News from Tradition
Pope Francis and the Hammer and Sickle Crucifix
This past July, Pope Francis made yet another papal trip to South America. While in Bolivia, he was presented with two secular honors by Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is an avowed Marxist. In addition to the honors, the Holy Father was also presented with a personal gift from the President: a figure of our crucified Lord mounted upon a wooden hammer and sickle emblem instead of the normal cross. Needless to say, in times past this sort of sacrilegious “art” would never have made it past the Pope’s advance planning team, much less into the hands of the Holy Father himself. In our day, however, it seems that even the Pope did not find the gift offensive since the sculpture was created by fellow Jesuit Fr. Espinal (a Bolivian Marxist and Liberation Theologian).
On his return flight to Rome, Pope Francis made the following statement when asked about the gift by a reporter who presumed there would be some negative reaction by the Pope: …in this concrete case, Fr Espinal was killed in 1980. It was a time when liberation theology had many different branches. One of the branches was with Marxist analysis of reality. Fr Espinal belonged to this. Yes, I knew because I was in those years rector of the theology faculty and we talked a lot about it, about the different branches and who were the representatives, no? In the same year, the general of the Society (of Jesus), Fr. Arrupe, wrote a letter to the whole Society on the Marxist analysis of reality in theology. Stopping on this point saying, “it’s no good, these are different things, it’s not right, it’s not correct.” And, four years later in 1984, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the first small volume, the first declaration on liberation theology that criticizes this. Then comes the second, which opens to a more Christian perspective. I’m simplifying, no? Let’s do the hermeneutic of that time: Espinal was an enthusiast of this Marxist analysis of the reality, but also of theology using Marxism. From this, he came up with this work. Also the poetry of Espinal was of this kind of protest. But, it was his life, it was his thought. He was a special man, with so much human geniality, who fought in good faith, no? Making a hermeneutic like this, I understand this work. For me it wasn’t an offense, but I had to do this hermeneutic, and I say it to you so that there aren’t any wrong opinions.
In this response it is possible to discern a very dangerous denial of objective reality. Since the blasphemous “crucifix” is read through a “hermeneutic” of “protest art” it is not considered blasphemous. In other words, things take on only the meaning which I choose to give them and following this way of thinking to its logical conclusion, there is no objective, unchanging truth. When one begins to think this way, it becomes very simple to move to doing away with just about any truth of the Faith (whether dogmatic or moral) which does not fit into my personal hermeneutic.
New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral Receives a Facelift
What is arguably one of the most iconic of Cathedrals in the United States has undergone an extensive renovation over the past year and a half and was unveiled at the beginning of September. Although the term “renovation” usually causes a feeling of dread to come over anyone attached to the tradition of the Church, the work done on St. Patrick’s actually restored the Cathedral (particularly the Sanctuary) to its pre-1962 splendor.
The construction of St. Patrick’s Cathedral was begun by Archbishop John Hughes in the mid 1850s. When Archbishop Hughes announced that the location for the new cathedral was to be at 5th Avenue and 50th Street in Manhattan, the project was initially dubbed “Hughes’ Folly” by the New York press since it was “so far uptown.” Needless to say, the rapid expansion of the New York City quickly showed that the location was anything but a folly, since the Cathedral now stand at the heart of Manhattan. Taking over 40 years to complete, St. Patrick’s was finally consecrated in 1910. Soon after Francis Cardinal Spellman became the Archbishop of New York, he began a renovation of the sanctuary which included the addition of a new High Altar surmounted by a bronze baldachino. Additionally, Cardinal Spellman completed Our Lady’s Chapel which was the final element of architect James Renwick, Jr.’s neo-Gothic masterpiece. The original High Altar was given to Fordham University —Spellman’s alma mater — for use in the University Church where it remains to this day. In the early 1980s, John Cardinal O’Connor placed a new “main altar” ner the front of the large sanctuary so that he could “be nearer the people while offering the Mass.” This altar served to disrupt the beautiful architectural lines of the sanctuary as well as creating an obstacle for flow of movement during Masses.
