Category Archives: theology

This is BIG NEWS locally here in Bostoniensis!

From Father Z’s Blog:

D. Worcester – Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary granted canonical status

My friend Fr. Jay Finelli let me know a while ago that Bishop of Worcester has granted canonical status to the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Still River, MA. He has this on his site:

Congratulations to my dear friends, The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Still River, Massachusetts. On 27 October, the Most Rev. Robert J. McManus granted them canonical status as a Public Association of the Faithful.

This is big news!   I want to get to the bottom of what really happened to Father Leonard Feeney.   Chicanery at the highest levels I suspect!   There is something rotten in the city of Brighton! (now Braintree – if ya catch my drift!)

The Shack – Part 1

My wife wanted to go to this movie, but when I saw the early previews I was not so sure. I finally went with her last week and despite my hesitation, I found it worked in several levels. Certainly, everyone who sees the movie has an opinion. I have seen reviews that are very positive and very negative, but everyone seems to have strong emotions about the story and content.

In my case, I saw the continuing theme of Trinitarian relationship. I am sure theologians could do a much better review of the specifics, but I was happy to actually see a movie that put it out there at all.

I have more to share, but ask my brothers to take some time and see it first. I am sure there will be a lot of discussion at that point.

Review of: Benedict XVI Last Testament. In his own words with Peter Seewald

By Augustinus

Peter Seewald is a German journalist who has interviewed Pope Benedict several times and published these interviews in the past. The current book contains transcripts of interviews conducted shortly before, but mostly after the Pope’s resignation. So the questions were all designed to have the Pope emeritus look back on his life and his service to the church and thus we get Benedict’s reflective perspective on many things from Vatican II to the “Gay Lobby” scandal in the Vatican. The things he most regrets are his lifting of the excommunication on Bishop Williamson of SPXX due to the claims that the Bishop was a holocaust denier; his inability to handle the narrative the press was constructing after Vatican II and the priest sex abuse scandal that began under Pope John Paul’s reign but lingered into Pope Benedict’s reign as well. His, regrets, however, do not in any way dominate his reflections.

I always thought–and these interviews confirm for me, that the thing that most characterized Pope Benedict’s service to the church was his constant insistence that the revelation of Christ was that the GODHEAD or the deity or God was the WORD or the logos, and thus that the inner nature of Christ and Christianity was essentially reason/rationality-not just love. That was the message of Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg address which touched off fanatical muslim riots all over the world –namely that Christianity was not like other religions; that it was not a religion at all since it was so wedded to reason at its foundation…

Benedict’s parents were devout Bavarian Catholics. His father passionately opposed Hitler and subscribed to a paper/journal that was Catholic and anti-Hitler so these sentiments were passed onto to his son. His two sons went into the priesthood with the future Pope doing his dissertation on Augustine-not Aquinas. He rose rapidly through the clerical ranks becoming Bishop of Munich near his hometown in Bavaria while his theological works were attracting attention far and wide. When Vatican II arrived the future Pope became an advisor to some of the most “liberal” Bishops attending but neither he nor they thought of themselves or the council as “progressive”, “liberal” or “innovative”.  They saw themselves as re-expressing traditional positions of the Church. For example the council fathers recommended an expansion, not the elimination of Latin in the church and in the liturgy. He blames the subsequent disastrous effects of Vatican II on “progressives” outside the church who controlled media interpretations of what the council documents were otherwise saying.

“The bishops wanted to renew the faith, to deepen it. However, other forces were working with increasing strength, particularly journalists, who interpreted many things in a completely new way. Eventually people asked, yes, if the bishops are able to change everything, why can’t we all do that? The liturgy began to crumble and slip into personal preferences. Since 1965 I have felt it to be a mission to make clear what we genuinely wanted and what we did not want.” (p. 141)

but for Benedict, Vatican II was not disastrous, it was a world historical landmark for the church and the world. Its effects were not only disastrous. In the theological realm they were fruitful and revelatory. Reading these interviews, one gets the sense that Benedict’s first vocation was as a thinker and a theologian. Like every great philosopher he loved to take long walks especially walks alone. From his perspective the landmark’s in his life were not career markers like when he became Bishop, then Prefect, then John Paul’s right hand man and then Pope. No his landmarks, were his intellectual breakthroughs. The things that gave him strength despite his many and serious health issues and the crushing responsibilities of his offices was his theological work. that was how he prayed.

