Tuesday, January 31, 2017


While I have had problems with the SSPX over the years, I have come to realize, as most intellectually honest Catholics have, that we have much much more in common with the SSPX as Roman Catholics than we have with Protestants of whatever denomination as well as the Eastern Orthodox where the more progressive Catholics are much more sympathetic and cozy than with there own brothers and sisters who are Catholic SSPXers.

That Pope Francis will be the pope to make the SSPXers fully integrated once again in the Church is an irony of ironies to say the less.

But Pope Francis who has to be intellectually honest, must know that if His Holiness is to reach out to the marginalized in the Church, he has to reach out and make regular the SSPXers who only disagree with the reform of the Mass, ecumenism and interfaith dialogue as well as VII's pastoral theology on religious liberty. Protestants for the most part reject all ecumenical councils of the Church not just some aspects of Vatican II. Eastern Orthodox don't accept any Catholic Councils after the Great Schism, but at least all seven sacraments are validly celebrated in Orthodoxy whereas not in any branch of Protestantism.

Thus, if Pope Francis is going to allow the SSPXer's to reject some aspects of Vatican II's pastoral theology as mentioned above as well as "spirit of Vatican II" developments after Vatican II, then it makes logical sense that the Pope could integrate into the full communion of the Church the Eastern Orthodox without making them accept the primacy of the pope or any developments in the Catholic Church since the Great Schism.

I have to say that it is a stunning post-Vatican II development that implied in the pope making the SSPXer's fully integrated in the Church the Magisterium is finally saying that it is not a matter of faith and morals to accept the pastoral theology of the Church in the areas of religious freedom, ecumenism and interfaith dialogue as well as dialogue with non believers. A Catholic with a good and well formed conscience could reject or accept these pastoral theologies. You would have thought, though, by practice, that these were infallible dogmas which of course they are not if we are to be intellectually honest. Neither is the suppression of the the EF Mass to be considered as anything that any pope or council could accomplish. 

For those who believe Pope Francis is acting in a stealthy way to make SSPXer's like the rest of the Church, Bishop Felay has stated that that will not happen. All they have to do is to revert to the status quo.

I fear, though, that the more radical and schismatic of the SSPXers will leave the SSPX and join a truly schismatic faction like those who say the See of Peter is vacant.

Monday, January 30, 2017


i copy this true BOMBSHELL, given all the spin that Pope Francis completely opposes tradition from Rorate Carli as Pope Francis has chummed up to the SSXP!

Ecclesia Dei confirms Fellay: "Full communion with SSPX is near."

From Andrea Tornielli, who has been one of the unofficial spokesman for Pope Francis in his pontificate, in an article this morning for La Stampa:

"We are working at this moment in the completion of some aspects of the canonical frame, which will be the Personal Prelature." Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei commission, charged with dialogue with the Society of Saint Pius X, confirms [SSPX Superior-General Fellay's words] to Vatican Insider that the stage of full communion with the Lefebvrians is near. The accomplishment of the agreement is now in plain sight, even if some time is still needed.


CRUX has an article on the sad saga of the Knights of Malta and how it now appears that Cardinal Burke has used the Knights of Malta to get even with Pope Francis and continue his rebuke or reburke of Francis has it concerns Amoris Laetitia.

Cardinal Burke has been uncharacteristicly silent since the Knight's saga went into high meltdown.

I suspect Pope Francis, using his authority at Supreme Pontiff, has silenced His Eminence.

I suggest everyone read the Crux piece very carefully for the "rest of the story!" Burke's reburkes of the pope will go down in history but not in a flattering way. His Eminence may well have done the "reform in continuity" a deadly blow by ideologizing it as a hermeneutic against the Supreme Pontiff, the most untraditional thing a cardinal could do.


Pope’s takeover of Knights of Malta brings chance for needed reform

Pope’s takeover of Knights of Malta brings chance for needed reform
In this June 20, 2014 file photo, Pope Francis blesses the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing, during a private audience in the pontiff's private library at the Vatican. The Knights of Malta is still insisting on its sovereignty in its showdown with the Vatican, even after Pope Francis effectively took control of the ancient religious order and announced a papal delegate would govern it through a "process of renewal." (Credit: AP Photo/Claudio Peri, Pool.)


PRAYWHINE, AKA, PRAYTELL finally read the small print and sees that Archbishop Arthur Roche has stated that the use of dynamic equivalence is an outmoded, outdated dinosaur from the 1960's as a means of translating into the vernacular the Latin template of the liturgies of the Church.

If they did a bit more reading 📖 on the good Archbishop, they would also find to their whining horror that he fully endorses Mass in Latin as well as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass not to mention the highly sacral English of the template for the eventual and inevitable reform of the 2011 Ordinary Form Roman Missal, the glorious and new Ordinariate's Divine Worship, The Missal, which he had a hand in approving. I would say that Archbishop Roche is on the same page as his boss Cardinal Sarah. PRAYTELL denigrates Cardinal Sarah's liturgical and intellectual credentials in the exact racist way as Cardinal Casper denigrated Africans for having nothing to teach the Church, caught on tape by the heroic reporter Edwin Pentin.

Pope Benedict could have said what Archbishop Roche taught at a liturgy conference in 2012:

The Most Rev. Arthur Roche, the newly appointed Archbishop Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, gave the second annual St Bede Lecture on 14 July 2012 at Ealing Abbey. Commenting on a line from Sacrosanctum Concilium, he affirmed that the liturgy is a privileged occasion for the transformation of the quality of life of believers. Such a personal transformation is not merely a product of individual piety and devotion but properly belongs to the assembly gathered in the power of the Spirit and inheres in the celebration of the Church’s liturgy itself. Assembled communities must again be helped to perceive in the liturgy the divine presence transforming the quality of life, a presence which may sadly be neglected when the community is turned inward, distracted by its own performance of a liturgy becoming earthbound and heaven-bereft. Liturgical renewal throughout history has often called the liturgical assembly back to its identity as the body of Christ and to their affective involvement and spiritual engagement with the person of Christ present in the liturgy.

And this From Catholic News Agency:
Archbishop Arthur Roche is the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and is helping to organize a special conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of ... “Sacrosanctum Concilium.” ... Speaking of the Latin Mass, the archbishop highlighted that it “will always be a part of the Roman rite” because it maintains “the language in which the Roman rite is written - whether it be the ordinary or indeed the extraordinary form.

“It is the way in which the Church expresses itself,” he explained, observing how there has been an increase in use of Gregorian chant during Mass, “especially at international events.”

Drawing attention to the special international reach of the city of Rome, Archbishop Roche went on to say that “people from throughout the world, from every continent and from the different hemispheres, come together to share Mass and are joined together in that common expression of the singing of the Latin part of the Mass.”
- See more at:

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Maybe Cardinal Burke will leave the Knights of Malta and be the Cardinal-head of the SSXP, which in a twist of divine Irony will be accompanied and fully integrated into the full Communion of the Church in a grander way than those in other irregular situations accompanied into full Communion with the Church by way of an obscure footnote!  And who is the one leading the way in both instances? His Holiness Pope Francis!

From Rorate Caeli:

SSPX Superior-General Fellay: "An agreement is possible without further wait."

From the interview granted by the Superior-General of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, to the program "Terres de Mission" by TVLibertes, a conservative French network, as reported by Italian website Radio Spada:

Bishop Fellay confirmed in the program Terres de Mission of TVLibertes broadcast minutes ago: on the factual level, relations with the Vatican are already normal, and only the seal is missing on the agreement:

"This agreement is possible, according to the Superior-general, in his view, without waiting for the situation in the Church to become complete satisfactory." [Source]
- See more at:

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Pope Francis has ordered a review of Pope Benedict's document "Liturgiam Authenticum" which guided the re-translation of the official Latin text of the Mass into a literal vernacular translation often  doing violence to the vernacular language.

