Thursday, January 12, 2017


A template for real Catholic reform in 2017

A template for real Catholic reform in 2017
An image of the 16th century Council of Trent, which launched what came to be known as the Catholic Counter-Reformation. (Credit: Wikicommons.)
One of the key principles of reform is the idea of return, or rediscovery. To reform is not to change one’s nature or alter one’s identity, but to return to the truth of oneself that may have become distorted or atrophied over time.


Among other things, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, an event-or series of events-that split Western Christianity into a series of factions, denominations and ecclesial communions.
While targeting real abuses and errors, the reformers ended by radically altering core Christian beliefs on issues ranging from the Canon of Sacred Scripture to the nature of the Church to the number and meaning of the Church’s sacraments.
The Church responded with her own “reformation,” which has been called variously the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Reformation and the Catholic Revival. Culminating in the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Catholic reform curbed abuses, clarified doctrine, purified practices, unified the Church and found new ways to present the beauty of Christian teaching.
In his address to the Roman Curia on December 22, Pope Francis once again centered his words on the need for continuous reform, and while he was speaking first and foremost of the reform of the Curia, he extended the scope of his words to the reform of the Church herself.
Reform, Francis said, “is first and foremost a sign of life, of a Church that advances on her pilgrim way, of a Church that is living and for this reason semper reformanda, in need of reform because she is alive.” Or as the Second Vatican Council taught, “Christ summons the Church to continual reformation as she sojourns here on earth. The Church is always in need of this, in so far as she is an institution of men here on earth.”
One of the key principles of reform is the idea of return, or rediscovery. To reform is not to change one’s nature or alter one’s identity, but to return to the truth of oneself that may have become distorted or atrophied over time.
For Catholics, this anniversary year offers a sterling opportunity to reevaluate and come to a deeper appreciation of the way the Church herself responded successfully to the need for reform 500 years ago, and in this way to draw out lessons for the ongoing reform required by the Church today.
Of the many important characteristics of the Catholic revival, five stand out as particularly crucial as well as immediately applicable to the present historical context.
The centrality of the sacraments
Martin Luther’s rejection of a number of the traditional seven sacraments led the Church to reaffirm the importance of each of the sacraments and their centrality in the Christian life as visible signs instituted by Christ to give grace.
In this flourishing of sacramental theology, the Church asserted that the sacraments are not mere symbols or empty rituals, but actually bring about what they represent. The holy water employed in baptism didn’t just symbolize washing; it really cleansed the soul from original sin and regenerated the person as a son or daughter of God.
The words of absolution don’t just help a person to appreciate God’s merciful love; they really bring about true reconciliation with God and the Church.
Nowhere is the reality of the sacraments more evident than in the Eucharist. The Council of Trent taught that Jesus is “really, truly, substantially present” in the consecrated bread and wine, and not just figuratively or symbolically represented.
Contrary to Protestant criticism, the 13th session of the Council reaffirmed and defined the doctrine of Transubstantiation as “that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood.”
The Catholic reform saw a burgeoning of Eucharistic devotion in various forms. Eucharistic adoration by the laity, for instance, was born in the 13th century but experienced widespread growth during the 16th and 17th centuries, and emphasized the doctrine of the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.
One of the greatest examples of Eucharistic art from this period is Peter Paul Rubens’s 1625 painting, The Defenders of the Eucharist. Produced during the Church’s Reformation efforts to defend and reclaim her Eucharistic doctrine, Rubens assembled seven outstanding saints known for their Eucharistic witness in one scene.
In this moving work, Rubens featured St. Jerome, St. Norbert, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, and finally St. Augustine.
Saint Peter and the papacy
The work of the Protestant reformers and their rejection of the pope gave Catholics the occasion to rediscover the gift of the papacy and its importance for Christian unity. Devotion to Saint Peter prospered during this period, which also saw the completion and consecration of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 1626.
The papacy had suffered a loss of esteem during the years leading up to the Protestant Reformation, due to a series of scandals and a general spirit of worldliness that had taken hold of the papal office. The popes of the period of the reform-St. Pius V, Gregory XIII and Sixtus V-each contributed in his own way to the much-needed Catholic revival following the Council of Trent.
Pius V gave the personal witness of a life of heroic virtue, and was proclaimed as a model of penance, asceticism, and prayer. Though known especially for the reform of the calendar, Gregory XIII was a great patron of the missions and of Catholic education, and founded the German, English, and Greek colleges in Rome while also sending out missionaries at his own expense to various parts of the world.
Sixtus V carried the Catholic reform over into the renewal of the city of Rome itself.
In his five and a half years as pope, Sixtus completed St. Peter’s Basilica and erected the obelisk of Nero in front of it, built the Vatican Library and its wing in the papal palace, practically reconstructed the Quirinal and Lateran Palaces, created straight streets for pilgrims connecting the major basilicas, built the Aqua Felice aqueduct and the Via Sistina, and established the hospital of San Girolamo.
Great saints, mystics and martyrs
True Christian reform is above all spiritual in nature and is exemplified and shepherded by the saints. The Catholic reform of the 16th and 17th centuries provides a magnificent example of this, with a proliferation of holy men and women of all stripes, from mystics to missionaries to martyrs to saints given over to charitable works.