His explanation and description of his abdication was succinct and convincing: he was not laying down the cross associated with the papacy just the work. He could not perform the functions of a Pope given his brain hemorrhage and other very serious health issues.

Remarkably, people see this intellectual Pope as a traditionalist who opposed all things progressive and modern. While it is certainly true that he opposed all versions of the modernist heresy he did not oppose modernity per se. In these interviews he talks about the good things modernity has brought humanity including science, wealth for many, better health, global communications etc but especially the philosophical and theological insights. Like any reasonable person he wants to accept and use these good things for the betterment of humanity while opposing the well-known bad things modernity brings in its wake. its up to us to own the theological insights into the original Christian revelation that modernity gives us but no-one has yet been able to do that convincingly. There is a new world trying to be born but it has not found its midwife yet.

Do you see yourself as the last Pope of an old era?

“Between the times I would say…I don’t belong to the old world anymore, but the new world isn’t really here yet” (p. 232)


He puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.

What to make of this?        Hmmmm…?

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?”

Allan Gillis brings you this from The Remnant:

Franciscans vs. St. Francis: The Sad State of Secular Franciscan Spiritual Formation

Written by  Benjamin J. Vail, OFS  Wednesday November 16, 2016

For several years, there has been an international discussion at the highest levels of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) – the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi – on the identity and future of the Order. This discussion was kicked off by two keynote addresses at the 2011 General Chapter. These texts reveal the sad state of spiritual formation for incoming and already professed Franciscan tertiaries. At best, I am afraid the faithful followers of St. Francis will be confused. At worst, these materials may lead the flock away from the truths of the faith.

In this article, I want to raise some questions about one of those texts delivered at the General Chapter and which has been translated and distributed around the world as recommended reading for all Secular Franciscans (click here for an example of how it is presented in the USA). I am not a theologian, but I would describe the 17-page text “Evangelized to Evangelize” by Fr. Fernando Ventura, OFM Cap., as rambling, confusing, unclear, incoherent, vulgar (see his use of a swear word on p. 2), almost certainly blasphemous, and possibly heretical. The text seems to aim at being poetic and literary, but ends up sounding distinctly New Age.

For the purpose of formation, Fr. Ventura’s text is at best questionable, and in my opinion quite probably dangerous to the faith of Secular Franciscans. I am no theological expert. I am simply a baptized, confirmed, and professed lay tertiary. But as far as I can tell, the text promotes multiple errors including indifferentism, universalism, and a false Franciscan spirituality. I will phrase my concerns as questions rather than direct accusations, because I am not really qualified to judge these statements as definite errors.

Here are some of the themes that stand out to me as questionable:

1) Blasphemy against the Blessed Virgin Mary and those who venerate her


Fr. Ventura writes: “Not long ago people were running behind the images of the virgins that would weep blood. And they were shouting at the miracle! Bands of hysterical and historical people! We do not realize that the miracle of our time is not the plastic images that cry glue, but rather that our brothers and sisters stop crying” (page 6).Is Fr. Ventura denying or mocking apparitions of Our Lady, and those who believe in them?

2) Indifferentism and possible heresy

Fr. Ventura writes on page 6: “What is the status of the Spirit in Genesis? He is alone. He is unmarried. This is the first sentence of the Bible. Let’s      take a leap. We will land in the last book of the Bible, almost the last sentence of Revelation 22, 17. ‘The Spirit and the bride say come.’  Status: ‘Married.’ A single God in Genesis, ends up married in the Apocalypse. And married to whom? With creation! What is the opposite of ‘polygamy’? Monotony! We don’t have a monotonous God, but a God who is polygamous. Married with creation. With all peoples, with all cultures, religions, philosophies … and if we don’t understand this, then we don’t understand anything” (emphasis in the original).

