Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fast and pray August 1 for Persecuted Christians: "We need more than words now, we need concrete actions"

An appeal from Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul
(Vatican Radio) “We need more than words now, we need concrete actions, we need the solidarity of Christians worldwide, not to be afraid to talk about this tragedy”, says Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul speaking to Vatican Radio over the phone from Nineveh province, Northern Iraq. - Read morehere.

Catholics and Christians caught in the middle, again: Gaza myths and facts, what American Jewish leaders won't tell you

Myth: Gaza is free. Fact: it has been under Israeli occupation since 1967 to this very day.

By Peter Beinart | Jul. 30, 2014 | 1:44 PM |

If you’ve been anywhere near the American Jewish community over the past few weeks, you’ve heard the following morality tale: Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, hoping the newly independent country would become the Singapore of the Middle East. Instead, Hamas seized power, ransacked greenhouses, threw its opponents off rooftops and began launching thousands of rockets at Israel. American Jewish leaders use this narrative to justify their skepticism of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. But in crucial ways, it’s wrong. And without understanding why it’s wrong, you can’t understand why this war is wrong too. Let’s take the claims in turn.

Israel Left Gaza

It’s true that in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew Israel’s more than 8,000 settlers from Gaza. (At America’s urging, he also dismantled four small settlements in the West Bank). But at no point did Gaza become its own country. Had Gaza become its own country, it would have gained control over its borders. It never did. As the Israeli human rights group Gisha has detailed, even before the election of Hamas, Israel controlled whether Gazans could enter or exit the Strip (In conjunction with Egypt, which controlled the Rafah checkpoint in Gaza's south). Israel controlled the population registry through which Gazans were issued identification cards. Upon evacuating its settlers and soldiers from Gaza, Israel even created a security perimeter inside the Strip from which Gazans were barred from entry. (Unfortunately for Gazans, this perimeter included some of the Strip’s best farmland). “Pro-Israel” commentators claim Israel had legitimate security reasons for all this. But that concedes the point. A necessary occupation is still an occupation. That’s why it’s silly to analogize Hamas’ rockets—repugnant as they are—to Mexico or Canada attacking the United States. The United States is not occupying Mexico or Canada. Israel — according to the United States government — has been occupying Gaza without interruption since 1967.

To grasp the perversity of using Gaza as an explanation for why Israel can’t risk a Palestinian state, it helps to realize that Sharon withdrew Gaza’s settlers in large measure because he didn’t want a Palestinian state. By 2004, when Sharon announced the Gaza withdrawal, the Road Map for Peace that he had signed with Mahmoud Abbas was going nowhere. Into the void came two international proposals for a two state solution. The first was the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which every member of the Arab League offered to recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 lines and found a “just” and “agreed upon” solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees.

The second was the 2003 Geneva Initiative, in which former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators publicly agreed upon the details of a two state plan. As the political scientists Jonathan Rynhold and Dov Waxman have detailed, Sharon feared the United States would get behind one or both plans, and pressure Israel to accept a Palestinian state near the 1967 lines. “Only an Israeli initiative,” Sharon argued, “will keep us from being dragged into dangerous initiatives like the Geneva and Saudi initiatives.” Sharon saw several advantages to withdrawing settlers from Gaza. First, it would save money, since in Gaza Israel was deploying a disproportionately high number of soldiers to protect a relatively small number of settlers. Second, by (supposedly) ridding Israel of its responsibility for millions of Palestinians, the withdrawal would leave Israel and the West Bank with a larger Jewish majority.

Third, the withdrawal would prevent the administration of George W. Bush from embracing the Saudi or Geneva plans, and pushing hard—as Bill Clinton had done—for a Palestinian state. Sharon’s chief of staff, Dov Weisglass, put it bluntly: “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” It’s no surprise, therefore, that the Gaza withdrawal did not meet minimal Palestinian demands. Not even the most moderate Palestinian leader would have accepted a long-term arrangement in which Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza while maintaining control of the Strip’s borders and deepening Israeli control of the West Bank. (Even in the 2005, the year Sharon withdrew from Gaza, the overall settler population rose, in part because some Gazan settlers relocated to the West Bank).

