It’s been quite a week. I’ve spent a good bit of my time clearing snow and not writing, but a lot of stories of note have hit my inbox. Here’s a roundup of the most significant ones I’ve seen:
- Five Cardinals Book stolen from participants’ mailboxes at last year’s Synod on Family (Fr. Z) – the importance of this story is not to be underestimated – nor is the Vatican’s denial that anything funny happened (despite rumors in Rome saying that postal workers were intimidated into compliance, and Fr. Fessio’s confirmation that the books were, in fact, shipped). Last year’s synod was a power-play by the heterodox faction of prelates in the Church. From what appears to have been a pre-written mid synod relatio document that pushed a deeply troubling agenda to the retention of its most problematic language despite the will of the synod fathers to the recent revelation by Cdl. Baldisseri (now the one accused of ordering the confiscation of the books) that Pope Francis was running the show, the synod continues to be the story to watch in the Church in 2015. We may be 8 months away, but the opposition is already heating up.
- Former spokespriest of the Basilian Fathers tells Cardinal Burke to “STFU” (Toronto Catholic Witness) – Fr. Timothy Scott, until recently the Media spokesman for the Basilian Order and Executive Director of the Canadian Religious Conference, fired off a nasty tweet in the direction of Cardinal Burke over his comments on faithful resistance. We won’t translate the acronym (that’s what Google is for) but suffice it to say it was a pretty jaw-dropping thing for a priest to say to a Cardinal. The dustup seemed to have been settled when word got out that Fr. Scott is no longer the spokesman for the Basilian Fathers, but CMTV revealed this morning that he was in fact removed from his post last July for (obviously) unrelated reasons. “As far as we know,” CMTV writes, “the Basilians have done nothing in response to Fr. Scott’s tweet.”
- Speaking of Basilians and unbecoming behavior, there are Basilians of reasons (yeah, I went there) to be bothered by the fact that Basilian father and proprietor of “Salt and Light TV”, Fr. Thomas Rosica, is suing Canadian blogger David Anthony Domet of Vox Cantoris. The stories continue to pile up about this case, and the threat is a shot heard round the world by Catholic bloggers as another heterodox synod showdown approaches. One blogger, at least, is throwing around the phrase “pontificate for thugs” based on the intimidation tactics now being employed. The examples extend beyond Rosica/Domet to Cardinal Wuerl’s salvo against “dissent” and the alleged civil settlement for defamation between Fr. Volpi, apostolic commissioner to the unceremoniously suppressed Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the Manelli family, who have provided the order with its founder and a number of other vocations. Fr. Volpi has responded in turn with a countersuit following the revelation of these details, which (I have been informed by a friend who is a long-time resident of Italy) is a pretty standard play in this sort of litigation in the Italian courts.
- The German bishops, under the leadership of Cardinal Marx, have been flexing their muscles in public, reminding anyone who will listen: “We are not just a subsidiary of Rome. Each Episcopal Conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture, and has to proclaim the Gospel as their very own office. We cannot wait until a synod state something, as we have here to undertake in this place marriage and family ministry.” In other words: “You don’t have to wait for schism, we’re already in one.” Someone needs to build a dam between the Rhine and the Tiber.
- Stateside, with the unilateral and unaccountable imposition of “Net Neutrality,” Catholic bloggers now have to wonder not just if they will be sued for standing up for the truths of their faith (and pointing out the heterodoxy of clergy in high places) but also whether their speech will be regulated by an unfriendly government. After the Communications Act of 1934, the airwaves were deemed a public utility, and thus the FCC was created to police them, requiring broacasters to obtain licenses and having the power to levy fines for content that fell outside the scope of that deemed to be in the “public interest, convenience, and necessity.” Similar moves would have an oppressive effect on online speech, and considering the fact that Catholic orthodoxy seems to move closer every day towards being classified as a hate crime, this should be of concern to any of the faithful who publish or consume Catholic information online. Nonetheless, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City — the Communications Committee Chairman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops — issued a statement glowingly approving the move, as if it will ensure more freedom of speech online, not less.
These are only the most significant stories in play this week. Things are happening too fast to keep up. Looking at the information I’ve just listed, it seems the common thread is a sort of violence, a willingness on the part of those who should most closely resemble Christ to intimidate and bully and coerce others to let them have their way. In all of this, I see the reminders of Pope Benedict’s fears, expressed at the opening of his pontificate:
One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. “Feed my sheep”, says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament. My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.
What wolves was he speaking of? I have suspected for some time that it was those warned about in the book of Acts:
“And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. (Acts 20:26-30)
Paul was speaking to the “elders” — the bishops — in Ephesus. But the passage, inspired by the Spirit of God, was not just for that place and time. God was warning the Church that “savage wolves” would come in among the bishops, not sparing the flock. That they would come “distorting the truth in order to entice” people to follow them. Is this not the very thing we are seeing unfold in the Church before our eyes?