As emeritus Pope Benedict wrote many years ago: “Saints, in fact, reformed the Church in depth, not by working up plans for new structures, but by reforming themselves. What the Church needs in order to respond to the needs of man in every age is holiness, not management.”
At this time, St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), who took up the banner of the Counter-Reform with great vigor, bolstering the faithful and sending missionaries like Sts. Francis Xavier, Matteo Ricci and Peter Claver to the far corners of the earth.
Later during the revival, St. Philip Neri, the great preacher and apostle of Rome, founded the Congregation of the Oratory and St. Vincent de Paul founded the Daughters of Charity and the Vincentians, who dedicated themselves to missions and works of charity.
Meanwhile, the holy Franciscan bishop of Geneva and patron of journalists, St. Francis of Sales, was revitalizing the local Church in innovative ways, with a special outreach to lay spirituality with his Introduction to the Devout Life.
This spiritual reform of the Catholic revival included a reform of religious life, which in many areas had fallen into every sort of decay and languor. Spearheading the reform of the Carmelite order were two mystics, St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross, who championed a Christ-centered spirituality suffused with love for the person of Jesus.
Martyrs, too, came in many forms in this period. Some, like Paul Miki and his 25 companions in Japan, or at the end of this period the great French Jesuit martyrs Jean de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues in northern New York State, gave their lives for Christ while preaching him to those who had never heard his name.
Others, like the Englishmen John Fisher and Thomas More bore witness to the Catholic faith at the hands of an absolute state that demanded they betray their faith, and later Edmund Campion, who died at the hands of a Protestant reform run amok.
Evangelization and mission
The rediscovery of the richness of the Catholic faith inspired a zeal to share this faith with others, and indeed to carry it to the ends of the earth. As we have seen, the Jesuits sent missionaries to the farthest reaches of the earth: China, Japan, Africa, North, Central and South America.
The Catholic reformation coincided with the exploration and evangelization of the new world, which had only been discovered a few decades earlier. Along with the Jesuits, other orders such as the Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians carried the Catholic faith to faraway lands, setting up schools, hospitals and missions.
The founding of the Roman Congregation “De Propaganda Fide” in 1622, with its organized missionaries, gave a great impetus to the Church’s evangelizing outreach and helped missionaries extricate themselves from overly close ties to national governments and secular ambitions.
As Pope Francis wrote in his first teaching letter, Evangelii Gaudium(“The Joy of the Gospel”), “we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ.” This was the driving force behind the enormous missionary outreach of those years.
“All of them have a right to receive the Gospel,” Francis continued, and “Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary
The Protestant reformers often saw Catholic devotion to the saints as a lessening of Christ’s unique mediation between God and man. Martin Luther himself came to consider the Roman Catholic practice of offering intercessory prayers to Mary and the saints to be idolatry, and John Calvin oversaw  the destruction of Marian images and paintings of the saints.
While condemning abuses, the Council of Trent strongly reaffirmed the veneration of saints and relics, and particularly the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The period of the Catholic reform saw Marian devotion thrive and expand, especially during the pontificate of the Dominican Pope St. Pius V.
On October 7, 1571, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states sailed from Sicily to engage a materially superior Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, Pope Pius summoned all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory, and he personally led a rosary procession in Rome for this intention.
To commemorate and give thanks for Mary’s intercession, Pius instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory (later changed to Our Lady of the Rosary), which is celebrated on October 7, and this brought the rosary into the General Roman Calendar.
As much as the world has changed in the intervening centuries, much has remained the same. In many ways, the world today remarkably resembles the world of the Catholic reformation. The challenges of doctrinal confusion and ambiguity, diminished religious practice, radical Islam and worldliness are every bit as acute today as they were 500 years ago.
More importantly, the reform of the Church always requires a return to what is central in Catholic belief and practice. The gospel itself, though 2,000 years old, will always be “good news” for all generations.
Looking through the keys to the great Catholic revival, it isn’t hard to discover a program for the reform of the Church today. A renewal of appreciation for the seven sacraments and our active participation in them is critical for true reform, as is a focusing on sanctity as the goal of our lives, gratitude for the unique gift of the papacy, loving veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary and fervent evangelizing outreach.
The beauty of this program of renewal is that no one needs to wait for others to take the lead-it is within the grasp of every man, woman and child.
Thomas D. Williams is a Rome-based Catholic theologian, author and professor of Ethics at the University of Saint Thomas. His fifteen books include The World as It Could Be: Catholic Social Thought for a New Generation (Crossroad) and Who Is My Neighbor? Personalism and the Foundations of Human Rights (CUA Press). He is also a contributor for Breitbart News.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me, the Church, the Body of Christ, never needs reform. The sinful elements need conversion not reform. In fact, the very word reform should be expunged from theological discourse as it has a very bad odor by now. Conversion to Christ is needed and one of the first necessary actions is a new papal resignation. Pope Francis has become so controversial and so unfit for further leadership that as long as he is active nothing positive can happen short of his formal act of resignation.

