Monday, September 30, 2013

San Francisco, the Gay Rome

MY OPINION--Exposure is the best reason to wake people up.

San Francisco, the Gay Rome

Leather flag at Milk Plaza, 2010Leather flag at Milk Plaza, 2010
The following came from a reader in a Sept. 26 email.
September in San Francisco (dubbed The Gay Rome by USF student Julie Henderson at a 2007 seminar at Most Holy Redeemer Church) is dominated by the Folsom Street Fair. As fair organizers boast, “Only in San Francisco will you see leather pride banners lining the grand thoroughfare of Market Street…” and it is true:  the red, black and blue flags of the homosexual leather subculture are on every Market Street lamppost.
The fair’s webpage offers this blurb for the event:  “With nearly 400,000 of your closest kinky friends spread out over 13 city blocks of adult entertainment, this is an ‘only in San Francisco’ experience to be sure… Located on historic Folsom Street (from 7th to 12th Streets — and all streets in between), leather and fetish players from all over the world converge. With over 200 exhibitor booths selling fetish gear and toys, a massive live stage with top-name indie bands, two huge dance areas spinning underground dance, public play stations, and an enhanced erotic artists’ area, you will never want to leave. There’s more eye candy than you can shake your c–k at – yes, you can still be naked, so there’s no need to fret.”
The last sentence refers to a recent law in San Francisco, which banned public nudity, but exempted certain gatherings such as the fair. A sample of the legal activities performed at the fair include “live, choreographed hook suspensions, where people will be suspended through hooks in their backs and other parts of their bodies” and “demonstration stations where people can find basic information about whipping and other types of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism).” But these kinds of legal albeit disgusting activities, which fair organizers are willing to publicly describe, and which will make it into the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, are just the tip of the iceberg as any online search will show.
Since the Chronicle will host a booth at the fair, it’s a safe bet they know what is going on, and choose not to report it. Another exhibitor at the fair is the Mission Neighborhood Health Center. CalCatholic readers may remember the Mission Neighborhood Health Center from our 2009 article “SF Archdiocesan Partner Funds Emergency Contraception.” The article revealed that the San Francisco Organizing Project, a group with which the archdiocese was then (and still is) partnered, had “won $200,000 for Mission Neighborhood Health Center” and further revealed that the center’s teen clinic offered “emergency contraception” to girls aged 12-21. Another exhibitor at the fair is Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific.
This year’s fair coincides with pressure being exerted on the city’s Department of Public Health to reopen homosexual bathhouses, although the term “reopen” is inexact. The bathhouses have never closed, but since the dark days of the AIDS epidemic before the onset of antiviral drugs, the health department had ordered that private rooms in the clubs must remove their doors. This apparently allowed club staff to monitor the behavior of those inside, and ensure they were practicing “safe” sodomy.
But, according to Seth Hemmelgarn, author of an August 8 article in the homosexualist Bay Area Reporter,  “Virtually all of the clubs closed rather than comply with the rules…” Hemmelgarn continued, “The decision on whether to allow private rooms – which is what makes a bathhouse a bathhouse for many gays – rests with Health Director Barbara Garcia.”


Saturday, September 28, 2013

GOD, The Catholic Church and Our Lady HAS ALWAYS WELCOMED SINNERS Back to Church but only the Repentant Sinner can accept or ask for Forgiveness.


 The Pope said what he said. There's no reason to spin it. Clearly, he was stating, as did Jesus, to the Pharisees, that "he without sin should cast the first stone," and in his remarks on abortion, homosexuality, and contraception, was warning that too often we focus on the letter of the law while violating its spirit (which is love). We become harsh. We become, he said, obsessive. It is easy to see why: these are sins that are upsetting. The behaviors of homosexuality have not and can not be accepted by the Church; to review the actual practices in this realm is chilling. But we all transgress in different ways and homosexuals as well as those who have fallen into the horrid trap of abortion should be welcomed and won over, instructed on the Gospel. The Church was founded, the Pope reminded us, as a place to heal transgressors. “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars," Francis said. "You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.” To constantly declare a sin without extending a healing hand has proven ineffective. Christ stated that sinners were the reason He came into the world and He mingled with them (Matthew 9: 10-13), which many did not like. Francis said we must find a "new balance." Let us wait and see what else this startling Pope says. No one can deny the tremendous gravity of killing a baby, nor what the Bible itself says about the sin of sodomy. Some go so far as to fret about an "anti-pope," or prophecies of two popes in last times. Is it that, or simply opening the arms of the Church to a poor world? We will watch and listen. It is interesting to note that while the Blessed Mother indicates the seriousness of abortion, this sin has never been specifically mentioned in formal messages at sanctioned sites such as Fatima, Kibeho, and Betania, where sinners find comfort and are converted and so often repent en route to deliverance. At the remarkable Church-approved site of Laus in France, the Blessed Mother came to create a place -- specifically for sinners -- of reconciliation and refuge, and reportedly indicated the sins of immorality, abortion, "unjust wealth" (another theme of Francis's) and the "perverse." She is firm, but welcoming. It is how Mary seems to work, too, at Medjugorje, where none of the official monthly messages since 1984 specifically mentions abortion and yet where seers have spoken loudly about both that and homosexual marriage and where we recall the account of a lawyer whose girlfriend or wife had an abortion and who confessed it at the apparition site and then if we recall correctly went to a back pew of the church to say his penance when a mysterious woman suddenly stood next to him holding a newborn, which she allegedly handed to him; he stroked the infant; he could feel the child's flesh and hair and warmth. He was told to name the baby, which he did, before the Woman took the baby back into her arms and disappeared, allegedly, when he looked away, leaving him no doubt about the nature of his sin and also no doubt about how God forgives.

