May 2018 Print

Church and World

Traditional Rite Trappist Monastery to Close

The abbey of Mariawald, in the Westphalia area of Germany will be closed and the monks will be transferred to other abbeys. Following the issuance of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the abbot of Mariawald, Dom Josef Vollberg requested permission from Pope Benedict XVI to begin using the Traditional Rite for Holy Mass and the Divine Office, which was granted. (Pope Benedict approved the change saying that this represented “renewal of the church in the spirit of tradition”) in 2008. Since that time, the monastery has been celebrating the Mass and Divine Office using the traditional liturgical books.

In a 2013 interview, Dom Vollberg spoke about the effects that returning to the Traditional Liturgy has had on the monastic community. He stated: “We must not underestimate the spiritual enrichment, which has been brought about by the search for and rediscovery of the sources. Important features of ecclesial tradition can now once again play a significant role. Our monastic vocation receives its character from the Rule of St. Benedict, which we have vowed to observe. The Rule of St. Benedict and the Latin Liturgy, in the older form constitute a symbiosis, within which the one fosters the understanding and significance of the other. Just as the Holy Sacrifice is offered daily, so is a portion of holy Rule read every day, and usually, it falls to me to interpret it. And undoubtedly, there is a lot of truth in the old adage: ‘Keep the Rule, and the Rule will keep you.’ It must also be said, and more certainly, that no one can survive without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The traditional form in which we now celebrate the Mass, seems to suit us to an extraordinary degree. And also, the reawakened wisdom of centuries seems to help the Priest, more Priest, and the monk, more monk.”

Unfortunately, the Vatican under Pope Francis did not look kindly upon this return to tradition and forced Dom Vollberg to resign as abbot in 2016. He stated at the time that his resignation was taken so as to avoid the danger that the abbey could be closed contrary to the wishes of the community. Dom Vollberg continued at the abbey as prior while Dom Bernardus Peeters from a Dutch monastery would become the non-resident abbot.

Now, in 2018, it was announced that the abbey would close its doors and the monastic community would be dispersed to other Trappist monasteries. While the announcement cited various reasons for the closure, there can be little doubt that the unstated reason for the closure was to rid the Church of this traditional Trappist monastery. The current administration in the Vatican has consistently shown hostility to any religious order or community that has made an attempt to restore the traditional liturgy; one need only to remember the treatment received by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

Bible Justifies Abortion?

As reported in the March/April edition of this column, 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 and gave a new mandate regarding the workings of the Academy and insisted that it include immigration and environmentalism in the scope of its work.

Now, one of the newly appointed members of the Academy has publicly declared that the Old Testament justifies abortion in certain cases. Rabbi Fishel Szlajen states that when the unborn child threatens the life of the mother, Jewish law allows for abortion. He also cites other examples such as: cases of anencephaly, irreversible degenerative pathologies and terminal disease where the “conceptus” will certainly die are examples of tzorech gadol (grave necessity) where “abortion is permitted with severe restrictions.” The same goes for a woman who has become pregnant through rape, and for whom continuing the pregnancy would result in “serious psychophysical danger.” The rabbi is also on record as opposing abortion on demand and recognizes the humanity of the unborn child.

Another new member of the Academy, Rabbi Avraham Steinberg, has stated that before 40 days after conception, the unborn child has “no human status” and after 40 days has only partial status as a human being.

Both of these rabbis are putting forward teachings that directly contradict the Church’s perennial teaching on the certain humanity of the child in utero from the first moment of conception. Additionally, they are citing Talmudic law which, in itself, is merely human law rather than any examples from Sacred Scripture, thus the idea that the Bible sanctions abortion in certain cases is indeed misleading.

It would also seem quite strange that there are rabbis who are members of the Pontifical Academy for Life who make use of Jewish law rather than Catholic teaching in any official statements. Why would any person be appointed to the Academy who does not uphold the sanctity of all human life from conception until natural death? This is one more example of the confusion being sown by Pope Francis.

Vatican Poised to “Sell Out” Faithful Chinese Catholics

It appears that the Vatican Secretariat of State, led by Cardinal Parolin and supported by Pope Francis, is on the verge of recognizing the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church as fully legitimate and thereby making illegitimate the Underground Chinese Catholic Church.

When China fell to Communism in 1949, the government expelled all foreign Catholic missionaries and native bishops and priests, along with their faithful, and they were forced to go “underground” or face arrest and imprisonment (which many bishops and priest did). In 1957, in order to try and eradicate the Catholic Faith, the Communist government set up what they called the Patriotic Catholic Church which was under full government control. This obvious attempt did not have the desired effect, and the Underground Church continued to thrive despite persecution.

At the time of the establishment of the Patriotic Catholic Church, some Chinese bishops and priests joined this government-sponsored church and effectively rejected their allegiance to Rome. Since that time, the Chinese government has chosen bishops for their puppet church without the approval of and in defiance of the Holy See. While faithful bishops and priests were facing prisons and reeducation camps, the Patriotic bishops and priests were kowtowing to every whim of the Communists, including approving the “one chid policy.” In addition, it is known that a number of these patriotic clergymen are secretly married and a few are even members of the Communist government.

