31 December 2022

Alastair Stewart and Dr David Starkey Reflect on the Life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

It still feels odd to say'God save the King'. I'm 75 & she was the only Sovereign I ever knew.

Holy Hour

From St Thomas Aquinas Seminary.

Benedict XVI Dead at 95: The ‘Humble Worker’ and His Legacy of Hope to the Catholic Church

A full obituary of Benedict XVI, from his youth until his death. There are pictures in the link which I was unable to format correctly.. 

From Catholic World Report

 By Luke CoppenAC Wimmer, and Matthew Bunson for CNA

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95, bringing to a close the momentous life of a Churchman who proclaimed the “eternal joy” of Jesus Christ and called himself a “humble worker” in the vineyard of the Lord.

His death was announced in Rome on Dec. 31.

Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005, and took the name Benedict XVI. Eight years later, on Feb. 11, 2013, the 85-year-old shocked the world with the announcement — made in Latin — that he was resigning from the papacy. It was the first resignation of a pope in nearly 600 years. He cited his advanced age and lack of strength as unsuitable for the exercise of his office.

However, the enormous legacy of his theologically profound contributions to the Church and the world will continue to be the source of reflection and study.

Even before his election as pope, Ratzinger exerted a lasting influence on the modern Church, first as a young theologian at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) and later as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith.

An articulate defender of Catholic teaching, he coined the term “dictatorship of relativism” to describe secularism’s increasing intolerance of religious belief in the 21st century.

Benedict’s pontificate was shaped by his deep understanding of this challenge to the Church and Catholicism in the face of rising ideological aggression, not least from an increasingly secular Western mindset, both within and outside the Church.

Benedict was also a key architect of the fight against sexual abuse in the Church in the early 2000s. He oversaw extensive changes to canon law and dismissed hundreds of offenders from the clerical state. He also launched a canonical investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, following growing allegations about grave sexual abuses from the order’s founder, the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado. The canonical investigation led to a long reform process under the authority of Cardinal Velasio de Paolis.

Millions have read Benedict’s books, including the groundbreaking 1968 “Introduction to Christianity” and the three-volume “Jesus of Nazareth,” published from 2007 to 2012, during his time as pope.

He was the first pope to resign from office in almost 600 years. He traveled from Vatican City to Castel Gandolfo by helicopter on Feb. 28, 2013, and took up life in retirement the following May in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Gardens of the Vatican City State.

“I’m simply a pilgrim who is starting the last stage of his pilgrimage on Earth,” he said in his final words as pontiff. “Let’s go ahead together with the Lord for the good of the Church and of the world.”

He was known for his love of music — he played Mozart and Beethoven on the piano — as well as cats, Christmas cookies, and occasional draughts of German beer. The late pope was also renowned for his gentleness, courtesy, and for being a true child of Bavaria.

A higher call at a time of war

Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, Holy Saturday, in the Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn. His parents, Joseph and Maria, raised him in the Catholic faith. His father — a member of a traditional Bavarian family of farmers — served as a police officer. Joseph senior was, however, such a fierce opponent of the Nazis that the family had to relocate to Traunstein, a small town on the Austrian border.

Joseph and his older siblings, Georg and Maria, thus grew up during the rise of the Nazis in Germany, which he would later call “a sinister regime” that “banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good.” He was conscripted into the military’s auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the final months of World War II, deserted, and spent a brief time in an American prisoner-of-war camp.

After the war, he resumed studies for the priesthood and was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951, together with his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger. The two remained close throughout their lives. A week before Georg died in 2020, Benedict traveled to Bavaria to say a final farewell to his older brother.

While Georg became a noted choirmaster, Joseph undertook doctoral studies in theology and ultimately became a university teacher and a dean and vice-rector at the prestigious University of Regensburg in Bavaria.

He served as an expert (peritus) at the Second Vatican Council for Cardinal Joseph Frings, the archbishop of Cologne. In 1972, he joined prominent theologians such as Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri de Lubac in founding the theological journal Communio to reflect faithfully on theology in the tumultuous period after the council and to refute the various false interpretations of the conciliar documents that were being advanced.

Pope Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich and Freising in early 1977 and named him a cardinal in June of that year.

In 1981, Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and president of the International Theological Commission.

