The musings and meandering thoughts of a crotchety old man as he observes life in the world and in a small, rural town in South East Nebraska. My Pledge-Nulla dies sine linea-Not a day with out a line.
The following is the speech Cardinal Bacci gave at the Council in October 1962 on Latin the use of the vernacular in the Sacred Liturgy of the Latin Church. Bacci's name has, of course, been linked with one of the most important liturgical documents in the post-Conciliar years, the so-called Ottaviani Intervention or Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass, delivered in 1969 under his and Cardinal Ottaviani's name to Paul VI.
The speech is available in Volume 1 of the "Acta Synodalia”, bk. 1, 409-10. As far as we know, it has never been translated into English in its entirety.
The Most Eminent P. D. Antonio Cardinal Bacci
Venerable Council Fathers,
On the Latin tongue in the sacred Liturgy.
Do not think me, as a lover of the Latin tongue, to be too great and exaggerated a lover of the Latin language in all the rites of the sacred Liturgy. Indeed, not at all; for I am open to realizing the necessities of our times. I shall relate to you my opinion concerning this matter as briefly as I am able.
1. National languages, in my judgment, ought not to be brought into the celebration of the Mass, so much because it can produce grave danger and harm; as because the very thing which we all desire to obtain, that is, a greater participation of the people in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and for listeners a greater understanding of those things which are read by the priest, can be attained in another and more apt manner, I say in another and more apt way.
Already the distinguished man Antonio Rosmini, in his little book «Le cinque piaghe della Chiesa» (On the five wounds of the Church) has asserted that the Latin tongue is an obstacle between the celebrant and the people; but this book has already been condemned by the Church. And not only the Council of Trent (sess. 22, cap. 8, can. 9), but also the Roman Pontiffs have ordained that Mass in the western Church be celebrated in the Latin language, always preserving the other liturgical tongues of the oriental Church… It suffices to recall to mind the Encyclical Letter of Pius XII, on the sacred Liturgy; and also the most recent Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia of the reigning Pontiff.
2. But it is easily proved that by substituting national languages for the Latin tongue, either partially, or entirely, we are not able to obtain the very thing which some strive for; that which is desired is not achieved.
And indeed, by simple and bare reading made in the national tongue, the people understands very little or nothing, particularly if it concerns difficult matters, as e.g. on the epistle to the Hebrews, readings of the Old Testament, the book of Revelation, etc.; no indeed, in the meanwhile, doubts and perturbations of the soul can be produced, most of all in adolescents, for example in the reading of the story of the lustful old men who wish to consort with the chaste Susanna, and in the reading «His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me» (Canticle of Canticles 2:6; 8:3). These want for right interpretation, not merely bare translation.
3. How, therefore, are we able to remove this obstacle, which in truth exists, and to achieve this laudable proposal? Through a homily made in the vulgar tongue, through catechism to the people, by which all things might opportunely be explained and accommodated to the understanding of the people. This the Supreme Pontiffs have already sanctioned and more and more often have commended. But a bare translation of Sacred Scripture into the vulgar tongues avails very little for the understanding of the people and for fostering its piety. For this same reason, translations of the Sacred Scriptures without suitable annotations are not approved by the Church, at least not for the people.
Moreover, there is in use today a Missal translated into the national languages. And likewise, much more laudably, it happens in many places that while the priest celebrates the Mass in the Latin tongue, a certain approved speaker recites the words of the sacred rite in the vulgar tongue, with opportune observations accommodated to the grasp of the people.
It is therefore not at all necessary to introduce the national languages into the celebration of the Mass, which otherwise, as I shall soon indicate, is able rather to cause the gravest harm.
4. As a matter of fact, that which is sought after, that is, greater understanding on the part of the people, more participation, we not only cannot achieve in this manner, but also, dangers, divisions, and contentions in not a few regions of mixed language are easily brought in.
For in what language, which is not Latin, will the Mass be celebrated, e.g. in Alto Adige or South Tyrol? In what language in some cities of Switzerland, where there are three languages in use? In what tongue in Canada, where the English and French tongues are in use? In what tongue in parts of the Belgian nation, where likewise two languages are had? Etc…
Certainly for this reason one ought to fear lest nationalism and its contentions be brought to the altar and thrust upon the Eucharistic sacrifice. That this indeed would be very detrimental, no man does not see; while on the contrary, the Latin tongue, as the Supreme Pontiffs have asserted, ought to be a bond of unity; and if, as I have said above, it is explained correctly and advantageously through homilies and catechism—which is entirely necessary and… [which] the Supreme Pontiffs have set down—the sacred rites are able to be understood by the people.