The notion of continuous reform is a shopworn political construct identified with Catholic agit-propagandists of Vatican 2 vintage, a heterodox mantra of clerics on the edge of the abyss of heresy.

rcg said...

A successful renewal starts with a return to the basics and fundamentals.

TJM said...

rcg, of course. The liberals are still trying to sell us an Edsel

Mark Thomas said...

From Thomas D. Williams' article:

"Saint Peter and the papacy"

"The work of the Protestant reformers and their rejection of the pope gave Catholics the occasion to rediscover the gift of the papacy and its importance for Christian unity. Devotion to Saint Peter prospered during this period..."

Just before I came to Father McDonald's blog today, I made my rounds in search of Catholic news. I first toured a couple of right-wing blogs.

At Father John Zuhlsdorf's site, I noticed that he has linked a vile hit-piece that Damian Thompson has directed against His Holiness Pope Francis. It is a shame that Mr. Thompson has reduced himself to what is little more than "Hitler's Pope" journalism via his anti-Catholic hit-piece aim at our Holy Father Pope Francis.

Even more mind-boggling to me is the fact that a Catholic priest (Father Zuhlsdorf) promoted the garbage that Mister Thompson concocted.

But then, a couple of days ago on his blog, Father Zulhsdorf promoted a "funny" story and photoshopped image of Pope Francis dressed in "Christmas sweater vestments."

The disgraceful "photo" served only to mock Holy Mother Church's sacred rites, vestments, Papacy, and Pope Francis.

As I departed Father Zuhlsdorf blog, I visited an additional right-wing blog, which, surprise, surprise, featured Mr. Thompson's nasty article about Pope Francis.

I was depressed at the unrelenting, anti-Catholic nonsense in which right-wing "Catholic" blog traffic. That is, I was depressed until I arrived here.

Thanks to Father McDonald's post about Thomas Williams' template for Catholic reform in 2017 A.D., my sadness at today's latest attack against Pope Francis, and in effect, Holy Mother Church and Her Papacy, I will take to heart the following from Thomas Williams:

"The beauty of this program of renewal is that no one needs to wait for others to take the lead - it is within the grasp of every man, woman and child."

Therefore, In 2017 A.D. (how ever much time that I have to live this year), I will recall Thomas Williams words about renewing one's awareness of the "gift of the papacy and its importance for Christian unity. Devotion to Saint Peter prospered during this period..."

Each time in 2017 A.D. that I encounter garbage about His Holiness Pope Francis, I will give thanks unto God for His Papacy and renew my commitment to my Catholic loyalty to Pope Francis.

Thank you, Father McDonald, for the positive story about Thomas Williams and his template for renewal.


Mark Thomas

TJM said...

Mark Thomas,

You views of the Papacy border on idol worship and you're delusional when it comes to Pope Francis. Pope Francis with his flippant and nasty comments has opened himself up to criticism. If you're up to it intellectually, I invite you to take on Father Zuhlsdorf.

rcg said...

Mark, I am uncomfortable with what Damian Thompson's column as well. But objecting to it is the same as saying that I am tired of people telling me my fly is open. Unfortunately His criticism confirms signs that were evident even as Pope Francis was in Argentina. It is not a "liberal" or "conservative" issue but a leadership issue that can be easily solved by heeding the advice of the many great minds and strong spirits within his reach rather than avoiding or supressing them.

John Nolan said...

'Reform' meant one thing in the 11th century, and much the same thing in the 16th. In the 20th century it came to have an entirely different meaning, and that is unfortunately persistent.

Mark Thomas: I was disappointed when Bergoglio was elected, but was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. I have come to the conclusion that he is not competent, relies too much on the advice of very dubious advisors (Fernandez, Spadaro) and if he has an agenda for reform I hope he dies before he can accomplish it.

Still, I lived through the worst pontificate of the 20th century (1963-1978) and things cannot be worse - or can they?

I can assure you that I am not a right-wing nut, but should you think I am:



TJM said...


Si vis pacem para bellum? Love your close out.

Mark Thomas must be a highly conflicted individual. On the one hand he advocates restoration of the EF but on the other hand he is wildly supportive of a pontiff who would love for the EF to go away and who has publicly stated that young people who are attracted to the EF have "issues."

I agree with you. Pope Francis is not competent, the least talented intellectually of any Pope in my lifetime, and I stretch back to Pius XII. I think Pope Francis is vying to wrest away the dubious honor of worst pontificate from Paul VI, who like Pope Francis, had very poor advisors.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan: "I lived through the worst pontificate of the 20th century (1963-1978) and things cannot be worse - or can they?"

Do you know of a previous papacy whose first four years have seemed more disastrous for the Church than the current one?

Православный физик said...

The only uncomfortable thing about the piece is that of course we don't want to say these things, but there's no other way to describe the reality of what is happening before our eyes.

It's been said that one can tell a lot about a person by the friends or enemies they have. To say Pope Francis' list of friends leaves much to be desired is an understatement.

I'd much rather NOT be saying these things about Pope Francis and what's going on. But what else to do besides the obvious? Stupid things need to be called out for what they are. It doesn't help anyone if things are left to boil underground.

That's the one good thing about this pontificate, we know who the enemies are.

Anonymous said...

I never thought I would say "Thank you, Mark Thomas" but that is a particularly well summed up piece by Damian Thompson of Francis and his papacy. No wonder Mark Thomas is depressed because it shows clearly what Mark Thomas tries so strenuously to uphold, and it is not a pretty story and Thompson sounds as disgusted with the vulgarity of Francis as I am. Here is the link if anyone cares to read the summing up of what we are all aware of except for the myopic Mark Thomas. One piece however was new to me but I'm not suprised by it:

"On 2 January, the Vatican published a letter from Pope Francis to the world’s bishops in which he reminded them that they must show ‘zero tolerance’ towards child abuse. The next day, the American Week magazine published an article that told the story of ‘Don Mercedes’ — Fr Mauro Inzoli, an Italian priest with a passion for expensive cars and underage boys.

In 2012, Pope Benedict stripped Inzoli of his priestly faculties, effectively defrocking him. In 2014, however, they were restored to him — by Pope Francis, who warned him to stay away from minors.

