Alberto Carosa | Rome Reporter
In an article of April 2, 2020, a major Italian newspaper, Rome-based Il Messaggero, reports that Bellegra, a small town in the Lazio hinterland adjacent to the Sublacense area (named after its main city Subiaco) has so far not recorded any case of contagion from coronavirus, ostensibly thanks to the timely action of its mayor, Flavio Cera.
“…Moreover, obtain the victory of Our Holy Mother Church over her enemies, the conversion of sinners, the return to the Catholic faith of heretics and especially England, for which you prayed so much …”, from the traditional novena to Saint Paul of the Cross for his feast day, April 28th, according to the old calendar, in Filotea ossia l’anno santificato (book of prayers and meditation, viz. the year sanctified, pg 313, Rome, 1923)
Strangely enough, as was the case with his beatification on September 19th, 2010, also on the occasion of his canonization on October 13th, 2019, as far as one could see, the fascinating background history leading to the conversion of St. John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was almost ignored by the overwhelming majority of the main mainstream secular and non-secular printed and electronic media. Yet, as one can reasonably argue, his conversion did not come out of the blue, but can be regarded the end result of a century old process dating at least as far back as 1694, the year when Saint Paul of the Cross (1694-1775), founder of the Passionists, was born in Ovada, a town in the province of Alessandria in Piedmont. But what does Saint Paul of the Cross have to do with Saint John Henry Newnan? Very briefly, everything.
The recent three-week Amazon Synod in the Vatican is still sending shockwaves throughout the Catholic world for a number of reasons, one of them being certain “ceremonies” performed in the Vatican gardens, St. Peter’s basilica and the nearby church of Santa Maria in Traspontina in via della Conciliazione in honor of an Amazon pagan goddess called Pachamama or Mother Earth.
The controversy was mostly focused on the use of little wooden statues of naked pregnant women, called Pachamama. As reported in Catholic World News (October 29th, 2019) on October 4, during a Vatican Garden event in which Pope Francis dedicated the synod to St. Francis, 15 persons in attendance, including a Franciscan friar, knelt in a circle around the statues and bowed their heads to the ground. During the synod’s final week, two men removed the statues from a Roman church and threw them into the Tiber River, leading to a papal apology. After the statues were retrieved, they were displayed in a canoe on October 26, the final day of synod discussions.
Subsequently, one of those responsible for the brave and admirable removal of the statuettes came forward with a video posted on YouTube: Alexander Tschugguel, a young traditionalist Austrian Catholic, who motivated his gesture with the fact that those pagan symbols were “out of place” in a Catholic church.
Many Catholics were so stunned and outraged by these events, as if they were unprecedented, but this is nothing new and it is really inexplicable that the secular and non-secular mainstream media did not remind us of this. Yet, what happened in the Vatican during last October can be regarded as a sort of follow up to what happened in Assisi during the interreligious meeting for world peace on October 27th, 1986.
On that occasion it was said that the situation had gone out of hand, in the sense that contrary to the proclaimed intention for the meeting to be an occasion “to be together to pray”, it ended up being an occasion “to pray together”, thus lending itself to the accusation of religious indifferentism, relativism and syncretism, synonymous with the media-created “spirit of Assisi”.
It is true that this mistake was not repeated in Assisi II (24 January 2002) and Assisi III (18-20 September 2016), but the precedent had already been set in Assisi 1, when objectively outrageous (to say the least) acts did occur: chickens being slaughtered on the altar of Santa Chiara according to tribal rituals, a statue of Buddha being placed on the altar of the church of San Pietro and clergy being “blessed” with rituals performed by shamans and a medicine man. As far as is known, all this was amply documented with a vast selection of unequivocal pictures only by Centro Culturale Lepanto (CCL), whose exhaustive reportage was promptly circulated to the main Catholic and non-Catholic media outlets. Although ostensibly and predictably the alarm sounded by CCL fell on deaf ears, evidently the promoters of the anti-Christian revolution inside and outside the Church did take notice, as shown by the fact, as already said, that these acts were not repeated in Assisi II and Assisi III. That’s why what happened during the Amazon synod could well be termed Assisi IV, and not for example Vatican I, also not to create confusion with a council whose orthodoxy is out of question.
