little hands on. The circumstances do not matter. This happens fairly often actually, you just don’t seem to get the tons of fake shock and horror that you do when a Windsor is involved.


Take another royal (princely but whatever) family near to my heart. Shall we tabulate the number of times we have seen pictures of members of the House of Grimaldi with their ‘naughty bits’ showing? So what is the difference? Well, none were at wild parties in Vegas but were either on the beach or the family yacht, but there is more to it than that. In Monaco and the south of France, flashing flesh at the beach or on your yacht is not a big deal, everyone does it, nobody really cares and nobody pretends that it is outrageous. Every time I have seen the story of Prince Harry mentioned on the news I have to wonder, do people in Britain just have no idea what Las Vegas is all about and what goes on there? Because this is happening in Vegas every day of the week. You might want to sit down for this but (brace yourselves) there are people getting drunk, gambling, going to strip clubs, “hooking up” or employing call girls in Las Vegas at this very moment! Yes, it’s true! And for the most part, that is why people go there. If you want to snort crack off the belly of a hooker, you go to Las Vegas, it’s a place where anything goes. I thought this was common knowledge and compared to what often goes on in “Sin City” (you might think the nickname would give it away) a little game of strip pool in the “privacy” of your own hotel suite is pretty darn tame.

So, given all of that, why does the media suddenly sound like Claude Rains in “Casablanca”? Did these people really think that, during his time off, Prince Harry sat around drinking tea and reading his prayer book? Maybe I’m out of touch but I thought Prince Harry was pretty well known for being the wild, hard-drinking, girl-grabbing party animal of the family? This is not news! And what would happen if the opposite were true? For myself, I’m fairly certain that if Prince Harry were championing traditional values and going to church every Sunday, these same media morons would be criticizing him for being old-fashioned, out of touch and too Christian for the modern, multicultural, multi-religious Britain of today. He might even be called “intolerant” though he would probably have to change denominations for that to stick since the only commandment of the C of E these days seems to be “we tolerate everything”. Should the prince have known better? Yes, no matter how nice the friendly girl who just showed you her dairy department seems, she will sell pictures of you to the tabloids for a quick buck. Do I approve of his behavior? No, but I don’t need to, it’s none of my business. I feel bad for any embarrassment this might have caused the Queen but when I look at modern society, modern schools and universities and certainly (in Britain) the modern established Church, I cannot be surprised that anyone would behave like this no matter who they are.


For me, that is the bottom line. Given my worldview and my moral code, I can see why I think what Prince Harry did was wrong. What I cannot see is why the modern mainstream media or the vast majority of society would even consider it newsworthy at all. This only proves that even while we may have very low standards these days, we are still capable of having double-standards as well. It isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense to me but, it must be said, that is the situation and Prince Harry should know that. He is a nearly 30-year-old man, an officer in the British army and he should know that if he behaves like this it will inevitably be made public, embarrass the Royal Family (or the Queen at least) and it will be used by republicans to attack the monarchy. All the uproar is uncalled for but the Prince should have known better too, especially given his own track record. It may not be anything really, really terrible, but it’s not necessary either. It may not matter much today, but it just might in the future. Royals who live a libertine lifestyle may be loved by many people but they are seldom respected in the same way that someone like the Queen is and, personally, I suspect the Queen never felt she was entitled to have fun -at least not the sort of fun others (even Princess Margaret) had. The Queen has maintained the monarchy because she has never given an inch to the republicans, never shown one moment of weakness for them to exploit. She has lived her life for her country and not for herself. Prince Harry, and all other royals, would do well to remember that.

Bishop Challoner's Meditations - February 5th

ON THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN WAITING FOR SINNERS

Consider first, the wonders of God's goodness in his dealings with sinners. See with what patience he bears with them, and that very often for a long time, notwithstanding their repeated provocations, their continually abusing all his bounty and mercy, and that infinite hatred he always bears to mortal sin, wherever he sees it. O my soul, how much art thou indebted to this patience of thy God, in bearing with thee all these years past, ever since your first fall into sin! Alas! hast thou not all this time been playing upon the very brink of that dreadful precipice which conducts to the bottomless pit? Hast thou not been all this while within a hair's breadth of a miserable eternity? Is it not true, that every night thou hast gone to bed, thou didst not know but that before the morning thou mightest find thyself in hell? Millions have fallen into that dismal dungeon of endless woe, whilst thy God has spared thee; millions are now burning in those unquenchable flames for fewer sins than thou hast committed. O blessed for all eternity be the infinite goodness of my God, and may all his Angels and Saints praise and glorify him for ever, for having endured me so long, for having preserved me all this time, and continually watched over me, or else my soul had long since dwelt in hell!