Then, finally, the Italian civil authorities caught up with this serial groper of teenagers in the confessional. Last summer Inzoli was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail for paedophile offences. The Vatican, under ‘zero-tolerance’ Francis, refused to supply evidence that prosecutors wanted.

If Pope Benedict XVI had displayed such a hypocritical attitude towards a clerical child abuser, the roof would have fallen in on him: he’d have been driven out of office instead of resigning.The fact that Francis is not co-operating over"

Anonymous said...

John Nolan, while I might not have agreed with everything Pope Paul VI did, to compare his pontificate in the light of what is happening in the current pontificate is a very unfair comparison indeed. Pope Paul gave us Humanae Vitae which upheld Church teaching. No vulgar language was ever heard from his lips. He never donned a clown nose. He never upheld Islam and suggested that all religions are equal and being Catholic means nothing. He never broke with tradition by washing the feet of women or suggested that women breast feed in front of him. Pope John 23rd was responsible for calling the disastrous Second Vatican Council, not Paul VI.


(ps I wrote the previous anonymous post about Damian Thompson but omitted to sign it - my Google account cancels itself and reappears randomly for some reason best known to Google)

John Nolan said...

I've read DT's article and it seems remarkably balanced. If Auberon Waugh, a Spectator columnist and scourge of liberal clerics and kindergarten liturgy, were still with us he would have been a lot more acerbic.

TJM said...


Paul VI destroyed the Catholic Liturgy and for that I can never honor his memory.

Mark Thomas said...

TJM said..."If you're up to it intellectually, I invite you to take on Father Zuhlsdorf."

I am not up to that, intellectually. But fortunately, that is not required of me as Holy Mother Church is up to that task.

Therefore, the next time that Father Zuhlsdorf desires to post a fake photo that, in reality, serves to mock the Church's sacred rites and objects by way of mocking His Holiness Pope Francis dressed in "Christmas sweater vestments," I would hope that Father Zuhlsdorf considers the following:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2479:

"Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor.

"Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect.

"Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity."

Let us demonstrate Catholic charity in regard to Pope Francis, a child of God, created in His image, our chief shepherd, our brother in Jesus Christ.


Mark Thomas

Gene said...

Anonymous nailed it in the first post. "Continuous reform" is just modernist gobbledy-gook meaning continuous de-construction. It is very similar to those who say the Bible is a "living document" or the US Constitution is a "living document." These are progressivist code words for, "Let's mess with it and re-interpret it to suit our own unbelief and humanistic agenda. You cannot trust people who talk like this.

Anonymous said...

TJM, the author of the new Mass was Bugnini as reported by Fr Louis Bouyer:

"Father Louis Bouyer: I wrote to the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, to tender my resignation as member of the Commission charged with the Liturgical Reform. The Holy Father sent for me at once and the following conversation ensued:

Paul VI: Father, you are an unquestionable and unquestioned authority by your deep knowledge of the Church’s liturgy and Tradition, and a specialist in this field. I do not understand why you have sent me your resignation, whilst your presence, is more than precious, it is indispensable!

Father Bouyer: Most Holy Father, if I am a specialist in this field, I tell you very simply that I resign because I do not agree with the reforms you are imposing! Why do you take no notice of the remarks we send you, and why do you do the opposite?

Paul VI: But I don’t understand: I’m not imposing anything. I have never imposed anything in this field. I have complete trust in your competence and your propositions. It is you who are sending me proposals. When Fr. Bugnini comes to see me, he says: “Here is what the experts are asking for.” And as you are an expert in this matter, I accept your judgement.

Father Bouyer: And meanwhile, when we have studied a question, and have chosen what we can propose to you, in conscience, Father Bugnini took our text, and, then said to us that, having consulted you: “The Holy Father wants you to introduce these changes into the liturgy.” And since I don’t agree with your propositions, because they break with the Tradition of the Church, then I tender my resignation.

Paul VI: But not at all, Father, believe me, Father Bugnini tells me exactly the contrary: I have never refused a single one of your proposals. Father Bugnini came to find me and said: “The experts of the Commission charged with the Liturgical Reform asked for this and that”. And since I am not a liturgical specialist, I tell you again, I have always accepted your judgement. I never said that to Monsignor Bugnini. I was deceived. Father Bugnini deceived me and deceived you.

Father Bouyer: That is, my dear friends, how the liturgical reform was done!"

Bugnini was sent to Iraq after that but I think all that Paul VI can be blamed for is weakness - Vatican II had already set the wheels in motion for a reform of the liturgy. Pius XII it is said helped that by the changes he made to the Easter liturgy. The Church was from the time of the Council - and maybe even before that - in the grip of modernists hell bent on reform and destruction. Paul VI said that satan had entered the Church and he was pretty powerless to stop the rot. Even Pope John Paul II The Great and Benedict XVI struggled against the entrenched modernists. We wouldn't have the pope we have today if the Church wasn't firmly in their grip ...


rcg said...

Mark T., it is not charity allow someone to continue making mistakes and it is facilitation to pretend he isn't or to support and rationalize them. We dont have to say that he is a bad person, either. I think he is at least as upset with the situation as we are.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The Constitution of the United States is referred to as a "living document" because the architects of the document intended for it to be adapted by future generations. It is because it is adaptable, that amendments could be ratified, or added to it.

Those who suggest, with late Justice Scalia, that the Constitution is a dead document, are wrong. "A staunch conservative and “textualist,” Scalia believes the law must be taken literally and that the original meaning of the Constitution is the best way to interpret it."

