Not Exactly from The Acts of the Apostles
Thomas A. Droleskey
Great faith is required of believing Catholics in these troubling times. Although I was a papal cheerleader during the first fifteen and one-half years of the pontificate of the late Pope John Paul II, I was not undisturbed by the Assisi blasphemy in 1986 or by his words that, truth be told, preached an acceptance of the heresy of universal salvation. Indeed, an otherwise favorable review I wrote of Crossing the Threshold of Hope in 1993 noted that the Holy Father book was, fortunately, not an act of the magisterium, something that was quite fortuitous given the the late Holy Father's apologia for the thrust of the conciliarist agenda.
After noting the fact that many of our problems stem from the acceptance of the errors of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church, I wrote the following in the last part of my review of Crossing the Threshold of Hope that was published in January of 1994:
To be sure, the faith was taught relatively well in the preconciliar
era. The Catholic faith, not personal opinion, was taught in school
after school, college after college, seminary after seminary. Yes,
there were problems here and there; it has been so since the
apostolic era. But the widespread acceptance of personal opinion
having the same authority as that of the Magisterium, which
characterizes our situation today, would have been unthinkable 40
years ago. And while Pope Pius XII warned about certain trends among
liturgists as early as 1947 in Mediator Dei, the liturgical
experience of Catholics in the preconciliar era was yet another
expression of unity within the Body of Christ. Priests around the
world celebrated the Mass of the Traditional rite the same way around
the world. Personal idiosyncrasies, such as those Pope John Paul II
wrote about in Dominicae Cenae 15 years ago, had no opportunity to
emerge. . . .
I would thus have to take issue with the Pope's rather benign view of
the state of the Church in the postconciliar era in Crossing the
Threshold of Hope. A de facto schism is upon us. Those who know him
have said that he wants to avoid an open schism. Some of us, however,
wonder which is worse: a situation in which people who deny whole
articles of the faith, including papal infallibility on matters of
faith and morals, are in a position to mislead souls; or one in
which such people go their own way? The desire to maintain formal
unity is understandable. The result of that, however, could be to
further undermine the unity of the faith.
It would be another six years or so before I addressed the problem of Pope John Paul II's seeming apology for the entirety of the Church's missionary activity, doing so in the March, 2000, issue of formerly printed journal, Christ or Chaos:
We learned as children from the Baltimore Catechism that the Catholic Church has four distinctive marks: Unity, Holiness, Catholicity, Apostolicity. There is one true Church. She is holy, incapable of error on matters of faith and morals--and incapable as the Mystical Bride of Christ on earth of sins, which are committed by individual human beings. She is Catholic, that is, universal. And she was founded by the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, the head of the Apostles, the visible head of the Church on earth. She is not of human origin, and she will last until the end of time. She is infallible, impeccable, indefectible.
The average Catholic has no understanding of the nature of the Church. He has been taught to believe that the Church is merely a "Community" of human beings who have to grope to find out the differences between the "Jesus of faith" and the "Jesus of history." He has been taught to believe that the Church has contradicted its teachings rather consistently over the course of her history. The average Catholic has been subjected to a distortion of the Church's history, with such events as the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the religious wars engendered by the Protestant Revolt of the Sixteenth Century, Galileo, the missionary work of the Church in the Americas, and the Vatican's "Involvement" in the Holocaust all invoked sophistically to convince Catholics of this era that the Church can be wrong about doctrine today because she was wrong in the past. All manner of utterly ignorant people list these (and other) events as a means of exculpating themselves from conforming their lives to that which Holy Mother Church teaches as necessary for the salvation of their immortal souls.
Pope John Paul II's ill-advised "apology" for the "sins" of Catholics over the years is going to feed this ignorance and sloganeering, no matter how carefully he has tried to distinguish between the actions of individual Catholics and the impeccability of the Church. Just as people are always ready to use the bad example of others (parents, teachers, priests, bishops, nuns) to justify their falling away from the practice of the faith, so is it the case that badly educated Catholics (which are so numerous these days) will use the Pope's apology as ammunition to believe that the Church bears guilt for the problems of the world. More than a handful of priests who are antipathetic to the depositem fidei are already using the fact of the Pope's apology, issued on the First Sunday of Lent, March 12, to justify their own embrace of contraception, divorce and remarriage without a decree of nullity, sodomy, women priests, married priests, and their assertion that doctrine is evolving because God Himself is evolving. If God is evolving, then it is the case that the Church is an evolving body, which means that even the way Mass is celebrated can evolve quite radically, to say nothing of the way in which church buildings themselves can evolve from houses of worship into community meeting halls.
Pope John Paul II is the Vicar of Christ. However, some of the judgments he has made in recent years defy explanation. The indult he issued permitting female altar servers nearly six years ago sent a signal which only emboldened the enemies of the faith who are within our sanctuaries—and who populate our chancery offices and our educational institutions. This apology, which did not list any specific offenses the Pope believes that Catholics of the past are guilty of having committed, was unnecessary. Indeed, it was opposed most vigorously by many within the Vatican, men who understood how it would be used by the enemies of the Church—from within and without her ranks—to further undermine her credibility and her moral authority.
Although the Pope spoke about the fact that it is individuals who must seek forgiveness for their own sins, it is the case that even commentators reputed to be orthodox are saying, "This apology does not just apply to individuals, but the church as a whole, and that is very important" (Father Lorenzo Albacete, a theology professor at St. Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers, New York, the archdiocesan seminary of the Archdiocese of New York). And more than one commentator has picked up on the fact that some of the cardinals and bishops who spoke in the presence of the Pope on March 12 apologized for "religious intolerance and injustice toward Jews, women, indigenous peoples, immigrants, and the poor." Cold, hard logic—something that is not in ready supply these days—must reach some very disturbing conclusions as a result of all this.
First, although the Holy Father did not name specific incidents or individuals, many commentators are discussing the Crusades, which were launched by Pope Urban II in 1095 to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim infidels. Either Pope Urban II was right to do so, or he was not. Either Pope John Paul II's embrace of Muslims is correct, or it is not. Either the Church was right in the eleventh through the seventeenth centuries when it fought the spread of Mohammedism, or it was not. It is the case that either the Church in the postconciliar era is correct in its view of the past, or the Church in the preconciliar era was correct. It cannot be both. Even Socrates taught that two mutually contradictory statements cannot be true. One is true and the other is not.
Indeed, although there were abuses in the Third Crusade, the Crusades were launched partly as a result of the concern of ordinary lay Catholics for the integrity of the Holy Land. They saw in Mohammedism a false religion, something which the Church herself taught was the case. This Holy Father, however, does not call Mohammedism a false religion. Is he trying to tell us, no matter how subtly, that he would not have launched the Crusades, that he believes it was a mistake for Pope Urban II to have done so? Was Pope St. Pius V wrong to have invoked Our Lady of the Rosary to call for the success of the Christian forces in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571? Was the Church wrong to pray for the success of the defense of Vienna against the Mohammedans in 1683? Were Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand wrong to have expelled the Moors from Spain, recognizing in them a mortal threat to the survival of the true faith?
Second, discussion of "intolerance toward the Jewish religion" implies, as the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin did five years ago in an address at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, that the very missionary work of the Apostles themselves was anti-Semitic of its nature. Should Saint Peter and the other Apostles have stayed in the Upper Room in Jerusalem after the descent of the Holy Ghost in tongues of flame upon them and our Blessed Mother on Pentecost Sunday? Should we be ashamed of the infant Church's efforts to convert the people from whom Our Lord took His Sacred Humanity? Were the members of the Sanhedrin right to try to stop the missionary work of the early Church? Should the Apostles have 'tolerated" a religion which was superceded by the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by the God-Man at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday? Should they have refrained from preaching the Holy Name of Jesus Christ? Were they wrong to take seriously the Lord's command to go into the whole world, teaching all people what had been revealed to them? Should they have engaged in an early form of "ecumenical dialog" with the Jews and the leaders of pagan sects?
Third, the apology issued by Pope John Paul II on March 12 seems to imply that all efforts to evangelize the Gospel prior to the Second Vatican Council were founded erroneously on the presuppositions of Catholic triumphalism. Again, cold, hard logic comes into play. Either the efforts of the Church to spread the faith prior to the pontificate of Pope John XXIII in 1958 were right, or they were not. Either Pope Pius XI's Quas Primas was right, or the Second Vatican Council's Dignitatis Humanae was right. Either Pope Pius XI's Mortalium Animos (which stressed that the only form of authentic ecumenism was to invite all others into the true Church) was right, or Pope John Paul II's 1995 Ut Unum Sint is right. These things are simply not reconcilable, try as many have in the past to reconcile them—and try as many will now.
