Tuesday, April 18, 2017


This morning an email showed up in my inbox from CHRISTIAN FORUMS with the subject line: "Purgatory: Scriptural Or Not... Or Worse?"

The author of the post followed the usual sola scriptura logic of if it's not in the Bible it doesn't exist, but goes further, calling the doctrine of Purgatory (a specifically Catholic doctrine) "the ANTI-Christ." 

I read a few of the replies, all of which appeared to agree with the author and some of which even went further in their condemnation of the Catholic doctrine and belief in Purgatory. 

I decided to leave the following reply:

The presupposition is that everything that Jesus taught can be found in Scripture. Aside from the fact that Jesus left us nothing in writing, there is also the matter as to who gets to decide what constitutes "Scripture." Just for starters, the followers of Martin Luther say there are 66 books in the Bible, the Catholics say there are 73, and the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox all add to that. So whose "Bible" shall we refer to?

Additionally, John 21 tells us: “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

More than likely, the “many other things that Jesus did/taught” may well have occurred in the 40 day period between the Resurrection and his Ascension into heaven. If there ever was a time for Jesus to teach and the Apostles to listen, it certainly would have been during this period. 

In Acts 1, Luke tells us: “In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days* and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

Obviously there was much instruction during this period but nothing specific seems to be recorded in “scripture.” In fact, Luke references his “first book” (probably his Gospel), where he dealt with “all that Jesus did and taught UNITL the day he was taken up.” However, other than the Road to Emmaus account, nothing much else is said about what Jesus did or taught during this period. So it may be that this portion of Luke’s Gospel was lost. 

Specific to your inquiry, though, regarding a scriptural reference to Purgatory. A “third place” which is not Heaven or Hell can be found in Revelation 20:13-14: “The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire.”

At this point I will copy a portion of what I have already written on the matter elsewhere with a link to the source:

The passage (Revelation 20:13-14) occurs within the context of a description of events which will occur at the end of time. One of the main events is that Hades will “give up its dead”. We know Hades isn’t Hell (understood as the place of eternal damnation) because Hell is noted separately as “the pool of fire”. And we for sure know that Hades isn’t Heaven. So what is it? 

Classically, Hades is understood as a holding place for the dead. Such a place was seen as necessary before Christ opened the gates of Heaven, but deemed by Luther and others as unnecessary after. Yet, here we are at the end of time, and not only is Hades still around, its got souls “holed up” there.

What are they doing there? There can be only one explanation. They are not deserving of Hell (or else they’d be there), and not yet worthy of Heaven (or else they’d be there). They are in fact, “spirits in prison”, which comports with Mt. 5:26: “you will not get out of there until you have paid the last penny.”  http://www.themassneverends.com/2012/11/heaven-probably-not-your-next-stop.html

Tuesday, January 03, 2017


Note: This post was originally published on www.JungleWatch.info. It was copied here for further discussion. - Tim 

Posted by Bruce Williams

An international Marian organization, along with more than 100 bishops, priests, religious and theologians from over 20 countries, are asking Pope Francis to publicly acknowledge Mary as co-redemptrix with Our Lord.

The 33-member commission offered a summary of the major points of its document:

  • Our Lady's free decision to be Mother of Our Lord was the beginning of Her participation in Our Lord's mission of salvation of the human race;
  • Our Lady's special participation in Our Lord's work of redemption is only possible through His infinite merits, and does not detract from Christ's redemptive work;
  • Mention of  the "woman" in Genesis 3:15 and Her "seed" is a foreshadowing of Our Lady's victory over Satan and sin. The Immaculate Conception is preparation for Her to be perfect human partner with Our Lord;
  • The Presentation reveals Our Lady's continued mission of co-redeemer with Christ, culminating at Golgotha, where She interiorly unites Herself with Our Lord's sufferings on the Cross;
  • The Early Church concept of the "New Eve" is the first sign of the teaching of Our Lady as co-redeemer; Her title as "Redemptrix" to point to her suffering with Our Lord at Calvary (10th century); acknowledgment of Her being "co-crucified" with Our Lord (12th century); the "Co-Redemptrix" title (15th century); the "golden age" of Co-Redemptrix (17th century); the title of "Co-Redemptrix" applied by Pope Pius XI and Pope St. John Paul II (19th and 20th centuries);
  • The prefix "co-" denotes "with" and not "equal." No one can be placed on the level of the Divine, as such would be blasphemy;
  • 2017 is the centenary of Our Lady's apparitions at Fatima, "which in itself constitutes a powerful manifestation of Our Lady's co-redemption in action."