Fortunately for us, the Constitution has never been treated as a "dead" document, but a living one. And fortunately, we are not bound by the intention or the thinking of the Founders (or their "original meaning") who knew nothing about genetics, space travel, nuclear weapons, etc.

Anonymous said...

Upon reading John Nolan's comment, I went straight to the Spectator site, wondering whether Damien Thompson could really have written a "remarkably balanced" piece on the current pope. Somewhat to my surprise, I found it to be not only balanced, but fair and largely factual, not conspicuously colored by whatever personal opinions the author may have. More reportage than opinion.

TJM said...


I am well aware of the history of the OF. A close friend of mine at the time was Cardinal Ottaviani's niece and I received blow by blow accounts of this fiasco. At the end of the day Paul VI should never have approved the Novus Ordo without serious, serious revisions. Without his approbabation, it could never have been promulgated and used.

Father Kavanaugh,

Unfortunately nowadays, instead of Constitutional Amendments being passed to deal with changing conditions, which are approved and voted upon by the governed, the way liberal loons get around the will of the people is to have Courts stacked with "liberals" do their dirty work. This is something our Founding Fathers never intended. Period. We endws up with that abortion, Roe v Wade (pun intended) because some jackasses invented a right to an abortion by looking through those hidden penumbras. You sound like you're proud of stripping free people of their right to consent to the laws by which they are to be governed.

Mark Thomas, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Detraction and calumny are part of Pope Francis' standard bag of tricks. You should tell him to cease that sort of activity.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh knows about as much about the Constitution as he does about theology.

Adam Michael said...

"Mark Thomas must be a highly conflicted individual. On the one hand he advocates restoration of the EF but on the other hand he is wildly supportive of a pontiff who would love for the EF to go away and who has publicly stated that young people who are attracted to the EF have 'issues.'"

Thank you for saying this. I, too, have noticed this about Mark Thomas. Mark Thomas seems to feel that he can only be truly traditional/pre-Conciliar by treating the current Pope as if he is Pius XII and the current hierarchy as if they are pre-Vatican II. This is nostalgic and it does remind me of past Catholic sentiment. However, this is a perilous path since it leads to defense of those in error, poor argumentation, and a general portrayal of weakness in the face of the attempted perversion of the Church's Faith, which is certainly far from the spirit of faithful Catholics of the past.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, those "liberal" judges.... "Blackmun, a lifelong Republican, was expected to adhere to a conservative interpretation of the Constitution. The Court's Chief Justice at the time, Warren Burger, a long-time friend of Blackmun's and best man at his wedding, had recommended Blackmun for the job to Nixon. The two were often referred to as the "Minnesota Twins" (a reference to the baseball team, the Minnesota Twins) because of their common history in Minnesota and because they so often voted together. Indeed, Blackmun voted with Burger in 87.5 percent of the closely divided cases during his first five terms (1970 to 1975), and with William J. Brennan, the Court's leading liberal, in only 13 percent."

Hmmm.... Those "liberal" judges...

Adam Michael said...

"At Father John Zuhlsdorf's site, I noticed that he has linked a vile hit-piece that Damian Thompson has directed against His Holiness Pope Francis. It is a shame that Mr. Thompson has reduced himself to what is little more than 'Hitler's Pope' journalism via his anti-Catholic hit-piece aim at our Holy Father Pope Francis."

It is vile. But, the key question is, "Is it true?" Please provide evidence (instead of fideism - it's not 1964 and nobody is impressed anymore) that the allegations contained in Thompson's article are incorrect. Damian Thompson is a reputable journalist, editor, and author and you are not - you need to justify attacking Thompson's professional reputation. I actually hope you can provide evidence that the Vatican did not essentially protect a child abuser, since I would hope our current problems in the Vatican do not extend to such depths of perversity.

Anonymous 2 said...

Jan (at 8:38 a.m.):

Here we go again. Because you failed (again) to provide a source I Googled the opening words of the passage you quoted. It took me to a list of sources headed by The Remnant:

The Remnant article claims that the original source is a website authored by one Monsignor Jacques Masson and provides a link to that website. I will not reproduce that link here because when I click on it I am taken to another website informing me (in French) that the site cannot be found and replete with lewd pictures and solicitations.

So, permit me to doubt the authenticity of this report. More fake news I wonder? I am, of course, open to verification of the report from a trustworthy source.

TJM said...

Anonymous, those loons were from Minnesota, nuff said.

Mark Thomas said...

Adam Michael said..."It is vile. But, the key question is, "Is it true?" Please provide evidence (instead of fideism - it's not 1964 and nobody is impressed anymore) that the allegations contained in Thompson's article are incorrect."

I don't have to provide a shred of "evidence" as it is Damian Thompson, not I, who claimed to exposed the "real," behind-the-scenes, Pope Francis — without having offered anything but this or that snide comment about His Holiness Pope Francis offered by this or that "source."

We must accept as Gospel Damian Thompson's portrait of Pope Francis, which, in turn, was painted via the words of anonymous sources?

You characterized Damian Thompson as "a reputable journalist, editor, and author."

The news business is filled with so-called "reputable" journalists editors, and authors who make dreadful mistakes and misrepresent people and things. Countless "reputable" journalists have misrepresented Pope Francis from the first seconds of his pontificate to date.

When a "reputable" journalist or author insists that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was a drunkard con-man, the burden to verify the claims in question falls upon us, rather than the person who instigated the claims in question?