While our new and glorious English translation is a vast, vast, vast improvement over the 1970 English Missal, it is far from perfect in many of the priestly prayers.

Fr. Bruce Harbert uses the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord to point out the deficiency of the current translation in the Collect and there are similar deficiencies in other prayers and prefaces of the otherwise new and glorious English translation of the Mass:

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

This feast did not occur in the Roman Rite before Vatican II. When it was introduced into the 1970 Missal, a new Collect was composed which, like many of the newly-written prayers in our Missal, lacks the conciseness and simplicity of the older tradition. Its seven lines contain no fewer than three participial phrases - a challenge to the translator.

The alternative Collect is simpler and much more ancient, being found already in the Gelasian Sacramentary. In the official translation, the third and fourth lines contain a curious thought:

grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize as outwardly like ourselves.

Line 4 seems to imply that Christ, though outwardly like ourselves, is inwardly unlike us. This seems to me to veer towards the heresy of Apollinarianism, which holds that Christ had no human soul. Orthodox Christianity understands that Christ is 'like us in all things but sin' (Hebrews 4,15). 

The revisers have misunderstood the Latin. In fact it prays that our outward Christian profession may be matched by our inner lives. The problem, as so often in this translation, arises from incorrect placing of an adverb. It easy to mend with the help of the Morecambe Principle:

grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize outwardly as like ourselves.

As is predictable, in the conservative blogosphere there are histrionics and threats of leaving the Church. This indicates to me the idolatry of some who are in love with the Mass but not necessarily with the Church which is the Body of Christ who is the Head of the Church and we her members. Often they worship the form, direction, music and language of the Mass and thus become idolaters. Idolatry is a mortal sin as it breaks the First Commandment.

And just as conservatives did the same sort of inviting to liberals to join the Protestant Episcopal Church since they didn't like the direction the Church was going under Pope Benedict, so now liberals are inviting conservatives to leave for schismatic traditionalist groups since they don't like what Pope Francis is doing!

But apart from us liturgical geeks 99% of practicing Catholics have greater worries than things liturgical. In fact I could use the old English translation of the 1970's Missal for the priest's prayers and I doubt anyone would notice it this weekend. Of course if I prayed them in Latin or Spanish they would notice!

As everyone knows that I am clairvoyant, I predict the congregation's parts will not change again or revert to the 1970's version. Thus I see no changes to the greeting responses, the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Amen, Lord's Prayer or Agnus Dei.

Some of the priest's orations such as Collects and prefaces need minor revisions to make them less clunky and good English syntax. In other words these will be refined but remain authentic to the theology, spirituality and pious and devotional qualities of the Latin texts that were absent in the 1970 version.

Finally there is good reason not to lose hope about this yet again revision of our English Mass as the chairperson of the committee has a sober approach to what method should be used to translate.

This is what He as said in the past:

Archbishop Arthur Roche, who was for 10 years chairman of the International Commission for English Language in the Liturgy, addressing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in September 2014, said the major difference between “Comme le Prévoit” (1969), which governed translation for the first liturgical books after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and “Liturgiam Authenticam,” which has since determined the translation of the Roman Missal in English, French and some Spanish-speaking countries, “was that the Holy See in its directives opted for a shift of the guiding principle of translation from that of ‘dynamic or functional equivalence’ in 1969 to the principle of ‘formal equivalence’ in 2001.”
He explained that “dynamic equivalence” was achieved when a translator detached the “content” of an utterance from the “form in which it was expressed.” But this approach has become “outmoded,” he said. Over the last 40 years, specialists in language “have become more aware that the form we choose for an utterance is itself expressive of our purpose in speaking.” The Holy See in “Liturgiam Authenticam” opted for “the formal equivalence,” he stated.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Cardinal Dolan's prolife homily from last night as reported by Whispers in the Logia:
One week ago tonight – cigars all around, surrounded by his Roman students, and on the eve of what would inevitably be the most-watched moment of his life (leading the Scripture readings at the Inauguration of an American President) – it should be no surprise that the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York was even more fired up than usual...

...yet even as he carried the Church's patriotic part onto the Capitol's West Front, to know Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan is to know how the "other shoe" still had yet to drop.

While the reigning occupant of 452 Madison ripped the leading Republican contender for the Presidency with the loaded charge of "nativism" during the primaries in light of Donald Trump's draconian stance on immigration, the eventual GOP nominee from just up Fifth Avenue responded in kind by defacing Gotham's long-sacred comity of the Al Smith Dinner as the Tenth Archbishop of the "Capital of the World" presided from the center of the Waldorf dais and a global audience looked on....

And, among other bits, that backstory brings us to tonight.

In his role as the US bishops' chair for pro-life activities – given the portfolio's significance, the bench's lone post always held by a cardinal – and all of 24 hours since the body's current scarlet-clad chief raised an oddly muted "alarm" from his Texas base over the 45th President's first Executive Orders on immigration (thus fulfilling the campaign's signal pledges), in leading the masses of the faithful toward tomorrow's March for Life in the capital, Dolan himself took up the wider pro-family, pro-Francis call with vigor... yet the packed crowd's customary rounds of applause to begin the rally somehow turned to crickets. 

Arguably a reflection on the wider hierarchy's guarded stance toward the new administration – even for the firm pledges (and, indeed, first actions) from Trump & Co. on the ever-critical abortion front – this time around, the traditional flood of bishops on hand to kick off this year's nightlong Vigil in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception ended up looking like more of a trickle.

And for the cardinal-chair to use a certain charged term on another life issue as the springboard for his marquee preach in the nation's largest church, well, do the math....