Even Pope John Paul II's spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who approves of the Pope's apology, said, "This is an entirely new thing." Yes, it is an entirely new thing. So new, in fact, that it places into question almost everything in the Church's past. Some very good people are going to want to close their eyes to the inconsistencies represented by the Pope's apology and tell us that we have to trust in him because he is the Pope, after all. They will tell us that the Pope cannot err on such matters (which is not true), and that what he says goes. But to believe that, ladies and gentlemen, is to believe that almost every Pope prior to John XXIII was wrong in his approach to the nature of the Church's evangelizing work. It is to say that the Church was wrong for nearly 1930 years!
The Pope has made a prudential judgment here. It is one, in my humble view, which is sadly mistaken, and a contradiction of the work of almost all but three of his predecessors. The "world" cannot offer forgiveness for the sins of individuals. And the "world" is already saying that the Pope did not go far enough, especially insofar as Catholic "responsibility" for the Holocaust is concerned. But this is nothing new. Indeed, the crowd, motivated by our own sins, mocked Our Lord as He was dying to redeem us on the wood of the Holy Cross. They taunted Him by saying, "Come down off of that Cross, save yourself. Then we will believe in You." But the crowd would not have believed in Our Lord if He had saved Himself. Those who made up the crowd would have said that they had witnessed an illusion, or that it was the Devil who had saved Him. The world, the flesh, and the Devil will never be satisfied with anything less than an unconditional surrender from the Church. Apologies and breast-beatings only flame the passions of the Church's enemies, and help to reaffirm the ignorant in their own sins and darkness.
If anything, the sins committed by individual Catholics (including those who have held high ecclesiastical rank, such as popes, cardinals, bishops, priests) during the course of the Church's history are negative proofs of the Church's divinity and indefectibility. Nothing humanly organized could have survived nearly two millennia of the often dumb and sinful human beings who compose her. Sure, each of us bears a responsibility for the foul miasma of sin in the world. Each of our sins is responsible for causing Our Lord to undergo His fearful Passion and Death once in time. Each of our sins wounds His Mystical Body, the Church, today. But each of us is called to a daily process of conversion, of a growth in holiness born out of a love for the Triune God and sustained by the graces won for us by Our Lord on the wood of the Holy Cross. That is the story of the Church, the fact that sinners have persevered to the point of their deaths in the struggle to be holy, to die as friends of the Blessed Trinity who could enjoy an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise.
Pope John Paul II would have been well advised to consider the following words of Pope Pius XII, written as part of his first encyclical letter, Summi Pontificatus, in 1939. Pope Pius admitted that there were abuses in the Middle Ages. However, he also noted the fact that the world was different precisely because it was held together by the true faith:
"It is true that even when Europe had a cohesion of brotherhood through identical ideals gathered from Christian preaching, she was not free from divisions, convulsions, and war which laid her waste; but perhaps they never felt the intense pessimism of today as to the possibility of settling them, for they had then an effective moral sense of the just and of the unjust, of the lawful and of the unlawful, which, by restraining outbreaks of passion, left the way open to an honorable settlement. In our days, on the contrary, dissensions come not only from the surge of rebellious passions, but also from a deep spiritual crisis which has overthrown the sound principles of private and public morality. . . . The denial of the fundamentals of morality had its origin, in Europe, in the abandonment of the Christian teaching of which the Chair of Peter is the depository and exponent. That teaching had once given spiritual cohesion to a Europe which, educated and ennobled, and civilized by the Cross, had reached such a degree of civil progress as to become the teacher of other peoples, of other continents. But, cut off from the infallible teaching authority of the Church, not a few separated brethren have gone so far as to overthrow the central dogmas of Christianity, the Divinity of the Savior, and have hastened thereby the progress of spiritual decay."
The Church does not have to apologize for her evangelization. She is never in need of forgiveness. Her members are in need of forgiveness on a constant basis, not her, however. Not her. The Catholic Church is the true means of salvation for all men on the face of this earth. She is the true teacher of all men. She is meant to be the true governor of all nations.
If the Holy Father wants to apologize on a personal level, then I suggest that he do so for the many bad bishops he has named. It would be good for him to express sorrow for not disciplining bishops who have helped to undermine the faith, who have encouraged liturgical irreverence and the destruction of our church sanctuaries. It would be good for him to express regret for the way in which orthodox priests have been persecuted by bishops and chancery offices, for how laity faithful to him as Vicar of Christ have been browbeaten by ecclesiastical functionaries as being rigid and reactionary. It would be good for him to say that he is sorry for the way in which sodomites have been promoted and protected by bishops and attorneys they have hired to do their bidding for them. It would be good for the Holy Father to apologize for the fact that the liturgical revolution he is unwilling to look at honestly has caused the destruction of belief in the Real Presence and a concomitant rise of barbarism in society. He should apologize for the state of doctrine and governance and worship in the Church, not for the way in which the Church sought to spread the Gospel in the past.
We must pray to Our Lady, Mother of the Church, that we take pride in the patrimony of Holy Mother Church, and that we do all we can to avoid sin in our own lives so that the Mystical Body of Christ can once more be what she was in the Middle Ages: the force which guided both peoples and nations to conform their lives to the standard of the Holy Cross, the only means by which men can be saved and brought to know eternal life.
It is with all of this in mind that the several of the recent statements of actions and Pope Benedict XVI must be understood and rejected as completely at odds with the patrimony of the Holy Church. Although Pope Benedict is, obviously, continuing the policies of his immediate predecessors, he is, by doing so, continuing the break with the authentic Tradition and praxis of Holy Mother Church, begun on her birthday when the first Pope preached about Jesus of Nazareth and brought about the conversion of 3,000 Jews on Pentecost Sunday. He is speaking in terms that are entirely at odds with the vibrant testimony to the Faith found in the Acts of the Apostles.
First, Pope Benedict XVI virtually canonized the ninety year-old founder of the heretical Taize ecumenical community that influenced greatly the synthetic creation of the concoction known as the Novus Ordo Missae (see Father Didier Bonneterre's The Liturgical Movement: Roots, Radicals, Results), Brother Roger Schutz, upon learning of the latter's murder, which took place just four months after he, Brother Schutz, received Holy Communion sacrilegiously from the hands of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger at the late Pope John Paul II's funeral Mass. Here is what the Holy Father said about Brother Schutz:
"Frère Schutz is in the hands of eternal goodness, of eternal love; he has attained eternal joy." This is a canonization of a heretic. Protestants are heretics. In saying this Pope Benedict XVI is in direct contradiction to the Syllabus of Errors:
15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. -- Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862; Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.
16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation. -- Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846.
17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. -- Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863, etc.
18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church. -- Encyclical "Noscitis," Dec. 8, 1849.
Pope Benedict XVI is, at least implicitly, denying the binding nature of the perennial teaching reiterated by Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos, 1832:
Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that "there is one God, one faith, one baptism" may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that "those who are not with Christ are against Him," and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore "without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate."
The Holy Father's rush of sentimentality in the direction of the murdered Mr. Schutz dispenses with the inconvenient little fact that the "brother" might not have been in a state of sanctifying grace as he was not a member of true Church and had founded a syncretist religious community. What is even more maddening is that Pope Benedict XVI, in addressing representatives of various "Christian" denominations in Cologne, Germany, on Friday, August 19, 2005, said that, "Among Christians, fraternity is not just a vague sentiment, nor is it a sign of indifference to truth." Thus, the Holy Father rejects sentimentality and an indifference to truth just two days after he engaged in an act of sentimentality and gave every indication of an absolute indifference to the defined dogmas of the Catholic Church regarding the salvation of souls.
Pope Benedict's address to the "Ecumenical Meeting" in Cologne bears reprinting in its entirety before the current Holy Father's words are compared with those of Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos:
It is a pleasure for me to meet you, the representatives of other Churches and ecclesial Communities, during my visit to Germany. I greet you all most cordially! As a native of this country, I am quite aware of the painful situation which the rupture of unity in the profession of the faith has entailed for so many individuals and families. This was one of the reasons why, immediately following my election as Bishop of Rome, I declared, as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, my firm commitment to making the recovery of full and visible Christian unity a priority of my Pontificate. In doing so, I wished consciously to follow in the footsteps of two of my great Predecessors: Pope Paul VI, who forty years ago signed the conciliar Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, and Pope John Paul II, who made that document the inspiration for his activity. In ecumenical dialogue Germany has a place of particular importance. Not only is it the place where the Reformation began; it is also one of those countries where the ecumenical movement of the twentieth century originated. With the successive waves of immigration in the last century, Christians from the Orthodox Churches and the ancient Churches of the East also found a new homeland in this country. This certainly favoured greater contact and exchanges. Together we can rejoice in the fact that ecumenical dialogue, with the passage of time, has brought about a renewed sense of fraternity and has created a more open and trusting climate between Christians belonging to the various Churches and ecclesial Communities. My venerable Predecessor, in his Encyclical Ut Unum Sint (1995) saw this as an especially significant fruit of dialogue (cf. Nos. 41ff; 64).