Thursday, December 08, 2016


Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and also the occasion of my annual beef about how Scripture's most important verse has disappeared from our Catholic bibles and even today's Mass readings. 

Enshrining the ancient belief that Mary was conceived without sin in her mother's womb into Dogma, Pope Pius IX declared:

“...so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.” - Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854

Pius IX is referencing Genesis 3:15, the protoevangelium, the "first gospel," so-called because it is the first instance of the announcement of a Savior (and thus Scripture's "most important verse"):

"I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."

Unfortunately (at least in my view), neither in our modern Catholic bibles nor in today's Mass readings, will you hear of the virgin crushing the head of the evil serpent as our ancestors did for almost 2000 years, and as is enshrined in countless artful depictions of this magnificent moment, which not only foretold of our salvation, but concludes it in an image of the final victory over Satan at the end of time. 

Instead you will hear (or read) this:

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”

Of course the "he" is Jesus, and of course it is Jesus who triumphs over Satan and wins our salvation (if we want it), but that's not what the Church has historically understood the Scripture to say. And for it to say what the modern translations say, we would have to destroy 2000 years of paintigs, mosaics, statues, and even songs, not to mention rewrite the Dogma as Pius IX wrote it.

Also, in this version, Satan's head is not even "crushed," only struck at, or in some translations, only "bruised."

We would also have to change the story about Our Lady of Guadalupe, the only apparition in which Mary names* herself: Tequantlaxopeuh, an Aztec word (since she was speaking to an Aztec) meaning “She who crushes the stone serpent,” the "stone serpent" being the dreaded Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, to whom were offered tens of thousands of still beating hearts gouged out of living chests. 

*In other apparitions, such as at Lourdes, Mary does not give her name but a title ("I am the Immaculate Conception").

Scholars have their reasons for changing the verse (much of it having to do with making peace with protestants who reject the Immaculate Conception), but in the scriptural absence of Mary as “serpent crusher”, Quetzalcoatl has ravenously returned: for whereas this dreaded Aztec god once feasted on thousands of human hearts ripped from living chests, he now devours millions of living infants ripped from warm wombs, and drinks to intoxication the rivers of blood which flow from our abortuaries and the other altars of slaughter erected in homage to the gods of the Culture of Death. 

Santa Maria Te Coatlaxopeuh, Protectress of Unborn Children, pray for us.

Other Note:
Also, for nearly 30 post-Vatican II years the words "full of grace" disappeared from the Gospel of December 8 until they reappeared in 1997 after John Paul II required the English translation of the Gospel to include them. And while the words of today's Gospel now include "full of grace," most of our Catholic bibles do not. Rather, "favored one" or something using the word "favor" is used. Scholars argue that this translation is more exact. In replying to this argument, a certain Fr. John Echert on EWTN makes the following reply:
"Granting your grammatical analysis, the fact that the Holy Spirit continues to work in the Church to guide Her in the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures should lead us to accept the ancient tradition which translated the text of St. Luke as, “full of grace” rather than “highly favored” or some equivalent. The texts of Scripture should not be interpreted in isolation from the life of the Church, especially when a relevant dogma bears upon the subject. Such an approach assumes that there is only an original understanding and allows for no opportunity for a deepened understanding under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This approach was the failure of many of the Scribes of the time of Christ, who refused to understand the prophets and law beyond their own limited perception of meaning. As we know, many texts of the Old Testament have had subsequent applications and meaning, as is evident in the fact that they are quoted in connection with Christ. The Greek behind “full of grace” does not of itself prove the Immaculate Conception and neither would a similar Greek expression associated with another person, such as St. Stephen, demand that we say the same of him as to his conception. The Church teaches that Mary was conceived full of grace and while Stephen may have been full of grace at the time recounted in Acts, such was no doubt subsequent to his own baptism, wherein original sin was washed away and replaced by grace. ©

Friday, February 19, 2016


Once again, the Catholic media is scrambling to unscramble what the pope said. Once again, the controversy originates from remarks by the pope on a plane returning to Rome. And this time the issue is contraception.