From laCroix:
The Pope faces his adversaries 
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta with whom he had been in conflict for more than a month. This marks a new chapter in the opposition to the Argentine pontiff.
Nicolas Senèze, Rome
January 26, 2017
By obtaining the resignation on Wednesday of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Pope Francis has made an important point to those who call into question the deep reforms he is undertaking in the Vatican and the Church. Not that Brother Matthew Festing is a personal enemy of the pope, but the conflict between Francis and the Knights of Malta represents the sum of all the opposition he is encountering in his will to reform.
The chronology of events is perplexing. In early December, the Grand Master of the Order demanded the resignation of Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager, who is accused of being "a liberal Catholic, unfaithful to the teachings of the Church."
Present at this discussion, was Cardinal Raymond Burke, the pope's representative to the Order and one of his main opponents, who led a public attack against the exhortation Amoris laetitia, on possible access to the sacraments by divorcees who remarry. With three retired cardinals, he asked the pope to clarify certain points, to force him to return to the text - something that no pope had done for at least two centuries - and to lessen the magisterial scope of the Vatican.
Within the Order of Malta, the attacks against von Boeselager, who was accused of having allowed the distribution of condoms by the Order in Burma in 2005, was a moral issue. The German explained to the grand master that the matter had been settled and refused to resign. Supported, at least in silence, by Cardinal Burke, Matthew Festing insisted that it was "the will of the Holy See."
Ten days later, von Boeselager's own brother, Georg, was appointed to the superintendency of the Institute for Religious Works (known as the IOR), or the "Vatican bank". With two other bankers, he replaced officials of the IOR who, defending the idea of creating a Vatican investment fund in Luxembourg opposed by the Pope, had to resign in May. Seen against this backdrop, the attacks against von Boeselager appear more and more as a challenge to the reform of the Vatican’s finances and those who are implementing them.
Already, under Benedict XVI, it was on the issue of its finances that the Vatican was most violently attacked. The VatiLeaks affair, the leaking of documents from the Pope's office, began shortly after the German pope had begun a vast clean-up of the Vatican's finances, including the IOR where scandals were multiplying.
Even if the IOR has not been a questionable structure as such, shady businesses have clearly used personal ties with naive prelates to hide their shady dealings under the seal of Vatican banking secrecy. Warned of this, Benedict XVI had courageously tried to put an end to these practices but, as he progressed, the obstacles multiplied.
Still, more than the mafia-type dealings, it is the financial system itself that has obstructed the popes’ efforts. As early as 2009, in his encyclical Caritas in veritate, where he began to call into question the capitalist system, Benedict XVI was criticized by American conservatives. This discourse from the German pope was to be significantly developed and amplified by his successor. In his exhortation Evangelii gaudium, Francis directly opposed the "trickledown theory", one of the liberal dogmas in the United States. And in many of his speeches, he tackled the misdeeds of an unruly capitalism, the "silver god" that "corrupts", the economy that "kills".
In the United States, such talk which challenges the foundations of American free enterprise goes down badly. Francis has been described as a "Marxist" pope. His encyclical Laudato struck also against the discourse of climate change denial pushed by the petroleum giants.
Currently, the most severe attacks against the pope are coming from the United States. At the Order of Malta, the case of the Burmese condoms was put forward by the "Lepanto Institute for the restoration of all things in Christ". This ultraconservative organization specialized in the denunciation of "gays” entering the Church and in attacks on the major development associations that question unfettered economic liberalism.
One of its leaders is the president of the Republican Party in Virginia. Another, a well-known American conservative activist, also leads the “Alliance for the Common Good”, chaired by Keith Fournier, deacon of the diocese of Richmond and a member of the Catholic support group formed by Donald Trump during his campaign.
The US-based Breitbart website, founded by Steve Bannon, now Trump's strategic advisor, was also very influential in the presidential campaign and does not hide its hostility towards the pope. In an interview with the New York Times, its correspondent in Rome recently explained that his bosses strongly encouraged him to write about the pope’s opponents, notably Cardinal Burke, "a friend of Mr. Bannon" who himself "distrusts" Francis.
One of the issues in the upcoming media battle will be to convince middle-class Catholic Americans that Francis, already portrayed as an enemy of the foundations of American economic power, wants to attack its most sacred value, the family. (The pope gets 87% favorable opinions, according to a study published last week by the Pew American research center.)
Hence the virulent speech aimed at discrediting Amoris laetitia. This no doubt explains why Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the “Pontifical Academy for Life” and one of the favorite targets of the ultraconservatives, has just been sent by the pope to the United States on a long mission.
However, even if they have powerful support, the pope’s opponents are few in Rome. Those closest to him say that Francois is not worried about their actions. It must be added that he had other opponents when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. He also enjoys the effective support of his secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who discreetly and courageously has suffered many attacks in the pope’s place.
The mastery with which Francis has shown in handling the crisis with the Knights of Malta, which will now be managed by a pontifical delegate, thereby isolating Cardinal Burke a little more, shows the extent of his serenity in dealing with events.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


I did not know that Mary Tyler Moore was baptized and reared as a Catholic. I do not know what her practice of the Faith was as an adult. But we know that once a Catholic always a Catholic. I hope a priest was called to her death bed.

She was born and reared Catholic in New York, according to Wikipedia:

Moore was born in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, to Marjorie (née Hackett) (1916–92) and George Tyler Moore (1913–2006), a clerk. The oldest of three children (her siblings are John and Elizabeth), Moore and her family lived in Flushing, Queens. Her paternal great-grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Tilghman Moore, owned the house which is now Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters Museum. When she was eight years old, Moore moved with her family to Los Angeles. She was raised Catholic, and attended St. Rose de Lima Parochial School in Brooklyn, Saint Ambrose School in Los Angeles, and Immaculate Heart High School in Los Feliz, California.

 Deacon Greg Kendra exclaims: What a talent. What a life. Rest in peace, Mare.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her…

Below, one of the most sublime pieces of comedy ever shown on American television: the funeral of Chuckles the Clown from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” I don’t think Mary would mind if we watched and laughed again.


His Holiness, Pope Francis, Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Catholic Church, still wears the tiara not literally but figuratively by the manner in which His Holiness exercises his power and authority by virtue of His high office.

The pope's proper title, according to the Vatican's website, is Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.

I find a bit of hypocrisy in pseudo-traditionalists crying crocodile tears because Pope Francis acts as the Supreme Pontiff of the Church by his actions. If Pope Benedict XVI or any other pope of a more conservative theology did so, His Holiness would be applauded. In fact many traditionalists were flummoxed that Pope Benedict did not impose as fully as His Holiness could have, the direction of the Liturgy that His Holiness modeled.

We see Pope Francis acting in a very pre-Vatican II papal way in terms of imposing His Holiness' agenda for the Church on those who are subject to His Holiness which is every Catholic in the world. It is not only in terms of Faith and Morals but governance as well. The Knights of Malta have learned this in the most difficult way and so have the bishops of the last two synods. 

Synodality is advisory. The pope has the final world as His Holiness has had with Amoris Laetitia. His interpretation of the most controversial chapter is the one that stands contrary to others who might want a course direction or clarification. His Holiness is under no obligation to say more or less than what His Holiness has chosen to say or not say. That's the way it is. True traditional Catholics understood this quite well prior to Vatican II but not so much now because they are as much "coloring book Catholics" as so many liberals are. 

The good thing about Pope Francis authoritarian bent is that His Holiness is recovering  pre-Vatican II papal authority, a top down approach but couching it in a stealthy way as a bottom up sort of thing, which is really isn't if the truth be told. Thus in continuity with this recovered theology from the pre-Vatican II Church, a more conservative or traditionalist pope should take note.

I think that all pastors who have pastoral councils insist as Church law does, that these councils are advisory, but most pastors know how to work the system in a sort of lobbying way to get want they want  despite the best efforts of councils to usurp his canonical authority. Pope Francis is a role model for these kinds of priests.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


In his homily Pope Francis reflected on the theme for this year’s week of prayer, which is ‘Reconciliation: the love of Christ compels us’. Reconciliation, he said, is a gift from Christ. Prior to any human effort by believers who strive to overcome their divisions, he said, reconciliation is God’s gift given freely to each one of us.

“How do we proclaim this Gospel of reconciliation today after centuries of division?”, the Pope asked. St Paul himself makes clear that reconciliation requires sacrifice and a revolution of our way of living, he said. Just as Jesus laid down his life for us, so we are called to lay down our lives, by living no longer for ourselves and our own interests, but living instead for Christ and in Christ.

Leave behind isolation and self-absorption

For Christians of every confession, the Pope said, this is an invitation not to be caught up with programmes and plans, not to be obsessed with contemporary fashions, but to be focused on the Cross where we can “discover our programme of life”. The Cross invites us to leave behind all isolation and self-absorption which prevents us from seeing how the Holy Spirit is at work outside our familiar surroundings.

Joint Reformation commemorations "a remarkable achievement"

While looking back can be helpful and necessary to purify our memory, the Pope said, being fixated on the past and the memory of wrongs done can paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present. Pope Francis recalled in particular the fact that Catholics and Lutherans are today joining in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, something he described as “a remarkable achievement”.

Pray, proclaim and serve together

Greeting especially Metropolitan Gennadios, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Archbishop David Moxon, representing the Anglican Communion, Pope Francis urged all those present to take advantage of every occasion to pray together, to proclaim together and to love and serve together, especially those who are the poorest and most neglected in our midst.

Please find below the full English text of Pope Francis’ homily at Vespers for the Conversion of St Paul

Encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus radically transformed the life of Saint Paul. Henceforth, for him, the meaning of life would no longer consist in trusting in his own ability to observe the Law strictly, but rather in cleaving with his whole being to the gracious and unmerited love of God: to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Paul experienced the inbreaking of a new life, life in the Spirit. By the power of the risen Lord, he came to know forgiveness, confidence and consolation. Nor could Paul keep this newness to himself. He was compelled by grace to proclaim the good news of the love and reconciliation that God offers fully in Christ to all humanity.