Consider 2ndly, the many ways by which God seeks to reclaim sinners, and to call them home to him. Reflect on the remorse and inward reproaches of conscience, with which he visits them; the terror of his judgments, and the allurements of his mercies, which he sets before them. See how he is continually calling upon them, by his word, by his preachers, by good books, by good examples, and wholesome admonitions, and by a number of interior invitations and graces. Has he not dealt thus with thee, my soul, all this time thou hast been going astray from him? And what is the meaning of all this goodness of thy God to such an undeserving, ungrateful, and obstinate rebel? Why, it is nothing else but his own pure mercy and love in consideration of the precious blood of his Son. And shall not all this love of his for thee soften thy heart, and oblige thee, now at least, to resolve in good earnest to return to him, lest otherwise, mercy being long abused, should give place to justice, and the soil which has been so often watered with rain from heaven, and still continues to bring forth nothing but thorns and briars, should fall at length under a dreadful curse, and be condemned to the fire? Heb. vi

Consider 3rdly, what encouragement God gives to all sinners to return to him. 'As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner; but that he may be converted from his ways and may live. O why will you die, O house of Israel?' Ezech xxxiii. 11. 'Return to me and live,' ch. xviii. 32, 'Thou hast gone astray after many lovers, but return to me, and I will receive thee,' Jerem. iii. See with what love the good shepherd in the Gospel goes after the lost sheep, and with what joy he lays it upon his shoulders, and brings it home to the fold. See how the father runs out to meet the prodigal child when he returns home from the husks of the swine; see how he embraces him, clothes him with the best robe, and makes a feast for him. Luke xv. Reflect how the Son of God when here upon earth, treated the penitent Magdalene, the thief upon the cross, and all other sinners that had recourse to his mercy; and how he has declared, that there is more joy in heaven over one penitent sinner, than over ninety-nine just. And let all these instances and testimonies of his goodness to poor sinners, encourage and determine you to stay no longer away from him by sin, but to arise without delay, and return to so good, to so loving a Father, by a thorough conversion.

Conclude to abuse no longer the mercies of God by continuing in sin, but to return to him now at least with thy whole heart, and never to depart from him any more.

5 February, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day


Idleness

1. We are entitled to set aside time for lawful repose and for meditation and prayer. But real idleness is always a sin. It can easily be the cause of graver faults and of our spiritual ruin. God gave us material and spiritual powers as our talents, which we must employ for profit and not bury uselessly in the earth. The servant who received five talents from God and increased the sum by another five was rewarded by the praise of his Lord and admission into the kingdom of Heaven. He dealt in a similar manner with the other servant who had received two talents and doubled them by his industry. But the lazy servant, who buried the talent he had received and met his master with empty hands, was condemned and flung in the darkness of Hell. (Cf. Mt. 25:15-30) This is a frightening lesson which the Gospel teaches us. It should make us think about the fact that one day we shall have to render an account to God of all the gifts which He has bestowed on us. Has He given us a great deal? If so, we shall have to account for it all. Has he given us only a small amount? Even so, we shall have to account for every bit of it. Consider the immense responsibility which becomes ours along with the gifts of God. Let us resolve to employ these to the best of our ability, so that when we appear before Him our hands will not be empty, but filled with gains.

2. Idleness is forbidden by God because work is His commandment. He had already told Adam and his successors: “In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.” (Gen. 3:19)

St. Paul warns us: “If any man will not work, neither let him eat.” (2 Thess. 3:10) This is a universal law which embraces people of all classes and circumstances. God commands everyone to work. Therefore, anybody who disobeys this law without reason sins against God. Those who lead leisurely, inactive lives should meditate seriously on this law of God. The fact that they possess large fortunes does not excuse them from this divine law. They must engage in some work, either mental or manual. It may be for themselves, or it may be for their needy brothers who live in want or in illness and cannot fend for themselves. We are all brothers in Jesus. It is not right that one brother should live in poverty and wretchedness, while another idly enjoys a life of plenty and of pleasure.