Among Christians, fraternity is not just a vague sentiment, nor is it a sign of indifference to truth. It is grounded in the supernatural reality of the one Baptism which makes us members of the one Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28; Col 2:12). Together we confess that Jesus Christ is God and Lord; together we acknowledge him as the one mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tim 2:5) and we emphasize that together we are members of his Body (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 22; Ut Unum Sint, 42). On this shared foundation dialogue has borne its fruits. I would like to mention the re-examination of the mutual condemnations, called for by John Paul II during his first visit to Germany in 1980, and above all the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” (1999), which grew out of that re-examination and led to an agreement on basic issues that had been a subject of controversy since the sixteenth century. We should also acknowledge with gratitude the results of our common stand on important matters such as the fundamental questions involving the defence of life and the promotion of justice and peace. I am well aware that many Christians in this country, and not only in this country, expect further concrete steps to bring us closer together. I myself have the same expectation. It is the Lord’s command, but also the imperative of the present hour, to carry on dialogue, with conviction, at all levels of the Church’s life. This must obviously take place with sincerity and realism, with patience and perseverance, in complete fidelity to the dictates of one’s conscience. There can be no dialogue at the expense of truth; the dialogue must advance in charity and in truth.
I do not intend here to outline a programme for the immediate themes of dialogue - this task belongs to theologians working alongside the Bishops. I simply wish to make an observation: ecclesiological issues, and especially the question of the sacred ministry or priesthood, are inseparably linked with that of the relationship between Scripture and Church, that is to say the correct interpretation of the Word of God and its development within the life of the Church.
Another urgent priority in ecumenical dialogue arises from the great ethical questions of our time; in this area, modern research rightly expects a common response on the part of Christians, which, thanks be to God, has often been forthcoming. But not always, alas. Because of contradictory positions in these areas, our witness to the Gospel and the ethical guidance which we owe to the faithful and to society lose their impact and often appear too vague, with the result that we fail in our duty to provide the witness that is needed in our time. Our divisions are contrary to the will of Jesus and they disappoint the expectations of our contemporaries.
What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians? The Catholic Church has as her goal the full visible unity of the disciples of Christ, as defined by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in its various documents (cf. Lumen Gentium, 8, 13; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2, 4, etc.). This unity subsists, we are convinced, in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 4). This does not, however, mean uniformity in all expressions of theology and spirituality, in liturgical forms and in discipline. Unity in multiplicity, and multiplicity in unity: in my Homily for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on 29 June last, I insisted that full unity and full catholicity go together. As a necessary condition for the achievement of this coexistence, the commitment to unity must be constantly purified and renewed; it must constantly grow and mature. To this end, dialogue has its own contribution to make. More than an exchange of thoughts, it is an exchange of gifts (cf. Ut Unum Sint, 28), in which the Churches and the ecclesial Communities can make available their own riches (cf. Lumen Gentium, 8, 15; Unitatis Redintegratio, 3, 14ff; Ut Unum Sint, 10-14). As a result of this commitment, the journey can move forward step by step along the path to full unity, when at last we will all “attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13). It is obvious that, in the end, this dialogue can develop only in a context of sincere and committed spirituality. We cannot “bring about” unity by our powers alone. We can only obtain unity as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, spiritual ecumenism – prayer, conversion and the sanctification of life – constitute the heart of the ecumenical movement (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 8; Ut Unum Sint, 15ff., 21, etc.). It could be said that the best form of ecumenism consists in living in accordance with the Gospel.
I see good reason for optimism in the fact that today a kind of “network” of spiritual links is developing between Catholics and Christians from the different Churches and ecclesial Communities: each individual commits himself to prayer, to the examination of his own life, to the purification of memory, to the openness of charity. The father of spiritual ecumenism, Paul Couturier, spoke in this regard of an “invisible cloister” which unites within its walls those souls inflamed with love for Christ and his Church. I am convinced that if more and more people unite themselves to the Lord’s prayer “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21), then this prayer, made in the name of Jesus, will not go unheard (cf. Jn 14:13; 15:7, 16, etc.). With the help that comes from on high, we will also find practical solutions to the different questions which remain open, and in the end our desire for unity will come to fulfilment, whenever and however the Lord wills. I invite all of you to join me in following this path.
A protracted exegesis of this rejection of the perennial teaching of the Church would take longer than time permits. Suffice it so say, as will be demonstrated in the quotations from Mortalium Animos, that the Holy Father's saying that the unity in the Catholic Church does not "mean uniformity in all expressions of theology" and that there is "unity in multiplicity, and multiplicity in unity" is to render over 1900 years of the Church's missionary work and defined teaching as irrelevant in our new and "enlightened" era of "dialogue" and "brotherhood."
Pope Benedict mentioned favorably, even in laudatory terms, the work of the man he called the "father of spiritual ecumenism," Paul Couturier, a priest ordained in 1906 for the Order of Saint Irenaeus. Abbe Couturier's work is summarized on a website devoted to his "insights" as follows:
The power of prayer, and its potential for overcoming separation and the wounds of centuries, lay at the heart of all groups of Christian believers, and so he came to see that, as people grow in sanctity in their different traditions, they grow closer to Christ. If Christians could then be aware of each others' history, spirituality, traditions of faith and worship, their hurts and their glories, they could thus grow closer to each other. The foundations, he realised, would need to be humility, reparation and no little suffering. But if Christians could imitate each other - not just go to each others' services, but embrace each others' spirituality and traditions for their own - the path to holiness in one Church could be adopted and enhance the path to holiness in the others too. This 'emulation' has been described as 'vying with one another' to advance on the path to holiness and to Christ - not mutual admiration, not unfriendly rivalry. but a 'race that is set before us' in which we spur each other on beyond our own small worlds to fresh understanding, to new awareness of Christ and his Church, to a closer bond with him and his people. In the last fifty years we have seen the Abbé's prayer that Christians could all pray the Lord's Prayer together realised. Catholics have adopted many great Protestant and Anglican hymns and chorales. Anglicans and other non-Roman Catholics have taken to heart the Retreat movement, and also embraced the importance for the Orthodox of Icons. The Orthodox have become increasingly influential members of the World Council of Churches, and all now share in a renewed common love of the Scriptures. These are fruits of spiritual emulation.
In other words, the Catholic Church is wrong about many things and has to adopt the errors of the heretics and the schismatics. It is worth noting, ladies and gentlemen, that Abbe Couturier praised the pro-abortion, pro contraception, pro-Communist World Council of Churches and that the website singing his praises discusses an important influence in his life and his theology: Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.:
A third influence on Couturier was Teilhard de Chardin. Both men were scientists, and Teilhard's vision of the unity of creation and humanity expressed in the unity of Christ and the life of the Church appealed both scientifically and spiritually to Couturier. A reasoned consequence for him was that the unity of Christians was the sign for the unity of humanity, and that praying for the sanctification of Jews, Muslims and Hindus, among many others, could not fail but to lead to a new spiritual understanding of God where Christ could at last be recognised and understood. Couturier felt this keenly as he was partly Jewish and had been raised among Muslims in North Africa. It is worth noting that among Couturier's voluminous correspondents were Jews, Muslims, and Hindus, as well as every kind of Christian, all caught up in the Abbé's spirit of prayer, realising the significance and dimensions of prayer for the unity of Christians. Coincidentally, years later Mother Theresa spoke of the considerable number of Muslims who volunteered and worked at her house in Calcutta: 'If you are a Christian, I want to make you a better Christian - if you are a Muslim, I want to make you a better Muslim'. It cannot be denied that what those Muslims were seeing in Mother Theresa was Jesus Christ himself, just as the Abbe attracted so many to prayer across previously unbridgeable divides by his humility, penitence, and joyful charity in the peace of Christ.