For the Apostle of the Gentiles, reconciliation with God, whose ambassador he became (cf. 2 Cor 5:20), is a gift from Christ. This is evident in the text of the Second Letter to the Corinthians which inspired the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). “The love of Christ”: this is not our love for Christ, but rather Christ’s love for us. Nor is the reconciliation to which we are compelled simply our own initiative. Before all else it is the reconciliation that God offers us in Christ. Prior to any human effort on the part of believers who strive to overcome their divisions, it is God’s free gift. As a result of this gift, each person, forgiven and loved, is called in turn to proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation in word and deed, to live and bear witness to a reconciled life.

Today, in the light of this, we can ask: How do we proclaim this Gospel of reconciliation after centuries of division? Paul himself helps us to find the way. He makes clear that reconciliation in Christ requires sacrifice. Jesus gave his life by dying for all. Similarly, ambassadors of reconciliation are called, in his name, to lay down their lives, to live no more for themselves but for Christ who died and was raised for them (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-15). As Jesus teaches, it is only when we lose our lives for love of him that we truly save them (cf. Lk 9:24). This was the revolution experienced by Paul, but it is, and always has been, the Christian revolution. We live no longer for ourselves, for our own interests and “image”, but in the image of Christ, for him and following him, with his love and in his love.

For the Church, for every Christian confession, this is an invitation not to be caught up with programmes, plans and advantages, not to look to the prospects and fashions of the moment, but rather to find the way by constantly looking to the Lord’s cross. For there we discover our programme of life. It is an invitation to leave behind every form of isolation, to overcome all those temptations to self-absorption that prevent us from perceiving how the Holy Spirit is at work outside our familiar surroundings. Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other’s gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first.

If we experience this dying to ourselves for Jesus’ sake, our old way of life will be a thing of the past and, like Saint Paul, we will pass over to a new form of life and fellowship. With Paul, we will be able to say: “the old has passed away” (2 Cor 5:17).

To look back is helpful, and indeed necessary, to purify our memory, but to be fixated on the past, lingering over the memory of wrongs done and endured, and judging in merely human terms, can paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present. The word of God encourages us to draw strength from memory and to recall the good things the Lord has given us. But it also asks us to leave the past behind in order to follow Jesus today and to live a new life in him. Let us allow him, who makes all things new (cf. Rev 21:5), to unveil before our eyes a new future, open to the hope that does not disappoint, a future in which divisions can be overcome and believers, renewed in love, will be fully and visibly one.

This year, in our journey on the road to unity, we recall in a special way the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation. The fact that Catholics and Lutherans can nowadays join in commemorating an event that divided Christians, and can do so with hope, placing the emphasis on Jesus and his work of atonement, is a remarkable achievement, thanks to God and prayer, and the result of fifty years of growing mutual knowledge and ecumenical dialogue.

As we implore from God the gift of reconciliation with him and with one another, I extend cordial and fraternal greetings to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here. I am especially pleased to greet the members of the joint Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and to offer my good wishes for the fruitfulness of the plenary session taking place in these days. I also greet the students of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, who are visiting Rome to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic Church, and the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox young people studying in Rome thanks to the scholarships provided by the Committee for Cultural Collaboration with Orthodox Churches, based in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. To the superiors and staff of this Dicastery I express my esteem and gratitude.

Dear brothers and sisters, our prayer for Christian unity is a sharing in Jesus’ own prayer to the Father, on the eve of his passion, “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). May we never tire of asking God for this gift. With patient and trusting hope that the Father will grant all Christians the gift of full visible communion, let us press forward in our journey of reconciliation and dialogue, encouraged by the heroic witness of our many brothers and sisters, past and present, who were one in suffering for the name of Jesus. May we take advantage of every occasion that Providence offers us to pray together, to proclaim together, and together to love and serve, especially those who are the most poor and neglected in our midst.


John Nolan may find this fascinating. I certainly do. I wish my mom and dad were still alive because they would never have seen this footage or known that it still existed (now on the internet!).

My dad would have been in the crowd of American soldiers when Churchill came to Livorno and certainly my mom would have been nearby.

The most fascinating part of this is when Churchill boards a boat and takes a harbor view of the destruction of Livorno. It starts at minute 4:25. My mom had told me in descriptive terms what that her city had been completely destroyed but I had never seen photos let alone moving pictures of it. I found this video by accident about two years ago. There is another video showing Livorno being bombed from the bomb bay of an air craft and I am certain that it was in that bombing that my mother's apartment building took a direct hit and was completely destroyed killing all who had taken refuge in its basement. My mom and her family were in another part of the city at the time and were spared. My mom would have been in her 20's at the time.

This was August 19, 1944 and my parents would have been married, December 1, 1945 in Livorno:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Pluff mud is that aromatic, sucky, slimy, shell fishy smelling mud in the Low Country of South Carolina (across the Savannah River from Savannah, which also has Pluff mud marshes) (like Blufton, Hilton Head and Beaufort) that forms the tidal salt water marshes. You can get stuck in it and not able to get out without help. And since these are tidal marshes, you will drown when the tide comes in which if not for an eight year old girl last week, a man from the Low Country would not be here today. Fun no?

Pluff mud sticks to the Lowcountry soul

Lilly Pike: 'It was pretty scary yesterday'

8-year-old Lilly Pike, of Beaufort, talks about how she felt on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, when she heard a man yelling for help in the marsh while playing behind her friend's home in Beaufort. 

On Hilton Head Island a number of years ago, one of our busy news days was interrupted by the report of a goat-chase on the Cross Island Parkway bridge. The goat was headed into traffic, toward the beach, when a fire engine company happened by and intervened. The cars were easily stopped, but the goat was not. The old nanny decided to take her chances down below.

She plunged off the bridge some 30 to 50 feet into the marshes of Broad Creek.

“No kidding,” the headline read. It took a slew of people the rest of the day to rescue the stuck goat, every inch covered in slick, black pluff mud.

Lowcountry watermen know to watch for falling goats, but I still think we should put up warning signs for tourists.

Visitors call our marsh the swamp. It’s not. And they say it stinks. It doesn’t.

It is the nursery for our three main food groups: shrimp, crabs and oysters. Bathed twice a day by the salty tides and held together by waves of Spartina grass, our marsh is the most fruitful land on earth if we would just leave it alone and quit draining it, diking it, dumping waste into it and chopping down the underbrush at its edges.

The marsh’s sweet aroma has the pull of home to people sophisticated enough to appreciate mullet and grits.

Our own Pat Conroy called it the smell of the South in heat.

And there is a love affair between pluff mud and the people of the Lowcountry.
Dock-diving children — and some frisky adults — have always liked to rub their whole bodies with pluff mud.

We slurp it down whether we know it or not at the Bluffton Rotary Club’s annual oyster roast as the setting sun turns the May River orange. And a new batch of newcomers learn the wisdom of the bumper sticker: “Pluff Mud: Tastes Better Than It Smells.”

Then there are those who venture out into it. They find that pluff mud eats flip flops like popcorn shrimp, and sucks down tennis shoes like crab legs.

But if you find yourself sunk up to your underwear, do as the experts tell you to do and crawl like a fiddler crab.

Charles Seabrook, who grew up on Johns Island and became a journalist of the scientific and natural world, wrote the book on the marsh that should be required reading for everyone in Beaufort County.
In “The World of the Salt Marsh” comes this advice from his experiences of being waist-deep in sneaky pluff mud lying like black mayonnaise by a small drainage creek in the marsh:

“I struggle to extricate myself. The mud is gripping my legs, and my old sneakers are about to slip off my feet. For a fleeting instant I panic, fearful that I might sink deeper and become irretrievably stuck. But I have been in this predicament before. I bend over and lie on my stomach in the mud. This somehow gives me leverage enough to wiggle my legs free, and I belly-crawl in the mud to the edge of the creek, where the mud is firmer. Thank goodness it’s low tide and no water is in the creek.”

That’s how we roll in the Lowcountry.