3. There is another weighty reason which should prevent us from living in idleness. The Holy Spirit warns us that: “Idleness is an apt teacher of mischief.” (Ecclus. 33:29) and “he who follows idle pursuits is a fool.” (Prov. 12:11). In other words, sloth is a great stupidity and is the father of the vices. If anyone is inactive, he learns nothing. Since our bodily and spiritual faculties were made for action, it necessarily follows that when they are not working for a good or useful purpose, they find an outlet in other directions which lead to disorder and sin. Without work and prayer, there is only inactivity which leads to sin. It is fatal to remain idle. God warns us that we must render an account of every idle word. (Mt. 12:36) St. Thomas notes that an idle word is usually a venial sin, but can also be a mortal sin. (Summa, II-II, q. 72, a.5) What should be said, then, of those who live in idleness, while there is so much work to be done for the glory of God, for our own good, and for the good of others? Anyone who loves God is never idle, says St. Jerome. The love of God works wonderful things; if it does not, it cannot be called love.

Eastern Rite - Feasts of 5 February AM 7531

Today is the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee (Beginning of the Lenten Triodion), the Afterfeast of the Encounter and the Feast of the Holy Martyr Agatha.
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The Sunday after the Sunday of Zacchaeus is devoted to the Publican and the Pharisee. At Vespers the night before, the Triodion (the liturgical book used in the services of Great Lent) begins.

Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who scrupulously observed the requirements of religion: he prayed, fasted, and contributed money to the Temple. These are very good things and should be imitated by anyone who loves God. We who may not fulfil these requirements as well as the Pharisee did should not feel entitled to criticize him for being faithful. His sin was in looking down on the Publican and feeling justified because of his external religious observances.

The second man was a Publican, a tax collector who was despised by the people. He, however, displayed humility, and this humility justified him before God (Luke 18:14).

The lesson to be learned is that we possess neither the Pharisee’s religious piety nor the Publican’s repentance, through which we can be saved. We are called to see ourselves as we really are in the light of Christ’s teaching, asking Him to be merciful to us, deliver us from sin, and lead us on the path of salvation.

Two weeks before the beginning of the Fast, as part of our preparation for Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha, the Church prescribes the reading of Saint Mark's Gospel. From Monday to Friday the focus is on the end times, and the Savior's death and burial.

Kontakion — Tone 4

Let us flee from the pride of the Pharisee! / And learn humility from the Publican’s tears! / Let us cry to our Savior, / have mercy on us, / only merciful One!

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The third day of the Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord falls on February 5.

Troparion — Tone 1

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace! / From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God. / Enlightening those who sat in darkness! / Rejoice, and be glad, O righteous elder; / you accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls, / Who grants us the Resurrection.

Kontakion — Tone 1

By Your nativity, You did sanctify the Virgin’s womb, / and did bless Simeon’s hands, O Christ God. / Now You have come and saved us through love. / Grant peace to all Right Believing Christians, O only Lover of man!

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The Holy Virgin Martyr Agatha was the fifteen-year-old daughter of rich and respected Christian parents from the city of Palermo (formerly Panormos) in Sicily. During the persecution under the emperor Decius (249-251), the city prefect of Catania, Quintianus, having heard about Agatha’s wealth and beauty, sent his soldiers after her to bring her to trial as a Christian.

At Catania, they housed the saint with a certain rich woman, who had five daughters. They all attempted to tempt Saint Agatha with fine clothes, amusements and entertainment, urging her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, but the saint disdained all these things. The more they tried to move her, the more resolute she became. She prayed that she might soon face martyrdom.

During her interrogation under Quintianus, the holy martyr was swayed neither by the flattery, nor by the threats, and she was subjected to cruel torments. They also tried to remove her breasts with metal tongs, and when this failed, they used knives.

The holy Apostle Peter appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds. Saint Agatha was led to torture again, and Quintianus was astonished to see her completely healed, with no trace of cutting. Then the torture began once more.

At this moment an earthquake took place in the city, and many buildings were destroyed. Among those killed were two of Quintianus’s advisors. The terrified inhabitants rushed to Quintianus, demanding an end to Agatha’s tortures. Fearing a revolt by the people, Quintianus sent Saint Agatha back to prison. There the martyr, offering thanks to God, peacefully surrendered her soul to the Lord.

Troparion — Tone 4

Your lamb Agatha, calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice: / “I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering. / In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You. / Accept me as a pure sacrifice, / for I have offered myself in love.” / Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

Kontakion — Tone 4

May the Church be robed today in a garment of glorious porphyry, / dyed by the pure blood of the martyr Agatha, / and let us cry out: “Rejoice, pride of Catania!”