According to the masterful lesson of the late Brazilian Catholic leader and thinker, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, in his Revolution and counter-Revolution, what he calls the gnostic and equalitarian Revolution par excellence with capital R, anti-Christian in its essence, advances its goals with steps forward and step backward.
In all likelihood, the steps in Assisi 1 proved somewhat bold, perhaps too bold, hence the decision to wait for a more propitious future occasions, which materialized with the Amazon synod. On this occasion, the Revolution made what in Marxist terms is described as a “quality leap”, whose impact was far more relevant than the events in Assisi 1:
“In those rites there is the devil”, Msgr. José Luiz Azcona Hermoso, Amazon bishop emeritus of Marajó in the state of Pará, was quoted as saying in la Bussola Quotidiana (October 25th, 2019).
These rites did not take place in the Italian province, in a remote little town like Assisi, albeit world-renowned due to St. Francis, but in the very heart of Universal Catholicism. If the bishop’s analysis is correct, this time it was not Satan's smoke to make its way into the temple of God through a crack, as in the words of “Saint” Paul VI in 1972, but the devil himself, and not through a crack, but through an entrance wide open, if not the main entrance.
On the one hand the absence of Pachamama as such at the mass ending the synod, also due to the action of the above Austrian faithful, can be considered a step backward. But on the other hand, if the non-Christian religious usages and practices of the Amazon people are something we Catholics should learn from, as stated in the Preparatory Document for the Synod for the Amazon, the pastoral agency of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Missio, was quite quick in publishing a prayer to Pachamama in an April 2019 publication devoted to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region. The prayer was described as a “prayer to Mother Earth of the Inca peoples” (Catholic World News, cit.).
Moreover, Corriere del Veneto (October 29th, 2019) reported that a shorter version of the Pachamama prayer was already used during a missionary vigil at the parish church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Verona on Friday, October 25th, 2019, sparking a row among the local faithful, who inundated the local bishop’s curia with phone calls and emails to protest against the initiative:
Pachamama of these places,
drink and eat as much as you like this offer,
so that this land may be fruitful.
Pachamama, good Mother
Be propitious! Be propitious!
Let the oxen walk well,
and that one does not drink.
Make the seed taste good,
that nothing bad happens to her,
that frost does not disrupt it,
that produces good food i.
We ask you:
give us all.
Be propitious! Be propitious!
(Prayer to the Mother Earth of the Inca peoples)
English translation by Michael Hitchborn
It would seem that certain aspects of the Synod have become operational even prior to the conclusion of its proceedings and one may well wonder what the next “quality leap” will be.
Exclusive Remnant Interview...
Archbishop Viganò and journalist Aldo Valli
"They have called me a traitor, a hypocrite, and false. Obviously, given that these accusations come from the enemies of the Church, I consider all of these accusations like medals of honor in the defense of the Truth." – Aldo Maria Valli
National state TV RAI journalist Aldo Maria Valli and church musician Aurelio Porfiri are two leading Italian Catholic figures who decided to join forces and publicly voice their uneasiness, to say the least, with the present state of affairs in the Catholic Church from their traditional vision of the faith.
June 24th, 2019, marked the 800th anniversary of the day St. Francis met the Sultan of Egypt. The Italian Bishops Conference CEI news agency, SIR, acknowledged this in a March 1st, 2019 dispatch on the special stamp issued to commemorate the anniversary of such historical event.
Among the most recent commemoration initiatives, an exhibition with over 50 images focused on the anniversary was inaugurated on Friday, May 24, at the Sala Dono Doni of the Sacred Convent in Assisi. It will be open to the public till September 1.
The World Congress of Families (WCF) and the International Organization for the Family (IOF) have announced that the World Congress of Families XIII will be held in Verona, Italy, March 29-31, 2019, and its newly-launched website is now online for registration of participants and the some 1000 delegates scheduled to attend.
The World Congress of Families (WCF), as stated in the above website, is “a major international public event that seeks to unite and equip leaders, organizations, and families to affirm, celebrate, and defend the natural family as the only fundamental and sustainable unit of society”.
This is the first time such international event will be held in Italy, and most notably in Verona, a world-renowned city immortalized by William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet. But the choice of Verona as the setting of the Congress could not have appeared more appropriate also for another reason: the pro-life and pro-family attitude shown in a public vote by the populist right-wing League led local administration.