In fact, Sharon’s advisors did not expect withdrawing Gaza’s settlers to satisfy the Palestinians. Nor did not they expect it to end Palestinian terrorism. Ehud Olmert, a key figure in the disengagement plan (and someone who himself later embraced Palestinian statehood), acknowledged that “terror will continue” after the removal of Gaza’s settlers. The key word is “continue.” Contrary to the American Jewish narrative, militants in Gaza didn’t start launching rockets at Israel after the settlers left. They began a half-decade earlier, at the start of the second intifada. The Gaza disengagement did not stop this rocket fire. But it did not cause it either. Hamas Seized Power I can already hear the objections. Even if withdrawing settlers from Gaza didn’t give the Palestinians a state, it might have made Israelis more willing to support one in the future - if only Hamas had not seized power and turned Gaza into a citadel of terror.

But Hamas didn’t seize power. It won an election. In January 2006, four months after the last settlers left, Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem chose representatives to the Palestinian Authority’s parliament. (The previous year, they had separately elected Abbas to be the Palestinian Authority’s President). Hamas won a plurality of the vote - forty-five percent - but because of the PA’s voting system, and Fatah’s idiotic decision to run more than one candidate in several districts, Hamas garnered 58 percent of the seats in parliament. To the extent American Jewish leaders acknowledge that Hamas won an election (as opposed to taking power by force), they usually chalk its victory up to Palestinian enthusiasm for the organization’s 1988 charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction (The president of the New York board of rabbis said recently that anyone who voted for Hamas should be considered a combatant, not a civilian). But that’s almost certainly not the reason Hamas won.

For starters, Hamas didn’t make Israel’s destruction a major theme of its election campaign. In its 2006 campaign manifesto, the group actually fudged the question by saying only that it wanted an “independent state whose capital is Jerusalem” plus fulfillment of the right of return. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that by 2006 Hamas had embraced the two state solution. Only that Hamas recognized that running against the two state solution was not the best way to win Palestinian votes. The polling bears this out. According to exit polls conducted by the prominent Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, 75 percent of Palestinian voters—and a remarkable 60 percent of Hamas voters—said they supported a Palestinian unity government dedicated to achieving a two state solution.

So why did Hamas win? Because, according to Shikaki, only fifteen percent of voters called the peace process their most important issue. A full two-thirds cited either corruption or law and order. It’s vital to remember that 2006 was the first Palestinian election in more than ten years. During the previous decade, Palestinians had grown increasingly frustrated by Fatah’s unaccountable, lawless and incompetent rule. According to exit polls, 85 percent of voters called Fatah corrupt. Hamas, by contrast, because it had never wielded power and because its charitable arm effectively delivered social services, enjoyed a reputation for competence and honesty. Hamas won, in other words, for the same reason voters all across the world boot out parties that have grown unresponsive and self-interested after years in power. That’s not just Shikaki’s judgment. It’s also Bill Clinton’s.

As Clinton explained in 2009, “a lot of Palestinians were upset that they [Fatah] were not delivering the services. They didn’t think it [Fatah] was an entirely honest operation and a lot of people were going to vote for Hamas not because they wanted terrorist tactics…but because they thought they might get better service, better government…They [also] won because Fatah carelessly and foolishly ran both its slates in too many parliamentary seats.” This doesn’t change the fact that Hamas’ election confronted Israel and the United States with a serious problem.

After its victory, Hamas called for a national unity government with Fatah “for the purpose of ending the occupation and settlements and achieving a complete withdrawal from the lands occupied [by Israel] in 1967, including Jerusalem, so that the region enjoys calm and stability during this phase.” But those final words—“this phase”—made Israelis understandably skeptical that Hamas had changed its long-term goals. The organization still refused to recognize Israel, and given that Israel had refused to talk to the PLO until it formally accepted Israel’s right to exist in 1993, it’s not surprising that Israel demanded Hamas meet the same standard.