Happily, the recent renovation has removed the “O’Connor Altar” and, as was mentioned, restored the sanctuary to its pre-1962 condition. The remainder of the restoration included repointing all the masonry, completely cleaning all of the Cathedral (both interior and exterior), cleaning and repairing all the stained glass windows and restoring the chancel organ, to name but a few of the works undertaken. The cost for the renovation was estimated at approximately 175 million dollars, a cost which did not sit well with many of the faithful of the Archdiocese since it came at a time when the Archdiocese was shuttering some 75 parishes claiming lack of funds to keep them open. Aside from this, one cannot deny the beauty of the restored edifice.
Some photos of the restoration work can be found here:
Martin Luther to be Honored in Rome
The civil authorities of the city of Rome have decided to name a square after the famed heretic Martin Luther. On September 16, the city formally named a square on the Viale Fortunato Mizzi, located a number of blocks from the ancient Coliseum, as the Piazza Martin Lutero.
The Seventh Day Adventist council in Rome began the initiative to name a Roman square in honor of Luther since 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant revolt against the Faith.
It has also been reported that The Vatican did not offer any opposition to the project. This may well be the first sign that there will be some effort put forward by the Vatican to rehabilitate Luther or, at the very least, lift his excommunication, an effort that is being pushed by some of the more progressive ecumenists in the hierarchy. Adding to this concern is the reported fact that the Vatican is working with the Lutheran Church in Germany to join in “celebrating” the 500th anniversary of the Reformation which is said to have begun with Martin Luther posting his “95 Theses” to the Wittenburg Castle Church.
Once again we are able to observe the fruit that the rampant false ecumenism ushered in by the documents of Vatican II has produced: an arch heretic and the result of his labors are “celebrated” by the Vatican and the City of Rome.
News Flash! Chimpanzees are NOT people!
In an earlier issue of The Angelus it was reported in these pages that a lawsuit had been brought in New York State Supreme Court asking that two chimpanzees (Hercules and Leo) be declared to be persons and be “freed” from their captivity at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
At the time of the original report, the judge had not handed down a ruling but, given the current state of affairs, it was not far fetched to imagine that the judge would rule in favor of “personhood” for the chimps.
We are now able to report that on 30 July 2015, Judge Barbara Jaffe handed down her ruling. Hercules and Leo are not persons, the judge wrote and added, Animals, including chimpanzees and other highly intelligent mammals, are considered property under the law… They are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.
One may be tempted to think that, thankfully, common sense and right thinking prevailed. This would, however, be overstating the case. “Rights,” properly speaking, can only be assigned to persons, so it is quite incorrect to say that animals have the “right” not to be abused or mistreated. Human beings have an obligation not to abuse any of God’s creatures not because the creatures have rights but because of God’s positive law.
The Health of the Church in Germany
Even while we have been painfully watching the German bishops attempts at undoing the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility (as well as other aspects) of marriage, statistics were released over the summer which indicated that the Church in Germany is in a state of utter collapse. This year, 218,000 Catholics officially left the Church an increase of 22% over last year’s staggering number of 165,000. Over all Mass (Novus Ordo) attendance stands at just under 11% of those who still call themselves Catholic.
Needless to say, the German Bishops’ Conference were quick to make excuses and to explain that this near total implosion of the Faith is really not so bad. Cardinal Marx (the president of the German Episcopal Conference) explained that “the joy of the faith and the charisma of Pope Francis” will help the Church in Germany preach the gospel more effectively. There is no doubt that we are witnessing a complete denial of reality on the part of the German bishops, who refuse to see and acknowledge the crisis so evident to anyone with eyes to see. But then, denial of the reality of the present deplorable state of the Church has been a hallmark of almost every bishop in the world, up to and including the current Bishop of Rome.