March 2018 Print

Church and World

More Contradiction from Pope Francis

On January 8, Pope Francis gave the annual papal address to the members of the diplomatic corps (ambassadors accredited to the Holy See from approximately 180 nations). For the content of the address, the pope looked to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The Holy Father then proceeded to explicate the various ways in which human rights are still being violated throughout the world. He made specific reference to the slaughter of the unborn by stating: “In our day, there are more subtle means: I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults.”

Of course, many “conservative” Catholic commentators lauded this statement by the pope waxing eloquently about what a champion he is for the unborn. Unfortunately, as good as these words are from Pope Francis, the Holy Father’s actions seem to applaud those who advocate and even carry out the discarding of innocent children before they are born. Two rather notorious examples come to mind.

In 2016, Pope Francis called the abortionist Emma Bonino one of Italy’s “forgotten greats” supposedly for her efforts on behalf of refugees, seeming to ignore the fact that Bonino, on her own admission, performed illegal abortions using her own homemade device. The outcry from Catholic pro-life Italians fell upon deaf ears and Pope Francis never recanted his praise.

Towards the end of 2017, Bonino was instrumental in the passage of the Italian government’s passive euthanasia law. Some have claimed that Pope Francis’ refusal to comment on the parliamentary debate on the issue assured the passage of the law.

In January of 2018, it became public that Pope Francis honored Lilianne Ploumen, former minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Netherlands, with the title of Commander in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. All of this despite the fact that she is proudly pro-abortion and worked to raise over 300 million dollars for the “She Decides” program to fund organizations providing abortion services, including Planned Parenthood International. The “She Decides” program was instituted after President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy which cut United States funding for international organizations which promoted or provided abortions.

So now we once again come face to face with contradiction coming from this pope. In one breath he condemns the taking of the slaughter of innocent unborn children while at the same time praising and publicly honoring two women who worked tirelessly for the slaughter he supposedly condemns. Intellectual contradiction has been the hallmark of this papacy and, not only this papacy, but also of the entire Vatican II juggernaut. We should be thankful to Pope Francis that he has so boldly and publicly brought this acceptance of contradiction to light so that many right thinking Catholics are now beginning to acknowledge the great crisis facing the Church.

Papal Nuncio Makes an Astonishing Statement

Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, an American born in 1950 who is the current Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to Switzerland, recently had a meeting with the priests in Switzerland who celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. During the meeting, the Archbishop made the statement that “the Old Latin Mass is the future of the Church.” Although the statement was only reported by one of the priests in attendance, the veracity of the statement cannot be questioned since there has been no denial of it by Archbishop Gullickson who certainly would have done so if it were not true, considering the amount of publicity the remark engendered. What makes the words of the Archbishop astonishing is not that it isn’t true, but that a papal diplomat to a European country has made it.

Although Archbishop Gullickson’s name is not one that normally comes to mind when speaking of “tradition friendly” bishops, it certainly should. He began his Vatican diplomatic career in 2004 by being appointed nuncio to the many island nations of the Antilles and consecrated bishop on November 11, 2004 (the Feast of St. Martin of Tours). In 2011, he was named nuncio to Ukraine and remained in that post until being named nuncio to Switzerland and Liechtenstein in 2015 by Pope Francis. The Archbishop has written a blog from each of his diplomatic postings. If one goes back to his first posts and progresses through his later postings, it is obvious that his appreciation for Tradition, particularly in the liturgy, has grown and developed.

In one of his latest posts, Archbishop Gullickson has questioned the wisdom of religious liberty as being the best way to further the mission of the Church. Archbishop Gullickson writes:

“Believe it or not, the Church has its inalienable hallmarks, which are born of necessity and flow from the will of God for the sake of the life of the world.

No doubt, the only right place to start a conversation of this sort is by calling bishops and priests to account in terms of their faithfulness to the Gospel. We need more honest, integral, bold witnesses like St. Charles Borromeo, who by prayer and penance sought to conform their lives to that of our loving Savior, thus credibly speaking His Truth and shepherding His Flock. Maybe it is too much to expect that we can walk hand in hand with a given temporal power for the sake of the good of society.

