Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Educate Yourself…..Classically

'One of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled but few are educated.' St Thomas More (†1535) wrote that. It's only gotten worse through the centuries.

From Catholic Stand

By Pete Socks

Let’s face it……our society is broken. There I said it. In some ways, we have come so far. Who would have ever thought that computers that once filled entire rooms at minimum we now carry in our pockets. Want your local forecast? You don’t have to wait until the 6 pm news. Just look it up and get up to the date weather conditions. How about breaking world news. Yup…instantaneous delivery. We have this, but at what cost? We live in a soundbite world dominated by fake news that needs proper discernment before reaction. Frankly, all of this has made many of us feel tired and overwhelmed. Oh, how we long for the good old’ days! Deal W. Hudson has the answer to our current crisis (yes, it’s a crisis), and it can be found in his book How to Keep From Losing Your Mind: Educating Yourself Classically to Resist Cultural Indoctrination.

Deal’s answer is quite simple, actually. Indeed, we do need to turn back the hands of time a bit, and he proposes doing so by immersing ourselves in the classics. What do the classics teach us? Several things. First and foremost, they will teach us to slow down. When was the last time you took the time to sit and read a book? Have you ever stopped to consider that when it comes to self-education, we have a world of resources at our fingertips? Many classic books are now available in the public domain and easily accessible via the internet.

The book is divided into three parts. In Part One, Beauty: The Irresistible Canon, Deal lays out what he views the essential classics to be. He rightfully so piggybacks his thoughts off the classic lists of Great Books. Of interest in this chapter was his suggestion that these lists of classics should be expanded to include music and film in part because both have the power to tug at one’s heart and imagination. This part closes with Deal giving direction on how to read, listen, watch, and engage with these various genres of art.

Part Two, Truth: Bad Ideas in Motion, was to me an exceptional part of the book. In these chapters, Deal offers ways in which we can take the nuggets of wisdom contained within the classics and use them as our guideposts to navigate our current culture. Deal mines a plethora of fantastic authors to show us how to confront the misguided notions of our culture effectively. These include Plato, Thoreau, Pope St. John Paul II, Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas, just to name a few. Another key point in this section is how to detach from the soundbite news cycle we are in and learn how to do some critical thinking of our own. A great section that is well worth the read!

Part Three, Goodness: Love Is the Crux, wraps everything up in a nice package. After all, love truly is the answer. It holds the key to forming unified communities that are not about division and hatred but instead learning how to work together towards a common goal of the betterment of humanity. Parental love, friendship, eros, and agape are all covered. Each of the five sections in this part includes a list of books, music, and film that exemplify the facet of love Deal covers.

This book is a treasure. It is a wonderful companion to “The Great Books” and Deal does a great job expanding the idea into music and film. How to Keep From Losing Your Mind is precisely the book we need in our troubled times. We live in a society that has quite frankly lost its moral compass. Many of us are frustrated and don’t know where to turn or how to refute what is being pushed as the new norm. Take this book and use it as the guide it was meant to be. Embark upon the path of classically educating yourself with the many resource Deal reveals to readers within the pages of his book and the massive bibliography in the back. You are never too old to start learning. Why not start today?

Serbia’s Crown Prince Couple Hosts Reception for the Diplomatic Corps

Interesting that the King de jure would hold a reception for the diplomatic corps accredited to a republic. Живео краљ Александар!

From Royal Central

By Oskar Aanmoen

On 4 October, Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia hosted a dinner for the representatives of the diplomatic corps at the White Palace in Belgrade. This has become an annual tradition where Serbia’s royals host many of the foreign diplomats in Serbia.
Every year, members of diplomatic missions present their national dishes and drinks, as well as the other practices specific to the regions from where they come. Crown Prince Alexander welcomed the guests and added that the annual dinner is like “a journey around the world in miniature”.

This year’s dinner was attended by the ambassadors from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, India, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Venezuela, Argentina, Sri Lanka as well as representatives of the National Alliance for Local Economic Development.

The attendees also had the opportunity to enjoy Serbian folk dances and to visit the recently opened exhibition “His Majesty King Alexander I – Diplomacy of the Unifier” marking 85th anniversary of his death.

Royal couscous, followed by traditional sweets from Morocco, Patritsio from Cyprus, Lamb with vegetables from Algeria and Sous Vide Maple Salmon from Canada are just some of the specialities that were served. After dinner, the guests had the opportunity to taste “Bean and Leaf” espresso, filter and homemade coffee, brewed from the best grains.

The White Palace, also named Beli Dvor, is located within the same complex as the Royal Palace, and it was commissioned by King Alexander I. The White Palace was also built with the private funds of King Alexander I and took almost four years to finish (1934-1937). The ground floor of this classicistic palace houses a large hall and a number of drawing rooms furnished in the style of Louis XV and Louis XVI.

16 October, Antonio Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

The Fourth Glorious Mystery

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven

1. The Fourth Book of Kings tells us that the prophet Elias was brought up into Heaven in a fiery chariot without having first endured the pains and humiliation of death. (Cf. 4 Kings 2:11) Why did God not do likewise in the case of the Blessed Virgin, commanding His Angels to bear her to Heaven before death struck her innocent body? As St. Paul says, it was sin which caused death to enter the world. From the moment of her conception Mary was free from the slightest taint of sin, for she was immaculate and full of grace. Nevertheless, according to the most widely held tradition, Mary chose to die even as her divine Son had willed to die. Jesus “was offered because it was his own will.” (Is. 53:7) The same is true in Mary’s case, with only this difference. Jesus died a cruel death after the most hideous tortures in the midst of a blaspheming and hate-ridden mob. Nothing like this happened to Mary, although she is called the Queen of Martyrs because of the sword which pierced her soul at the sight of her divine Son dying in such agony.

