Pope Francis: the Great Accuser is trying to uncover sins to cause scandal – with a response from the Order of Lepanto

“In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops,” the Pope said.

Source: Pope Francis: the Great Accuser is trying to uncover sins to cause scandal | CatholicHerald.co.uk

I have said little about the sexual assault scandals that continue to rock the Mother Church of Western Christendom – that is, the Church of Rome – because I do not like to draw attention to scandals in other branches of Christendom. It rarely does any good, and frequently tends to result in more heat than light being generated.

It is also likely to cause additional scandal, in that it can lead some to judge the Roman Church as a whole in a bad light, when in fact the majority of its people, its clergy, and undoubtedly its bishops are (while being human like the rest of us, and so prone to faults, foibles, and failings) basically godly Christian folk, trying to do the best they can.

But when none other than Il Papa himself – the Holy Father, Pontifex Maximus, the Bishop of Rome, the Pope – goes so far as to all but defend scandal, as he does in this piece, or attempt to explain it away, appearing to care more for the reputations of bishops than the trauma to the victims, it becomes hard to completely ignore it.

In this case, I am aided by this very excellent response from a “trad” (traditional, orthodox) Catholic organization, The Order of Lepanto. I do not have to critique the Holy See, because some of its own people have done a better job of that than I could have – and it is far more appropriate coming from them than me, anyway.

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Posting on Facebook, the Order writes,

“We had been hopeful with yesterday’s reports of answers coming from the Vatican on the abuse/cover-up scandal. However, the Pope’s homily today was an exercise in counter-attack and not one of pastoral care: “It seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.”

Let’s look at the errors with this line of thinking –

1. Thinking that Satan wants to expose criminals to justice instead of continuing to hide them and destroy more young lives.
2. Punishing bishops who are
guilty of crimes is not the work of Satan – it is the virtue of Justice and the work of the Holy Spirit.
3. Saying “we bishops are all sinners” falsely compares the smaller sins we all commit with truly heinous sins like rape, sacrilege, etc. which deserve severe punishment.
4. Uncovering sins is
not the biggest scandal we face as a Church. It’s the scandal of the coverup, of being lied to by our shepherds.

It is unfortunate to receive the message from Pope Francis that he thinks his job is to “cover” the sins of the bishops so they don’t “scandalize” the laity.

We will continue to pray for the Pope and for the victims, but we also need to have full disclosure. Nothing else will suffice to begin the healing process.

As I say, I could not possibly have said it better – or even as well – and so I will let that stand without further comment. May God bless us all. Pray for me, a sinner.


Nota Bene – On the Order of Lepanto: “The Order of Lepanto is a lay apostolate dedicated to outreach to Catholic men through a unique combination of martial arts and faith” (from the website). The Order

“seeks to tap the masculine spirit that God has endowed men with, giving them a masculine activity to engage in together – learning the fighting styles of the Knights of the Medieval and Renaissance time periods. In much the same way as Asian martial arts tend to dovetail well into Eastern spirituality, these skills (Western Martial Arts or WMA) were honed by people who were committed Catholic or Christian men, which caused this fighting style to fit well with Catholic theology and practice.”

Definitely interesting! Sadly, they are (almost) exclusively in Texas, and I am in Maryland… also, I don’t know how they’d feel about an Anglican! But a most interesting and, I think, admirable project.

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Young people are returning to traditional faith practices

A young woman prays during the opening Mass for World Youth Day at Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland.

[Emma] White is part of a growing number of young people in the Church who are embracing traditional practices. Despite the popular idea that young people have no attention span, there seems to be a deep desire to encounter God in tradition and silence. More millennials are returning to older prayers and devotions.

Source: Young people are returning to traditional faith practices

As in a number of previous instances, this is from a Roman Catholic perspective – there is not (yet) nearly enough writing on these sorts of matters from within the classical Anglican tradition – but the thoughts translate easily to an Anglican context. Simply replace “Latin Mass” with “classical Prayer Book liturgy,” and (with a few minor differences, of language and ritual) most of it applies directly. Particularly interesting in this one: the author is a 20-year-old college student. As the name of a Facebook group I belong to puts it, “Actually, young people do like traditional liturgy!” Many do, anyway, and the number seems to be growing.

