Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why hast Thou foresaken Me?

Head of Christ Crowned With Thorns
(Guido Reni)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, "My God, My God: Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (St. Matthew 27:46)
In a homily delivered at Santa Marta today, Pope Francis posed the following rhetorical question:
Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains: "Father, why have You forsaken me"? This is the mystery. I have often listened to people who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why? They rebel against God. And I say, "Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer." It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: "Why  have You forsaken me"!
In my dealings with people - both Catholic as well as non-Catholic - I've heard the question raised many times: Why did Our Lord say those words? Was He abandoned by His Father? Was He doubting His divine mission? Was He rebelling against God? Did He lose hope? Did He lose faith?

Every time, the person asking me is absolutely stunned when I tell them the following: Our Lord was quoting Sacred Scripture. Seriously. Every time. It's one of the most well-known passages from Scripture, and yet apparently a huge number of people have no idea that Our Lord was quoting King David.

To fully appreciate the meaning of these words, and just how amazingly appropriate they were, the entire psalm is presented below:

Psalm 21

  1. Unto the end, for the morning protection: a psalm for David.
  2. O God, My God, look upon Me: why hast Thou forsaken Me? Far from My salvation are the words of My sins.*
  3. O My God, I shall cry by day, and Thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in Me.
  4. But Thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel.
  5. In Thee have our fathers hoped: they have hoped, and Thou hast delivered them.
  6. They cried to Thee, and they were saved: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded. 
  7. But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.
  8. All they that saw Me have laughed Me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.
  9. "He hoped in the Lord, let Him deliver Him: let Him save Him, seeing He delighteth in Him."
  10. For Thou art He that hast drawn Me out of the womb: My hope from the breasts of My mother.
  11. I was cast upon Thee from the womb. From My mother's womb: Thou art My God,
  12. Depart not from Me. For tribulation is very near: for there is none to help Me.
  13. Many calves have surrounded Me: fat bulls have besieged Me.
  14. They have opened their mouths against Me, as a lion ravening and roaring.
  15. I am poured out like water; and all My bones are scattered. My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of My bowels.
  16. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue hath cleaved to My jaws: and Thou hast brought Me down into the dust of death.
  17. For many dogs have encompassed Me: the council of the malignant hath besieged Me. They have pierced My hands and feet.
  18. They have numbered all My bones. And they have looked and stared upon Me.
  19. They parted My garments amongst them; and upon My vesture they cast lots.
  20. But Thou, O Lord, remove not Thy help to a distance from Me; look towards My defence.
  21. Deliver, O God, My soul from the sword: My only one from the hand of the dog.
  22. Save Me from the lion's mouth; and My lowness from the horns of the wild oxen.
  23. I will declare Thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the Church will I praise Thee.
  24. Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him.
  25. Let all the seed of Israel fear Him: because He hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man. Neither hath He turned away His face from Me: and when I cried to Him, He heard Me.
  26. With Thee is My praise in a great Church: I will pay My vows in the sight of them that fear Him.
  27. The poor shall eat and shall be filled: and they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: their hearts shall live for ever and ever.
  28. All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord: And all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in His sight.
  29. For the kingdom is the Lord's; and He shall have dominion over the nations.
  30. All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and have adored: all they that go down to the earth shall fall before Him.
  31. And to Him My soul shall live: and My seed shall serve Him.
  32. There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall shew forth His justice to a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made.

By quoting the first line of a psalm very well-known to those gathered at the foot of the Cross, Our Lord, while suffering the zenith of His Passion and struggling for His last pained breaths, was not rebelling against His Father or crying out in despair; He was making a most powerful proclamation of His victory over sin and death, and speaking His blessing upon the Church which would carry His Gospel to the ends of the earth. Deo gratias!

*"words of My sins": That is, the sins of the world, which I have taken upon myself, cry out against me, and are the cause of all my sufferings. (Douay-Rheims Commentary)

Modernism and Symbolism

Fourth in a Series treating Modernism and Modern Thought
Fr. Joseph Bampton, S.J.

No doubt it surprised and perhaps shocked many of those who followed the last lecture to see how Modernism deals with the Sacred Person of Jesus Christ, our Lord, in distinguishing between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith; the Jesus of history a man and nothing more, the Christ of faith God only in the sense that faith so regards Him. We had always thought that the Jesus of history was God not to faith only, but in fact, Very God of Very God, proved so to be by historical evidence of the strictest kind, by the historical predictions of prophets fulfilled in Him, by the historical testimony of His contemporaries, some of them reluctant witnesses, by His own claim to divinity, a claim substantiated by His acknowledged character for veracity, and by His miracles, to which He Himself pointed in proof of the justice of His claim. "You say to me, thou blasphemest, because I have said am the Son of God." And by "Son of God" He meant God the Son, else why should the Jews accuse Him of blasphemy in claiming the title? And He continues, "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But, if I do them and ye will not believe Me, believe the works themselves, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in the Father" (John 10:36). To us, all this evidence of prophecies fulfilled, of eyewitnesses convinced, of Christ's own claim corroborated, is historical evidence, and proves that the Jesus of history was God. How do Modernists dispose of it it?

They would begin by saying that what we call historical evidence is not historical evidence at all. Faithful to their Kantian principles, they would say: history is concerned only with facts of experience. What you call history deals not with facts of experience, but with the divine, the supernatural. That is not matter of experience, and, therefore, all so-called evidence of it must be ruled out of court as unhistorical, and therefore inadmissible. This line of argument may be convincing for those who accept Kant's theory of knowledge. Those who do not will say "Whether you call the evidence for the divinity of Christ historical or not, there it is; it has satisfied countless multitudes of Christian believers. Even if you do not accept it, it is a fact that needs some explanation. How do you explain it?" Of course, one simple way is to explain it away altogether, to put it down as so much invention; and the extreme advocates of this method not only treat Christ's claims and miracles as legendary, but question His existence altogether and talk of the Christ-myth. Archbishop Whately, in a pamphlet entitled "Historic Doubts respecting Napoleon Bonaparte," once made fun of this controversial method by undertaking to prove that Napoleon never existed. He brought such an array of arguments in support of his thesis and manipulated the facts of history so cleverly, that he seemed almost to make out his case, and, at least, to render it extremely doubtful whether Napoleon himself was not a mythical personage. There are methods by the employment of which you can disprove the existence of Christ, or of anybody or of anything else you please.

Modernists, of course, do not go to such lengths as this. Their method is more ingenous. They accept all the narratives of the Evangelists, with some reservations perhaps as to St. John's gospel, and they accept them as true. But true in what sense? True in the ordinary sense, true to fact, true historically? No, but true in quite another sense; true as a sign or symbol of truth, true as signifying or symbolising what is true, true, not as possessing a fact-value, but as possessing a moral or spiritual value. This being so, it does not matter whether an alleged fact really happened or not, precisely as recorded; whether an alleged word was ever uttered or not, as reported. The historical truth matters little, it is the spiritual truth symbolised that matters. The historical statement is only the husk, the outer, the protective husk, but the spiritual truth it signifies that is the important thing! That is the kernel which the husk enshrines. Whatever may be said of the historical statement, that spiritual truth is undeniable, and the historical statement is only a convenient symbol of that truth, a convenient means of expressing and preserving it. This is certainly a far-reaching method of historical criticism. It may be applied with startling results to all history, sacred and profane. It is applied Modernists to the whole field of dogmatic belief.

Now I propose to test the worth of this Modernist doctrine of Symbolism. And I propose to do so by applying it in one particular instance, the instance of Christ's resurrection, an instance the more appropriate to our present subject because it is the chief of the miracles wrought by Christ in proof of His divinity. Let us apply this method of symbolism, then, to Christ's resurrection, and see how it works out there.

The ordinary Christian believer holds Christ's resurrection to be an historical fact, a fact attested by those who saw Christ die and saw Him after death in His risen body, a fact attested not only by those predisposed to believe, but by those indisposed, like the doubting Thomas, a fact attested by the ocular testimony of the more than five hundred who, St. Paul tells us, saw Him at one and the same time (1 Cor. 15:6), a fact confirmed by the anxiety of the priests who bribed the guards at the tomb to hush it up (Matt. 28:12), and the action of the Council of the Sanhedrin in imposing silence on Peter and John when they preached it (Acts 4:2, 16), a fact, before the event, foretold by our Lord on more than one occasion as a proof of His divine mission (Matt. 16:4, John 2:19), and, after the event, appealed to by St. Paul as the one fact by which the whole of Christianity was to stand or fall - "If Christ be not risen, your faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:17). Here, surely, we are dealing with something which is either fact or fiction, either historical truth or pure fabrication. Call it one or the other. The Modernist seems to call it something between the two.