He played a decisive role in preparing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (published in 1992) and clarifying and defending Catholic doctrine. He was vilified for his labors by the secular media and progressive Catholic groups, especially when he fulfilled the task of investigating works by some theologians who proposed erroneous and even heretical teachings. In 1997, at the age of 70, the then-cardinal asked John Paul II to allow him to resign his curial position so that he could work in the Vatican Library. John Paul II asked him to stay on, and he remained one of the key figures in the pontificate until the pontiff’s death in April 2005.

After the death of John Paul II, Ratzinger was elected to the papacy in one of the shortest conclaves in modern history.

A call for renewal

Cardinal Ratzinger chose the name Benedict XVI because, as he explained at a general audience only days after his election, Benedict XV (pope from 1914–1922) had also steered the Church through a period of turmoil, in the First World War (1914–1918).

“Treading in his footsteps, I would like to place my ministry at the service of reconciliation and harmony between persons and peoples, since I am profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is first and foremost a gift of God,” he said on April 27, 2005.

“The name ‘Benedict’ also calls to mind the extraordinary figure of the great ‘Patriarch of Western Monasticism,’” he added. This co-patron of Europe was “a fundamental reference point for European unity and a powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots of his culture and civilization.”

Benedict’s papacy was marked by efforts at ecclesiastical, intellectual, and spiritual renewal, including confronting relativism and secularism, combatting the scourge of clergy sexual abuse, pushing for liturgical reform, and promoting further an authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.

In his homily ahead of the 2005 conclave that elected him to the papacy, the soon-to-be pope warned of a “dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

He stressed that Jesus Christ is “the measure of true humanism,” and mature faith and friendship with God serve as a criterion to distinguish “the true from the false, and deceit from truth.”

In his speech in Westminster Hall to the leaders of British Society during his visit to the United Kingdom in 2010, he spoke about the immense dangers to contemporary society when religion is driven from the public square.

“There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced,” he said, “or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.

“And there are those who argue — paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination — that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience,” he said. “These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square.”

Engaging Islam, encouraging evangelization

Far more controversial was his 2006 address at the University of Regensburg to representatives of science. He criticized forms of secular thought that promote “a reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures,” deeming this attitude “incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.” He also criticized schools of Christian and Muslim thought that wrongly exalt God’s “transcendence and otherness” so that human reason and understanding of the good “are no longer an authentic mirror of God.”

Some media and several German politicians purposefully took that speech out of context, focusing on a single, ancient quotation from a Byzantine emperor. This misrepresentation was accompanied by an outburst of anti-Christian violence across parts of the Muslim world.

Despite such reactions, Benedict’s actual contribution led to more significant efforts at a sincere Christian-Muslim dialogue — one that does not paper over differences and that calls for mutual reciprocity in the respect of rights.

Having recognized the deep existential and spiritual crisis facing the world, the West in particular, Benedict reminded Catholics everywhere of the call to evangelize. He was a major supporter of the new evangelization, especially in preaching and living the Gospel across what he described as the “digital continent,” the world of online communications and social networking.

“There is no greater priority than this: to enable the people of our time once more to encounter God, the God who speaks to us and shares his love so that we might have life in abundance,” he said in his 2010 postynodal apostolic exhortation On the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, Verbum Domini.

Competing views of Vatican II

Benedict saw the need also for the Church to embrace an authentic understanding of the Second Vatican Council, noting in a seminal speech given in 2005 two competing interpretive models (hermeneutics) that had emerged after the council.

The first, a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture, proposes that there is a fundamental break between the council and the past and that not the texts but a vague “spirit of the council” should guide its interpretation and implementation. Benedict lamented: “In a word: It would be necessary not to follow the texts of the council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.”

Against the hermeneutic of rupture, Benedict proposed a hermeneutic of reform and continuity that he called “renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.”

His efforts to establish a correct interpretation of the Second Vatican Council lasted through the end of his papacy. On Feb. 14, 2013, just two weeks before his resignation took effect, he said the council was initially interpreted “through the eyes of the media,” which depicted it as a “political struggle” between different currents within the Church.

This “council of the media” created “many calamities” and “so much misery,” with the result that seminaries and convents closed and the liturgy was “trivialized,” he said. Benedict XVI said that the true interpretation of the Second Vatican Council is “emerging with all its spiritual strength.”