INSTRUCTING the Uniformed,
COUNSELLING the Doubtful,
are three of the ‘Spiritual Works of Mercy’.
We must never teach error.
Everyone who participates in media blogging must read the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” for accuracy in teaching the Faith.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bishop Vasa: Where are the preachers ‘obsessed’ with abortion, gay ‘marriage’ and contraception?


September 26, 2013

Bishop Robert Vasa

Bishop Vasa: Where are the preachers ‘obsessed’ with abortion, gay ‘marriage’ and contraception?
SANTA ROSA, CA, Sept. 25, 2013 ( – Following Pope Francis’ call for the Church to find a “new balance” and reduce what he suggested was undue emphasis on controversial moral issues, one of the American episcopate’s great defenders of life and family affirmed the Pope’s desire to proclaim the basic Gospel message but insisted that the Church must remain vocal in promoting the truth on the most pressing issues of the day.
The media has widely reported that the Pope, in an interview published Thursday by Rome’s La Civilta Catholica and Jesuit magazines around the world, said the Church must not be “obsessed” by issues like abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. But Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Clara, Calif. says he has not seen evidence of such an obsession.
“I certainly do know that there are individuals, and I certainly would probably be among them, who firmly believe that these are core cultural issues about which we must be vocal,” the prelate told the Press Democrat on Friday. “But I’m not obsessed about them. A vast majority of the things that I write do not include abortion as a topic or contraception or divorce and remarriage.”
“Is there a need for teaching about those things? Absolutely. Are there some folks who overstep the boundary and say, ‘OK we’re preaching about this every single Sunday?’ Well, there may be. But there’s a vast majority of people who never talk about it,” he continued.
“[If] everyone talked about it a little, there would be fewer who feel the need to talk about it more,” he added.
In the Pope’s interview, which ran to 12,000 words, he spoke only briefly about the moral issues.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he said.
“This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that,” he added. “But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
The off-the-cuff remarks were interpreted by much of the mainstream press as a call by the Pope for the Church to downplay, or even abandon, its teachings on difficult moral issues.
But that narrative was interrupted on Friday when the pope issued his strongest remarks to date against abortion, condemning the practice as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”
Bishop Vasa’s assessment is along the same lines as that made by Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura and America’s most senior prelate, in an interview this summer months before the Pope’s interview was published.
The Cardinal told Minneapolis’ The Catholic Servant that the Church has not been nearly outspoken enough on controversial issues like homosexuality. He said there’s been “a failure of catechesis both of children and young people that has been going on for fifty years.”
“It is being addressed, but it needs much more radical attention,” he continued. “There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not ‘politically correct.’ But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselves in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pope Francis excommunicates pro-gay marriage priest. He's not the liberal the media wants

Pope Francis excommunicates pro-gay marriage priest. He's not the liberal the media wants

Despite all due temptation, he remains a Catholic.
From all of last week's headlines saying that the Pope wants to forget this nonsense about abortion and gays, you'd imagine that Germaine Greer had been elected to run the Catholic Church. Actually what the Pope was saying was that he wants the Church to talk more about what it's for than what it's against. But that doesn't mean it won't still be against those things that contradict its teachings and traditions.
Just ask Greg Reynolds of Melbourne – a priest who appears to have been both defrocked and excommunicated because of his radical views on women clergy and gay marriage. From Australia's The Age:
The excommunication document – written in Latin and giving no reason – was dated May 31, meaning it comes under the authority of Pope Francis who made headlines on Thursday calling for a less rule-obsessed church.
The document might give no explicit reason, but the reason is implicit and well understood: Reynolds has offended Mother Church with his politics. It's interesting to note that the former priest tells The Age that he "wants the same thing as the Pope" which is "to encourage reform and clear need for renewal in the church." I read from this that Reynolds has, like many liberals, misunderstood Francis' words. Structural reform is clearly necessary to prevent future horrors like the child abuse scandal, and renewal is something that Christians always desire. But Reynolds would throw out Catholic doctrine – something Francis would never do because he is, despite the best wishes of so many in the media, a Catholic. His treatment of Reynolds proves that point.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Joy of Repentance

The Joy of Repentance

The Joy of Repentance


What Augustine teaches us is the practical joy of repentance.

We celebrate this week the life of that most famous of sinner-saints, St Augustine, who said, "Lord make me chaste, but not yet."  Augustine's lust for love and his desire for God are tied together with his passionate approach to life.  "Love is the beauty of the soul!" he cries.