For he tells us the resurrection of Christ is not true as an historical fact, and yet it is not to be called entirely false; it is true as a symbol. A symbol of what? A symbol of the truth that the "divine personality of Jesus cannot die" (Tyrrell). But, one is inclined to say, before it can be a symbol it must be shown to be a fact; what about the alleged fact? The Apostles declare that they and others saw Him dead and saw Him afterwards alive. What are we to say to that? The Modernist answers, "What they saw was a vision, the spontaneous self-embodiment of their faith in Christ's spiritual triumph and resurrection. But, we reply, they did not call it a vision. On the contrary, their account expressly precludes any such explanation. "The Lord hath risen indeed" they say, "and hath appeared to Simon." Let us suppose for the sake of argument that the appearance to Simon was a vision; the actual resurrection is described as preceding it. The Apostles do not, like the Modernists, confound the resurrection with the vision. They are careful to distinguish between the two: first, the resurrection; then, the appearance to Simon. They describe the resurrection as a reality. "Certainly," is the Modernist's reply, "by all means a reality, but an inward reality. There was no outward reality. The vision was true to an inward reality, the spirit and faith of the beholder. It was determined, not from without, but from within" (Tyrrell). The Modernists began by saying that the resurrection was not fact but vision. Now they seem to say it is not even vision. For, after all, visions, if they deserve the name, suppose some outward reality; they are determined from without, not from within. But this vision of the resurrection, Modernists say, was true only to an inward reality, was determined, not from without, but from within. This reduces the vision to pure imagination. So it seems the resurrection is a symbol of truth founded upon imagination. If so, what is its worth as a symbol? It is worth just as much, or as little, as the imagination is worth on which it is founded. And what is the worth of St. Paul's argument, "If Christ be not risen, your faith is vain"? We had always thought that to mean, the truth of your faith depends upon the truth of the fact of Christ's resurrection. But it would seem the resurrection is not a fact, but an imagination. So apparently what St. Paul meant to say was, your faith depends upon - imagination!

I know the desperate efforts made by Modernists to escape from this conclusion. They would protest they do not call the resurrection 'imagination'. We may admit they do not in so many words. What they do call it is sometimes "prophetic imagery" (Tyrrell), sometimes "apocalyptic imagery" (Tyrrell). This is playing with words. "Prophetic imagery" means, I suppose, imagery which forecasts the future, and "apocalyptic imagery" means imagery which reveals the unknown. But, whether you call it prophetic or apocalyptic, imagery is imagination in the end. We are justified, then, in saying that, if the resurrection of Christ is only a piece of prophetic or apocalyptic imagery, it is only imagination. In beginning to apply his methods of symbolism to the resurrection of Christ, the chief exponent of Modernism in this country says, "Here we are on difficult ground" (Tyrrell). And to that extent we shall be disposed to agree with him.

But his difficulties are not over yet. He has disposed in his own way of the fact of Christ's resurrection. He has not yet succeeded in completely disposing of the narrative. That has still to be accounted for. If the Modernist's view is correct, the narrative of the resurrection given by the Evangelists is the narrative of visions beheld by the Apostles, the holy women, and the other witnesses. But there is no hint given in the narratives themselves that visions are being described. We should naturally expect some such hint. When St. John is about to relate his vision in the Apocalypse, he prepares us for it: "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day" (Apoc. 1:10). When St. Paul has to record the visions he beheld when he was rapt to the third heaven, he tells us so: "I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord" (2 Cor. 12:2). In the case of Christ's resurrection, there is no such suggestion. The narrative reads as plain, straightforward, matter of fact. But, the Modernists tell us, it is not to be taken as true to fact, but as true only with symbolic truth. We know that kind of narrative. We call it allegory; that is to say, a truth conveyed picturesquely through the medium of a fictitious narrative. We have classical examples of it in our own literature, in Spenser's "Faery Queen," and Dean Swift's "Tale of a Tub," and John Bunyan's " Pilgrim's Progress." When Bunyan tells us about Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and Giant Despair, and Vanity Fair, and Doubting Castle, and the Slough of Despond, and the rest, we understand perfectly that the persons and places so named are not true to fact, but only symbols of a truth, the truth, namely, of the pilgrim's progress of Christian's journey to Heaven. And, if the narrative of the resurrection given by the Evangelists is true, not to fact, but only with symbolic truth, then that narrative is allegory too; but with this important difference between it and other allegories: that no hint is given that it is allegory.

As explained by the Modernists, then, the narrative of the Evangelist is to be classed with the "Pilgrim's Progress" and the "Quest of the Holy Grail," and the "Legends of the Nibelungen Ring" and the Icelandic Saga. The out-and-out unbeliever makes the Scriptures pure invention. The Modernist makes them a fairy-tale. There is not much to choose between the two.

But just as the Modernists are sensitive to their "visions" being called imaginations, they are equally sensitive to the narratives of these visions being called allegories. "No prophet feels or would allow that his utterances are merely poetical or allegorical; he feels that they are not less but more truly representative of reality [...] than the prose language of historical narrative" (Tyrrell). To which we reply, in treating of the narratives of the Evangelists, we are concerned not with prophets, but with historians. And, even if we were, the prophet is no more entitled than the historian to relate as fact what is not fact. We mentioned Archbishop Whately just now in another connection. He has some weighty words on this subject. "It is perfectly allowable to bring forward a parable or allegory avowedly as such [...] but to relate what is not true in the sense in which it is sure to be understood, is what we should call by a very different name from allegory. That such dishonesty should be attributed to our sacred writers by avowed anti-Christians is nothing strange or alarming. But when professed Christian teachers speak thus, they attack the very foundations both of religion and morality." The Modernists object to the term allegory. They will hardly prefer the alternative suggested Archbishop Whately.

Christ's resurrection, then, according to the Modernists, comes to this: Christ did not really rise again; the Apostles thought He did, and said so; but we need not quarrel with them on that account, for their statements are true, as being symbolical of a grand spiritual truth, that "the divine personality of Jesus cannot die." That truth is what the Modernist professes his belief in, when he says he believes in the resurrection. But what he really believes in is a symbol, which depends for its value upon a series of visions or apparitions, or imaginations, or hallucinations, our only evidence for which is an allegorical narrative. Such belief imposes too severe a strain upon our credulity. Most people will find it easier to believe in the Catholic doctrine of the resurrection at once. Most people will think that a symbol deduced from an event which never happened, but which is represented as if it had, is a symbol deduced from a lie; it is a lying symbol, and, if so, what is the value of the truth it is supposed to signify?

No one would wish to deny that symbolism has a force and value of its own. We are familiar with it in many a conventional form, and emblem, and device. The rose, the thistle, and the shamrock are symbols we all know and understand, or the anchor as the symbol of hope, the palm as the symbol of triumph or martyrdom. And symbolism has its place, an important place, in religion, both under the old law and under the new. The types and figures of the old law were symbols: the paschal lamb, the symbol of the Lamb of God; the brazen serpent, the symbol of His Crucifixion. And, under the new law, our very creeds are called symbols; they are signs, distinctive marks of those professing the same faith. The sacraments are symbols; they are outward signs of the inward grace they confer. The Church's ritual, its language, its ceremonies, are full of symbolism. But the Modernist symbolism - a symbolism which first denies a fact and then uses it as a symbol - this is symbolism gone mad. The Modernist tells us that the resurrection of Christ is not a fact, but a symbol. What we have sought to show in reply is that, if it is not a fact, it is not a symbol.

The resurrection is one of those miracles by which the Jesus of history is proved to be God. We have seen how Modernists try to evade its force, not by denying it utterly, but explaining it symbolically. And that theory of symbolism they apply not only to the dogma of Christ's resurrection, but to all the Church's dogmatic teaching. You may accept the dogma and retain the very terms in which it is expressed provided that you interpret them symbolically. We have tested the value of that theory in one instance. We can judge of its value in others. But, what is more, from this one example we can judge of the success of Modernism in its endeavour to interpret Christianity in terms of modern thought.

Monday, September 29, 2014

On the Dismissal of Bishop Livieres

For those among you who have been following the story regarding the recent dismissal of Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, there may be some confusion as to the reason for the dismissal. And that would be perfectly understandable, given the batch of headlines circulating the internet: 
As it turns out, Bishop Livieres was not removed from office because of his having "protected a pedophile priest". This was confirmed by Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi a few days ago. Fair enough. But why not? By all accounts, it would have made the whole dismissal much more palatable. No one wants pedophiles in the Church. The priest in question - one Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity - seems to have been all but convicted of sexual misconduct. And Bishop Livieres promoted this priest to the position of Vicar General of the diocese. So, why not avoid the rather ambiguous issue of "the greater good of the unity of the Church in Ciudad del Este", which does nothing to squelch rumors of an ideological battle between Bishop Livieres - a man personally commissioned by Pope John Paul II to combat Liberation Theology in South America - and his fellow bishops, condemn the man as guilty by association, and be done with it?

Because Bishop Livieres covered his bases. Thoroughly.