A quick "google" of the words "pope" and "contraception" turns up:

Pope suggests contraceptives could be used to slow spread of Zika
CNN‎ - 1 hour ago

Pope opens the door to contraception in averting harmful ...
Los Angeles Times - 2 hours ago 

Zika virus: Pope hints at relaxation of contraception ban ...
BBC - 1 hour ago 

Pope Suggests Contraception Use May Be 'Lesser Evil' For ...
NPR - 5 hours ago

Pope suggests contraception can be condoned in Zika crisis ...
The Guardian - 2 hours ago 

Pope Francis Says Contraception Can Be Acceptable in ...
The Wall Street Journal - 6 hours ago

Pope Francis Says Contraception May Be 'Lesser of Two Evils'
abcnews.go.com/ - 7 hours ago 

Is Pope Francis' Contraception Allowance During Zika ...
NBCNews.com - 3 hours ago 

So now we are in for another round of the Catholic media blaming the secular media for taking the pope's remarks out of context, etc., etc., etc...

So let's go to exactly what the pope said as reported by the Catholic News Agency:
Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”  
Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.  
Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no?  It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.  
On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.  
First, the pope completely mishears the question and thus inappropriately responds. The reporter DOES NOT call abortion "the lesser of two evils," his reference is to "contraception: "As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?

Next, it is sad that the pope compares abortion to "what the Mafia does." The Mafia may kill people, but there is nothing to compare to the direct killing of a victim who is as helpless and innocent as an unborn child. Equating abortion with the Mafia knocking off people who get in their way radically devalues the Catholic teaching that there are different degrees of sin. Obviously the killing of an unborn child, unable to scream or run, is grossly more serious than the mob knocking off a drug dealer for blowing a deal. But now, according to Pope Francis, it is not. This is very dangerous and such a comparison gravely undermines the effort to bring attention to the dignity and innocence of the unborn child. 

Next, Pope Francis appears to pit God against God: "we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment." There is no conflict in God, least of all in God's law. But yet, this is how Pope Francis frames it: apparently, because of the latest health issue to affect humanity, even though it is yet a tiny portion, somehow we must choose between the fifth and the sixth commandment. HUH? The fifth commandment is "Thou shalt not kill (murder)." And the sixth is "Thou shalt not commit adultery." There is no conflict. Both are mortal sins. 

Next he references the case of Paul VI and the nuns in the Congo: "Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape." Sadly, no one was talking about rape here. The reporter's reference was to the potential for birth defects precipitated by a mother's exposure to the Zika virus. Anyone can see that the reporter was not speaking of unwanted pregnancies, let alone those brought on by rape. Yet the pope uses this extreme example permitted to nuns in an extreme situation. 

However, here is where Francis either makes a huge error or permits a real slip of an agenda many are beginning to suspect. Let's talk about the error first. 

According to the Catholic News Agency, the "nuns in the Congo" issue occurred in the early 1960's. Due to the very high danger of being raped and impregnated, Paul VI was reported to have permitted nuns to use oral contraception. Since the permission was said to have been given in "the early 1960's," and Paul VI became Pope in 1963. We can guess that this occurred between 1963 and 1965, right at the same time he expanded "The Pontifical Commission on Birth Control."

The Commission originated with Paul VI's predecessor and continued under Pau VI. It was charged with determining whether or not the use of oral contraceptives by married couples could be morally allowed. So at the time Paul VI permitted the use of oral contraceptives for the nun's self-defense, the Church had not definitively decided on whether or not the use of oral contraception was an intrinsic evil. That was decided and defined by Paul VI about five years later in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. 