Jesus willed, however, that the immaculate body of His Mother would remain intact. It was only her great love and intense desire of being reunited with her Son which gradually consumed her mortal life. Her ever-increasing love for God broke the bonds of her mortal frame until she went to sleep at last in the Lord.

If only our death could be the same!

2. Because we are wretched sinners, death for us is a punishment. Let us accept it with resignation. We should frequently offer to God whatever death He has in store for us, with all its sorrow and suffering.

We can gain great merit in this way. As a result of our daily offering, God will surely grant us a more peaceful death. There are many people who long for death. Some desire it in moments of discouragement as a release from the sorrows of life. Others long for it to bring to an end their struggle against their sinful inclinations and to assure them of an everlasting reward, to gain which they may not even have made many sacrifices. The first kind of desire is unworthy of a true soldier of Christ while the second is presumptuous and self-interested. The only legitimate yearning for death is the desire to be united at last with Jesus.

This was the nature of Mary’s desire, as well as that of St. Paul, who wrote that he desired “to depart and to be with Christ.” (Phil. 1:23)

3. As a result of this meditation, let us make the following resolutions in the presence of Mary assumed into Heaven.

(1) To offer to God every day in expiation of our sins whatever kind of death He will please to give us.

(2) To build up for ourselves henceforth a substantial credit account of good actions and generous sacrifices.

(3) To pray fervently to our Mother Mary to obtain for us from her divine Son a death which will be peaceful like hers with all our sins forgiven and our hearts filled with a loving desire to be with God.


IN LUMINE FIDEI: 16 OCTOBER – SAINT HEDWIG (Widow): Hedwig (or Hedwigis) was born in 1174 to Berthold IV, Count of Andechs and Duke of Croatia and Dalmatia. She had four brothers and three ...

16 October, A Chesterton Calendar


We talk in a cant phrase of the Man in the Street, but the Frenchman is the Man in the Street. As the Frenchman drinks in the street and dines in the street, so he fights in the street and dies in the street; so that the street can never be commonplace to him.

'Tremendous Trifles.'

17 October, The Roman Martyrology

Sextodécimo Kaléndas Novémbris Luna undevicesima Anno Domini 2019

On the morrow we keep the feast of the holy widow Iadwiga, Grand Princess of Poland, who fell asleep in the Lord upon the 15th day of this present month of October.
October 17th 2019, the 19th day of the Moon, were born into the better life:
At Antioch, the holy martyr Heron, a disciple of blessed Ignatius, after whom he was made Bishop of that city. He followed in all godliness in the steps of his master, and for the love of Christ laid down his life for the sheep committed to his care.
Upon the same day, (in the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian,) the holy martyrs Victor, Alexander, and Marian.
In Persia, (in the fifth century,) the holy martyr Mamelta. She was turned to the faith from the worshipping of idols by a warning from an angel, was stoned by the Gentiles, and drowned in the depths of a lake.
At Constantinople, the holy monk Andrew of Crete. He was often beaten under the Emperor Constantine Copronymus for his honouring of holy images, and at length, after one of his feet had been cut off, he gave up the ghost.
At Orange, in Gaul, (in the sixth century,) holy Florentine, Bishop (of that see,) who was famous for many graces, and fell asleep in the Lord.
At Capua, (in the same sixth century,) holy Victor, Bishop (of that see,) famous for his learning and holiness.
V. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
R. Thanks be to God.

Memes of the Day

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Amazon Synod Reveals Vatican Bureaucracy Nightmare

A look at the bureaucratisation of the Church and the Shamazon Sin-od.

From One Peter Five

By Honora Kenney

We’ve heard it before: universities have changed. Professors no longer teach “Shakespeare 101,” but “Shakespeare and Gender in Multimedia” or “Elizabethan Bard Culture.” And poets like Milton and Crashaw have been “canceled.” The classics aren’t just too dead, too white, and too male — they’re too elitist now, too. To delight in the grandeur of their language is classist bigotry. Analyzing comic books is far nobler, a celebration of the proletarian spirit.

As you walk through the halls of a liberal arts building, instead of hearing rousing classroom debates about the objective merits of historical texts or works of art, you’ll hear “dialogues” dancing around relativist interpretations. “Well, I feel that Van Gogh’s being a bit aggressive in this piece,” a student might say. (No, kid, he chopped his ear off just for fun.) And papers won’t address beautiful versus ugly or up versus down. They’ll just explore alternative horizontal “pathways” for “reinterpreting” art and literature in “subversive” new ways.

These changes are driven and sustained by university administrations — which have become increasingly bureaucratic. And the “bureaucratic turn” makes sense if you think about how the courses operate. After all, it requires multiple lateral “pathways” in order to sustain exploratory “dialogues” about “building campus culture,” when you could instead have vertical command chains that simply execute effectively. (But why pay a starving adjunct professor a decent wage when you could be paying the campus’s new fleet of “diversity officers”? And besides, hierarchies may be effective, but they’re also inherently patriarchal, and we can’t have that.)

The seeds of change within the university were planted decades ago, with “folks” like Michel Foucault dismissing entire artistic movements as simple power struggles between oppressed and non-oppressed. The new “folks” are the students themselves, who scour textbooks looking for reasons to be offended before running off to bully campus leaders into action, whether it’s covering murals, razing statues, or banning books.

So too with the Vatican. For decades now, Rome’s faithful have been subjected to the low rumble of intensifying drumbeats — and I’m not just talking about the bongo drums that replaced Gregorian chant and Palestrina at Mass. These are the drumbeats of change — and with this month’s Amazon Synod, they’re coming to the end of their crescendo.