Still, Israel and the U.S. would have been wiser to follow the counsel of former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, who called for Sharon to try to forge a long-term truce with Hamas. Israel could also have pushed Hamas to pledge that if Abbas—who remained PA president—negotiated a deal with Israel, Hamas would accept the will of the Palestinian people as expressed in a referendum, something the group’s leaders have subsequently promised to do. Instead, the Bush administration—suddenly less enamored of Middle Eastern democracy--pressured Abbas to dissolve the Palestinian parliament and rule by emergency decree. Israel, which also wanted Abbas to defy the election results, withheld the tax and customs revenue it had collected on the Palestinian Authority’s behalf. Knowing Hamas would resist Abbas’ efforts to annul the election, especially in Gaza, where it was strong on the ground, the Bushies also began urging Abbas’ former national security advisor, a Gazan named Mohammed Dahlan, to seize power in the Strip by force.

As David Rose later detailed in an extraordinary article in Vanity Fair, Condoleezza Rice pushed Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to buy weapons for Dahlan, and for Israel to allow them to enter Gaza. As General Mark Dayton, US security coordinator for the Palestinians, told Dahlan in November 2006, “We also need you to build up your forces in order to take on Hamas.” Unfortunately for the Bush administration, Dahlan’s forces were weaker than they looked. And when the battle for Gaza began, Hamas won it easily, and brutally.

In response, Abbas declared emergency rule in the West Bank. So yes, members of Hamas did throw their Fatah opponents off rooftops. Some of that may have been payback because Dahlan was widely believed to have overseen the torture of Hamas members in the 1990s. Regardless, in winning the battle for Gaza, Hamas—which had already shed much Israeli blood - shed Palestinian blood too. But to suggest that Hamas “seized power” - as American Jewish leaders often do - ignores the fact that Hamas’ brutal takeover occurred in response to an attempted Fatah coup backed by the United States and Israel.

In the words of David Wurmser, who resigned as Dick Cheney’s Middle East advisor a month after Hamas’ takeover, “what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen.”

The Greenhouses

Israel responded to Hamas’ election victory by further restricting access in and out of Gaza. As it happens, these restrictions played a key role in explaining why Gaza’s greenhouses did not help it become Singapore. American Jewish leaders usually tell the story this way: When the settlers left, Israel handed over their greenhouses to the Palestinians, hoping they would use them to create jobs. Instead, Palestinians tore them down in an anti-Jewish rage.

But one person who does not endorse that narrative is the prime mover behind the greenhouse deal, Australian-Jewish businessman James Wolfensohn, who served as the Quartet’s Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. In his memoir, Wolfensohn notes that “some damage was done to the greenhouses [as the result of post-disengagement looting] but they came through essentially intact” and were subsequently guarded by Palestinian Authority police.

What really doomed the greenhouse initiative, Wolfensohn argues, were Israeli restrictions on Gazan exports. “In early December [2005], he writes, “the much-awaited first harvest of quality cash crops—strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and flowers—began. These crops were intended for export via Israel for Europe. But their success relied upon the Karni crossing [between Gaza and Israel], which, beginning in mid-January 2006, was closed more than not. The Palestine Economic Development Corporation, which was managing the greenhouses taken over from the settlers, said that it was experiencing losses in excess of $120,000 per day…It was excruciating. This lost harvest was the most recognizable sign of Gaza’s declining fortunes and the biggest personal disappointment during my mandate.”

The point of dredging up this history is not to suggest that Israel deserves all the blame for its long and bitter conflict with Hamas. It does not. Hamas bears the blame for every rocket it fires, and those rockets have not only left Israelis scarred and disillusioned. They have also badly undermined the Palestinian cause.

The point is to show—contrary to the establishment American Jewish narrative—that Israel has repeatedly played into Hamas’ hands by not strengthening those Palestinians willing to pursue statehood through nonviolence and mutual recognition. Israel played into Hamas’ hands when Sharon refused to seriously entertain the Arab and Geneva peace plans. Israel played into Hamas’ hands when it refused to support a Palestinian unity government that could have given Abbas the democratic legitimacy that would have strengthened his ability to cut a two state deal. And Israel played into Hamas’ hands when it responded to the group’s takeover of Gaza with a blockade that—although it has some legitimate security features—has destroyed Gaza’s economy, breeding the hatred and despair on which Hamas thrives.