Yet, Francis uses Paul VI's very narrow permit, employed specifically by a specific group of women (nuns) who were ministering in a severely dangerous situation, and a permission granted at a time when the immoral use of oral contraceptives had not yet been magisterially defined, as a model for the use of contraception generally when there is a potential of viral harm to the fetus. 

This was either an absolute misreading of the historical context, or Francis has let slip his desire to liberate the Church from that which he is not authorized to liberate.

Next, I really don't know what he is doing appealing to the Hippocratic Oath at this point. It appears that he is trying to separate religion from the world, which of course would make his liberal press friends happy. This is really obvious when he says: "Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem." Really? Somehow, human problems and medical problems, are not the concern of theology? Personally, I think I know the finer point of what the pope is trying to say, but on its face, the pope's comment just gave justification to the liberal's calls to "keep your religion out of my life." 

Then he ends the second paragraph with more confusing moral relativism: "Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned." This is not true. The Church has ALWAYS permitted the killing of another human being in self-defense. This underlying moral principle extends to the doctrine of Just War, and is even the main reason why the Church has never and can never completely condemn capital punishment. However, the real problem with this comment is that the pope once again devalues the helplessness and innocence of life in the womb by equating the killing of the unborn child with all killing.

Then there is his saying: "avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil." This statement could be true. There is nothing evil about not engaging in sex and thereby "avoiding pregnancy." However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church - which elsewhere in the report Francis says he supports - defines
"every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil..." (CCC 2370)

I personally do not think (yet) that the pope is intending mischief. I think he simply talks too much and without much thinking. At least I hope that's the case. We shall see.

Note: After posting the above, evidence that the alleged permission of Pope Paul is a myth was verified here

Monday, October 19, 2015



Pope Francis is now effectively at war with the Vatican. If he wins, the Catholic Church could fall apart


So having gone down a path that had a dead end to begin with (he cannot change moral teaching), he has two options: 1) admit he never should have gone down the path, 2) admit he can't change the teaching.

However, there is a third, and I admit I didn't think he would do this: PUNT. He's going to give the episcopal conferences the authority to decide for themselves. This gets himself off the hook and (like a good liberal) he gets to say "I tried" so he can stay popular.

The only problem is that if the pope knows he cannot change moral teaching then certainly bishops can't either. He knows this.

I have a feeling the Holy Spirit will intervene soon. Either He will give him the grace to do the right thing - as he did for Paul VI on the eve of his penning Humanae Vitae (Paul VI had been intimating that the teaching on contraception would change), or we will soon have a new pope.

Of course there is a third way: THE END. Make sure you're ready.

Note: This is just a superstition I suppose but how many remember the many allusions to the prophecy of St. Malachi after Ratzinger was elected and chose the name "Benedict." The prophecy was that the next pope after Benedict would be the last one.

You will note that in the prophecy the name of the last pope will be "Peter the Roman." I remember laughing all of this off when I first heard about it back in 2005 when Benedict took his name which connected to "glory of the olive." But now we have Francis, who refuses to call himself anything other than "Bishop of Rome." Peter = Francis. Peter of Rome. Peter the Roman. Hmmm. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Here's the short course in Catholic morality for anyone who cares: 

The direct and willful killing of an innocent person, born or unborn, is an "intrinsic evil" - meaning always and everywhere evil, no matter the circumstances. Catholics are obliged to completely accept this as a moral fact. There is no compromise and not even the pope can change this. 

In matters of the environment and economic systems and other matters that do not fall in the "intrinsic" or dogma category, while being required to give due consideration to a papal "view" and embrace the more universal aspects of an issue (such as a general concern for the environment and care for the poor), Catholics are NOT obliged to conform to what the pope thinks on these things. 

So whereas the pro-abortion democrats placed themselves outside the church whenever they publicly or privately supported abortion, climate-change rejecting Republicans are in no danger of doing the same and are free to oppose the pope on the matter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


In today's PDN, Dianne Iglesias once again gives Catholics an opportunity to learn what their Church really teaches and not what people like Dianne Iglesias says it does.

For Catholic teaching on relics and sacramentals, see: Catechism of the Catholic Church beginning at paragraph 1667.