What Augustine teaches us is the practical joy of repentance.  Repentance is simply the heart felt realization that one is a sinner.  So often this realization is linked with guilt — as if feeling guilt is a bad thing.  But guilt is simply the pain one feels at the realization of the deep wound of sin.  If I have cancer and feel pain a good doctor tells me I have cancer and I need an operation and that may cause me more pain, but it also brings me to face reality and brings me to the point of a possible cure.  The pain was therefore a necessary evil.  So guilt reminds me of the cancer of sin in my life and that I need the radical surgery from Doctor Jesus to be healed.

That transaction takes place through repentance.  When I say "I'm sorry" I become most fully real because I am facing reality.  When I say "Mea Culpa — It's my fault" I achieve freedom.  When I cease to blame others and say "What's wrong with the world: I am."  I am taking responsibility and when I take responsibility I take charge.  My will is engaged.  I am suddenly mature and fully human.

This is why repentance is joyful — because I am facing reality and accepting freedom.  Repentance requires humility, and another quote of St Augustine's is, "Do you wish to rise?  Begin by descending.  You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds?  Lay first the foundation of humility."  This action has built into it our need for God, for why would we repent unless we were asking forgiveness and why ask for forgiveness unless we trusted in the only one who has power to forgive?  This step of humility is also a step of good humor, for when we know we are weak we are most strong, and that paradox is a joyful, hilarious realization.

Repentance also lays the foundation for experiencing the truth.  When we repent we admit that we know nothing and it is only at the point that we admit that we do not know that we can begin to learn what we do not know and then learn what we need to learn.  Repentance is growth.  The Eastern Orthodox teach that the soul is closest to God not when he is receiving consolations or is experiencing some great miracle or wonder, but it is when he truly and honestly utters the words, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on me a Sinner."  At that point the soul takes a great leap towards God and is then the closest to his love.

Before this  moment of realization and return, before this moment of repentance our hearts are restless — always searching for an answer and yet at the same time always running from the answer, for our hearts are truly restless until they rest in God, and that rest in God can only come on the other side of repentance.  Then the soul is not only at rest, but it enjoys a quiet and joyful rest that is the radiance of the Divine Mercy.

Sky View: The Path for the Clean and the Unclean

Sky View: The Path for the Clean and the Unclean
The Path for the Clean and the Unclean
The first reading for the Mass on Monday, May 27, 2013 contains insights and answers to our shrinking churches and to the gradual decline of organized religion. A passage, from the book of Sirach, traces out the way back to God. Because it is the key to saving souls, it is likewise the answer for our hemorrhaging parishes. But what the bible mandates as the way back to God, many of today’s Catholic communities have made optional. And here I speak of repentance: the giving up and turning away from sin, especially mortal sin. 

“To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth. Return to him and give up sin, pray to the LORD and make your offenses few. Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin, hate intensely what he loathes, and know the justice and judgments of God, stand firm in the way set before you, in prayer to the Most High God...How great the mercy of the LORD, his forgiveness of those who return to him!” (Sirach 17:20-23, 24)

Not only Scripture, but nature gives us clues about the value of repentance. And quite often, our Lord draws upon the lessons agriculture affords us. For instance, every gardener and farmer knows that in order to reap a good harvest, weeds need to be uprooted. If weeds are allowed to remain when seeds are planted, the integrity of the crop is then compromised. 

Moving from the natural to the spiritual, for the last fifty years we have been trying to make converts and form souls without insisting- like the Church has done for centuries –on repentance from sin. Keep in mind, conversion is a two-fold movement toward Christ and away from sin. Grace cannot take hold and do its work in the soul without a hatred and renunciation of sin. But many parishes have only focused on the need to embrace Christ without the corresponding duty to give up sexual sins such as cohabitation, contraception and adultery; just to name a few. As such, the seed of grace falls on rocky ground and souls easily fall away from grace. 

Just as agricultural methods provide insights into the effective pastoral practices, Old Testament symbols prefigure New Testament realities. Circumcision, for instance, was a ritual applied to the male infant of eight days as a rite of initiation into the Old Covenant. But Christ inaugurated the Sacrament of Baptism to replace circumcision. 

Another ritual in the Old Testament that traced out in symbolic fashion what was to be done in the New Testament, after the coming of Christ, is to separate the “unclean” from the “clean.” Any physical abnormality, blemish, deformity, blood, discharge of any kind and even contact with a human corpse was declared ritually “unclean.” But upon this declaration, a member of the religious community had to abstain from worship and fellowship for a certain period of time. While quarantined, the unclean member was to perform purification rites until the priest declared him or her “clean” again. For instance, in the book of Numbers and Leviticus it reads: 

“The LORD said to Moses: ‘Order the Israelites to expel from camp every leper, and everyone suffering from a discharge, and everyone who has become unclean by contact with a corpse. Male and female alike, you shall compel them to go out of the camp; they are not to defile the camp in which I dwell.’" (Numbers 5:1-3) And a mother who had just given birth “shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her purification are fulfilled.” (Leviticus 12:4) 