When a "reputable" journalist or author declares that Pope Venerable Pius XII was Hitler's Pope, it is up to us to prove that Pope Venerable Pius XII was not Hitler's Pope? Or is it up to the other person to present irrefutable information to substantiate his claims about Pope Venerable Pius XII?

Anyway, here is a "reputable" author who has delved into Pope Francis' life and offered a very positive assessment of Pope Francis.

A story from Catholic Standard, Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

"Mark Shriver, a member of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, is the author of the new book, “Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis.”


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said... is Damian Thompson thundering against a 2010 A.D. "hatchet job" against Pope Benedict XVI.

Mister Thompson complained that Peter Tatchell (Channel 4, Great Britian) who presented a documentary about Pope Benedict XVI "mostly interviews people who share his views, or represent those of a liberal lobby within the Catholic Church."

I am certain that Damian Thompson's hatchet...ummm...article about Pope Francis features a wide-range of anonymous sources — pro-con-neutral — in regard to their opinions of Pope Francis.

Sure. Uh-huh.

Damian Thompson also said the following in regard to the documentary:

"The charge that Benedict XVI covered up the crimes of paedophile priests falls apart under close examination. Journalists have tried very hard to implicate this Pope in conspiracies to silence victims; they have failed to do so, though we do now know that Pope John Paul II was not nearly attentive enough to the scandal. But that doesn’t fit Tatchell’s script, so after a perfunctory attempt to suggest that Benedict “has form” in this area we move swiftly on."

Adam Michael said that my dismissal of Damian Thompson's hatchet job on Pope Francis requires me to "provide evidence" to disprove the claims advanced by Mister Thompson. (I guess that I am compelled to do so under international law.)

Funny...but when Damian Thompson dismissed the documentary's handling (as well as news reports that Pope Benedict XVI covered up the crimes of paedophile priests) of Pope Benedict XVI's record in regard to priests and sexual abuse, Mr. Thompson didn't offer a shred of evidence to challenge the reports in question.

Damian Thompson dismissed simply journalistic coverage that had cast Pope Benedict XVI in a bad light in regard to his (Pope Benedict XVI's) handling of the abuse scandal.

Adam Michael, you need to inform Damian Thompson that, as you insisted in my case, the burden rests upon his shoulders to disprove claims that journalists launch against a Pope (Pope Benedict XVI).

Anyway, it is good to know that Damian Thompson rejects hatchet jobs aimed at the Roman Pontiff.

Damian Thompson also rejects the employment of quotes designed to spin things into a certain direction. Fortunately, he didn't do that in regard to his hatchet...article about Pope Francis.



Mark Thomas

TJM said...

Mark Thomas, you are so highly invested into Papalotry if Pope Francis said Jesus was not God, you would go along,

John Nolan said...

Mark Thomas

That you regard the liturgical deformation of the 1960s as being the main cause of the current crisis is correct.

Yet it was imposed (illicitly) by papal fiat, the same arrogated authority you seek to defend.

You cannot have it both ways.


John Nolan

TJM said...

Ironically, the Vatican wants to beatify Paul the Liturgy Defiler

Mark Thomas said...

John Nolan said..."That you regard the liturgical deformation of the 1960s as being the main cause of the current crisis is correct. Yet it was imposed (illicitly) by papal fiat, the same arrogated authority you seek to defend. You cannot have it both ways."

I don't accept your claim that Pope Blessed Paul VI imposed the liturgical illicitly. (Pope Saint John XXIII also enacted liturgical reforms during the 1960s.)

I believe that it was in goodwill that Pope Blessed Paul VI enacted the liturgical reform of the 1960s. Therefore, I don't accept your notion about me.

I don't accept your claim about the imposition of the 1960s liturgical reform any more than I would accept that proposition in regard to Pope Venerable Pius XII's radical "fiat" liturgical reform.

I believe that it's clear (of course, many within the Church, particularly leading Churchmen) that the radical liturgical reforms launched by Popes Venerable Pius XII and Blessed Paul VI failed to invigorate the (Latin) Church's liturgical life as they had hoped.

But I don't have any sense that the liturgical reform(s) was enacted illicitly by our Popes.

If anything, as compared to Pope Venerable Pius XII, at least Pope Blessed Paul VI had the authority and rulings of an Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) to "justify" his involvement in the reform of the liturgy.

At least he could indicate that he implemented simply the desires of the world's bishops via the decrees of the Second Sacred Vatican Ecumenical Council.

Pope Venerable Pius XII did not have any such "justification" to support his liturgical reform.

If any Pope employed Papal fiat to impose radical liturgical reforms upon the Church, we must, in that regard, point to Pope Venerable Pius XII.


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

TJM said.."Mark Thomas, you are so highly invested into Papalotry if Pope Francis said Jesus was not God, you would go along."

Is the following Papalotry?

Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Per Tristissima:

"But you, dearly beloved Sons, remember that in all that concerns the faith, morals, and government of the Church, the words which Christ said of Himself: “he that gathereth not with me scattereth” [Mt 12:30], can be applied to the Roman Pontiff who holds the place of God on earth.

"Ground your whole wisdom therefore, in an absolute obedience and a joyous and constant adherence to this Chair of Peter."


Mark Thomas

John Nolan said...

