Saturday, April 16, 2005

Protocol and Procedures Involved in the Forthcoming Conclave

Holy See Press Office Director, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls - April 16, 2005
On Monday April 18, 115 cardinals from 52 countries representing five continents will begin the first conclave of the third millennium to elect the 264th successor of St. Peter: In other words the 265th Pope in the history of the Catholic Church.

The cardinals will move into the Domus Sanctae Marthae tomorrow afternoon, Sunday April 17. They will all meet together for dinner.

As previously announced, the Mass 'for the election of the Supreme Pontiff' will be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. on Monday morning.

At 4.30 p.m. on Monday, the procession of cardinal electors will leave the Hall of Blessings for the Sistine Chapel. This ritual will be transmitted live on television.

Once in the Sistine Chapel, all the cardinal electors will swear the oath. The cardinal dean will read the formula of the oath, after which each cardinal, stating his name and placing his hand on the Gospel, will pronounce the words: 'I promise, pledge and swear.' Over these days, there has been frequent talk of the bond of secrecy concerning the election of the Pope. However, I would like to reiterate that this is just part of the oath. First of all, an oath is made to observe the prescriptions of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis; then another oath is made that - and I quote - 'whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the munus Petrinum of Pastor of the Universal Church.’

After the oath, the master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff pronounces the 'extra omnes,' and all those who do not participate in the conclave leave the Sistine Chapel. Only the master of Liturgical Celebrations and Cardinal Tomas Spidlik remain for the meditation, once that has finished they too leave the Sistine Chapel.

During the conclave, the cardinals will have the following timetable:

At 7.30 a.m., the celebration or concelebration of Mass will take place in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. By 9 a.m., they will be in the Sistine Chapel. There they will recite the Lauds of the Liturgy of the Hours and, immediately afterwards, voting will take place according to the prescribed ritual (two votes in the morning, and two votes in the afternoon). In the afternoon, voting will begin at 4 p.m. At the end of the second vote will be Vespers.

After the two votes of the morning and the two of the afternoon respectively, the ballots and any notes the cardinals have made will be burnt in a stove located inside the Sistine Chapel.

Purely as an indication then, the smoke signals could appear at around 12 noon and at about 7 p.m. (unless the new Pope is elected either in the first vote of the morning or the first vote of the afternoon, in which case the smoke signal will be earlier). In any case it is expected that, along with the white smoke, the bells of St Peter will sound to mark a successful election.

You know well the indications of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis as far as the voting goes. The valid quorum for electing the Pope is initially two thirds. After three days of voting without an election, there will be a day at the most dedicated to reflection and prayer, without voting. Thereafter, voting will resume for seven additional ballots, another pause for reflection, another seven ballots, another pause and yet another seven ballots. After which an absolute majority will decide how to proceed, that is, for either a vote by the absolute majority or with balloting between two candidates. This will happen only in the event that the cardinals arrive at the 33rd or 34th ballot without a positive result.

As far as the first vote on Monday, the cardinals will decide whether or not to vote after they have entered into conclave on Monday afternoon, April 18.

The location for the conclave is the Domus Sanctae Marthae and the Sistine Chapel.

The route, along the street behind the Vatican Basilica, can be followed by the cardinals on foot or, if some prefer, by bus. Naturally this path will be clear of people. Access to the San Damaso courtyard will be sealed.

These days, tourists will not have access to either the dome of St. Peter's or the Vatican Gardens.

It will, however, be possible for pilgrims to visit the tomb of John Paul II during the hours the Vatican Grottoes are open.

The General Congregations of the cardinals conclude today.

At the end of these encounters I wish to add two brief notes.

The climate of these congregations has been one of great familiarity. This has been perhaps an _expression of the great responsibility that all the cardinals feel at this time. That allowed them to find great consensus on the general themes faced in the discussions.

I can also confirm that in no congregation were names ever brought up.

Source...The Vatican Press Office (PDF File)

The following was included in a email from Inside the Vatican

Holy See Press Office Director, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls - April 16, 2005

Today, Saturday, April 16 the twelfth General Congregation took place in the presence of 143 cardinals.

After the prayer 'Adsumus,' Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who had just arrived, took the oath.

The Cardinal Camerlengo Eduardo Martinez Somalo presented, in everyone's name, best wishes to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals, on the occasion of his birthday.

