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September 14, 2004

Of This and That

by Thomas A. Droleskey

With the press of business of Christ the King College, both administrative and instructional, occupying the bulk of my time these days, articles on this site have become a scarce commodity, in case you have not noticed this fact. On this great feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, though, I do want to post this article (and another one later on this evening) in between recording lectures for my own Politics I course.

As I noted in my final article for the Seattle Catholic site a few weeks ago, there comes a time when commenting on the obvious becomes redundant, if not counterproductive. Even though there have been a number of items I would have written commentaries on had I not been so occupied with College business, the plain fact of the matter is that I have written on most of these matters before. Thus, I am going to use this space to offer a few brief reflections on some recent events.

Roger Cardinal Mahony and Liturgical Abuses: The Most Reverend Roger Cardinal Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, has said recently that the new Vatican instruction on liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo Missae do not apply to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles because there are no such abuses in its parishes. In a manner of speaking, Cardinal Mahony is correct. As the few non-fungible norms contained in the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (which is the subject of my forthcoming book, GIRM Warfare) can admit of various interpretations and applications given the exigencies of the "inculturation" of the Gospel, Cardinal Mahony is correct when he says there are no liturgical abuses in his archdiocese. He is correct, that is, unless he wants to admit that the Novus Ordo Missae is the liturgical abuse that was foisted on Latin Rite Catholics by Pope Paul VI in 1969. All truly unauthorized experimentations and innovations stem from the abuse that is the Novus Ordo Missae. Are there any more questions? Cardinal Mahony is right to consider himself a liturgical law unto himself as this is what was envisioned in Paragraph 22 of the first document issued by the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, on December 1, 1963. Paragraph 22 called for the devolution of liturgical decision-making from the Vatican to the episcopal level (both national and diocesan). All efforts to establish "order" in the new order of the Mass are bound to fail as the new order of Mass itself is a departure from the sure path that is found in the Immemorial Mass of Tradition.

Roger Cardinal Mahony and Abusive Priests: A judge has order the aforementioned Cardinal Mahony to turn over the personnel files of priests who are alleged to have engaged in the physical abuse, perverted and otherwise, of children. His Eminence is resisting, citing the rights of the Church to protect its records against intrusion by the civil state. In a manner of speaking, this is somewhat similar to the stand taken by Saint Thomas a Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, against King Henry II. Saint Thomas insisted that clerics who were suspected of civil offenses be tried in ecclesiastical, not civil, courts. There is a little difference, however: Saint Thomas was going to try miscreant clerics, not seek to shield them from further investigation. Saint Thomas was not going to reaffirm clerics who had given scandal in their sins. He was going to punish them if found guilty. Cardinal Mahony's stonewalling the civil authorities continues a pattern of stonewalling parishioners about the possibilities of physical harm to their children posed by priests prone to perversion who may have been enable by his policies.

More importantly than the physical abuse of children (and adults) by priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the spiritual abuse of all Catholics by Cardinal Mahony and his chancery factotums. The Vatican continues to turn a blind eye to the promotion of theological dissent and outright heresies in Catholic schools and religious education programs. The spiritual abuse of Catholics by bishops and priests and consecrated religious is what makes more possible the toleration of instances of physical abuse. The fact that the Holy Father and his curial cardinals do not remove archbishops such as Cardinal Mahony should tell us that they are less interested in protecting souls than the civil authorities in California are interested in protected bodies. Such is the state of the postconciliar Church, however.