According to reports, the Vatican is ready to concede the naming of bishops to the Chinese Communist government. In the lead up to this, the Vatican has asked a number of the Underground bishops to resign their Sees so that they can be replaced by government-named Patriotic bishops. Some have acquiesced to the Vatican request, but others have refused this unjust action on the part of the Vatican. Interestingly, this move by Pope Francis’ Vatican to cede the naming of bishops to the Chinese government is directly contrary to the teaching of Vatican II which clearly stated that: “no more rights or privileges of election, nomination, presentation, or designation for the office of bishop be granted to civil authorities” (Christus Dominus, paragraph 20). This it would appear that Pope Francis, who has stated that there is “no going back from the Council,” has no problem doing so when it suits his objectives!

There has been a good deal of “push back” to this latest Vatican initiative from all parts of the Church. Most notably, Joseph Cardinal Zen, the retired Bishop of Hong Kong has written a lengthy letter to Pope Francis protesting the danger to the Faith this Vatican move presents. It should be noted that in his letter, Cardinal Zen makes reference to Pope Francis stating that “he didn’t want another Mindszenty case” and then presents a short explanation of the sad situation regarding the former Primate of Hungary. What Cardinal Zen did not include was that Cardinal Mindszenty only offered his resignation when Pope Paul VI assured him that no successor would be appointed. However, within a very short time after receiving Cardinal Mindszenty’s resignation, a new Primate of Hungary was appointed by Paul VI —a man approved of by the Communist government. Although Pope Francis has stated he does not want another Mindszenty case, he is, like his hero Paul VI, selling out faithful Chinese bishops, priests and laity in order to appease an atheistic, Communist government.

Interestingly, one would have expected that this obvious Vatican appeasement of the Chinese Communist government would have had led to some softening of the regimes harsh anti-Catholicism. The opposite has been happening. In the past number of months, priests in the Patriotic Church were ordered to put up signs stating that no one under the age of 18 would be allowed to enter the church buildings. Additionally, the government has moved forward with its attempt to remove any Catholic religious symbols from the exterior of churches, stating that the crosses and such are symbols of a foreign religion and pose a danger to Chinese culture.

Professor Germain Grisez, RIP

Professor Germain Grisez died on February 1, 2018 at the age of 88. Grisez was a professor of philosophy and Christian ethics at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Emmitsburg, Maryland for 30 years where he held the Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn Chair in Christian Ethics, retiring in 2009. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1959. His desire to pursue the study of philosophy was the result of his reading St. Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard.

Professor Grisez rose to prominence for his defense of the Church’s perennial teaching on contraception following the widespread rejection of this teaching in the wake of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. His first defense of the Church’s teaching was in his book Contraception and the Natural Law which was published in 1965. Grisez also argued the point that the teaching on contraception is irreformable since, he believed, it formed part of the infallible magisterium of the Church. In a 2003 interview he stated: “With Humanae Vitae, Paul VI reaffirmed the constant and very firm teaching of the Church excluding contraception. I believe and have argued that teaching had already been proposed infallibly by the ordinary magisterium—that is, by the morally unanimous agreement of the bishops of the whole world in communion with the popes.”

In his later years, Professor Grisez also argued that Catholic politicians who support public funding for abortion, ipso facto intend that abortions be done. … As a general rule, Catholic politicians who support abortion funding as well as some other measures consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion decisions, intend to promote the killing of the innocent.”

When Pope Francis issued his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetia in 2016, Professor Grisez issued (along with longtime friend and associate John Finnis) a public letter to the pope entitled “The Misuse of Amoris Laetitia to Support Errors Against The Catholic Faith.” Grisez and Finnis begin their letter with the statement:

“We are convinced that certain statements in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and certain omissions from it, have been misused and/or, unless prevented, will be misused to support positions that are or include errors against the Catholic Faith. We shall identify eight such positions, explain how AL is used to support each of them, and show how each either is, or includes error against the Catholic Faith.

Proponents of the erroneous positions may respond that their readings of AL are accurate, and that the Exhortation overrides and supersedes the sources we quote from or cite to show that the positions they defend are errors against the Catholic Faith.”

May he rest in peace.

Paul VI to be Canonized Later This Year

In February, Pope Francis announced that he will be canonizing his predecessor, Paul VI a saint towards the end of 2018. In making the announcement to the priests of Rome, Francis reportedly quipped that “Benedict and I are on the waiting list.” This flippant comment clearly indicates that even Pope Francis has come to realize that the seemingly unending parade of post Vatican II popes canonized has become almost comical. As one popular blog writer has said, canonizations have become nothing more that election to the Vatican II Hall of Fame.