I suspect it is blasphemous and possibly heretical to call God polygamous, and incorrect to say God is married with creation. Isn’t the Bride of Christ the Catholic Church? Also, this quote implies that God agrees with all religions and philosophies – which sounds a lot like indifferentism.

On page 15, this theme is repeated: “A passionate heart, a heart not  solitary; married to life and to the world, just as God married the whole creation… no exceptions … God married all … even the Catholics.” The “even the Catholics” part sounds like a joke. Is Fr. Ventura being snarky about the Faith?

3) Indifferentism and bizarre theology

Fr. Ventura writes on page 5, “What is God’s religion? In whom does God believe? Do we have a God who is an atheist? We have a God made like us. I am God’s religion. We are God’s religion. This is a punch in the stomach, but we still don’t have it clear. Catholics have the crazy idea that God is Catholic, Protestants believe that God is Protestant. Muslims, that God is Muslim. Jews that God is Jewish.”

This statement is simply bizarre. God is not made like us. We are made in the image and likeness of God. Fr. Ventura seems to imply God does not care what anyone’s religion is, and that all religions are the same and worship the same God.

Referring to Isaiah 25:6-8, on page 8 Fr. Ventura writes: “Here is the Eucharistic text of the Old Testament. Here’s the challenge of intimacy dreamed. This is Isaiah. What is the theme behind the text? It’s a meal. Who is the cook? GOD! Who invites to the meal? GOD! Who are the guests? All the people, including Catholics.”

Does he mean that everyone can receive Holy Communion? The phrase “including Catholics” is odd – isn’t it precisely the baptized who are in communion with the Pope who may receive Holy Communion?

On  page 13, Fr. Ventura writes: “What is at stake is the construction of a society, a kingdom where everyone can be and feels free to be himself, in full relation, complete, and definitive.”

Does he mean that everyone should be free to do and believe whatever he wants? There are no standards of morality, or proper ordering of freedom?

Does Fr. Ventura deny the Garden of Eden existed?

On page 6 he writes: “From Genesis, we have to yearn for the past, or desire the future. Paradise, as it is in the Bible, never existed. It’s not about mourning a paradise lost, it’s about crying and shouting for a future paradise. We are here for that reason, not to lick our tears, but to wipe the tears of others. This is the miracle that the world awaits.”

4) Immanentism and materialism

This statement sounds New Age and raises the question whether Fr. Ventura means that God is not in heaven, but only in the created universe:

“The God of Abraham, of Isaac, Jacob, Jesus Christ, is not a God of a distant heaven, but a God of the here and now. A gypsy God, of the road, of the dust, and of the wind. He is YOUR (familiar) God” (page 7).

This theme is repeated on page 8, “Where is God? He is not a God in a distant heaven.”

And again, on page 15: “… it will be possible to understand that those who can really ‘see God’ are those who are able to see the others … because God is not in any distant heaven, but here, in the right now, in the life and the time which is already eternity and it is now. The God of the Bible, the God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, is not a God of a distant heaven, but a God of ‘earth,’ a God ‘Gypsy,’ of the road, of dust and wind, a companion God, a God of you, and, therefore, a God of relationship. Thus, because of this, God lets us ‘see’, to ‘touch’, and is not preserved in terms of relation.”

A main point of the text is that it is important to help people. I agree that it is good and necessary to help people, but I thought the primary Christian calling is to get to heaven, and help others get to heaven. Indeed, isn’t evangelization primarily about spreading the Good News of salvation, and secondarily about service and material assistance? But Fr. Ventura seems to reverse these priorities.

On p. 12 he writes: “It is not therefore a delay of any hope of happiness for the future, but a personal and not transferable pledge, to now, for now.  It is now, it is immediate, it is this time, in this space, and on earth, it’s already time, space, and land of eternity where there are people whose rights are violated, suffering, starving, who have no right to be human.”