Mark Thomas

It was cardinal Ratzinger who wrote: 'After the Second Vatican Council the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West ... The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not "manufactured" by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and development.' (Spirit of the Liturgy pp. 165-166)

The implication is clear; when he imposed an entirely new rite on the Latin Church, Paul VI was acting ultra vires, which makes the Novus Ordo illicit, and only valid insofar as it links to liturgical Tradition - and when (which is a not infrequent occurrence) in its modus celebrandi it clearly does not, I would say its validity is also in doubt. Pius XII's and Bugnini's meddling with the Holy Week liturgy in the 1950s was reprehensible but was not in the same league as the deformations of the 1960s.

Mark Thomas said...

John Nolan said..."The implication is clear; when he imposed an entirely new rite on the Latin Church, Paul VI was acting ultra vires, which makes the Novus Ordo illicit..."

The supposed "implication" that you discerned does not reflect Cardinal Ratzinger's declarations related to the Novus Ordo. He never offered the idea that the Novus Ordo was illicit.

Cardinal Ratzinger welcomed and praised the Novus Ordo Mass. He was "dismayed" when the 1962 Missal was "banned" as that constituted a breach in Holy Tradition.
He was critical at the "abrupt" manner in which the Novus Ordo was implemented, which had featured a transition time of just six months.

But he praised the Novus Ordo as having granted unto the Church's liturgical life "some authentic improvements and a real enrichment."

He also offered the following, on which he welcomed the New Mass:

"The second great event at the beginning of my years in Regensburg was the publication of the Missal of Paul VI, which was accompanied by the almost total prohibition, after a transitional phase of only half a year, of using the missal we had until then.

"I welcomed the fact that now we had a binding liturgical text after a period of experimentation that had often deformed the liturgy."

In 1998 A.D., Cardinal Ratzinger noted his support of the liturgical movement that had sought to overcome problems that he had linked to the "old liturgy."

He painted a bleak picture of the Latin Church's liturgical life that, in turn, had necessitated (in his opinion) the Vatican II liturgical reform.

Cardinal Ratzinger, 1998 A.D.

"On the other hand, it must be admitted that the celebration of the old liturgy had strayed too far into a private individualism, and that communication between priest and people was insufficient.

"I have great respect for our forefathers who at Low Mass said the “Prayers during Mass” contained in their prayer books, but certainly one cannot consider that as the ideal of liturgical celebration!

******* "Perhaps these reductionist forms of celebration are the real reason that the disappearance of the old liturgical books was of no importance in many countries and caused no sorrow. *******

******* "One was never in contact with the liturgy itself." *******


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

With Father McDonald's permission please...

Par 1 of 2

Speaking of Cardinal Ratzinger and liturgy, here is a 1964 A.D. address that Father Ratzinger offered in regard to the liturgical reform.

As he did during a 1998 A.D. speech about the TLM and liturgical reform, in 1964 A.D., he presented a bleak image of the Latin Church's liturgical life.

Father Ratzinger insisted that the TLM had become "embalmed" in the Church. The Catholic Faithful during TLM Mass had, supposedly, become silent spectators, unconnected to the Mass, off in their worlds of private devotion.

Father Ratzinger supported the following:

(1) "the return to Christian origins and the pruning of certain accretions that often enough concealed the original liturgical nucleus; examples: priority of Sunday over saints days; of mystery over devotion, of "simple structure over the rank growth of forms"; "defrosting of ritual rigidity; restoration of the liturgy of the Word; "the dialogical nature of the whole liturgical celebration and its essence as the common service of the People of God; "reduction in the status of private Masses in favor of emphasis on greater communal participation."

(2) a stronger emphasis on the Word as an element of equal value with the sacrament:" new arrangement of biblical readings.

(3) "a more active participation of the laity, the inclusion of the whole table-fellowship of God in the holy action".

(4) "the decentralization of liturgical legislation," which represents "a fundamental innovation." Conferences of bishops now will have responsibility for liturgical laws in their own regions and this, "not by delegation from the Holy See, but by virtue of their own independent authority."

(5) the language of the liturgy. Behind this vigorous debate lay the need for a "new confrontation between the Christian mind and the modern mind. For it can hardly be denied that the sterility to which Catholic theology and philosophy had in many ways been doomed since the end of the Enlightenment was due not least to a language in which the living choices of the human mind no longer found a place. Theology often bypassed new ideas, was not enriched by them and remained unable to transform them" (14-18).


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

Part 2 of 2

In a talk delivered in October 1964, Ratzinger remarked "that the first real task of the Council was to overcome the indolent, euphoric feeling that all was well with the Church, and to bring into the open the problems smoldering within".

An example was the question of the liturgy, which represented a "profound crisis in the life of the Church." Its roots lay back in the late Middle Ages, when "awareness of the real essence of Christian worship increasingly vanished. Great importance was attached to externals, and these choked out the whole."

Trent's reaction to Reformation challenges was inadequate, even if it eliminated a number of abuses. It did not sufficiently deal with Reformation difficulties with the notions of adoration and sacrifice. It did cut back the medieval overgrowth and took measures to prevent it in the future. But the main measure was to centralize liturgical authority in the Congregation of Rites.

"New overgrowths were in fact prevented, but the fate of liturgy in the West was now in the hands of a strictly centralized and purely bureaucratic authority. This authority completely lacked historical perspective; it viewed the liturgy solely in terms of ceremonial rubrics, treating it as a kind of problem of proper court etiquette for sacred matters. This resulted in the complete archaizing of the liturgy, which now passed from the stage of living history, became embalmed in the status quo and was ultimately doomed to internal decay.

"The liturgy had become a rigid, fixed and firmly encrusted system; the more out of touch with genuine piety the more attention was paid to its prescribed forms. We can see this if we remember that none of the saints of the Catholic Reformation drew their spirituality from the liturgy...."


