Church and World
A Purge of Faithful Catholic Intellectuals?
On 31 August 2017, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández of Granada (Spain) effectively fired Professor Josef Seifert from the position of a founding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life over which the Archbishop had control. Additionally, Archbishop Fernández had in the weeks prior removed Professor Seifert from teaching the seminarians of the Archdiocese of Granada. The charge against Professor Seifert? Daring to question certain aspects of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
Only recently, the Austrian born Professor Seifert wrote an article in which he begged the Holy Father to correct a certain passage of Amoris Laetitia which he saw as undermining the entirety of Catholic moral theology. According to Professor Seifert, Amoris Laetitia :
Besides calling an objective state of grave sin, euphemistically, “not yet fully the objective ideal,” AL [Amoris Laetitia] says that we can know with “a certain moral security” that God himself asks us to continue to commit intrinsically wrong acts, such as adultery or active homosexuality. I ask: Can pure Logic fail to ask us under this assumption: If only one case of an intrinsically immoral act can be permitted and even willed by God, must this not apply to all acts considered ‘intrinsically wrong’? If it is true that God can want an adulterous couple to live in adultery, should then not also the commandment ‘Do not commit adultery!’ be reformulated: ‘If in your situation adultery is not the lesser evil, do not commit it! If it is, continue living it!’?
Must then not also the other nine commandments, Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and all past and present or future Church documents, dogmas, or councils that teach the existence of intrinsically wrong acts, fall? Is it then not any more intrinsically wrong to use contraceptives and is not Humanae Vitae in error that states unambiguously that it can never happen that contraception in any situation is morally justified, let alone commanded by God?
Must then not, to begin with, the new commission on Humanae Vitae Pope Francis instituted, conclude that using contraception can in some situations be good or even obligatory and willed by God? Can then not also abortions, as Mons. Fisichella, then President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, claimed, be justified in some cases and ‘be what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal’?
Must then not from pure logic euthanasia, suicide, or assistance to it, lies, thefts, perjuries, negations or betrayals of Christ, like that of St. Peter, or murder, under some circumstances and after proper “discernment,” be good and praiseworthy because of the complexity of a concrete situation (or because of a lack of ethical knowledge or strength of will)? Can then not God also demand that a Sicilian, who feels obligated to extinguish the innocent family members of a family, whose head has murdered a member of his own family and whose brother would murder four families if he does not kill one, go ahead with his murder, because his act is, under his conditions “what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal”? Does not pure logic demand that we draw this consequence from this proposition of Pope Francis?
For this questioning, Archbishop Fernández stated that Professor Seifert “damages the communion of the Church…confuses the faith of the faithful… [and] sows distrust in the successor of Peter,” The Archbishop makes no mention of the fact that a number of Cardinals and Bishops have issued statements that have asked the Holy Father for clarifications of certain passages of Amoris Laetitia.
It has become obvious that, under Pope Francis, the only members of the Church who do not have a right to “enter into dialogue” are those who uphold the millennial teaching of Our Lord and His Church. While Pope Francis continually asks’ “Who am I to judge?” his toadies within the hierarchy continue to do just that: make judgments against those who dare to ask legitimate questions of the Holy Father.
Professor Seifert, although a faithful Catholic regarding faith and morals, is a philosophical child of Edmund Husserl and his school of Phenomenology and therefore he does not espouse the philosophy of St. Thomas. Nevertheless, he clearly embraces the importance of Aristotelian logic and objective Truth, both of which are sorely lacking in the Rome of Pope Francis.
New Altar in Honor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
As has been mentioned in past installments of Church in the World, the Archdiocese of New York has, for the past number of years, been involved in extensive renovation work in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Although use of the word “renovation” of any church or cathedral often brings chills up the spine of Traditional Catholics, in the case of St. Patrick’s the renovation has actually brought about some very significant improvements. One of the latest is the new side altar in honor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, which replaces a “shrine” (not an altar) erected in the 1970s around the time of her canonization.
The new altar is based upon the plans for this location by the architect of the cathedral James Renwick, Jr. Its design is Gothic with relief panels and statues designed by Sister Margaret Beaudette, S.C. who was a devoted teacher and renowned sculptor whose artwork for the Altar was her last commission before her death on March 12, 2017. She was a member of the Sisters of Charity (the order founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton). The panels and statues are of a more modern design, but the altar itself blends very well with the interior of the cathedral, especially when compared to the 1970s shrine. The center statue is of St. Elizabeth and the side statues are of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac (the founders of the Daughters of
Charity from whose statutes St. Elizabeth modeled the statutes of the Sisters of Charity). The relief panels depict the sisters performing the two works they are most well known for in New York: education and health care. It should be noted that the sisters portrayed in the panels are wearing the traditional habit of the Sisters of Charity which was, most unfortunately, abandoned in the years following Vatican II.