I appeal to you, therefore, venerable Fathers, that you consider a matter of such great importance with attentive mind, lest harm be brought to the unity of the church.
5. The matter is had in a different way when it is concerned with Sacraments and Sacramentals. For indeed, while in the public celebration of Mass the matter is between the people and the celebrant, on the other hand, in the administration of some Sacraments it is between the priest and only one believer, (as in sacramental Confession), or between the priest and a few faithful, often of the same language, as in Baptism, in Confirmation, in Extreme Unction, in matrimony and in sacramentals.
As I have said, the national languages also can be introduced into the rites of some Sacraments, yet with the approval of the Apostolic See. Pius XII has already written of it, in a general way, in the Encyclical Letter on the sacred Liturgy (AAS, vol. 39, p. 545).
6. Yet it seems opportune to me that this very grave case be not left to individual episcopal Conferences of particular regions (cap. 1, n. 24), but that it be established in a unitary way—a unitary way —for the whole Church by the Apostolic See.
For if the thing is left to the undertakings and petitions of episcopal Conferences, great diversity will be had in various regions, with detriment of unity and perhaps with Babelic confusion; and for that reason it will be harmful, since today not only Catholic men, but priests also easily bring themselves from one region to another, from one nation to another.
These things have I considered, venerable Fathers, which I would propose to your contemplation and prudence. At this point, there follow the formulae which, in my judgment, ought to be substituted in this schema…
February 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – An alien from outer space studying the Catholic Church of the last few decades might be puzzled at the frequency and apparent significance of the phrase ‘felt banners’ in Catholic discourse. It seems to sum up much of what is wrong with the Church, at least for many Catholics, but it is rarely explained. It doesn’t need to be, because we have all seen these objects, and we know the significance of the attitudes and processes which led to their production and display.
If I wanted to explain to Zog the Martian what is at issue when felt banners come up in conversations among Catholics, I might say that ugly and inappropriate items of church decoration exemplify and have come to symbolize an attitude of hostility towards objective standards of beauty, excellence, and truth. Zog, however, might find this explanation even more strange than the items themselves. How on earth did such an attitude come to be held by people in the Church, let alone by those with power over what gets hung on the walls of places of worship?
Familiar as the phenomenon is, it is useful to try to articulate what is at issue. The partisans of felt banners do not necessarily prefer ugliness over beauty. Their concern, rather, is to prioritize the contribution to church decoration of the artistically incompetent over that of the artistically competent. Because the latter might be paid, or might not be members of the parish, or might be long dead, their contribution has less value seen as a form of participation in community life. Indeed, the artists who beautified the Catholic churches of yesteryear, and the few who still place their expertise and judgment in the service of the Church, were and are not thinking of their work primarily in terms of community participation, but in terms of objective standards of devotional appropriateness and of artistic excellence.
What has happened is a revolution in the way these things are judged, not from one set of artistic standards to another (as might happen when a particular artistic style goes out of fashion), but away from artistic standards altogether.
The contribution of the artistically incompetent is valued because, for those people,their making of the felt banners represents a kind of participation. In exactly the same way, it is felt that incompetent singers should not be removed from a church choir, because the quality of their singing is secondary to the ‘participation’ which their singing represents. Again, on these principles, nothing should be sung in church which cannot be sung by the whole congregation, because it would be wrong to exclude any members of the congregation from this form of participation. As many people as possible should be recruited for ‘ministries’, such as distributing Holy Communion or bringing up the gifts, lest they not be able to ‘participate’. Equally, it would be wrong to exclude females from the serving team: whatever the theological arguments over that might be, the value of participation trumps them.
This understanding of ‘participation’ is a strange one. Does one not participate, or even ‘actively participate’, in Mass through attending as an ordinary member of the congregation, uniting oneself in prayer with the offering of the Mass? What does it add, to this, to have disfigured the church with felt banners, or have some, perhaps pointless, little job to do?
The novel conception of participation is so widespread, however, that it has even crept into official documents of the Church. An extreme example came from the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1987, which told us that “musical compositions which date from a period when the active participation of the faithful was not emphasized as the source of the authentic Christian spirit are no longer to be considered suitable for inclusion within liturgical celebrations.”