5) Universalism

Fr. Ventura obscures the meaning of death and resurrection, seemingly ignoring the Church’s teaching on the Four Last Things (death, judgment, heaven and hell). He seems to suggest that everyone goes to heaven, and asserts Masses for the dead should not be said.

On page 10, Fr. Ventura writes, “…the moment of death is the moment of the definitive encounter with God, therefore, the moment of death is the moment of resurrection!”

Does he mean that at death, everyone is “resurrected,” in the sense that everyone goes to heaven?

Again, on p. 11, he writes: “There are still many – too many – circumstances in which we hear of ‘celebrate Masses for the dead’! How is it possible? For where is the certainty that Christians have of the resurrection? … If Christ is really risen, in the expression ‘to celebrate Masses for the dead’ we have no less than two gross errors. First, in the risen Christ there are no dead but living; in the second, we do not have the right to celebrate Masses for the dead but to celebrate the Eucharist …”Does Fr. Ventura mean to say that no one goes to hell (i.e., the second death, as St. Francis of Assisi called it), or to purgatory? I thought it is Catholic doctrine that souls in purgatory benefit from our prayers, and that souls in hell are not with the risen Christ.

6) Dehumanizing, judgmental attacks

It is very odd that someone who preaches inclusion, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation engages in very unfriendly attacks on fellow Franciscans.

Fr. Ventura seems to demean faithful people (and uses odd phraseology) when he says, “It is time to turn the tables (the omelet). It’s time to feel that  we don’t have the right to say we have a religion, because this is the time to understand that we have a religion that possesses us. People of religion are unbearable. People living with a belly full of God and what comes from within, are nothing more than mystical breezes, which do not touch anyone’s life” (page 2).

Later on, he further accuses:

“It’s the hysterical foolishness of hysterical people, who live crouching in fear before God, and live like chickens in a poultry house, in front of others. (We have many people like this in our communities.)” (pages 5-6).

“And this [is what] we have. People coming to suck, parasites — of the Church, parasites of the order, parasites of the fraternities, of the convents and monasteries. We are fed up with these people!” (page 7).


In contrast to the confused words of Fr. Ventura, St. Francis himself is a clear and simple guide to the religious life. I think it’s important for Secular Franciscans to get back to basics, and formation materials should emphasize the fundamental teachings of the Seraphic Father.

St. Francis of Assisi was above all an uncompromising Catholic, and of paramount concern to him was proper worship and reverence for the Holy Eucharist. A few quotations from his texts reveal the zeal of his Catholic faith. For an example of this, see his “On Reverence for the Lord’s Body and on the Cleanliness of the Altar,” which some sources preface with this greeting from the saint: “To my reverend masters in Christ; to all the clerics who are in the world and live conformably to the rules of the Catholic faith: brother Francis, their least one and unworthy servant, sends greeting with the greatest respect and kissing their feet.”

In the First Rule of the Friars Minor (no. 19), St. Francis writes: “Let all the brothers be Catholics, and live and speak in a Catholic manner. But if anyone should err from the Catholic faith and life in word or in deed, and will not amend, let him be altogether expelled from our fraternity. And let us hold all clerics and religious as our masters in those things which regard the salvation of souls, if they do not deviate from our religion, and let us reverence their office and order and administration in the Lord.”

In the Second Rule, St. Francis writes that of those who wish to be Franciscans, “let the ministers diligently examine them regarding the Catholic faith and the Sacraments of the Church. And if they believe all these things, and if they will confess them faithfully and observe them firmly to the end” they may enter the Order (no. 2).

Holy father St. Francis also says, “Moreover, I enjoin on the ministers, by obedience, that they ask of the Lord Pope one of the Cardinals of the holy Roman Church to be governor, protector, and corrector of this brotherhood, so that being always subject and submissive at the feet of the same holy Church, grounded in the Catholic faith, we may observe poverty and humility and the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we have firmly promised” (no. 12).