In the ten years since Jewish settlers left, Israeli policy toward Gaza has been as militarily resourceful as it has been politically blind. Tragically, that remains the case during this war. Yet tragically, the American Jewish establishment keeps cheering Israel on.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Self Defense in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

"The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. 'The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.' " (CCC 2263)

"Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow: "If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's." (CCC 2264)

"All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, "as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed." (CCC 2308)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Being truthful about the truth: Evangelical outreach to Protestants

Serious Worship Evangelizes

Sunday a new young man came in and sat near the back for the traditional Latin Mass. After the Mass he departed by the side door so I chased him down before he got to his car. He told me his name is P., he just moved to our area, is Lutheran and considering taking RCIA to enter the Church.

The town where he lives is about an hour away. Why did he drive that distance, bypassing several churches, to worship with us? I think it is because the historic worship of the Church is seen as a more serious encounter with our ancient Faith. People from outside the Church expect our worship to look more like 2,000 years old than something dated 1968.

The "old "things from our Catholic storehouse are necessary for the wisdom to accept the invitation to the Kingdom of God in these "new" times so full of challenge, doubt and lack of faith.

Of course, I welcomed P., told him we'd love to have him join us and gave him a copy of the bulletin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Raising Pro-Life Catholics for Life" by Father Cusick at Church of the Resurrection on Wed Jul 30 at 1:15 pm

Join me at Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City, MD, on July 30 at 1:15 for a talk on raising pro-life children in a pro-death society, followed by a question and answer period. See you there!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Join the Worldwide Day of Prayer on Friday, August 1, 2014

This was the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East:

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter asks all of its apostolates around the world to dedicate Friday, August 1 to a day of prayer and penance for the Christians who are suffering terrible persecution in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

August 1 is the First Friday of the month and the Feast of St. Peter in Chains, which is celebrated as a Third Class Feast in FSSP houses and apostolates. It is the feast in which we read of the great power of the persevering prayer of members of the Church: “Peter therefore was kept in Prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the Church unto God for him.” (Acts 12:5)

This feast of our Patron should be an invitation to the faithful to join us in Holy Hours and other fitting prayers to beg the Most Holy Trinity that these members of the Mystical Body may persevere in the faith, and that, like St. Peter, they may be delivered from this terrible persecution. May such a day serve as a reminder to us of the stark contrast that stands between our days of vacation and ease, and their daily struggle for survival as they are killed or exiled from their homes. (Source)

It is a day, we believe, chosen wisely by that Fraternity: we please upon all our Catholic brethren, East and West, attached to the Ordinary Form (Mass of Paul VI) or to the Extraordinary Form (Ancient Mass), whatever their theological bent, to join this worldwide prayer day. Whether you consider yourself a more liberal, conservative, traditional, or just plain Catholic, let us join together in this worldwide Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, together with all the Angels and Saints.

It is also appropriately chosen because Pastors and Chaplains will have 10 days to prepare properly, to contact projects that help Christians in need and collect all kinds of contributions for the Christians of the Middle East (from Aid to the Church in Need to CNEWA, the Syrian and Chaldean Catholic Churches, and other organizations), and, in particular, to add to their bulletins and convey to their congregations how to participate next Sunday, July 27.

Please, spread this initiative around. No need to link to us, or to even mention you saw it here -- just copy, paste, and just let this idea spread around throughout the world, through the web, through social networks, to your family and friends.

Bishops, Pastors, priests, join us. First Fridays are a special day of the month, and nothing better next First Friday, August 1, than for all Catholics around the world to join in Adoration before Our Lord to implore his mercy and kindness for our most neglected brethren in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Middle East.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Caring for refugees in the context of subsidiarity and the family

The context for understanding how to respond to the immigrant and refugee crisis is the Church's teaching on subsidiarity as it applies both the the State and the family. "The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order." (CCC 1885) The family stands in the first place within the sacred plan of God for the care of individuals before having recourse to the State. "In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies." (CCC 1894)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"N" for Nazarene: the mark of solidarity with victims of genocide in Iraq