How best to foster Catholicism among the Pan-Amazonian region is a valiant pursuit, to be sure: Christ commissioned the faithful to spread the Gospel across the Earth, and the Amazon presents evangelization challenges that warrant attention. For example, lack of priests means administration of the sacraments in some areas is devastatingly scarce.

In the past, when similar obstacles presented themselves, the best missionaries doubled down on virtue, calling on Christ to strengthen them in compassion, chastity, and humility so they might best serve their flocks. Many even shed their blood, dying as martyrs and saints. One imagines that a renewed emphasis on such heroic selflessness could help the Vatican fulfill its goal of spreading Catholicism in the Amazon. After all, we’re seeing evidence that young people in the Church are responding to challenges that entail rigor, intensity, and zeal. They like the traditional Latin Mass, incense, and veils. They’d probably like legendary missionaries like St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier, too, if they had a chance to get to know them.

Only the Vatican doesn’t see it that way. “The subject of the Synod we are inaugurating is, ‘Amazonia: New Pathways for the Church and for an integral ecology,’” said Cardinal Cláudio Hummes during introductory remarks on Oct. 7. “The theme addressed follows the broad pastoral guidelines characteristic of Pope Francis for creating new pathways.” Ah, pathways! Got it.

Among key topics to be addressed, the cardinal listed the role of women, support for the Earth and the poor, and “the Church’s Amazonian face: inculturation and interculturality in a missionary-ecclesial context.” Huh?

The number of social justice buzzwords alone is enough to trigger PTSD in those who survived “first-year experience” programming at their universities. Is the Amazon Synod just one big diversity workshop, swarming with its own version of obsequious campus bureaucrats in matching collared shirts, armed with PowerPoints, clipboards, and “swag giveaways” galore?

Only time will tell, but traditional Catholics, many already feeling burned from the last two synods, were already raising alarm bells when they discovered some of the ideas in a working document that circulated earlier this year. The events that have unfolded since the synod kicked off on Sunday have done nothing to allay their fears.

Chief among the controversial ideas was that of married priests. Back in June, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller (one of the two remaining “dubia cardinals”) warned that the working document posed threats to the tradition of priestly celibacy. And now his predictions are proving augural. The news from day four of the Synod (Oct. 9), from Bishop Erwin Kräutler, was that two thirds of the attending prelates were in favor of ordaining married men. And where there are calls for married priests, calls for female clergy are sure to follow. “Many of the bishops are in favor of the ordination of female deacons,” Krautler told reporters.

It may be fun to debate these topics in a high school theology class or at Thanksgiving dinner after one too many brandies, but at a synod, the debate should have no place. The Church has spoken definitively on this issue for hundreds of years and has provided multiple illuminating reasons why priests are unmarried, celibate males (chief among them that they emulate Christ, Himself an unmarried, celibate male). The ruling is literally set in stone, with the stone being the apostle Peter, on whom Christ built the Church.

Another issue of concern is that of environmentalism. Yes, Catholics are called to be stewards of the earth, but their stewardship must reflect a proper understanding of nature’s place within a vertical hierarchy. Per Catholic teaching, nature is subordinate to man, and man is subordinate to God. Yet much of the synod language wants to blend (or “integrate”) the three, as if nature, mankind, and God were entities connected across a horizontal plane (as in the structure of a bureaucracy).

For a visual representation of these conflicting schemas, consider the distribution of the Eucharist. Historically, the priest, standing — and acting in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) — would lower his anointed hand and place the Eucharist directly on the tongue of the communicant, who would be kneeling upon the ground before the altar. So, per the doctrine, the divine was literally descending from a higher plane to the lower plane of man, who was kneeling upon a still lower plane, the earth. Today’s Eucharistic distribution, though, aligns more with the types of lateral structures advocated at the synod. A lay minister (who is not ordained to act in persona Christi) stands before the communicant, who is also standing, and the host is exchanged from one mortal hand to the other, moving only horizontally instead of vertically, from person to person (instead of from divine to person), and remaining within one plane.

Arguing about Eucharistic distribution may seem like a trifling matter of style, but as literature professors used to teach (back when they taught the classics), style informs content. Besides, the synod’s been open season for jabs against stylistic details since day two, when Pope Francis quipped against the biretta, a cap favored by more traditionalist clergy.

But such academic analyses return us to the topic of universities, and their increasingly bureaucratic administrations (with diversity bureaucrats serving as just one example). As either a catalyst or a consequence of this bureaucratic turn, their content dissemination operates bureaucratically as well. When it comes to writing papers or discussing ideas, there is no right or wrong, up or down, good or bad. There is no emulating Shakespeare or Hemingway and attempting to elevate one’s own humbler language to match theirs. There are just horizontal pathways to new interpretations (Freudian, Lacanian, or otherwise) of their work.

Now we are watching the Vatican follow suit. The pope has gathered his diversity bureaucrats to hem and haw over pathways and dialogues for achieving abstract ideals such as “inculturation and interculturality.” But they’ve made it clear that like the universities, they want to make their content dissemination bureaucratic as well. The only problem is that their content is God’s love, the apprehension of which traditionally entails embracing hierarchy and objective truth (to put it mildly). Instead, the approach advocated by the Synod is “decidedly naturalistic and horizontalist, at loggerheads with the supernatural and vertical character of the revealed religion of Christ” as Peter Kwasniewski put it.

Against this backdrop, a rumor swirled last Tuesday that Pope Francis denied the divinity of Christ in an interview with Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari. The next day, instead of confirming or denying the rumor, the Vatican P.R. gurus took a page from the college-kid playbook, dutifully reciting possible “pathways” as to what may have actually transpired. It may be that Scalfari misinterpreted, or it may be that he’s fudging. It wasn’t until Thursday that another Vatican official, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, issued a heartier rejection of Scalfari’s claim.