Guy Fawkes Day / Bonfire Night

bonfire-night-november-5-guy-fawkes

Remember, remember the 5th of November: Gunpowder, treason, and plot!

[Today] is November 5th, a very special day where the great people of Britain mark the execution of a chap who, along with 12 other conspirators, tried to blow up the houses of Parliament to reinstate Catholic rule in England. His name was Guy Fawkes – also known as Guido Fawkes. Even though he wasn’t the leader, he’s still considered the most famous of all those involved in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Bonfire/Guy Fawkes night is celebrated today by burning an effigy of the “Guy”, or more controversially, the Pope, on top of towering piles of wood, whilst scoffing sticky toffee apples and baked potatoes. And of course setting fireworks off in the streets with wild abandon. Basically, it’s quite mad.

Source: 8 Things you need to know about Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

Source: Guy Fawkes Night 2017 (Bonfire Night)

The Fifth of November

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Source: Poem of the Week: English Folk Verse (c.1870)

Please note that my inclusion of the above poem in celebration of this traditional British holiday in no way is intended to imply disrespect of the Bishop of Rome, Patriarch of the West! While I am not of the Roman observance, and I may not always agree with the current holder of the See of Peter, I have great respect for the office itself.

 

How a Protestant Spin Machine Hid The Truth About The English Reformation – Dominic Selwood

Source: How a Protestant Spin Machine Hid The Truth About The English Reformation – Dominic Selwood

I should probably wait until 23 May to post this… but undoubtedly other things will have come up by then to distract me, or eclipse the event. So I shall post it now, while it is fresh in my mind.

I am an Anglican, and I greatly value the Anglican tradition. But I am also a medieval scholar, both by academic training and avocation, and so I am not ignorant about what that Anglican tradition replaced.

And I have read Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars, so I am also not ignorant of how it replaced that medieval tradition of popular Christianity, developed over a full millennium. This essay, however, stands out as a concise yet thorough depiction – and, it must be said, just indictment – of that process.

It is significant both for its own merits, so that one is able to understand and evaluate this period with open eyes, and also as a cautionary tale for what could happen again, as we make our way through the present destruction of historical statues, removal of historic flags and other iconography, and revision of historic understandings of our past.

Wherever one may stand on the age-old (well, at least five century old) conflict between Roman Catholicism and Reformation, one must – or at least, in my opinion, should – ask oneself: is this really the model we wish to adopt? Is this really the path we want to go down?

Personally, and emphatically, I think not.

What Catholics Lost When They Started Tearing Down Their Great Altars

If the grand altars are at their core outward signs of inward devotion, what does it say about plain altars that more resemble a table than a temple?

Source: What Catholics Lost When They Started Tearing Down Their Great Altars

I am an Anglican, and a member of a fairly “low-church” continuing (traditional) Anglican jurisdiction. But I find a lot to agree with in this essay! Christianity is an Incarnational (and therefore embodied) religion. Therefore, aesthetics – and the incorporation (there’s that body thing again… corpus) of all the senses and the whole physical person, not just the mind, heart, and spirit, into the liturgy – matter.

Get too simplistic, too “Protestant,” and you are beginning to get too close to a form of quasi-Gnostic devaluation of the physical, the material, in favor of the spiritual and intellectual.

And that can lead to a devaluation – however unintentional and subconscious – not only of God’s proclamation that the things He created are good (however marred by human sin), but of the Incarnation itself, in which Jesus the Christ, the Incarnate Word of the Father, indissolubly joined Himself to matter in His own person.

Sure, it’s possible to get too gaudy, and too focused on the external (material) elements of the faith. I am very well aware of that. As in most other areas of life, a balance is called for. But we should never forget the definition of a sacrament: an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Without the outward and visible, are we losing important markers pointing toward the inward and spiritual?

