March 2013 Print

Church and World


SSPX: Communiqué on the Election of Pope Francis I

With the news of the election of Pope Francis, the Society of St. Pius X prays to Almighty God that He abundantly bestow on the new Sovereign Pontiff the graces necessary for the exercise of this heavy charge.

Strengthened by Divine Providence, may the new pope “confirm his brethren in the Faith” (Lk. 22:32), with the authority which St. Pius X proclaimed at the beginning of his pontificate: “We do not wish to be, and with the divine assistance never shall be aught before human society but the Minister of God, of whose authority We are the depositary. The interests of God shall be Our interest, and for these We are resolved to spend all Our strength and Our very life” (Encyclical E Supremi Apostolatus).

St. Francis of Assisi, whose name the new pontiff has taken, heard the Crucified Savior say to him, “Go, Francis and rebuild my Church.” It is in such a spirit that the bishops, priests, and religious of the Society of St. Pius X assure the Holy Father of their filial desire “to restore all things in Christ, so that Christ may be all and in all” (Eph. 1:10; Col. 3:11) according to their means, for the love of the Holy Catholic and Roman Church.

Menzingen, March 13, 2013

(Source: FSSPX/MG – DICI, March 13, 2013)

Cardinal Bergoglio and the SSPX in Argentina

DICI obtained the opinion of Fr. Christian Bouchacourt, District Superior of South America, on the evening of the Pope’s election.

Cardinal Bergoglio wishes to be a poor man among the poor. He cultivates a militant humility, but can prove humiliating for the Church. His appearance in the loggia of St. Peter’s in a simple cassock without his rochet and mozzetta is a perfect illustration. He is a fine politician… An idealistic apostle of the poverty of the 1970s, he is completely turned towards the people, the poor, but without being a disciple of the theology of liberation.

Very conscious of the dilapidated state of his clergy, he did nothing to fix things. Never has the seminary of Buenos Aires had as few seminarians as today. It is a disaster, as have been the liturgies presided over by the “Cardinal of the Poor.” With him, we risk seeing once again the Masses of Paul VI’s pontificate, a far cry from Benedict XVI’s efforts to restore to their honor the worthy liturgical ceremonies.

He was firmly opposed to abortion. But while he wrote a beautiful letter to the Carmelites of Buenos Aires against the homosexual “marriage” bill—which was unfortunately voted through in the end—he had a regrettable speech read during the protest against this bill in which the name of Our Lord was not pronounced even once, while the Evangelical pastor who spoke before him to excite the crowd delivered a more courageous one… (see DICI, No. 219, July 24, 2010).

During an ecumenical meeting, he knelt to receive the blessing of two pastors.

He is a man of consensus who hates confrontations. He kept his distance from the Catholics who denounced the blasphemous expositions that were held in Buenos Aires.

I have met him five or six times, and he has always received me with benevolence, seeking to grant me what I wished without going out of his way to overcome obstacles….

(Sources: SSPX – DICI, No. 272, March 15, 2013)

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Repudiated

In early February 2013, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, had suspended the decision made by Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima (Peru) to forbid the theology professors of the Catholic University of Peru to teach.  In a letter whose contents had been circulated by the Peruvian press, Abp. Müller asked the Peruvian cardinal to justify his prohibition, indicating that it did not have to be implemented so long as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had not decided the question.

On February 13, 2013, Cardinal Cipriani announced that the sanctions against the professors of the Faculty of Theology stood and that they were not authorized to teach.  According to the Peruvian Catholic news agency ACI Prensa, the Archbishop of Lima considers Abp. Müller’s letter asking him to lift those sanctions to have no legal force because it was not sent through official channels—indeed, it was a simple fax.  Moreover it is invalid, because every bishop is autonomous in his pastoral decisions:  “The only person who can give orders and make a bishop change his mind is the pope,” not a Roman Congregation.  In the estimation of the Archbishop of Lima, the letter from the Prefect of the CDF is merely a response to a petition that had been addressed to him by the professors of the Faculty of Theology.