When his episcopal confreres began making allegations against him in regards to Fr. Urrutigoity back in 2008, Bishop Livieres published a detailed "Open Letter" which made clear that he did not consider the matter lightly before employing the priest. In fact, he checked with every conceivable authority on the matter and, outside of obtaining a papal blessing, received nothing but approval for his plans to incardinate Fr. Urrutigoity. A translation of the letter is reproduced below for your consideration:

Information Regarding Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity

Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano

Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano
(Photo: Paul Haring/CNS)
Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity is a priest incardinated in my Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, and Superior of the Priestly Society of St. John, a community approved by the Holy See in a letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze dated April 2, 2005.

From 2001 to 2005, there was a vigorous internet smear campaign against this priest, who was being accused of alleged sexual abuse. As this information has begun to be spread about by some of the unscrupulous among the faithful of Ciudad del Este, it is my responsibility to make clear the truth of the matter.

I have devoted much time and energy to the investigation of the case of Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity. Given the dramatic nature of the allegations appearing on the internet, it was my duty as bishop to be sure of his innocence before finally accepting him into my diocese. Also, I found the case very interesting, being myself a civil lawyer and having a doctorate in canon law. So I inquired in detail in regards to the particulars of the case and consulted with experts in both law and in secular and religious priestly formation who were familiar with the breadth of the matter. They also recommended the Society of St. John to me, and Fr. Urrutigoity in particular. I worked on this issue closely with the Papal Nuncio, who was always very knowledgeable about everything, and proceeded only with permission. I am sure not only of the innocence of Fr. Urrutigoity but also of his suitability for priestly ministry. All here in Ciudad del Este have seen that he is a very good priest, faithful to the life of prayer and completely dedicated to working with the faithful.

Contrary to what you read on the internet, the first thing to be said is that there neither are nor ever were any criminal proceedings against Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, neither under civil law nor canonlaw. This is because, despite the many allegations that appear on the internet (all of which are being orchestrated by the same source) saying that the Church in the U.S. found the allegations of sexual abuse of minors to be credible, no minor has ever accused Father of such things.

We all know that recently there was a campaign of accusations against priests in the U.S. which were investigated by the civil and ecclesial authorities under strong pressure from the media. The alleged charges against this priest were also investigated independently by two district attorneys in the state of Pennsylvania. As is common knowledge by the reports of the media at the time, the prosecutors’ offices did not proceed with any criminal proceedings due to lack of merit, that is, because there were no serious and credible allegations.

As regards canon law, the congregation with competence in this area is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This Congregation, after extensive research, both in the U.S. and in Rome, ruled on the case in question in a letter to Bishop Joseph Martino, Bishop of Scranton, dated July 20, 2005 (238/2004-21480 Prot), which failed to raise a canonical trial against Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity because, despite what was being said on the internet, there was not a single charge made by minors against the priest: “It is evident from the information contained in the records that no canonical offense took place, and thus no criminal proceedings will be initiated.”

When Bishop James Timlin, former Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, the home of the priest in question, made intense investigations into the first accusations – the same accusations which now appear on the internet as “proven” – they were completely discarded. The Bishop investigated the matter personally, assisted by the civilian legal counsel of the Diocese, the Assistant Bishop and the Vicar General. To ensure greater objectivity, the information thus obtained was then evaluated by the independent Diocesan Review Board, consisting of notable lay people, in November 2001, with a summary of findings being written by James Early, Diocesan Chancellor. It made clear that “there were no explicit and direct complaints about inappropriate sexual activity on the part of Fr. Urrutigoity.”

Accordingly, Bishop James Timlin stated repeatedly, in public and in writing, that it was his moral conviction that the allegations were not only false, but were motivated by economic interests and personal vendettas, kept alive by a vigorous smear campaign that lasted more than four years, both on the internet and in local newspapers. For the sake of brevity, I quote only one of the press statements, made on February 15, 2002: “As the Bishop of Scranton, I continue to support the Society of St. John wholeheartedly during these very difficult times. I urge everyone not to come to any negative judgments regarding the allegations made against two of the Society’s priests without verifying all the facts. It is confusing and difficult to arrive at the facts because of all the erroneous accusations being made by enemies of the Society. The Society at this point is alive and well and deserves the support of its friends.”

The Diocese of Scranton also received a great many letters containing positive testimonials from alumni, parents, managers, colleagues and the faithful of the Society of St. John in support of Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity and the other members of that institution. These faithful reports, made either spontaneously or in response to official inquiries made by the Diocese, claimed not only the innocence of this priest, but also his moral and spiritual integrity, and the excellent fruits of his apostolic work.

As is standard in such cases, Fr. Urrutigoity was also subjected to an extensive psychological evaluation. To ensure the objectivity and independence of the criteria, there were two evaluations made, each taking one week: the first was conducted by the Rev. Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Franciscan priest and renowned psychologist in the U.S., and the second by the Southdown Institute in Canada. The two agree categorically as to the heterosexuality of the priest, with no grounds for reservation. Not to dwell unduly, I quote but one passage of the report (Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Ed.D., Counseling Psychologist): “In regards to what some have argued as being concerning indicators of sexual immorality concerning [Fr. Urrutigoity] … some right-wing conservatives are so paranoid that they are perfectly capable of killing someone’s good name with absolutely no proof other than his own suspicions … I have not seen anything in these tests and reports pointing to even a hint of homosexual tendencies.”

Finally, I would like to give my own personal testimony. I have known Fr. Urrutigoity and his family since 1991. Added to this is the direct experience I’ve had of him as a priest in active ministry serving under my direct supervision for three years in my diocese. For two of those three years, he has lived with me in the Bishopric. I must highlight his most correct priestly behavior and delicate, pastoral effectiveness. I have also received very positive testimony from many faithful who have known him here in Paraguay. I would also like to express my admiration for the spiritual and human qualities of the members of the Society of St. John who have accompanied Fr. Urrutigoity in my diocese.

In my recent travels to Rome, I spoke at length about this matter with Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and the Vice President of the Commission itself, Monsignor Camille Perl. Both thanked me for what I – at their suggestion – was doing with the members of the Society of St. John. I have already noted that I informed the Apostolic Nuncio with the details of this case, and only proceeded with approval. I have in my files copies of everything I have said here, including numerous testimonials of students and faithful.

I agree with Bishop James Timlin that the smear campaign (more than 500 pages of emails and internet articles orchestrated by one person!) against Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity was motivated by ideological vendettas and strong economic interests.

I want to assure everyone that I have never protected or concealed anyone guilty of any crime. My actions in these cases has been very clear, especially in regard to priests with allegations of sexual abuse. In all three cases I tried and found someone guilty – a legal act with weight – and one of them became noted in the local press because it involved Saltos del Guaira. [?] But just as I have not hesitated to condemn the guilty, so have I never punished an innocent victim of slander. I am certain of the innocence of Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity and have very much positive evidence of his priestly work. The Church needs many good priests, and I will not sacrifice any, regardless of the strength of the storms unleashed against them.

It is true that there have been real cases of abuse worthy of our condemnation. But there have also been innocent priests and religious convicted on false accusations and smear campaigns. Innocence is to be presumed, and in this case, was found after much investigation by both the U.S. civil authorities and those of the Church.

The Church needs many good priests. Defend those we have and pray that Our Lord may multiply the number of sacred ministers in the future.

+ Rogelio Livieres
Bishop of Ciudad del Este

In Dedicatione S. Michaelis Archangeli

The Archangel Michael Defeating Satan
Guido Reni (1575-1642)

Deus, qui, miro ordine, Angelorum ministeria hominumque dispensas: concede propitius: ut, a quibus tibi ministrantibus in caelo semper assistitur, ab his in terra vita nostra muniatur.

O God, Who, after a marvelous order, didst dispose the ministries of angels and of men: grant in Thy mercy that our life may be defended on earth by them who stand forever before Thee and minister unto Thee in Heaven.

Friday, September 26, 2014

If It's Not Sodom, It's Gomorrah

(Photo: Joshua Trujillo/AP)
For years now, defenders of traditional marriage have argued that the current push to legalize same-sex "marriages" - while already contrary to natural law - represents but the first in a chain of events which will eventually lead to the destruction of civilized society. In 2004, Timothy J. Dailey, Ph.D. of the Family Research Council published a pamphlet entitled "The Slippery Slope of Same-Sex Marriage" which outlines the ways in which the attempt to redefine marriage would undermine the "wellspring of society and culture", the family. Ten years on, and we've seen state after state strike down laws protecting traditional marriage. The sky has not fallen. Not yet, at least.

Last year, we saw a federal court decision abolish most of Utah's anti-polygamy law as being unconstitutional. Advocates of same-sex "marriage" were quick to ridicule suggestions that we have now officially set our foot on the classic "slippery slope". The openly "gay" and professedly Roman Catholic aberro-sexual-rights activist Andrew Sullivan shunned any association between changing same-sex "marriage" legislation and polygamy, as, according to Sullivan, "it's straight people - and mainly straight men - who are the prime movers behind polygamy as an ideal anyway." Since it's not "gays" who want polygamy, the two things are entirely unrelated. Right. Well, somebody needs to explain this logic to the Germans.