What I’d like to say is that past schemes (ancien regime) may have been unacceptable vehicles for establishing Christ’s Church and furthering its mission. As I read, look and listen, however, I am missing the restless search for whatever that better or adequate vehicle might be. As I say, religious liberty comes up more than short, when it comes to guaranteeing unfettered discourse in the public square, about the truth which comes from God in Jesus Christ. But ‘it’s all we’ve got’ does not do it for me as a response and hence my insistence that we stand somewhere between a pipe dream and an untried hypothesis when we appeal to religious liberty as the better mousetrap.” 

Given his statements and writings, it should come as no surprise that the groups in the uber-liberal Swiss church have been pushing for his removal as nuncio, claiming that he is dividing the church in Switzerland. One example they give is that he sympathizes with the “schismatic” Society of St. Pius X! In charity, it would be well for us to remember Archbishop Gullickson in our prayers in the days ahead.

Academy of Life Reborn?

As had been extensively reported elsewhere, Pope Francis removed all the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life and appointed an entire slate of new members which included some proponents of abortion. In addition, Pope Francis gave a new mandate regarding the workings of the Academy and insisted that it include immigration and environmentalism in the scope of its work.

In December of 2017, one new member of the Pontifical Academy, Fr. Maurizio Chiodi gave a lecture entitled Re-reading Humanae Vitae in light of Amoris Laetitia at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. During the lecture, Fr. Chiodi stated that, “an artificial method for the regulation of births could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality. [This would be the case when] natural methods are impossible or unfeasible.”

Fr. Chiodi further explained that the basis for this “new” understanding was Chapter Eight of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. There had been talk in recent months that Pope Francis was indeed considering reversing the Church’s immemorial teaching that artificial contraception is always immoral and this lecture certainly adds credence to these rumors. Of course, no papal decree of Francis could make that which is immoral and sinful become moral and good, especially in this matter in that many respected moral theologians (Msgr. William Smith as just one example) hold that the prohibition of artificial contraception is actually an infallible teaching of the Church. (Because of this “new direction” of the Pontifical Academy for Life, some of the former members who were summarily dismissed by Pope Francis have joined forces to form the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. This was announced by Professor Josef Seifert in Rome last October. It should be recalled that Professor Seifert was removed from his teaching position by the Archbishop of Granada because of his printed critique of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia which the Archbishop claimed was causing division in the Church.)

Fr. Chiodi’s conclusions regarding artificial contraception based upon Amoris Laetitia highlight the fact that the greatest danger of the infamous Chapter 8 is not the admittance of the divorcees and remarried to Holy Communion (as sacrilegious as this may be), but the premise put forward in that chapter that sinful actions can, depending upon circumstances, now become good and moral. As Professor Josef Seifert pointed out in the article which got him fired by the Archbishop of Granada, this understanding (i.e., that an immoral act can become a good act) turns all of the Church’s moral teaching on its head.

Some Highlights From the “New Springtime” of Vatican II

From the Vicar General of the Diocese of Oakland, California regarding the new “Cathedral of Christ the Light”:

“I write today to update you regarding our investigation of the design and construction issues at the Cathedral Center. As I have previously reported, the Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Bay board of directors approved a plan recommended by our expert consultants for comprehensive physical testing on Cathedral Center buildings. This is part of our ongoing legal action to ensure the responsible parties pay for the necessary corrective work.

The initial physical testing, which focused on the Chancery, rectory and parking garage, was completed in December 2016. As part of our continued investigation, we reviewed the design of the Cathedral and its foundation, in light of the defects discovered in those areas adjacent to and surrounding the Cathedral itself. Unfortunately, this review has uncovered underlying conditions similar to those found in other parts of the Cathedral Center. We are deeply disappointed to discover the Cathedral is also affected. 

A full list of defects has recently been reported to the court-appointed special master for our case and to the parties named in our claim. The court-appointed special master is overseeing the development and exchange of information between the parties in preparation for mediation. Since this is a complex case, it is not possible to predict the timeline or outcome of the mediation. The special master is making sure the case moves along as quickly as possible without sacrificing our rights or the rights of the defendants.

