Sunday, August 26, 2018

Apostolic Nuncio Vigano: Pope Francis "Failed to Act" on McCarrick's Abuse

Ex-Nuncio Accuses Pope Francis of Failing to Act on McCarrick’s Abuse, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 08/25/18:
In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, wrote that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement (see full text) that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor,” claiming that the former archbishop of Washington advised the Pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.

The Nature of McCarrick's Sanctions

Central to the debate is the nature of the "sanctions" imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict, to what extent did McCarrick flout those sanctions if they existed, and what freedoms did he enjoy under Pope Francis.

  • Sambi, a veteran papal diplomat, allegedly told Rome about McCarrick, by Elise Harris. Crux 09/27/18.
  • If there were secret sanctions on McCarrick, it wouldn’t be a first, by Ines San Martin. Crux 09/18/18:
    Whatever the truth turns out to be, reporting makes one point clear - that if there were indeed secret sanctions, it wouldn’t be the first time. In fact, for one reason or another, the Vatican occasionally imposes confidential restrictions on someone without much real follow-up or vigilance.

    Crux has been able to identify at least three other situations in which a member of the hierarchy or a high-profile priest has been sanctioned, either in writing or verbally, and the Vatican has relied on “moral suasion” to enforce those decrees.

    “If a man has a conscience, he abides by them, if he does not, he ignores them,” a source in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said.

  • McCarrick, Benedict's first request (and not sanction) in 2007, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa 09/11/18:
    That of Benedict XVI on Theodore McCarrick was not a "sanctionˮ, nor a formal order: it was a request, an authoritative recommendation most likely communicated to the interested party on behalf of the Pope already at the end of 2007. McCarrick took a year to comply with Pope Ratzinger's request to leave the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Washington, and never really took seriously the “keep a low profile" request nor that to retire to live in prayer. Certainly the nuncio Pietro Sambi, a faithful executor of the papal will as well as an example of an obedient diplomat, made several attempts before convincing McCarrick but never succeeded in obtaining his adherence to the Pontiff’s will. This is what emerges from the latest statements of a new source that has had direct knowledge of the events that took place between 2007 and 2011 in Washington.


    a new witness - who asks for anonymity - reveals to Vatican Insider that the first communication to McCarrick with the invitation to leave the Redemptoris Mater seminary and the recommendation to live withdrawn in prayer took place in December 2007. "I can assure you that this happened in December 2007. The then nuncio to the United States, Pietro Sambi, transmitted to Cardinal McCarrick this disposition communicated to him by Rome, by the then Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re".

  • What Pope Francis can clarify about the Vigano testimony- and what he can't, by Ed Condon. Catholic News Agency. 09/11/18:
    Viganò alleged that McCarrick’s move to Washington in 2000 was strongly opposed by the then head of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. He claimed that files in the nunciature in Washington contain a handwritten note from Re in which he “dissociates himself from the appointment and states that McCarrick was 14th on the list for Washington.”

    While no serving or former curial cardinals have been willing to publicly address the subject, sources inside the Congregation for Bishops and other Vatican departments have confirmed to CNA that files held on Archbishop McCarrick do contain records of those who pressed for and against McCarrick’s advancement. Though unconfirmed, one source told CNA that there is a written record of Battista Re’s objections.

    Clarity on who supported and opposed his appointment would go a long way to shedding light on how McCarrick was able to advance so far in the hierarchy of the Church. [...] Accounts of McCarrick’s immoral behavior with seminarians and priests, while certainly sinful, may not necessarily have been enough to launch a full-scale canonical prosecution. But in cases where a person is suspected of having done something immoral, or of posing a future risk, a precept is often issued. A precept is essentially an authoritative canonical instruction to do or not do something; it often includes direction on where a cleric must live.

    Precepts are authoritative canonical measures, even if handled discreetly. They are frequently employed in dioceses when a bishop wishes to take preventative or limiting action against a priest, but is not able to bring canonical charges.

    If a precept were issued in McCarrick’s case, it could well have been communicated to him verbally by Archbishop Sambi. But even if McCarrick - or anyone else informed of the matter - was not given documentation, some record of the precept and its communication to McCarrick would be kept on file somewhere, almost certainly at the Congregation for Bishops.

    CNA has spoken with several curial officials who said that McCarrick could have received such restrictions from the Congregation for Bishops. One senior curial official told CNA that “just because someone isn’t handed a decree doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

  • Why Didn’t Uncle Ted Come To Dinner?, by Rod Dreher. The American Conservative 08/30/31:
    Every year from 1989-2016, The Catholic University of America put on their annual “American Cardinals Dinner.” Basically, it was a Mass, followed by a black-tie banquet to raise money for CUA every year. They try to have it in a different city each year, and get as many American Cardinals to show up as possible, along with the hosting bishop and the papal nuncio.

    Anyway, from 2001-2006, Cardinal McCarrick attended each and every dinner in his capacity as Archbishop of Washington DC and as a Cardinal. However, something interesting happened in 2007: he stopped attending the dinners. Even Donald Wuerl would attend, as Archbishop before he was even made a Cardinal, but McCarrick stopped attending from 2007-2012. Then, as if out of nowhere, he started attending the Dinner again in 2013 (the year Francis became pope, and the dinner was back in DC). He attended subsequent dinners in 2014 and 2015. The dinner was canceled in 2016 because of the Papal Visit to DC (the dinner usually takes place in the spring), and I haven’t seen any evidence of dinners in 2017 and 2018.

    All of this information is publicly available at: On the sidebar, there’s a list of their previous dinners, along with photo galleries that prove McCarrick was not there during those years.

  • 08/30/18. Bishop: ‘We All Knew’ of McCarrick’s Abuse :
    In an interview released on Wednesday, Bishop Steven Lopes castigated his fellow bishops and cardinals for denying that they knew of disgraced cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s alleged sexual abuse of seminarians and adolescents before it was revealed this year.

    "I’ll tell you what response I think is not good enough. It’s the parade of cardinals and bishops who have rushed to the television cameras clutching their pectoral crosses, saying, ‘I knew nothing,’" Lopes said in a recording posted on Twitter by Matthew Schmitz, senior editor of First Things. "I don’t believe it, and I am one of them. I don’t believe it."

  • 08/30/18. Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency: The Archdiocese of Washington has confirmed that seminarians were permitted to serve as assistants to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick while the archbishop was being investigated for the alleged sexual abuse of a teenager.

  • 08/31/18. Further Questions Emerge About Benedict XVI’s Sanctions on McCarrick, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register:
    Speaking to the Register Aug. 30, Archbishop Viganò reiterated what he said in his testimony, that shortly before leaving Rome to begin his post in Washington in 2011, he “certainly” received a verbal instruction from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, to inform McCarrick of the sanctions.

    After arriving in Washington, he said he received “some instruction” from the same congregation, adding that his “memory isn’t helping me now” but that he believes it was a written instruction. The instruction would be found in the archives in the nunciature in Washington, or could be obtained from the Congregation for Bishops, he said.

    “What I don’t know,” he added, “is if Sambi also communicated in writing the measures taken by Pope Benedict to both McCarrick and Cardinal Wuerl. Certainly, he did so in person, summoning McCarrick to the nunciature, as I have stated.”