This week, the German Council of Ethics - by a vote of 14 to 9 - recommended that current laws forbidding incest should be abolished. According to the majority position paper, the right of the individual to "sexual self-determination" should be given more weight than any "abstract legal protection of the family." The report justifies its position by citing research which claims that incest is "very rare." But more important in the eyes of the Council is the effect such laws have on people involved in incestuous relationships: "They feel that their fundamental rights are being violated and that they are forced to either hide or deny their love."

To their credit, the German Bishop's Conference lost no time in issuing a condemnation. The press release issued at the conclusion of their most recent meeting contains the following:
It is with astonishment and alienation that we take note of the decision  - passed with a narrow majority - of the German Council of Ethics to recommend a revision of §173 of the criminal code regarding consensual incest between siblings. In accord with the legal consciousness of the majority of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany, we view the current law forbidding incest as an indispensable part of the defense of the family and its central role in socialization as well as a necessary signal against the abusive marginalization of family relationships. It is thus an important prerequisite for the successful development of the human person and the protection of the free realization of familial roles. (Source)
It's highly unlikely that the German law will change. For now. But take note of the membership of the Council of Ethics: nearly all hold Ph.D.'s in their respective fields, and many are tenured professors at big universities: 4 in theology, 5 in law, 9 in medicine and 6 in philosophy. These are not rabid liberals from the fringes of society pushing a political agenda; these are well-heeled, highly influential intellectuals who have become so corrupt in their thinking that they feel that there is no longer a sufficient moral basis for forbidding incest. And they are teaching the very same to the next generation of theologians, lawyers, doctors and university professors. At this point, it is merely a matter of time before we have the first case of legal marriage between father and daughter - or, even more to the likings of all things corrupt, between father and son.

The sky isn't falling yet. But I can see the cracks from here.

A Bishop Under Fire

Bishop Frank Dewane
(Photo: catholicchampion)
If you've found yourself wondering why it seems as though good and faithful bishops in the Church have fallen silent as of late, please consider that it could well be because they are busy facing down a veritable storm of dissent. Case in point: His Excellency Bishop Frank Joseph Dewane of Venice, Florida. 

To fully appreciate Bishop Dewane's current situation, one must understand the context particular to the Diocese of Venice. It was formed in 1984 by dividing the enormous Diocese of Miami, and placed under the guidance of then Auxiliary Bishop John Joseph Nevins, who chose as his episcopal motto: "To Serve with Mercy" - a rather open indicator of his preferred style of leadership. He is reported to have presided over an "open diocese" and permitted his priests "substantial latitude" in the exercise of their duties while encouraging extensive ecumenical "interfaith" outreach. In other words, the now-famous "Spirit of Vatican II" was at the helm, steering the course for some 200,000 Catholic souls for more than 20 years. When Bishop Nevins reached retirement age in 2007, the reigns of power were given over to the considerably younger Bishop Dewane. He had been appointed Coadjutor Bishop the year before, and, within weeks of the appointment, was given a litmus test as to his loyalty to Church teaching and canon law: would he refuse communion to Catholic politicians who supported laws violating Catholic moral doctrine? After an initial flurry of reports that he would not refuse communion, newspapers were forced to print retractions: Bishop Dewane would be following the directive issued by the USCCB, and decide the matter on an individual basis. Though this judicious position seemed somewhat ambiguous, the message from the press was clear: he was expected to do nothing other than maintain the course set by his predecessor. Surprisingly, he decided to do his job instead.

(Photo: catholicchampion)
Almost immediately, Bishop Dewane set about to reform the Diocese. He began dropping in unannounced at Mass in parishes under his care, and many pastors were roundly criticized for what had become commonplace liturgical deviations and outright abuses. Those who were not willing to follow the official rubrics were asked to leave, and new priests - many having to be brought in from outside the Diocese - were installed to replace them. He abolished the permanent diaconate program, and instructed that women were not to serve as "Eucharistic ministers", lectors or acolytes. He brought in priests from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) to help him in establishing a Tridentine Latin Mass program, and required at least one parish in each region of the Diocese to offer at least one Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday. Parish councils - those hotbeds of progressive dissent - were swiftly dissolved, and the Diocesan Council of the laity created by Bishop Nevins was eliminated. Financial control of the Diocese was consolidated, and an annual audit of all parishes was mandated. Parishes were forbidden to use Church facilities for fundraising activities without prior diocesan approval. All religious education programs which violated or failed to uphold Church teaching were discontinued. In short, Bishop Dewane took proper control of his diocese, and intended to run it according to the mind of the Church.

As was to be expected, the progressive forces in the Diocese of Venice - which had enjoyed free reign for more than two decades under Bishop Nevins - were shocked at this sudden return to a more traditional form of governance under the motto: "Justice, Peace, and Joy", with great emphasis on the first of those terms. By 2010, his critics - composed not only of 1968-era parishioners, but also ex-priests and ex-nuns - were mounting organized protests against the Bishop. Despite this open dissent, however, the good Bishop continued to speak forcefully on issues of great societal importance, calling upon Catholics to remember their duty to engage their political leaders and bear witness to the Gospel in the public arena. In the Fall of 2012, leading up to an important round of local elections, he published a series of pastoral letters regarding four key areas: 1) the defense of human life; 2) the defense of religious liberty; 3) the defense of traditional marriage and the family; and, 4) the defense and protection of the poor and needy. In his introductory letter, he wrote:
As lay faithful, it is vitally important that your voices be heard. By voting for policy makers, all people can contribute to political solutions and legislative choices which will benefit the common good. This responsibility is so important that the Church teaches the lay faithful "never to relinquish their participation in public life." As with any election, candidates emphasize different topics as "the most important issue of the election." Given the times, a significant focus will be upon the deficit, job creation, debt and other economic issues. These topics should be considered by voters, but they are by no means the only focus of the upcoming election. At times, economic concerns are trumped by still more important issues - after all, people are more important than material goods. Violating the right to life, sanctity of marriage, religious freedom and the needs of the poor, involve intrinsic moral evils, which must never be supported by Catholics.
Tensions reached a new high this past January, when ten dissenting priests sent an anonymous letter to Pope Francis via the Apostolic Nuncio denouncing Bishop Dewane and demanding he be reprimanded and called to heel. Simultaneously, the Bishop has to face a frivolous lawsuit regarding a charge of sexual misconduct on the part of former parish volunteer. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is defending the Diocese, and has written a brief but comprehensive response in defense of Bishop Dewane.

Pray, gentle reader, for our good and faithful bishops. They are facing a raging tide of open dissent and public calumny of the worst kind, and need our heartfelt prayers to continue on undaunted in the defense of the Truth and the Light of the Gospel.

(Photo: catholicchampion)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Fact of God

The Creator
(Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel) 
Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J.

If it did not much matter whether man believed in God or not, there can be little doubt that many more would acknowledge their belief in Him than actually do. If men could be allowed to accept God and still live exactly as they pleased, if they could treat Him as a power who belonged to a quite different sphere and had no concern with this world, or as a friendly neighbour, or an acquaintance, or a distant relation, who looked to his own affairs and left us free to look after ours, then it is not improbable that the proofs and signs of His existence would be received with less questioning and opposition; indeed, there is scarcely a man who lays claim to common sense, and is not the victim of his own violent mind, but acknowledges at least a Supreme Being somewhat of this nature. When the old paganism had outgrown its many gods, and had settled down to a life of self-indulgence, it still accepted the belief in a God who cared little or nothing for mankind; and the modern paganism, impatient of all interference from without, believes in much the same way, and in the same way buries its God behind a cloud. Is there a priest, with any experience of so-called unbelievers, but has again and again heard this profession of faith: "I believe in Something Supreme"; to which, however, this corollary has been added or implied: "Who is no concern of mine"?

But it is precisely because an explicit act of faith in God cannot stop at that and be done with it, that to many it comes so much against the grain. If we say positively that God is, there follow no end of consequences; consequences by no means congenial to the man who wishes and intends to manage his life according to his own sweet will. So that, rather than commit itself by making this first admission, rather than allow itself to be convicted of falsehood or inconsistency, human nature instinctively prefers to make no admission at all, or to set the question aside and to substitute others in its stead. To make no admission, to assume an attitude of doubt, to say one has not been able finally to decide, is the commonest and easiest course; for this a man can do with an abundant show of reason - nay, more, with an abundant show of honesty. He can appeal to a sense of duty, and declare that his life is too full to allow him time and opportunity to arrive at a final conclusion about God; he can be diffident and humble, and say that he is too dull of understanding, too lacking in technical training, to attempt so intricate a problem; he can claim to be broadminded and unbiased, and therefore, to avoid over-emphasis, to appreciate too keenly the gropings of other minds to be sternly dogmatic himself; or he may be studious, learned, a hard reader, and maintain that the doubts of greater minds than his own justify his own hesitation, while the almost infinite succession of blunders on this point in past ages justifies his disbelief in a definite solution, justifies even his leaving the question altogether alone. In countless ways, when driven to speak, the man who says he doubts the fact of God can make out a good defence; yet more often he prefers to say nothing, but to let the question die unanswered.