Reading Vatican Tea Leaves: Although the commentary I hope to post later this evening will deal with a decision of a court in The Netherlands permitting the murdering of children by means of "euthanasia" up to twelve years of age if they have some incurable condition, I do want to discuss the issue of children in their mothers' wombs in the context of remarks about voting made by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

One of the principal problems of the regime of novelty that was ushered in by conciliarism is ambiguity. It was never the case prior to the Second Vatican Council that Church documents contained within their texts language that was so ambiguous that it could be interpreted quite legitimately in a variety of different ways. While the Catholic Church has always made careful philosophical and theological distinctions in her documents and teachings, she never countenanced abject uncertainty as part of her magisterial and pastoral life. No one can debate the meaning of an encyclical letter, say, of Pope Leo XIII, although a Catholic could disagree about the application of its terms in concrete circumstances. There has been nothing but debate about the documents of Vatican II and the statements made by the Holy See, especially those made by our current Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

One of the latest points of ambiguity has arisen as a result of the Note Bene Cardinal Ratzinger included in his letter to the American bishops about principles concerning the denial of Holy Communion to Catholics who support the execution of innocent preborn children. The Note Bene indicated that a Catholic who is pro-life could vote for a pro-abortion politician if he did so for proportionate reasons in spite of the candidate's pro-abortion position. This is the text of His Eminence's Note Bene:

N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.

Some commentators, including me, have interpreted this Note Bene to mean that one could licitly vote for a thoroughly pro-abortion politician if one has proportionate reasons to do so and one does not intend to support the politician's pro-abortion positions. Others, though, including some in the pro-life establishment who do not make any exceptions to the inviolability of innocent hunan life, are asserting that Cardinal Ratzinger's Note Bene referred to the situation wherein a voter is faced with the prospect of voting for two candidates, each of whom supports abortion. In this instance, these interpreters assert, Cardinal Ratzinger is saying that one may have a proportionate reason for voting for the candidate who supports some exceptions to the inviolability of innocent human life as opposed to a candidate who supports all abortions in all instances without exceptions or qualifications. Huh? Has Cardinal Ratzinger said this? Has he made this clarification himself? With all due respect to people who are asserting that the Ratzinger Note Bene is meant to apply to the "lesser of two evils" scenario, may I point out that this is, absent any word from His Eminence himself, a bit like reading tea leaves? Never before in the history of the Catholic Church have we had to strain to understand what a pope meant when he made some pronouncement. And most curial cardinals were out of sight and virtually unknown to the average Catholic. The fact such figures are making statements at all these days is a novelty that I discussed on this site in "Novelties Beget Novelties."

Rather than strain to put damaging Vatican statements in the best light possible, prominent Catholics in the pro-life movement are going to have to make a painful and very public choice between playing a dangerous game of semantics in order to try to curry favor with the Vatican (and members of the American hierarchy who are willing to deny the administration of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians) and stating that the Vatican has worsened our situation by its embrace of naturalistic reasons to oppose the killing of preborn babies. That is, the conciliarist embrace of the secular regime and does not advocate the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King and of Mary our Immaculate Queen advances the inroads made by the forces of spiritual and physical death. Those pro-life figures who know better must publicly embrace Tradition as the only bulwark against the evils of Modernity and Modernism, and they must further implore the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Such a stand will lose financial support and perhaps access to curial cardinals and to papal audiences. So what? Misleading the faithful into thinking that the ambiguities contained in Vatican documents don't exist or that they can be finessed in such a way as to convey the actual truths of the Faith is a major disservice. Babies are being killed in this country and around the world , both chemically and surgically, as a result of the overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King and the acceptance of this fact by the ethos of conciliarism, which is enshrined in the Novus Ordo Missae.

The Spirit of Assisi: The Holy Father has once again done the bidding of Freemasonry by invoking the "Spirit of Assisi" in an address that was sent to emissaries of the world's religions who had convened in Milan to discuss the issue of world peace. This is part of what Pope John Paul II wrote:

They truly are not! Peace is possible always! We must always work together to eradicate the seeds of bitterness and misunderstanding embedded in culture and life, we must put all our efforts into eradicating humankind's determination to prevail over the other, we need to work together to erase the arrogance of asserting one's own interests disdaining the identity of the other. These feelings are the harbingers of a world of violence and war. But conflict is never unavoidable!