In his Testament, St. Francis writes: “this is a remembrance, a warning, and an exhortation and my Testament which I, little Brother Francis, make for you, my blessed brothers, in order that we may observe in a more Catholic way the Rule which we have promised to the Lord.”

A final example: in the Letter to All the Faithful, St. Francis writes, “We ought also to fast and to abstain from vices and sins and from superfluity of food and drink, and to be Catholics. We ought also to visit Churches frequently and to reverence clerics not only for themselves, if they are sinners, but on account of their office and administration of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they sacrifice on the altar and receive and administer to others. And let us all know for certain that no one can be saved except by the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the holy words of the Lord which clerics say and announce and distribute and they alone administer and not others.”

Such quotations are refreshing reminders of what the Catholic Church actually teaches.

I think that Fr. Ventura has a very clever title for his text, “Evangelized to evangelize.” But what exactly is evangelization? The US Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “Evangelizing means bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation and seeking to convert individuals and society by the divine power of the Gospel itself.” And what is the Good News, what is the power of the Gospel? That Jesus Christ through his suffering and death has saved us from our sins, saved us from the second death, saved us from hell. That was Christ’s primary mission.

Whatever wisdom or valid Christian inspiration may be found in Fr. Ventura’s text, it is overshadowed by the questionable and apparently heterodox statements cited above. Used as formation material rather than edification, this text may well lead the faithful into confusion and away from the Good News. Fr. Ventura’s text certainly does not admonish Franciscans to be aware of the seriousness of personal sin and the necessity for salvation of being a baptized, practicing member of the One True Church established by Our Lord, as St. Francis did in the most strict and urgent terms. I believe that the future of the Secular Franciscan Order lies in the clear, truly evangelical example of its founder.

Perhaps we could have someone close to us shed some light on this malady?


Pope Francis is a …wait for it…


There, I said it.

So Bergoglio fully intends to celebrate the life and work of a man who was pronounced by the Church – “Ex Cathedra”,  a heretic.  Martin Luther was a covenant-breaking liar who was used like a tool by Satan to catastrophically break the Church contrary to Our Lord’s prayer that we be “one” as Jesus and The Father are one. (St. John Chapter 17).

Catholic World News reported yesterday that “Pope Francis said that Catholics can learn a great deal from Lutherans, in an interview published as he prepared for a trip to Sweden to join in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.”

Celebrating or commemorating “The Reformation”?    WHY?!?!   (See my post dated January 29th 2016 “Celebrate The Reformation”!)

Speaking about what Catholics should learn from Martin Luther, the Pope said: “Two words come to my mind: reform and Scripture.” He explained that Luther set out to reform “a complex situation” in the Church, but because of political considerations his effort caused “a state of separation, and not a process of reform of the whole Church.” Regarding Scripture, he said, “Luther took a great step in putting the Word of God into the hands of the people.” Speaking more generally about ecumenical relations, the Pontiff said, “Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift toward common prayer and the works of mercy” rather than concentrating on theological discussions. “To do something together is a high and effective form of dialogue,” he said.

Yeah, lets dispense with two thousand years of theological scholarship and rid ourselves of this concentration of “theological discussions”…   lets just set the Magisterium of the Roman Church on fire, shall we?

Also, yesterday LifeSite News published the remarks in an interview with Bishop Schneider;  “The Catholic Church has already infallibly responded to the “errors of Martin Luther,” Bishop Athanasius Schneider said of Pope Francis celebrating the Reformation and praising Luther’s theology.   “We have already had an infallible response to the errors of Martin Luther: the Council of Trent,” the bishop from Kazakhstan said. “The teaching of the Council of Trent about the errors of Luther, I repeat, are infallible, ex cathedra. And the comments of the pope in the plane are not ex cathedra.”

Bergoglio is a heretic.     God have mercy.       Holy Mary, Mother of God…

Pray for our Church!!!

The new Marcionism: Whats wrong with the church these days?