For Catholic teaching on graven images, see Catechism of the Catholic Church beginning at paragraph 2129.

Then teach your children and your grandchildren.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Too often today Catholics are led to believe that Pope Francis is the first pope to ever care about the poor or that the church was somehow aloof and deaf to the cries of the poor before Vatican II. That's absolutely ridiculous but it's nice to be able to show just how ridiculous that idea is in the concrete reality of today's saint. Among his many good works, St. Luigi Orione set up special homes for the care of the suffering and abandoned. His example is a real lesson to our post-Vatican II modern American church which seems to look more to legislation instead of love to deal with these realities.

12 March Saint Luigi Orione  Priest (1872-1940)         

Luigi Orione was born in Pontecurone, diocese of Tortona, on 23 June 1872. At thirteen years of age he entered the Franciscan Friary of Voghera (Pavia), but he left after one year owing to poor health. From 1886 to 1889 he was a pupil of Saint John Bosco at the Valdocco Oratory (Youth Centre) in Turin.         

On 16 October 1889, he joined the diocesan seminary of Tortona. As a young seminarian he devoted himself to the care of others by becoming a member of both the San Marziano Society for Mutual Help and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. On 3 July 1892 he opened the first Oratory in Tortona to provide for the Christian training of boys. The following year, on 15 October 1893, Luigi Orione, then a seminarian of twenty-one, started a boarding school for poor boys, in the Saint Bernardine estate.         

On 13 April 1895, Luigi Orione was ordained priest and, on that occasion, the Bishop gave the clerical habit to six pupils of the boarding school. Within a brief span of time, Don Orione opened new houses at Mornico Losana (Pavia), Noto - in Sicily, Sanremo and Rome.          

Around the young Founder there grew up seminarians and priests who made up the first core group of the Little Work of Divine Providence. In 1899, he founded the branch of the Hermits of Divine Providence. The Bishop of Tortona, Mgr Igino Bandi, by a Decree of 21 March 1903, issued the canonical approval of the Sons of Divine Providence (priests, lay brothers and hermits) - the male congregation of the Little Work of Divine Providence. It aims to "co-operate to bring the little ones, the poor and the people to the Church and to the Pope, by means of the works of charity", and professes a fourth vow of special "faithfulness to the Pope". In the first Constitutions of 1904, among the aims of the new Congregation, there appears that of working to "achieve the union of the separated Churches".         

Inspired by a profound love for the Church and for the salvation of Souls, he was actively interested in the new problems of his time, such as the freedom and unity of the Church, the Roman question, modernism, socialism and the Christian evangelisation of industrial workers.         

He rushed to assist the victims of the earthquakes of Reggio and Messina (1908) and the Marsica region (1915). By appointment of Saint Pius X, he was made Vicar General of the diocese of Messina for three years.         

On 29 June 1915, twenty years after the foundation of the Sons of Divine Providence, he added to the "single tree of many branches" the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity who are inspired by the same founding charism. Alongside them, he placed the Blind Sisters, Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. Later, the Contemplative Sisters of Jesus Crucified were also founded.         

For lay people he set up the associations of the "Ladies of Divine Providence", the "Former Pupils", and the "Friends". More recently, the Don Orione Secular Institute and the Don Orione Lay People's Movement have come into being.         

Following the First World War (1914-1918), the number of schools, boarding houses, agricultural schools, charitable and welfare works increased. Among his most enterprising and original works, he set up the "Little Cottolengos", for the care of the suffering and abandoned, which were usually built in the outskirts of large cities to act as "new pulpits" from which to speak of Christ and of the Church - "true beacons of faith and of civilisation". 

Don Orione's missionary zeal, which had already manifested itself in 1913 when he sent his first religious to Brazil, expanded subsequently to Argentina and Uruguay (1921), Palestine (1921), Poland (1923), Rhodes (1925), the USA (1934), England (1935), Albania (1936). From 1921-1922 and from 1934-1937, he himself made two missionary journeys to Latin America: to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, going as far as Chile.         