Now, this practice of religious exclusion possessed only symbolic value. In other words, that which was considered “unclean” was not actual sin. A physical deformity was not the cause of sin but neither did it have any spiritual effect upon the soul. And as for the purifications rites, it left the soul untouched. All of the Old Testament rituals did was forecast what was to come. But once Christ died for our sins and merited, for us, forgiveness from God, the rites became obsolete. This is exactly why the Letter to the Hebrews states the following: 

“Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin…[S]ince we have ‘a great priest over the house of God,’ let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.” (Hebrews 10:18-22) 

So what’s with all of the fuss in the Old Testament? Why have the Jewish people undergo rituals that had no effect upon the soul? Keep in mind that before Christ, the people of God and even the world to an extent, were on probation. Without the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, even the most loyal believers were mere servants of the Most High. They were not considered members of the household. But one very important service these Old Testament rituals performed was that they were a rehearsal for the good things to come. 

In early Christianity and in the centuries to follow, the Catholic Church made repentance a prerequisite for receiving the Sacraments. The book of Sirach said, “Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin, hate intensely what he loathes…” The Church sustained this practice and perfected under the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Giving up sin and turning away from it was but first step in turning again towards the Lord. It is the condition upon which absolution by the priest is given. As Fulton Sheen would say, without a death to a lower level, we cannot arrive at a higher level of supernatural life. This was expected of every Catholic who wanted to following in the footsteps of Christ. 

To be forgiven by God, contrition is necessary. But contrition is not just a movement of the heart, that is, a feeling of sorrow for one’s sins. No. Contrition must be followed with repentance in order for conversion to be genuine before the Lord. By mandating repentance, a clear distinction is made between holiness and sin. However, if repentance becomes optional- as it has in many parishes today –even the most serious of sins is perceived as being compatible with holiness. In other words, that which pleases God and that which offends God have existed side by side in the Church without the two being clearly separated. As such, what it means to be a good Catholic has never been less clear. 

For centuries, the Church managed to separate- for all to see –the life of Christ from the life of sin. And when serious sin was committed by a Catholic, sin was left outside of the Church through repentance; sometimes public repentance. To forfeit serious sin was expected if one wanted to be a Catholic in good standing. And when obstinate sinners refused to repent, he or she was declared “unclean” and was “expelled from the camp.” This was so that the contagion sin would not be communicated to the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. St. Augustine, in his Rule, puts it simply: “Should he refuse to perform his penance, and has not departed of his own accord, he must be cast out of your society. Nor is such treatment cruel, but merciful, for many must not be suffered to perish by the pestilent example of one.” 

One may charge that expelling anyone from the Church- even if he refuses to repent- is unchristian and unloving. Quite the contrary! Our Lord, in no uncertain terms, laid down this pastoral mandate long before St. Augustine promulgated it in his Rule. Referring to obstinate sinners, he said, “If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” (Mathew 18:17) That is, treat him as an "unclean." or as an outsider. This, no doubt, is reminiscent of what God told Moses in the book of Leviticus and the book of Numbers. But in this context, we are dealing with real moral and spiritual realities; not just ritualistic symbolism. “Unclean” members of the Church who refuse to be made “clean,” are to be made outsiders. If the Christians in Corinth suspected otherwise, St. Paul removed any doubts when he said: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people…But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral.” Then he adds: “Purge the evil person from your midst.” (I Corinthians 5: 9, 11, 13) 

God has traced out a path that leads to him. He did this in the Old Testament for the express purpose that this same path would be traveled with the aid of the Spirit during the Christian era. For the longest time, that path was well trodden by the Catholic pastors. After all, our Lord Jesus, the Pastor of pastors, told his Church to take this path when confronted with serious sins and obstinate sinners. But recently, this path has been abandoned. The result is that Catholics have a hard time telling the difference between what is “unclean” and “clean.” Her local parishes shines less brightly because of it.