Indications were given concerning entrance into the Domus Sanctae Marthae on Sunday the 17th in the afternoon, for the Mass 'for the election of the Supreme Pontiff ' on Monday April 18 at 10 a.m. and for entrance into conclave, the same day, at 4:30 p.m.

The cardinal dean read messages from several cardinals who were not able to come to Rome. They thanked everyone for the words of closeness and affection sent to them by the cardinal dean in the name of everyone in the College of Cardinals.

The cardinal camerlengo proceeded to the destruction of the Fisherman's Ring and the lead seal as foreseen by the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis' in art 13g.

After having commented on several points of this same Apostolic Constitution, there was an exchange of ideas on the problems of the Church and the world.

The Regina Coeli prayer closed the last General Congregation.

Seller Pulls Communion Host from eBay Sale

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Holy Communion wafer allegedly bless by Pope John Paul II was not sold on eBay after all.

The seller withdrew the wafer, the Holy Eucharist, and the sale was never finalized, said Monsignor Roger J. Augustine, administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City.

The wafer, reportedly blessed by the late pope during a Mass in Rome on Oct. 18, 1998, was offered last weekend by a seller in the northwest Iowa town Sloan. It sold on Monday for $2,000 to a buyer in California.

Augustine, who met with the seller on Friday, was told that the sale would not happen.
More here...

Gospel for Saturday, 3rd Week of Easter

From: John 6:60-69

The Disciples' Reaction

[60] Many of His (Jesus') disciples, when they heard of it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" [61] But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? [62] Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending where He was before? [63] It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. [64] But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray Him. [65] And He said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father."

[66] After this many of the disciples drew back and no longer went with Him. [67] Jesus said to the Twelve, "Will you also go away?" [68] Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; [69] and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God."

60-62. Many of His listeners find the Eucharistic mystery completely incomprehensible. Jesus Christ requires His disciples to accept His words because it is He who has spoken them. That is what the supernatural act of faith involves--that act "whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because of the intrinsic truth of the things, viewed by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself who reveals them, and who can neither be deceived nor deceive" (Vatican I, "Dei Filius", Chapter 3).

As on other occasions, Jesus speaks about future events to help His disciples believe: "I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe" (John 14:29).

63. Jesus says that we cannot accept this mystery if we think of it in too human a way, in other words, by just seeking to indulge our senses or having too earthbound a view of things. Only someone who listens to His words and receives them as God's revelation, which is "spirit and life", is in a position to accept them.

66. The promise of the Eucharist, which caused arguments (verse 52) among Christ's hearers at Capernaum and scandalized some of them (verse 61), led many people to give up following Him. Jesus had outlined a wonderful and salvific truth, but those disciples closed themselves to divine grace; they were not ready to accept anything which went beyond their very limited horizons. The mystery of the Eucharist does call for a special act of faith. St. John Chrysostom therefore advised Christians: "Let us in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what it said be contrary to our thoughts and senses. [...] Let us act likewise in respect to the [Eucharistic] mysteries, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His words. For His words cannot deceive" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 82).

67-71. This passage is similar to that at Capernaum where Peter again, in the name of the Twelve, takes the initiative in expressing his faith in Jesus as Messiah (cf. Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30). Other people present may have been unbelieving, but the Apostles are not scandalized by our Lord's words: they say that they have already a deep-rooted confidence in Him; they do not want to leave Him. What St. Peter says (verse 68) is not just a statement of human solidarity but an _expression of genuine supernatural faith--as yet imperfect--which is the result of the influence of divine grace on his soul (cf. Matthew 16:17).

Although the Twelve stay with Him at this point, Judas will later betray the Master. Jesus' foreknowledge of this future infidelity throws a shadow over His joy at the loyalty of the Twelve. We Christians should be humble enough to realize that we are capable of betraying our Lord if we give up using the means He has left us to cleave to Him. St. Peter's words (verse 68) are a beautiful aspiration we can use whenever we feel tempted.

68. Simon Peter expresses the feelings of the Apostles who, through staying loyal to Jesus, are getting to know Him much better and becoming more closely involved with Him: "Seek Jesus; endeavoring to acquire a deep personal faith that will inform and direct your whole life. But, above all, let it be your commitment and your program to love Jesus, with a sincere, authentic and personal love. He must be your friend and your support along the path of life. He alone has words of eternal life" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Address to Students in Guadalajara", 30 January 1979).