    According to Pentin, Cardinal Bertone, Paronlon and other Vatican officials declined to respond on the matter of Vigano's testimony. That being said, Pentin publishes the comments given to the Register in July from a reliable source close to Benedict:
    The source said the allegations of abuse of seminarians by McCarrick, now 88, were “certainly something known” to Benedict. And, he said, “Certainly, it was known that McCarrick was a homosexual, that was an open secret, all were very aware of that.” (However, it is important to note that there is no evidence that Church authorities either in the Vatican or in the U.S. were aware of any allegations of sexual abuse of minors by McCarrick until long after Benedict had resigned as Pope.)

    But, as mentioned in the Register’s initial report on the testimony on Aug. 25, the Pope Emeritus was “unable to remember very well” how the matter was handled, according to the source. As far as Benedict could recall, the source said the instruction was essentially that McCarrick should keep a “low profile.” There was “no formal decree, just a private request.”

    The source also noted that, after he had retired as Archbishop of Washington D.C., McCarrick continued to be “very able” and “influential at high levels — ecclesiastical, cultural and political” and so could ignore the sanctions imposed upon him.

    “Effectively, he was able not to hear what he had to hear,” the source said.

    But he added that McCarrick “knew better not to appear here in Rome,” although he did continue to visit on occasion and, because of his influence, “continued to say ‘I can do this and that for the Holy See’ even though he had no permission.”

    This appears to correlate with this Aug. 29 report in America magazine by Michael O’Loughlin, which lists many of the public Masses, engagements and international travel McCarrick took part in during the years he was sanctioned. Also notable is mention of a low-key 80th birthday celebration in which the cardinal “seemed to be avoiding the media.”

  • 08/27/18. Where did retired McCarrick live after alleged Vatican sanctions? Catholic News Agency:
    One of the four priests resident in the rectory of St. Thomas’ parish in 2008-2009 recalls being told in December of 2008 that he would have to move out of his rooms in the parish to accommodate a “mystery VIP.”

Additional News

  • 09/27/18. Archbishop Vigano issues new letter on Pope Francis and McCarrick Catholic News Agency:
    Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has issued a new letter addressing his allegation that senior prelates have been complicit in covering up alleged sex abuse by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Headed with Archbishop Viganò's episcopal motto, Scio Cui credidi (I know whom I have believed), the letter, dated Sept. 29, was released Sept. 27. [...]

    “The pope’s unwillingness to respond to my charges and his deafness to the appeals by the faithful for accountability are hardly consistent with his calls for transparency and bridge building,” Archbishop Viganò asserted.

    He said that "the pope's cover-up of McCarrick was clearly not an isolated mistake,” noting that Francis “has defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults.” He gave as examples Fr. Julio Grassi, Fr. Mauro Inzoli, “and his halting of the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor."

    Archbishop Viganò called on Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and the other American bishops who met with Francis Sept. 13 to state whether the pope refused "to carry out a Vatican investigation into McCarrick’s crimes and of those responsible for covering them up,” saying that "the faithful deserve to know."


    Addressing Cardinal Ouellet [Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops], he said: "before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth."

  • 09/11/18. Cardinal DiNardo and USCCB officials to meet with Pope Francis Catholic News Service.

  • 09/11/18. Wuerl to meet with Pope Francis to discuss resignation Catholic News Service.

  • 09/07/18. Letter confirms Vatican officials knew of McCarrick allegations in 2000, by Robert Duncan and Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service:
    top official from the Vatican Secretariat of State acknowledged allegations made by a New York priest in 2000 concerning Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, according to a letter obtained by Catholic News Service.

    Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church Yorkville in New York City, told CNS Sept. 7 that he received the letter dated Oct. 11, 2006, from then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs, asking for information regarding a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark who studied at Immaculate Conception Seminary and was being vetted for a post at a Vatican office. He made the letter available to CNS.


    The 2006 letter not only confirms past remarks made by Father Ramsey, but also elements of a document written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016.

    Archbishop Vigano stated that the Vatican was informed as early as 2000 — when he was an official at the Secretariat of State — of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick “shared his bed with seminarians.” Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican heard the allegation from the U.S. nuncios at the time: Archbishop Montalvo, who served from 1998 to 2005 and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who served from 2005 to 2011.

  • 09/07/18. McCarrick whistleblower calls for laicization, investigation Crux:
    Father Boniface Ramsey, the man who nearly 20 years ago first raised flags about the sexual misdeeds of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, has said the Church, though finally taking action, has not gone far enough. ... “They’ve laicized priests for this, why can’t they laicize McCarrick?”

  • 09/06/18. Farrell: “I didn’t know of McCarrick’s misbehavior” La Stampa. Interview with the Cardinal Prefect of the Department for the Laity, Family and Life, who was auxiliary to the former Archbishop of Washington.

  • 09/05/18. Bootkoski claims at odds with NY Times McCarrick abuse report Catholic World Report:
    Bishop Emeritus Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen said last week that claims of abuse against then-Cardinal McCarrick made to his diocese were reported to the then-nuncio in a timely manner. Accounts from some alleged victims suggest the diocese had been aware of McCarrick’s misconduct long before it was reported.

  • 09/02/18. Cardinal Tobin reportedly declined to investigate McCarrick misconduct rumors. Catholic News Agency.

  • 09/01/18. Archbishop Vigano recounts papal meeting with Kim Davis Catholic News Agency:
    Archbishop Vigano, who was apostolic nuncio to the US at the time of Francis’ visit to the country, issued his Aug. 30 statement in response to an Aug. 28 article in the New York Times [which reported Pope Francis as saying]: “I did not know who the woman [Davis] was and he [Msgr. Viganò] snuck her in to say hello to me — and of course they made a whole publicity out of it. And I was horrified and I fired that Nuncio.”

    In his statement, published by LifeSiteNews Aug. 31, Archbishop Vigano stated that “Faced with the Pope’s reported statement, I feel obliged to recount the events as they really unfolded.”

  • 08/31/18. The Viganò report, and what Wuerl didn’t know, by Ed Condon. Catholic News Agency:
    As the questions being put to Cardinal Wuerl have become more specific, answers about what he did or did not know [about McCarrick's behavior, before and after retirement] have become more precise, and more tightly circumscribed.

  • 08/29/18. Sequestered Viganò Speaks: ‘I Am Not the Crow. I Want Only the Truth.’ OnePeterFive. The following interview is between Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, now world-famous for his explosive testimony, and Aldo Maria Valli, the reporter with whom Viganò originally planned the publication of his allegations against Pope Francis and several high-ranking Vatican cardinals.

  • 08/28/18. The Amazing Story of How Archbishop Viganò’s Report Came to Be, by Steve Skojek.

  • 08/28/18. Gänswein: Benedict did not 'confirm' Vigano testimony Catholic News Agency. 08/28/18:
    Edward Pentin, a National Catholic Register correspondent, reported Aug. 25 that the Register had “independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.”


    Pentin also mentioned a New York Times interview with Tim Busch, a board member of EWTN, in which Busch is reported to have told the Times that “leaders of the publication [the Register] had personally assured him that the former pope, Benedict XVI, had confirmed Archbishop Viganò’s account.”

    “What Archbishop Gänswein said is entirely accurate,” Pentin wrote. “Any assertion that the Pope Emeritus had seen the entire testimony, and confirmed it, is untrue.”

  • 08/28/18. Cupich dismisses Viganò claims as a 'rabbit hole' Catholic News Agency 08/28/18. Speaking Aug. 27 to Chicago’s NBC 5, Cupich said that the pope has “got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church.”