Yes, this is frightening material whose implications I will leave to others more qualified than I am to critique. What I can do, however, is to demonstrate how both Pope Benedict XVI and the man he praised yesterday, Abbe Couturier, are at odds with the defined teaching of the Catholic Church. All it will take to rebut Pope Benedict XVI's stubborn persistence in the errors and novelties of the past forty to fifty years to is review, yes, yet once again, the entirety of Mortalium Animos, issued by Pope Pius XI on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1929:
Never perhaps in the past have we seen, as we see in these our own times, the minds of men so occupied by the desire both of strengthening and of extending to the common welfare of human society that fraternal relationship which binds and unites us together, and which is a consequence of our common origin and nature. For since the nations do not yet fully enjoy the fruits of peace -- indeed rather do old and new disagreements in various places break forth into sedition and civic strife -- and since on the other hand many disputes which concern the tranquillity and prosperity of nations cannot be settled without the active concurrence and help of those who rule the States and promote their interests, it is easily understood, and the more so because none now dispute the unity of the human race, why many desire that the various nations, inspired by this universal kinship, should daily be more closely united one to another.
2. A similar object is aimed at by some, in those matters which concern the New Law promulgated by Christ Our Lord. For since they hold it for certain that men destitute of all religious sense are very rarely to be found, they seem to have founded on that belief a hope that the nations, although they differ among themselves in certain religious matters, will without much difficulty come to agree as brethren in professing certain doctrines, which form as it were a common basis of the spiritual life. For which reason conventions, meetings and addresses are frequently arranged by these persons, at which a large number of listeners are present, and at which all without distinction are invited to join in the discussion, both infidels of every kind, and Christians, even those who have unhappily fallen away from Christ or who with obstinacy and pertinacity deny His divine nature and mission. Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little. turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.
3. But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians.
4. Is it not right, it is often repeated, indeed, even consonant with duty, that all who invoke the name of Christ should abstain from mutual reproaches and at long last be united in mutual charity? Who would dare to say that he loved Christ, unless he worked with all his might to carry out the desires of Him, Who asked His Father that His disciples might be "one." And did not the same Christ will that His disciples should be marked out and distinguished from others by this characteristic, namely that they loved one another: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another"? All Christians, they add, should be as "one": for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. These things and others that class of men who are known as pan-Christians continually repeat and amplify; and these men, so far from being quite few and scattered, have increased to the dimensions of an entire class, and have grouped themselves into widely spread societies, most of which are directed by non-Catholics, although they are imbued with varying doctrines concerning the things of faith. This undertaking is so actively promoted as in many places to win for itself the adhesion of a number of citizens, and it even takes possession of the minds of very many Catholics and allures them with the hope of bringing about such a union as would be agreeable to the desires of Holy Mother Church, who has indeed nothing more at heart than to recall her erring sons and to lead them back to her bosom. But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed.
5. Admonished, therefore, by the consciousness of Our Apostolic office that We should not permit the flock of the Lord to be cheated by dangerous fallacies, We invoke, Venerable Brethren, your zeal in avoiding this evil; for We are confident that by the writings and words of each one of you the people will more easily get to know and understand those principles and arguments which We are about to set forth, and from which Catholics will learn how they are to think and act when there is question of those undertakings which have for their end the union in one body, whatsoever be the manner, of all who call themselves Christians.
6. We were created by God, the Creator of the universe, in order that we might know Him and serve Him; our Author therefore has a perfect right to our service. God might, indeed, have prescribed for man's government only the natural law, which, in His creation, He imprinted on his soul, and have regulated the progress of that same law by His ordinary providence; but He preferred rather to impose precepts, which we were to obey, and in the course of time, namely from the beginnings of the human race until the coming and preaching of Jesus Christ, He Himself taught man the duties which a rational creature owes to its Creator: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days, hath spoken to us by his Son." From which it follows that there can be no true religion other than that which is founded on the revealed word of God: which revelation, begun from the beginning and continued under the Old Law, Christ Jesus Himself under the New Law perfected. Now, if God has spoken (and it is historically certain that He has truly spoken), all must see that it is man's duty to believe absolutely God's revelation and to obey implicitly His commands; that we might rightly do both, for the glory of God and our own salvation, the Only-begotten Son of God founded His Church on earth. Further, We believe that those who call themselves Christians can do no other than believe that a Church, and that Church one, was established by Christ; but if it is further inquired of what nature according to the will of its Author it must be, then all do not agree. A good number of them, for example, deny that the Church of Christ must be visible and apparent, at least to such a degree that it appears as one body of faithful, agreeing in one and the same doctrine under one teaching authority and government; but, on the contrary, they understand a visible Church as nothing else than a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines, which may even be incompatible one with another. Instead, Christ Our Lord instituted His Church as a perfect society, external of its nature and perceptible to the senses, which should carry on in the future the work of the salvation of the human race, under the leadership of one head, with an authority teaching by word of mouth, and by the ministry of the sacraments, the founts of heavenly grace; for which reason He attested by comparison the similarity of the Church to a kingdom, to a house, to a sheepfold, and to a flock. This Church, after being so wonderfully instituted, could not, on the removal by death of its Founder and of the Apostles who were the pioneers in propagating it, be entirely extinguished and cease to be, for to it was given the commandment to lead all men, without distinction of time or place, to eternal salvation: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations." In the continual carrying out of this task, will any element of strength and efficiency be wanting to the Church, when Christ Himself is perpetually present to it, according to His solemn promise: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world?" It follows then that the Church of Christ not only exists to-day and always, but is also exactly the same as it was in the time of the Apostles, unless we were to say, which God forbid, either that Christ Our Lord could not effect His purpose, or that He erred when He asserted that the gates of hell should never prevail against it.
7. And here it seems opportune to expound and to refute a certain false opinion, on which this whole question, as well as that complex movement by which non-Catholics seek to bring about the union of the Christian churches depends. For authors who favor this view are accustomed, times almost without number, to bring forward these words of Christ: "That they all may be one.... And there shall be one fold and one shepherd," with this signification however: that Christ Jesus merely expressed a desire and prayer, which still lacks its fulfillment. For they are of the opinion that the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not to-day exist. They consider that this unity may indeed be desired and that it may even be one day attained through the instrumentality of wills directed to a common end, but that meanwhile it can only be regarded as mere ideal. They add that the Church in itself, or of its nature, is divided into sections; that is to say, that it is made up of several churches or distinct communities, which still remain separate, and although having certain articles of doctrine in common, nevertheless disagree concerning the remainder; that these all enjoy the same rights; and that the Church was one and unique from, at the most, the apostolic age until the first Ecumenical Councils. Controversies therefore, they say, and longstanding differences of opinion which keep asunder till the present day the members of the Christian family, must be entirely put aside, and from the remaining doctrines a common form of faith drawn up and proposed for belief, and in the profession of which all may not only know but feel that they are brothers. The manifold churches or communities, if united in some kind of universal federation, would then be in a position to oppose strongly and with success the progress of irreligion. This, Venerable Brethren, is what is commonly said. There are some, indeed, who recognize and affirm that Protestantism, as they call it, has rejected, with a great lack of consideration, certain articles of faith and some external ceremonies, which are, in fact, pleasing and useful, and which the Roman Church still retains. They soon, however, go on to say that that Church also has erred, and corrupted the original religion by adding and proposing for belief certain doctrines which are not only alien to the Gospel, but even repugnant to it. Among the chief of these they number that which concerns the primacy of jurisdiction, which was granted to Peter and to his successors in the See of Rome. Among them there indeed are some, though few, who grant to the Roman Pontiff a primacy of honor or even a certain jurisdiction or power, but this, however, they consider not to arise from the divine law but from the consent of the faithful. Others again, even go so far as to wish the Pontiff Himself to preside over their motley, so to say, assemblies. But, all the same, although many non-Catholics may be found who loudly preach fraternal communion in Christ Jesus, yet you will find none at all to whom it ever occurs to submit to and obey the Vicar of Jesus Christ either in His capacity as a teacher or as a governor. Meanwhile they affirm that they would willingly treat with the Church of Rome, but on equal terms, that is as equals with an equal: but even if they could so act. it does not seem open to doubt that any pact into which they might enter would not compel them to turn from those opinions which are still the reason why they err and stray from the one fold of Christ.