The Italian website Vatican Insider reveals, in an article penned by Andrés Beltramo Álvarez, that in mid-February, at the pope’s orders, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, convoked a meeting of cardinals which in effect invalidated the “personal” initiative of Abp. Müller, which had been written without the required formalities and dispatched through improper channels, without consulting the specialists of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and contrary to canon law.  Cardinal Bertone thus informed Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani that Abp. Müller’s act was null and void, and that the Holy See was changing nothing of what he had decided in June 2012, namely, to withdraw from the University of Peru its canonical titles as a “Catholic” and “Pontifical” university.  Andrés Beltramo Álvarez concluded:  “Some Curia insiders are beginning to wonder whether Abp. Müller is really the right man for a post of such enormous responsibility, which allows for no error or improvisation, either in form or substance.”

When Benedict XVI appointed Abp. Müller to head the CDF, the English journalist William Oddie wrote in the Catholic Herald (July 6, 2012):  “[Abp. Müller is] also an old friend of the most renowned (or notorious) of liberation theologians, Gustavo Gutiérrez. He has written a book with him; and according to [American Vaticanist] John Allen, every year since 1998 has travelled to Peru to ‘take a course’ from Gutiérrez. In 2008, he accepted an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, which is widely seen as a bastion of the progressive wing of the Peruvian Church. On that occasion, he praised Gutiérrez and defended his theology. ‘The theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez, independently of how you look at it, is orthodox because it is orthopractic,’ he is on record as saying: ‘It teaches us the correct way of acting in a Christian fashion since it comes from true faith.’”  —No comment. 

(Sources : La Croix/KNA/Apic/Vatican Insider/Catholic Herald – DICI, No. 271, March 1, 2013)

Syria: “May God have mercy on us!”

Thus exclaimed the Patriarch of Antioch Gregoire III Laham and Msgr. Pascal Gollnisch on the situation in Syria.

“We are out of bread and vegetables… The message of Christianity is becoming above all a message of the redeeming Cross, of love and forgiveness. Will we have the prophetic courage to take on the adventure?” asked Archbishop Samir Nassar, Maronite archbishop of Damascus in November 2012. “Facing this challenge, this solitude of chaos and bitterness, we have great need of your prayers and your friendship,” he continued. “Besides lodgings and food, the refugees need clothing and medicine,” stated Archbishop Nicolas Sawaf of the Greek Catholics in Latakia. Msgr. Pascal Gollnisch, director of the Oeuvre de l’Orient, a French Catholic organization supporting Eastern Christians, read on November 23 from a letter of the Carmelites in Aleppo, expressing their fear: “There are more and more bombings and gunfire! May God have mercy on us!”

In Syria, it was no Arab Spring, according to Archbishop Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Damascus. From early November on, he told the Italian Catholic agency AsiaNews on November 17, 2012, the situation had deteriorated extremely rapidly; first there were bombings and then reprisals from political and religious groups along with local criminal activity. Hundreds of kidnappings, encouraged by the atmosphere of instability, had decimated families. Not only were the rich targeted, but now the poor as well. Several of the Archbishop’s own employees, he added, were living in the nunciature because they were afraid to return home. Others had no roof left and were sleeping in basements or temporary shelters. Parish locales had become dormitories. Convents were extending hospitality to as many as they could, filling every space, even the gardens. The Church had made every building available, from offices to shops to places of worship. The Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory III Laham, called the situation “tragic and chaotic.” In his opinion this war is a “revolution” with neither face nor identity. “Two thousand groups claim to adhere to the revolution and to the rights of man; it is unclear whether they are Syrians or foreigners.”

On October 22, 2012, Christians in Damascus told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), “The number of kidnappings is growing. Very recently, Qatar reduced its financial support. The opposition resorts to kidnapping Christians, Alawites, and the Druze, and holds them for ransom to obtain the financing they need.” In Damascus, more generally, the majority of institutions are closed. The armed opponents of the government are pushing to halt civilian life.