What period of music would that be? Was this period not included when the Second Vatican Council declared that “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value”, or “The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care.”?
[F]ull participation does not mean that everyone does everything, since this would lead to a clericalizing of the laity and a laicizing of the priesthood; and this was not what the Council had in mind. The liturgy, like the Church, is intended to be hierarchical and polyphonic, respecting the different roles assigned by Christ and allowing all the different voices to blend in one great hymn of praise.
Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.
Even Francis's anti-Catholic pals in the MSM are turning on him! From non veni pacem
You know the old saying, “When you’ve lost WaPo…”
Pope Francis’s (sic) closing address to the Vatican Summit on Child Protection was a disgraceful display of excuses and evasions. He began with extended meditation on how a “great number of” abuse cases are “committed within families.” He urged the assembled bishops to focus on “other forms of abuse” experienced by “child soldiers,” “starving children,” “child victims of war” and “refugee children.” He laid out an agenda that, bizarrely, focused on matters have nothing to do with clerical abuse (such as combating “sexual tourism”). And, most shamefully of all, he lashed out at those demanding that bishops who covered up abuse and silenced victims be held to account, declaring that the church must “rise above” those who “exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.”
Another worthy dissection of the whole sham comes from Chris Ferrara:
On and on Francis goes regarding the sexual abuse of minors around the world as shown by “statistics… drawn up by various national and international organizations and agencies (the WHO, UNICEF, INTERPOL, EUROPOL and others)” which “do not represent the real extent of the phenomenon, which is often underestimated, mainly because many cases of the sexual abuse of minors go unreported, particularly the great number committed within families.”
It took considerable gall for Francis to state further that “those who perpetrate abuse, that is acts of physical, sexual or emotional violence, are primarily parents, relatives, husbands of child brides, coaches and teachers. Furthermore, according to the UNICEF data of 2017 regarding 28 countries throughout the world, 9 out of every 10 girls who have had forced sexual relations reveal that they were victims of someone they knew or who was close to their family.”
Francis deplores “acts of violence … in the home, but also in neighbourhoods, schools, athletic facilities and, sadly, also in church settings.” Also in Church settings! The homosexual abuse of minors by Catholic clerics is here presented as a mere “oh, by the way.”
The mainstream coverage in the U.S. has been absolutely brutal. CNN actually stopped talking about Russia for two minutes so they could cover this story. I wish I could find video from FoxNews Monday night, not sure if it was Tucker or Martha but there was a short panel segment that was just devastating in its condemnation of the Bergoglian cohort. It was clear the group understood that we are not dealing with mere incompetence, but rather intentional deflection, inaction, and continued cover-up, including from Bergoglio himself.
Suppose a once flourishing international commercial enterprise had fallen onto extraordinarily hard times. Suppose stores world-wide were closing; 'Industrial relations' were at an all-time low, with various forms of industrial inaction occurring daily. Suppose the creditors were moving in for the kill.
You might think that some people would favour an attempt to discern what had gone so badly wrong. But suppose that Board Meetings enabled the CEO endlessly to deploy his rhetorical gifts. And that every time the flow of his discourse paused for a moment, the Board Members took this as an opportunity simply to say"Quite so, Holy Father" and "I do so agree, Holy Father" and "You are always so right, Holy Father".
The Church Militant is not an international commercial enterprise.
Walmart recently posted a video ad on its Facebook page of two homosexuals on a blind date. Unfortunately, the retail giant has decided to cave and be politically correct instead of remaining neutral on controversial issues. Founder, Sam Walton, would have never approved of this decision to promote the homosexual agenda.
Instead of remaining neutral in the culture war, Walmart decided to offend many of their conservative customers with their new video. You may view the video here if you have a Facebook login. Or if you do not use Facebook, the video description we provided hopefully will suffice.
If this video ad offends you, please take action today. Even if you do not use Facebook, their method of advertising glamorizing the homosexual lifestyle still affects you if you support the company by shopping at any of their Walmart and Sam’s Club stores or online platforms.
Sign the petition urging Walmart to remove this offensive video immediately.
After you sign the petition, contact Walmart Headquarters and let Customer Service representatives know you are extremely disappointed. Firmly but politely urge them to remove the pro-homosexual video and remain neutral on controversial issues. Call Walmart Customer Service at 1-800-925-6278 (1-800-WALMART) or 1-800-925-6279.
Please share this with family, friends, and Sunday School members.