By Augustinus

When I went to daily mass yesterday I heard for the millionth time a very typical sickly-sweet treacly insouciant homily on how our God is a loving compassionate God and not a bad judgmental tyrant father type. We listeners in the pews had to be treated like scared children or wounded victims who need treatment at a field hospital like good Pope Francis insists rather than lessons in warfare like the old church used to preach. Pope Francis was cited approvingly by referring to the Pope’s recent book whose title is “The name of God is mercy”.

For decades now the homilies I have heard at all the masses I have attended have been similar in tone: God is not a judgmental god, God is loving, God is like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son, God is not wrathful, God is not a tyrant etc etc…Certainly all the Popes since Vatican II have adopted this tone to varying degrees of assuring the faithful that God is NOT this judgmental tyrant Father in the sky. The most recent Pope seems to hold the most extreme version of this sanitizing theme for the church. This “pastoral” note was sounded first at Vatican II and it has been adopted with fanatical dedication since then. Its as if the church has decided that it MUST repeat ad nauseum how loving God is in order to prove to the wider world that it is not an oppressive, backward, moralistic Church interested only in scolding people to serve God – or else!

Perhaps Vatican II and the post Vatican II pastoral church was justified to some extent as a reaction against the heretical tendency of seeing God as a tyrant that came to the fore with Jansenism back in the 1600 and 1700s. Whether or not there was any justification to the pastoral turn back in the early 1960s there is certainly no justification for it now. On the contrary I see the current trend to repeat the “God is mercy mantra” ad nauseum as indicative of heresy. Heresy always takes one true attribute of God and makes it God. The modern heresy of exalting the merciful name of God at the expense of God’s justice and wrathful attributes is a renewal of an old heresy. The old heresy was called Marcionism. Marcion was a rich man in early Rome who hated the wrathful god of the old testament and claimed that the merciful loving God of the new testament was the only true God.  Like our modern, tolerant, liberal rich elites, the elites of the old Roman empire wanted an easy loving God to relate to…. not a judgmental, demanding God who can be moved to wrath at the disobedience of his creatures.

So in my view what is wrong with the modern church is a Marcionism-redux. We have lost the fear of God in the west. There are no consequences of disobedience to the church or to God if the church is relentlessly merciful. The church is engaging in idolatry if it elevates only the merciful side of God at the expense of God’s warthful side.

A Confluence of Regret in a Sea of Confusion



By Allan Gillis

I stopped by a friend’s blog this morning and I read his latest entry… an apology, similar to my own (see my post “I Am Pricked In My Heart” earlier this month).  It seems my dear brother Joseph Mary del Campos of The Boston Catholic Journal is scratching at the same hives that affect my skin.  We love the Holy Mother Church and feel and act on an instinct to defend her honor as some seem to be abusive and contemptible toward Her.  It is especially difficult when the pope is the one perceived as leading the charge against Her safety!  I find many, many universally-respected, seriously-thinking men that wail and howl as loud or louder than either the BCJ or myself – combined!

Yes, I had a time of reflection and regret as I faced myself in that article I presented to you…    and I must say, I had to laugh as some of the responses to my penitence on and off the blog seemed to goad me further on the path of criticism (almost for the sheer sport of it).  I want to remain on this path of watchful criticism.  I do however want the path to be respectful criticism.  I know the editor of the BCJ.  He will do the same as I am.  He loves the Church and is intelligent enough to maintain a critical mind on behalf of traditional Catholic doctrine and liturgy while striving to walk the tightrope of charity.

I wish him many blessings in this endeavor.  He’s a good, good man.  As Roman Catholics we do not worship the pope.  There are provisions for removing an errant Bishop of Rome.  We as laity are sometimes caught “between a rock and a hard place” as we have instinctive defensive mechanisms at work in our catechized mind – while ever mindful of the need to check our motivations of pride or hard-heartedness in such matters.  We doubt (as we should) our “cred” as we know that we are not trained liturgists or theologians…   but, when do “off-colored remarks” constitute papal indiscretion?  When is error a real error?  Do too few men in Rome today lack the balls to call – what seems to many over these past few years – outright heresy, what it is?