8. This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ. Shall We suffer, what would indeed be iniquitous, the truth, and a truth divinely revealed, to be made a subject for compromise? For here there is question of defending revealed truth. Jesus Christ sent His Apostles into the whole world in order that they might permeate all nations with the Gospel faith, and, lest they should err, He willed beforehand that they should be taught by the Holy Ghost: has then this doctrine of the Apostles completely vanished away, or sometimes been obscured, in the Church, whose ruler and defense is God Himself? If our Redeemer plainly said that His Gospel was to continue not only during the times of the Apostles, but also till future ages, is it possible that the object of faith should in the process of time become so obscure and uncertain, that it would be necessary to-day to tolerate opinions which are even incompatible one with another? If this were true, we should have to confess that the coming of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles, and the perpetual indwelling of the same Spirit in the Church, and the very preaching of Jesus Christ, have several centuries ago, lost all their efficacy and use, to affirm which would be blasphemy. But the Only-begotten Son of God, when He commanded His representatives to teach all nations, obliged all men to give credence to whatever was made known to them by "witnesses preordained by God," and also confirmed His command with this sanction: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." These two commands of Christ, which must be fulfilled, the one, namely, to teach, and the other to believe, cannot even be understood, unless the Church proposes a complete and easily understood teaching, and is immune when it thus teaches from all danger of erring. In this matter, those also turn aside from the right path, who think that the deposit of truth such laborious trouble, and with such lengthy study and discussion, that a man's life would hardly suffice to find and take possession of it; as if the most merciful God had spoken through the prophets and His Only-begotten Son merely in order that a few, and those stricken in years, should learn what He had revealed through them, and not that He might inculcate a doctrine of faith and morals, by which man should be guided through the whole course of his moral life.
9. These pan-Christians who turn their minds to uniting the churches seem, indeed, to pursue the noblest of ideas in promoting charity among all Christians: nevertheless how does it happen that this charity tends to injure faith? Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment "Love one another," altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt version of Christ's teaching: "If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you." For which reason, since charity is based on a complete and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united principally by the bond of one faith. Who then can conceive a Christian Federation, the members of which retain each his own opinions and private judgment, even in matters which concern the object of faith, even though they be repugnant to the opinions of the rest? And in what manner, We ask, can men who follow contrary opinions, belong to one and the same Federation of the faithful? For example, those who affirm, and those who deny that sacred Tradition is a true fount of divine Revelation; those who hold that an ecclesiastical hierarchy, made up of bishops, priests and ministers, has been divinely constituted, and those who assert that it has been brought in little by little in accordance with the conditions of the time; those who adore Christ really present in the Most Holy Eucharist through that marvelous conversion of the bread and wine, which is called transubstantiation, and those who affirm that Christ is present only by faith or by the signification and virtue of the Sacrament; those who in the Eucharist recognize the nature both of a sacrament and of a sacrifice, and those who say that it is nothing more than the memorial or commemoration of the Lord's Supper; those who believe it to be good and useful to invoke by prayer the Saints reigning with Christ, especially Mary the Mother of God, and to venerate their images, and those who urge that such a veneration is not to be made use of, for it is contrary to the honor due to Jesus Christ, "the one mediator of God and men." How so great a variety of opinions can make the way clear to effect the unity of the Church We know not; that unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief and one faith of Christians. But We do know that from this it is an easy step to the neglect of religion or indifferentism and to modernism, as they call it. Those, who are unhappily infected with these errors, hold that dogmatic truth is not absolute but relative, that is, it agrees with the varying necessities of time and place and with the varying tendencies of the mind, since it is not contained in immutable revelation, but is capable of being accommodated to human life. Besides this, in connection with things which must be believed, it is nowise licit to use that distinction which some have seen fit to introduce between those articles of faith which are fundamental and those which are not fundamental, as they say, as if the former are to be accepted by all, while the latter may be left to the free assent of the faithful: for the supernatural virtue of faith has a formal cause, namely the authority of God revealing, and this is patient of no such distinction. For this reason it is that all who are truly Christ's believe, for example, the Conception of the Mother of God without stain of original sin with the same faith as they believe the mystery of the August Trinity, and the Incarnation of Our Lord just as they do the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, according to the sense in which it was defined by the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. Are these truths not equally certain, or not equally to be believed, because the Church has solemnly sanctioned and defined them, some in one age and some in another, even in those times immediately before our own? Has not God revealed them all? For the teaching authority of the Church, which in the divine wisdom was constituted on earth in order that revealed doctrines might remain intact for ever, and that they might be brought with ease and security to the knowledge of men, and which is daily exercised through the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops who are in communion with him, has also the office of defining, when it sees fit, any truth with solemn rites and decrees, whenever this is necessary either to oppose the errors or the attacks of heretics, or more clearly and in greater detail to stamp the minds of the faithful with the articles of sacred doctrine which have been explained. But in the use of this extraordinary teaching authority no newly invented matter is brought in, nor is anything new added to the number of those truths which are at least implicitly contained in the deposit of Revelation, divinely handed down to the Church: only those which are made clear which perhaps may still seem obscure to some, or that which some have previously called into question is declared to be of faith.
10. So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: "The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly." The same holy Martyr with good reason marveled exceedingly that anyone could believe that "this unity in the Church which arises from a divine foundation, and which is knit together by heavenly sacraments, could be rent and torn asunder by the force of contrary wills." For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, compacted and fitly joined together, it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head.
11. Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, why do they not hasten to enter the Church, "the Mother and mistress of all Christ's faithful"? Let them hear Lactantius crying out: "The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind."
12. Let, therefore, the separated children draw nigh to the Apostolic See, set up in the City which Peter and Paul, the Princes of the Apostles, consecrated by their blood; to that See, We repeat, which is "the root and womb whence the Church of God springs," not with the intention and the hope that "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" will cast aside the integrity of the faith and tolerate their errors, but, on the contrary, that they themselves submit to its teaching and government. Would that it were Our happy lot to do that which so many of Our predecessors could not, to embrace with fatherly affection those children, whose unhappy separation from Us We now bewail. Would that God our Savior, "Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth," would hear us when We humbly beg that He would deign to recall all who stray to the unity of the Church! In this most important undertaking We ask and wish that others should ask the prayers of Blessed Mary the Virgin, Mother of divine grace, victorious over all heresies and Help of Christians, that She may implore for Us the speedy coming of the much hoped-for day, when all men shall hear the voice of Her divine Son, and shall be "careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
13. You, Venerable Brethren, understand how much this question is in Our mind, and We desire that Our children should also know, not only those who belong to the Catholic community, but also those who are separated from Us: if these latter humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity. While awaiting this event, and as a pledge of Our paternal good will, We impart most lovingly to you, Venerable Brethren, and to your clergy and people, the apostolic benediction.
Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, on the 6th day of January, on the Feast of the Epiphany of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, in the year 1928, and the sixth year of Our Pontificate.
The contrast between Benedict XVI, an admirer of a man shaped by Teilhard de Chardin, Paul Couturier, and the clear, immutable teaching presented by Pope Pius XI cannot be more stark. Pope Benedict was given an opportunity to do precisely what his predecessor, Pius XI, said had to be done: to invite all Protestants into the true Church. Opting to persist in the errors of the recent past, Pope Benedict XVI rationalized a call to find new ways of discovering "multiplicity in unity and unity in multiplicity" as though he had no direct and immediate responsibility as the Chief Shepherd on earth to simply invite all men immediately into the true Church. The Holy Father did not outrightly deny the Catholic Church is the true Church, relying on the murky, novel language found in Lumen Gentium. His words certainly do make it appear as though "Christians" outside of the Catholic Church can be saved absent a conversion to the true Church, as is certainly evidenced in His Holiness's virtual canonization of the murdered Roger Schutz.
Cheer up. It gets worse, as most of you who have access to the internet probably know.
Contrasting once again with the words of one of his predecessors, a chap named Saint Peter from Capernaum, on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI went to a synagogue in Cologne, Germany, yesterday, August 19, 2005, and not once spoke of the necessity of Jews to convert to the Catholic Faith in order to avoid eternal damnation. Once again, just as the Pope did not deny that the Catholic Church was the true Church to the Protestants he spoke to yesterday, he did not deny the Sacred Divinity of the God-Man to the Jews in the Cologne synagogue. He did not proclaim it either, which is a serious sin of omission that is in direct contrast to the work of the Apostles themselves, whose Apostolic college he now heads.
This is the address that the Holy Father delivered in the Cologne synagogue yesterday:
Shalom lechem! It has been my deep desire, during my first visit to Germany since my election as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, to meet the Jewish community of Cologne and the representatives of Judaism in Germany. By this visit I would like to return in spirit to the meeting that took place in Mainz on 17 November 1980 between my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, then making his first visit to this country, and members of the Central Jewish Committee in Germany and the Rabbinic Conference. Today too I wish to reaffirm that I intend to continue on the path towards improved relations and friendship with the Jewish People, following the decisive lead given by Pope John Paul II (cf. Address to the Delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, 9 June 2005: L’Osservatore Romano, 10 June 2005, p. 5).