On January 30, 2013, Archbishop Boutros Marayati of the Armenian Catholics of Aleppo described what residents in the Syrian metropolis are experiencing to news agency Fides: “The consequence of the conditions in which we have been living for over a year is that we have become accustomed to daily horrors. There is always news of further massacres. There is the constant sound of bombing. We live in a state of tension and fear, day and night. It is difficult to survive when you cannot even find drinking water or fuel to heat your home. We are so overwhelmed by all these things that we have barely any time to reflect on the terrible events in which we are immersed.

“News is always misreported. You cannot believe what you hear, and there is no way to verify the facts, not even for events that take place in our own areas, at little distance. We are in the middle of a war, but we live as if we were in the dark, without fully understanding what is happening. We only wonder when and how it will all end.”

On February 9, three priests were detained in Aleppo and Damascus. On February 21, ACN said it had not heard from them. The three in question are Armenian Catholic priest Michel Kayal, Greek Orthodox priest Maher Mahfouz (who was travelling by bus to the Salesian house in Kafroun), and Greek Catholic priest Hassan Tabara. The Syrian Church has never paid and never will pay ransoms for kidnapped Christians, reported Fides on February 18, 2013. A crusade of prayers and sacrifices to save Syrian victims of kidnapping has been launched.

Seven hundred thousand emigrants (mostly in Turkey, but also in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq), 3 million refugees within the country (of which the majority are destitute), 80 percent of the population unable to go to work, 70 percent of the population living below the poverty threshold: these are the numbers given by ACN on February 21, and at the same time there is a shortage of fuel, bread, water, blankets… On February 13, for the fifth day in a row, Aleppo experienced a power outage and hospitals were out of basic supplies. “It seems that the rebels cut the power lines from the Tabqa dam,” the biggest power dam in the country, built on the Euphrates River, now in the revolutionaries’ hands.

On February 21, Archbishop Mario Zenari, after attacks struck the center of Damascus that very morning, told Fides, “We are still walking among corpses. Now, in Damascus too, when we walk in the streets, everywhere we find places where innocent human blood has been shed: that of civilians, of women, of children. The number of victims of this conflict—70,000—is even more overwhelming when you consider the manner in which these people died.”

But while the Syrian people are sacrificed, “the international community continues to play Pontius Pilate,” whereas the only possible means of putting a stop to the spiral of death and destruction is to “force the opposing parties to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis,” said the Nuncio.

As for the rumors repeated by the Alef Agency of a possible attack on his person, Archbishop Zenari explains, “I do not know whether these rumors can be believed. Usually people plotting an attack do not announce their plans via the media ahead of time. My appeals are only based on the observation of the sufferings this conflict has imposed on the Syrian people, sufferings perpetuated by the indifference of a significant part of the international community.” And he concludes, “Christians are suffering in this tragic situation just as everyone else is.”

(Sources: de l’Orient/ACN/AsiaNews/ Missionary International – DICI, No. 271, March 1, 2013)

Indonesia: Catholic Schools Threatened with Closing

Six Catholic schools of the Diocese of Surabaya, in the province of East Java, Indonesia, are threatened with closing. They refuse to submit to the new directives of local authorities obliging all establishments to teach Islam and the Koran to their Muslim students. Up until now, the custom was for Muslim students in Christian schools to receive private religious instruction, generally from Muslim associations.

According to a dispatch published on January 18, 2013, by Eglises d’Asie, the information agency of the Foreign Missions of Paris, Aan Ansori, head of the Islamic Anti-Discrimination Network, took up the defense of the Christian schools. He declared that he doubted that the same would be demanded of Muslim schools, asking: “If these rules are applied, are Muslim schools, which are much more selective than Catholic schools in accepting students of different religions, really going to give classes for Buddhists, Christians, or Hindus?”

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. With 206 million inhabitants, the Muslims make up 86.1 percent of the population according to the 2000 census, while Christians only make up 8.7 percent. Religious instruction is obligatory in the Indonesian school system.

(Sources: Apic/EDA – DICI, No. 271, March 1, 2013)