69. "The Holy One of God": this is what the original text must have said, according to most of the Greek codexes and the most important early translations. "The Holy One" is one of the expressions which designate the Messiah (cf. Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35; 4:34; Acts 2:27; Psalm 16:10), or God Himself (cf. Isaiah 6:3; 43:15; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 John 2:20; etc.). The rendering "the Christ, the Son of God" found in some translations, including the Vulgate, is supported by less important Greek manuscripts, and would seem to be an explanation of the messianic significance of the original phrase.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Updates from Inside the Vatican 4/15

VATICAN CITY, Saturday, April 16, 2005 -- As I walked down toward the Vatican today shortly before 1 p.m., just after the end of this morning's meeting of the cardinals who are preparing to enter the papal conclave on Monday afternoon, I saw two black cars pull up in front of the Mater Dei house near our office on the via delle Mura Aurelie.

Out of one car stepped the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola....Out of the other car stepped the former cardinal archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, the German cardinal Karl Lehmann and a fourth cardinal with white hair, a round head and a powerful build whom I could not quite place, but who may have been, I think, from Latin America. I went through a book of cardinals' photos at lunch a half hour later, and tried to place the cardinal, but could not. Still, the other three identifications are certain.

Scola, Lustiger, Lehmann and the fourth cardinal went into the Mater Dei house, presumably for lunch.

Scola is normally thought to be close to Raztinger, and Lehmann is thought to be in some disagreement with Ratzinger on a number of issues. Lustiger is the most eminent cardinal from France, and was long considered a "papabile," but now is not normally considered "in the running" because of a throat condition that has caused him to almost lose his voice. People in Rome are saying this lack of a strong speaking voice makes it impossible for the cardinals to consider him seriously.
More - See "Friday Lunch (April 15/05)"

Liturgical Norms and Liturgical Piety

This is an HTML version of the Address which Cardinal Arinze was to give us last week. The PDF version is available on the Archdiocesan web site here. Msgr. James Moroney, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for the Liturgy, was kind enough to give me a copy after the address. Please let me know if there are any typographical errors in the text...Thanks.


Cardinal Arinze's Address was read by Msgr Moroney.

(Address at Gateway Liturgical Conference
Saint Louis, Missouri, April 8, 2005)

1. The Holy Eucharist occupies a central place in the public worship of the Church and in her life. Its celebration therefore should receive from all of us the greatest attention. I am for that reason happy to learn that this Gateway Liturgical Conference is devoted especially to attention to the worthy celebration of the Holy Eucharist, in accord with the Holy Father's Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and the Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Redemptionis Sacramentum. This is also very much in line with the spirit of the present Year of the Eucharist.

In developing the theme assigned to me, "Liturgical Norms and Liturgical Piety", I intend to begin by examining why there should be liturgical norms at all, how what the Church believes and how she prays are related, and who has the authority to issue norms for the liturgy. It will then be time to spell out what we understand by liturgical piety. Creativity is an issue which often comes up with reference to the liturgy. It should be examined. The desire to make liturgical celebrations interesting also deserves to be looked into. Some people want to introduce dances into the liturgy. The discussion of this tendency cannot be avoided. We shall conclude by asking ourselves whether observance of liturgical norms is a call to formalism or rubricism or rather a promoter of faith and piety.

2. Reasons for Liturgical Norms

The sacred liturgy is an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It is the public worship performed by the Mystical Body of Christ, by the Head and his members (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7).

Liturgical celebrations have some elements which are of divine institution. Such are the essentials of the seven sacraments. There are elements which are of ecclesiastical institution. In deciding on these elements the Church takes great care to be faithful to Holy Scripture. to honor the tradition handed down through the centuries, to manifest her faith and rejoice in it, and to lead all the faithful to worship of God, following of the example of Christ, and showing love and service's neighbour. Between these two we can speak of a third: namely, those elements of the liturgy which are found from early days in all or almost all of the great liturgical traditions and which must therefore go back at the very least to a period close to the Apostles, and perhaps even to Our Lord. While we may not have certain knowledge on the matter in a given case, it is a strong reason for avoiding hasty innovation or neglect (cf Varietatis legitimae, 26-27; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 397; Liturgiam authenticam, 4-5; Redemptionis Sacramentum, 9).

Liturgical celebration should be experiences of the traditional faith that is confessed, celebrated and communicated, of hope that is expressed and confirmed and of charity that is sung and lived.