  • 08/27/18. Archbishop Viganò responds to criticisms of handling of 2014 Nienstedt investigation Catholic World Report. The former nuncio to the U.S. flatly denies assertions that he ordered a stop to an investigation of then-Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
    • has posted two letters directly related to Archbishop Viganò’s August 26th statement: a letter from the two auxiliary bishops to Cardinal Ouellet is available here, and Archbishop Viganò’s letter to the Cardinal is available here).

  • 08/27/18. DiNardo calls for conclusive answers to questions raised by Viganò's testimony Catholic News Agency.

  • 08/27/18Viganò issues new statement, documents to clear his name of false charges, by Diane Montagn.
    Archbishop Viganò has also released supporting documents to prove his innocence.

    The accusations date back to a 2016 New York Times report, alleging that, as U.S. Nuncio, Viganò “quashed” an independent investigation into sexual misconduct on the part of Archbishop John Nienstedt, who was found innocent by police authorities.

  • 08/27/18. On charges of McCarrick cover-up, Francis tells reporters to do their jobs Crux, by Ines San Martin. Crux:
    “I read the statement this morning,” Francis said of an 11-page statement released by Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who served as the papal nuncio in the United States from 2011 to 2016.

    “I read it, and I will say, honestly … to you [looking at the journalist who asked the question] and all of you who are interested: You read the statement attentively, and you make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this.”

    “I believe the statement speaks for itself, and you have enough journalistic capacity to reach the conclusions,” he said.

    “It’s an act of faith,” the pope said to a plane full of reporters from different nationalities. “When time has passed, and you have the conclusions, maybe I will say some more. But I want for your professional maturity to do the job,” adding, “It will be good for you.”

    After he told reporters to “make your own judgement” over the accusations, an English-speaking journalist asked the pope when he’d first learned about the allegations.

    “This is a part of the statement on McCarrick. Study it, and then I’ll speak,” the pope said. “I await your comment on the document … I would like that.”

  • 08/25/18. Wuerl denies he was informed of Vatican restrictions on McCarrick Catholic News Agency.

* * *


  • Who am I to Pope?, by Francis J. Beckwith. National Catholic Register:
    I am willing to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t abdicating his fatherly role to lead the flock through this challenging time. For in order for members of the press to do their jobs and investigate these matters — to confirm or disconfirm the claims in Archbishop Viganò’s testimony — they must have complete and total access to the evidence mentioned in the letter’s lone footnote: “All the memos, letters and other documentation mentioned here are available at the Secretariat of State of the Holy See or at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C.” As we know from the Pennsylvania attorney general’s report as well as the McCarrick scandals, the Vatican has the power, if ordered by the Pope, to lift any veils of secrecy that do not permit the press to view these materials.

    Consequently, if the media make the request to examine the documents and memos cited in Archbishop Viganò’s testimony, the Holy Father cannot refuse without undermining his credibility and by default his papacy.

  • Answering Vigano's Critics, by Rod Dreher. The American Conservative 08/27/18:
    One of the first truths I learned in covering the abuse scandal in the early 2000s is that the left-right framework is fairly useless as a guide to understanding matters. Conservative prelates like Cardinal Law covered up, as did liberal prelates like Archbishop Rembert Weakland (who used church money to pay off his gay lover). If you decide that the only bad guys are those on the other side, you commit yourself to believing all manner of lies to maintain that fiction.
  • Former ambassador Vigano accuses Vatican of covering up McCarrick scandal for years, by Joshua J. McElwee. National Catholic Register 08/26/18:
    ... at least several of its claims appear contradicted by the historical record.

    McCarrick, for example, was seen celebrating numerous public Masses throughout Benedict's papacy and continued traveling around the world until the announcement in June that the Vatican had ordered his removal from ministry over an accusation of abuse that had been deemed credible.

    Benedict also did not hesitate to act publicly when another cardinal, Scotland's Keith O'Brien, was accused of improper sexual relationships. In that case, Benedict accepted O'Brien's resignation and his decision not to attend the 2013 conclave that elected Francis.<

  • Vigano letter draws fiery rhetoric from pope's opponents, by Heidi Schlumpf. National Catholic Reporter 08/26/18:
    Victims' groups and advocates urged the church to stay focused on the safety of children, not partisan church infighting.

    Pope Francis should not resign, said a statement from, which maintains a database of documents related to clergy sex abuse.

    "Instead, it is to be hoped that Vigano's ‘testimony' will put additional pressure on Francis to take a much more aggressive approach to the Catholic abuse crisis than he has articulated during this visit to Ireland," the statement said.

    That statement also criticized how Vigano "picks and chooses," implying that sexual misconduct and cover-up "are liberal problems in the Catholic Church."

    "Both liberal and orthodox bishops have covered up the abuse crisis, just as both liberal and orthodox priests have abused children, often using their respective ideologies as cover and even as tools of seduction," the statement said.

  • Vigano letter exposes the putsch against Pope Francis, by Michael Sean Winters. National Catholic Reporter 08/28/18

  • If Viganò’s “Testimony” is true, Pope Francis has failed his own test, by Christopher R. Altieri. Catholic World Report 08/26/18:
    Without regard for the question of motive — and granted that he assumes, rather than demonstrates, Francis’s knowledge of the specific kinds of enormities McCarrick is alleged to have committed — a candid reader must nevertheless admit that, unless Archbishop Viganò is weaving the story up out of whole cloth, it is impossible for Pope Francis to claim he had no knowledge of McCarrick’s behavior prior to this past June, when the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York deemed an accusation McCarrick committed numerous acts of sexual assault on an altar boy over a period of years — including one in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during preparations for Christmas Mass, 1971, “credible and substantiated”.

    The testimony Archbishop Viganò offers is neither perfectly crafted, nor immune to criticism. In addition to its presumption of motive, it also speculates — not wildly, but — without foundation as firm as one would want with matters of such gravity. ...

    Nevertheless, if the allegations contained in Archbishop Viganò’s letter are correct, then it is difficult to escape the conclusion the former nuncio reaches in his testimony: “In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”

    If there is even a little truth to the allegations, then Francis has failed his own test: he has not practiced what he has preached — transparency and zero tolerance — nor has he tried adequately to become part of the solution, as he supposedly promised to Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and José Andrés Murillo, whom he accused of calumny before praising their courage and resolve when his former position became untenable.

* * *

Pope Francis and Priestly Sexual Abuse - a Checkered History

  • A friend comments on the related case of Pope Francis' friendship with Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles:
    Roger Mahony was JPII's man in Los Angeles and retired in March 2011. The most grotesque aspect of his long and dubious record was--surprise--the coddling of priestly abusers and mistreatment of abuse victims. The Archdiocese ended up paying for that to the tune of $660 million in 2007. The settlement sealed thousands of pages of internal church documents.

    However, in January 2013 a court ordered that these pages be unsealed.

    Somehow, Mahony managed to look even worse following these revelations, and his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, publicly ordered Mahony to cease any public ministry.

    Pope Francis, on the other hand, has gladly accepted the services of Roger Mahony and used him as a designated papal representative to events he cannot attend.