For, as a matter of fact, men know that there are other proofs of truth than those of argument; upon argument alone men accept very little, by it they do not even arrange their lives. In their hearts, they know that to deny God outright, no matter with what show of reason, is merely foolish. Where the most a man can claim is ignorance, it is foolish positively to deny; there is no greater folly than to argue from one's ignorance of a thing to the conclusion that the thing is not. But common sense does not stop there; not only does it prove downright atheism to be no more than arrogant folly, but it also compels other admissions. The man who confesses his own ignorance implicitly confesses that others may know better than himself. The man who acknowledges that he never gives the matter a thought must also acknowledge that others who do may probably have reached conclusions that he has not. Common sense makes him suspect that, in that case, they are more likely to be right; while his common instincts instantly drive him to act on the assumption that God is, and that he matters to God, and that God matters to him. At many a sudden turn in his life, his very human nature betrays him into acting as one who believes, even while he affects not to care, and the man who did not he would despise as one who had debased his manhood.

This is no place for theological discussion. We have no need here even to summarize the proofs of the fact of God. We are addressing those who know; though, in any case, to very few people indeed does the fact of God depend upon proof, as the word is commonly understood. To most it is a "certainty greater than reason"; on that account are men and women willing to die for it, who would not die for the conclusion of a syllogism. One has only to sit back and watch human nature, at all times, under all circumstances, in every condition of life, either writhing and resisting under the intolerable burden of God, or gladly accepting Him and finding Him a yoke that is sweet and a burden that is light, we shall then realize how great a confession of the fact of God is human life itself. Man is too terribly conscious of God for God not to be or not to matter. However independent and self-governed he may be, he cannot leave God alone. He can scarcely act without the wonder coming to him as to what that Other One may think; he cannot follow his own likes or dislikes as he wills, simply because Something else says he must not. Whichever way he turns, God confronts him; even if he looks into his heart, he finds Him there; if he leaves God aside, he knows he does so by convention, not by conviction. So it has always been; this, at least, evolution has not mended, and so he knows it always will be, whatever evolution may say.

In face of this fact, as has just been said, man is driven to one of two attitudes.  "He who is not with Me is against Me." He may indeed claim a third position, he may claim to follow a middle course; but to pass God by is to refuse Him. Either man finds God an intolerable burden, and does all he can to shake Him off; or he believes that the burden is a blessing, that truth, rightly understood, cannot be tyrannical or cruel, accepts God, and has a happy heart as his reward. One man chooses what he sees, blinds himself to what he does not, makes for himself a working creed, a working code of moral action, a conventional understanding of life, based on the assumption that this world is all there is, and that no other concerns him. By signing that convention, by abiding to that code, he succeeds in hemming himself within a charmed circle, which may serve him as long as he lives, and which may hide from him for that length of time the weird visions that haunt the space without. But his security he knows to be unsound; his peace of mind is unreal, for he has not known the things that were to his peace, he cries for it and there is none. Another knows of no such charmed circle. He does not believe that life is made more true by any confinement of horizon. He is open to the truth from whatever side it may come; he believes life is deeper than convention, that this world is not all existence; he has more reverence for right and wrong than to think that it can be fixed, or sanctioned, or regulated, by any human code; as a vessel is most itself when out on the ocean rather than when cooped up in the stocks, so is the life of man most real when it lies and is tossed on the infinite ocean of God.

Such a man lets this life dictate to him the fact of God, and its evidence is overwhelming. He lets the fact of God be to him the key to life, and it solves every mystery; and, accepting the key, he accepts the consequences of its possession. If God is, God counts; if God counts, He counts for more than man, for more than all creation put together; if He counts for more than all this, then His mind must be considered, His will must be fulfilled, and the finding of that mind, the fulfilment of that will, somehow explains the riddle of the world. And if it explains that riddle, then it is also the secret of the happiness of life. Human nature may, at times, resent; it may long to shake off its harness, but it knows very well - and too often experience has confirmed the knowledge - that to live without God leads to death and to lasting fetters, even when the death of life has no more than cast its shadow over it. 
The fear of the Lord is honour, and glory, and gladness, and a crown of joy. The fear of the Lord shall delight the heart, and shall give joy, and gladness, and length of days. With him that feareth the Lord, it shall be well in the latter end, and in the day of his death he shall be blessed. The love of God is honourable wisdom. (Ecclus. 1:11-14)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Citizen of the World

Joyce Kilmer

No longer of Him be it said
"He hath no place to lay His head."

In every land a constant lamp
Flames by His small and mighty camp.

There is no strange and distant place
That is not gladdened by His face.

And every nation kneels to hail
The Splendour shining through Its veil.

Cloistered beside the shouting street,
Silent, He calls me to His feet.

Imprisoned for His love of me
He makes my spirit greatly free.

And through my lips that uttered sin
The King of Glory enters in.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Modernism and Jesus Christ

Third in a Series treating Modernism and Modern Thought
Fr. Joseph Bampton, S.J.

In our last lecture, we compared the Catholic presentment of Christianity with its Modernist presentment. We compared Christianity - as we Catholics know it - in some of its main features, one by one, with corresponding features in the Modernist system: the Catholic notion of revelation with the Modernist notion of revelation; Catholic faith with Modernist faith; the Catholic conceptions of the Church, of Church Authority, of Dogma, with Modernist conceptions of the same. And, putting the two side by side, was ever a more irreducible set of equations? And this was the upshot of the Modernists' attempt to reconcile Christianity with modern thought. Their mistake, as was pointed out, was this: while professing to bring Christianity into harmony with modern thought, what they were really doing was to try to harmonise Christianity with that particular phase of modern thought represented by Kant and his school of philosophy. They started with a philosophical assumption of Kant, an arbitrary assumption, and upon that proceeded to build up their system of Christianity, with the result that might have been foreseen. The result was something that was hardly recognisable as Christianity at all, something they frankly admitted to be not so much a reformation of Christianity as a "transformation," not a reform but a "revolution" (Tyrrell), something, in fact, which it was better to call at once a New Theology, which was what its most candid supporters did not hesitate to call it.

It will occur to us at once to ask what was the necessity for this new restatement of the old creed? Why this upsetting of old beliefs, and this shifting of old landmarks, to the disturbance of men's peace in believing? The answer of the Modernists will be: the advance of modern thought has rendered it necessary. Modern thought shows that Christianity cannot be maintained or defended on the old lines. We must remodel it to suit the mentality of the age. We must bring our Christianity up to date. For take Christianity, the Modernist proceeds, as explained in the good old-fashioned way in the last lecture. It was said to have originated in a revelation conveyed by word of mouth to mankind by the God-Man. That is the basis of the whole Christian system then expounded. Upon that basis you found your notions of revelation, faith, the Church, Church authority, dogma, as then stated. If that basis can be shown to be unsound, the whole Christian system, as you conceive it, comes to the ground. But it is unsound. A theory like this was all very well in mediaeval times, in the Dark Ages. But we know better now. Sounder methods of historical and scientific criticism prevail nowadays. The progress of modern thought has taught us that we have no intellectual knowledge of anything but phenomena, that our knowledge does not transcend the facts of experience. But the God-Man is not a fact of experience. Such a Being, then, is incapable of being known by us intellectually. Neither is a supernatural revelation, ascribed to such a Being, a fact of experience. Therefore such a revelation cannot be matter of intellectual knowledge. You do not know - the Modernist would say - from the nature of the case you cannot know intellectually anything about a God-Man, or a supernatural revelation imparted by Him. What, then, becomes of a Christianity founded upon the hypothesis that you can? Your basis is unsound. Reduce the facts as we know them to their proper proportions, and the facts are these:

It is true there existed a Jesus of Nazareth, a man, a prophet, if you like to call Him so, "mighty in word and work." We do not for a moment deny His existence, nor His exceptional holiness of life and purity of doctrine, nor His extraordinary natural powers. These things belong to the realm of phenomena; they are facts of experience, and therefore ascertainable by human knowledge. The facts of experience go to make up history. This Jesus of Nazareth is, then, an historical figure. The Jesus of history I know. But, when you claim supernatural powers for Him, when you speak of Him as possessing supernatural knowledge, as imparting a supernatural revelation, when you talk to me of a Being Who wrought miracles, that is, departures from the laws of nature, of which laws alone I have experience, you are speaking to me of things that transcend my experience, of things outside the realm of phenomena. To be true to my Kantian principles, I must say I have no intellectual knowledge of sucht hings. I simply don't know. But if you ask me how people have come to invest Him with this supernatural character of a God-Man, and claim to know Him thus, I have an explanation ready, and my explanation is this:

Let it be remembered, in the first place, that the Jesus of history alone is the object of our knowledge properly so-called. But, besides knowledge, I have, as already indicated, another faculty, the religious sentiment, which, in so far as it unites me with God, I call faith. Now Jesus of Nazareth may be the object not only of my intellectual knowledge, but also of my faith. As the object of my intellectual knowledge, He is a mere man, a wondrous man indeed, but still a man in the natural order, for knowledge can take cognisance of nothing else. Regarded thus, I call Him the Jesus of history. But, as the object of my faith, He assumes a different character. Faith recognises the Divine in Him, that divine immanence already mentioned as existing in all believers, but existing in Him in an exceptional degree. Faith gradually expands that divine element in Him, magnifies it, amplifies it, till it transfigures Him completely. Gradually, legends gather round about Him, divine powers are attributed to Him, until at last He is crowned with the aureola of divinity, deified (Loisy). Is He therefore God? Not to knowledge. Knowledge, remember, takes no cognisance of the supernatural, of the divine. But to faith, in a sense, He is God. He is God, not in fact, but in the belief of Christians. Christ the God-Man is a creation of faith. But, thus considered, He is to be carefully distinguished from the Jesus of history (Loisy).

Thus far the Modernist. And so we have the historical Jesus, a fact; and the Christ of faith - what are we to call Him? A fact? Yes, in a sense. Not an historical fact, not a fact of experience, but a fact of human consciousness. But what sort of a fact is that? A fact of human consciousness means something that some human consciousness feels or experiences or thinks to be true. If the God-Man Christ is only a fact of human consciousness, He is a Being Whom some men have thought to be God. But that does not make Him God. Facts of human consciousness may be theories, may be ideas. And so the God-Man Christ may be an idea. The Modernists do not hesitate to call Him so: "the Incorporation of an Idea." A fact of human consciousness may be a legend, a myth, and so the God-Man Christ may be a legend, a myth, to be treated with as much respect as other legends, other myths; as an Homeric myth, or a legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. And thus you have the Jesus of history, a fact, and the Christ of faith, a creation of the religious sentiment. The Modernists have done what St. John foretold men should do: "they have dissolved Jesus "(I John 4:3).

But, if this theory be true, what becomes of the Christian system of revelation? We said in our last lecture that the Christian revelation was external, delivered by Jesus Christ, the God-Man, teaching His doctrine by word of mouth to mankind. But Christ, the God-Man, as Modernists conceive Him, is not a Being outside us delivering a revelation from without. He is immanent in the Christian community, revealing Himself progressively to its faith. The Christ of faith does not speak word of mouth. The Christ of faith reveals Himself to the religious sentiment within. But it is certain that the immanent Christ, Christ within, never revealed in this manner the Church, its constitution, its authority, dogma, the whole Christian scheme of revelation, as Catholics understand it. No, of course not, the Modernist rejoins. "Faith in Christ never meant merely faith in a teacher and his doctrine, but an apprehension of His personality as revealing itself within us" (Tyrrell). But faith in Christ as a teacher, and in His doctrines, is the very basis of Catholic Christianity. On the Modernist showing, this basis is unsound. And, therefore, according to Modernists, the structure raised upon that basis is unsound. The Catholic conception of Christianity comes to the ground, together with the Catholic conception of Christ (Loisy). "The Catholic conception of Christ as God," the Modernists tell us, "conveys no more meaning to the mind than the proposition: Christ is X" (Tyrrell)

We asked at the beginning, why must the faith of the multitude be disturbed by these new doctrines? And we were told that this was necessary for the purpose of harmonising Christianity with the "latest results of criticism" (Tyrrell). For Modernism, we are told - and this is its official description - "is the effort to find a new theological synthesis consistent with the data of historico-critical research" (Tyrrell) Here in passing let me enter a protest against the glib use of such terms as "scientific" and "unscientific," "historical" and "unhistorical," "critical" and "uncritical," and the rest. Nowadays, if you want to damn an opponent's case beyond all hope of redemption, you have only to label it unscientific or unhistorical or uncritical. It is not necessary to have any clear idea of what these terms mean. They are useful to make an opponent look foolish and ignorant. And so we are told that Catholic Christianity is unscientific and unhistorical and uncritical, because it does not agree with the "latest results of criticism," and the "data of historico-critical research." And here we have got the "latest results of criticism," and the "data of historico-critical research." And what do they amount to? To this: that you cannot know anything but phenomena and the facts of experience. But that is what Kant taught nearly a hundred years ago, and something very like what the Sophists of ancient Greece taught two thousand years before him. Why not say at once that Modernism is the effort to find a new theological synthesis consistent with the philosophy of Kant? So it seems Catholic Christianity is unscientific and unhistorical and uncritical because it does not agree with Kant's theory of knowledge. Now we know where we stand. But was it worth while to disturb men's faith for the sake of telling us something that most people who knew anything about the subject knew already? "Ye senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" St. Paul asked the Galatians (Galatians 3:1). If that question were put to the Modernists, "Who hath bewitched you?" the answer would have to be, "Immanuel Kant."

The mention of the Sophists of ancient Greece reminds me of two of the old Greek philosophers, Stilpo of Megara, and Crates of Thebes. Crates, meeting Stilpo one day in the street, asked him whether he believed that the gods really cared for man's worship. " Hush!" said Stilpo; "don't ask such questions in public, but in private." The Modernists might learn from that pagan philosopher a lesson of reticence and of consideration for the faith of others. If they wish to bemuse their own minds with sceptical speculation on the most sacred subjects, let them keep it to themselves, and to the privacy of their own studies. Let them leave the minds of others content in their belief.

It was said in our opening lecture that the chief thing to be feared in Modernism is its spirit. In this lecture we have seen what the spirit of Modernism is with reference to the character of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God the Son made man. St. John has condemned in advance that spirit in words which might have been expressly intended for the Modernists. Modernism, it has been shown, distinguishes between Jesus and Christ; the Jesus of history, and the Christ of faith. "Every spirit," St. John has said, " that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God" (I John 4:3). And again: "Who is a liar save him who denieth that Jesus is the Christ ? (I John 2:22). The spirit of Modernism, St. John would tell us, is a lying spirit. It is not of God.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Solis Ortus Cardine

Caelius Sedulius

Gregorio code:

(c4)A(d) so(e')lis(f) or(gh)tus(d) cár(efwg)di(fe)ne(e.) (;) Ad(g) us(hj)que(j) ter(ji)ræ(hg) lí(hi)mi(i)tem(i.) (:) Chri(h)stum(hjk) ca(j)ná(ji)mus(hg) Prín(hih)ci(gf)pem(efw!gh.) (;) Na(d)tum(e') Ma(f)rí(h)a(hih)  Vír(gfg)gi(fe)ne(e.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Madonna and Child (Marianne Stokes)

Madonna and Child
Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)

In the foreground, we see the Blessed Virgin, seated, clad in a simple yet finely woven white linen tunic. The horizontal hem of the modest neckline is faintly decorated with tiny black stitches. A royal blue mantle, equally fine, drapes her shoulders. Her long, gracile neck is exposed to us, fading seamlessly at the nape into her shiny, carefully combed auburn hair, which falls behind her, out of sight. Her delicately featured face is nearly in profile, her gentle gaze cast toward the ground. Her hazel eyes seem unfocused, as though she is lost in thought. Her ruby lips contrast with her flawless alabaster skin, indicating the fullness of her youth. The solid gold halo surrounding her head is interrupted only by that of the sleeping infant Christ she holds in her hands. His eyes closed, His hand placed under His cheek, He rests His head upon the Blessed Virgin's shoulder.

In the immediate background, we see a low white garden wall and part of a stone column. Beside the column and immediately behind the Blessed Virgin hangs a flat curtain of olive green cloth, through which can be seen part of the landscape. The curtain hangs undisturbed, indicating calm weather. To the left of the pair, we see a single stem bearing seven Easter lilies, five in full bloom, two yet to open. Just behind the lilies, perched upon the retaining wall, is a pale red but shiny apple.

In the distant background, we see a smattering of tall, thin cypress trees, receding into the distance as we approach a large body of water, probably the Sea of Galilee. On the edge of the sea we see the faint impression of a city - presumably Capernaum - with the walls of its buildings reflecting the light of the low-lying sun in warm, earthen tones. Behind the city's skyline stand pale blue mountains which fade into the clear afternoon sky.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Modern Wordling
Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J.