Unfortunately, when the pope persists in granting interviews to a reporter who’s already attributed heretical statements to him in the past, and when he deploys vague responses through multiple bureaucratic channels rather than through one definitive statement, he risks grave confusion. The world may just default to the most scandalous pathway of all: that the pope doesn’t actually think Christ is divine, but just another man. You know, one of us “folks.”

Honora Kenney is a media professional who writes from Brooklyn, New York. She has a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the University of Notre Dame.

At Least the Borgias Had Good Taste

Chevalier Charles Coulombe looks at the latest wave of scandals (and scandalous behaviour) coming out of the Vatican.

From Crisis

By Charles Coulombe

The raid by Vatican police on the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and its Financial Information Authority on October 1, followed by the alleged dismissal of five Vatican employees, made headlines around the world. An official statement from the Holy See issued on the same day declared that the Vatican chief prosecutor Gian Piero Milano and his deputy, Alessandro Diddi, authorized the action and subsequent confiscation of “documents and electronic devices.” 
According to the statement, the raid was “related to complaints presented at the beginning of the summer by the Institute for the Works of Religion (Vatican bank) and the Office of the Auditor General, concerning financial transactions carried out over time.”

The allegedly dismissed employees included Msgr. Mauro Carlino, the Secretariat of State’s head of information and documentation, and Tommaso Di Ruzza, director of the Financial Information Authority. Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican gendarmerie, also resigned after a leaked memo made the raids public.

Although four of the suspended employees were barred from reentering Vatican City, it was announced that Msgr. Carlino would continue to live at the Casa di Santa Marta, the home of Pope Francis and other clerics. Two days later, the Vatican announced that Giuseppe Pignatone, the renowned anti-Mafia magistrate and former chief prosecutor of Rome, would head the criminal tribunal handling the case.

The unkind might say that Vatican scandals, both sexual and financial, have been seemingly constant for much of this pontificate. They may note that the malefactors are usually covered for, one way or the other. Despite George Cardinal Pell’s insistence on returning to Australia to face trial in his country’s legal system (such as it is), most of those in the Pope’s entourage facing accusations in their home countries are protected behind the Vatican’s walls.

And these aren’t the only interesting sounds coming from Vatican Hill in recent days. To kick off the excitement for the geriatric clerics of the Amazon synod, native shamans were specially invited from Brazil to adore their deities in the Vatican Gardens. In addition, following Archbishop Charles Chaput’s criticism of gay rights activist Fr. James Martin, SJ, the Holy Father granted Fr. Martin a private audience at the Vatican—something he has not yet done for the surviving “dubia cardinals,” Raymond Leo Burke and Walter Brandmüller.

Speaking of cardinals, His Holiness recently added 13 new princes to the Sacred College, doubtless in hopes that the next papal conclave will elect a like-minded successor. If the gods of the Amazon smile upon the Supreme Pontiff, then none of the newly minted eminences shall be indictable by then.

To the unkind, the current atmosphere at the Vatican might resemble the Holy See of the Renaissance, albeit without any of the taste in art.
The chaos reigning in the Vatican has driven many orthodox Catholics to despair. Perhaps their despair escalated after Francis declared himself unafraid of schism—a fear which led his last two predecessors to treat their ideological opponents within the Church gingerly. But such fear makes sense only if one believes the salvation of souls is bound up with their membership in the Church. If one is free of such belief, then neither schism nor heresy, nor even idolatry, holds any such terror. Of course, such an attitude would be neo-Pelagianism, which the Pope has repeatedly condemned.

In any case, as a thought experiment, let’s say that those who are fearful of the current senescent regime in Rome are absolutely justified in their apprehension. What’s really behind that fear? It’s the possibility that the Catholic faith isn’t true—that, thanks to her current leadership, the Church will prove just as vagrant as the Anglican Communion, and as willing burning incense to the great ones of this world.

Before we can look at lesser issues, we must look at this one. My response to this (admittedly worrisome) situation is threefold.

Firstly, the Catholic religion is true. Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, really did become Incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit; he did indeed die upon the Cross to open the gates of Heaven to fallen humanity. He founded the Catholic Church—made up in every age of fallen, sinful, and often pathetic individuals, such as ourselves—to apply his merits to her members via the Sacraments, to share his teachings, and to drive off the forces of darkness. As a token of her commission, signs, and wonders have ever accompanied her on her long journey. Those tokens include (but are not limited to) the five approved Eucharistic miracles of the past 25 years, the apparitions at Fatima, and the countless medical miracles required of prospective saints and blesseds.

That being said, the history of the Church is stained with the misdeeds of wicked and foolish pontiffs. Regardless of how the present or future may evaluate Pope Francis, no one can defend John XII, Benedict IX, Stephen VI, or the rest of that beastly fraternity. Still, the Church is not the Mystical Body of the Pope, but the Mystical Body of Christ. This reality doesn’t change, no matter what may happen in Vatican City. If one lives under such a pontiff—well, as is so often the case, J.R.R. Tolkien has some apropos advice:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

And what have we to do with that time? Just like the best of our forebears, we must strive to be saints. Adore the Eucharist, say the rosary, venerate the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts and the Precious Blood. Support solid clerics. Encourage our disheartened brethren, and evangelize those seeking truth. Above all, avoid giving in to anger or despair. The devil uses these vices to tempt us just as surely as he uses perversion, crime, and infidelity.

In that way, the Church’s eventual triumph shall be our own.

Why There Won’t Be an American Schism

Now, Germany is an entirely different kettle of fish!

From Catholic World Report

By Russell Shaw

Genuine schisms have been few and far between, and none is brewing in American Catholicism now.
A schism in American Catholicism? I think not. As a matter of fact, I have no hesitation saying there is not now and will not be a formal break between any significant body of American Catholics and Pope Francis–and this despite a disturbing amount of media chatter on the subject lately.