Read more here:


Pope Francis gives his longest  interview to date with EL PAÍS on Friday, January 20th:

Question. Your Holiness, after nearly four years in the Vatican, what is left of the street priest that came from Buenos Aires to Rome with the return ticket in his pocket?
Answer. He is still a street priest. Because, as soon as I can, I still go out on the streets to greet people at the general audiences, or when I am traveling... my character has not changed. I'm not saying that is a deliberate thing: it has been a natural process. It is not true that you have to change once you get here. To change is unnatural. To change at 76 is tantamount to putting on makeup. Perhaps I cannot do everything I want, but my street soul is alive, and you can see it.
Q. In the last days of his papacy, Benedict XVI said about his last years at the helm of the Catholic Church: "The waters ran troubled and God seemed asleep". Have you felt that loneliness too? Was the Church hierarchy asleep with regard to people's problems, both new and old?
The pope drinks mate during an audience in Rome on August 31, 2016.
A. Within the Church hierarchy, or among the Catholic Church's pastoral agents (bishops, priests, nuns, laymen), I am more afraid of those who are anesthetized than of those who are asleep. I am talking about those who are anesthetized by mundane affairs. They sell out to mundaneness. That is what worries me. Everything is seemingly calm, everything is apparently quiet, everything is going right...that is too much order. When you read the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul's epistles, it was a mess, there were troubles, people were on the move. There was movement and there was contact with people. An anesthetized person is not in touch with people. He protects himself against reality. He is anesthetized. Nowadays there are so many ways of anesthetizing oneself against daily life, aren't there? Maybe the most dangerous illness for a pastor is the one produced by anesthetics, and that is clericalism. I am over here and the people are over there. But you are those people's pastor! If you don't take care of those people, if you give up on taking care of those people, then you should pack your bags and retire.
Q. Is there a part of the Catholic Church that is anesthetized?
A. It is a risk that we all run. It is a danger, it is seriously tempting. Being anesthetized is easier.
Q. It is a better life, a more comfortable life.
A. That is why, rather than those who are asleep, I worry about those who are anesthetized as a result of that mundane spirit. A spiritual mundanity. I am always struck by the fact that Jesus Christ, during the last supper, when he prays to his Father on behalf of his disciples, he does not ask "Keep from breaking the Fifth Commandment, keep them from killing, from breaking the Seventh Commandment, keep them from stealing". No, he says: "Keep them from the evils of the world, keep them from the world". A mundane spirit has a numbing effect. When that happens, the pastor becomes a civil servant. And that is clericalism, which is the worst evil that may be afflicting today's Church.
Q. The troubles that Benedict XVI faced towards the end of his papacy, and which were contained inside that white box that he gave you in Castel Gandolfo, what are they?
A. A very normal sample of daily life within the Church: saints and sinners, honest people and crooked people. Everything was in there! There were people who had been questioned and were clean, there were workers... Because here, inside the Curia, there are some true saints. I like to say it. We talk too easily about the level of corruption in the Curia. And there are corrupt people. But there are also many saints. Men who have spent all their lives serving people anonymously, behind a desk, or in conversation, or in a study...Herein there are saints and sinners. That day, what struck me the most was holy Benedict's memory. He said: "Look, here are the records of the proceedings, inside the box".  "And here is the sentencing of all the individuals. So-and-so, he got that much". He remembered everything! What an extraordinary memory. And he still retains it.
Barack Obama visits Pope Francis in Rome on March 27, 2014. Vatican Pool
Q. Does he feel all right, health-wise?
A. His head is fine. His problem are the legs. He needs help to walk. He has an elephant's memory, even in nuances. I may say something and he goes: "No, it wasn't that year, it was that other year."
Q. What are your main concerns with regard to the Church and the world in general?
A. With regard to the Church, I would say that I hope that it never stops being close to people. A Church that is not close to people is not a Church. It's a good NGO. Or a pious organization made up of good people who meet for tea and charity work... The hallmark of the Church is its proximity. We are all the Church. Therefore, the problem we should avoid is breaking that closeness. Being close is touching, touching Christ in the flesh and blood through your neighbor. When Jesus tells us how are we going to be judged, in Matthew chapter 25, he always talks about reaching out to your neighbor: I was hungry, I was in prison, I was sick... Always being close to the needs of your neighbor. Which is not just charity. It is much more.
Hitler didn't steal power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people
As for what worries me about the world, it is war. We already have a World War III in little bits and pieces. Lately there is talk of a possible nuclear war, as though it were a card game: they are playing cards. That is my biggest concern. I am worried about the economic inequalities in the world: the fact that a small group of humans has over 80% of the world's wealth, with all its implications for the liquid economy, which at its center has money as a god, instead of men and women. Hence the throwaway culture.
Q. Your Holiness, going back to the global problems you just mentioned, Donald Trump is just now being sworn in as president of the United States, and the whole world is tense because of it. What do you make of it?
A. I think that we must wait and see. I don't like to get ahead of myself, nor to judge people prematurely. We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will form an opinion. But being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise. It would be like prophets predicting calamities or windfalls that will not come to pass. We will see what he does and will judge accordingly. Always work with the specific. Christianity is either specific or it is not Christianity.
It is interesting that the first heresy in the Church took place just after the death of Jesus Christ: the gnostic heresy, condemned by the apostle John. Which was what I call a spray-paint religiousness, a non-specific religiousness...nothing concrete. No, no way. We need specifics. And from the specific we can draw consequences. We are losing our sense of the concrete. The other day, a thinker was telling me that this world is so upside down that it needs a fixed point. And those fixed points stem from concrete actions. What did you do, what did you decide, what moves did you make? That is why I prefer to wait and see.
Q. Aren't you worried about the things we have heard up until now?
A. I'm still waiting. God waited so long for me, with all my sins...
The pope at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem in May 2014. AFP
Q. For the most traditionalist sectors, any change, even if it is only a change in language, amounts to treachery. At the other end of the spectrum, even for those who will never embrace the Catholic faith, no change is ever enough. You yourself have said that everything has already been written in the essence of Christianity. Are we then talking about a revolution of normalcy?
A. I always try —I don't know if I always succeed— to do what the Gospel says. That is what I try. I am a sinner and not always successful, but that is what I try. The history of the Church has not been driven by theologians, or priests, or nuns, or bishops... Maybe in part, but the true heroes of the Church are the saints. That is, those men and women who devoted their lives to making the Gospel a reality. They are the ones who saved us: the saints. We sometimes think that a saint is a nun that looks up to the heavens and rolls her eyes. The saints are the specific examples of the Gospel in daily life! And the theology that you learn from a saint's life is immense. There is no doubt that the theologians and the pastors are necessary. They are part of the Church. But we must come back to that: the Gospel. And who are the best messengers of the Gospel? The saints. You used the word "revolution". That is a revolution! I am not a saint. I am not making any revolution. I am just trying to push the Gospel forward. In an imperfect way, because I make my blunders from time to time.
Q. Don't you think that many Catholics may feel something like the syndrome of the prodigal son's sibling, and may think that you are more focused on those who left than on those who remained and obeyed the Church's commandments? I remember that in one of your trips, a German journalist asked you why you never talk about the middle class, about those who pay their taxes...
A. There are two questions in there. The syndrome of the eldest child: I know that those who feel comfortable within a Church structure that doesn't ask too much of them, or who have attitudes that protect them from too much outside contact, are going to feel uneasy with any change, with any proposal coming from the Gospel. I like to think about the owner of the hotel where the Samaritan took the man who was beaten and robbed by thieves along the way. The owner knew the story, the Samaritan had told him: a priest had passed by, he looked at the time, saw that he was late for temple and left the man there, he didn't want to get blood-stained because that would prevent him from celebrating mass according to the law. A lawyer passed by, he looked and said: "I better not get involved, it will make me late, tomorrow in court I will have to testify and... No, it's better not to get involved." As if he had been born in Buenos Aires, he turned his back using that city's slogan: "Better not get involved". And then along came a man who was not Jewish, he was a pagan, he was a sinner, he was deemed the scum of the earth, yet he was moved by the hurt man's plight and he helped him get up. The owner's astonishment was tremendous, because it was unusual.