  • Pope Francis Admits ‘Grave Errors’ in Chile Sex Abuse Cases New York Times 04/11/18.
  • Five years on, Pope Francis under fire over sex abuse scandals The Local 03/11/18 - a survey of Pope Francis' tarnished history in responding to priestly sex abuse.
  • The Pope's 'blind spot' on sexual abuse" 06/29/17.
  • Globe-trotting Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost 84, and working harder than ever, by David Gibson. 06/16/14:
    ... Doctors in Rome quickly diagnosed a heart problem — McCarrick would eventually get a pacemaker — and the cardinal was soon back at his guest room in the U.S. seminary in Rome when the phone rang. It was Francis. The two men had known each other for years, back when the Argentine pope was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires. McCarrick assured Francis that he was doing fine.

    “I guess the Lord isn’t done with me yet,” he told the pope.

    “Or the devil doesn’t have your accommodations ready!” Francis shot back with a laugh. [...]

    McCarrick is one of a number of senior churchmen who were more or less put out to pasture during the eight-year pontificate of Benedict XVI. But now Francis is pope, and prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper (another old friend of McCarrick’s) and McCarrick himself are back in the mix, and busier than ever.

  • Pope quietly trims sanctions for sex abusers seeking mercy, by Nicole Winfield. Associated Press. 02/25/17.
  • Former Pope Benedict defrocked nearly 400 priests in two years for child abuse 01/17/14. "Statistics for 2011-12 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"The Dictator Pope", by Marcantonio Colonna

The Dictator Pope
by Marcantonio Colonna
Regnery Publishing (April 23, 2018). 256 pages.

The inside story of the most tyrannical and unprincipled papacy of modern times. Jorge Bergoglio was elected Pope in 2013 as a liberal and a reformer. In fact, he had long been known in his native Argentina as a manipulative politician and a skilful self-presenter. Behind the mask of a genial man of the people, Pope Francis has consolidated his position as a dictator who rules by fear and has allied himself with the most corrupt elements in the Vatican to prevent and reverse the reforms that were expected of him.


Marcantonio Colonna is a graduate of Oxford University and has extensive experience of historical and other research. He has been living in Rome since the beginning of Pope Francis's pontificate, and his book is the fruit of close contacts with many of those working in the Vatican, including the leading Cardinals and other figures mentioned in the narrative.



Monday, September 25, 2017

Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis

  • Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis Feast of our Lady of Mt Carmel. 07/16/17.
  • - summary:
    A 25-page letter signed by 40 Catholic clergy and lay scholars was delivered to Pope Francis on August 11th. Since no answer was received from the Holy Father, it is being made public today, 24th September, Feast of Our Lady of Ransom and of Our Lady of Walsingham. The letter, which is open to new signatories, now has the names of 62 clergy and lay scholars from 20 countries, who also represent others lacking the necessary freedom of speech. It has a Latin title: ‘Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis’ (literally, ‘A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies’). It states that the pope has, by his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, and by other, related, words, deeds and omissions, effectively upheld 7 heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments, and has caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church. These 7 heresies are expressed by the signatories in Latin, the official language of the Church.

    This letter of correction has 3 main parts. In the first part, the signatories explain why, as believing and practising Catholics, they have the right and duty to issue such a correction to the supreme pontiff. Church law itself requires that competent persons not remain silent when the pastors of the Church are misleading the flock. This involves no conflict with the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility, since the Church teaches that a pope must meet strict criteria before his utterances can be considered infallible. Pope Francis has not met these criteria. He has not declared these heretical positions to be definitive teachings of the Church, or stated that Catholics must believe them with the assent of faith. The Church teaches no pope can claim that God has revealed some new truth to him, which it would be obligatory for Catholics to believe.

    The second part of the letter is the essential one, since it contains the ‘Correction’ properly speaking. It lists the passages of Amoris laetitia in which heretical positions are insinuated or encouraged, and then it lists words, deeds, and omissions of Pope Francis which make it clear beyond reasonable doubt that he wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical. In particular, the pope has directly or indirectly countenanced the beliefs that obedience to God’s Law can be impossible or undesirable, and that the Church should sometimes accept adultery as compatible with being a practising Catholic.

    The final part, called ‘Elucidation’, discusses two causes of this unique crisis. One cause is ‘Modernism’. Theologically speaking, Modernism is the belief that God has not delivered definite truths to the Church, which she must continue to teach in exactly the same sense until the end of time. Modernists hold that God communicates to mankind only experiences., which human beings can reflect on, so as to make various statements about God, life and religion; but such statements are only provisional, never fixed dogmas. Modernism was condemned by Pope St Pius X at the start of the 20th century, but it revived in the middle of the century. The great and continuing confusion caused in the Catholic Church by Modernism obliges the signatories to describe the true meaning of ‘faith’, ‘heresy’, ‘revelation’, and ‘magisterium’.

    A second cause of the crisis is the apparent influence of the ideas of Martin Luther on Pope Francis. The letter shows how Luther, the founder of Protestantism, had ideas on marriage, divorce, forgiveness, and divine law which correspond to those which the pope has promoted by word, deed and omission. It also notes the explicit and unprecedented praise given by Pope Francis to the German heresiarch.

    The signatories do not venture to judge the degree of awareness with which Pope Francis has propagated the 7 heresies which they list. But they respectfully insist that he condemn these heresies, which he has directly or indirectly upheld.

    The signatories profess their loyalty to the holy Roman Church, assure the pope of their prayers, and ask for his apostolic blessing.


  • Correctio Filialis: a first appraisal, by Roberto de Mattei. Rorate Caeli 10/04/17:
    On September 25th, the day after the publication of the Correctio filialis to Pope Francis, Greg Burke, the spokesman for the Vatican Pressroom, with condescending irony, denied the news diffused by Ansa, which had reported that access to the site of the Correctio had been blocked by the Holy See: "Do you really think we would do this for a letter with 60 names?"

    The director of the Pressroom, who judges initiatives on the basis of the number of "followers", might be interested to know that, eight days after being put online, had more than 180 thousand individual visitors and 330 thousand page visits. ...

  • Critics of Filial Correction of Pope Francis Weigh In National Catholic Register 10/04/17:
    Italian philosophy professor Rocco Buttiglione criticizes the signatories for standing as judges over the Pope, while a theologian and an author argue that those behind the ‘Correctio filialis’ have contravened a Vatican instruction for theologians. The Register also publishes the full text of a speech by Cardinal Marc Ouellet warning against both ‘alarmist’ and ‘permissive’ interpretations of Amoris Laetitita.
  • The Filial Correction Online, by P.J. Smith. First Things 10/02/17:
    For its part, the filial correction maintains a carefully elevated tone. The signatories take great pains to be polite and respectful. They carefully lay out their position on the Holy Father’s statements and patiently set forth arguments about Modernism and Protestantism. They even express the seven purportedly heretical propositions in Latin. Such is to be expected. But the filial correction was released into a debate shaped by a year of online discourse. In other words, it ran into the same buzz-saw that everything else does online. Its careful arguments were chopped up, slathered with snark, and hurled at opponents or approvingly tweeted to friends.

    In large part, this is simply how debates are conducted in 2017. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are now part of daily life for millions of people. ...

  • Francis’s Critics Fall Off Their High Wire, by David Mills. Ethika Politika 09/29/17. "A massive case of begging the question."
  • Critics of Amoris laetitia ignore Ratzinger’s rules for faithful theological discourse La Stampa "Vatican Insider" :
    The supporters of the Correctio and other critics of Amoris laetitia often try to contrast what Pope Francis says in this exhortation to teachings of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It is interesting, therefore, to note that many of these same critics fail to follow the guidelines for theologians published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1990 when John Paul II was pope and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, was prefect of the CDF. These guidelines are contained in the instruction, Donum veritatis (Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian) (3) — a document that traditionalist opponents of Amoris laetitia, such as Dr. Peter Kwasniewski (4), ironically claim to hold in high esteem. ...