Traditional Carmelite Nuns return to Philadelphia
Since 1902, the Carmel of St. Joseph and St. Anne located in Philadelphia, PA. has been a power house of prayer as the spiritual daughters of St. Teresa of Avila chanted the Divine Office and offered innumerable prayers and sacrifices for the good of the Church. In the years following Vatican II, the number of nuns at the Carmel steadily declined until in recent days the Carmel was preparing to close due to the aging of the nuns and no vocations. Thankfully, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput, the Carmel has found new life with 10 nuns moving to Philadelphia from two traditional Carmels. Archbishop Chaput recently made this announcement welcoming the nuns to their new monastery:
“Dear Friends, I’m sharing some joyful news. Today, our Archdiocese welcomed six nuns from the Carmelite Monastery of Valparaiso, Nebraska, and four nuns from the Carmelite Monastery of Elysburg, Pennsylvania. They are transferring to the Carmelite Monastery of Saint Joseph and Saint Anne here in Philadelphia.
As a result of these transfers, there is now a community of twelve nuns in the Philadelphia Carmel, which was founded in 1902. Since that time it has been home to generations of Discalced Carmelite nuns who have dedicated themselves to a cloistered life of contemplation and prayer for the good of us all. The Carmel is also welcoming a new chaplain, Father William Allen, FSSP.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 26th, the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, all are invited to a Solemn High Mass at the Carmel and welcome to greet the new sisters in the “speakroom” of the convent following the liturgy.”
Although Archbishop Chaput has not offered the Traditional Mass, he has been generous in allowing the Mass of the Ages to be celebrated throughout the Archdiocese. On 14 September, the 10th anniversary of the coming into force of Summorum Pontificum, he gave permission for Bishop Joseph Perry (an auxiliary bishop of Chicago) to offer a Pontifical High Mass at the Throne in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Normally, a visiting bishop would not be permitted to celebrate from “the throne” or the cathedra of the ordinary of the diocese. This concession by Archbishop Chaput was a significant gesture on his part to welcome traditional Catholics to his cathedral.
Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, RIP
His Eminence, Carlo Cardinal Caffarra, the emeritus Archbishop of Bologna and one of the four Cardinals who presented Pope Francis with “dubia” concerning the Apostolic Exhortation Amores Latitia died unexpectedly on September 6, 2017. With his death, there are only two remaining “dubia Cardinals” remaining: Raymond Cardinal Burke who is 69 years of age and Walter Cardinal Brandmueller who is 89.
In addition to his pastoral work as Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Caffarra was also a moral theologian who worked to maintain the traditional moral teachings of the Church, particularly in the areas of life and the family. In 1981, at the request of Pope John Paul II, he founded the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. At the beginning of this work, His Eminence wrote to Fatima seer Sr. Lucia requesting her prayers for the success of this new endeavor. To his surprise, Sr. Lucia personally answered his letter assuring him of her prayers and also stating (according to Cardinal Caffarra’s testimony) that the final battle between the Lord and Satan would be over marriage and the family. She also reminded him that Our Lady had already “crushed the head” of Satan.
It should be noted that Pope Francis has recently “reorganized” the Institute and thereby weakened its strong and traditional position on moral questions concerning marriage and the family. This was accomplished through the Motu Proprio Summa Familiae Cura issued on 19 September 2017, and renamed the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. The Vatican stated the new Institute will carry forward the work of the two recent Synods of Bishops and the apostolic exhortation that came from those meetings, Amoris Laetitia. The Motu Proprio was signed by Pope Francis only a few days following the death of Cardinal Caffarra.
Cardinal Caffarra was also known to have publicly celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass and was scheduled to offer the Traditional Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on 16 September for the International Pilgrimage in thanksgiving for Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which came into force 10 years ago on 14 September 2007.
May he rest in peace.
The Political Pope
It seems that Pope Francis’ continuing forays into politics is not sitting well with his Italian flock. A recent report shows that only 32 percent of Italians are now supporting the Church through their taxes (this does not entail the individuals paying more tax, they simply tick off a box on their return to indicate that a donation is made to the Church). This represents a loss of nearly 1 million donors in the last year. Although there is no specific reasons given for the decline, most pundits attribute the loss to Pope Francis’ statements on open immigration, particularly from the Muslim world, is not sitting well with many Italians. The recent continuing terrorist attacks across Europe is certainly fueling this resentment of the Pope’s “open door” policy.
Recently Pope Francis asked, in a document released for the “Day of the Migrant,” that children of illegal immigrants who are born in the new country, be given citizenship automatically (referred to as ius soli). An Italian politician, Matteo Salvini responded by stating: If Pope Francis wants the ius soli in the Vatican, let him have it. Mr. Salvini also noted that Italy grants 200,000 citizenships a year, while the Vatican grants very few citizenships. Another politician from Salvini’s party added: Pope Francis went to Lampedusa with open arms inviting the desperate from all over the world to Italy. From now on, anyone who arrives here shall be sent directly to the Vatican at the expense of the Church and the Pontiff. What surely adds to the consternation is that the Vatican recently erected cement barriers around St. Peter’s Square to protect against Muslim terrorist attacks of the kind seen in France, Great Britain, Spain and Belgium.
In addition to the decline in revenue and Italian politicians speaking out against the Pope’s political leanings, the residents of Rome are speaking clearly with their actions. Although St. Peter’s Square has traditionally been full (during previous pontificates) for the Angelus on Sundays, over recent months the Square has been less than half full. This, according to Vatican watchers, means that while tourists are still present, the usual crowds of Romans have been staying away.