The call to continuity and reform found rich expression in the pope’s attention to the liturgy, in particular through his great book “Spirit of the Liturgy (2000) and his efforts to encourage a return to reverence and beauty in liturgy.

“Yes, the liturgy becomes personal, true, and new,” he proposed, “not through tomfoolery and banal experiments with the words, but through a courageous entry into the great reality that through the rite is always ahead of us and can never quite be overtaken.” Above all, his vision for the liturgy placed God once more at the center: “The real ‘action’ in the liturgy in which we are all supposed to participate is the action of God himself. This is what is new and distinctive about the Christian liturgy: God himself acts and does what is essential.”

Putting his concerns into practice, he issued the 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which significantly broadened permission for priests to celebrate Mass according to the missal prior to the reforms of 1970. He wrote in Summorum Pontificum: “In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

And in answer to the question of whether this reauthorization of the Tridentine Mass was little more than a concession to the schismatic Society of Saint Pius X, Benedict told Peter Seewald in “Last Testament (2016): “This is just absolutely false! It was important for me that the Church is one with herself inwardly, with her own past; that what was previously holy to her is not somehow wrong now.”

His efforts at reforming the Roman Curia were left incomplete at the time of his resignation. Media attention focused especially on the so-called Vati-Leaks scandal, involving the leak of private papal documents and the arrest and trial of a papal butler. Nevertheless, he took important steps toward genuine financial transparency that were likewise carried forward by Pope Francis.

Similarly, in his years as prefect and then pope, he laid a vital foundation for the Church’s response to the crisis and helped pave the way for further extensive reforms under Pope Francis.

Taking a firm stand on abuse cases

Long before his election as pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger had pushed for serious efforts at confronting the scourge of clergy sexual abuse. In 2001 he was instrumental in having abuse cases placed under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and helped the U.S. bishops receive Vatican approval for the Dallas Charter and the Essential Norms that then formed the basis for the immense progress in dealing with clergy abuse in the United States.

In the days just before the death of Pope John Paul II, in March 2005, Ratzinger wrote meditations for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday in Rome. In his reflection on the ninth station, he made the searing condemnation, “How much filth there is in the Church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely to him!” The comments forecast his commitment to the fight against abuse from the moment of his election.

Two months into his papacy, Benedict disciplined Father Marcial Maciel, the charismatic and influential founder of the Legionaries of Christ who had long been accused of sexually abusing seminarians and was later revealed to have led a deeply scandalous double life.

Hundreds of priests who had committed sexual abuse were laicized under Benedict. This was a continuation of his work at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but now it was accompanied by formal apologies to the victims, including those in the United States, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. In 2008, during his visit to the United States, he met personally with victims, and in 2010, he wrote a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland asking their forgiveness for the enormous suffering caused by abuse.

“You have suffered grievously,” he wrote, “and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen.”

A distinguished teacher and theologian

Despite his advanced years at the time of his election, Benedict continued John Paul II’s habit of traveling around the world. His 25 apostolic visits outside Italy included three trips to his native Germany and three World Youth Days.

His 2006 visit to Turkey focused on relations with Islam and Orthodox Christianity, featuring his attendance at a Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople. During his 2008 visit to the U.S., he visited the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers, a New York synagogue, and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom,” he told 60,000 people gathered for Mass at New York City’s Yankee Stadium in April 2008.

While he did not set the record for the most beatifications and canonizations, Benedict canonized 45 new saints, including Damien de Veuster, the leper priest of Molokai (2008); the French Canadian André Bessette (2010); and Kateri Tekakwitha (2012), the first Native American saint. He had the unique distinction of allowing the start of the cause of canonization of his predecessor, John Paul II, and had the great pleasure of presiding at his beatification in 2011. (St. John Paul II was canonized in 2014 by Pope Francis.)

He also named two doctors of the Church in 2012, the medieval German mystic and abbess St. Hildegard of Bingen and the Spanish priest St. John Ávila.

His three encyclicals, Caritas in VeritateSpe Salvi, and Deus Caritas Est, stressed the theological virtues of love and hope. Pope Francis incorporated Benedict’s unfinished encyclical on faith into his own 2013 encyclical Lumen fidei.