Sky View: Padre Pio: Secrets of a Soul

Sky View: Padre Pio: Secrets of a Soul

Padre Pio: Secrets of a Soul

The reputation of St. Padre Pio is shrouded with extraordinary events. When his life is discussed, what often comes up in conversation is his stigmata (mystically receiving the wounds of Christ in his flesh), his gift of bi-location (being at two places at once) and the gift of reading souls in the confessional (knowing what sins were committed before the penitent confessed them). But what sometimes does not get the attention it deserves is that intense interior darkness he would experience; a kind of darkness that Blessed Mother Theresa complained of several decades ago.
By reading his letters to his spiritual director, one gets the impression that for every mystical ecstasy of rapturous joy he would experience, the Lord would have to” even things out” for him by allowing St. Pio to get attacked by demons or to experience incredible feelings of abandonment. Curiously, just about every canonized has, at some point, felt the inner pangs of being abandoned by the Lord. It is as if the Lord wanted these Saints to have some experience of what damned souls experience in hell. And even more important, it is through these bitter experiences that the Saints shared in Christ’s death. As such, their sufferings and sacrifices became a means of saving souls. With Christ, they took on God’s severity of justice so that sinners could be beneficiaries of His Mercy.
It is quite common that God puts his closest friends on a rollercoaster of wild extremes; that of tasting the joys of paradise and feeling the despair of hell. On precursor to St. Pio was St. Paul. In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, he said he was blessed to have had received from the Lord an “abundance of the revelations.” Yet, these great mystical experiences would exact from him a depth of suffering that would pierce his soul. In fact, he said, “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.”
That same spiritual warfare and testing had visited St. Padre Pio. In a letter on November 8, 1916, he complained to his spiritual director by saying, “Blasphemous thoughts continuously run through my mind; and still more promptings, infidelity, and irreligiousness. “ Several months earlier, he felt as though the Lord had abandoned him to darkness; a darkness devoid of peace. On March 8, 1916, he wrote the following: “Peace has been fully banished from my heart. I have become completely blind. I find myself enveloped in a profound darkness and I can never, no matter how I struggle, find the light.”
This kind of interior pain that St. Pio experienced can be so intense at times, death is often a welcomed event. Again, he wrote, “I long for death to relieve me of my afflictions. May the Lord God grant me this soon, because I can endure no longer.” Perhaps this is why the good padre would frequently quote from the book of Job, the Psalms and the Song of Songs the most from the Old Testament. These inspired writings truly capture how a love and longing for God is purified by suffering. And the greatest suffering for a Saint is to feel his absence.
Gianluigi pasquale, editor of Secrets of a Soul, is a book that gives us the letters of St. Padre Pio to his spiritual directors. In it he describes just how the interior trials were for the Saint from Pietrelcina, Italy:
“What is most bewildering during this period is that the soul cannot understand God’s action in it, and, therefore, it is overcome with great anguish and suffering. The very thought oppresses the soul to the point that only God’s special grace is prevented from going astray…God has grown distant and, in doing so, left a tremendous void, but God does not allow himself to be found.”
It would seem that Christ gives to souls such as these a taste of the suffering he himself endured for the world. Arguably, Divine justice is introduced into the lives of these chosen souls- but never apart from Christ –so that Divine Mercy could be introduced into the lives of those who are much less deserving. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, death is at work in us, but life in you.
St. Padre Pio, like St. Paul the Apostle, knew that a price needed to be paid for sinners. Quite often, this meant experiencing great anguish of soul. This is God’s way of testing the love and fidelity of his friends. And Saint Pio did precisely that when he used to say regarding Jesus, “I kiss the hands that smite me.” But, with that said, there always came a time when the Lord would lift up St. Pio above the fog of uncertainty in order to better understand his ways.
One more thing: For a Christian who sincerely loves the Lord and wants to do his will- as we have said -there is no greater suffering than when interior darkness visits that soul or it is afflicted with the feeling of being abandoned by God. But after having survived the trial, that soul will count exterior trials as child’s play. In other words, the vexations and inconveniences that come from human beings are as nothing compared to feeling distant from God. St. Padre Pio knew more than most, that when God is with you, everything seems easy. But when it feels as though he backing off- and no longer with us -even the lightest of things we try to lift feels heavy.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