On Thursday night, October 4th, 2018, as reported in news agency ANSA (October 5th, 2018), Verona city council approved a League motion declaring Verona "a pro-life city" and funding Catholic anti-abortion groups. During the vote, the women's group Non Una Di Meno (Not One Woman Less) protested wearing dresses from the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale. Verona MP Alessia Rotta of the centre-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) said "in the night Verona and its women citizens were hit by an unacceptable slap in the face". She was quoted as saying "the vote took us back to years when women died of widespread backstreet abortions". PD deputy chair Barbara Pollastrini said the vote "represents a symbolic and grave step backwards with respect to a serious and important law like the 194 (abortion law of 1975)". She urged the PD council leader, who voted with the League, to apologise for supporting the motion. The PD caucus leader Carla Padovani, who has courted controversy with traditional Catholic views and demanded to be removed from a video of Verona's first gay civil union, was unapologetic saying "life is a universal value and not one of a party". It was a vote according to her conscience, she said. Monica Cirinnà, sponsor of last year's civil unions legislation, said "I'm disgusted" and, referring to the PD caucus leader's vote, added: "The PD must be leftwing". PD leader Maurizio Martina said "hands off the 194, there can be no ambiguity...no return to the Middle Ages".
That the above motion was still sending shockwaves across the liberal-secularist political establishment was shown beyond any reasonable doubt in late November, in connection with the United Nations-backed International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. To mark this date, feminist demonstrations were held in Rome, Milan and other Italian cities, including Verona. Here also the Non Una Di Meno movement took to the streets, not only to recall the victims of feminicide and male aggression, but also demanding greater rights for women, those very rights now under threat following initiatives like the ones enacted in Verona.
This continued rabid reaction appears to be motivated by another consideration: what happened in Verona in early October is not an isolated initiative at local policy level, but the reflection of avowed convictions at regional and national policy level, in particular of at least two senior government officials of the League, deputy premier and minister of internal affairs Matteo Salvini, who is also the League head, and the minister for family and disability Lorenzo Fontana. The latter is himself from Verona, where he was also appointed deputy mayor in July 2017, an office he had to renounce after being appointed minister in June 2018. Minister Fontana is “accused” of being a hardline traditional minded Catholic (he married with the pre-Vatican ii rite in the personal parish church of Trinità dei Pellegrini catering for the traditionalist community in Rome) and is on record for having sparked a row whenever he has publicly restated his deeply-held pro-life and pro-family convictions. He is a staunch opponent of abortion, same-sex unions, stepchild adoption and pro-LGBT sex education, which he considers as a "weakening of the family", so much so that in 2018 he co-authored with Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, Catholic economist and former head of the Vatican bank IOR, the book “La culla vuota della civiltà. All'origine della crisi" (The empty cradle of civilization. At the origin of the crisis") about the risks related to the demographic winter in Italy. No surprise then if minister Fontana is said to be working on a package of measures, including tax breaks and subsidized service to support the traditional natural family based on the marriage between man and woman.
The book was prefaced by the League leader Matteo Salvini, who joined minister Fontana and other League heavyweights including the Governor of the Veneto Region, Luca Zaia, and the Mayor of Verona, Federico Sboarina, for the official launch of the WCF 2018 in the city of Romeo and Juliet. “We are proud to host the world’s families in Verona, this is the Europe that we like”, Matteo Salvini was quoted as saying during his meeting with the Italian organisers of the WCF, who on the occasion were headed by its president Brian Brown. These words were echoed by minister Fontana when he received the delegation. “The family will be for us the axis of Europe for the future”, he was also quotes as saying (cf Corriere della Sera, October 5th, 2018).
The "City of Love" declared itself Pro-life
And perhaps more than that, since these pro-lifers shared the vision that the family is to be supported for a very simple reason: it’s the hub for “a counter-revolution of good common sense and reason”, capable to provide a real deep-rooted and shared identity for the peoples of the whole of Europe and the entire world (La Verità, October 5th, 2018).
Whereas the meeting with the national government officials took place in Rome, the WCF organisers were received by the local leaders in Verona, where its major Sboarina welcomed them saying that the congress “will be the occasion to re-proclaim values dear to me and that are part of my administration’s programme…Verona is proud to welcome the thousand people participating in the Congress, but most of all of becoming a laboratory of ideas and initiatives promoting the defence of life, from conception to natural death, and of family in the respect of the valuable diversities between man and woman”. For his part, while expressing his thanks and appreciation for the warm welcome received, Brian Brown pledged to make all he could for the upcoming WCF in Verona to become a watershed event, with the hope for “Italy to become again a beacon of civilization for Europe and the whole world”, he was quoted as saying. (in L’Arena, October 4th, 2018).