There are at least two large reasons why a schism won’t happen.

The first reason is that no ecclesiastical personage of stature in American Catholicism has arisen who gives any indication of wanting to lead a schism. And without a leader, a handful of would-be schismatics–even supposing such to exist–has no place to go and no way of getting there.

The second and far weightier reason is that serious American Catholics understand very well that the Church’s unity is willed by God. Understanding that, they further understand that fundamental to this divinely willed unity is the communion of local churches–their leaders and their members–with the Bishop of Rome. And so, finally, they understand that any group or individual proposing to disrupt this communion, even in the name of some supposedly higher principle, could not possibly be acting according to the will of God.

Cardinal–as this is written, soon to be Saint–John Henry Newman summed it up neatly in his landmark Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine:
As the Church grew into form, so did the power of the Pope develop; and wherever the Pope has been renounced, decay and division have been the consequence. We know of no way of preserving the Sacramentum Unitatis [Sacrament of Unity–here, the Church] but a center of unity….We see before our eyes the centralizing process by which the See of St. Peter became the sovereign head of Christendom.
But supposing American Catholics can be counted on not to go marching off into schism one of these days, where does this talk of schism come from?

Without claiming it’s the total answer to that question, I think it’s reasonably clear that certain people in Rome who do not know much about the United States or American Catholicism yet mistakenly imagine otherwise must shoulder a large part of the blame. Most likely, they have shared their misperceptions with Pope Francis–a pope who has had very little personal exposure to the United States–with regrettable results.

That includes the much-publicized incident on the Holy Father’s return flight from his visit to Africa last month when, replying to an American reporter’s question (prompted by a French journalist’s book) about opposition to him said to exist in the United States, the Pope  said he doesn’t fear schisms and “there has always been a schismatic option in the Church.”

Perhaps so. But the point here is that a “schismatic option”–whatever that is–is not the same thing as a schism, and there is no schism in America. Yes, there are people who disagree with Pope Francis on some things (and reasoned, respectful disagreement is much more an “option” than schism is), just as there were people who disagreed with Pope Benedict XVI and people who disagreed with Pope St. John Paul II and, so far as I know, people who disagreed  with all the popes before them. But genuine schisms have been few and far between, and none is brewing in American Catholicism now.

Cardinal Newman famously remarked that “ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” To which one might add–they don’t make one schism either. Let’s leave it at that.

Hong Kong Protests: The Catholic Factor

An analysis of how Francis's betrayal of the Church in China may effect the situation in Hong Kong.

From UCA News

By Massimo Introvigne of Bitter Winter

Pope Francis’s Choices “May Weigh Heavily On The Future Of Hong Kong”

The Hong Kong protests are continuing. Some believe they may become the new Tiananmen. Human rights activists speculate on how the U.S., and President Donald Trump’s, attitude may determine the fate of the protest, or even fuel or create opposition to President Xi Jinping within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) itself.

Some in Hong Kong, however, believe that the choices of a third world leader, in addition to Trump and Xi, may weigh heavily on the future of Hong Kong.

This leader is Pope Francis.

Catholics in Hong Kong amount only to 5 percent of the population, but they carry a disproportionate power in politics, culture, and the media. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, whose pro-CCP positions sparked the protest, is herself an active Catholic, has been educated in Catholic schools, and it is no secret that she regularly consults with Catholic bishops on important political matters.
Hong Kong is also a traditional bridge between the Vatican and China. According to scholars of the Vatican-China relations, Hong Kong is where, until Pope Francis took office in 2013, the strongest opposition to any Vatican agreement with the CCP encouraging Catholic priests and bishops to join the government-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) was organized and successfully managed, with the influence of anti-CCP Cardinal Joseph Zen (born in 1932 and bishop of Hong Kong between 2002 and 2009) extending to Rome. Cardinal Zen, according to the same scholars, had built a formidable team with fellow member of the Salesian order, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai (born in Hong Kong in 1950), the most influential Chinese prelate in the Roman Curia, where he served since 2010 as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, i.e. the Vatican department directly responsible for China.

Both Cardinal Zen and Archbishop Ho had the ear of Pope Benedict XVI, and effectively torpedoed any possible agreement under which Chinese Catholic priests and Bishops would or should join the CPCA. They were supported by Father, later archbishop, Ettore Balestrero, a top political officer in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, and a staunch opponent of the CCP.
In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI resigned, and Pope Francis was elected. He indicated an agreement with the Chinese government as one of his diplomatic priorities, at the price of asking certain “sacrifices” from those anti-CCP Catholics who had suffered for their (until then) Vatican-sanctioned refusal to join the CPCA.
People matter, and in order to make an agreement with the CCP some people should go. Archbishop Balestrero was so much a man of Pope Benedict XVI that he was sent as Vatican ambassador (nuncio) to Colombia just before the German pope resigned, according to Vatican sources to protect him for what may come under a new and differently inclined pontiff.

The same sources claim that the CCP expressed its pleasure to the Vatican that Archbishop Balestrero was leaving Rome, inducing some to see the long arm of China behind an obscure scandal involving the archbishop’s brother that led him to be further demoted from nuncio to Colombia (an important country for the Catholic Church) to nuncio to Congo in 2018.

Cardinal Zen ended his term in 2009 and was replaced by Bishop, later Cardinal, John Tong Hon (born in 1939). He is certainly less belligerent against the CCP than Cardinal Zen, and (unlike his predecessor) not inclined to criticize the Vatican on any issue.