Professor Esolen with a call for hierarchy and authority. He's spot on, as usual! From Crisis By Anthony Esolen
“It’s not going to be long now,” says the doctor, as you stand beside the bed of your loved one. “Shall I send for the head of the Liturgy Committee?”
Some years ago, on the island where we live during the summer, the bishop assigned a new priest and told him that his job was going to involve the closing of one or two of the four churches. I hate the closing of a church as much as I hate death. Or, rather, I hate it more, because for the place where people once worshiped there is no promise of resurrection to new life. It is a blank, like a parking lot where a green field used to be.
But we were soon visited by a fellow layman in the know, who invited me also to be in the know as well as assist Wayne—as I will call our new priest—in the novus ordo saeclorum. I didn’t want to be in the know. I didn’t share the layman’s odd jubilation at the consolidation of parishes. I also did not want to call the new priest Wayne or even Father Wayne. I don’t need spiritual buddies. I do need an abbot—a real father. I don’t need democracy. I do need a hierarchy of humble authority and cheerful obedience. My soul needs it, as my body needs sunshine and fresh air.
It occurs to me, when I think about the incident, that democracy and equality are mostly fictional, while hierarchy and authority are real; this truth is reflected in liturgy—both bad and good. Wayne was a democrat. His lay assistant was a democrat. Wayne was shy of the priestly, or perhaps he coveted the hail-fellow ordinariness of the layman. Wayne’s assistant was ambitious. If you wanted to get some real music into the parish, you would need to go through democratic channels. Wayne would lateral the matter to his lay assistant, and there it would die a death by committee and procedure.
I am told that some chanceries work this way, too. A bishop may sport a cap at the football game, visit schools with a big smile, write an anodyne homily every week, and, who knows, he may really desire the reform of his diocese; however, this spirit of equality is but a veil over a diocesan machine—a democratic Tammany of the Church.
Let us consider its liturgical analogue and, perhaps, its most revealing liturgical expression. Suppose I go to Mass at a church whose organization is, shall we say, democratic. It looks less like a church than like a meeting hall. There is not much art. What there is seems merely occasional and ornamental, ad hoc, and not central to the architectural thrust of the place. The ambience is this-worldly. You are not raised out of yourself. In Fra Angelico’s Final Judgment, the saints in bliss turn their adoring eyes toward the risen Christ. He is the source and end of their unity. They are not looking at each other. But in the church-by-committee it is hard to look toward Christ, because you are busy noticing and being noticed. Your eyes are directed toward a variety of democratic masters of ceremony. They welcome you, they bully you into telling your name to your neighbor, they announce their own names, they play music on stage, they drown out with a microphone what poor show of congregational singing there may be, they make welcoming gestures when it is time for you to mutter out the refrain of the psalm, and they otherwise make themselves visible and important—primi inter pares. Some parishioners are more equal than others.
I am not judging their souls. Good people can get into bad habits. Saintly people may sing awful music. But bad habits are bad habits, and awful music is awful music, and, as I have said, the show of democracy is mostly a show. Perhaps the setup is imparting nothing important at all, in which case it is merely irresponsible and ineffectual; or perhaps democracy—intellectual and spiritual egalitarianism—is both the medium and the message, in which case we have what Pope Benedict called the dictatorship of relativism. In turning toward the people and seeming to welcome them into a charmed circle of the really important, the priest makes Mass more about himself and his favorites than would otherwise be conceivable.
The alternative is different not in degree but in kind. It is the real and liberating converse to the fictively liberal. It cannot be described except by hierarchies and inequalities. The priest has the care of souls. The priest, not the Liturgy Committee. All spiritual authority in the parish is vested in him. This does not mean that we laymen never talk about the faith to other people. It does mean that we look to the priest for direction, and he looks to Christ for direction. We all look to Christ. We orient ourselves to the orient—to the risen Lord. It is onward, upward. We need none of the social paraphernalia of democracy. We have more important things to care for. Here, instead of draping a statue of Caesar with a veil of equality, we accept the inequality with grateful hearts, and that very acceptance makes us more equal than any show or ideology of democracy.
I’m far from the first to notice and discuss this. Imagine a church that is oriented—in its art, architecture, music, and liturgy—towards Christ to whom we all turn bodily as well as in intent, or bodily because we intend it and want to strengthen the intention. The priest then is our leader, clearly; he is the head of the parish. But he is leading us in a humility that is visible. He makes of himself as it were an empty vessel. He kneels, and we kneel. As Chesterton says, man is taller when he bows, and I’ll add that he’s a right giant when he kneels.