Mark Thomas

Adam Michael said...

“I don't have to provide a shred of ‘evidence’ . . .”

As have spoken all who cannot produce.

“The news business is filled with so-called ‘reputable’ journalists editors, and authors who make dreadful mistakes and misrepresent people and things.”

Certainly, but it is irresponsible to condemn someone’s reputation simply because you disagree with them. Bring forth the evidence and explain why the journalist, editor, and/or author is wrong or cannot be believed (even if the reason is a lack of evidence). If you are unable to do that, simply state that you disagree and will search for evidence to disprove this. Anything else is detraction and calumny and is hardly worthy of serious discussion.

“Countless ‘reputable’ journalists have misrepresented Pope Francis from the first seconds of his pontificate to date.”

It seems unlikely that Damian Thompson is among such journalists since he stood at the forefront of defending Pope Francis from negative portrayals he received from traditional blogs and websites such as Rorate Caeli, from the actual first seconds of his pontificate.

“Anyway, it is good to know that Damian Thompson rejects hatchet jobs aimed at the Roman Pontiff.

Damian Thompson also rejects the employment of quotes designed to spin things into a certain direction. Fortunately, he didn't do that in regard to his hatchet...article about Pope Francis.”

Damian Thompson was a defender of Pope Benedict XVI and rejects hatchet jobs aimed at the Roman Pontiff, but did a hatchet job on Pope Francis? You just revealed that it is more likely that Thompson’s approach to Pope Francis is part of his general, fair approach to the Roman Pontiff, whoever he is. Damian Thompson also uses quotes in a responsible manner? This goes far in establishing the objective journalistic credentials of Thompson. Thank you for undermining and revealing as subjective your attack on his latest article.

Remember, everything is not a “hatchet job” because it makes you uncomfortable. Additionally, you must keep in mind that attempting to ruin someone’s reputation can be a mortal sin and that everyone is entitled to human dignity and respect. You cannot even hide behind the defense that you are defending the Church since there is no guarantee that the Roman Pontiff will always act in a moral or wise manner. While Thompson will obviously need to produce evidence at some point to substantiate his article (regarding this, whether you like it or not, anonymous sources do actually exist and are unable to be referenced at all times), it is unacceptable to vilify his name and reputation in such a manner that would serve to hinder his livelihood if this public forum were of a larger audience.

Ultimately, it is unfortunate that you cannot shed light on why Damian Thompson’s article regarding Pope Francis is incorrect since, personally, I would have preferred to discover that such vileness is not occurring in the Vatican.

John Nolan said...

Mark Thomas

What is interesting is the development in Ratzinger's ideas on the liturgy from 1964 onwards. He certainly espoused the ideals of the Liturgical Movement but felt that they had been perverted. He would certainly have disowned many of his 1964 assumptions (especially the idea that bishops' conferences might manufacture their own liturgies).

The point about over-centralization since Trent is a valid one, and certainly does not contradict what he wrote later. However, one cannot replicate the organic development over centuries which produced the many Uses of the Roman Rite, which were truly unity in diversity; we have the diversity now, but not the unity. In 'Spirit of the Liturgy' and the preface to Klaus Gamber we have the authentic mature Ratzingerian approach.

He would not, of course, have ever stated that Paul VI acted illicitly, but if one follows the logic of his argument, it does lead towards that conclusion - the first sentence of the quotation I cited can only apply to that particular pontiff.

John Nolan said...

Mark Thomas

Moreover, the comments from 1998 (what is their context, please?) seem to be about the achievements of the Liturgical Movement prior to Vatican II. Ratzinger recalls as a boy being given a 'Schott' missal which was bilingual and enabled the laity to follow the Mass. Those who today take their people's missals to the EF are benefiting from the LM. The 'decluttering' which freed up the Sunday lectionary occurred at the beginning of the 20th century (and a lot of the 'clutter' was imposed post-Trent).

In addressing the proliferation of private (i.e. Low Masses) in the late Middle Ages, the LM tended to forget that this was in a large measure due to popular demand, and outside monastic communities which have only one Mass a day, it still persists with a vengeance (one can even go to Sunday Mass on Saturday evening - at least in the 'bad old days' there were no Masses after noon).

Mark Thomas said...

John Nolan said..."Moreover, the comments from 1998 (what is their context, please?)..."

October 24, 1998 A.D.

Ten Years of the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei"

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

...text of the conference given by His eminence to the pilgrims who came to celebrate the Tenth anniversary of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei...


Mark Thomas

P.S. Please pray for Asia Bibi, our persecuted and imprisoned (in Pakistan) sister in Jesus Christ, who faces the death sentence. Here is the latest news that I have about her.

Asia Bibi spends seventh Christmas behind the bars

By Madeeha Bakhsh - December 29, 2016

"Pakistan’s most famous female prisoner on death row Asia Noreen Bibi, has spent seventh consecutive Christmas behind the bars. Churches all over the world urged the believers to spare a thought for those who are suffering for the sake of their Christian faith."

John Nolan said...

Mark Thomas

Thank you. EDA was a step forward in the rehabilitation of the Roman Rite (not that such rehabilitation was necessary, as Benedict XVI was to make clear).

Also thank you for reminding us of the fate of Asia Bibi. It is of particular shame to us, since Pakistan is a member of the British Commonwealth, whose head, Queen Elizabeth II, is a committed (albeit Protestant) Christian.