Since liturgical celebrations are public acts performed in the name of the universal Church, with Jesus Christ himself as the Chief Priest, it follows that as the centuries rolled by, the Church has necessarily developed norms according to which, her public worship is to be expressed. Liturgical norms protect this treasure which is Christian worship. They manifest the faith of the Church, promote it, celebrate it and communicate it. They also manifest the nature of the Church as a hierarchically constituted family, a community of worship, love and service, and a body which promotes union with God and holiness of life and gives sinners hope of conversion, forgiveness and new life in Christ.

Moreover, liturgical norms help to protect the celebration of the sacred mysteries, especially the Holy Eucharist, from being damaged by additions or subtractions which do damage to the faith and which may at times risk making a sacramental celebration invalid. The people of God are thus guaranteed celebrations in line with the traditional Catholic faith and they are not left at the mercy of someone's personal ideas, feelings, theories or idiosyncrasies.

Pope John Paul II is very insistent on the important role of norms regarding the celebration of the Eucharist. "These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries ate celebrated (Ecclesia de Euch., 52). Love for the Church leads a person to observe these norms: “Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church" (ibid.). Our respect for the mysteries of Christ leads us to respect these norms: "No one is permitted to undervalue the mystery entrusted to our hands: it is too great for anyone to feel free to treat it lightly and with disregard for its sacredness and its universality" (ibid,).

3. Lex orandi, lex credendi

The sacraments sanctify people, build up the Body of Christ and give worship to God. Because they are signs, they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen and express it. That is why they are called "sacraments of faith" (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 59).

The faith of the Church has expressed itself in how the Church prays and especially in how she celebrates the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments. There are words and concepts which have acquired a deep meaning in the Church's life, faith and prayer along the centuries. Examples are person, trinity, divine majesty, incarnation, passion, resurrection, salvation, merit, grace, intercession, redemption, sin, repentance, forgiveness, propitiation, mercy, penance, reconciliation, communion and service. There are gestures and postures which help to express what the Church believes. Examples are the Sign of the Cross, bowing, kneeling, standing, listening and going in procession.

"The Church's faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the Apostles" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1124). This is a strong argument in favour of great care in the wording, gestures and norms of liturgical celebrations.

The relation between the faith of the Church and her liturgical celebration has been encapsulated in the ancient saying, lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of prayer is the law of faith), or legem credendi lex .statuat supplicandi (let the law of prayer determine the norm of faith). This statement of Catholic faith is credited to Prosper of Aquitaine of the 5th century (Ep. 8). It is quoted in the Indiculus or the Pseudo-Celestine Chapters. Pope Celestine reigned from 422 to 432 (cf Ds 246).

The Church believes as she prays. The liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living tradition of the Church (cf Dei Verbum, 8). That is why the Church does not allow the minister or the community to modify or manipulate any sacramental or even general liturgical rite. "Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy" (CCC, 1125).

Redemptionis Sacramentum is strong on this point: "The Church herself has no power over those things which were. established by Christ himself and which constitute an unchangeable part of the liturgy. Indeed, if the bond were to be broken which the Sacraments have with Christ himself who instituted them, and with the events of the Church's founding, it would not be beneficial to the faithful but rather would do them grave harm. For the Sacred Liturgy is quite intimately connected with principles of doctrine, so that the use of unapproved texts and rites necessarily leads either to the attenuation or to the disappearance of that necessary link between the lex orandi and the lex credendi. " (Red. Sacram., 10).

4. Authority over the Liturgy

The above reflections lead us to ask who has authority over the sacred liturgy. Who decides on the texts, the ceremonies, the norms? We cannot afford to be vague on this.

The Second Vatican Council is not ambiguous: "Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the Bishop. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of Bishops legitimately established". Then the Council adds the warning:" Therefore, absolutely no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority". (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22).

These rulings are not a sign of lack of respect for anyone. They follow from the fact that the liturgy is a celebration of the universal Church. The prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people as well as of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 33).

From these considerations it follows that a do-it-yourself attitude is not acceptable in the public worship of the Church. It does damage to the Church's worship and to the faith of the people. The people of God have the right that the liturgy be celebrated as the Church wants it (cf. Red. Sacram., 12). The mysteries of Christ should not be celebrated as personal taste or whim may indicate. “The 'treasure' is to important and precious to risk impoverishment or compromise through forms of experimentation or practices introduced without a careful review on the part of the competent ecclesiastical authorities" (Eccl. de Euch., 51),

5. Liturgical Piety

When we say piety, we think in general of the honour and reverence given to someone who is in some way responsible for our existence and well-being. Therefore the virtue of piety refers first of all to God who is our creator and constant provider. But we can also talk of piety towards our parents, near relatives, country, tribe or people.

