Image courtesy of Edward Pentin
A friend of OnePeterFive who attended Saturday’s conference in Rome, “Chiesa, Dove Vai? [Church, Where Are You Going?] in honor of the late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, shares with us, apart from the content of the various talks which may be found elsewhere, her impressions of the tenor and tone of the conference:
The atmosphere in the conference room was electric! It was standing room only, every seat full, people standing along the walls on both sides. In attendance were clergy, students, lay people young and old, including a large contingency from the Italian pro-life movement. The room was completely attentive and highly responsive to every word spoken throughout the afternoon.
The meeting opened with a video of the late Cardinal Caffarra speaking about Humanae Vitae, in which Caffarra said that the prophecy of Pope Paul VI was that through the contraceptive mentality, in the end “Man would have destroyed his own humanity.”
Cardinal Brandmüller arrived alone and walked very slowly with a cane. He seemed to me to be a metaphor for the state of the Church. He spoke clearly, forcefully, deliberately. He spoke about the confusion in the Church and denounced it strongly. There was a loud burst of applause when he asked, “Where have we come to when the congregation applauds when the priest announces that he is getting married?” There was further applause when he said that “the sensus fidelium requires sanctity.” He ended his presentation by referring to Canon 212 speaking about “the duty of the laity to manifest their thought to their pastors” and received a long wave of applause.
When Cardinal Burke spoke, there was strong applause to almost every statement he made; His Eminence had trouble getting his speech across because there were so many interruptions for applause. For example, when he said that the authority of the Pope “is not magic, but derives from his obedience to the Lord” there was an extended ovation. There was likewise a loud and long burst of applause for his statement that Pope’s authority “supra iuris” [over the law] is “only for the purpose of serving the law and never for subverting it.” His teaching was clear and there seemed to be a new tone of urgency in his remarks. At a certain moment, just as Cardinal Burke was speaking about the definition of papal authority made by the First Vatican Council, one group in the room burst out into shouting, calling for the Cardinal to act, to do something further about the outrageous interview in which the Pope said “Hell does not exist.” The crowd called out to Cardinal Burke, “Stiamo aspettando” [We are waiting] several times. The room had to be quieted by the moderators. The atmosphere was quite frenetic!
As Cardinal Burke was completing his talk and quoting St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, saying that “if anyone preaches to you a Gospel other than the one I have proclaimed…” the entire room burst into shouting out loud, before Cardinal Burke could say it: “Sia anatema! Sia anatema!” – “Let him be anathema! Let him be anathema!” It reminded me of stories I have heard of the early ecumenical councils during the various controversies of the ancient Church; the Holy Spirit was speaking by acclamation through those assembled! What a built up sense of frustration and urgency was being released, begging the pastors of the Church to act to protect us!
Bishop Schneider spoke very loudly and with deliberate clarity in every single word; his speech had a sense of insistence and strength. His tone was rousing, perhaps even more so than that of Cardinal Burke! His emphasis was that the Pope is essentially a “Vicar”. He recalled that, for over a millennium, every pope took an oath which read “I promise not to diminish or change anything from what I have received from all my predecessors, but to conserve it with all my strength and my every duty…If I act differently, it will not go well for me at the Last Judgment.” Bishop Schneider recommended reinstating this oath, and the room went wild with applause! He then quoted at length from Pope Leo XIII about how “the duty of the Pope is to defend the Church from confusion and error.” When he ended the quote, the applause was so strong that he started to laugh, and he said, “But these are not my words! They are the words of Leo XIII!” He then said “There will be victory with the help of God!” and the applause was once again so loud and long that he again had to clarify: “These are the words of Pope Leo XIII” with a broad smile. He then quoted Pope John XXIII, “Of all the evils that poison…the worst is the ignorance of the truth…and sometimes not ignorance but an ignoring of what is true.” He further quoted John XXIII’s condemnation of “the error that all religions are equal” to strong applause. He again had to clarify that the words were not his but those of the Popes. He continued quoting John XXIII: “Satan continually attacks the Church, and especially the Chair of Peter.” Bishop Schneider also made reference to a prayer which Leo XIII had composed asking God to protect the Church, in response to a vision he had in 1884 in which he saw Satan going to St. Peter’s Basilica to invade the See of Peter. Bishop Schneider noted that this prayer was discontinued so as not to scandalize the faithful, but Schneider said forcefully, “It is no less important now, and greatly needed!” This concluding story was met with a rousing ovation.
All in all, the conference communicated an immense sense of urgency, that things cannot continue on as they are. The pastors of the Church must do something to protect their flock from the deceptive spirit of confusion and falsehood which has invaded the Magisterium of the Church. Their flock is demanding it! The salvation of souls demands it! May all the bishops of the Church hear their flock calling out to them to use the authority and power which has been given to them by Christ to act with clarity and conviction at this decisive moment for the future of the Church and of the world.