Our goal is to ensure the safety of all who use these facilities, and to be good stewards of the generosity which built our Cathedral and the Cathedral Center. The Cathedral of Christ the Light should stand as a reminder of the beautiful radiance of Christ’s light in our community. The project architect and structural engineer have advised us that the Cathedral Center buildings are safe for our employees, visitors and parishioners to occupy, while we continue to seek resolution of the design and construction issues. 

To limit further deflection of the floor slab and future repair costs of the B1 level of the parking garage, it will remain closed for the foreseeable future. We have also asked our expert consultants to identify recommended repairs to limit further deterioration and future repair costs throughout the Cathedral Center and the Cathedral itself.”

So it seems the huge expenditure of funds from the Catholic faithful of Oakland to build a new cathedral of dubious architectural beauty has resulted in a less then safe “worship environment.”

From the Archdiocese of New York:

“The Archdiocese of New York released an update today on the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), its outreach program to victim-survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy of the archdiocese. The IRCP was announced in October 2016, and ran for nearly 13 months, concluding on November 1 of this year, and more than 200 individuals applied to participate in the program. The program was administered by noted mediator Mr. Ken Feinberg and his associate, Ms. Camille Biros, who were given total independence to evaluate claims and determine compensation. The Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre have subsequently begun their own IRCP program.

As of November 30, 2017, 189 victim-survivors had resolved their claims through the archdiocese’s IRCP, with compensation totaling $40,050,000. There are additional claims which were made prior to the November 1 application deadline that are still being processed by the program administrators.

The report also provides a summary of the Church’s efforts to combat the scourge of sexual abuse of minors, which have resulted in the Church being a leader in the prevention of abuse, and in the care for victim-survivors. At a time when nearly every institution that involves minors has had to face allegations of abuse, the Church is now a model in how to respond to this horror.

By any measure, the reconciliation program has been a success. Many of the victim-survivors have expressed their gratitude that the Church extended an invitation, listened, and responded with compassion and understanding. All left knowing that the Archdiocese of New York was willing to make a genuine act of reparation for the harm that was done to them.”

“By any measure, the reconciliation program has been a success”—over 40 million dollars of donations from the faithful Catholics of the Archdiocese of New York paid out to victims because of the malfeasance of archbishops and chancery officials who did not do their duty in removing priests who abused vulnerable children. This is what is now considered a successful program?

From the Vatican:

The number of people attending Pope Francis’s Urbi et Orbi Christmas message and blessing has diminished substantially. In 2014, St. Peter’s Square was filled with faithful who came to hear the Pope’s message. In 2017, the Square was only half full. It should be noted that the weather on Christmas in both years was sunny.

From the Bucks County Courier Times (Pennsylvania):

“Members of the general public visited the National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel in Bensalem on Friday before it was set to close permanently late Saturday afternoon.

The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament order announced in May 2016 that it would reduce its financial burdens by selling the Bensalem property where Drexel’s body is entombed. The saint’s remains will be moved in early 2018 to the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

The heiress, who used her inheritance to serve the black and Native American communities, died in 1955. Drexel became the second American-born person to be canonized in 2000 after two miracles involving hearing were attributed to her intercession.

The Bensalem property (off Route 13) became a shrine during Drexel’s canonization, and faithful from around the world flocked there to pray for her intercession with God. It is one of two sites the nuns are in the process of selling. The other is a 2,200-acre property they own in Powhatan, Virginia, that previously had been the site of two schools for black students.

The order, which has missions in the United States, Haiti and Jamaica, has worked with a Michigan-based real estate agent to sell the properties. The sisters are awaiting approval from Pope Francis at the Vatican before they announce the transactions.”

The once-thriving religious orders are now forced to sell their properties because of a lack of vocations. Particularly distressing is the fact that Mother Catherine Drexel’s order was one of the first in the United States to begin educational institutions for blacks in the United States.