Saint Vincent de Paul: escaped captivity under the Muslims and re-converted an apostate

From his very boyhood, Vincent de Paul, born at Pouy in Gascony, was remarkable for his great charity toward the poor. Called from the care of his father's flock to the study of letters and then ordained to the priesthood, he fell into the hands of the Turks, who took him captive into Africa. With his master, an apostate whom he had won back to the faith of Christ, he escaped and went back to France. In the parishes entrusted to him and then as chaplain of the galleys, he zealously undertook the work of the salvation of souls. As diréctor of the Visitation nuns for about forty years, he governed them most wisely. Even in his old age, he worked untiringly for the evangelization of the poor, especially of those who lived in the country. He had founded a Congregation under the name of the Secular Priests of the Missions, and he bound them to this apostolic work by a perpetual vow confirmed by the Holy See. He established many associations for seeking out and aiding the unfortunate and for the education of girls. At length, worn out by bodily mortification, labours and old age, he peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in the year of salvation 1660. Famous for his miracles, he was placed among the Saints by Clement XII, and Leo XIII declared and appointed him the special heavenly patron of all charitable associations in the whole Catholic world which trace their origin in some way to him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Supreme Liturgical Authority speaks out in groundbreaking text: Summorum Pontificum provides equal standing for both Forms, conditions for participation at Traditional Mass same as in new Mass

Supreme Liturgical Authority, in groundbreaking text, says:

- Summorum Pontificum provides equal standing for both Forms

- Conditions for participation at Traditional Mass same as in new Mass

On July 25, 2013, feast of the Patron Saint of Spain, Saint James the Greater, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, put his signature on the preface to a remarkable work, the doctoral thesis presented by his fellow Spaniard, Fr. Alberto Soria Jiménez, O.S.B., dedicated to a profound canonical consideration of the juridical nature of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, its dispositions related to the forms and uses of the Roman Rite, and the history that led to it.

Fr. Soria is a monk in the abbey of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen (Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos), a Solesmes foundation near the Spanish capital, and his thesis was defended and approved at the Faculty of Canon Law of the University of San Dámaso, the main house for the formation of priests and theologians owned by the Archdiocese of Madrid, on May 29, 2013. The thesis was published just days ago by Spanish publisher "Ediciones Cristiandad" under the title "The Principles of Interpretation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum" ("Los principios de interpretación del motu proprio Summorum Pontificum"), which is why the Cardinal's text has only now become available.

Cardinal Cañizares' preface is a long presentation of the book, and it obviously includes many references to the work itself – but what makes it particularly special is the depth of the Cardinal’s appreciation for the motu proprio, and his defense (which had always been defended by those of us deeply appreciative of the nature of Summorum Pontificum) that what the motu proprio established in law was nothing less than the juridical equality of both forms of the Roman Rite. It is a groundbreaking text and we have translated below the most important excerpts of the Spanish original. _____________________________________________


We find ourselves before a work that tackles, scientifically, a theme has in the past few years been the object of heated controversies. Nevertheless, from its very beginning two characteristics of this work must be considered: its academic character and the belonging of the author to a community that is faithful to the great principles of the liturgy, but in which the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is not celebrated. This has allowed him to observe the situation "from the outside," rendering possible the great objectivity reflected in its investigation.

The conception, clearly present both in the motu proprio and in the documents related to it, that the inherited liturgy is a wealth to be preserved, is to be understood in the spirit of the liturgical movement in the line of Romano Guardini, to which Benedict XVI owed so much of his personal relationship with the liturgy since his youth. The detailed and documented history of the process, from its beginnings in the 1970s up until today, that the author of this work presents to us, shows how this legislation was not the momentary result of pressure, not a reflection of the personal and isolated opinion of the Pope, but rather that other persons had long wished for a similar solution. These criteria of the young priest Joseph Ratzinger were consolidated and purified throughout the years, and were taken up by John Paul II, who had considered the possibility of providing appropriate legislation.

