May 2015 Print

News From Tradition

Open Conflict within the Conciliar Church

The noted Italian journalist Alessandro Gnocchi published an extremely interesting column regarding both the Extraordinary Synod on the Family which took place last October and the Ordinary Synod on the same topic to take place this coming October. Gnocchi has been very severe in his critique of Pope Francis’s pontificate and his magisterium, and his comments concerning the synods are no exception. He explains very succinctly that over the past 50 years, the Church has gone out of her way to “make friends with the world” and that this has been a detriment to the preaching of the Faith. Also during this time, according to Gnocchi, anyone who dared to reproach any member of the hierarchy for speaking or acting contrary to the Faith has been categorized as being divisive and therefore harming the Church.

Ultimately, Gnocchi believes that the two parts of the Synod on the Family will effectively become a time for taking sides. He writes: “What happened, and what will happen again, was not only a confrontation between two different schools of thought, but the confrontation between those who intend to preserve the Catholic faith as a whole and those who want to change it. In a few words, even if we are talking about bishops, cardinals, and the Pope and therefore my words may appear to you to be harsh, even there we are dealing with the battle between Christ and Antichrist. It remains only for us to choose which side to stand on.”1

Certainly Alessandro Gnocchi’s words echo the statements of the likes of Raymond Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, though neither prelate has put the issue in such stark terms, preferring to be more diplomatic in their statements. In any case, it has become clear that the only weapons which will be of any use during the upcoming Synod will be spiritual ones; the time for any machinations on the natural level are certainly past.

A German Cardinal’s Worrisome Words

As has been reported by various sources, Reinhard Cardinal Marx, the president of the German Episcopal Conference, made some rather troubling comments to the press following a meeting of the Conference last February. Regarding the giving of Holy Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried His Eminence stated: “We are not subsidiaries of Rome. Each conference of bishops is responsible for pastoral care in its culture and must, as its most proper task, preach the Gospel on our own. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here.” It would appear that His Eminence is stating that the authority of the Pope does not extend past the Rhine River, which one could easily interpret as being schismatic, since a schism is nothing more that the refusal to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff.

Obviously, only the Pope himself can state how these words of Cardinal Marx should be interpreted. Up to this time, there have been no comments issued from either the Holy Father himself or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by another German, Cardinal Mueller. Possibly the reason for the continued silence is that Cardinal Marx’s words represent the natural conclusion to the novelty of “collegiality” proclaimed by Vatican II, and by condemning these words Rome would effectively be brought into the position of having to distance itself from the Council. Given these developments, it would appear that Archbishop Lefebvre has once again been proven to be prophetic in his warnings of the dangers of collegiality as expressed in the documents of Vatican II.

The October Synod

It is becoming more and more obvious that the second part of the Synod on the Family which will convene in October will not be a peaceful gathering of bishops from all parts of the world. As noted above, the German bishops have solidly placed themselves behind the “serene theology” (to use Pope Francis’s description) of Cardinal Kasper which calls for the admittance to Holy Communion of the divorced and civilly remarried.

Previous “Church in the World” columns have noted the clear rejection of Kasper’s ideas by both Raymond Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider. It is now possible to note that other prelates have joined in this rejection. Most notably, Robert Cardinal Sarah, the recently appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, has stated that the bishops of Africa will not go along with the Kasperian agenda which seeks to effectively separate pastoral practice from dogma. Cardinal Sarah stated unequivocally: “The idea that would consist in placing the Magisterium in a nice box by detaching it from pastoral practice—which could evolve according to the circumstances, fads, and passions—is a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.”2 His Eminence clearly does not share Pope Francis’s belief that Cardinal Kasper’s is a “serene theology.”

In addition to Cardinal Sarah, the Polish bishops have also rejected any attempt to change Church discipline regarding the divorced and civilly remarried. With four months to go before the opening of the Synod on the Family, it will be very interesting to observe which other bishops (as individuals or as national conferences) come forward to uphold the perennial doctrine and pastoral practice of the Church.

Cardinal Sarah Interview

His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (appointed by Pope Francis on 24 November 2014), gave an interview3 while visiting France earlier this year. The beginning part of the interview concerned itself with the Traditional Mass and the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI and caused a good amount of excitement among many Catholics who are disenchanted with the Novus Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI, though they have not moved to Tradition. The interest was sparked by these comments from His Eminence:

“Vatican II never asked us to reject the past and abandon the Mass of St. Pius V, which spawned many saints, nor discard Latin. But at the same time we must promote the liturgical reform sought by the Council itself. The liturgy is the special place where we meet God face-to-face, bring Him our whole life, our work, and make an offering of all this to His glory. We cannot celebrate the liturgy while taking up arms: carrying on our shoulders weapons of hate, combat, resentment. Jesus Himself said, ‘Before pre­sent­ing your offering, first be reconciled to your brother.’ In this ‘face-to-face’ with God, our heart must be pure, free of all hatred, all rancor. Each person must remove from his heart anything that might cast a shadow on this meeting. This involves respecting everyone’s sensitivity…