As reported in La Verità (cit.), Brown is convinced that a new wind is blowing from Italy, a wind which is changing also Western Europe. And probably not only Western Europe. The latest editions of the WCF took place in Eastern Europe, with the 2018 edition being held 13 - 16 September in the capital city of Moldova, Chisinau, where the WCF proceedings saw also the participation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
To know more about the WCF and its programme in Verona:
The recent “lectio magistralis” given by Cardinal Raymond Burke in L’Aquila on March 24th, 2018, proved an extraordinary opportunity to deepen the Catholic doctrine on fundamental issues, with special reference to the Sacred Liturgy as the highest expression of Christian life. Starting from and based on his personal experience, the Cardinal's lecture touched also on various other topics of particular relevance in today's ecclesial and social life: clergy formation, secularization and ethical relativism, family, bioethics and youth education.
Rome. The annual international pilgrimage to Rome in thanksgiving for the Motu Proprio of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who with this apostolic letter intended to liberalize the celebration of the traditional pre-Vatican II Roman rite of the mass, will take place on September 14-17, 2017. In fact, it is meant to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Motu Proprio, which was dated 7 July 2007 and entered into force on 14 September 2007.
ROME: Italian Catholic apologetics monthly “Il Timone” and online daily “La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana”, both edited by Riccardo Cascioli, promoted a conference in Rome on post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia with the participation of six lay scholars from five continents.
“Indeed, it is the first time for an international conference on the most debated and controversial points of Amoris Laetitia to be organized by lay people and with the participation of lay people from different parts of the world”, Cascioli pointed out in his introductory remarks. And as matter of fact the author of this article can testify that it was so true that only a few member of the clergy were present, in their personal capacity, with no high-ranking prelates in attendance.
Pope Francis, in his message to the participants dated March 4, 2017 – after having highlighted the importance of the aesthetic and musical formation of clergy, religious and the lay people involved in pastoral life – on the one hand called for “safeguarding and enhancing the rich and manifold patrimony inherited from the past”, and on the other hand “to ensure that sacred music and liturgical chant be fully ‘inculturated’ in the artistic and musical language of the current time”; namely, “to incarnate and translate the Word of God into song, sound and harmony capable of making the hearts of our contemporaries resonate, also creating an appropriate emotional climate which disposes people to faith and stirs openness and full participation in the mystery being celebrated.”
Acknowledging that “at times a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations”, Pope Francis concluded his address by calling upon “the various key figures in this sphere, musicians, composers, conductors and choristers of the scholae cantorum, with liturgical coordinators” to make “a precious contribution to the renewal, especially in qualitative terms, of sacred music and of liturgical chant”.
The following day, over two hundred musicians, musicologists and sacred music experts issued the petition “A Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music” to Church authorities for them to correct a situation that is increasingly getting out of hand. This petition was jointly promoted by two renowned musicians and musicologists, Aurelio Porfiri, director of the international magazine, Altare Dei, published in Macao and Hong Kong and author of books and essays on sacred music and liturgy, and the American Peter A. Kwasniewski, a professor of theology and philosophy and choir director at Wyoming Catholic College.
“The undersigned—musicians, pastors, teachers, scholars, and lovers of sacred music—humbly offer to the Catholic community around the world this statement”, the Statement opens, “expressing our great love for the Church’s treasury of sacred music and our deep concerns about its current plight.”
After recalling documents and the history of the love the Church has always had for such expressive forms, the petition then goes on summarizing some of the most significant motivations underlying the present deplorable situation of sacred music and of the liturgy:
Despite the above gloomy picture, the petition promoters still “maintain the hope that there is a way out of this winter” and to this purpose offer a set of proposals in spiritu humilitatis, for the dignity of the liturgy and of its music in the Church to be fully restored:
“The remembrance, memory, and treasure represented by our Catholic tradition is not something of the past alone”, the petition concludes. “It is still a vital force in the present, and will always be a gift of beauty to future generations.”