There is no chatty personality here. The priest is not to be honored and obeyed because he is a nice man. He is to be honored and obeyed because he is a priest; the office empties the man. Then we, too, might be emptied. We are out of the realm of the quotidian and the sociable. The saints surround us and call us on. The sacrament bursts into the Egypt of sin and feeds us with a food we otherwise do not know. Sure, this happens wherever there is a Mass. But where is the reality made so fully manifest to our always fitful and fleeting attention, as when we do humbly and obediently what otherwise we never do? Someone may say that kneeling is not necessary. Some other bodily sign of humility and obedience may suffice. I should like to hear suggestions. For when we kneel at the rail, we kneel all together, not one by one. The child sees the grown man made small. The grown man sees the child beside him and may remember the words of Jesus; he may have an intimation that the child is his spiritual superior.
And then there are the hymns. They are not demotic as would befit a weekend in Atlantic City. They are not sung by performance artists in jeans. They come from the loft behind us and above us, invisibly, so their singers are exalted and humbled at once. It is hard to play the peacock in the pitch dark. The hymns are not merely decorative, nor do they steal the show. There is no show. No one will applaud. That would be like whistling at the Virgin Mary. The content and the manner of the hymns are subordinated to the demands of worship.
In the novus ordo saeclorum, I do not know my place. I have no place; my place is whatever I may swagger into. In a larger sense, there is no place to know. Who has fond memories of a committee room? You can get lost in equality, because one flat plain is like another, but not when you stand on a mountain among mountains. It is time for the Church, and our experience of the liturgy, to return to depths and heights.
“All practices of magic or sorcery ... are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion.” (CCC 2117)
By Angelo Stagnaro
I laughed until I realized they were serious. That was a little less than half of a New York minute. Apparently, there are a bunch of―for lack of a better word, “Christians”―who want to also practice demon-inspired sorcery and keep Jesus as their spare backup friend. Of course, these “Christian witches” wouldn’t put it that way. They want the right and ability to manipulate spirits to do their bidding, and they think Jesus is perfectly fine with that. These “Christian witches” are having their first “coven convention” in April 15-21 in Salem, Massachusetts. Christian “witch” Valerie Love and her sidekick “Prophet” Calvin Witcher claim “Jesus was a sorcerer” and the “Bible is really a book of magic.” Love describes herself as a “practicing Christian witch” and “an ordained minister of spiritual consciousness,”―which means absolutely nothing. She recently launched the Covenant of Christian Witches Mystery School to Christians pratfall into Hell. She insists there is nothing wrong with the idea of Christians practicing magic despite many biblical admonitions against it (Deuteronomy 18:10-14, Leviticus 19:31, Leviticus 20:6, Leviticus 20:27, 1 Chronicles 10:13, 1 Samuel 15:23, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Micah 5:10-12, Isaiah 8:19-22, Isaiah 19:1-4, Isaiah 47:8-14, Acts 8:9-13, Acts 19:17-20, Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 18:23, Revelation 21:8). Witcher is keen on spewing fast-talking platitudes like, “The Bible is a huge book of sorcery. You literally can’t get around that. You can’t get around Jesus being a magician. There’s just no way.” Witcher’s proof that Jesus was a “sorcerer” are the miracles he performed. In reality, “Christian witches” are neither Christians nor witches. A Christian cannot involve herself in sorcery, and being a witch is a self-delusion created by a narcissistic need to appear “special” and “important.” They don’t have special magic powers. The devil hates them as much as he hates the rest of us and doesn’t give them any powers. Further, the devil has absolutely no creative powers and thus only gives them the illusion that they have powers. He is, after all, the Father of Lies (John 8:44). God, instead, is the Sole Creator and is Truth Itself (John 14:6).
The Pot Calling the Kettle Black But, Angelo — you’re a magician! Therefore, you’re consorting with demons and the Forces of Darkness! Well… if I were truly consorting with demons, I would be able to saw my assistant in half without a gimmicked saw with a rubber blade. Instead, I must rely upon stagecraft rather than witchcraft to seemingly accomplish the impossible. If there was no difference between stage magic and the one’s crazy witches and pagans pretend there is, then every kid’s magic kit sold in department stores is a “portal to Hell.” And every time your uncle told you he “got your nose,” it must actually have snapped off in his hand. And if I’m truly consorting with demons to produce what I openly admit is obviously not real magic, then the same must be said of St. John Bosco, who was a professional-grade stage magician who used his magic tricks to teach the catechism… just like I do.