The Jewish community in Cologne can truly feel “at home” in this city. Cologne is, in fact, the oldest site of a Jewish community on German soil, dating back to the Colonia of Roman times. The history of relations between the Jewish and Christian communities has been complex and often painful. There were times when the two lived together peacefully, but there was also the expulsion of the Jews from Cologne in the year 1424. And in the twentieth century, in the darkest period of German and European history, an insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism, gave rise to the attempt, planned and systematically carried out by the regime, to exterminate European Jewry. The result has passed into history as the Shoah. The victims of this unspeakable and previously unimaginable crime amounted to seven thousand named individuals in Cologne alone; the real figure was surely much higher. The holiness of God was no longer recognized, and consequently contempt was shown for the sacredness of human life.
This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, in which millions of Jews – men, women and children – were put to death in the gas chambers and ovens. I make my own the words written by my venerable Predecessor on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and I too say: “I bow my head before all those who experienced this manifestation of the mysterium iniquitatis.” The terrible events of that time must “never cease to rouse consciences, to resolve conflicts, to inspire the building of peace” (Message for the Liberation of Auschwitz, 15 January 2005). Together we must remember God and his wise plan for the world which he created. As we read in the Book of Wisdom, he is the “lover of life” (11:26).
This year also marks the fortieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate, which opened up new prospects for Jewish-Christian relations in terms of dialogue and solidarity. This Declaration, in the fourth chapter, recalls the common roots and the immensely rich spiritual heritage that Jews and Christians share. Both Jews and Christians recognize in Abraham their father in faith (cf. Gal 3:7, Rom 4:11ff.) and they look to the teachings of Moses and the prophets. Jewish spirituality, like its Christian counterpart, draws nourishment from the psalms. With Saint Paul, Christians are convinced that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29, cf. 9:6,11; 11:1ff.). In considering the Jewish roots of Christianity (cf. Rom 11:16-24), my venerable Predecessor, quoting a statement by the German Bishops, affirmed that: “whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism” (Insegnamenti, vol. III/2, 1980, p. 1272).
The conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate therefore “deplores feelings of hatred, persecutions and demonstrations of antisemitism directed against the Jews at whatever time and by whomsoever” (No. 4). God created us all “in his image” (cf. Gen 1:27) and thus honoured us with a transcendent dignity. Before God, all men and women have the same dignity, whatever their nation, culture or religion. Hence the Declaration Nostra Aetate also speaks with great esteem of Muslims (cf. No. 3) and of the followers of other religions (cf. No. 2). On the basis of our shared human dignity the Catholic Church “condemns as foreign to the mind of Christ any kind of discrimination whatsoever between people, or harassment of them, done by reason of race or colour, class or religion” (No. 5). The Church is conscious of her duty to transmit this teaching, in her catechesis and in every aspect of her life, to the younger generations which did not witness the terrible events that took place before and during the Second World War. It is a particularly important task, since today, sadly, we are witnessing the rise of new signs of antisemitism and various forms of a general hostility towards foreigners. How can we fail to see in this a reason for concern and vigilance? The Catholic Church is committed – I reaffirm this again today – to tolerance, respect, friendship and peace between all peoples, cultures and religions.
In the forty years that have passed since the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, much progress has been made, in Germany and throughout the world, towards better and closer relations between Jews and Christians. Alongside official relationships, due above all to cooperation between specialists in the biblical sciences, many friendships have been born. In this regard, I would mention the various declarations by the German Episcopal Conference and the charitable work done by the “Society for Jewish-Christian Cooperation in Cologne”, which since 1945 have enabled the Jewish community to feel once again “at home” here in Cologne and to establish good relations with the Christian communities. Yet much still remains to be done. We must come to know one another much more and much better. Consequently I would encourage sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, for only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions, and, above all, to make progress towards a theological evaluation of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. This dialogue, if it is to be sincere, must not gloss over or underestimate the existing differences: in those areas in which, due to our profound convictions in faith, we diverge, and indeed precisely in those areas, we need to show respect for one another.
Finally, our gaze should not only be directed to the past, but should also look forward to the tasks that await us today and tomorrow. Our rich common heritage and our fraternal and more trusting relations call upon us to join in giving an ever more harmonious witness and to work together on the practical level for the defence and promotion of human rights and the sacredness of human life, for family values, for social justice and for peace in the world. The Decalogue (cf. Ex 20; Dt 5) is for us a shared legacy and commitment. The Ten Commandments are not a burden, but a sign-post showing the path leading to a successful life. This is particularly the case for the young people whom I am meeting in these days and who are so dear to me. My wish is that they may be able to recognize in the Decalogue a lamp for their steps, a light for their path (cf. Ps 119:105). Adults have the responsibility of handing down to young people the torch of hope that God has given to Jews and to Christians, so that “never again” will the forces of evil come to power, and that future generations, with God’s help, may be able to build a more just and peaceful world, in which all people have equal rights and are equally at home.
I conclude with the words of Psalm 29, which express both a wish and a prayer: “May the Lord give strength to his people, may he bless his people with peace”.
May he hear our prayer!
By saying that the Catholic Church is committed to "tolerance, respect, friendship and peace between all peoples, cultures and religions" Pope Benedict XVI is saying, like his immediate predecessor before him, that all active proselytizing of those outside of her ranks must be avoided. And what is this nonsense about a "theological evaluation of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity"? Our Lord has revealed Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life End of evaluation. People either accept Him as He has revealed Himself through His true Church or they do not. Period.
What I wrote following Pope John Paul II's visit to Jerusalem in 2000, sadly, has direct relevance to what Pope Benedict did and did not say yesterday in the synagogue in Cologne:
The sight of the Vicar of Christ sitting with the Grand Rabbi of Jerusalem and a Moslem sheik implied that Judaism and Mohammedism were true religions in which human beings can attain eternal life. Nothing to the contrary was said, was it? Indeed, the Holy Father went to great lengths to speak about the sense of "brotherhood" that had to exist among the three religions, implying that it would be opposed to the spirit of that brotherhood for Catholics to seek converts to the true faith from the ranks of practicing Jews and Mohammedans. He offered a prayer at the Wailing Wall, again implying that a dead religion which was superseded by the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper on Good Friday is still a valid way for people to serve God. The Holy Father even visited the Dome of the Rock, where Mohammedans believe that their charlatan tentmaker of a founder, who was committed to the destruction of Christianity by the slaughtering of Christians, ascended into Heaven. Whatever the Holy Father intends to communicate with these gestures, the average person comes away reaffirmed in his spirit of indifferentism, the belief that it does not make any difference what religion one professes as long as one is a "good" person.
Contrast the Holy Father's refusal to preach the Gospel of Christ to unbelievers with the words of the first Pope, Saint Peter, uttered during what we can call the first Urbi et Orbi address, delivered on Pentecost Sunday in Jerusalem shortly after the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles and our Blessed Mother in the same Upper Room in Jerusalem where Our Lord had instituted the priesthood and Eucharist prior to undergoing his fearful agony in the Garden of Gethsemane:
"In those days, Peter opening his mouth, said, 'Ye men of Israel, and ye that fear God, hear. The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers hath glorified His Son Jesus, Whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. But the Author of life you killed, Whom God hath raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And now, brethren, I know that you did it through ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled. Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out'" (Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19).
Not convinced? Consider the case of a Pharisee who converted from Judaism to the true faith whilst on the road to Damascus to preside over the persecution of more Christians, something that he--as well as other believing Jews of his day--believed was his obligation before God. The Jews of the Apostolic era knew that Our Lord was either Who He said He was, the God-Man, or He was a liar and a blasphemer. They believed the latter, as do believing Jews to this day. Indeed, some orthodox Jews in Israel were so opposed to the Pope's visit that they sought to strike out at any Crucifix they could find. (The Pope himself removed the Crucifix from the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall in 1994 so as not to offend the Chief Rabbi of Rome when he attended a concert to remember the victims of the Holocaust.) Saint Paul shocked his Jewish hearers when he said:
" 'Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God, to you the word of this salvation is sent. For they that inhabited Jerusalem, and the rulers thereof, not knowing Him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath, judging Him have fulfilled them; and finding no cause of death in Him, they desired of Pilate that they might kill Him. And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of Him, taking Him down from the tree, they laid Him in a sepulcher. But God raised Him up from the dead on the third day: Who was seen for many days by them who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who to this present time are His witnesses to the people. And we declare unto you that the promise which was made to our fathers, the same God hath fulfilled to our children, raising up Our Lord Jesus Christ'" (Acts 13: 16, 26-33).