September 21, 2013
About The Author
Louie Verrecchio is an author, columnist and speaker living and working in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, MD. The Founder and President of Salve Regina Publications, he is one of Catholic News Agency’s longest running columnists (since April 2009).
He is the author of the internationally acclaimed Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series which has been helping Catholics on four continents explore the documents of the Council since 2004.
“Harvesting is a work not best carried out in the dark of night for obvious reasons,” Verrecchio cautions. “In the darkness it’s difficult to distinguish between that which is ripe and sweet and nourishing, from that which is hard and bitter or may not even be fruit at all. As we explore the Second Vatican Council, ours is a work that must be carried out in the light as well, the brilliant and purifying light of sacred Tradition.”
To aid in establishing a firm foundation in sacred Tradition, Mr. Verrecchio recently launched the Traditio Faith Formation Series, exploring the magisterium of the pre-conciliar popes, beginning with Quas Primas, the 1925 Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, establishing the Feast of Christ the King.
Mr. Verrecchio is also the author of a number of books including:
• Ten Things Every Catholic Should Know About Vatican II
• And With Your Spirit – Restoring a sense of the sacred in the Roman Missal – Third Edition
• Was John Courtney Murray Right?
• The Most Holy Rosary: A Weapon of Mass Instruction
Mr. Verrecchio has addressed conferences and retreats in dioceses throughout the United States, and his media appearances include EWTN, Church Militant TV, Ave Maria Radio, Relevant Radio and numerous local affiliates. For information about his speaking schedule and honorarium, please send an inquiry via email to
Mr. Verrecchio’s writing and speaking has received the endorsement of numerous churchmen, theologians, and others including:
  1. George Cardinal Pell – Archbishop of Sydney, Australia
  2. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample – Archbishop of Portland, OR
  3. Bishop R. Walker Nickless – Bishop of Sioux City, IA
  4. Fr. Peter F. Ryan, S.J., S.T.D. – Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis, MO
  5. Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D. – Internationally known speaker, author, theologian
  6. Mr. James Cavanagh – Director of Evangelization, Archdiocese of Denver
  7. Russell Shaw – Syndicated Columnist
The pope’s nearly 11,000 word interview with America Magazine will be debated for months. My contribution to that discussion begins with the following ten takeaways.
May I first beg your forgiveness for my failure to hold up for applause every expression offered by the pope that resembles solid Catholic teaching? Nothing personal; that’s just me. I’m not in the habit of alerting my mechanic every time my truck starts either.
1. Pope Francis is very uncomfortable wielding authority.
“I found myself provincial (in a position of authority in the Jesuit order) when I was still very young. I was only 36 years old. That was crazy. I had to deal with difficult situations, and I made my decisions abruptly and by myself. Yes, but I must add one thing: when I entrust something to someone, I totally trust that person. He or she must make a really big mistake before I rebuke that person. But despite this, eventually people get tired of authoritarianism.”
“My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative … I have never been a right-winger [but] it was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems.”
Clearly, this is a man who took accusations of “conservatism” from the poster boys of liberalism, his brother Jesuits, as if it were a dagger to the heart.
All indications are he isn’t about to make the “mistake” of ruling with authority again.
2. As a result, this is a pope who is determined to seek refuge in the conciliar invention known as “collegiality.”
“The consistories [of cardinals], the synods [of bishops] are, for example, important places to make real and active this consultation. We must, however, give them a less rigid form. I do not want token consultations, but real consultations. The consultation group of eight cardinals, this ‘outsider’ advisory group, is not only my decision, but it is the result of the will of the cardinals, as it was expressed in the general congregations before the conclave. And I want to see that this is a real, not ceremonial consultation.”
His Holiness even went so far as to say of the Orthodox Churches, which are defined by their rejection of papal primacy, “From them we can learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and the tradition of synodality.”
Pope Francis can insist that matters of Church governance are “not only my decision” all he wants, but the simple fact remains, while consulting with his cardinals and other bishops is wise, the Church that Jesus gave us is monarchical in structure, and the pope alone possesses full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church.
3. Pope Francis’ unwillingness to take up the mantle of Christ’s authority as vested in the Roman Pontiff has a profound, adverse, effect on his ecclesiology.
“The image of the church I like is that of the holy, faithful people of God. This is the definition I often use … the people itself constitutes a subject. And the church is the people of God on the journey through history, with joys and sorrows. Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together.”
The “people” may constitute a subject, but certainly this image does not exhaust the objective reality of what the Church is.
What is conspicuously missing, not just from this interview, but from the witness of the past six months, is any evidence that Pope Francis sees himself as anything more than simply a shepherd who walks among his people, as if this body moves about en masse apart from the leadership provided by the occupant of the Throne of St. Peter whom the Lord appointed to serve as the visible head of the whole Church.
4. Perhaps this is why Pope Francis seems to imagine a certain dichotomy, or at the very least, a noteworthy tension, exists between orthodoxy and orthopraxy; belief and practice; doctrine and spirituality.
“If you want to know who Mary is, you ask theologians; if you want to know how to love her, you have to ask the people.”
The threefold office of Christ – teaching, governing and sanctifying – exist, of course, in perfect harmony such that, using the pope’s example, the people could not possibly know how to properly love Mary apart from any one of them.
Furthermore, while a share in these offices is proper in some degree to all the baptized, they are all the more profoundly expressed in the sacred hierarchy, and uniquely so in the Roman Pontiff. While Pope Francis may not explicitly disagree with this statement, his discomfort embracing it is palpable.
5. Pope Francis apparently sees a Church that the overwhelming majority of the faithful have never experienced.
On the heels of last week’s breathtaking comment, “I dare say that the Church has never been so well as it is today,” the pope described a situation that most Catholics can barely even imagine in their wildest dreams:
“A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing.”
Rare indeed is the parish that puts “moral and religious imperatives” before the generic Christian warm and fuzzies.
The disconnect between the Holy Father’s idea of what’s it’s like to dwell in the Church today, and the bitter reality of the obstacles faced by those who wish to live a fully Catholic life, is nothing short of stunning.
6. This pope, like his immediate predecessors, is utterly determined not to allow “the facts on the ground” to interfere with his view of the Second Vatican Council.
“Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous. Just recall the liturgy. The work of liturgical reform has been a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation.”
Pope Francis obviously dwells in the same parallel universe from whence John Paul II said, “The vast majority of the pastors and the Christian people have accepted the liturgical reform in a spirit of obedience and indeed joyful fervor,” even as the real fruits of the post-conciliar liturgical reform were such that desolate parishes were being boarded up at an alarming rate in dioceses all over the world as he spoke.
7. Pope Francis’ determination to praise Vatican II, and to treat it as if it alone constitutes the fullness of sure doctrine, has engendered in him an open hostility toward those who dare to embrace the doctrine of the faith as it was taught and lived prior to the confusion that was ushered in by the conciliar innovations, firstly, with regard to liturgy.
“Then there are particular issues, like the liturgy according to the Vetus Ordo. I think the decision of Pope Benedict [his decision of July 7, 2007, to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.”
Apparently, His Holiness simply dismissed the letter of explanation that accompanied Summorum Pontificum, as well as the Instruction for its application that followed some four years later. If not, he would realize that the effort to make the traditional liturgy, which has never been abrogated, readily available has nothing whatsoever to do with some condescending notion of placating “people who have this sensitivity;” rather, it is motivated by the reality that “the Usus Antiquior, [is] considered as a precious treasure to be preserved … for the good of the faithful” (Instruction on the Application of Summorum Pontificum).
8. Pope Francis’ hostility toward traditional Catholics also has roots in his compromised ecclesiology.
“If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists­—they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life.”
Imagine, here is a pope openly criticizing as “legalists” those who expect the Church to provide precisely what should be expected of every Holy Mother; steadfast assurance, clarity, and safety.
If that’s not preposterous enough, he states that those who seek in the Church what are ultimately characteristics of God Himself (clarity and safety), ends up with “nothing!” It’s as if he imagines that doctrinal fluidity, ambiguity and exposure to the lies of the Devil are gifts from on high.
It is interesting to note how in this context the pope falls back on what he calls a “dogmatic certainty” that “God is in every person’s life.”
Does the Catholic Church have anything to offer beyond this?
“Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person,” the Holy Father says.
It’s not immediately clear whether or not the pope intended to include “Catholicism” in this generic reference to “religion,” but this certainly seems to be the case. This begs the obvious question: Does the Vicar of Christ really believe that the doctrine of the faith is but an “opinion” that threatens to “interfere” with an individual’s spiritual life?
I would be delighted to say that there is good reason to dismiss this possibility out of hand, but I’m afraid I cannot.
9. Pope Francis appears to believe that Catholic teaching must be adapted to humankind, not vice versa. Likewise, he believes that Church teaching does not form the man; rather, the man forms the teaching.
“When does a formulation of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself … The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.”
The unavoidable conclusion one must take away from the pope’s comments are that he imagines that doctrinal formulae once considered nurturing for the soul can become poison simply with the passage of time.
At this, we have arrived at the most fundamentally important takeaway from this interview, and indeed the entire six months of this pontificate.
10. Pope Francis is a modernist.
“St. Vincent of Lerins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time … The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.”
St. Vincent of Lerins in no way encouraged “different understandings.” Rather, he said, “Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all … we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed.”
Pope St. Pius X, in his magnificent Encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, On the Doctrines of the Modernists, said regarding the false notion that human experience somehow renders a “different understanding” of Catholic truth, “This doctrine of experience is also under another aspect entirely contrary to Catholic truth. It is extended and applied to tradition, as hitherto understood by the Church, and destroys it.”
Furthermore, the Oath Against Modernism states very clearly:
“Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that … dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.”  [Emphasis added]
This, I’m afraid, is a pledge this Holy Father could not, in good conscience, take.
We must us fast and pray much for this Holy Father, that he may, by the grace of God, govern the Church according to His will.