Christ is Sufficient I recall a Benedictine novice of my acquaintance who argued with me―and his superiors―that Christianity is “fine as a starting point but it must be augmented with modern social work theory.” Nothing I or his superiors could say would convince him otherwise, and that’s why he is no longer a Benedictine. Make no bones about it―Christ is sufficient for all of our needs. We have no need for an additional savior/practice/theory to “guide” us into a utopia of human making because secular idols have eyes but they cannot see (Deuteronomy 4:28, Daniel 5:23, Psalm 115:5, Psalm 135:16, Revelation 9:20). And, indeed, any talk of utopia on Earth should make all thinking people very nervous. One would think that the abject and consistent failure of secularism since the Reign of Terror would have taught secularists a hard lesson and yet, here we are. Christianity and magic do not need each other. They are diametrically opposed. Choose one or the other. But, choose wisely. Angelo Stagnaro (“Erasmus”) performs as a stage magician and mentalist and divides his time between Europe and North America. He is the editor of “Smoke & Mirrors,” the Net’s largest e-zine for professional magicians. He’s also the Guildmaster of the Catholic Magicians’ Guild and a professed member of the Secular Franciscans (Third Order Franciscans)
Angelo has published articles in most of the major Catholic journals in the United States and Great Britain and had worked as a correspondent for the Catholic News Service having served as principle liaison for the wire service to the United Nations and to the Holy See’s Office to the United Nations.
Angelo has authored six books on mentalism/cold reading including Conspiracy, Something from Nothing, The Other Side, Shibboleth and his upcoming Spur of the Moment. This series has been translated into four languages and is considered seminal in the art of mentalism. He is also one of the world’s experts in cold reading. In addition, he’s written an instructional book for catechists which uses stage magic as a teaching tool for children and young adults entitled The Catechist’s Magic Kit. (Crossroad) His other books include How to Pray the Dominican Way (Paraclete) and The Christian Book of the Dead. (Crossroad) His most recent book was released through Tau Publishing and is entitled A Lenten Cookbook for Catholics.
All of his theology books have received imprimaturs and nihil obstat from Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio of Brooklyn.
Angelo has traveled extensively and has worked, studied, performed and/or traveled in 70 countries.
The media love him because he's just as anti-Catholic as they are!
From Catholic World Report Although the largely liberal media is no more a friend of the Catholic Church than it was in 2002, it sees Francis as a fellow liberal who will champion the “right” causes.
When the first sex-abuse scandal broke in 2002, the secular media carried a lot of anti-Catholic commentary. Popular columnists such as Maureen Dowd and Christopher Hitchens savaged the Church with gusto.
By contrast, media coverage of the current abuse crisis in the Church has been rather restrained. Take the treatment of the just-concluded Vatican summit on sex abuse. The reporting was not all sunshine and roses, but it could have been much harsher.
For example, there was relatively little coverage of Pope Francis’ own role in ignoring or covering up for abuse. A recent allegation that Francis knew about the abuse of students at Catholic schools for the deaf in Italy and Argentina, but apparently took no action, was not widely reported.
Had it been so minded, the media also could have exploited the case of Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta who was protected and promoted by Francis despite repeated allegations that Zanchetta had abused seminarians in Argentina. A Fox News headline proclaimed: “Argentine bishop case overshadows pope’s sex summit.” But other media outlets seemed less interested in the story than Fox. If they were truly determined to put Francis on the spot, the Zanchetta story provided the perfect occasion. Yet the coverage was either minimal or restrained.
The truth is that the media prefers not to put Francis in an awkward position. Although the largely liberal media is no more a friend of the Catholic Church than it was in 2002, it sees Francis as a fellow liberal who will champion the “right” causes, and who will nudge the Church in a more “progressive” direction.
Another opportunity to “bash” Francis came in the form of the recent and controversial book titled In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy by Frederic Martel, a gay French sociologist. But once again, the secular media decided to forego the pleasure of going after the pope. To the extent that columnists discussed the book, they tended to adopt the author’s own ideological view—namely, that the problem in the Vatican was not homosexuality perse, but rather a virulent homophobia among conservative clergy which forces gay priests into leading unhealthy double-lives. According to Martel, Pope Francis is really the hero of the story because he fights the “rigidity” behind which, in the pope’s words, “there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life.”