The novelty of the Gospel is astonishing because it is essentially scandalous. Saint Paul tells us about the scandal of the cross, the scandal of the Son of God becoming man. It is a good kind of scandal, because Jesus condemns the outrage against children too. But the evangelical essence was scandalous by those days' criteria. By any mundane criteria, it is a scandalous essence. So the eldest child syndrome is the syndrome of anyone who is too settled within the Church, the one who has clear ideas about everything, who knows what must be done and doesn't want to listen to strange sermons. That is the explanation for our martyrs: they gave their lives for preaching something that was upsetting.
That is your first question. As for the second one: I didn't want to answer the German journalist right away, but I told him: I am going to think about it, you may be somewhat right... I am always talking about the middle class, even without mentioning it. I use a term coined by the French novelist Malègue, who talks about "the middle class of sanctity". I am always talking about parents, grandparents, nurses, the people who live to serve others, who raise their kids, who go to work... Those people are tremendously saintly! And they are also the ones who carry the Church onward: the ones who earn their living with dignity, who raise their children, who bury their dead, who care for their elders instead of putting them into an old people's home: that is our saintly middle class.
From an economic point of view, these days the middle class increasingly tends to vanish, and there is the risk that we will take shelter in our ideological caves. But this "middle class of sanctity": the father, the mother who celebrate their family, with their sins and their virtues, the grandfather, the grandmother, with the family at the center, that is "the middle class of sanctity". That was a great insight on the part of Malègue, who writes a sentence that is really impressive. In one of his novels, Augustine, an atheist asks him: "But do you believe that Jesus Christ is God?" He is presenting the problem: Do you think that the Nazarene is God? "For me, it is not a problem", is the protagonist's answer, "the problem would have been if God hadn't become the Christ". That is "the middle class of sanctity".
My concern is for  women to give us their thinking, because the Church is female, it is Jesus Christ’s wife, and that is the theological foundation of women
Q. Your Holiness, you have mentioned the ideological caves. What do you mean by that? What are your concerns in this regard?
A. It is not a concern. I am stating the facts. One is always more at ease in the ideological system that he has built for himself, because it is abstract.
Q. Has it been exacerbated in recent years?
A. It has always existed. I would not say it has been exacerbated, there has also been much disappointment in connection with that statement. I think there was more [polarization] in the period before World War II. I think. I haven't given it much thought. I am putting things together... In the restaurant of life you always get many ideological dishes. You may always take refuge in that. They are shelters that prevent you from connecting with reality.
Q. Holy Father, over the course of these years, during your trips, we have seen you get moved by others and in turn you have moved many who listened to you... There are three very special occasions: once in Lampedusa, when you asked whether we had cried with the women who lost their children to the sea; in Sardinia, when you spoke about unemployment and the victims of the global financial system; in the Philippines, over the tragedy of the exploited children. What can the Church do about it, what is being done, and what are governments doing?
The pope with Fidel Castro during a visit to Havana in September 2015. AP
A. The symbol I proposed for the new Migrations office —in the new structure, I took directly over the department of Migrations and Refugees, with two secretaries— is an orange life jacket, like the ones we all know. During a general audience, there was a group of people working to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean. I was passing through, greeting people, and a man had one of those things in his hands and he started to cry on my shoulder, and he sobbed: "I wasn't able to do it, I didn't get to her in time, I wasn't able to do it." And when he calmed down a little he told me: "She wasn't more than four years old. And she went down. I am giving this to you." This a symbol of the tragedy that we are living.
Q. Are governments rising to the occasion?
A. Everyone does what they can or what they want to do. It is very hard to pass judgment. Undoubtedly, the fact that the Mediterranean has become a graveyard is food for thought.
Q. Do you feel that the way you reach out to the margins, to those who suffer and are lost, is a welcome attitude, considering it is accompanied by a machine that is perhaps used to a very different pace? Do you feel that you and the Church go at a different pace? Do you feel support?
A. I think that, fortunately, the responses are generally good, very good. When I asked the parishes and the schools in Rome to take in immigrants, many said that it had been a failure. It is not true! It was not a failure at all! A high percentage of Rome's parishes, when they didn't have a big house or they had a very little one, they had their parishioners rent an apartment for an immigrant family. In convent schools, whenever there was room, they welcomed an immigrant family... The answer is that we have done more than you know, because we haven't advertised it. The Vatican has two parishes and each parish has an immigrant family. An apartment at the Vatican for one family, another for the other one. The response has been constant. Not a 100% response, I don't know the proportion, I think maybe 50%.
Then there is the problem of integration. Each immigrant constitutes a very serious problem. They are fleeing their country, because of hunger or because of the war. They are exploited. Take Africa: Africa is the symbol of exploitation. Even when given their independence, in some countries, they are the owners of their land on the surface, but not underground. So they are always used and abused...
The migrant reception policy has several phases. There is an emergency phase: you have to welcome them, because otherwise they will drown. Italy and Greece have led by example. Even now, Italy, with all the problems caused by the earthquake, still provides care. They come to Italy because it is the nearest shore, of course. I think they also get to Spain through Ceuta. But rather than staying in Spain, most of them tend to go north in search of better opportunities.
Q. But in Spain there is a fence in Ceuta and Melilla, so they cannot go through.
A. Yes, I know. And they want to go north. So the problem is: welcome them, yes, for a couple of months, give them accommodations. But the integration process must start at some point. Receive and integrate. The role model for all the world is Sweden. Sweden has nine million people. Of those, 890,000 are "new Swedes", children of immigrants or immigrants with Swedish citizenship. The Foreign minister —I think it was her, the one who came to send me off— is a young woman, the daughter of a Swedish mother and a father from Gabon. Integrated immigrants. The problem is integration. When there is not integration, ghettos spring up. I am not blaming anyone, but it is a fact that there are ghettos. The young men who committed the atrocity in Zaventem [airport] were Belgian, they were born in Belgium. However, they lived in an immigrant neighborhood, a closed neighborhood. So the second phase is the key: integration. So much so that, what is the big problem for Sweden now? It isn't that they don't want any more immigrants to come, no! They can't get enough of the integration programs! They wonder what else they can do to get more people to come. It is astonishing. It is an example for the whole world. And it is nothing new. I said it right from the start, after Lampedusa... I knew of Sweden because of all the Argentinians, Uruguayans, Chileans who went there in the era of the military dictatorships and who were welcomed there. I have friends who went there as refugees and who live there. You go to Sweden and they give you a healthcare program, papers, a residency permit... And then you have a home, and the following week you have a school to learn the language, and a little bit of work, and you are on your way.
In that respect, Sant'Egidio in Italy is another model to follow. The Vatican is in charge of 22 [migrants], and we are taking care of them, and they are slowly becoming independent. The second day, the kids were going to school. The second day! And the parents are getting gradually settled in an apartment, with a bit of work here, a bit of work there... They have instructors to teach them the language... Sant'Egidio has that same attitude. So, the problem is: urgent rescue, of course, for everyone. Second: receive, welcome as best as possible. Afterwards, integrate.
Q. Your Holiness, half a century has passed since many significant events happened: the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI's trip to the Holy Land and his embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras. Some people say that in order to know you, one must know Paul VI. He was up to a point the unappreciated Pope. Do you also feel that way, like an uncomfortable Pope?