As a Christian virtue, piety is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It moves us to worship God who is the Father of all and also to do good to others out of reverence for God. Piety leads us to love the sacred liturgy, to look forward to its celebration and to participate in it with love, faith and devotion. With the Psalmist we sing: "How lovely are your dwelling places, Lord Sabaoth. My whole being yearns and pines for the Lord's courts. My heart and. my body cry out for joy to the living God" (Ps 84:1-2). Liturgical celebrations become attractive to the pious person. The church bell which rings for Mass is a welcome sound: "I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord'. At last our feet are standing at your gates, Jerusalem!" (Ps 122: 1-2). The pious soul has sheer joy in being in the church and more still in joining in divine worship: "Better one day in your courts than a thousand at my own devices, to stand on the threshold of God's house than to live in the tents of the wicked" (Ps 84:10).

Liturgical piety, as a beautiful manifestation of the virtue of religion, is at once a compound of love of God, faith in him, adoration, respect, reverence, sheer joy in his service, and a desire to serve him as best we can. A spirit of faith and reverence which shows itself also in the faithful observance of liturgical norms is most favourable to the promotion of liturgical piety.

6. Creativity in Liturgical Celebrations

One may now ask whether there is any room for creativity in the liturgy. The answer is that there is, but it has to be properly understood.

First of all, it is necessary to bear in mind that the public worship of the Church is something that we receive in faith through the Church. It is not something that we invent. Indeed the essentials of the sacraments are established by Christ himself. And the detailed rites, including words and actions, have been carefully worked out, guarded and handed down by the Church along the centuries. It would, therefore, not be the proper attitude for an individual or a committee to keep thinking and planning each week how to invent a new way of celebrating Mass.

Moreover, the priority at Mass and other liturgical acts is worship of God. The liturgy is not a field for self expression, free creation and the demonstration of personal tastes. Idiosyncrasies tend to attract attention to the person rather than to the mysteries of Christ being celebrated. They can also upset, puzzle, annoy, mislead or confuse the congregation.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the liturgical norms do allow some flexibility. With reference to the central and most important liturgical action, the Mass, for example, we can speak of three levels of flexibility. First, there are in the missal and the lectionary some alternative texts, rites, chants, readings and blessings from which the priest celebrant can choose (cf GIRM, 24; Redemptionis Sacramentum, 39). Then there are choices left at the competence of the Diocesan Bishop or the Conference of Bishops. Examples are regulation of concelebration, norms regarding the distribution of Communion under both kinds, the construction and ordering of churches, translations and some gestures (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 38, 40; GIRM 387, 390). Some such alternatives require recognitio from the Holy See. The most demanding level of variability concerns incu1turation in the strict sense. It involves action by the Conference of Bishops, after the conducting of deep interdisciplinary studies and recognitio from the Holy See.

Redemptionis Sacramentum is therefore able to say that "ample flexibility is given for appropriate creativity aimed at allowing each celebration to be adapted to the needs of the participants, to their comprehension, their interior preparation and their gifts, according to established liturgical norms" (Red. Sacram., 39). The last phrase is important: "according to established liturgical norms" The paragraph of Redemptionis Sacramentum concludes with a recall of the crucial observation that "it should be remembered that the power of the liturgical celebrations does not consist in frequently altering the rites, but in probing more deeply the word of God and the mystery being celebrated". What the people are asking for every Sunday from their pastor is not a novelty but a celebration of the sacred mysteries that nourishes faith, manifests devotion, awakens piety, leads to prayer and incites to active charity in daily life.

7. Making the Mass Interesting

Many priests are concerned with making the Eucharist celebration interesting. And they are not wrong. The Mass is not a dull carrying out of rituals. It is a vital celebration of the central mysteries of our salvation.

Care should be taken to prepare well for each celebration. The texts to be read, sung or proclaimed should be well studied in good time. The vestments and all altar fittings and furnishings should be in good taste. The people who carry out the roles of priest celebrant, altar servers, leader of song, readers of lessons, etc., should be at their best. The homily should give the people solid liturgical, theological and spiritual nourishment. If all that is done, the Mass will not be dull.