And religions have a specific task in reminding every man and every woman of this awareness, a gift of God and, at the same time, the fruit of centuries of historical experience. This is what I called "the spirit of Assisi." Our world needs this spirit. It needs convictions and behaviors that secure a solid peace to flow from this spirit, to reinforce international institutions and promote reconciliation. The "spirit of Assisi" urges religions to give their contribution to the new humanism today's world needs so badly.

The world needs the "spirit of Assisi"? We need to reinforce "international institutions"? We need a "new humanism"? The grand master of some Masonic lodge could invoke these words with perfect aplomb. Indeed, a piece on this site, "There Can be No Peace Without Christ," discusses the falsity of the Pope's approach. All one needs to do to point out the false, if not heretical, nature of the Holy Father's constant appeal for peace without invoking the authority of the only institution that can help men lessen conflicts in the world by means of the sanctifying grace she makes available to them, the Catholic Church, is to quote the following passages from Pope Pius XI's Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, issued in December of 1922:

When, therefore, governments and nations follow in all their activities, whether they be national or international, the dictates of conscience grounded in the teachings, precepts, and example of Jesus Christ, and which are binding on each and every individual, then only can we have faith in one another's word and trust in the peaceful solution of the difficulties and controversies which may grow out of differences in point of view or from clash of interests. An attempt in this direction has already and is now being made; its results, however, are almost negligible and, especially so, as far as they can be said to affect those major questions which divide seriously and serve to arouse nations one against the other. No merely human institution of today can be as successful in devising a set of international laws which will be in harmony with world conditions as the Middle Ages were in the possession of that true League of Nations, Christianity. It cannot be denied that in the Middle Ages this law was often violated; still it always existed as an ideal, according to which one might judge the acts of nations, and a beacon light calling those who had lost their way back to the safe road.

There exists an institution able to safeguard the sanctity of the law of nations. This institution is a part of every nation; at the same time it is above all nations. She enjoys, too, the highest authority, the fullness of the teaching power of the Apostles. Such an institution is the Church of Christ. She alone is adapted to do this great work, for she is not only divinely commissioned to lead mankind, but moreover, because of her very make-up and the constitution which she possesses, by reason of her age-old traditions and her great prestige, which has not been lessened but has been greatly increased since the close of the War, cannot but succeed in such a venture where others assuredly will fail.

It is apparent from these considerations that true peace, the peace of Christ, is impossible unless we are willing and ready to accept the fundamental principles of Christianity, unless we are willing to observe the teachings and obey the law of Christ, both in public and private life. If this were done, then society being placed at last on a sound foundation, the Church would be able, in the exercise of its divinely given ministry and by means of the teaching authority which results therefrom, to protect all the rights of God over men and nations.

It is possible to sum up all We have said in one word, "the Kingdom of Christ." For Jesus Christ reigns over the minds of individuals by His teachings, in their hearts by His love, in each one's life by the living according to His law and the imitating of His example. Jesus reigns over the family when it, modeled after the holy ideals of the sacrament of matrimony instituted by Christ, maintains unspotted its true character of sanctuary. In such a sanctuary of love, parental authority is fashioned after the authority of God, the Father, from Whom, as a matter of fact, it originates and after which even it is named. (Ephesians iii, 15) The obedience of the children imitates that of the Divine Child of Nazareth, and the whole family life is inspired by the sacred ideals of the Holy Family. Finally, Jesus Christ reigns over society when men recognize and reverence the sovereignty of Christ, when they accept the divine origin and control over all social forces, a recognition which is the basis of the right to command for those in authority and of the duty to obey for those who are subjects, a duty which cannot but ennoble all who live up to its demands. Christ reigns where the position in society which He Himself has assigned to His Church is recognized, for He bestowed on the Church the status and the constitution of a society which, by reason of the perfect ends which it is called upon to attain, must be held to be supreme in its own sphere; He also made her the depository and interpreter of His divine teachings, and, by consequence, the teacher and guide of every other society whatsoever, not of course in the sense that she should abstract in the least from their authority, each in its own sphere supreme, but that she should really perfect their authority, just as divine grace perfects human nature, and should give to them the assistance necessary for men to attain their true final end, eternal happiness, and by that very fact make them the more deserving and certain promoters of their happiness here below.