The mood among the cardinals designated to reflect upon this theme was favorable [Rorate note: reference to the 1986 commission - cf our 2007 post on the revelation by Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos]. The cardinalatial commission established by John Paul II, in which the influence of Cardinal Ratzinger was undeniable, had proposed to, "eliminate the impression that each missal is the temporal product of each historic epoch," and had affirmed that, "liturgical norms, not being truly and properly 'laws,' cannot be abrogated, but sub-rogated: the preceding ones in the subsequent ones." The demonstration, present in this investigation, that the attitude of Benedict XVI is not so much a novelty or a change of direction, but rather an accomplishment of what John Paul II had already undertook -- with initiatives such as the consultation of the cardinalatial commission, the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, and the creation of the Pontifical Commission of the same name, the mass of Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos in Santa Maria Maggiore in 2003, or the declarations of the pope to the Congregation for Divine Worship that same year -- is very important.

The history of the process reveals that, from the beginning, the wish to preserve the traditional form of the mass was not limited to integrists, but that people of the world of culture or writers, such as Agatha Christie and Jorge Luis Borges, signed a letter demanding its preservation, and that Saint Josemaría Escrivá made use of a personal indult granted spontaneously by Abp. Bugnini himself. It is also to be noted the concern of Benedict XVI to emphasize that the Church does not discard her past: by declaring that the Missal of 1962, "was never juridically abrogated," he made manifest the coherence that the Church wishes to maintain. In effect, she cannot allow herself to disregard, forget, or renounce the treasures and rich heritage of the tradition of the Roman Rite, because the historical heritage of the liturgy of the Church cannot be abandoned, nor can everything be established ex novo without the amputation of fundamental parts of the same Church.

Another important aspect comes from the reading of the historical narrative in this work: the advances that have taken place throughout these years regarding the pastoral sensibility for these faithful, the greater attention to their persons and to their spiritual welfare. In effect, the legislation was at first [Rorate note: "Agatha Christie" Indult, personal indults, Quattuor abhinc annos, Ecclesia Dei adflicta] very limited, it took into account only the clerical world and it practically ignored the lay faithful, considering that the first concern was disciplinarian: to control the potential disobedience to the newly promulgated legislation. With time, the situation took on a more pastoral aspect, in order to meet the needs of these faithful, which ends up being reflected in the strong change of tone of the terminology being used: it is thus that the "problem" of the priests and faithful who remained attached to the so-called tridentine rite is not mentioned anymore, but rather the "wealth" that its preservation represents.

What was thus created was a situation that was analogous to the one that had been normal for so many centuries, because we must recall that Saint Pius V had not forbidden the use of the liturgical traditions that were at least 200 years old. Many religious orders and dioceses therefore preserved their own rite; as Archbishop of Toledo, I was able to live this reality with the Mozarabic Rite. The motu proprio modifed the recent situation, by making clear that the celebration of the extraordinary form should be normal, eliminating every restriction [todo condicionamiento] related to the number of interested faithful, and not setting up other conditions for the participation in said celebration than the ones normally required for any public celebration of the mass, which allowed for a wide access to this heritage that, while it is by law a spiritual patrimony of all the faithful, is, in fact, ignored by a great part of them. In effect, the current restrictions to the celebration in the extraordinary form are not different from those in place for any other celebration, in whatever rite. Those who wish to see, in the distinction made by the motu proprio of cum and sine populo a restriction to the extraordinary form forget that, with the missal promulgated by Paul VI the celebration cum populo without the authorization and agreement by the parish priest or rector of the church is not allowed either.

On the other hand, the possibility, expressly contemplated in the motu proprio, that in the celebration sine populo the spontaneous presence of faithful be admitted without obstacles (an expression that had provoked more than one ironic remark by the critics of the document) simply allowed for the end of the strange circumstances by which, though celebrated by a priest in a completely regular canonical situation, this mass remained closed to the participation of the faithful simply because of the ritual form being used, form that was on the other hand fully recognized by the Church. The situation of the 1970s -- in which priests who could not adopt the new missal for reasons of health, age, etc, were condemned to never again celebrating the Eucharist with a community, as small as they could be -- was also prevented, which would be seen, according to the current sensibility, as discriminatory. On the other hand, to deliberately restrict the mass cum populo, limiting in practice the celebration of the extraordinary form sine populo, would contradict the words and intentions of the conciliar constitution: "... whenever rites ... make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 27)