In every language there are words which have a sense of staleness about them. As soon as we hear them, we tell ourselves, with a shrug of the shoulders, that we have heard them before, that we know all they mean, that those who use them are old-fashioned people, rather dull, and certainly unoriginal. We even go so far, in proof that these words have been worn threadbare, as to use them in some more flippant sense, giving them a kind of galvanized new life since their real life is gone. Thus we will tell our friends, with a touch of self-complacency, that we fear we are a bit of a heathen, or something of a loose fish, or we will use some other sorry title which, we hope, will be equally shocking and gallant.

One of these old-fashioned words is worldliness, and another its concomitant, worldling; to be called a worldling smacks of the unconventional, independent, generous, large-hearted, and suggests, on the whole, a rather agreeable sort of companion. When a man lays claim to the title he means us to understand that he knows a thing or two, that he has found experience at first hand, that he has not feared to drink of life at its sources or beneath the surface of the stream, that he sees more in the world, and in men and women, than the common run of mortals have seen, that he has tasted of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and has found the fruit worth the venture. The worldling, so he tells his friends, can forgive all because he knows all. He has a kind word for every backslider, so long as they slide backward along the way of the world; he pities those who aim at being better, as having no more sense, and as acting out of ignorance, or he twits them for their moonshine ideas, or, if that cannot convert them, he condemns them as prigs, who presume to set themselves above their equals.

And yet there is something behind all this which makes complete deception impossible. The worldling is conscious, while he speaks, that all is not quite as he describes it; at the same time the looker-on, while he laughs and makes a show of approval, knows very well that there are other things beneath the surface. In other words, to be quite plain spoken, both are well aware that worldliness is a lie; a lie in the heart; that peculiarly loathsome kind of lie that is characteristic of a coward. The worldling may affect to be a happy man, he may set himself up as more human than his comrades; but he knows in his heart, without a doubt, that he is a traitor to his human nature, and a mean fellow. He knows that he acts against his right convictions, that he crushes them down beneath his heel, and that he sacrifices that within him which might have grown to something great, for a prize that is beneath contempt. If he did not know it would be different, then he would not be called a worldling, simply because his heart could not prove him a craven. The pig that swills in its trough, even the savage that eats and drinks himself stupid, these may not be called worldly, because they know no better; but the man who does know better, yet is content to swill, wallowing in what this world has to offer, be it gold, or rioting, or luxury, or even base ambition, such a man narrows his margin to that of any beast, is a traitor to the manhood that is in him, and when he affects to find in this the fulfillment of his life's desire, that downtrodden manhood still tells him that he lies. So mean a thing is worldliness, and so mean a creature is a worldling! He determines to be content with his immediate surroundings, and is irritated at the suspicion, approaching to a certainty, that there is something better, more worthy of a man's ambitions, in his reach. This he cannot in his heart deny; to do so in word and deed effects little, so he decides to ignore it, to treat it as if it were not, as one might decide to live content in a haunted house by ignoring the ghost that wandered through it. True, it is a cheap sort of victory; but it serves its purpose; for it turns real life into an elaborate make-believe, that gigantic sham of which so much of this life is made up, and which must be what it is, being built upon a lie.

Being that within, the worldling must adapt all that comes within his sphere to fit into the same perspective. He would like to estimate everything - right and truth, as well as coal and provender - by immediate weights and measures, by their present market value, by their conformity with existing regulations. Right is that which is according to the life he has decided to live, truth is truth in so far as it does not contradict his accepted postulate; and he protests, sometimes to bloody persecution, always with relentless hatred, against those who prefer less conventional scales of measurement. Such men he cannot leave alone, for they keep alive a memory which he hopes he might otherwise learn to forget. Or, again, he would have this life stand still; he would gladly settle down here for all eternity; but since that cannot be, he would at least pretend that it is, and let the end come unawares. So is the worldling a coward, for he has not the courage of his convictions; so is he a mean creature, for, not having the courage of his convictions, he must hide his cowardice by mean devices; so is he a liar, for only by a lie can he justify himself, whether to man without, or to that complaining, questioning voice which warns him of his treachery within.

Nor is this only the aspect of the worldling, considered in the light of the spiritual life; if, indeed, a distinction can be made between the spiritual and the real. Whatever he may say in a flippant mood, yet every man, the more he is a man, the more he scorns to be a worldling; apart from any sense of religion, the very human nature that is in him tells him he has ideals higher than those of the brute. He believes himself endowed with higher powers, made master of the world, for some other end than simply to live a brutish life in a rather more exquisite manner; indeed, here is the essence of that which he understands by character. For character stands for what is right; character slashes itself free from the bondage of its surroundings; character puts duty above convenience. Worldliness knows none of these things ; when unmasked, it is no more nor less than lack of character.

Still, these two are not strictly antithetical. One is but the denial of the other; it is not its opposite. For character is merely unworldly, and unworldly according to its grade. To discover the opposite, it must be remembered what worldliness rightly means. By worldliness we mean this-worldliness; and the opposite of this is the worldliness of another world. Other-worldliness introduces other standards, other ideals, and therefore other perspectives; it does not destroy or lessen the value of things of earth, it does but put them in another and more accurate relation. Other-worldliness begins by accepting the dictate of that inner voice which proclaims the more enduring truth, in opposition to the voice that bids us be contented with the present. It recognizes a broader reality than that which appears to the eyes, or is enjoyed by our other senses. It accepts the principle that a greater end must absorb a lesser, that a greater end ennobles a lesser, that therefore the greater and deeper life of man must absorb and give meaning to the surface life of his little day, and that he should himself, in his nature of man, be master of all that is included in his manhood.

This is the teaching of all wisdom, pagan or Christian, temporal or spiritual, ethical or religious; in whatever else they differ, they agree in condemning worldliness. To live for this world is to degrade our human nature; to live above this world is alone to live like a man. But to live above this world demands another world in which and for which we may live; and this demand is met, in part by a world of intellect, which some men fashion for themselves, in full only by that real other-world, in which we Christians believe. This is the key to the secret of the Saints. Whatever else they were, they were men; eccentric if you like, offensive if you like, fanatical and misguided, but tingling essences of human nature, humanity at its boiling-point. This mere unworldliness could never have produced much less life for this world. It was the acceptance, whole-hearted and unflinching, of the inner truth that made them, and the consequent realization of that other world in which they moved. For that world, accordingly, they lived; living for it, they took this life in their stride; its sweets were only relatively sweet, its barriers were too trifling to hinder them, and while smaller men peep at them to find reasons to condemn, they are staggered by the lives they lived.

Says St. John Chrysostom:
Nothing so wears out a man as to be sodden with the love of things earthly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Joseph Mary Plunkett

Our lips can only stammer, yet we chant
   high things of God. We do not hope to praise
   the splendour and the glory of His ways
but we will follow thee, his hierophant
   filling with secret canticles the days
   to shadow forth in symbols for their gaze
what crowns and thrones await His militant.

For all His beauty showered on the earth
   is summed in thee, O thou most perfect flower;
   His dew has filled thy chalice, and His power
blows forth the fragrance of thy mystic worth:

   White blossom of His Tree, behold the hour!
Fear not! Thy fruit is Love's most lovely birth.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Modernism and Catholicism

Second in a Series treating Modernism and Modern Thought
Fr. Joseph Bampton, S.J.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)
There is a striking passage in the life of a great scientist of our own country, Clerk Maxwell. He is known to many of you, I dare say, as a former distinguished Professor of Physics at Cambridge University, and as the great authority on electro-magnetism, and the originator of the electro-magnetic theory of light. He was a scientific man of the first rank, and at the same time a deeply religious man. In the year 1876, the then Anglican Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol - the well known Dr. Ellicott - had occasion to write to Maxwell upon the question of reconciling the teaching of science with the teaching of Genesis, and the answer given by Maxwell in substance amounted to this: People are fond of talking of the latest result of science, when what they mean is often a purely conjectural hypothesis. These hypotheses are constantly changing, and I advise you not to pin your interpretation of Genesis to a conjectural hypothesis of this kind, as the science of 1896 may not agree with the science of 1876. Maxwell's meaning was plain enough. The so-called latest result of science is often only a working theory, good for today, but liable to be rejected tomorrow in favour of one that works better. If the interpretation of Scripture is based upon a working theory of the moment, when that working theory has gone, what becomes of Scripture? Is that to go too? Scientific theories pass, but Holy Scripture remains. Let us be sure that the science we are trying to reconcile with faith is not merely some temporary scientific expedient. That is a caution Modernists would have done well to bear in mind. It might have deterred them from the attempt which we said in our last lecture is made by Modernism to reconcile Catholicism with Kant's theory of knowledge. That attempt we have now to consider.

We have seen something already of what Kant's teaching is. We may remind ourselves now of what Catholic teaching is. We shall then be in a better position to judge of this attempt to harmonise the two. In what I have to say I am not undertaking to prove the truth of the Catholic conception of Christianity; I propose to state it only, and, briefly stated, it comes to this.