Our Lord Jesus Christ was unique in being fully God and fully Man. But we humans, made in the image of God, comprise a spiritual nature which is nonetheless incarnate (the word means “enfleshed”) in a physical, sensory body, living in a physical, sensory world. We neglect either of these aspects, the physical or the spiritual, at our peril.

The design of churches is one – only one, but an important one – aspect of this. As this essay points out,

The physical design of old churches was meant to dictate several things: ornate artwork on the walls, domes, and arches was meant to pull the eye upward and spark meditation on the divine mysteries, the altarpiece was placed in the apse to orient the congregation properly, and incense was meant to draw together and sanctify the individual properties into one event. That sort of order and hierarchy has been misplaced and is often focused inward, not upward… it is important to remember that how a building is designed is integral to its function.

And the function of a church building is, or should be, to orient the congregation toward God. Not toward itself (or ourselves), not toward the priest: toward God. And the design of the building, including any artistic elaborations – and of course, the liturgy itself – should lead the eyes, the other senses, and through them, the heart, mind, and spirit of the worshipers, God-ward. If that is not happening, something is missing.

And all too often, in today’s churches, it seems that something is indeed missing.

That is not to say that magnificent, ornate altars are guaranteed to focus the attention and lift the spirit of worshipers toward God, or that simple, plain ones cannot do the same. And the same is true of church interiors generally. But generally speaking, we devote time, attention, energy, and yes, money on what is important to us. That is simple human nature.

So, where is our focus? What does the construction of our churches – and of our liturgies – tell us about that focus? I can’t begin to provide a definitive answer to that question; it varies with each church, each congregation, each minister. But it’s something worth thinking about!

“Tradition is the living river…”

Tradition is the living river – Pope Benedict XVI

While I am not of the Roman observance, I do completely agree with this! Great admiration and respect for Pope Benedict XVI. I confess, I wish he were still occupying the Throne of St. Peter!

Is the “natural habitat” of Catholic Christians (including Anglicans) urban or rural?

Angelus-Jean-François_Millet
The Angelus (1857–59) by Jean-François Millet

I wrote this piece as a reply to a thread in a Facebook group called “Catholic Village Movement: Rebuilding Christendom.” The idea was floated that, Many of us came from cities just 100 years ago. Maybe cities are the Catholic’s natural environment. Ugh. Gross. But also maybe true.” I am not so sure. In fact, I doubt it!

Here is my response – please read “Catholic” or “Catholics” to include all branches of the Church Catholic, including not only those of the Roman observance, but our Eastern Orthodox brethren, and of course, those of us who are Anglicans – slightly cleaned up and elaborated upon from the original:

I have just been an observer of the conversations on this group heretofore, but for what it’s worth (maybe nothing), here’s another perspective on the urban-vs-rural thing. Yes, “pagani” meant, roughly, “country bumpkins.” Actually it meant, literally, “dwellers in the pagus,” with “pagus” meaning – interestingly enough – “village,” but also district, countryside, rural portions of a civitas (http://latinmeaning.com/pagus-latin-to-english-translation/). It had, by the early Christian era, acquired a slightly pejorative cast to it, like “hicks” or “rednecks.”

So the question to ask ourselves is, why did those who clung to their pre-Christian religions (shades of Obama’s infamous “bitterly clinging to God and guns” remark…) become known as “pagani” (“pagans”)? Because a) new teachings took longer – a lot longer – to percolate out to the countryside, in those pre-hi-tech (and, for many, pre-literate) days, and b) because the cities had become inhospitable to them, having been largely converted to the new religion, Christianity. The situation is similar today, although the roles are reversed.

Ask yourself, where is the greatest survival of Christian (not only, but including, Catholic) belief and practice today? Hint: it’s not in the big, densely-populated coastal urban enclaves! It’s in the “flyover states,” and in more rural sections of the rest of the states. And for many of the same reasons that the “pagus” remained “pagan” long after Christianity had begun to gain traction in the more urban areas: cities are not, and never have been, amenable for those who want to maintain traditions. Continue reading “Is the “natural habitat” of Catholic Christians (including Anglicans) urban or rural?”