    Donum veritatis §24 instructs theologians “to assess accurately the authoritativeness of the [magisterial] interventions (8). The Correctio filialis fails to do this. Instead, it catalogues comments made by Pope Francis in press conferences, private letters, etc., without taking into account the authoritativeness of these statements and their context (9). It also cites statements by papal associates and appointees.

    In loading down their petition with cherry-picked statements bearing little or no magisterial authority, the Correctio authors seem intent upon discrediting the Holy Father and his intentions. Can such an approach truly reflect “an evangelical spirit” and “a profound desire to resolve the difficulties” with Amoris laetitia (10)?

    Moreover, the Correctio authors omit any evidence that would invalidate their claim that Francis is operating out of a heretical mindset. They therefore make no mention of numerous unambiguously orthodox papal statements that are of a far higher level of magisterium than those that they cite.

  • Cardinal Müller Speaks Out on ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the Dubia and the Vatican, by Edwad Pentin. National Catholic Register 09/28/17:
    All my life, after the Second Vatican Council, I’ve noticed that those who support so-called progressivism never have theological arguments. The only method they have is to discredit other persons, calling them “conservative” — and this changes the real point, which is the reality of the faith, and not in your personal subjective, psychological disposition. By “conservative,” what do they mean? Someone loves the ways of the 1950s, or old Hollywood films of the 1930s? Was the bloody persecution of Catholics during the French Revolution by the Jacobins progressive or conservative? Or is the denial of the divinity of Christ by the Arians of the fourth century liberal or traditional? Theologically it’s not possible to be conservative or progressive. These are absurd categories: Neither conservatism nor progressivism is anything to do with the Catholic faith. They’re political, polemical, rhetorical forms. The only sense of these categories is discrediting other persons.

    We have Holy Scripture, we have eschatological revelation in Jesus Christ, the irreversibility of Jesus Christ, the Incarnation, the salvation of the cross, the Resurrection, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ for the end of the world. … The responsibility of the Pope and the bishops is to overcome the polarization. Therefore, it’s very dangerous for the Church to divide bishops into friends and enemies of the Pope regarding a footnote in an apostolic exhortation. I am sure that anybody will denounce me also for this interview, but I hope that the Holy Father will read my complete interview here and not only some headlines, which cannot give a complete impression of what I said.

  • Why does Pope Francis refuse to respond?, by Phil Lawler. Catholic Culture. 09/28/17:
    In the absence of any plausible explanation, the Pope’s silence looks more and more like a tacit argument from authority. Sure enough, the surrogates are also becoming more strident in denouncing the impertinence of those who would dare to question the Pope’s authority. Yet again, that’s an odd argument to make for this Pope—and a particularly odd argument for these pundits to make. But it also misses the point, because the most pressing questions, the dubia, do not question the Pope’s authority. The cardinals (unlike the authors of the filial appeal) are not contending that the Pope’s teaching is wrong; they’re asking him to clarify: exactly what is he teaching? Silence is no answer to that question.
  • A note from CNA's Executive Director on the 'filial correction' Catholic News Agency. 09/27/17:
    I was surprised to see that my name has been added to the list of signatories on the so-called Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis.

    I never signed this letter, nor do I intend to ever sign it.

  • A Filial Correction of those who believe Benedict is still Pope?, by Steven O'Reilly. Roma Locuta Est 09/25/17. "It appears quite evident that those who prepared this document consider it an error to doubt the validity of Benedict’s renunciation of the papacy."
  • Does Amoris Laetitia 303 Really Undermine Catholic Moral Teaching?, by Robert Fastiggi and Dawn Eden Goldstein. La Stampa 09/26/17. "When read in its original Latin, one contested passage in the document has a significantly different meaning than it does in the official English translation."
  • Group, including Detroit professor, accuses Pope Francis of spreading heresy, by Steve Reilly and Ann Zaniewski. Detroit Free Press 09/25/17:
    "We all love the Holy Father, Pope Francis. He's our father," Blosser told the Free Press. "We would like to see greater clarity and consistency in his teaching. And that’s the main reason" for the letter.
  • U.S. Bishop joins correction of Pope Francis for ‘propagating heresies’, by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman. LifeSite News 09/25/17:
    A Catholic bishop in Texas added his name to a recent declaration that accuses the pope of propagating various heresies against the Catholic faith and seeks to correct them.

    Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, posted a message to his blog on Sunday reproducing an email he sent to the organizers of the “correction,” congratulating them on their actions and asking that his name be added to the ranks of signers.

  • Bishop Fellay: Why I Signed the Correctio Filialis FSSPX News. 09/28/17:
    Since September 2016, four cardinals have been respectfully asking the pope to “clarify” his Exhortation; this year they requested an audience. The only answer they received was silence, but silence is not an answer. On a question this serious and faced with the current divisions, the Holy Father must give a clear answer on the substance of the Exhortation.

    In this sad situation of confusion, it is very important that the debate on these important questions grows, in order that the truth may be re-established and error condemned.

    That is why I supported this approach, but it is not so much the names of those who signed the Correctio Filialis as the objective value of the arguments presented that must be taken into account.

  • The Coming Storm, by Steven O'Reilly. Roma Locuta Est 09/24/17. "Without detracting from this noble effort, the main attraction yet to come is the “formal correction” led by the remaining "Dubia Cardinals." What should we expect from it?"
  • Sixty-two scholars and priests issue ‘correction’ of Pope Francis, by Dan Hitchens. Catholic Herald 09/24/17:
    The signatories emphasise that they do not accuse the Pope of committing the personal sin of heresy, or the canonical crime. But they claim that the publication of Amoris Laetitia, and the Pope’s subsequent words and actions, have led to the spread of "heresies and other errors"
  • Cardinal Burke: Church divisions show urgent need for clarity Catholic News Agency. 09/24/17. Amid the ongoing debate surrounding “Amoris Laetitia,” dubia author Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a new interview that he’s wrongly depicted as the “enemy” of Pope Francis, but he stressed that current division in the Church demands an answer to requests for clarity.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pope Francis Roundup


  • Francis stacks the College of Cardinals, by Fr. Thomas Reese. National Catholic Reporter 05/25/17. "Pope Francis has done numerous revolutionary things during his first four years as pope, but it is hard to top the change he has made to the College of Cardinals. He has changed the system so that an incumbent pope can stack the college with bishops who support his views. This change will have an impact on the church for centuries to come."
  • Pope Francis and the Doctrinal Ideologues, by Carl Olson. Catholic World Report 05/22/17:
    ... put bluntly, I see such homilies and addresses [from Francis] as exercises in posturing and polemics—and not very sound polemics at that. Put together (and I've only noted a few here), they add up to a collection of blustering statements meant to shut down any and all questions about Amoris Laetitia and related matters. What would be funny if all of this wasn't so serious is just how heavy-handed, clumsy, and even bush league so much of this stuff has been.
  • Burying Benedict, by Matthew Schmitz. First Things 05/22/17:
    Though Benedict is still living, Francis is trying to bury him. Upon his election in 2013, Francis began to pursue an agenda that Joseph Ratzinger had opposed throughout his career. A stress on the pastoral over against the doctrinal, a promotion of diverse disciplinary and doctrinal approaches in local churches, the opening of communion to the divorced and remarried—all these proposals were weighed and rejected by Ratzinger more than ten years ago in a heated debate with Walter Kasper. For better or worse, Francis now seeks to reverse Ratzinger. ...