The Apostles did not shrink from preaching the Holy Name of Our Lord as the only Name under Heaven and on earth by which men could be saved. They risked everything in order to remain faithful to the Gospel of the Crucified and Resurrected Savior. Indeed, they rejoiced because they were deemed worthy of ill treatment for the sake of the Name. All of them save for Saint John the Evangelist died a martyr's death. They took seriously the Great Commissioning of Our Lord: AGo, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Mt. 28: 18-20). The Great Commissioning is not a suggestion offered by Our Lord. It is an imperative uttered from the Holy Lips of the One Who said that "No one can go to the Father except through Me," the One Who said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall have no life in you." (Jn. 6:54). Every baptized member of the true Church has the obligation to bring souls into the true Church, no matter what loss (human respect, property, career security, life itself) might be entailed in the process.
Sure, there are different methods by which people are invited into the true Church. Conversion may take time. Look, our own daily conversion has plenty of ups and downs, doesn't it? We can fall into sin so easily. Our growth in personal sanctity is never a "once and for all" proposition. Our conversion is a continuous process. But we know we must work hard to cooperate with the graces won for us on Calvary to achieve that conversion of heart and soul, mind and body. We know we have to spend plenty of time on our knees to make reparation for our sins, and to offer the same forgiveness to others that Our Lord extends to us so freely in the Sacrament of Penance, the hospital of Divine Mercy. Despite our sins and our failings, however, we know that we have to be about the business of metanoia, of dying to self and living more fully for Our Lord through His true Church. True charity for souls must impel us, imperfect vessels though we are, to help others on the road to sanctity, which begins with inviting them into the true Church. The Apostles did not do any "pre-evangelization" before they went out on Pentecost Sunday. They simply preached the Word made Flesh, trusting that the Holy Spirit would enlighten the minds and open the hearts of their hearers. Thousands were converted when Saint Peter delivered his sermon in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday. Why do we shrink from imitating the first Pope today? Why do we think that we are going to have "credibility" with unbelievers by not exhorting them to at least consider the fact that Our Lord is exactly what He proclaimed Himself to be, namely, the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
Yes, I understand that it is possibly the Holy Father's intention to soften the hearts of Jews and Mohammedans by offering them his respect and his solicitude. But the Mohammedans, to their credit, will have none of it. They believe in Mohammed, not Christ. They are not religious indifferentists. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem also took issue with the Holy Father's approach, warning him publicly that he was shirking his responsibility to bear witness to Christ to the people from whose stock Our Lord took His Sacred Humanity. While individual Catholics have indeed been hostile to Jews on occasion through the centuries (not offering them the same forgiveness that Our Lord extended to us, His executioners, from the Cross on Good Friday), the Patriarch knows the New Testament rather well. The Acts of the Apostles, which we believe to have been written by Saint Luke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recounts the many ways Jewish authorities sought to crush the infant Church. While it is all well and good to express sorrow for the actions and attitudes of some Catholics over the centuries, who is going to offer an apology for the hatred many believing Jews have for Christ and His Church? Who is going to say that there are ongoing efforts on the part of Jews in Israel and the United States to eradicate all mention of the Holy Name and all symbols of Christianity from public view?
Indeed, as I pointed out in an article in The Wanderer six years ago, it was precisely the de-Catholicization of Europe--which was advanced by Freemasonry and Zionists, as Saint Maximilian Kolbe discussed with such courage in his writings--that produced the atmosphere in which Adolf Hitler rose to prominence. Hitler's brand of racialism was the antithesis of Christianity, which teaches that all human beings have a dignity which comes from their immortal souls, made in the image and likeness of the Triune God, not from their skin color or ethnicity. The Jewish people rounded up during Hitler's Third Reich were the victims of a political ideology which saw itself as the means of saving the German people. For if Our Lord is not seen as the Redeemer of Man, men will invent their savior. They will invent their own "churches," namely, political parties and/or statist, fascistic regimes dedicated to the proposition that evil in the world must be blamed on groups of people, who then become the legitimate objects for persecution and destruction. This is happening in our own nation today. The descent into barbarism which is all around us is the direct result of efforts on the part of many, including Freemasons and secular Jews, to make war against Christ and His true Church in politics, in government, in education, in law, in medicine, and in all aspects of popular culture, including motion pictures and television.
Some might protest that it is not "ecumenical" to point any of this out, that these things are better left unsaid. One can point out these things while recognizing that those who are responsible for making war against Christ and His Mystical Bride, the Church, are loved by Him, Who wants each and every one of them to be fed by His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. True love wills the good of others. We love no one authentically if we do not wish them to become incorporated as members of the Mystical Body of Christ in the baptismal font, and then to try to cooperate with the graces won for us on Calvary to walk along the rocky road that leads to the narrow gate of Life Himself. The Truth is Who He is, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There can be no true peace in this world without Him. And the more that we permit His sworn enemies to silence us into submission for whatever reason (human respect, good press, sentimentality), the more we doom the world in which we live into a even greater degree of darkness than exists at present.
With all due respect to our Holy Father, this is what I would have said to the Jews and Mohammedans if I had been in the Shoes of the Fisherman recently in the Holy Land:
"My dear friends:
"I come to you as the Vicar of Christ, the visible head of the Church established by the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. I am the Successor of Saint Peter, who stood right here in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday to exhort the inhabitants of this holy city to see in Jesus of Nazareth the long promised Messiah Who had paid back in His own Sacred Humanity the blood debt owed by Adam's sin of disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden. I cannot speak to you in any other terms than a disciple of Christ. He professed Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He told the crowd in the synagogue at Capernaum, that they would have no life within them unless they ate of His flesh and drank of His blood. He spoke in clear terms, making simple declarative statements which are either true or false. I know them to be true because He is the Truth. As His vicar on earth, I have the obligation to do here in this holy city what the first Pope did: to invite you into the true Church, to see in Jesus Christ your only hope, your only path to true peace and liberation from that which causes all of the problems of the world, the horror that goes by the name of sin.
"This land has been wracked by war and violence ever since Our Lord was crucified here nearly two millennia ago. While it is true that the sins of all people from all epochs of history motivated the crowd on Good Friday to cry out for the Crucifixion of the God-Man, it is nevertheless true that there are consequences for the choices we make. This land will never know peace unless those who belong to the religion which was superseded by the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by Our Lord in the Upper Room right in this very city on Holy Thursday convert their hearts to the Word who was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us. This land will never know peace unless those who belong to a false religion, Mohammedism, come to recognize that the one they honor as a prophet sent by God, Mohammed, was a liar and a deceiver who did the work of the Devil in seeking to destroy by force the Christian face of the Middle East and North Africa, and whose disciples tried to take Europe by that same show of force. There can be no peace without Jesus Christ.
"The peace of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with sentimentality. The peace of Jesus Christ is not merely an absence of armed conflict. The peace of Jesus Christ is not a sense of universal brotherhood, wherein we all agree to disagree in order to avoid conflict. No. The peace offered by Jesus Christ is the peace which accrues in the souls of those who are in states of sanctifying grace, souls who have the very inner life of the Blessed Trinity living and pulsating within them. This peace is never achieved once and for all. Human beings can lose the peace of Christ by committing a mortal sin, thereby expelling God from within them. Serious sin and the life of grace cannot coexist in the same soul. No, the peace of Christ must be treasured with every beat of a human heart, consecrated as that heart must be to His own Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother, Mary of Nazareth.
"The state of societies and the world depends upon the state of individual souls. Even many of the pagan philosophers of antiquity--such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero--understood that those who defy the natural law (which was referred to by Moses when he told the people of the Old Covenant that the commandments inscribed by the very finger of God on the stone tablets on Mount Sinai had been written first by Him on the flesh of human hearts) introduce disorder into their own souls, and hence the world. They did not know why human beings had the propensity to transgress the natural law. But they saw the results of what happened when people did so. The Old Testament presents us with vivid descriptions of what happened to the Chosen People whenever they and/or their leaders defied God, choosing to relish in their own political power and material wealth. They were chastised by God severely for their infidelity.
"Sin is not only a rebellion against God. It is also a rebellion against our own human nature, which is made to know, to love, and to serve God. That is why so many people today are so hostile and angry. Although they do not realize it, they are at war with themselves because they are at war with God. Thus, they seek "salvation" in all of the wrong places, plunging themselves--and the world in which they live--more and more into the darkness. This need not be the case, my friends. This need not be the case.