Del Campos here says: “This present editorial is an important one for the Boston Catholic Journal given the apparent movement of Francis’s papacy away from many aspects of traditional and historical Catholicism and, it would appear at times from some central aspects of Catholic Doctrine that have confused many Catholics concerning the authenticity of what the Church had always taught in light of the current ecumenical and even moral direction of the Church under Pope Francis, which to us, and to many, appears to conflict with Sacred Scripture itself concerning homosexuality, divorce, reception of the Most Holy Eucharist by those outside the Church, and even the Church itself as the absolutely unique, indispensable, and necessary means to salvation. We remain troubled by this apparent drift away from central aspects of our holy Catholic Faith. In a word, we do not understand them: both logically and ecclesiologically. Hence our vigorous reproach for what we understand as important, indeed, intolerable breaches in the continuity of Catholic Doctrine. If they are not so, then at the very least the confusion engendered by statements and actions of the Holy Father stand in need of remedy or explanation in clear terms that the common Catholic can understand as being both coherent and consistent with 2000 years of Catholic Doctrine. This much, we believe, is due the Faithful, no matter who occupies the Seat of Peter.”  [read the rest here :  ]

We are in a quandary.  G. K. Chesterton (a good Catholic man!) said; “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.  JM del Campos and I will continue to do something – but, we will work harder at being rightly circumspect as Catholic men should be in such matters.

Review of “Robert Cardinal Sarah; God or nothing: A conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat” Ignatius Press; San Francisco: 2015).

By Augustinus


In God or nothing French journalist Nicolas Diat has a wide ranging conversation with Cardinal Sarah about the church in the 21st century. Cardinal Sarah was almost elected Pope after Benedict stepped down. Sarah has had a remarkable life history. Born in 1945 in a remote village in Guinea in Africa his family was exposed to the missionary work of the Holy Ghost fathers who then sent him to seminary when he was 12. He was ordained a priest at age 24 in 1969 during the persecution of the church under the communist regime then in power in Guinea. He was made archbishop of Conarky Guinea in 1979 and has steadily risen in the Church since then. He is considered a conservative in the current culture wars because he has opposed any slackening of traditional church teaching on homosexuality, marriage, and divorce.

Both in the current book and in the past he has frequently chided the church in western countries for their insistent focus on issues of women’s rights, divorce, and the like while their fellow Catholics in the middle east, Africa and Asia are being jailed, tortured, burned alive, and massacred for their faith.

Despite his putative conservative and traditionalist stances on church issues Pope Francis appointed Sarah to the position of Head of the Congregation of the Divine Worship and Discipline of the sacraments. Judging from his responses to questions by Diat concerning the Latin mass Sarah appears to take the same position Pope Benedict took: The Latin mass and the Novus Ordo are two version of one divinely inspired rite. The Latin mass should be encouraged as it is in many ways superior to mass in the vernacular but the two versions are equally valid. Sarah believes that a new version of the rite will emerge organically over the next century. This new version will combine the best of the Tridentine and the Novus Ordo versions.

Diat asked Sarah repeatedly about the crisis in the modern church and his consistent answer was the sources of the crisis are multiple and the solution is one: prayer. Prayer is the solution because it is saints and doctors of the church who will save the church and prayer is what makes people saints.

I was enormously impressed by Sarah as he comes across in these interviews as eloquent, wise, well-spoken, intelligent, administratively competent, deeply rooted in Church documents and in holy scripture (it seems he can quote hundreds of docs and all of scripture from memory) and most of all it was clear that he was first and foremost a man of prayer.

Sarah quotes Pope Francis approvingly when Francis says that prayer must be a kind of struggle with the Lord. We are advised by the Lord himself to keep knocking on the door until we rouse the owner within. But Sarah also says that prayer must be a kind of resting in the Lord and listening. We must rest and wait until the Holy Spirit prays within us. Then we really “pray without ceasing”. “We must often nestle close to the Virgin of silence to ask her to obtain for us the grace of loving silence and of interior virginity, in other words, a purity of heart and a willingness to listen that banishes any presence except God’s” (p. 207).