But when all is said and done, we have to come back to the fact that the Mass is not there to entertain people. Such horizontalism would be out of place. People do not come to Mass in order to admire the preacher, or the choir or the. readers. The priority movement or direction of the Mass is vertical, towards God, not horizontal, towards one another. What the people need is a faith-filled celebration, a spiritual experience which draws them to God and therefore also to their neighbour. As a by-product, such a celebration will capture the people's interest and attention.

It is also useful to remark that repetition of faith formulae and symbols, or of familiar words and gestures, need not make. a liturgical celebration uninteresting.. It matters, however, to what extent these formulae are understood, hence the importance of catechesis. In our daily lives, is it uninteresting for us to repeat our names or those of our loved ones? Do we not love our national anthem and sing it with piety? How much more what [this] has to do with our Christian identity!

If it helps to repeat, may I recall that liturgical celebrations allow for flexibility, provided that this is done according to approved norms. Redemptionis Sacramentum itself exhorts the Bishop not to stifle alternative choices provided for by the liturgical. norms:”The Bishop must take care not to allow the removal of that liberty foreseen by the norms of the liturgical books so that the celebration may be adapted in an intelligent manner to the church building, or to the group of the faithful who are present or to the particular pastoral circumstances" (Red. Sacram., 21). It is for this reason that the Bishop does well not to be tempted to introduce unnecessary restrictions in his diocese such as ordering that only one particular Eucharistic Prayer be used at Mass. The Bishop's authority is never firmer than when. he uses it to ensure that the general norms which safeguard the tradition are observed.

A general advice about whether the liturgical celebration is interesting or not is, to simply celebrate it with faith and devotion and according to the approved norms, and leave the rest to God's grace and people's cooperation with it.

8. Dance in the Liturgy

Some people want to introduce dance into the sacred liturgy. The Latin Rite liturgy has not had any such practice. We have therefore to ask those who want to bring in the dance to state their case.

If they say that the reason is to make the Mass interesting, the answer is what we have just considered. We come to Mass to worship God, not to see a spectacle. We have the parish hall and the theatre for shows.

Others say they welcome some dance in order to express fully our prayer, since we are body and soul. The answer is that the liturgy indeed appreciates bodily postures and gestures and has carefully incorporated many of them, such as standing, kneeling, genuflecting, singing, and giving a sign of peace. But the Latin Rite has not included the dance.

It is not easy for dancers not to draw attention to themselves. Granted that some very refined dances in some cultures can help to elevate the mind, is it not true that for many people dances are a distraction rather than a help to prayer?

Dances easily appeal to the sense and tend to call for approval, enjoyment, a desire for a repetition, and. a rewarding of the performers with the applause of the audience. Is this what we come to Mass to experience? Have we no theatres and parish halls, presuming that the dance in question is acceptable, which cannot be said of them all?

It is true that in many parts of Africa and Asia there may be a cultural habit of graceful body movement which, with due study and approval of the local Church, may go down well within a liturgical celebration. The Ethiopian Rite has known graceful rhythmical movements and the procession for the Gospel. The Roman Rite Mass approved for the Democratic Republic of the Congo has similar entry movements.

But this is very different from what the ordinary person in Europe or North America thinks of when the concept dance is evoked. Can we blame people who associate dance with Saturday evening, ball room, theatre or simply, innocent enjoyment? The liturgical books approved by the Bishops and the Holy See for Europe and North America understandably do not authorize the importation of dance into church, let alone the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (See the article in the official bulletin of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: Notitiae 106-107, June-July 1975, pp. 202-205).

9. Formalism and Ritualism not the Goal

From all that has been said above, it follows that an exhortation to be faithful to liturgical norms is not an invitation to formalism, ritualism or rubricism. People are not being invited to a dry and soulless carrying out of external actions. Jesus our Saviour already, quoting the prophet Isaiah, condemned those who do not internalize in their spirit the external rites they carry out:

"This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
Their reverence of me is worthless;
the lesson they teach are nothing but human commandments" (Mt 15: 8-9; Is 29:13).

Liturgical celebrations are not primarily the observance of norms but rather the celebration of the mysteries of Christ by the Church and in the Church, with faith and love and with respect for tradition. The observance of norms is a consequence and fruit of faith and respect. It is not the final object of worship. It is a quality of it.