    Though he is usually portrayed as spontaneous and non-ideological, Francis has steadily advanced the agenda that Kasper outlined over a decade ago. In the face of this challenge, Benedict has kept an almost perfect silence. There is hardly any need to add to the words in which he resoundingly rejected the program of Kasper and Francis. And yet the awkwardness remains. No pope in living memory has so directly opposed his predecessor—who, in this instance, happens to live just up the hill.

  • "Is the Pope a heretic? (Pt 1), by Fr. John Hunwicke.
  • 'What Pope Francis Really Said': Q&A with author Tom Hoopes, by Sean Salai, S.J. Q&A with Tom Hoopes, author of What Pope Francis Really Said: Words of Comfort and Challenge.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Amoris Laetitia (and its aftermath)

News and Documentation


  • Is Pope Francis deliberately subverting papal teaching authority?, by Phil Lawler. 09/15/16:
    The most memorable statements of this pontificate have been made off the cuff, during airplane interviews, rather than in written documents and prepared statements. How many times have Vatican officials been forced to "clarify" a shocking papal statement, to explain away an apparent contradiction? Again and again Pope Francis has spread confusion among the faithful. But never before has it been quite so evident that he deliberately sought ambiguity, to avoid the proper use of his teaching office-- which is to resolve questions and to unify the brethren.

    If the Pope’s conscious intention is to diminish the authority of the papal magisterium, he is succeeding. If that is not his intention, I am at a loss to explain him.

  • Francis' Argentine Letter and the Catholic Response, by Elliot Milco. First Things 09/14/16:
    The real problem with the Argentine norms is their deviation from this larger and more fundamental principle: that grace truly sanctifies and liberates, and that baptized Christians are always free to fulfill the moral law, even when they fail to do so. Jesus Christ holds us to this standard in the Gospel. It is presumptuous of Francis—however benign his intentions—to decide that his version of “mercy” trumps that given by God himself.

    Worse, though, is the scandal and confusion that Francis's continued teaching on this topic will bring to pastoral praxis at the parish level, legitimizing laxism among poorly formed clergy, creating myths and half-truths about the Catholic approach to the moral law, and forming ever-larger numbers of lay Catholics who do not understand that sacramental marriage is indissoluble. All of these things are already massive problems in the Church, and this confirmation of error will only exaggerate them.

  • Pope Francis, Henri de Lubac, and the Decentralizing of Church Authority, by Dr. Samuel Gregg. Catholic World Report 09/06/16. The Holy Father wants to enhance the authority of episcopal conferences. But one of his theological lodestones -- Cardinal Henri de Lubac -- warned of the dangers of such an approach—dangers come to fruition in countries such as Germany:
    ... There was, however, another temptation which de Lubac associated with efforts to decentralize authority in the Church. He called this “ecclesial nationalism.” By this, de Lubac meant those circumstances in which Vatican II’s emphasis on local churches’ rightful freedom degenerated into “nationalist excesses.” In some cases, this concerned bishops in a given country claiming that they should be given autonomy to “creatively” address specific theological and disciplinary problems created by “local realities.”

    But, quoting Bishop André-Marie Charue of Namur, de Lubac insisted that “sociology cannot be determinate in theology.” Polygamy might, for instance, prevail in a given country. That fact, however, cannot mean that bishops in that nation somehow theologically accept polygamy as a “real world” factor to which the Church must adapt. Theological and moral truth is supposed to transform culture: not the other way round. The earliest Christians didn’t accommodate themselves to particular moral evils which proliferated in the Roman Empire. Instead, they sought to, and eventually did, change that “real world.”

    Even worse, de Lubac wrote, is when a local church tries:

    to align the universal Church with its own particularities. The somewhat arrogant conviction of having attained a degree of culture superior to those of other human groups, more particularly to that which reigns at the center of the Church, thus provokes a kind of fever of religious imperialism.

  • A Bizarre Papal Move, by Robert Royal. The Catholic Thing 09/14/16:
    So now we know. We knew before, really, but didn’t have explicit confirmation. The long, agonizing slog, however, is finally over: from Pope Francis’ invitation to Cardinal Kasper to address the bishops in Rome in February of 2014 to the pope’s letter last week to some Argentinean bishops affirming guidelines they had developed in a joint document that, in “exceptional cases,” people divorced and remarried (living in an “adulterous” relationship as we believed for 2000 years in Western Christianity), may receive Holy Communion. This whole affair is bizarre. No other word will do. ...

  • On the Buenos Aires directive, by Ed Peters. In the Light of the Law 09/13/16:
    Basically, the Argentine draft (assuming it is still a ‘draft’) directs ministers of holy Communion (chiefly parish priests) to work through concrete cases impacting access to at least three sacraments (Matrimony, Penance, and the Eucharist), guided not by the Church’s accumulated pastoral wisdom as summed up in norms like Canon 915 (which seem not even not to be mentioned!), but instead by a line of endlessly malleable considerations phrased in verbiage redolent of the 1970s. If some pastors after the publication Amoris were already being told by irate parishioners that ‘Pope Francis says you have to give me Communion’, what might they expect in the wake of his sweeping approval of this Argentine interpretation of Amoris?

  • Pope Emeritus Benedict's Ongoing Support of the Francis Papacy, by Maike Hickson. 08/29/16:
    The ambiguities with regard to Amoris Laetitia and to the vexed question as to whether one now has to follow its content – and fully adhere to it – are obviously increasing. This is not pastoral. Confusion – especially subversive equivocation – is never pastoral. And an ambiguous teaching is not at all binding upon the Catholic conscience. ... In this situation where so many souls are at risk due to such ambiguous – and some objectively heretical – statements coming from Pope Francis, each Catholic prelate, I dare to say, has a greater duty now, in charity, to help the pope himself to correct his errors, and even some of his perceptibly hardened errors. In this context, it would be Pope Emeritus Benedict’s experienced role as the former pope, and in his role as a known theologian, to raise his clarifying voice and to help confused Catholics to find the loyal path to salvation.

  • Some Concerns about "Amoris Laetitia", by Anna M. Silvas. 06/07/16. [Republished by Sandro Magister, www.Chiesa; See also PDF format:
    I am aware that "Amoris Laetitia", as an apostolic exhortation, does not come under any rubric of infallibility. Still it is a document of the papal ordinary magisterium, and thus it makes the idea of critiquing it, especially doctrinally, mighty difficult. It seems to me unprecedented situation. I wish there were a great saint, like St Paul, or St Athanasius or St Bernard or St Catherine of Siena who could have the courage and the spiritual credentials, i.e. prophecy of the truest kind, to speak the truth to the successor of Peter and recall him to a better frame of mind. At this hour, hierarchical authority in the Church seems to have entered a strange paralysis. Perhaps this is the hour for prophets – but true prophets. Where are the saints, of "nooi" (intellects) long purified by contact with the living God in prayer and ascesis, gifted with the anointed word, capable of such a task? Where are these people?