"The events which took place in this Holy Land two thousand years ago were meant to transform the lives of every human being who would live from that point until the end of time. By His Incarnation as a helpless embryo in His Blessed Mother's virginal and immaculate womb, by His Nativity in poverty in Bethlehem, by his flight from the jealous Herod the Great into Egypt, by His Hidden Years in Nazareth working at hard manual labor, by His forty days' fast in the desert, by His Public Ministry, Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension to the Father's right hand, Jesus Christ showed Himself to be the Suffering Servant prophesied by Isaiah. He is the only path to peace for individual souls, and hence the world.
"The peace produced in souls by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood is meant to soothe the savage within us, to place us in a state of friendship with God. It is meant to help us see the world through the eyes of the true faith, and to see in each human soul the Divine impress. The peace produced in souls by the graces won for us on the Holy Cross in this holy city is meant to help us realize that there is nothing we can endure in this life (no pain, no rejection, no misunderstanding, no injustice, no act of violence, no calumny or slander) which is the equal of what one of our venial sins did to the God-Man on Golgotha? Who are we then to hold grudges against others when we, the executioners of Christ, have been forgiven by Him so freely? We must offer forgiveness to all others in the same manner that Christ, Whose blessed hands and feet were nailed to the Cross by us by means of our sins, forgave (and forgives) us.
"Thus, my friends, the path to peace in the Middle East is the same path to peace everywhere else in the world: the daily path of taking up our crosses and following Christ unreservedly. To my Jewish hosts, I say to you: Be converted to Christ through His true Church. Be fed by the Eucharist, the true Manna which has come down from Heaven. Be liberated by the New Passover instituted to liberate you from sins. Make the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ as your own. See in your Arab neighbors, whose land you took so unjustly in 1948, your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Treat them as you would Jesus Christ. Forgive them for the acts of violence which have taken innocent lives. Make restitution to them for the land you took, as simple justice requires.
"To my Christian Arab hosts, I say: Forgive the Israelis their crimes against you. Forgive as you know Christ has forgiven you. Work to build a land based on true unity, which comes only from Our Lord through the Church He created upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. Be ceaseless in your efforts to convert your Mohammedan Arabs to the Cross of Christ.
"To my Mohammedan hosts, I say: Renounce a false religion. It was the swath of destruction inspired by Mohammed which led Catholic Europe to try to re-conquer this Holy Land, taken as it was by the force of the sword. You venerate Our Lady. But you must understand that Mary of Nazareth was responsible for the victory of the Christian forces over the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto. She helped to turn back Mohammedan forces during the Battle of Vienna in 1683. Let her, Our Lady of Victory, lead you to the One she enfleshed in her virginal and immaculate womb for your salvation. Believe in His victory over sin and death on the Holy Cross. Put down the sword. Put away your hatred. Be reconciled in Christ, and see in your Jewish adversaries your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
"Yes, my friends, there will never be any peace in this blessed region unless each of you embraces Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and begin to build a society wherein the instrument of your salvation, the Holy Cross, is displayed everywhere. For the Cross is our hope. The Cross is the means by which we can hope to pass from this vale of tears to know an unending Easter Sunday of glory in the New and Eternal Jerusalem, Heaven itself.
"I make my own the words of the first Pope, spoken to the Sanhedrin nearly two thousand years ago: 'Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, Whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old. . . . Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom you crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved'" (Acts 3: 19-21; 4: 8-12).
Such words are decidedly opposed to the spirit of sappy sentimentality and false ecumenism. However, when spoken in love and watered by fervent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of God, such words might be the means of doing in this, the Third Millennium, what the Apostles did at the beginning of the First Millennium: to seek to bring all people into the One Sheepfold of Christ, the true Church founded by Our Lord upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope.
It is bad enough when we fail to do this in our own lives. It is very tragic when the Successor of Saint Peter does not attempt to speak directly to the truth of Christ in the presence of unbelievers, and appears to reaffirm them either in a religion superseded by the God-Man, or one that is entirely false and the work of the Devil himself.
There are priests in the Vatican who are disturbed by the approach the Holy Father is taking with unbelievers. They are aware that the photographs of "unity" and words of empty "brotherhood" reaffirm people in falsehoods and keep them away from the sacraments instituted by Our Lord Himself to save souls. We need to pray for these priests, hoping that they will be able to reach His Holiness with their concerns, and that Pope John Paul II will use future opportunities with unbelievers to speak of true peace in Christ, not an illusory peace based on a generic and indifferentist sense of brotherhood.
Those words are as appropriate now as they were five and one-half years ago, sad to say. Indeed, consider the words of Pope Pius IX found in the Syllabus of Errors itself:
. . Venerable Brethren, you see clearly enough how sad and full of perils is the condition of Catholics in the regions of Europe which We have mentioned. Nor are things any better or circumstances calmer in America, where some regions are so hostile to Catholics that their governments seem to deny by their actions the Catholic faith they claim to profess. In fact, there, for the last few years, a ferocious war on the Church, its institutions and the rights of the Apostolic See has been raging.... Venerable Brothers, it is surprising that in our time such a great war is being waged against the Catholic Church. But anyone who knows the nature, desires and intentions of the sects, whether they be called masonic or bear another name, and compares them with the nature the systems and the vastness of the obstacles by which the Church has been assailed almost everywhere, cannot doubt that the present misfortune must mainly be imputed to the frauds and machinations of these sects. It is from them that the synagogue of Satan, which gathers its troops against the Church of Christ, takes its strength. In the past Our predecessors, vigilant even from the beginning in Israel, had already denounced them to the kings and the nations, and had condemned them time and time again, and even We have not failed in this duty. If those who would have been able to avert such a deadly scourge had only had more faith in the supreme Pastors of the Church! But this scourge, winding through sinuous caverns, . . . deceiving many with astute frauds, finally has arrived at the point where it comes forth impetuously from its hiding places and triumphs as a powerful master. Since the throng of its propagandists has grown enormously, these wicked groups think that they have already become masters of the world and that they have almost reached their pre-established goal. Having sometimes obtained what they desired, and that is power, in several countries, they boldly turn the help of powers and authorities which they have secured to trying to submit the Church of God to the most cruel servitude, to undermine the foundations on which it rests, to contaminate its splendid qualities; and, moreover, to strike it with frequent blows, to shake it, to overthrow it, and, if possible, to make it disappear completely from the earth. Things being thus, Venerable Brothers, make every effort to defend the faithful which are entrusted to you against the insidious contagion of these sects and to save from perdition those who unfortunately have inscribed themselves in such sects. Make known and attack those who, whether suffering from, or planning, deception, are not afraid to affirm that these shady congregations aim only at the profit of society, at progress and mutual benefit. Explain to them often and impress deeply on their souls the Papal constitutions on this subject and teach, them that the masonic associations are anathematized by them not only in Europe but also in America and wherever they may be in the whole world.
Pope Pius IX never flagged in his efforts to invite all people, especially those from whom Our Lord took His Sacred Humanity, into the true Church, calling the errors of his day (and thus the errors of our own day) the result of the "synagogue of Satan." Alas, you see, it was Talmudic Judaism that helped in large measure to pave the way for the rise of contemporary Freemasonry and its vicious attacks on the Catholic Church in Europe and around the world, including in our own hemisphere.
His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of Saint Pius X has written recently that Pope Benedict XVI is reported to have expressed regrets over his role in misrepresenting the Third Secret of Fatima five years ago. I pray that this is true and not simply an unsubstantiated rumor. I pray that the current Holy Father, whose trip to Cologne thus far is turning out to be an unmitigated disaster for the Faith (and this is not even to discuss all of the shameful and shameless goings-on at World Youth Day), does indeed respond to the graces being prompted by the prayers of the millions of Catholics who are praying for him to consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart with all of the world's bishops. Such a conversion does not seem likely, especially in light of yesterday's events. We must, though, continue to beseech Our Lady, conscious of our own need to convert away from our vices and to make reparation for our sins on a daily basis, for what seems now to be a truly miraculous change in the heart of Pope Benedict XVI so that he will not reaffirm those outside of the Church in error but will instead be an instrument of the Triumph of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. For what we have witnessed in the past few days is not exactly taken from the Acts of Apostles.
In the meantime, therefore, we remain steadfast in prayer, penance, sacrifice, and almsgiving, understanding that the final victory does indeed belong to the Immaculate Heart and to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May it be our singular privilege to plant a few seeds for the realization of that victory and of the ushering in of that certain period of peace foretold by Our Lady herself to Blessed Jacinta, Blessed Francisco, and Sister Lucia.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
Saint Robert Bellarmine, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Saint Josaphat, pray for us.
Saint Edmund Campion and all of the English Martyrs, pray for us.
Saint Isaac Jogues and all of the North American Martyrs, pray for us.