Forgiving Criminals – Punishing the Sick

Forgiving Criminals – Punishing the Sick

Whereas once it was the law-abiding and respectable citizen who was most highly valued, it is now the law-breaker and the bearer of social pathology who is to be cherished.

In Samuel Butler's satire, Erewhon, crime was illness and illness was criminal.  In at least one small respect we have taken the book as a model and put it into practice.  While in our hospitals nurses are enjoined to address patients, however old and venerable, by their first names, or even by diminutives of their first names, in our prisons staff are enjoined to address prisoners, however young and callow, in a formal fashion.  Thus Bill in hospital would be Mr. Jones in prison;  and Mr. Smith in prison would be Bert in hospital.
Our nurses are now taught that informal modes of address are friendly and reassuring to patients while prison officers are told that formal modes of address protect the dignity of prisoners.  There is an all too obvious contradiction here that reveals something rotten in the state of Britain.
There are nurses who work partly in hospital and partly in prison;  they are formal in prison and informal in hospital.  In my view, what the prison officers are told, that formality preserves dignity, is much nearer the mark than what nurses are taught, than informality is friendly.  I believe that authorities know this very well.  If this is indeed the case, what does it mean?  I think it means that there has been a complete reversal in our official scale of values and the adoption of a mirror-image morality.
Whereas once it was the law-abiding and respectable citizen who was most highly valued, it is now the law-breaker and the bearer of social pathology who is to be cherished.  That is why his dignity is to be preserved while that of the ordinary hospital patient is to be destroyed.
There is a long history of sympathising with, or at least in not openly reprehending, the sinner because there is more rejoicing in heaven etc., etc.  But the rejoicing in heaven is over the repentance of the sinner, not over the sin itself.  These days, however, repentance is not even demanded of the sinner;  it is the consequence of that is celebrated.
Why?  Our public administration hates and fears the independent citizen, the person who, in ordinary life, needs no assistance, supervision, subvention or care, and therefore creates no employment opportunities for itself.  The really valuable person is the one who cannot manage on his own, the one who keeps the public administration in employment;  thus the respectable are to be humiliated while the incompetent or criminal are to be respected.

Catholics Have Not Been Properly Formed To Fight The Evils Of Our Time!

Catholics Have Not Been Properly Formed To Fight The Evils Of Our Time!

There Has Been An Epic Failure In Catechesis!