Each encyclical offered the deep reflections of one of the Church’s great theologians. Similar significance can be attached to his post synodal apostolic exhortations, the fruits of the Synods of Bishops held under his guidance. His 2007 exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, on the Eucharist as the “Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission,” anticipated the call in recent years for a eucharistic revival.

“The sacrament of charity,” Benedict wrote, “the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman … What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!” (SC, 1).

Benedict’s fame as a theologian and author already was established internationally before his election to the papacy. His books included “Introduction to Christianity,” a compilation of his university lectures on the faith in the modern world. His interview books were major best-sellers, including “The Ratzinger Report” (1985) with Vittorio Messori, “Salt of the Earth” (1996), “God and the World” (2000), and “Light of the World” (2010) with the German journalist and author Peter Seewald. One of the popular works under his name was the trilogy “Jesus of Nazareth,” an effort to explain Jesus Christ to the modern world.

A pope emeritus

Benedict led a life of prayer and reflection after the election of Pope Francis, occasionally consulting and meeting with his successor. Ultimately, his time in retirement and seclusion was longer than his pontificate.

He was present for the canonization of John Paul II and Pope John XXIII at St. Peter’s on April 27, 2014. In addition, he attended the launch of the Holy Year of Mercy on Dec. 8, 2015.

Occasional public interventions sparked intense reactions and debate. In 2019, he contributed to the discussion on the abuse crisis with an essay, going to the heart of the matter — the dictatorship of relativism that he had warned about in 2005.

“Today, the accusation against God is, above all, about characterizing His Church as entirely bad, and thus dissuading us from it. The idea of a better Church, created by ourselves, is in fact a proposal of the devil, with which he wants to lead us away from the living God, through a deceitful logic by which we are too easily duped,” he wrote.

“The Church of God also exists today, and today it is the very instrument through which God saves us.”

In July 2021, the then 94-year-old retired pope warned of a Church and doctrine without faith, saying: “Only faith frees man from the constraints and narrowness of his time.”

In February 2022, the pope emeritus issued a letter addressing a report on abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising that faulted him for his handling of abuse cases during his time as archbishop in the late 1970s. In it he once again expressed to all the victims of sexual abuse his profound shame, his deep sorrow, and his heartfelt request for forgiveness.

The letter served in many ways, too, as a final meditation on his life in retirement but also the abiding faith that characterized his labors on behalf of Christ and his Church.

“Quite soon,” he wrote, “I shall find myself before the final judge of my life. Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete.’

“In light of the hour of judgment, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me,” he continued. “It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death.”

Pope Francis is expected to celebrate Benedict XVI’s funeral Mass.

The Holy Rosary

Saturday, the Glorious Mysteries.


From St  Thomas Aquinas Seminary. You may follow the liturgy @ Divinum Officium.

“My Spiritual Testament” - Benedict XVI

Some last words of wisdom from Pope Benedict XVI, to whom may God grant eternal rest. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace & may light perpetual shine upon them.

From Rorate Cæli

My spiritual testament

When, at this late hour of my life, I look back on the decades I have wandered through, I see first of all how much reason I have to give thanks. Above all, I thank God Himself, the giver of all good gifts, who has given me life and guided me through all kinds of confusion; who has always picked me up when I began to slip, who has always given me anew the light of his countenance. In retrospect, I see and understand that even the dark and arduous stretches of this path were for my salvation and that He guided me well in those very stretches

I thank my parents, who gave me life in difficult times and prepared a wonderful home for me with their love, which shines through all my days as a bright light until today. My father's clear-sighted faith taught us brothers and sisters to believe and stood firm as a guide in the midst of all my scientific knowledge; my mother's heartfelt piety and great kindness remain a legacy for which I cannot thank her enough. My sister has served me selflessly and full of kind concern for decades; my brother has always paved the way for me with the clear-sightedness of his judgements, with his powerful determination, and with the cheerfulness of his heart; without this ever-new going ahead and going along, I would not have been able to find the right path.

I thank God from the bottom of my heart for the many friends, men and women, whom He has always placed at my side; for the co-workers at all stages of my path; for the teachers and students He has given me. I gratefully entrust them all to His goodness. And I would like to thank the Lord for my beautiful home in the Bavarian foothills of the Alps, in which I was able to see the splendour of the Creator Himself shining through time and again. I thank the people of my homeland for allowing me to experience the beauty of faith time and again. I pray that our country will remain a country of faith and I ask you, dear compatriots, not to let your faith be distracted. Finally, I thank God for all the beauty I was able to experience during the various stages of my journey, but especially in Rome and in Italy, which has become my second home.