He enjoyed the personal respect of the Popes and the Holy See's Authorities, who entrusted him with confidential tasks of sorting out problems and healing wounds both inside the Church as well as in the relations with society. He was a preacher, a confessor and a tireless organiser of pilgrimages, missions, processions, live cribs and other popular manifestations and celebrations of the faith. He loved Our Lady deeply and fostered devotion to her by every means possible and, through the manual labour of his seminarians, built the shrines of Our Lady of Safe Keeping in Tortona and Our Lady of Caravaggio at Fumo. 

In the winter of 1940, with the intention of easing the heart and lung complaints that were troubling him, he went to the Sanremo house, even though, as he said, "it is not among the palm trees that I would like to die, but among the poor who are Jesus Christ". Only three days later, on 12 March 1940, surrounded by the love of his confreres, Don Orione died, while sighing "Jesus, Jesus! I am going".         

His body was found to be intact at its first exhumation in 1965. It has been exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the shrine of Our Lady of Safe Keeping in Tortona ever since 26 October 1980 - the day in which Pope John Paul II inscribed Don Luigi Orione in the Book of the Blessed. He was canonized on 16 May 2004. 

- Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Thursday, October 23, 2014


... Okay, the ... means something: it's not the end of the sentence. Here's the rest of of it: "...for writing Humanae Vitae." In general, sainthood is mostly based on the personal holiness of the candidate and not on a list of accomplishments. So on the basis of personal holiness, Paul VI may most certainly qualify. 

However, in their rather hobbling attempt to counter the sexual revolution 40 years after the fact, the neo-conservatives in the Catholic Church have already lionized (if not canonized) Paul VI, solely for his penning Humanae Vitae, which they like to enthrone as prophetic.

Humanae Vitae, as most know, is the 1968 encyclical in which Paul VI reaffirmed the Church's traditional ban on contraception. The encyclical, almost immediately, effected the exact opposite of its intent, and it is believed today that almost all Catholics use or have used contraception.

There has been much blame to go around: the culture, the time (1960's), the advent of the sexual revolution, the population explosion (myth), post Vatican II confusion, progressive clergy, and Catholics themselves. However, there are three reasons why Humanae Vitae backfired that can be laid at the feet of Paul VI himself.

1. The expansion of the birth control commission. Paul VI's predecessor, John XXIII, had established a six person commission to study questions related to population and birth control, particularly in light of the recent advent of "the pill". John XXIII had removed the question of birth control from the Council (Vatican II) and had reserved it to himself. Pope John had originally envisaged a very short Council. "Over by Christmas" he had said after opening the Council in October of 1962.

So originally the study was meant to be small and short and essentially under the radar. However, the Council mushroomed into something John had not planned and rather than the three short months John had thought it to be, it labored on for three long years during which John died.

And then Paul VI made what we now know to be a fatal move. He expanded the commission from 6 to 72 members. The surprising expansion of the commission juxtaposed with the ever more revolutionary tone of the Council immediately led many to believe that a change in the church's ban on  contraception was about to be lifted, and teachers and pastors around the world began anticipating that change in their lectures, sermons, counseling, and especially in the confessional.

This episode in Church history is important to review in light of the recent synod wherein similarly weighty sexual issues were discussed. Ultimately, as Paul VI was to show us in Humanae Vitae, the Church's fundamental moral teaching cannot be changed even by a pope. However, the very perception that it could be changed proved to be all that was needed for most people to believe that it was. 

The same is true for the current synod. Like Paul VI, Francis wants to study the issues and encourage discussion. But publicly encouraging the discussion also publicly encourages the idea that fundamental moral teaching can be changed. And while it cannot be changed, actual practice can. And so it did and so it will. Like Paul VI discovered after writing Humanae Vitae, Francis will discover that the horse has already left the barn through the door that he left open. 

With the expansion of the commission, the actual business of Vatican II took a back seat to an ever more breathless anticipation of an announcement from the pope declaring the ban on contraception lifted. 