It is, therefore, a fact which cannot be questioned that the true peace of Christ can only exist in the Kingdom of Christ--"the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ." It is no less unquestionable that, in doing all we can to bring about the re-establishment of Christ's kingdom, we will be working most effectively toward a lasting world peace. (Pope Pius XI, Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, 1922.)

The Spirit of Assisi is false. It is not Catholic. End of discussion of the Spirit of Assisi.

Polling for the Mass: Influenced by the ethos of Americanism, a lot of well-meaning traditional Catholics fall prey now and then to polling as a means of trying get little crumbs of the Faith, including the crumb of a weekly offering of the Traditional Latin Mass by means of a highly conditioned and totally unnecessary "indult" from a local bishop, delivered up to them. Some very well-meaning Catholics recently got all excited when a local newspaper asked the following question for its daily Internet poll: "Would you attend a church service in Latin?" Leaving aside the little fact that the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass is much more than a matter of the use of the Latin language (which can be used in the Novus Ordo Missae, obviously), Catholics must not advert to polls as a means of proving this or that point. So what if seventy percent of the 430 respondents to the particular poll cited above said that they would attend a "church service" in Latin? What does this mean? Do they want the entirety of the Catholic Faith that is best protected and expressed only in the Traditional Latin Mass? Do they want the daily offering of the Mass of our fathers without any unnecessary and unjust conditions? Do they understand the inherent harm of the Novus Ordo Missae no matter what language, including Latin, in which it is offered? So what if people respond favorably to a poll that advances something we want. Can not those who favor, say, women's ordination or contraception or divorce and remarriage without a decree of nullity use polling as a means of proving to ecclesiastical officials their own points? Catholics should spend more time praying before the Blessed Sacrament and praying their family Rosaries than participating in utterly meaningless polls that, wittingly or unwittingly, gives credibility to the democratic and egalitarian ethos within the Church as a manifestation of the heresy of Americanism.*

Lift High the Cross: On this great feast day, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we should bear the crosses of our own particular situation at this point in the history of the true Church by standing by the foot of the Holy Cross each day in the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass. By doing so we will be keeping company with Our Lady, who is the Mother of Sorrows, and all of the angels and saints. We must never grow discouraged in the midst of our difficulties. God has known from all eternity that we would be alive in these troubling times. The graces He won for us by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross are sufficient for us to deal with our individual and ecclesiastical and civil crosses, each of which we should offer up freely and spontaneously as consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. It is only the path of the Holy Cross that leads us to our own salvation. It is only when the Holy Cross is implanted firmly in the hearts of all men and featured prominently in all aspects of social, economic and political life in all countries around the world as the fruit of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart that there will be a reign of authentic peace, Christ's peace, advancing both the temporal and eternal good of all men everywhere.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Pope Saint Pius X, the powerful foe of Modernism, pray for us.

Pope Saint Pius V, pray that those who are devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass will be unflagging to the words you wrote in Quo Primum without any qualification or compromise whatsoever.

*I have received an e-mail from someone who has read this part of my commentary, accusing me of being nasty. It was not my intent to be nasty at all. I was merely pointing out the harm of giving polls any degree of credibility by our participating in them. Americanism influences Catholics of all stripes, including those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass and those who attend the Novus Ordo. I do not favor our participation in polls. They prove nothing. They are a gigantic waste of time. My point was not to make anyone feel bad; it was to raise a concern about strategies that actually give credibility to things that are inimical to the Faith. I have offered my apologies for any offense taken. None was meant to be given.







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