It is for this reason that it is absolutely unfounded to state that the prescriptions of Summorum Pontificum should be considered an "attack" against the Council; such an affirmation displays a great ignorance of the council itself, because the fact of offering to all the faithful the chance of knowing and appreciating the multiple treasures of the liturgy of the Church is precisely what this great assembly desired when it declared: "in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 4)
Another aspect to which this work we present calls attention, and that it is urgent never to lose sight of, is the negative repercussion that these intra-ecclesial debates can have in the field of ecumenism. Amidst the controversy, it is often forgotten that the criticisms made against the rite received from the Roman Tradition also apply to the other traditions, first of all to the Orthodox: almost all liturgical aspects that those who have been opposed to the preservation of the ancient missal strongly attack are precisely the aspect that we had in common with the Eastern Tradition! A sign that confirms this, in contrast, are the enthusiastically positive expressions that arrived from the Orthodox world with the publication of the motu proprio. This document becomes in this way in a key aspect for the "credibility" of ecumenism because, according to the expression of the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, Cardinal Kurt Koch, "it promotes in fact, is we may call it thus, an 'intra-Catholic ecumenism.' " We could consequently say that the premise ut unum sint presupposes the ut unum maneant, in such a way that, as said Cardinal writes, "if the intra-Catholic ecumenism failed, the Catholic controversy on the liturgy would also extend to ecumenism."

Benedict XVI displayed, with his legislation, his fatherly love and understanding for those who are especially attached to the Roman liturgical tradition and who risked becoming, in a permanent way, ecclesially marginalized; it is in this way that, speaking of the matter, he clearly recalled that, "nobody is in excess in the Church," showing a sensibility that anticipated the concern of the current Pope, Francis, for the "existential peripheries." All these undoubtedly present a strong sign for the separated brethren.

But the motu proprio also produced a phenomenon that is for many astonishing and is a true "sign of the times": the interest that the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite elicits, in particular among the young who never lived it as an ordinary form and that manifests a thirst for "languages" that are not "more of the same" and that call us from new and, for many pastors, unforeseen horizons. The opening-up of the liturgical wealth of the Church to all the faithful made possible the discovery of all treasures of this patrimony to those who still ignored them, with which this liturgical form is stirring up, more than ever, numerous priestly and religious vocations throughout the world, willing to give their lives to the service of evangelization. This was reflected in a concrete way in the pilgrimage to Rome last November [2012], in gratitude for the five years of the motu proprio, that assembled pilgrims from all over the world under the suggestive motto "Una cum Papa nostro" and that was, due to its great display, its large attendance, and, above all, due to the spirit that inspired its participants, a measurable confirmation of how correct was this legislation, the result of so many decades of maturation.

The strongest impression left after the reading of this work is that the juridical structure founded by the motu proprio is not limited to being the answer to a problem limited in time, but that is is rather supported upon permanent theological and liturgical principles, thus creating a solid and well-defined juridical situation that makes the matter independent from both currents of opinion and arbitrary decisions. In this way, while, for ones and others, the problem and the debate for years surrounded a judgment on a matter that was ultimately one of a historical nature, Benedict XVI, above the "theoretical" debate, tried to emphasize the need to reach theological coherence and, above all, to obtain an important pastoral result. ...

In fact, if from both forms of the celebration spring up clearly the unity of the faith and the oneness of the Mystery, this can only be a reason for profound joy and gratitude. Therefore, the better the liturgy is lived, each one in his own form, with an openness of heart that overcomes exclusions and prejudices, then it will be possible to live that, "unity in the faith, freedom in the rites, charity in all." ...

We entrust to the Mother of God the age of grace in which we are living. She will lead us to the Son, in whom we can trust. It will be He who will guide us, including in turbulent times, so that we may rediscover the path of faith and thus enlighten each time more clearly the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. Contributing to this end will undoubtedly be the present book of Fr. Alberto Soria, O.S.B., a great work of research that will render important service to liturgical reconciliation and, consequently, to the new evangelization, and to a unity that is each day greater, real, and effective, in the bosom of the Church. Once again my most cordial congratulations and my greatest gratitude to its author for this magnificent work, a great service that otherwise so proper to a son of Saint Benedict.