Moreover, liturgical norms are not arbitrary laws or regulations put together to please some historian, or aesthetist, or archaeologist. They are manifestations of what we believe and what we have received from tradition, from the "norm of the holy Fathers” (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 50; GIRM, 6), from what generations of our predecessors in the faith have said, done, observed and celebrated. To know that we are doing saying, hearing and seeing what millions of Christians have done throughout the world for hundreds of years and are doing today, should help us to enter better into a committed and prayerful participation. Moreover, by confirming our entire person to all that the liturgy represents, we undergo a transformation and become ever closer to God.

Interior prayer and sacrifice have priority. Hence the importance in liturgical celebrations of quiet preparation, silence, reflection, listening and personal prayer. "A merely external observation of norms would obviously be contrary to the nature of the sacred liturgy, in which Christ himself wishes to gather his Church, so that together with himself she will be 'one body and one spirit'" (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 5).

At the same time it needs to be repeated that the spirit of rejection of rules and regulations which would then be regarded as a violation of one's autonomy, needs to be corrected. It is wrong and unreasonable to maintain a spirit of "Nobody is going to tell me what to do”. This would be a false understanding of liberty. "God has not granted us in Christ an illusory liberty by which we may do what we wish, but a liberty by which we may do that which is fitting and right" (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 7).

It is a blessing and a privilege for us to belong to the Church which in her sacred liturgy celebrates the mysteries of Christ and has Christ himself as the Chief Priest in every liturgical act. Let us pray to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Saviour, to obtain for us a growing understanding of the reasons for liturgical norms, willingness to observe them and the grace of daily growth in liturgical piety, love of God and commitment to love and service of our neighbour.

Pope wrote of 'dark shadows' over mankind

VATICAN CITY - Shortly before his last trip to the hospital, Pope John Paul II warned of “dark shadows” enveloping humanity.

A message, posthumously released on Friday, was one of the last pieces of writing by the pope before he died nearly two weeks ago.

“In our day human society appears to be shrouded in dark shadows while it is shaken by tragic events and shattered by catastrophic natural disasters,” the pope wrote in a message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Missions.
The article is here. Still looking for the complete message.

Cardinal’s remarks set tone for liturgy gathering

*** Updated ***
An HTML text version of Cardinal Arinze's Keynote Address is here.
The Mass is a vital celebration of the central mysteries of our salvation and should never be arbitrarily altered. So wrote Cardinal Francis Arinze in his keynote address for the 2005 Gateway Liturgical Conference Downtown April 8.

The cardinal frequently quoted from the pope’s encyclical letter, "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," and the Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, "Redemptionis Sacramentum." Among other sources, he also cited the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" several times to support his statements on liturgical norms and liturgical piety.

Also at the keynote address, welcoming and thanking presenters and participants alike, was Archbishop Raymond L. Burke. The archbishop said he hoped those who heard the cardinal’s address would have “a deepening appreciation for the Sacred Liturgy, and a deeper understanding of how to grow in liturgical piety; that is, how to have a deeper love for Christ as He comes to us in the Sacred Liturgy and how to express that love of Christ coming to us in the Sacred Liturgy through a fidelity for liturgical discipline.”

He noted that “in ‘Ecclesia de Eucharistia,’ ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum,’ ‘Mane Nobiscum Domine’ (the pope’s apostolic letter on the occasion of the Year of the Eucharist) and the ‘General Instruction of the Roman Missal’ we will find the direction that we need in order to make our celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments as faithful and as beautiful as possible.”

A PDF version of the full text of Cardinal Francis Arinze’s remarks may be found at
Full article here.

Archbishop Burke Requests Special Masses for Monday

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke is asking all parishes in the archdiocese to celebrate Masses on Monday, April 18, for the election of a new pope.

"In order to involve the entire Catholic Church, to the fullest extent possible in praying for the election of a new pope, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has issued a note which exhorts intercessory prayer for the new pope’s election," Archbishop Burke wrote in a memo to parishes.

Pro-Life Forces Claim Victory at UN Population Conference

Pro-lifers can claim victory once more at a UN conference. Thanks to --- among others --- the United States, the Holy See, Costa Rica and Egypt, the UN was stopped from advancing abortion on demand in the just concluded Commission on the Population and Development. Thanks also to that indefatigable pro-life negotiator Jeanne Head of National Right to Life.