A. No, no. I think that I should be less well understood because of my sins. Paul VI was the unappreciated martyr. (...) Evangelii gadium, which frames the pastoral principles that I want for the Church, is an update of Paul VI's Evangelii Nuntiandi. He is a man who was ahead of history. And he suffered a lot. He was a martyr. There were many things that he wasn't able to do, he was a realistic person and he knew that he wasn't able to and he suffered for it, but he offered us his suffering. He did what he could. And the best thing that he did was planting the seeds. The seeds of things that history collected afterwards. Evangeli Gadium is a mix of Evangeli Nuntiandi and the Aparecida document. Things that developed from the bottom up. Evangeli Nuntiandi is the best post-Council pastoral paper, and it is still relevant. I don't feel unrecognized. I feel accompanied by all kinds of people, young people, old people... There are some who don't agree, of course, and they have the right not to, because if I felt bad because someone disagrees with me, I would have the germ of a dictator in me. They have the right to disagree. They have the right to think that the path is dangerous, that the outcome may be bad, they have the right. But provided that they talk, that they don't hide behind others. Nobody has the right to do that. Hiding behind others is inhumane, it is a crime. Everyone has the right to debate, and I wish we would all debate more, because it creates a smoother connection between us. Debating unites us. A debate in good faith, not with slander nor things like that.
Q. You don't feel uncomfortable with power?
A. But I don't have the power. Power is something that is shared. Power exists when we make decisions that have been meditated, talked about, and prayed over; prayer helps me very much, it is a great support to me. I don't feel uncomfortable with power. I feel uneasy with certain protocols, but that is because I come from the streets.
Q. You haven't watched TV for 25 years now, and you were reportedly never were very fond of journalists. Yet you have reinvented the whole communication system of the Vatican, you have professionalized it and have made it into a dicastery [a department of the Curia]. Are media that important for the Pope? Is there a threat against the freedom of the press? Can social media be detrimental for the freedom of the individual?
A. I don't watch television. I simply felt that God was asking that of me. On July 16, 1990 I made that promise, and I have not broken it. I have only been to the television center that was next to the archbishopric to watch a couple of films that I was interested in, which I thought would be appropriate for my message. I used to love the movies, I had studied a lot about cinema, most of all the Italian cinema of the postwar period, Italian realism, and the Polish director Wajda, and Kurosawa, and several French directors. But not watching TV didn't prevent me from communicating. Not watching TV was a personal decision, nothing more. Communication comes from God. God communicates. God has communicated with us throughout history. God doesn't exist in isolation. God communicates, and has spoken, and has accompanied us, and has challenged us, and has made us change course, and He is still with us. You cannot understand Catholic theology without God's communication. God is not static up there, watching how people have fun or ruin themselves. God gets involved, through the word and through his flesh. And that is my starting point. I feel a little afraid when mass media don't express themselves with an ethos of their own. For instance, there are ways of communicating that, instead of helping, weaken unity. A simple case in point: a family that is having dinner without conversation, because they are watching TV or the kids are with their phones, texting people who are somewhere else. When communication loses the flesh, the human element, and becomes liquid, it is dangerous. It is very important for families to communicate, for people to communicate, and also in the other way. Virtual communication is very rich, but there is a risk if it is lacking human, normal, person-to-person communication. The concrete element of communication is what will make the virtual element take the right course. We are no angels, we are concrete individuals. Communication is key and must go forward. I have spoken about the sins of communication in a lecture I gave in Buenos Aires at ADEPA, the association that bring together Argentinean publishers. The chairmen invited me to a dinner in which I gave this lecture. I signaled the sins of communication and said: don't commit them, because you have a great treasure in your hands. Today, communicating is divine, it always was, because God communicates, and it is also human, because God communicated in a human way. So, for functional purposes, there is a dicastery to channel all this. But it is a functional thing. Communication is essential to the human being, because it is essential to God.
Q. The Vatican's diplomatic machine works at full capacity. Both Barack Obama and Raúl Castro thanked it publicly for its work during their rapprochement. However, there are other cases such as Venezuela, Colombia or the Middle East, which remain blocked. In the first case, the parties have even criticized the Vatican's mediation. Do you fear that the Vatican's image may suffer for it? What are your instructions in these cases?
A. I ask the Lord that he give me the grace of not taking any measure for the sake of image alone. Honesty and service, those are the criteria. You may make mistakes sometimes, your image will suffer, but it doesn't matter if there was goodwill. History will judge afterwards. And there is a principle, a very clear one for me, that must govern everything both in pastoral action and in Vatican diplomacy: we are mediators, rather than intermediaries. We build bridges, not walls. What is the difference between a mediator and an intermediary? The intermediary is the one that has a real estate business for instance, who looks for someone who wants to sell a house and for someone who wants to buy one, he helps them reach an agreement and he gets a commission, he renders a good service but he always gets something out of it, and rightly so because it is his job. The mediator is the one who wants to serve both parties and wants both parties to win even if he loses. Vatican diplomacy must be a mediator, not an intermediary. If, throughout history, it has sometimes maneuvered or managed a meeting that filled its pockets, that was a very serious sin. The mediator builds bridges that are not for him, but rather for others to cross. And he doesn't charge a fee. He builds the bridge and then he leaves. That is to me the image of Vatican diplomacy. Mediators, rather than intermediaries. Bridge builders.
Q. Will that Vatican diplomacy extend soon to China?
A. In fact, there is a committee that has been working for years with China, they meet every three months, once here and once in Beijing. There are many talks with China. China has always had that aura of mystery that is fascinating. Two or three months ago they had an exhibition of pieces from the Vatican Museums in Beijing, and they were very happy about it. And next year they will come to the Vatican with their own exhibits.
Q. And will you soon be going to China?
A. As soon as they send me an invitation. They know that. Besides, in China, the churches are packed. In China they can worship freely.
Q. Both in Europe and in America, the repercussions of the crisis that never ends, the growing inequalities, the absence of a strong leadership are giving way to political groups that reflect on the citizens' malaise. Some of them —the so-called anti-system or populists— capitalize on the fears of an uncertain future in order to form a message full of xenophobia and hatred towards foreigners. Trump's case is the most noteworthy, but there are others such as Austria or Switzerland. Are you worried about this trend?
A. That is what they call populism here. It is an equivocal term, because in Latin America populism has another meaning. In Latin America, it means that the people —for instance, people's movements— are the protagonists. They are self-organized. When I started to hear about populism in Europe I didn't know what to make of it, until I realized that it had different meanings. Crises provoke fear, alarm. In my opinion, the most obvious example of populism in the European sense of the word is Germany in 1933. After [Paul von] Hindenburg, after the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, it needs a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says: "I can, I can". And Germans vote for Hitler. Hitler didn't steal power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people. That is the risk. In times of crisis we lack judgment, and that is a constant reference for me. Let's look for a savior who gives us back our identity and let us defend ourselves with walls, barbed-wire, whatever, from other people who may rob us of our identity. And that is a very serious thing. That is why I always try to say: talk among yourselves, talk to one another. But the case of Germany in 1933 is typical, a people who were immersed in a crisis, who were searching for their identity until this charismatic leader came and promised to give their identity back, and he gave them a distorted identity, and we all know what happened. Where there is no conversation... Can borders be controlled? Yes, each country has the right to control its borders, who comes in and who goes out, and those countries at risk —from terrorism or such things— have even more of a right to control them, but no country has the right to deprive its citizens of the possibility to talk with their neighbors.
Q. Do you see, Holy Father, any sign of 1933 Germany in today's Europe?
A. I am no expert, but, with regard to today's Europe, let me refer you to three speeches I have made,  two in Strasbourg and the third one on the occasion of the Charlemagne prize, the only award I have accepted because they insisted a lot due to the situation Europe was in, and I accepted it as a service. Those three speeches contain what I think about Europe.
Q. Is corruption the great sin of our times?