I remarked to my wife recently how difficult it is these days to cover Catholic news and not get sucked into a cesspool of negativity. The Church is beautiful and glorious, and Christ’s love for us — as evinced through His passion, death, and resurrection — overcomes all. But at times like the present, one can’t help but realize that Christ’s promise to the apostles wasn’t just a guarantee or a transfer of authority. It was a consolation for the times that were to come:
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16:17-19)
We know who the victor will be in the end. We know the Church will prevail. We do not yet know how much she will suffer and endure before the end, however. The words of Thomas Paine apply now more than ever, if in an entirely different context: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” As we watch the events unfolding in the Middle East, we are reminded of the sometimes brutal cost of professing Christ. Within the Church, there will be no beheadings, but it seems that Christ’s teachings and those that love them are being treated with another kind of violence. Through the turmoil and confusion, souls will be led astray by the “savage wolves” posing as shepherds. Some will lose their eternal salvation.
For that reason, more than any other, we must fight on. Love God, love souls, pray, be faithful, and endure. That is our charge.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.
Regarding the stolen books, while I agree it’s a serious scandal, I don’t understand all the internet incredulity. Why is it so surprising that the man bent on engineering an institutional violation of the 6th commandment should prove to have no scruples about breaking the 7th?
Incredulity these days is pretty inscrutable.
A cardinal won’t be jailed for encouraging adultery.
Brian, please. The Seventh Commandment hasn’t been broken. It’s simply being applied in a more pastoral way.
Marx’s comments seem to me just another move in the master plan. The Germans will give institutional approval to this sacrilege, just as certain conferences did with Communion in the hand; and then Rome, citing fears of schism, will permit the practice as an indult. From there it will spread around the world until those who enforce the universal norm are sneered as pharisees in the same manner as those who still enforce the universal norm with respect to the distribution of Holy Communion. The timing is perfect. Have the Germans just go ahead with the institutionalized sacrilege now so that when the synod comes around everyone can wring their hands about how something MUST be done for the sake of unity!
Astute analysis. And sadly likely. Although I’ve heard that much of the German Church already allows this. I think they’re just announcing it to put this piece in play.
Amen. Cdl Marx is just publically confirming what they are already doing. Unfortunately, I suspect that The Synod of Sodomy and Adultery is a likewise just a smokescreen to also confirm what has been a common practice as well.
The Synod of Sodomy and Adultery and the Papacy of Thugs. Very sad, indeed.
I think these words from Pope Benedict (then Joseph Ratzinger) seem more and more prophetic.
“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.
She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built
in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will
lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church]
will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual
It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of
crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It
will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . .
The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false
progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might
be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the
existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of
this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized
and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find
themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of
God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will
discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They
will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which
they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard
times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on
terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at
the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already,
but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social
power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a
fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and
hope beyond death.”
I hope that Ratzinger ls wrong, because with a small Church, the West may not put up a fight against Islam. Whatever happens, suffering seems inevitable.
I wonder if Islam is not the over-arching issue. Rather, the “totally planned world” seems more the problem. The elites will suppress Islam when it has served its purpose. The hollow, automaton and false world of the near future seems more the type of world facing Christians. The world of Kim Kardashian and her fellow fake gods of Olympus, of millions of little deities and popes all revolving around the cult of Me. What a sham of Heaven. As Pope Benedict XVI says, “Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.”
Hilaire Belloc thought Islam or Modernism (anti-Christ). Could be both.
We will find out eventually, I suppose.
Historian John Lukacs predicted that the struggles of the coming centuries will not be between east and west, third world v. first world, or even between Christians and Muslims, but between “those who want to live as machines and those who want to live as creatures,” with everything those two ideas imply. As dangerous as they are, in that struggle, the Muslims are actually on our side.
Lukacs was quoting Wendell Berry. “On our side” but “watch your back.”
I’m not surprised, that sounds like Berry. Do you happen to have the reference?
“It is easy for me to imagine that the next great division of the world will be between people who wish to live as creatures and people who wish to live as machines.” ― Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition
And yet don’t the Muslims require blind obedience to Islam? Their religion is a surrender of thinking and soul to a god demanding unthinking submission. This is a form of living as a machine, I think. It is the flipside of secularists willing to give up personal autonomy in order to indulge the flesh via food, entertainment, sex and so on.
Hmmm, that’s an interesting thought. I think by machines I took Lukacs to mean the belief that human nature is infinitely malleable, it being the product of blind natural forces, and that we can alter our lives, our ethics and our bodies at will, swapping out parts here and altering things there, just as it pleases us. (or rather as some find it useful or profitable to alter others)
Muslims at least acknowledge an authority and a will other than their own. But you’re right, it’s an arbitrary and capricious will that operates without reference to our ideas of right and wrong. Much like a blind, natural force, actually.