  • Catholic Scholars Appeal to Pope Francis to Repudiate ‘Errors’ in Amoris Laetitia, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 07/11/16:
    A group of Catholic scholars, prelates and clergy have sent an appeal to the College of Cardinals asking that they petition Pope Francis to “repudiate” what they see as “erroneous propositions” contained in Amoris Laetitia.

    In a statement released today, the 45 signatories of the appeal say Amoris Laetitia — the Pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation (summary document) on the recent Synod on the Family that was published in April — contains “a number of statements that can be understood in a sense that is contrary to Catholic faith and morals.”

    The 13 page document, translated into six languages and sent to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals as well as 218 individual cardinals and patriarchs, quotes 19 passages in the exhortation which “seem to conflict with Catholic doctrines”.

    The signatories — described as Catholic prelates, scholars, professors, authors, and clergy from various pontifical universities, seminaries, colleges, theological institutes, religious orders, and dioceses around the world — then go on to list “applicable theological censures specifying the nature and degree of the errors” contained in Amoris laetitia.

  • From Casuistry to Mercy, Towards a New Art of Pleasing? — An Essay on the Malaise in the Church by Msgr. Michel Schooyans, republished by Edward Pentin. June 2016:
    The Synod on the Family has revealed – even assuming this was necessary – a profound malaise in the Church. A crisis of growth without doubt, but also recurrent debates on the question of « remarried » divorced persons, « models » for the family, the role of women, birth control, surrogate motherhood, homosexuality, euthanasia. It is futile to close our eyes: the Church is challenged in its very foundations. These are to be found in the entirety of the Holy Scriptures, in the teaching of Jesus, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the announcement of the Gospel by the Apostles, in an ever finer understanding of the Revelation, in the assent of faith by the community of believers. The Church has been entrusted by Jesus with the mission of receiving these truths, casting light on their coherence, commemorating them. The Church has not been given by the Lord either a mission to modify these truths, or a mission to rewrite the Credo. The Church is the guardian of this treasure. The Church should study these truths, clarify them, deepen man’s understanding of them and invite all men to adhere to them through faith. There are even discussions – on marriage for example – which were brought to a close by the Lord himself. ...

    Progressively, the rules of behaviour proceeding from the will of the Lord and handed down by the Magisterium of the Church are languishing in decline. The moral assessment of acts can therefore be modified. Not content with toning down this assessment, the casuists wish to transform the moral law itself. This will be the task of casuists, confessors, spiritual advisors and, on occasion, bishops. All must have a concern to please. They must in consequence resort to compromise, accommodate their arguments to the satisfaction of human passions: no person must be rebuffed. The moral assessment of an act no longer depends on whether it conforms to the will of God, as made known to us by the Revelation. This depends on the intention of the moral agent and this intention can be modulated and moulded by the spiritual advisor who « supports » his followers. In order to please, the spiritual advisor will have to soften the rigour of the doctrine handed down by tradition. The pastor will have to adapt his words to the nature of man, whose passions are naturally lead into sin. Hence the progressive relegation of references to original sin and grace. The influence of Pelagius (a monk of British origin, see s.) is evident: man must save himself and take his destiny into his own hands. Telling the truth forms no part of the role of the casuist, who must captivate, present a line of argument which is engaging, curry favour, make salvation easy, delight those who aspire to « have itching ears » (cf. 2 Tim 4, 3).

    In short, the eclipse of the decisive contribution of the Revelation to morality is paving the way for the investiture of the casuist and creating a space favourable to the installation of a government of consciences.

  • Amoris Laetitia and Vatican II’s Project of Inculturation, by Dr. Jared Staudt. Catholic World Report 05/26/16. Vatican II sought to initiate a dialogue with the modern world, meant to be an extension of the Church’s evangelizing mission. But things have not gone as hoped and planned.

  • Full text: Interview with Robert Spaemann on Amoris Laetitia Catholic News Agency. 04/29/16. Greatly valued as an advisor by Saint John Paul II, a friend of Benedict XVI, and widely held to be the most important German Catholic philosopher of recent decades, Robert Spaemann, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, expressed a distinctly critical interpretation of Amoris laetitia in this interview with Anian Christoph Wimmer, editor of CNA's German-language edition.

  • ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church, by Cardinal Raymond Burke. National Catholic Register 04/19/16. Cardinal Burke says a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, ‘by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.'

  • Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Closeted Argument for Gay Marriage, by William Saletan. 04/08/16. The Pope’s own words about infertility and erotic love undermine his argument against same-sex marriage.

  • Amoris Laetitia: A CWR Symposium Catholic World Report 04/09/16.

Pope Francis Roundup

  • In Assisi, Pope Francis slams 'paganism of indifference' Catholic News Agency 09/20/16:
    "Prayer and concrete acts of cooperation help us to break free from the logic of conflict and to reject the rebellious attitudes of those who know only how to protest and be angry," he said.

    Our path toward peace "leads us to immersing ourselves in situations and giving first place to those who suffer," the Pope stated.

    "To taking on conflicts and healing them from within; to following ways of goodness with consistency, rejecting the shortcuts offered by evil; to patiently engaging processes of peace, in good will and with God’s help."

  • On Triumph of the Cross, Pope Leaves No Doubt: "Father Hamel Is Blessed". Rocco Palmo, Whispers in the Loggia 09/14/16:
    Six weeks after Fr Jacques Hamel was murdered at the altar during morning Mass in a savage attack claimed by the Islamic State, the 85 year-old French cleric was commemorated today at another intimate “parish” Eucharist – the Pope’s daily liturgy in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sancta Marthae, during which Francis expressly placed the priest’s killing as the newest of "this chain of martyrs" who, over two millennia, have "suffer[ed] in prison, with death, torture, for not denying Jesus Christ.

    "This cruelty that asks for apostasy is – let’s say the word – satanic," the Pope said, emphatically repeating twice more that "to kill in the name of God is satanic."

    Yet while the pontiff made no bones about the magnitude of Hamel's example during his homily, he later confirmed a major point he merely hinted at in the preach: in a private conversation with Hamel's ordinary, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen – who led a diocesan group of 80 attending the Mass – the French prelate later told reporters that Pope had called for a local devotion to the assassinated priest, a statement which (despite the lack of a formal process) is tantamount to beatification, the step before sainthood.

  • Pope okays Argentine doc on Communion for divorced and remarried, by Ines St Martin. Crux. 09/12/16. "Although a recently published set of guidelines for implementing Pope Francis's document on the family in Argentina may have been only preliminary, the pontiff appears to have endorsed their main conclusion, which is that Amoris Laetitia opened the door to Communion for the divorced and remarried."

  • Pope Francis declares care for creation a new work of mercy Catholic News Agency. 09/01/16:
    “May the works of mercy also include care for our common home,” he said, explaining that as a spiritual work of mercy, care for creation “calls for a grateful contemplation of God’s world which allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us.”

    As a corporal work of mercy, he said, it “requires simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.”

  • Pope Francis gives homeless in Rome a day out at the beach Telegraph UK 08/15/16. "For the first time in his pontificate, Pope Francis has dug into Vatican funds to provide a day at the seaside to those who normally cannot afford it – the homeless."

  • Most marriages today are invalid, Pope Francis suggests Catholic News Agency. 06/08/16:
    Pope Francis said Thursday that many sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.

    While he initially said in unscripted comments that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null,” he later approved a revision of these remarks.

    When the Vatican released its official transcript of the encounter the following day, they had changed the comment to say that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.”