A. It is a big sin. But I think that we must not think of ourselves as historically exclusive. There has always been corruption. Always and right here. If you read about the history of the Popes, you will find some nice scandals... And that is just to mention my own house and not talk about others. There are examples of neighboring countries where there was also corruption, but I will stick to my own. There was corruption here. A lot. Just think of Pope Alexander VI, and Lucrezia with her [poisoned] "teas".
Q. What news are you getting from Spain? What feedback are you getting about the way your message, your mission, your work is being received in Spain?
A. What I just got from Spain are some polvorones [shortbread] and turrón de Jijona [nougat] that I am going to share with the boys.
Q. Ha ha. In Spain there is a very lively debate on secularism and religiousness, as you already know...
A. Very lively indeed...
Q. What do you think about it? Is it possible that the secularism process, in the end, will force the Catholic Church out to the margins?
A. Talk amongst yourselves. That is the advice I give to every country. Please talk. Have a fraternal conversation, if you feel up to it, or at least in a civilized way. Don't hurl insults at each other. Don't condemn before talking. If, after the conversation, you still want to insult the other guy, alright then, but first talk. If, after the conversation, you still want to condemn the other guy, alright then, but first talk. Today, with our level of human development, politics without talking is inconceivable. And that applies to Spain and elsewhere. So, if you ask me for advice for the Spanish people, I say: talk. If there are problems, first talk.
Q. It is no surprise that your words and your decisions are followed with special interest in Latin America. How do you see that continent? How do you see your own country?
A. The trouble is that Latin America is suffering the effects —which I emphasized in Laudato Si— of an economic system that has the money god at its center, and that means policies that lead to a lot of exclusion. Which leads to a lot of suffering. It is obvious that Latin America today is the target of a strong attack from economic liberalism, the one I condemn in Evangelii Gaudium when I say that "this economy kills". It kills with hunger, it kills with a lack of culture. Migration flows not just from Africa to Lampedusa or Lesbos. Migration also flows from Panama to the Mexican-U.S. border. People migrate in search of something, because liberal systems don't give them job opportunities and foster criminality. In Latin America there is the problem of the drug cartels, drugs that are consumed in the United States and Europe. They make them for the rich countries here, and they lose their lives in the process. And there are those who do it willingly. In my homeland we have a term to describe them: cipayos. It is a classic, literary word that is included in our national poem. The cipayo is the one who sells his homeland to the foreign power who pays him the most. In the history of Argentina, for instance, there has always been a cipayo among the politicians. Or some political position worthy of cipayos. Always. So Latin America must re-arm itself with political groups that will recover the strength of the people. The biggest example for me is Paraguay after the war. The country lost the War of the Triple Alliance and was left almost entirely in the hands of women. And the Paraguayan woman felt that she had to rebuild the nation, defend her faith, defend her culture and defend her language, and she did it. The Paraguayan woman wasn't a cipaya, she defended what was hers, and she repopulated the country. I think that she is the most glorious woman in the Americas. That is an example of someone who never gave up. Of heroism. In Buenos Aires there is a neighborhood on the banks of the Río de la Plata, where the streets bear the names of patriotic women, women who fought for independence, for their homeland. Women have better sense. Maybe I am exaggerating. Correct me if I am. But they have a stronger inclination towards defending their homeland because they are mothers. They are less cipayas. They are less at risk of being cipayas.
Q. That is why it hurts so much to witness all the violence against women, which is such a scourge in Latin America and so many other places...
A. Everywhere. In Europe... In Italy, for instance, I have visited organizations that rescue female prostitutes who are being taken advantage of by Europeans. One of them told me that they had brought her in from Slovakia in a car trunk. They tell her: you have to earn such and such today, and if you don't bring it in, we will beat you. They beat her. In Rome? The circumstances of these women, in Rome, is terrifying. In the house that I visited, there was a woman that had had an ear cut off. When they don't earn enough, they are tortured. And they are trapped because they are frightened, the abusers tell them that they are going to kill their parents. There are Albanians, Nigerians, even Italians. One very good thing this association does is that they walk down the streets, approach the women and, instead of asking how much do you charge, how much do you cost, they ask: How much do you suffer? And they take them to a safe community so that they may recover. Last year, I visited one of those communities with recovering girls, and there were two men there, two volunteers. And one of the women said to me: I found him. She had married the man who had rescued her and they were eager to have a child. The use of women for profit is one of the worst things that are happening today, also in Rome. It is female slavery.
Q. Don't you think that, after the failed attempt of Liberation Theology in Latin America, the Catholic Church has lost a lot of ground to other denominations and even sects? What is the reason for it?
A. Liberation Theology was very positive for Latin America. The Vatican condemned the part that adopted a Marxist analysis of reality. Cardinal Ratzinger conducted two inquiries when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One about the Marxist analysis of reality. And a second one that recovered some positive aspects. Liberation Theology had positive aspects and also deviations, mainly as concerns of the Marxist analysis of reality.
Q. Regarding your relationship with Argentina, in the last three years the Vatican has become a pilgrimage destination for politicians of all colors. Have you felt used?
A. Ah, yes. Some say: let us have our picture taken together, just as a souvenir, and I promise it will be for my personal use, I will not publish it. And before they walk out out the door it is already published. [He smiles]. Well, if that makes him happy, that is his problem. His quality as a person diminishes.  What can I do? It's his problem, not mine. In Argentina there always was a lot of travel, but nowadays, coming to a general audience with the Pope is almost mandatory. [Laughs]. There are also those who come who are my friends —I lived in Argentina for 76 years — sometimes family, nephews and nieces. But I have felt used, yes. There are people who have used me, my pictures, my words, as if I had said things to them, and whenever someone asks me, I always respond: it's not my problem, I didn't say anything to them. But to each with their own conscience.
Q. A frequent subject is the role of laymen and, most of all, the role of women in the Church. Your wish is for them to have a bigger influence and even a role in decision-making. How far do you think that you will be able to get?
A. We must not look at the role of women from a functional point of view, because that way, in the end, the women, or the women's movement in the Church, will be some sort of chauvinism in skirts. The functional aspect is all right. The deputy director of the Press room at the Vatican is a woman, the director of the Vatican Museums is a woman. But what I want is for women to give us their thinking, because the Church is female, the Church is Jesus Christ's wife, and that is the theological foundation of women. What was more important on Pentecost, the Virgin or the apostles? The Virgin. There is a long way ahead yet, and we must work so that women may give to the Church the freshness of their being and their thinking.
Q. On some trips, you have addressed the churchmen, both from the Roman Curia and from the local hierarchies or even common priests and nuns, to ask them for more commitment, more proximity, even a better mood. How do you think they receive that advice, that rebuke?
A. My focus is always on proximity, closeness. And it is well received in general. There are always more fundamentalist groups in every country, also in Argentina. They are small groups and I respect them, they are good people that prefer to live their faith that way. I preach what I feel that the Lord asks me to preach.
Q. In Europe there is an increasing number of priests and nuns originating from the so-called Third World. What is the reason for this?
A. A hundred and fifty years ago, in Latin America, there were growing numbers of European priests and nuns, same as in Africa and Asia. Young churches expanded. In Europe today there are no births. Italy has a rate below zero. I think that France is leading the way now, thanks to all the natality laws. But there are no births. The Italian welfare of years ago cut down births. We'd rather go on vacation, we have a dog, a cat, we don't have children and, if there are no births, there are no callings.
Q. In your consistories you have created cardinals from all over the world. How would you like the next conclave to be, the one that will elect your successor? Your Holiness, do you think that you will witness the next conclave?
A. I want it to be Catholic. A Catholic conclave that chooses my successor.
Q. And will you see it?
A. I don't know. That is for God to decide. When I feel that I cannot go on, my great teacher Benedict taught me how to do it. And if God carries me away before that, I will see it from the afterlife. I hope it will not be from Hell... But I want it to be a Catholic consistory.
Q. You seem very happy to be a Pope.
A. The Lord is good and hasn't taken away my good humor.
Translation from Spanish by María Luisa Rodríguez Tapia, editing by Susana Urra.