Yes, the current trend that we can change our sex is indicative of what you say. I think it also speaks to a blind willfulness on the part of Adam’s progeny: “We shall be as gods…”
When I think of Pope Benedict XVI’s reference to a “totally planned world,” I envision Huxley’s “Brave New World.”
It certainly was a difficult week! In the political realm it was one defeat after another- ‘net neutrality’, another executive order to ban the sale of a type of bullets, the republicans caving like bowling pins on denying funding for illegal amnesty exec order, on approving Loretta Lynch for DOJ, Obama saying at a ‘town hall’ on MSNBC(?) that amnesty and immigrants will change the political order here, Dick Durbin on the floor of the senate pronouncing the Constitution to be a flawed document from the get go because of slavery and likening Obama’s exec order on amnesty to the Emancipation Proclamation, Lois IRS Lerner received a $129 bonus, the emails now show they were targeting conservative groups, IRS workers owing Billions in back taxes, NO action on the bloodshed in the Middle East and an attempt to ignore and downplay it……
I’ve been so angry and distressed! It seems to be just as bad in the Church…Abp Cordileone has the legislators investigating the schools now, the stolen books, Rosicagate, the environmentals using the pope to lend moral imperative to the ‘crisis’ of global warming/cooling/climate change,
churches in my diocese shuttered & closed, the enemic response of the church to ISIS and the Christians begging, wondering…where is the west? they all rallied for Charlie Hebdo….
What an awful week. I feel like it is all over for my country- it’s been “fundamentally changed” as promised, the world is in utter chaos and an evil force growing without much opposition, and I’m afraid it might be all over for the church as I know it….
Trying to keep the faith. Very bad scene.
You are right, Christine, it is truly a litany of sorrows; but remember that this is also an opportunity to identify with Our Lord in His suffering. In every trial, there is always His invitation to us:
“Will you share agony this with me?”
Each of these crises, and the sins which drive them on, have already been experienced by Our Lord intimately on the cross; and not in some abstract way, but in precisely the same manner they afflict us. All of the pain, sickness, sorrow, fear, heartbreak, and frustration; all of this He has already endured. Thus, for those with eyes of faith, we can take these burdens to Him, and find that He knows them each by name.
Take just one of these burden with you before the Blessed Sacrament, and present it to Our Lord. And ask Him, “Lord, do you know about this one? Do remember this pain, and how it hurts me?” I think you will find He knows it well.
The scene is indeed very bad, and I fear it will only worsen. In the face of all this, I have found great comfort in the knowledge that Catholic saints and mystics throughout the ages have seemingly foreseen this dark age of ours in startling detail. But happily, the darkness was not all they saw; they also saw it’s defeat, and Our Lady’s promised era of peace.
You can read much more about it in this fine book available for free here: https://archive.org/details/CatholicProphecy
The Church and what is left of the civilized world she built are going to fall in a time of great chaos, upheaval, and chastisement – which by all accounts is near at hand; but out of the rubble the Church will rise to renew the face of the earth – morally, materially, and spiritually. Men will convert the world over, and fall on their knees to thank God for finally liberating our race from this wicked age.
But before this happens, much suffering must ensure; doctrine and discipline will be corrupted, laxity and licentiousness will reign, and everywhere the Church will be persecuted, both by her western cultural despisers and by militant Mohammedans; all of this is described in these prophecies.
Anymore my prayer is not to stem the tide, but rather to have the courage to stand against it; and perhaps to inspire a few others to stand as well.
Yes, indeed, very bad scene, however, this should not be a total surprise to those who have looked at revelation and or prophecy about the times to come. Without a doubt we are getting closer the evil permeation of the world, it was all foretold both scripturaly and prophetically. What we need to do is to hang on for dear life to our Blessed Lord through Our Lady. She will keep us under her Mantle if we go to her. Seems as though we are approaching the separation of the sheep from the goats, and all of us will have to choose. It’s beginning to be later in the game.
This is almost the post I wanted to write myself, only yours was more encouraging. There really is a conflagration coming. The demons are feasting on the Church like vultures on a dying carcass. In this age, rather like the early centuries, heroic faith is the only thing that will avail. Christ will conquer, but now we must walk by faith and not by sight. Come, Lord Jesus.
One would think the Synod Fathers don’t need those books anyway. They should have already known the teachings of Holy Church long before they became bishops. And to defend them as their duty.
I had the same thought. Sadly, I think we know this is not actually the case. Or at least if they *do* know them, many of them don’t care. This may simply have served as either a poignant reminder of the stakes for those in that camp, or, for those who wanted to adhere to the Church’s teachings, a handy reference text.
“Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.” — Samuel Johnson
And we lost Spock. For some reason, I felt that much more deeply than any of this other stuff.
Yes, I was saddened by that as well. More than I probably should have been, really. I guess it’s part of getting old. 🙁