I ask for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart from all those whom I have wronged in some way.

What I said earlier of my compatriots, I now say to all who were entrusted to my service in the Church: Stand firm in the faith! Do not be confused! Often it seems as if science - on the one hand, the natural sciences; on the other, historical research (especially the exegesis of the Holy Scriptures) - has irrefutable insights to offer that are contrary to the Catholic faith. I have witnessed from times long past the changes in natural science and have seen how apparent certainties against the faith vanished, proving themselves not to be science but philosophical interpretations only apparently belonging to science - just as, moreover, it is in dialogue with the natural sciences that faith has learned to understand the limits of the scope of its affirmations and thus its own specificity.For 60 years now, I have accompanied the path of theology, especially biblical studies, and have seen seemingly unshakeable theses collapse with the changing generations, which turned out to be mere hypotheses: the liberal generation (Harnack, Jülicher, etc.), the existentialist generation (Bultmann, etc.), the Marxist generation. I have seen, and see, how, out of the tangle of hypotheses, the reasonableness of faith has emerged and is emerging anew. Jesus Christ is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life - and the Church, in all her shortcomings, is truly His Body.

Finally, I humbly ask: pray for me, so that the Lord may admit me to the eternal dwellings, despite all my sins and shortcomings. For all those entrusted to me, my heartfelt prayer goes out day after day.

Benedictus PP XVI

[Source: Holy See; translation: Vatican News.]

Solemn I Vespers - Feast of the Circumcision

From St Thomas Aquinas Seminary. You may follow the liturgy @ Divinum Officium.

Prayer for a Deceased Pope From the Roman Breviary

O God, who in Thine ineffable providence didst will that Thy servant, Benedict, shouldst be numbered amongst the high priests, grant, we beseech Thee, that he who on earth didst rule in place of Thine Only-Begotten Son may forevermore be joined to the fellowship of Thine holy pontiffs.
Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Biersach & Coulombe: Catholic Europe

In the words of Charles Coulombe: "What we're going to invite you to look at is the difference in atttitudes-- political and social-- between medieval Christendom, as it survived in increasingly diluted form, down almost to our own time, and our [modern society]."

The Patriarch Behind Vladimir Putin

Kyrill is overjoyed by this war. He wants the UOC and, for that matter, the Ukrainian and Belarusian Greek Catholic Churches under his control.

From the WSJ via the WayBackMachine

By Tunku Varadarajan

The Ukraine war is inspired and sustained by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, says his former secretary.

Cyril Hovorun, a 48-year-old Ukrainian, has worked in the innermost sanctum of the Russian establishment. An Orthodox monk, he was for 10 years the private secretary and closest theological counselor to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Now living in elective exile in the West, Mr. Hovorun is a professor of religion and international relations in Sweden. He knows better than most how those two subjects collide in his former home. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, he says, isn’t simply a project of subjugation. It is also “a sacred war.”

At a conference in France last month organized by the Faith Angle Forum, an American program that studies the interface of religion and politics, Mr. Hovorun declared that Russia’s brutality in Ukraine is inextricable from the Kremlin’s idea of “Russian messianism.” In subsequent conversations, he explains to me that Mr. Putin and his associates “have the mentality of Crusaders, for whom Ukraine is their Jerusalem.” Just as the Crusaders sought to “purge the holy land of infidels,” the Russians are in Ukraine because they believe it’s in the hands of unbelievers “in thrall to the West”—namely, “gay people, secularists and Catholics.”

Mr. Hovorun dismisses the Russian president as a shallow man, incapable of deep thought. He believes Mr. Putin’s messianic inspiration comes not from his own reading of Russian history and Scripture, but from Patriarch Kirill, who has thrown the weight of the Russian Orthodox Church behind the war. “My hypothesis is that the war would have been impossible without input from the church,” Mr. Hovorun says. Others evidently share this view, including Pope Francis, who in May exhorted Patriarch Kirill not to become “Putin’s altar boy.” Patriarch Kirill responded by severing relations with the Vatican.