In his review of Martel’s book, columnist Andrew Sullivan adopts the same line of reasoning. He writes:
The only tiny consolation of the book is the knowledge that we now have a pope—with all his flaws—who knows what he’s dealing with, and has acted, quite ruthlessly at times, to demote, defrock, or reassign the most egregious cases to places where they have close to nothing to do.
What puts these prelates [rigid, orthodox homophobic prelates who are actually closet homosexuals] at considerable dis-ease, however, is the realization that Francis is on to their games—that the carnival may soon be over.
The Francis-to-the-rescue theme is also present in several media treatments of the pope’s defrocking of Cardinal McCarrick in February just before the summit. A typical account informs us that McCarrick was elevated to cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001, and then goes on to leave the reader with the impression that nothing was done about McCarrick until Francis came along many years later and lowered the boom. What these accounts conveniently leave out is the fact that Benedict XVI imposed sanctions and restriction on McCarrick which were later lifted by Francis. It was Francis who put McCarrick back in circulation, making him a trusted advisor and unofficial global envoy. So the portrait of Francis as the man who will finally clean house doesn’t quite fit the facts. And it is further belied by his very recent appointment of McCarrick protégés such as Cardinals Cupich and Farrell to key positions.
How much longer the media will cover for Francis is difficult to say. If he should deviate from the liberal party line, he will come in for some rough treatment. If, for example, he speaks out too strongly against the normalization of homosexuality, or if he reverses his position on mass migration, he will probably fall out of favor with the press.
Likewise, if it turns out that there are other skeletons in Francis’ closet besides Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, Monsignor Battista Ricca, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Father Julio Cesar Grassi, and other embarrassing friends, the media may begin to look on him as more of a liability than an asset. In that case they will drop him like the proverbial hot potato, and the media’s wait for a more progressive pontiff who is also more prudent will begin.
Many people dismiss the hard-teachings of the Council of Florence based on the pretext that "we must understand the council in light of its historical context." So, what exactly is that historical context? After listening to these CDs you will have a basic understanding of what events led up to this important Council as well as an over-view of the Council's teachings.
Some good advice as Carnival gets up to speed. From Aleteia By Philip Kosloski While the pre-Lenten festival has existed for many centuries, saints and others have had mixed views about it.
Beginning especially in the Middle Ages, cultures around the world created unique traditions to precede the Lenten season of fasting.
This unofficial pre-Lenten season is called a number of different names, such as “Mardi Gras” or “Carnival,” but each shares a common spirit of feasting.
One of the practical reasons for these festivals was the severity of the fast and the need to get rid of any meat, butter, cheese, milk, eggs, and fats that were strictly forbidden during Lent. Instead of throwing away these ingredients or feeding them to animals, Catholics decided to create various kinds of pastries and other delectable goods to be eaten.
This is one of the reasons why the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is called “Fat Tuesday,” emphasizing the need to prepare yourself and get “fat” before the fast begins. Many viewed this season in a similar way to how some bears prepare for the winter, eating all they can before eating virtually nothing for several weeks.
However, over the years there have been abuses such as excessive overeating and, in some cases, an indulgence in particular sins before Lent. Some Catholics saw Carnival as a “license” to commit sin, which is why saints instituted various spiritual practices to make reparation for what transpired and redirect the fervor of the faithful.
For example, St. Ignatius of Loyola promoted the Forty Hours Devotion during the days that immediately precede Ash Wednesday. He and others encouraged Catholics to prepare for Lent by praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament instead of committing grave sin.
In the end, there is nothing wrong with participating in the culinary delights of the Carnival season, especially for cultural reasons. However, virtue is never “dispensed” and Catholics are urged to maintain a faithful Christian spirit in the midst of the celebrations. Carnival is not a time to seek sin.
Sin is always an offense against a God who loves and cherishes us as the “apple of his eye.” Let us keep that in mind during our preparations for Lent and look forward to sacrificing the pleasures of this world because of our love of God.
Earlier this month, journalists discovered that Fr. Thomas Rosica—an influential and (it was believed) media-savvy Catholic priest—had plagiarized portions of some of his speeches and popular publications. After about a week of silence, he offered an apology, of sorts: “What I’ve done is wrong, and I am sorry about that.”