    • The great majority of Christian marriages are valid, by Ed Peters. In The Light of the Law 06/17/16:
      To assert, then, that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” is really to claim that the great majority of Christians have failed to enter the most natural of human states and have failed to effect between themselves the exact sacrament that Christ instituted to assist them in it. The collapse of human nature presupposed for such a social catastrophe and the massive futility of the Church’s sanctifying mission among her own faithful evidenced by such a debacle would be—well, it would be the matrimonial version of nuclear winter. I am at a loss to understand how anyone who knows anything about either could seriously assert that human nature is suddenly so corrupted and Christ’s sacraments are now so impotent as to have prevented “the great majority” of Christians from even marrying! How can anyone responsibly even posit such a dark and dismal claim, let alone demonstrate it?

    • Pope Francis, Marriage, and the Missing Middle Term, by Edward N. Peters. Catholic World Report 06/17/16. "As happens so often when amateurs plunge into technical areas that they do not understand, Francis has taken a very narrow but plausible point and grossly exaggerated it."

  • Pope Francis announced the upcoming merger of four Pontifical Councils into one new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The new dicastery – once again neither a Congregation nor as Pontifical Council – will take over and combine the mandates of four separate Pontifical Councils from 1 January 2017.

  • Pope issues motu proprio on removal of Bishops Vatican Radio. 06/04/16. In a new Apostolic Letter, issued motu proprio, Pope Francis has established new norms providing for the removal of Bishops (or those equivalent to them in Canon Law) from their offices in cases where they have "through negligance, committed or omitted acts that have caused grave harm to others, either with regard to physical persons, or with regard to the community itself."

  • Vatican confirms meeting with pope, traditionalist Catholic leader Crux 04/04/16. Confirming reports in the Italian press, the Vatican acknowledged Monday that Pope Francis held a 40-minute meeting on Friday with Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of a group of traditionalist Catholics known as the Society of St. Pius X that broke with Rome a quarter-century ago.


  • Pope Francis and the 'Docat': Book Q&A with Joseph Fessio, S.J. America 09/17/16. On July 26 at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Pope Francis officially released the Docat, a youth catechism on Catholic social teaching collecting various magisterial and papal documents. Following up on the Youcat released by Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in 2012, Ignatius Press was once again selected as one of several international publishers for the Docat, and Father Fessio served as an editor on the English-language edition. On Aug. 18, I interviewed him by email about this book.

  • Vatican diplomacy knocked out…But, just the diplomacy? Denzinger-Bergoglio 08/28/16:
    Recently, invited by Francis, Hebe de Bonafini went the Vatican to have a private audience with Francis – whom she had earlier labelled as a “fascist”, “trash” and other things that can’t be mentioned here, though she now admits: “I did not know of your commitment to the poor.”

    Hebe-de-BonafiniThis pious pilgrim to the Eternal City had “on one occasion publicly expressed her desire for the death of John Paul II, and after he died, she said the Pontiff would “go to hell.”

    She also said clearly : “We want him to burn alive in hell. He’s a swine. Even though a priest told me that a swine is to be eaten, this Pope is uneatable.”

  • Pope Francis vs. Gender Ideology, by Robert R. Reilly. Catholic World Report 08/13/16:
    In Krakow with the Polish bishops [...] Pope Francis declared that, "We are experiencing a moment of the annihilation of man as the image of God." He specifically included within this defacement “[the ideology of] ‘gender’”. He was clearly outraged that, "Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex…And this [sic] terrible!"

    Then he quoted Benedict XVI, who had said to him recently: "Holiness, this is the age of sin against God the Creator." Francis’ response was that, "He is very perceptive. God created man and woman; God created the world in a certain way… and we are doing the exact opposite."

  • Laudato Si: The 40 Concerns of an Exhausted Layman Unam Sanctum Catholicam 08/08/16. "On my desk, I have had a copy of Laudato Si sitting out for the past year. I've been studying it whenever I have had time in order to really comprehend what the encyclical. Over that year, I have been working on a synopsis of my thoughts on the encyclical, which I am happy to offer now in the form of an eBook."

  • A Pope Like None Before. Somewhat Protestant, by Sandro Magister. www.Chiesa. 07/22/16. The idyll between Francis and the followers of Luther. The alarm of cardinals and bishops against the “Protestantization” of the Catholic Church. But also the distrust of authoritative Lutheran theologians.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Did Pope Francis just endorse the use of contraception?

  • Pope takes the classic Vatican approach to birth control and Zika, by John Allen Jr. 02/20/16:
    Speaking about birth control in the context of the Zika pandemic, Francis cited his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. Here’s what he said, translated from Italian:
    Paul VI — the great! — in a difficult situation, in Africa, permitted sisters to use birth control for cases of violence. It’s necessary not to confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy, by itself, with abortion … avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil, and in certain cases, as in that I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.
    The reference is to Congo in the late 1950s and early 60s, where Catholic nuns faced widespread sexual violence and the question was whether birth control could be used to avoid pregnancy after rape.

    Francis said Paul VI “permitted” birth control in that context, which, to Anglo-Saxon ears, implies a formal juridical act. The line sparked a frenzy of fruitless Internet searches, as people went looking for a Vatican edict or decree that just doesn’t exist.

    Here’s what happened: In December 1961, the influential Italian journal Studi Cattolici (“Catholic Studies”) published an issue in which three Catholic moral theologians agreed that in the Congo case, contraception could be justified.

    The future Paul VI, at that stage, was still the Archbishop of Milan, and close to the currents that shaped Studi Cattolici. It was assumed the conclusions reflected his thinking. That appeared to be confirmed later when Paul VI made one of the authors, Pietro Palazzini, a cardinal.

    Paul became pope in 1963, and never issued any edict writing that position into law. Thus, when pressed about it some years later, a Vatican spokesman could accurately say, “I am not aware of official documents from the Holy See in this regard.”

  • Francis Says Contraception Can Be Used to Slow Zika, by Simon Romero and Jim Yardley. New York Times 02/18/16.
  • The damage done—again—by the Pope's interview, by Phil Lawler. CatholicCulture. 02/18/16:
    Tomorrow, no doubt, the Vatican press office will go into its now-familiar “clarification” mode. Loyal Catholic defenders of Pope Francis will argue that the Holy Father’s words were taken out of context. But this time, the problem cannot be attributed to sensationalistic reporting; the Pontiff definitely conveyed the impression that he was ready to discuss the morality of contraception in the context of the Zika epidemic. The Pope’s own words are—at best—confusing.
  • Misunderstanding the (alleged) ‘Congo contraception’ case, by Edward Peters. In the Light of the Law 02/16/16:
    A discussion could be had, I think, on whether non-marital sexual intercourse is subject to the same moral requirements as that to which marital intercourse is held. Humanae vitae does not, as far as I can see, address that question. But, as to whether a permission allegedly given to nuns to take contraceptive measures in the face of rape establishes a precedent for spouses wanting to contracept their sexual relations out of fear of possible birth defects, the conclusion seems inescapable: there is no parallel between the two cases, and so there is no precedent set.
  • Contraception, Congo Nuns, Choosing the Lesser Evil, and Conflict of Commandments, by Janet Smith. Catholic World Report "The Church has never taught that if the harms are serious enough, it is permissible to use contraception."
  • Stakes on a Plane, by Dale Price. Dyspeptic Mutterings 02/19/16:


    Wait, what?