In the Russian patriarch’s own imagination, Mr. Hovorun says, “it is not he who is Putin’s altar boy, but Putin who is his.” Patriarch Kirill believes in the superiority of the church over state. His pursuit of the Russki Mir—“Russian world”—is an ideological ploy to restore the Orthodox Church to the uppermost place in the public square. In championing Russia’s “civilizational exceptionalism,” he has bought into a Russianist version of the clash of civilizations, a concept posited in 1993 by the American social scientist Samuel Huntington. “They haven’t read Huntington,” Mr. Hovorun says of the patriarch and the men who surround him, “but the phrase is catchy.”

Patriarch Kirill was elected head of the church in 2009, while Dmitry Medvedev was “the placeholder president.” Mr. Putin had served two terms and was constitutionally barred from a third consecutive run for office. He returned to the presidency in 2012 after a rigged election that resulted in widespread protests. “Putin lacked any legitimacy from the election,” Mr. Hovorun says, so he “sought it in the Orthodox Church.” Patriarch Kirill obliged. In February 2012, he called Mr. Putin’s rule “a miracle of God.” Mr. Hovorun resigned from his post as secretary shortly after. In September the patriarch told military reservists headed for Ukraine to “remember that if you lay down your life for your country, you will be with God.”

A decade later, Mr. Hovorun says, this apotheosis by Patriarch Kirill of Russia’s strongman has resulted in the “sacralization of the war.” The narrative of a godly Russia versus a satanic Ukraine has been sold especially hard by Mr. Medvedev, currently deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council. In a recent post on Telegram, the popular social-media platform, Mr. Medvedev offered a defense of the war that teetered on the hysterical.

“Who is fighting against us?” Mr. Medvedev asks, before answering his own question. “We are fighting against those who hate us, who ban our language, our values, even our faith, who spread hatred toward the history of our Fatherland.” The enemy, he continues, is “a bunch of crazy Nazi junkies . . . and a large pack of barking dogs from the Western kennel.” The Ukrainians have “no faith and ideals” and “deny the morality bestowed on normal people.” Therefore, Mr. Medvedev writes, “by having risen against them, we have acquired sacred power. . . . We listen to the words of the Creator in our hearts and obey them.” Mr. Hovorun says he doesn’t “exclude the possibility” that Mr. Medvedev writes such screeds when he gets drunk.

Mr. Hovorun suggests that Putinism “needs to be deconstructed theologically.” Mr. Putin’s ideology—a gift from Patriarch Kirill—is political orthodoxy. “Those who constructed this ideology liked the idea of ‘political Islam’ and applied it to their own church.” In its own eyes, then, the Kremlin is waging a “metaphysical battle” between the powers of goodness and evil. To quote the presumptively drunk Mr. Medvedev one last time: “The goal is to stop the supreme lord of hell, whatever name he uses.”

Different Popes

Father Hunwicke has some brief thoughts on the stark differences between Pope Benedict XVI (R+I+P) and Francis.

From Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment

Little things can mean big things,

Papa Ratzinger used vestments and other gear from the Vatican storehouses to emphasise that he was successor of popes from both before and after 'the Council'; and the fact that the Church, both before and after 'the Council', was the same Church. 

Papa Bergoglio found it hard to resist the temptation to emphasise himself and to bang the drum for rupture. "Look at me ... I'm not dressed in the usual way ... I'm not sharing a name with any previous pope ... I'm persecuting people who respect the Old Things ... I'm different."

Benedict may have got some things wrong, and Francis may have got some things right.

But Benedict looked to Tradition ... while Francis pointed to himself ... Me and Me and Me and Me.

And Tradition is the living Word of th Living Lord among his people.

Holy Father, Pray for us. The wolves are at large. Protect us. 

Be our strong advocate.

R+I+P Benedict XVI (April 16, 1927-December 31, 2022).

Benedict XVI has passed away on December 31, 2022 according to official Vatican reports.

True Catholic Obedience Is To Christ and the Faith | Archbishop Lefebvre 1976

Now the only 'disobedience' is being a Catholic.

Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre - Vol. III - The Christian Family

Extract from a Sermon pronounced by
His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
on the Pardon1 at Lanvallay (Brittany), France
27 July 1980

My dear friends,

It was with great joy and great satisfaction that a few minutes ago we blessed this chapel dedicated to Saint Anne. We thank God that we are able to provide these places for Catholic worship, and to place this chapel under the protection of St. Anne, heavenly patroness of Brittany. We thank all who have had a part in the establishment of this chapel, in making such places as this truly worthy of the Holy Sacrifice and of the Holy Mysteries which are to be celebrated here, making them worthy of St. Anne.