Paul VI’s cause for canonization had been on hold for many years after Dom Luigi Villa published his well researched book Paul VI Beatified? which documented many reasons why the former pope should not be raised to the honor of the altars. The reasons included in the text were that Paul VI was certainly a Communist sympathizer as well as a Freemason. It was not until after Dom Luigi’s death in 2012 at the age of 95 that Paul’s cause was taken up once again. Dom Luigi Villa was appointed by Pope Pius XII to uncover the infiltration of Freemasonry within the Church.

In addition to Paul VI, Pope Francis also announced that he would canonize Archbishop Oscar Romero, the murdered Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, by recognizing him as a martyr. Although Romero was gunned down while offering Mass, many have questioned whether his murder was carried out in odium fidei (hatred of the Faith) as is required to recognize a person as a martyr, or rather because Romero had become a political figure in El Salvador.

German Bishops Approve Communion for Protestants

During their annual meeting, the German Bishops Conference approved (by a large majority of votes) allowing the Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion. Although this has long been a practice in Germany, it has never received the official approbation by the bishops unit now.

Although the bishops state that this is to be done on “a case by case basis after talking with a priest,” there is little doubt that the “case by case basis” will become the universal norm in Germany. There is no mention in the statement issued by the bishops that the Protestant must acknowledge the Catholic teaching on the Real Presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament nor the need for the Protestant to have received sacramental absolution. Obviously, these requirements would the beg the question: Why has the Protestant spouse not become a Catholic if he or she believes what the Church believes about the Eucharist? Of course, the answer is simply that syncretism has become so ingrained in the post Vatican II ecclesiology that even mentioning the idea of conversion to the true Faith is anathema.

Of course, in addition to this false ecumenism, the bishops of Germany also have to assure that the Kirchensteuer or “church tax” revenues continue to flow from the German government. In recent years, there has been a decrease in the number of Germans identifying as Catholic, which has led to a decrease in the amount of revenue received by the Church in Germany. This has led some to speculate that the bishops of Germany are doing all in their power to keep the faithful happy, even at the expense of the loss of their souls.

Ireland Surreptitiously Selling Murder to the People

On the 7th of March, the Irish Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that the unborn child has no constitutional rights beyond the right to life contained in the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution.

The Irish Independent reported:

“...the seven member court unanimously rejected a High Court ruling which found that the unborn had other rights under the Constitution and was considered a child, with rights the State is expected to vindicate... The ruling will remove much uncertainty ahead of the referendum the government plans to hold in May to remove Article 40.3.3, better known as the Eighth Amendment, and to allow the Oireachtas to legislate and to regulate the termination of pregnancy. Delivering judgment in Limerick, Chief Justice Frank Clarke said it was the unanimous view of the court that the unborn does not have rights outside the right to life in the Eighth Amendment.”

This ruling was followed the day after by a statement from the government advising that citizens will be asked whether they want to remove the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, and replaces it with wording that would allow politicians to set Ireland’s abortion laws in the future. That wording will be: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies.”

This makes the matter crystal clear given the government’s previously stated position that abortion would be made legal up to the 12th week of pregnancy. If you vote ‘yes’ to change, you condemn the future pre-born children of Ireland to mortal danger for the first 12 weeks of their existence. The health minister Simon Harris commented on how fitting it was that the government was announcing this on International Women’s Day! The irony seemed to be lost to him that a large number of the children due to be condemned by this proposed legislation will be female.

Meanwhile, in Rome, on the same day our ex-President Mrs. Mary McAleese was giving a speech at the inaccurately named “Voices of Faith” conference in Rome where she stated that “A Church hierarchy that is homophobic and anti-abortion is not the Church of the future.” She referred to the Church as “one of the last great bastions of misogyny.” She heaped contumely on the Church of Christ and was applauded for it. As one letter writer to the Irish news wrote:

“How much longer must we mere mortals endure the moaning and sanctimonious pontificating of Mary McAleese? A relic from the realm of the political undead, she wanders around the interior of our churches and the public forum like some unearthly Nosferatu boring and annoying faithful Catholics in equal measure.”

The writer also pointed out that Mrs. McAleese prior to her presidential run had been involved in a group called Brothers and Sisters in Christ known as “BASIC” the forerunner of “We Are Church” a pressure group which advocates for female ordination and acceptance of homosexuality. During her speech she advocated for the same as well as abortion.

The progressive elite in this country has been pushing for abortion since the referendum for the Eighth Amendment was passed in 1983. In the intervening period, the people of Ireland have fallen further away from the Faith which sustained them through centuries of persecution and seem more likely these days to worship at a stock exchange than a Church. While countries like Poland and Hungary are experiencing a Catholic resurgence, Ireland seems keen to divest itself of its Catholic Faith and this is without doubt the cause of the attack on the unborn. The reason we are having to defend against abortion is due to the diminution of the Faith. The push to legalise murder is a symptom. The elites are selling murder in the guise of compassion for women; the question is will the people of Ireland buy?