“[T]his is the meaning of the motu pro­prio Summorum Pontificum. Benedict XVI put a lot of energy and hope into this work. Alas, he was not totally successful because people ‘clung’ to their specific rite and mutually excluded each other. In the Church, everyone should be able to celebrate according to his or her own sensitivity. It is one of the conditions of reconciliation. Attention should also be paid to the beauty of the liturgy, its sacredness. The Eucharist is not a ‘dinner with friends,’ it is a sacred mystery. If it is celebrated with fervor and beauty, an understanding will certainly be reached. However, we must not forget that it is God who reconciles, and this will take time.”

While Cardinal Sarah’s comments seem to make it clear that Summorum Pontificum will not be done away with, there are two significant problems with His Eminence’s statement. The first is that he implies that the Novus Ordo Missae (and the subsequent practical disappearance of the Traditional Mass along with the notion that it had been abrogated—a notion which Benedict XVI clearly stated was incorrect) was not willed by Vatican II. This is clearly untrue since the author of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, was Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the same person who led the creation of the New Mass. Even if Vatican II did not directly order the production of a new rite of Mass, there is no doubt that Sacrosanctum Concilium opened wide the door that made it possible.

The second difficulty with the statement from Cardinal Sarah is that he reduces the “division” concerning the Traditional Mass and the New Mass to a matter of “taste” or “sensitivity,” completely ignoring the fact of the obvious theological deficiencies of the Novus Ordo Missae. To imply that those who are attached to the Traditional Mass do so out of a simple preference is a way of side-stepping the real issue of the very real problems with the New Mass. Additionally, no matter how well the Novus Ordo Missae is celebrated, there is no way that it can be accepted as being on the same plane with the Mass of the Ages.

The one point that His Eminence makes, which will sadly be lost on most, is that Holy Mass is not a “dinner with friends,” but rather a sacred mystery. It is precisely the emphasis on the Mass being a meal, which is found throughout the entire New Mass, that makes it so clearly unacceptable as the Church’s central act of worship.

Canonization of Louis and Marie Martin Expected

On 18 March 2015, Pope Francis approved a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Louis and Marie Martin, the parents of the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, opening the way for their canonization, the date of which has not yet been announced.

Louis Martin and Marie (née Guerin) Martin were beatified on Sunday, 19 October 2008. Louis was born into a military family and spent his early years at various French military posts. At the age of twenty-two he sought to enter religious life at an Augustinian monastery, but because he had difficulty learning the required Latin he eventually left the monastery, settled in Alençon, France, and became a successful watchmaker. Marie Guerin, as a young lady, also sought to enter religious life, but soon abandoned this desire and learned lace-making techniques, starting her own successful lace-making business.

Louis and Marie met in Alençon and were married on 13 July 1858. During the next fifteen years, they had nine children—seven girls and two boys. Within a three-year period, the two boys and two daughters died. Their last child was born on 2 January 1873, and she was named Marie-Françoise-Therese Martin, who would become St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

Extraordinary Jubilee Holy Year Proclaimed

From the Vatican Information Service: “Yesterday, 13 March 2015, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis declared the celebration of an extraordinary Holy Year. The Jubilee announcement was made during the homily of the penitential celebration with which he opened the ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative. This ‘Jubilee of Mercy’ will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 2015, and will conclude on November 20, 2016, with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The papal bull will be made public on Divine Mercy Sunday, 12 April, the feast day instituted by St. John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.”

Normally, Holy Years bring with them significant opportunities for acquiring plenary indulgences as well as special graces from Almighty God. Following the promulgation of the papal bull announcing the Holy Year, the Sacred Penitentiary will then issue the particular graces and favors attached to the Holy Year as well as the specific requirements for obtaining such.

While the proclamation of an extraordinary Holy Year is not new, there is a certain amount of concern that this initiative by the Holy Father may have the effect of further blurring the true meaning of God’s mercy. Of late, most, if not all, of the documents and public addresses emanating from Rome have omitted one important aspect of receiving God’s infinite mercy: genuine repentance. The implication is that God will extend His mercy to us even if we continue to make no attempt to remove sin from our lives. It is this false application of divine mercy that is underlying the push for the divorced and civilly remarried to be admitted to Holy Communion as well as for the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

Let us pray that this Holy Year will be an opportunity for all in the Church to experience God’s mercy by turning back to Him in sincere repentance.