Since we are honoring St. Anne, Patroness of Brittany, let me say a few words which the occasion calls to mind. It seems to me that St. Anne, by her example, gives us three great lessons: she asks those who are joined in the bonds of matrimony to live as Christians and to have Christian families. St. Anne has set us an example, as we are told in the Gospel. She lived with St. Joachim sine querela (without quarreling) for many years in peaceful marriage. St. Anne and St. Joachim lived in the faith. Where Christian marriage is concerned, they are models for Christian spouses. This is the first important lesson that St. Anne gives us by her example.

And by her example she also shows how Providence blesses Christian homes. Although she was barren, look how God gave her a child in her old age: Mary, who would be the mother of Jesus. This is why St. Anne is often represented, as you see her in this statue here, pointing out in a Bible the passages referring to Mary. She was no doubt inspired by the Holy Ghost to do this: a virgin will have a son. So Mary herself received a profoundly Christian education.

The second lesson that St. Anne gives us is Christian education of children – Christian homes, Christian education.

And finally, a third point: St. Anne gives true priests. For let us not forget that Mary was born and chosen by God to give birth to the Eternal High Priest. St. Anne also had the great privilege, at an advanced age, of having a child who would become the mother of the great High Priest. She was therefore the grandmother of Jesus – Jesus the Eternal High Priest. So St. Anne’s message for us is that, in Christian homes, there are vocations – holy vocations, vocations to the priesthood, to the religious life. This, I think, is the great thing St. Anne teaches us and spreads her blessings over Brittany.

There have been many good and saintly homes in this Catholic land of Brittany, where education has been given – a little rough sometimes, but a Christian education. The women of this area, especially on the coast, whose husbands went down to the sea in ships – these women remained at home with their children and taught them. In their faith, in their Christian families, they found a spiritual strength and courage to raise their children – sometimes all alone – at home and to give these children a Christian education.

Thousands and thousands of priests came from such homes, thousands of religious.2A historian of this area told me that, from 1850 to 1900, there was an average of thirty-five priests ordained per year in every diocese ! Thirty-five priests ordained every year in every diocese: this shows what Christian families could produce, not counting men and women who entered the religious life – their number is legion! There is no mistake about it. In the Holy Ghost Fathers alone, while I was Superior General, in 1962, there were listed in the directory for the Diocese of Vannes, 120 missionary Holy Fathers, 120 missionaries in the Holy Ghost Fathers alone, from the Diocese of Vannes ! Not to mention the Diocese of Quimper and the Diocese of Brieuc, where we also had many missionaries. God has given innumerable missionaries and innumerable religious coming from Christian homes. This is what devotion to St. Anne has brought to this area: Christian homes, Christian education, innumerable vocations.

Even after the Revolution, when members of religious orders were persecuted and priests were killed, there came a renewal. After that there was the law of separation, and more persecution of religious orders, the exile. Wonderful stories are told of whole families who prevented the police from going into monasteries and convents to drive out the monks and nuns. The persecution was so harsh and painful that many religious had to leave Brittany, and they took the Faith to South America, and to North America and elsewhere. But this had the result of lessening, to certain extent, the number of vocations at the beginning of this century. Then, during the First World War, there was another upsurge of vocations, when the numbers in the seminaries and the numbers ordained were greater than in the preceding fifty years.

And now we find ourselves face-to-face with a persecution much more insidious, much more serious. The public persecution by the enemies of the Church was better. It was better for the revolutionary mobs to destroy the convents, for the priests and religious to be martyred. It was better than the persecution that is taking place today. Today the priests and souls consecrated to God are not pouring out their blood, but they are being perverted. They are being perverted by ideas – for example, the idea of the state school, which is replacing the Catholic school everywhere, and by all the false modern ideas which have penetrated the seminaries, the convents, the Catholic schools, and, as you will have noticed, my dear friends, they have penetrated even truly Catholic homes. Thanks be to God that your homes are truly Christian, you who are here today, but how many others are still? How many are still Catholic? How many observe the laws of God? By all the standards which are given, by all the ways the devil gets into homes, families no longer have the Christian faith, so they have no more children, and there are no more priests, no more religious.