Yet, he has always been extremely cautious on matters concerning Mainland China.
That the Vatican was moving very cautiously in Hong Kong was confirmed by the appointment, in 2014, of two younger auxiliary bishops, one regarded as anti-CCP, the Franciscan Joseph Ha Chi-shing (born 1959), and one as more favorable to an agreement with China, Stephen Lee Bun-Sang (born 1956). Bishop Lee is a member of Opus Dei and is regarded as theologically conservative, showing that being liberal or conservative is not necessarily connected with being pro or against the Vatican-China deal.
Things, however, changed between 2016 and 2017, when certain decisions about the Vatican-China deal of 2018 had probably already been taken in Rome.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai was removed from the Vatican Curia in 2016 (another move for which, according to inside sources, the CCP thanked the Holy See) and sent to take care of the troubled Catholic Church in Guam, whose bishop had resigned after having been involved in a sex abuse scandal. He was then sent to Greece (not exactly a key country for the Vatican diplomacy) as a nuncio.

Also, in 2016, Hong Kong’s auxiliary Bishop Lee Bun-Sang was promoted to bishop of Macau, reportedly with the blessing of the CCP.
In 2017, Cardinal Tong’s term ended. He was replaced by Bishop Michael Yeung (1945–2019). A close associate of Carrie Lam, it is difficult to dispel the impression that he was appointed to promote the Vatican-China deal to be signed in 2018. But he went too far and ended up embarrassing the Holy See, by first giving the impression that he approved the CCP’s systematic destruction of crosses of Protestant churches in China, and then claiming that his position on the matter was that the CCP’s regulations should be respected. Proving, once again, that one can be pro-CCP and at the same time theologically conservative, Bishop Yeung also raised eyebrows in Rome for his militant attitude against LGBT rights and for comparing homosexuality to drug addiction, something perceived as at odds with Pope Francis’ more tolerant attitude on the matter.
On Jan. 3, 2019, Bishop Yeung, who was suffering of cirrhosis of the liver, died before his term as Bishop of Hong Kong expired. All eyes turned on Rome. There were two natural candidates for the succession, and the choice would reveal how the Vatican was assessing the deal it had signed with the CCP a few months before. Clearly, the CCP would have been happier with the choice of the bishop of Macau, Lee Bun-Sang, as the new bishop of Hong Kong — and much less happy if the pope would pick up for the position auxiliary Bishop Ha Chi-shing, regarded as anti-CCP. Pope Francis surprised everybody by appointing neither Bishop Lee nor Bishop Ha, but calling out of retirement middle-of-the-road Cardinal Tong, asking him to resume his old duties.
It was thus Cardinal Tong who had to lead the Hong Kong Catholic Church through the storm of the protests. He advised Catholic chief executive Carrie Lam against signing the controversial extradition agreement with China, and together with other religious leaders offered a moderate support to the protesters. At the same time, he also let Hong Kong Catholics know that he did not support Cardinal Zen’s vocal opposition to the Vatican-China deal. But he did not prevent his auxiliary Bishop Ha Chi-shing from actively participating in the protests and is even being regarded as one of its moral leaders.

The Vatican has been silent on the Hong Kong protests. But clearly it should speak sooner or later, not with words but through a momentous decision. Cardinal Tong is 80. He made it clear he was accepting to return to his old position provisionally.

Soon the pope should appoint a new bishop of Hong Kong.
Local Catholics massively support the protests and make no secret that they expect Bishop Ha to be appointed. They would regard an appointment of Macau’s Bishop Lee as a statement against the protests and democracy. Some, however, told Bitter Winter that rumors circulate that the Vatican-China deal of 2018, whose text remains secret, may include a clause implying that the choice of the bishop should be agreed upon between the Holy See and the CCP in Hong Kong as well.
Time will tell, but clearly the appointment of Bishop Ha would be a signal to the CCP and the world that the Vatican stands for democracy in Hong Kong, and the 2018 agreement does not mean that Rome is prepared to ignore human rights issues.

The appointment of Bishop Lee would be a different signal, although some caution that the Opus Dei prelate of Macau is a complex personality and it would be a mistake to categorize him as an unconditional supporter of the CCP, just as Bishop Ha has never supported Cardinal Zen’s open criticism of the Vatican. Unless Pope Francis will surprise everybody again by “inventing” a third candidate —on which no hints or rumors circulate so far.

Massimo Introvigne is an Italian sociologist of religions who is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR). He is the author of some 70 books and the editor-in-chief of online magazine Bitter Winter which focusses on religious liberty and human rights in China.
This article is from the online magazine Bitter Winter.


Who are able to make this act of faith?

Those only who have the supernatural virtue of faith (IV., V.).
Then unbelievers cannot make this act of faith?

No, for they do not believe what God has revealed with a view to their supernatural happiness; and this either because they are ignorant thereof, or do not trust in the will of God, who is able to give to them the good that He thinks fit; or because having known His revelation they refuse to give their assent to it (X.).
Can the impious make this act of faith?

No, because even though they may hold to be true what God has revealed by reason of the authority of God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, their assent is not the effect of a supernatural love for the word of God; on the contrary, the word of God is hateful to them, although in spite of themselves they are forced to admit its truth (V. 2, ad 2).
Are there men who believe the word of God, and yet do not make an act of the supernatural virtue?

Yes, and in this they imitate the devils (V. 2).
Can heretics make an act of faith?

No, for even though in their minds they assent to such and such a point of revealed doctrine, they do not give this assent on the word of God, but on their own private judgment (V. 3).
As regards the act of faith are heretics more to be blamed than the impious or the devils?

Yes, because the word of God or His authority is not the motive of their assent
Can apostates make an act of faith?

No, because their mind rejects entirely what formerly they believed on the word of God (XII.).
Can sinners make an act of faith?

Yes, provided they actually have this virtue; and they can have it, although imperfectly, when they have not charity, that is when they are in the state of mortal sin (IV. 1,4).
Every mortal sin then is not a sin against faith?