2. 1964 address to the papal commission on birth control. In the midst of this, Paul VI made his second seriously bad move. And it is quite interesting that most of his champions have no clue that he actually said this:
"We say frankly that so far we do not have sufficient reason to consider the norms given by Pope Pius XII on this matter [of contraception] as out of date and therefore as not binding. They must be considered as valid, at least until We feel obliged in conscience to change them." - Paul VI Acta apostolicae sedis (AAS) 56 (1964) 588-59, 1964 address to the special papal commission on the use of contraceptives.
This was huge. There it was: the word "until" - "until We feel obliged in conscience to change them." Paul VI had just stated that the Church's "norms" on contraception could be changed if "We (meaning the Magisterium) feel obliged to change them." Even using the word "norms" gives the impression that the ban on contraception was just a disciplinary norm and not an unchangeable doctrine. 

The average person didn't hear this. But the people paying attention, most of whom were aching to hear this in the first place, went nuts. More importantly - or tragically - he was speaking to the members of the commission and the pope's words gave them blanket permission to vote for a change and vote for a change they did, voting 65 to 7 in favor of lifting the ban on contraception.

Now Paul VI was in a thick stew of his own making. His expansion of the commission and his own words to the commission had produced exactly what the world was waiting for. However, what "the world was waiting for" was also exactly what the pope knew he could not give. So why did he suggest that he could give it?

Again, this is important to review in light of Francis and the recent synod. Both popes may have simply wanted to appear that they were sympathetic, anticipating that in the end they could rely on the hardliners to speak up and the decision not to permit the change could be laid at their feet and not their own, which would allow them to still be loved and seen as at least sympathetic. 

That's a great strategy for a politician but not for a pope, and in Paul VI's case, it hugely backfired. He now had to say NO and not only NO but NO in the face of an overwhelming decision by a commission he had expanded and encouraged.

3.  The argument from "complete agreement". And now here is where Paul VI really goes off the rails, and it is amazing that so many of those ready to canonize him on the basis of Humanae Vitae being "prophetic", MISS THIS. The pope appears to still believe he can blame someone else and he opens the encyclical actually blaming someone else.

In paragraph 6, the pope writes:
"...the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain...because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed."
The full quote is filled in with papal-type qualifiers, but the essence of this statement is this: The conclusion of the commission cannot be considered definitive because the commission's decision was not unanimous ("complete agreement"). 

This is staggering. First of all the commission's decision (65 -7), especially given the moral weight of the topic, could effectively be considered to be unanimous; and second, the pope essentially says that church moral teaching is up to a vote, it just needs to be unanimous.

It doesn't matter what Paul VI says next, and he has been proved to be right about everything else he wrote. What matters is what he said first. And since he said it was up to a vote, some, if not most Catholics, were led to believe that Humanae Vitae was no authoritative, that it was just a papal opinion, and, in fact, the teaching will change someday, we just need more votes. 

It is ironic that Pope Francis beatified his predecessor at the recent synod on the family, given that it appears Francis is doing exactly what Paul VI did: speaking the truth...but not speaking first.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


There are 4 steps involved in the canonization of a saint. Note the words "canonization of a saint". "Canonize" means to regularize or order. The person in question is already a saint. The Church simply officially recognizes this fact allowing the person to be publicly venerated as a saint.

The 4 steps are:
1. The Vatican issues a Nihil Obstat (nothing hinders)
2. It is proved that the candidate lived "heroic virtues"
3. The first miracle
4. The second miracle
For more detail go here.

I personally believe that both John 23 and JP2 were saintly men and are in heaven and have no problem with their canonizations. However, I can see why there is a problem.

The canonization of both popes at the same time has the appearance of being about something other than the saintliness of these men. It has the appearance of being a statement, but a statement about what?

The short answer is that it is an attempt to shore up the dyke around Vatican II, a dyke that has been hemorrhaging Catholics since before it even ended.

Quite apart from the question of whether this was a Spirit-led Council is the glaring empirical fact the much expected "springtime" has not only never arrived, it has been "always winter and never Christmas", to steal a phrase from C.S. Lewis.

But now to the popes and specifically Item No. 2: heroic virtue.

In the case of John XXIII, we have a man who was pope for a very short period of time 1958 to 1963. Aside from being much loved there is little to point to in the way of "heroic virtue" (emphasis on "heroic"). In fact, though he was mostly thought of as a loving pastor, he in fact never was a pastor, spending all his days, prior to his elevation to the papacy, as a Vatican bureaucrat.