Antonio Cañizares Llovera
Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the
Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Rome, July 25, 2013
Saint James the Apostle, Patron of Spain _____________________________

- We thank Paix liturgique, via Yves Daoudal, for bringing our attention to the text, which we translated directly from the Spanish original, available at the Abbey website (en español).

- Since the original text is very long, it is possible that some excerpts of the original text may be included as updates to the above translation in the near future -- we believe, nevertheless, that we have included the most important aspects of the text.

Source: Rorate Caeli

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saint Henry, Emperor and Confessor, "the Pious", protector of the Pope and founder of bishoprics

Henry, surnamed the Pious, was first Duke of Bavaria, then King of Germany, and finally Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He devoted himself zealously to the spread of religion. The bishopric of Bamberg, which he had founded with his family wealth, he made tributary of St. Peter and the Roman Pontiff. He received Benedict VIII when he was a fugitive and restored him to his See. To protect the Roman Church, he undertook a war against the Greeks and recovered Apulia, which they had held for a long time. Protected by divine aid, he fought the barbarian nations more with prayers than with force of arms. When Hungary was still pagan, he gave his sister in marriage to its king, Stephen, who was baptized and brought the whole kingdom to the faith. Henry joined matrimony with holy virginity, and when he was near death he restored St. Cunegunda, his wife, as a virgin to her family. Finally, even more famous for his holiness than for his temporal rule, he was called to the reward of the heavenly kingdom in the year 1024, and was added to the number of the Saints by Eugene III.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saint John Gualbert: Reconciled to a mortal enemy through the Sign of Christ's Holy Cross

John Gualbert, born of a noble Florentine family, took up a military career at his father's wish. His only brother, Hugh, was slain by a relative, and it happened that on Good Friday, attended by armed soldiers, John met the slayer alone and unarmed on the road where they could not avoid each other. Because of John's reverence for the sign of the holy Cross, which his enemy, seeing death at hand, made with his arms in supplication, John graciously spared him and received him as a brother. Then he went to the Church of St. Minias, where, as he adored the Crucified, the image bent its head to him. Moved by this, he gave up the military life and, at the persuasion of St. Romuald, then living in the hermitage of Camaldoli, he put on the monastic habit. Later he founded a monastic Order under the Rule of St. Benedict in Vallombrosa, which had as its primary aims to do away with the stain of simony and to promulgate the apostolic faith. Full of virtues and merits and blessed with the companionship of Angels, he went to the Lord in his seventy-eighth year, the 12th day of July, 1073, at Passignano.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When it comes to gestures that restore the grace of Faith, "the customer is always right".

Remember the old saying, "The customer is always right"? When it comes to Faith I believe that well-worn adage holds true. If a parishioner says a simple phone call can restore Faith then I say, whenever in doubt, make the call.

God uses simple human contact to bring us into an experience of His compassion and love. All we need to do is to cooperate with His grace and miracles can happen.

A story from Fox News about a woman who called the Vatican after her son died to say that she lost her Faith makes the point well:

"On Friday, weeks after Nicolo made the call, she awoke at 6:40 a.m. to find a missed call and voice message on the cellphone sitting in her living room from a man — speaking in accented English — who identified himself as a representative from the Vatican.

"The voice of an older man, who Nicolo believes is the Pope, can be heard in the background at the beginning of the recording.

"A Vatican spokesman could not immediately confirm if it was indeed His Holiness in the background on Nicolo’s message, but she is taking it on faith.

“' I missed it by 10 minutes,' she said. 'I couldn’t believe it. I had to play it several times.'

" 'I’ve always loved my faith, but when your child is taken, you can’t help but question it,' said Nicolo, who described herself as a devout Catholic. 'It renewed my faith and belief in God.'

"After receiving comfort from the Holy See, her faith has been restored. “ 'I want him to know I love him. He has helped me so much in my time of grief. There are no words to describe what this phone call has done for me.' "

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