What follows is my translation of the rather sensational article by Messrs. Gnocchi and Palmari, a pair of Italian Catholic intellectuals, in which the authors leveled profound and quite scathing public criticisms of the current pontificate under a title that could not be more provocative. After the article was published in the Italian daily Il Foglio on October 9, however, Pope Francis personally telephoned Palmaro to assure him “that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them.”
Let that be a lesson to the neo-Catholic proponents of abject silence and submission in the face of every papal word or deed—including those who run Radio Maria, which dismissed both authors from their positions as Catholic commentators immediately after the article appeared. Silence in the face of public scandal, even if it be the scandal of a Pope, has never been the Catholic way, as anyone with even a passing familiarity with the turbulent epochs of Church history would know.
What's the Catholic answer to Catholic bashing? Our job as Catholics is not to remind people that we can’t be criticized, or to find ways to get our secular government to ‘protect’ us from nasty and unkind critiques, or to get the secular state to allow us the ‘freedom’ to practice our quirky beliefs inside their secular public order; it is instead to show secular critics that our own views on freedom, sex, and much else besides, are correct and should be adopted by the public at large.
A recent issue of U.S. News and World Report published an editorial that upset some Catholics. The essay in question was written by a writer who was rather annoyed that Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s majority-tipping decision allowed some nuns in Denver to opt out of the federal decree that requires businesses of a certain size to offer carcinogens birth control pills as part of their health insurance coverage. The editorialist in question, Jamie Stiehm, saw the Catholic Church as a domineering and meddlesome institution, and one that was usurping the hard won rights of non-Catholic and ‘good’ Catholic-Americans. According to Stiehm, Sotomayor was a ‘bad’ Catholic, in that she was unduly influenced by the authoritarian religious group to which she belonged; it seemed as if her Catholic beliefs had made her blind to the sacred, secular ideals of her own country, including those that boldly speak to the separation of church and state.
The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter has a thriving apostolate in the province of Cundinamarca in the country of Colombia. It is situated in the Municipality of Anolaima which is about a 2 ½ hour bus ride west of the capital, Bogota. There are currently three priests assigned there.
Father Angel Alfaro is a Spaniard who started the apostolate a few years ago. He bought land covered in jungle on the side of a mountain and literally built a farm on the site with his own hands. He was joined by a French priest, Father Louis Baudon de Mony. Together they established a fine rectory in the village of La Florida which is about a 30 minute drive (or 3-hour hike) up the mountain from the Anolaima. By much hard work the old rectory building has been made into a comfortable and spacious home with a private chapel located on the village plaza. Because the rectory is located in a separate village this affords the priests much needed privacy for their prayer life.
I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark and say that most pro-life people, even the converts to the position, came from a home environment that included more than one other person. Most people, I have learned, come from this thing called a “family,” that involves a variety of other people, male and female, young and old, to whom one remains ontologically connected for the rest of one’s life. I have also learned, though this took somewhat longer, that most people regard these “families” as a good and useful thing, of positive benefit in their lives.
These ideas have taken some effort to get used to.
This presumption of familial security, common to most people operating in the pro-life world, is perhaps something of a handicap. It tends to make pro-lifers appear smug and self-satisfied and unable to understand the connotations of their message for those on the other side. And it quite possibly makes it impossible for them to understand the hatred and rage they, in all innocence, can engender when they suggest that abortion must be outlawed. I remember when I was younger seeing pro-life people holding signs of babies and advocating motherhood and thinking they were the worst people in the world. What kind of awful people would try to force a woman to destroy herself over a blob of cells?
For the ‘good’ traditionalist the Old Mass is something he adds to the ‘hobbies’ section of his Facebook page. He likes the late Beethoven piano sonatas, jogging, karate, Minesweeper, Iron Chef, knee-length socks and the Old Mass but would never criticize the New Mass. After all, he's a 'good' little traditionalist!
A particularly endearing distinction made by neo-Catholics concerns the difference between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ traditionalist. The difference is never explicitly iterated, but as far as I can tell, a ‘good’ traditionalist just so happens to prefer the Old Mass, whereas a ‘bad’ traditionalist also feels it necessary to criticize the New Mass in some such way.