Pretty much, outside of being a nice guy, his credits amount to his calling the Second Vatican Council. I suppose that could be seen as heroic, however all his plans for the Council (the schema), as promulgated at the Roman Synod of 1960, were thrown out by the bishops on the very first day of the Council. And then he died. The end.

JP2 occupied the Chair of Peter for nearly a quarter of a century and a case for his heroic virtues, particularly in his last years, can certainly be argued. However, there are some who believe that in his waning years, he was taken advantage of and the Church began to fall into disarray, a disarray that the already old Benedict inherited, and eight years later admitted he couldn't handle. This caused some to believe that the "heroic" thing to do for JP2 would have been to step aside as Benedict did. But he didn't.

JP2 is credited with the aiding the collapse of Communism and the U.S.S.R. However, in the wake of that collapse the world quickly became a much more dangerous place and ancient tribal hatreds (particularly in the Balkans), held in check by the iron fist of Moscow, were soon let loose and morphed into genocidal campaigns and the worldwide unrest we are even seeing more of today.

I admire both men, and even named my store after John Paul II, calling it John Paul the Great Bookstore. And I am sure both are saints. However, while I do not question their canonizations, I, like many others, question the reason.


A man in Argentina receives a phone call from someone identifying himself as Father Begoglio.

The caller asks to speak with the man's wife.

The call is reportedly in response to the woman's letter to the pope, 6 months earlier, complaining that her parish priest had told her that because she was divorced and remarried, she was sinning by taking communion.

The caller tells her that she is not sinning.

The wife tells her husband of the news. The husband posts the news on Facebook. The "press" reads the man's Facebook page. The story reaches the Italian publication La Stampa. The story is re-reported by the British publication the Telegraph and then out to all the world. 

The story is coincidentally timed with a synod that will soon be discussing the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics. 

So at the root of this, we have nothing more than a posting on a Facebook page by a guy in Argentina.

(The above details recorded here.)

However, HERE'S THE REAL PROBLEM. When the Vatican was approached about the story by the Telegraph, the Vatican spokesman said: "We would neither confirm nor deny that - this was a private telephone call made by the Holy Father and we would not divulge the details." 

And as Fr. Z says in his blog: "Sheesh! ….at least uphold Catholic teaching."

Of course this mad confusion will be blamed on the press. But the press attempted to get the story straight. And the Vatican essentially told them it was none of their business. 

But now let's look at the variables. Here is where the pope would be correct in his advice:
1. The woman's first husband is dead.
2. The woman's first husband was not a baptized Christian.
3. The woman's second husband was not a baptized Christian at the time they were married.
4. None of the above but the woman and her current husband are "living as brother and sister." 
5. There are a multitude of other factors including the complex problems with obtaining an annulment which might necessitate a particular pastoral solution.

However, the larger problem - as this is just one of several now that have cropped up since Francis is in the driver's seat - is captured in an interview with Cardinal Meisner who said:
“At my last meeting with Pope Francis, I had the opportunity to talk very open to him about a lot of things. And I told him that some questions remain unanswered in his style of spreading the gospel through interviews and short speeches, questions which need some extended explanation for people who are not so involved. The pope looked at me “with big eyes” and asked me to give an example. And my response was : During the flight back from Rio you were asked about people who divorced and remarried. And the pope responded frankly: People who are divorced can receive communion, people who are remarried can’t. In the orthodox church you can marry twice. And then he talked about mercy, which, according to my view, is seen in this country only as a surrogate for all human faults. And the pope responded quite bluntly that he’s a son of the church, and he doesn’t proclaim anything else than the teachings of the church. And mercy has to be identical with truth – if not, she doesn’t deserve that name. Furthermore, when there are open theological questions, it’s up to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to give detailed responses“.
To this, Fr. Z responds: "From this we can perhaps glean that Pope Francis may not be entirely aware of the havoc (¿lío?) that some of his home-spun, off-the-cuff comments in the mainstream media have caused."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...