No (X. 1,4).


Letters From the Synod–2019: #4

An appreciation of St John Henry Newman.

From First Things

By Xavier Rynne II

On Saturday, October 12, the Thomistic Institute at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (familiarly known as the Angelicum) hosted a conference in anticipation of the canonization of John Henry Newman the following day. 

Speakers at “Newman the Prophet: A Saint for Our Times,” which was held in the John Paul II Aula Magna of the Angelicum, included Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham; Sister Catherine Joseph Droste, OP, dean of the theology faculty at the Angelicum; Dr. Tracey Rowland of Australia’s University of Notre Dame; Fr. Guy Nicholls, CO, of the Birmingham Oratory and Oscott College; Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, of Sydney, and Dr. Thomas Farr of the Religious Freedom Institute. The conference host was Father Thomas Joseph White, OP, who leads the Angelicum’s Thomistic Institute.
The opening address to the conference, “Lead, Kindly Light—The Story of a Saint,” was delivered by George Weigel, who suggested some connections among Newman’s life and work, the contemporary Catholic situation, and Synod-2019. [XR II]

Lead, Kindly Light—The Story of a Saint

George Weigel
Good afternoon, everyone. Let me begin by thanking Father Thomas Joseph White and the Thomistic Institute for the invitation to open this conference with some personal reflections on John Henry Newman and his meaning for today. It’s a great pleasure to share this great occasion—especially for the Church in the Anglosphere, as one of its noblest sons is raised to the glory of the altars—with so many old friends.
In February 2003, the fathers of the Birmingham Oratory honored me with an invitation to deliver the laudatio at the “Musical Oratory” marking John Henry Newman’s 202nd birthday. It was a marvelous evening of music and intellectual reflection, wine and fellowship. But what remains most firmly in my memory was the half-hour I had spent earlier that day in Cardinal Newman’s rooms, which had been left the way they were at his death.
I sat in his chair before the fireplace, fingered the small brandy glasses from which he warmed himself on a chill evening, and held the Latin breviaries with which he had prayed even before entering into full communion with the Church of Rome.
On one wall, there was a yellowed but still readable map from the Times of London, on which Newman had followed the path down the Nile of General Kitchener’s expedition to relieve the siege of Khartoum and rescue General Charles Gordon; and I remembered that Gordon, who was of course murdered by the forces of the Mahdi before Kitchener’s troops arrived, had prepared for death by reading Newman’s poem, “The Dream of Gerontius.”
Inside the old upright wardrobe was the galero, the ceremonial red hat bestowed on Newman by Pope Leo XIII in 1879.
And pinned around the altar were brief notes in Newman’s own hand, or sent to him by others, reminding him of those for whom he had promised to pray.
The next day, I was given leave to ramble through Newman’s horseshoe-shaped, two-tiered library; and it’s not easy to convey the emotion I felt when I lifted off the shelf a large folio volume of the Opera Omnia of Pope St. Gregory the Great and read on the flyleaf the inscription, “To my dear friend J.H. Newman,  E. Pusey.”
But it was while sitting in Newman’s room in his chair that the thought occurred, was his a life of change or continuity? 
Continuity and Change. When Cardinal Newman died in 1890, Lord Rosebery, who would become prime minister of Great Britain four years later, came to the Birmingham Oratory church to pay his respects; Rosebery was the last of the Liberal grandees, a man of whom Churchill’s secretary, John Colville, once wrote, “He was likely to have had a copy of Das Kapital in his library, but in a special edition with a calfskin binding.” In any event, after contemplating Newman laid out before the altar of the Oratory Church, Rosebery wrote in his diary: “This was the end of the young Calvinist, the Oxford don, the austere vicar of St. Mary’s. It seemed as if a whole cycle of human thought and life was concentrated in that august repose. That was my overwhelming thought. Kindly light had led and guided Newman to this strange, brilliant end.”
Was there something really “strange” about Newman’s destiny, and the life in which he fulfilled it? However dramatic the changes in his life seemed on the surface of history, was there not far more continuity than change, when Newman’s life was read in its true, spiritual depth? 
It was, after all, Newman who, in the “Meditations on Christian Doctrine,” insisted of God, that “He knows what He is about.” 
It was, after all, Newman who demanded of himself, and held himself to, this challenging commitment: “I shall be a preacher of truth.”
So while there was certainly change over the long course of Newman’s eventful and contentious life, there was also a genuine, deep-running continuity. That was the continuity of the radically converted Christian who, having passed through adolescent skepticism, committed himself wholly and entirely to Jesus Christ, the answer to the question that is every human life—and to the Church that is Christ’s mystical body in the world.
And amid that continuity of faith, there was a continuity of conviction: that the faith, in modernity, was under assault from a particularly dangerous enemy, dangerous because it appealed to modern humanity’s fascination with itself and modern humanity’s constant temptation to confuse tolerance with indifference to the truth of things.
That conviction was most memorably expressed in the famous “Biglietto Speech,” which Newman delivered on May 12, 1879, on receipt of the official notification of his enrollment in the College of Cardinals. There, after some preliminary words of thanks to Leo XIII, Newman had this to say about himself:
In a long course of years I have made many mistakes . . . but what I trust that I may claim all through what I have written is this—an honest intention, an absence of private ends, a temper of obedience, a willingness to be corrected, a dread of error, a desire to serve Holy Church, and, through divine mercy, a fair measure of success. And, I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more than now. . . .Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another. . . . It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy.
Conscience. Throughout his life, Newman, the man of change and development amid continuity, was guided by the promptings of his conscience, which he took to be the voice of God speaking to us through what he termed “the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.”
Many of you will be aware of the impact that Newman’s writings on conscience had on the young Joseph Ratzinger in the aftermath of the Second World War. Perhaps not so well known, however, is the impact that Newman’s sermons on conscience had on the young Germans of the anti-Nazi White Rose movement, including the most famous member of that resistance organization, Sophie Scholl, who was beheaded for treason in 1943.