If we are to listen to the neo-Catholic, it is apparently perfectly fine to like the Old Mass, as long as the reasons for that particular preference are completely superficial. The ‘good’ traditionalist has no problem with the new prayers, versus populum, communion in the hand, the three-year lectionary, altar girls, lay lectors, and the like. That is to say, the ‘good’ traditionalist is quite happy to know that other people prefer that stuff. It’s merely that he personally just so happens to not like that stuff as much. He subjectively prefers the Latin language, ad orientem, the old prayers, silent reverence, and all of those old, charming, traditional things.
Pope Francis vs. Pope John Paul II
Reality television is a genre of television programing that documents unscripted situations and actual occurrences, often highlighting conflict and drama. Typical reality programs involve survival situations, family feuds, repo companies, pawn stores and much more. The most popular reality program in the history of cable television is Duck Dynasty, which is watched weekly by millions of Americans and has brought in hundreds of millions in sales of merchandize. Duck Dynasty follows the everyday lives of a southern family that made a fortune in hand-made duck calls. Their company is called Duck Commander.
Even if you do not watch reality shows you may have heard of the squawk raised against the family patriarch who founded the Duck Commander company for his recent remarks regarding homosexuality:
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right."
Contrast what the Duck Dynasty patriarch had to say on this subject with that of the Bishop of Rome:
Are traditionalists really just a bunch of snooty, confused, rebellious, prideful dimwits?
We had to recently endure a burst of man-bites-dog rhetorical rambling from sundry atheist intelligentsia. For a while there, it seemed that an innocent window shopper couldn’t even walk past his local bookstore without being shown the most recent manifestation of atheist testimonial, or the latest naturalist ‘refutation’ of God. Alas, like any faddish movement, New Atheism has lately lost some steam. People seem to have grown tired of the screeds, or perhaps the open-minded and unaffiliated came to realize that the en vogue ‘naturalist’-based critique of religion was just so much clever, provocative sophism, helped along by a good publicist or two. Of course, one of the main reasons that this movement slowed down, was that it quickly became clear (to those paying attention) that the atheist evangelists were broken records. Richard Dawkins in particular seemed unable to deal with counter arguments. He had to find fresh meat to get any traction, forced as he was to rely on his original script. Eventually, audiences unfamiliar with theist rebuttals became thin on the ground.
For in addition to thoroughly misunderstanding the cosmological argument, Dawkins also seemed content to rhetorically demolish a hackneyed version of the ‘intelligent design’ argument. Then again, it wasn’t so much that he was ‘content’ with this argument as that he was unable to deal with the real arguments of the classical theist. Quite frankly, I don’t blame him for avoiding the good stuff. His own silly version of the theist could be fantastically and impressively bludgeoned with the Dawkinsian brand, to great effect; it was simply poor strategy to change course.
Traditional Proclamation of the Birth of Christ
Note: The following is taken from the Roman Martyrology. For a thousand years or more and throughout all of Christendom it was read on Christmas Eve before the celebration of Midnight Mass. This was back in the days when Catholics still believed every dogma of the Catholic Faith, however, including the inerrancy of Scripture (beginning with Genesis and Creation). Please God, in your infinite mercy restore our Faith in You this Christmas, so that we may once again believe as our fathers did. Let us live again, let us become Christians again.
A happy and holy Christmas to all and a blessed New Year to what’s left of the Catholic remnant throughout the world. A Child is born in Bethlehem, Exult for joy, Jerusalem! Lo, He who reigns above the skies, there in a manger lowly lies. Alleluia. MJM
|On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. Though Germany readily agreed, the other powers refused.|
(This article was published in The Remnant in 2006 after having first appeared on the Your Guide to 20th Century History website. It is reproduced here with the permission of the author. The original song by John McCutcheon is well worth listening to as you read this incredible story from a day and age not so very far removed from our own but, alas, fading in every way from the consciousness of "grown up" and "enlightened" men who've lost sight of God, Country and even who and what they are anymore-- much less the true meaning of Christmas. MJM)
Though World War I had been raging for only four months, it was already proving to be one of the bloodiest wars in history. Soldiers on both sides were trapped in trenches, exposed to the cold and wet winter weather, covered in mud, and extremely careful of sniper shots. Machines guns had proven their worth in war, bringing new meaning to the word "slaughter."
In a place where bloodshed was nearly commonplace and mud and the enemy were fought with equal vigor, something surprising occurred on the front for Christmas in 1914. The men who lay shivering in the trenches embraced the Christmas spirit. In one of the truest acts of peace to men of goodwill, soldiers from both sides in the southern portion of the Ypres Salient set aside their weapons and hatred, if only temporarily, and met in No Man's Land.