But the scale of the plagiarism suggested deeply ingrained habits—those of an insecure and systematically dishonest writer. And the “apology” seemed calculated to minimize the crime in three ways: Though he said he was sorry, he also insisted his plagiarism wasn’t malicious, he described it as unintentional (an unfortunate accident resulting from sloppy research habits), and he blamed it on others (some of his material is drafted by “interns”).
From a priest who should know better, this is worrying. In addition to boasting academic credentials (degrees and institutional affiliations), he has delivered and published lectures and addresses for prominent audiences, is CEO of a Canadian media company (Salt and Light Media), and has been a media attaché for various Vatican initiatives. This isn’t just any priest who has plagiarized: Rosica is a communications expert, a professional intellectual, an authority. More than most ministers of the Word, he traffics in words.
Given the extent of his theft, there was reason to expect that the plagiarizing had begun more than a decade ago, and might even be found in his scholarship. Sure enough, in the first essay I checked—published 25 years ago and related to one of his academic theses—Rosica had clearly and extensively plagiarized.
Others found more, pressure increased in the press and social media, and two days later—yesterday—he “apologized” again (only digging his hole deeper by claiming, incredibly, that his plagiarism was “never deliberate”). But his academic board memberships were already falling away; the story isn’t over, but one suspects that soon other organizations—perhaps including the Vatican Press Office, institutions that awarded him degrees, and even his media company—will be eager to cut ties.
Still, in the light—or rather, the darkness—of the Church’s larger clergy abuse scandal, a plagiarizing priest may hardly register. Rosica’s habit undermines his integrity, and the extent of his intellectual malpractice destroys his credibility in academic, professional, and ecclesiastical life. But given the faithful’s graver challenges, is a little cut-and-paste such a big deal for the Church?
Teachers often exhort: Don’t “steal” words and ideas, produce “original” work, and express it “in your own words.” This framing suggests why plagiarism is wrong, but it’s not adequate, even for students: What if the source of the borrowed text is offered for free, or contracted for sale? And how many assignments reward genuine originality as opposed to, say, accurate exegesis, clear analysis, or adequate understanding?
The real problem with plagiarism is not unoriginality but inauthenticity. Students need to do “their own work”—not by presenting novel ideas, but by presenting their own effort. The same applies to writing done outside the classroom. Anyone who claims to be an author is expressing words with a kind of authority and relying on a presumption of authenticity. When prosecuted as a crime, plagiarism is sometimes handled under intellectual property law. But plagiarism itself is not a traditional legal category, and someone can plagiarize even when there is no specific intellectual property claim.
The main victim of plagiarism isn’t the source’s original author, but the plagiarizing author’s audience. Plagiarism isn’t a violated property claim, but false representation: It is fraud. And like other forms of fraud, its gravity is both internal and external. It perverts the rational soul and damages the wider community.
This is why Dante treated fraud with such detail in Inferno. Malebolge, the eighth circle of Hell, is a mockery of civic life—an inverted city populated by those who have undermined the very basis of community: trust. Higher up, one finds the perversions of the passions, but the ditches of Malebolge are populated by those who represent an astonishing diversity of social corruption caused by the abuse of truth—grifters and swindlers, cheaters and con-men, charlatans and mountebanks, manipulators and profiteers, simonists and barrators, schismatics and scandal-mongers, perjurers and manipulators, forgers and counterfeiters.
Thieves are here too, in the seventh ditch, as a reminder that theft expresses not just selfish greed, but a lie and a violation of community. But at the bottom, in the tenth ditch, Dante locates the falsifiers—of metals, persons, coins, and, finally, of words. There at the bottom of Malebolge is where the plagiarists belong, with the other language-falsifiers, at the threshold to betrayal and treason.
Dante’s infernal geography can help map the habitually plagiarizing “communications expert” onto the wider crisis of trust in the church. In “the abuse crisis,” the violation stems not only from sexual crimes—lapses of lust and perversions of appetite—but from deliberate, habitual, and systematically deceptive behavior. The church crisis is about pedophiles, harassers, and abusers, but it is also about panderers and seducers, false counselors and flatterers, hypocrites and impostors. Personal corruption is shrouded in systemic violations of social trust, individual physical transgressions covered in a culture of intellectual and spiritual perversion.
Does Fr. Rosica deserve mercy? Of course. But we should still be outraged at his long habit of linguistic fraud. Empty apologies are a lame attempt to hide from the natural (and, one hopes, healing) shame of corruption exposed.
Joshua P. Hochschild is Monsignor Robert R. Kline Professor of Philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s University.