It is a fact, an event of history, that God the Son took flesh of a virgin mother, and was made man, the God-Man, Whom we know as Jesus Christ. It is a fact that He first delivered His doctrine by word of mouth to His Apostles, and that they delivered it also by word of mouth to the body of believers. That is Revelation, as Catholics understand it. Revelation, then - observe we are speaking now not of private revelations, like those vouchsafed to prophets under the old law, or to saints under the new, but of public revelation - is something external. In its effect it is of course internal, enlightening the mind within. But in its origin it is from without, transmitted by oral communication from Christ, and from those commissioned to speak in Christ's name: "He that heareth you heareth me." So much as to Revelation.

In the next place, it is a fact that the believers in this Revelation were constituted by Christ Himself into a body which He called the Church. To that Church He gave a form of government which we call hierarchical, that is the sacred rule of the priesthood; a government not democratic, but hierarchical, with Peter and Peter's successors at its head, as supreme teachers of Christ's truth, and supreme rulers with the powers requisite to support their teaching. That is the Church, as Catholics understand it.

Once more, the doctrines which Christ revealed, either directly or through the Church, were in many cases truths superior to reason, beyond the power of reason to discover, and, when discovered by other means, beyond the power of reason to comprehend. It would not be difficult to show that, to believe such supernatural truths as they should be believed, with saving belief, supernatural aid is required. That supernatural aid we call the gift of Faith. Faith, then, is a supernatural gift of God for the acquisition of truth in the supernatural order, just as reason is a natural gift of God for the acquisition of truth in the natural order. That is Faith, as Catholics understand it.

Again, as these supernatural truths of Faith are proposed to me by the Church, if I am to believe at all, I must believe them on the word of God, of course, but on the word of God made known to me by the Church. For, if I want to know a truth, and cannot get to know it by the use of my own reason, and yet the truth is there, there is only one way in which it can be made known to me: somebody must tell me. And Christ has appointed the Church to tell me. But to believe because somebody tells me is to believe on authority. Hence the need of authority in matters of Faith. And that is Church Authority, as Catholics understand it.

Further, if the Church is to tell me these truths so that I may believe them, then the Church must speak plainly. For, if the Church is not clear in her statements, how am I to be clear in my belief? The Church must formulate her doctrine in language clear and definite and precise. And truths so formulated are what are termed Dogmas. That is Dogmatic teaching, as Catholics understand it.

Here we have clear notions upon such points as Revelation, the Church, Faith, Authority, Dogma. And, taken together, these constitute a summary, brief and incomplete, but correct so far as it goes, of Christianity, as Catholics understand it. This, then, is the Catholic conception of Christianity.

Now Modernism undertakes to reconcile Catholic Christianity with modern thought. Well and good. If Modernism is to do that, the Christianity just described is what it has got to reconcile with modern thought. Let us see how Modernism sets about it.

In the first place, the Modernist begins with a philosophical assumption which those who have followed the last lecture will have no difficulty in recognizing. That assumption is that all we know with intellectual knowledge is not reality, but only appearances. Phenomena we know - the Modernist says - but as to things, those we do not know, and cannot. That, as we saw in our last lecture, is the philosophy of Kant, pure and simple. And what follows from this, as was said then, is that we cannot know with intellectual knowledge God and the supernatural. So far the Modernist agrees with Kant. But he agrees with him also in saying that we have another means of reaching God and the supernatural. Kant calls that other means the Practical Reason. The Modernist prefers to call it the "Religious Sentiment", or "Religious Experience". And the Modernist argues in this wise: Man, he says, feels within himself instinctively the need of the Divine. That need of the Divine excites in him a corresponding sentiment, a sentiment described by one of the Modernists as "the ceaseless palpitation of the human soul panting for the Divine" (Buisson). That sentiment is the Religious Sentiment, and is God revealing himself to the soul of the man. Thus considered, that Religious Sentiment is Revelation. Further, the Religious Sentiment unites the soul with God, it is an "inward recognition of God, a response of spirit to spirit" (Tyrrell). Thus considered, the Religious Sentiment is Faith.

Here, then, we have Revelation and Faith, as Modernists understand them, and observe the contrast with the Catholic notions of Revelation and Faith, as just described. In the Catholic sense, Revelation is something external, something that comes to the soul from without, from the oral teaching of Christ and the Church, and Faith is acceptance of that Revelation. In the Modernist sense, Revelation is wholly internal, a psychological experience, and Faith is the soul's response to it. To the Catholic, Revelation is statement, and Faith is belief in the statement made. To the Modernist, Revelation and Faith are experience. To the Catholic, the content of Revelation, which is the object of Faith, is truth addressed to the intelligence. To the Modernist, it is truth addressed to the feelings, to the emotional faculty. That brings religion perilously near to Matthew Arnold's definition of religion: "Morality touched with emotion."

Again - the Modernist proceeds - God, thus apprehended by the religious sentiment, is indwelling, immanent in the soul, and this doctrine of God indwelling in the soul and apprehended as revealing Himself to the soul, not by means of any external teaching, but through the soul's inward experience, is the Modernist doctrine of Vital Immanence. Here we recognize Kant's influence again. It is true that theories of immanence are older than Kant. In one form or another, they are as old as philosophy itself, as old as the Stoics, at least. And there is a theory of immanence which is true. But Kant's was a false theory of immanence, and the Vital Immanence of the Modernists is derived from that.

We have seen what the Modernist understands by Revelation and Faith. They depend upon Vital Immanence, and are reducible to Religious Experience. Now, it is natural that a man should wish to give some account to himself of his religious experience, that he should wish to interpret it to himself, to translate his religious experience into words. And for this purpose his reason begins to work upon his religious sentiment. So the Modernist is able to say that his religion is not a mere matter of sentiment, but of reason as well. The Modernist then brings his reason to bear upon the religious sentiment, and tries to express in language his religious experience. He admits he can do so only in language very vague and indefinite, in terms quite inadequate to express his inner experience - in terms, in fact, little better than symbols of the religious experience within him, symbols that shift and change and need to be modified as his religious experience undergoes modification. These vague and variable statements are what Modernists call Dogma. They are "tentative and provisional formulas" (Tyrrell) Contrast this Dogma of the Modernists with Dogma as understood by the Catholic. To the Catholic, Dogma is something fixed, precise, something stable and immutable; to the Modernist, Dogma is a tentative and provisional formula.

But - the Modernist continues - to the man who believes, it is natural to wish not only to explain his faith to himself, but also to communicate it to others. The Modernist does so by means of the dogmas just described. These dogmas are the outcome of the religious experience of his individual conscience. By communicating these dogmas, he associates his individual conscience with the consciences of others, and this association of individual consciences forms the Collective Conscience. Here we have all the materials ready for the formation of a Church. For people who share in this Collective Conscience are bound together by a spiritual bond of union. It is natural for people so united in thought to form themselves into a society, and that society is the Church, as Modernists understand it, and a Church, with Church authority, for the authority of that Church is the authority of the collective over the individual conscience. That is what Modernists understand by the Church and Church authority. Contrast that with the Catholic conception of the same. The Catholic says the Church was established Christ. The Modernist says the Church is the product of the Collective Conscience. It is true he would add that this Collective Conscience was inspired by "the spirit of Christ living and developing in the life of the faithful collectively" (Tyrrell). Very well; let us put it that way. The Catholic says the Church is established by Christ directly. The Modernist says it is established by Christ indirectly at most, for it is established the Collective Conscience inspired by Christ, or by "faith in Christ" (Loisy). Again, the Catholic says Church authority is centred in the divinely appointed vicar of Christ, Peter and Peter's successors. The Modernist says it is centred in the Collective Conscience. Modernism does not hesitate to say "the entire Christian people is the true and immediate vicar of Christ" (Tyrrell). So the Church, it seems, is not hierarchical, the Church is democratic; democratic in its origin, for it is a product of the Collective Conscience, democratic in its constitution, for its authority is that of the Collective Conscience over the individual.

And thus Modernism has reached its goal. It set out to reconcile Catholicity with the spirit of the age, and it has done so with a vengeance. Democracy is the spirit of the age, and the Modernist has succeeded in reconciling the Church with democracy by proving to his own satisfaction that the Church is democratic in its origin, and democratic in its constitution. Modernism set out to reconcile Catholicity with modern thought, and it has done so after a fashion by interpreting Christianity in terms of Kant. It has adopted Kant's theory of knowledge, that we can know phenomena only. It has adopted Kant's theory of religion, that we cannot apprehend God intellectually, but only by some other method, whether you call it Practical Reason or Religious Experience matters little. And by such means it has succeeded in reconciling Catholicity with modern thought, but at what a cost! At the cost of identifying Catholicity with an unsound system of philosophy; at the cost of revolutionising the very notions of things so fundamental to Christianity as Revelation, Faith, the Church, Church Authority, Dogma; at the cost of turning Christianity topsy-turvy. Modernism is "another gospel which is not another." It is the Gospel according to Kant.