And even in the Catholic schools, what kind of education is given? The books that are forced on them nowadays! We read recently a fine letter from the Mother Superior of the St. Pius X School in St. Cloud (Sisters of Pontcales), who refused the contract which the State wished to impose upon her, and explained her reasons. Well now! We must admit that something terrible is going on here. She explains very clearly that the books given them, which are required in schools under this contract of association with the State, these books undermine Christian morality. In natural history books these poor, helpless children are shown things that are truly pornographic. How do you think morality can survive this sort of thing, Catholic morality, the law of God? It is impossible! So our enemy the devil, rather than persecuting priests and religious and their families openly, and spilling their blood, prefers to corrupt minds and hearts in a more radical, far more serious manner.

Well then, what can we do about it? We can fight against those who would corrupt our souls and hearts. We must have Christian homes, we must have large families, we must have families where the Faith is alive. It is a great joy to see, among those who are called “traditionalist,” who are nothing more or less than truly faithful Catholics, a great number of children. This is where vocations will come from again.

Where do our seminarians get their vocations, for the most part? From homes that are faithful, faithful to the Catholic faith. It would be possible to find numerous vocations in other ages, but in any age it is absolutely necessary to keep the Faith, to keep the Catholic Faith and to keep the message which St. Anne came to bring to the world, and especially to Brittany.

Christian homes, Christian education, the sanctification of priests, and an increase in the number of priests. This is what we should learn at the hands of St. Anne. We shall pray for this, my dear friends, shall we not? We shall pray that there may be many Christian families, families which keep themselves from evil, which are not afraid to remove from their homes a television which brings things that children should not see, which corrupt the hearts of children, to keep out of their homes everything which may corrupt the hearts of their children, and make of their home truly a place where Christ dwells, where the children are uplifted by the statues and pictures all around them, by the words they hear, which support them and train them in the Catholic Faith.

Finally, you will see to it, I am sure, that there are Christian schools again. If we can no longer have confidence in the Catholic schools of today, we must have others, and this is what we shall try to do. No doubt we would need many more priests, many more Catholic teachers, but whatever it may be, we shall bend all our efforts, I am sure, and you will do the same, to refound Catholic schools, so that your children, after a careful upbringing at home, may not be corrupted in the schools and put you in a hopeless situation. How many parents tell us this – by letter and in person! Their children are fine until about the age of ten, or twelve or fifteen and then – all of a sudden – they fall away from the straight and narrow path of faith and morals.

Parents are grief-stricken at this terrible situation – the ruin of mind and heart.

So we must have good schools, and we are happy to say we have been able to open some. Do not hesitate to send your children, however far away it may be, to Catholic schools. Thank God there are now some orders of nuns – at Pontcalec, the nuns of Fanjeaux, and Brignoles, who are conducting schools where you can send your daughters. They also have schools for little boys.

On our side we are making efforts to open schools for boys. We hope to open a school near here, in the area of Nantes, and if we can, we shall not hesitate to do so. We are absolutely committed to helping you to raise your children in a Christian way. You know that we have opened a university in Paris, so that your older children may take several years of philosophy, to give them a solid foundation, a firm grounding, so that they may do some good in the world around them, and be able to communicate this truth to others, to share this Catholic Faith with their children and all those they come in contact with, and upon whom they can have an influence.

This is the plan – a vast project – and certainly we are in a situation such as our ancestors perhaps never knew, because, once again, it would have been better if we have been persecuted by force of arms rather than by this infiltration of false ideas and corruption of morals, because this is deeper, and we will have more trouble in swimming against the tide. But with the grace of God, the protection of St. Anne, with the protection of the Most Holy Virgin, I am sure we shall succeed at least in saving those souls that wish to be saved. So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church.

So we beg you to join your prayers to ours; let us pray together for the graces we need from God. Without God we can do nothing, without the graces of Christ we can do nothing. He it is Who saved us on the Cross and gives all graces possible to us.

Let us ask St. Anne, His grandmother, let us ask His Mother Mary to obtain these graces for us, so that we may remain faithful children of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin and St. Anne.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


1. The “Pardons” of Brittany, unique to that region of France, are the feasts of the patron saint of a church or a chapel at which an indulgence is given.

2. i.e., members of religious orders.