When Sophie Scholl’s boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel, was sent by the Wehrmacht to the Russian front in 1942, Sophie gave him two volumes of Newman’s sermons. Fritz later wrote Sophie that “we know by whom we are created, and that we stand in a relationship of moral obligation to our creator. Conscience gives us the capacity to distinguish between good and evil”—words, British author Paul Shrimpton observed, that “were taken almost verbatim from a famous sermon of Newman’s called ‘The Testimony of Conscience.’” On the witness stand before the odious Judge Roland Freisler in the notorious Nazi “People’s Court” in Munich, twenty-one-year-old Sophie Scholl testified that it was her conscience, and her Christian conviction, that had led her to nonviolent resistance against Hitler and his gangsters. That Christian conscience was formed in part by a serious intellectual and spiritual encounter with the man we shall know, from tomorrow, as Saint John Henry Newman.
There is a lot of talk in the 21st-century Church about “conscience,” and Newman is invoked by many prominent personalities in those debates. So it might be useful for all concerned to ponder Newman’s influence on these contemporary martyrs. 
What did the members of the White Rose learn from Newman about conscience? 
They learned that conscience could not be ignored or manipulated. 
They learned that the voice of God speaking through our consciences sets before us what is life-giving and what is death-dealing. 
They learned that conscience can be stern, but that in submitting to the truths it conveys, we are liberated in the deepest meaning of human freedom.
They learned that obedience to conscience can make us courageous, and that to strive to live an ideal with the help of grace is to live a truly noble life with an undivided heart.
These themes are of obvious significance for the Church today. 
Doctrinal Development. The continuity of the radically converted Christian disciple was also evident in Newman’s work on the development of doctrine. 
The marks of a true development of doctrine that Newman identified were, I suggest, themselves a development of the work of St. Vincent of Lerins, which many of us read in the Divine Office yesterday. As you will remember, Vincent, anticipating Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by 1,400 years (and Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, John XXIII’s opening address to the Second Vatican Council, by 1,500) insisted that the 
development of religion in the Church of Christ . . . must truly be a development of the faith, not [an] alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing to another. The understanding, knowledge, and wisdom . . . of the whole Church ought, then, to make great and vigorous progress with the passing of the ages and the centuries, but only along its own line of development, that is, with the same doctrine, the same meaning, and the same import.
Development, not “paradigm shifts,” was what characterized Newman’s path in following the kindly light—as it was what characterized Newman’s theological concept of how the Church’s self-understanding deepens and expands over time. We see that theology vindicated in the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on the nature of the Church, on divine revelation, on the office of bishop, and on religious freedom and the modern state.
Churchmanship. The great continuity of Newman’s life, as I have suggested several times here, was his radical discipleship. That discipleship, that deep conversion to Christ, informed a brilliant and subtle mind; it was a conversion so profound that Newman could say, and mean, that “one thousand questions do not amount to a doubt”; and that discipleship was also at the core of Newman as a churchman.
“Churchmanship” is not a term in common use today. That is a shame, for the word suggests qualities of character that are always needed in the Mystical Body of Christ, but especially in times of cultural turmoil and consequent ecclesiastical turbulence. Newman’s churchmanship was never better displayed than in his work before, during, and after the First Vatican Council. 
As everyone here surely knows, Newman believed in the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome under certain well-defined circumstances. He also believed that a dogmatic definition of that infallibility at the end of the seventh decade of the nineteenth century was imprudent or, as the language of the day had it, inopportune. And he resisted, with his usual literary vigor, the attempts by some to give papal infallibility so broad a definition as to turn the pope into a kind of oracle on virtually every imaginable question of ecclesiastical and public life. 
Yet, when Vatican I adopted a carefully-crafted definition of the nature and range of papal infallibility, Newman not only accepted it in his own mind but defended it in public against the deprecations of the former prime minister, William Ewart Gladstone, in his famous Letter to the Duke of Norfolk. It was a defense of the integrity of Catholic faith that, in the England of his time, only Newman could have successfully made. 
This was churchmanship of the highest caliber, and it is a quality of character from which every Catholic today can learn.
Courage. Finally, there is a deep continuity to be found in Newman’s life in his courage: another quality of mind, heart, and soul—another virtue—that is much needed in Catholicism today.
I will of course defer to great Newman biographers like Father Ian Ker on this point, but it does seem to me that Newman’s displays of courage throughout his life—in his transition from youthful skepticism to evangelical belief, his transition from evangelicalism to the Newman of the Tracts for the Times and the Oxford Movement, his reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, his acceptance of the presidency of a nascent Catholic University in Ireland, his debate with Charles Kingsley, and his aforementioned work during and after Vatican I—did not come so easily. His was a more gentle spirit than the polemicists of his time, and one can easily imagine that he would have much preferred to be left to his scholarship and his life of prayer, rather than being constantly called into the lists of controversy. 
But when those calls came, this consummate churchman answered them, spoke the truth (even when that meant speaking truth to power), and in doing so inspired others to do the same. 
Newman’s courage was another manifestation of his profound Christian faith. And in his courage, he lived out what he had espoused to others in that “Meditation on Christian Doctrine,” when he wrote, and speaking of God, “Therefore, I shall trust Him . . . if I am in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. . . . My . . . perplexity . . . may be [a] necessary [cause] of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain . . . He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still, He knows what He is about.” We honor the memory of John Henry Newman, this newest of God’s saints, by imitating that courage, and the conviction that underwrote it.  
Thank you. Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!