By Don Fier. (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, who formerly served as bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., and archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Mo., recently spent some time in the United States. The Catholic Servant was granted the opportunity to interview His Eminence in mid-July on a variety of topics at Eternal Life’s The Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, Ky. The Catholic Servant — a Minneapolis- based newspaper — gave The Wanderer permission to reprint the interview).
The following interview was edited for Length.  You can read Cardinal Burke’s Entire interview at The Wanderer.
The Decline Of Morality In America
Q. Things seem to be declining at an accelerating rate in our country. For example, it is shocking how quickly things happened in Minnesota. A year ago it seemed almost certain that a November ballot referendum would constitutionally define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Despite a heroic effort by Archbishop John Nienstedt and many other Church leaders, it failed. Just four months later a law was enacted making Minnesota the 12th state to legalize so- called same- sex marriage. How did we get to this point? Aside from prayer and fasting, what can the faithful do?
A. First of all, I would underline the need for much prayer and fasting. The alarming rapidity of the realization of the homosexual agenda ought to awaken all of us and frighten us with regard to the future of our nation. This is a work of deceit, a lie about the most fundamental aspect of our human nature, our human sexuality, which after life itself defines us. There is only one place these types of lies come from, namely Satan. It is a diabolical situation which is aimed at destroying individuals, families, and eventually our nation. How did we get to this point? The fact that these kinds of “ arrangements” are made legal is a manifestation of a culture of death, of an anti- life and anti- family culture which has existed in our nation now for some time. We as Catholics have not properly combatted it because we have not been taught our Catholic Faith, especially in the depth needed to address these grave evils of our time.
This is a failure of catechesis both of children and young people that has been going on for fifty years. It is being addressed, but it needs much more radical attention. I can say this because I was the bishop of two different dioceses. After fifty years of this, we have many adult voters who support politicians with immoral positions because they do not know their Catholic Faith and its teaching with regard to same- sex attraction and the inherent disorder of sexual relations between two persons of the same sex. Therefore, they are not able to defend the Catholic Faith in this matter. What has also contributed greatly to the situation is an exaltation of the virtue of tolerance which is falsely seen as the virtue which governs all other virtues.
In other words, we should tolerate other people in their immoral actions to the extent that we seem also to accept the moral wrong. Tolerance is a virtue, but it is certainly not the principal virtue; the principal virtue is charity. Charity means speaking the truth, especially the truth about human life and human sexuality. While we love the individual, we desire only the best for one who suffers from an inclination to engage in sexual relations with a person of the same sex. We must abhor the actions themselves because they are contrary to nature itself as God has created us. The virtue of charity leads us to be kind and understanding to the individual, but also to be firm and steadfast in opposing the evil itself. This confusion is widespread. I have encountered it many times myself as a priest and bishop. It is something we simply need to address. There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not “ politically correct.” But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselvesin a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.
Canon 915
Q. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, when recently questioned at a press briefing about the moral difference between what Dr. Gosnell did in murdering a baby born alive at 23 weeks as compared to the practice of aborting a baby moments before birth, refused to answer. Instead she is reported to have responded: “ As a practicing and respectful Catholic this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.” How are we to react to such a seemingly scandalous statement? Is this a case where Canon 915 might properly be applied? [Editor’s Note:Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those who are “ obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”]
A. Certainly this is a case when Canon 915 must be applied. This is a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin — cooperating with the crime of procured abortion — and still professes to be a devout Catholic. This is a prime example of what Blessed John Paul II referred to as the situation of Catholics who have divorced their faith from their public life and therefore are not serving their brothers and sisters in the way that they must — in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family.
What Congresswoman Pelosi is speaking of is not particular confessional beliefs or practices of the Catholic Church. It belongs to the natural moral law which is written on every human heart and which the Catholic Church obviously also teaches: that natural moral law which is so wonderfully illumined for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ by His saving teaching, but most of all by His Passion and death. To say that these are simply questions of Catholic Faith which have no part in politics is just false and wrong. I fear for Congresswoman Pelosi if she does not come to understand how gravely in error she is. I invite her to reflect upon the example of St. Thomas More who acted rightly in a similar situation even at the cost of his life.
Q. Many faithful Catholics are troubled when high- profile political figures with unconcealed antilife, anti- family positions are honored in such ways as receiving invitations to speak at Catholic university commencement ceremonies and given honorary degrees or memorialized at public Catholic funeral Masses without having renounced their immoral positions. Faithful Catholics, at the same time, are taught they have committed a serious sin if they vote for these same candidates. How are those who are seriously trying to live out their faith to reconcile this apparent contradiction?
A. You cannot reconcile it — it is a contradiction, it is wrong, it is a scandal, and it must stop! We live in a culture with a false sense of dialogue — which has also crept into the Church — where we pretend to dialogue about open and egregious violations of the moral law. Can we believe it is permissible to recognize publicly people who support open and egregious violations, and then act surprised if someone is scandalized by it? For Catholic institutions or individuals to give recognition to such persons, to honor them in any way, is a source of grave scandal for which they are responsible. In a certain way, they contribute to the sinfulness of the individuals involved. There is no way to reconcile it; it simply is wrong.