Spread the word.
Yours sincerely,

Austin Ruse

Action item: Please write an email of thanks to each of these governments at and tell them "Thanks for standing up for life at the CPD."

We will deliver your message personally to the UN Ambassador of the US, the Holy See, Costa Rica and Egypt, and also to Jeanne Head of National Right to Life.
The full Friday Fax article may be viewed at

Push for Ratzinger is real....

...So writes John Allen of the National unCatholic Distorter.

...One Vatican official who has worked with Ratzinger over the years said on April 13, “I am absolutely sure that Ratzinger will be the next pope.”

On the other hand, several cardinals have said privately that they’re uncomfortable with the prospect of a Ratzinger papacy.
Some are probably uncomfortable with taking up the cross as well.
It’s not just that some don’t believe his strong emphasis on the protection of Christian identity in a secular world ought to be the guiding light of the next papacy, but there’s also a real-world concern about the election of a figure with his “baggage.”
Baggage? I suppose this word "baggage" means an unwavering adherence to the teachings of the Church and, of course, the documents which were issued from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Fairly or unfairly, Ratzinger is to some extent a lightning rod for Catholic opinion, and in a church that’s already divided, some cardinals worry about exacerbating those divisions.
This problem grows worse each passing day that it is not addressed - more and more souls succumb to the shadows brought about by the divisions created by open dissent and disobedience. The exacerbation is brought to fruition by failing to address the situation. Cardinal Ratzinger is clear that there is a "cultural conflict between the Church and 'the radical emancipation of man from God and from the roots of life,' which characterizes contemporary Western culture and which 'leads in the end to the destruction of freedom.'...this....must be given absolute priority in the next pontificate."

Church leaders do the Church no good in failing to address the divisions. Will the problem simply go away if it is ignored long enough?
One [cardinal] said April 12: “I’m not sure how I would explain this [Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope] back home.”
It's simple, your Emminence. One says, "This is our new Holy Father. Follow him, obey him and pray for him." There...was that so hard?

Workers Attach Chimney Pipe for Conclave

A worker installs a new chimney on top of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, April 15, 2005. During the conclave voting, if the necessary majority has not been reached, the ballots and tally sheets are placed in a stove and burned with an additive to produce black smoke. An additive to produce white smoke is used if a new pope has been elected. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama

Priests would be subject to searches

Priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee can be required to consent to unannounced searches of their homes at any time of the day or night if church officials suspect or know they have been involved in sexual conduct, alcohol or drug abuse, or other behavior deemed inappropriate by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, according to a policy change announced to clergy last week.
Several priests in the archdiocese described themselves in interviews this week as upset and livid and said they were struggling to make sense of the documents.
Deacon David L. Zimprich, who is a former Milwaukee police officer, will be in charge of the "day-to-day management and operations of the initiative," the policy memo says.
"The restrictions are not to be seen as punitive in nature," the document states. "Rather they are designed to support the individual in his desire to live according to the example of Jesus Christ, the gospels, the teaching of the Church and the demands of his vocation."

Media Gets Access to Schiavo Records

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - A judge has ordered state officials to release summaries of their investigations into the treatment of Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman who died last month after her feeding tube was removed.

If the Truth of Christ and Him, Crucified, Doesn't Work...

...Try Song and Dance (called by some, Inculturation)

Brazil's Priests Use Song and Dance To Stem Catholic Church's Decline
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Pack 15,000 bodies shoulder to shoulder in a vast old warehouse, get them singing as loud as their lungs will allow and feel the temperature rise.

"How many people are sweating?"

As the Rev. Marcelo Rossi stands before a shimmering expanse of upraised hands, working up the crowd, a droplet of perspiration cuts a shining rivulet behind his left ear and trickles toward his clerical collar.

"Sweating is good," he announces. "It gets the bad things out. Now put your hands over your hearts and join me: Let's get rid of envy, of greed. . . ."
More here.

As a followup to the problems facing the Church in Brazil - indeed in all of Latin America - there is this article, also from the Washington Post, titled, "New Pope Should Reach Out to 'Inactive Catholics'".
Millions of Catholics in Latin America -- as in the developed world -- have turned against church dogma on sex, artificial birth control, and abortion. Even in the world's largest Catholic country, Brazil, where 80 percent consider themselves followers, 70 percent of married women use a method of artificial contraception, only two percentage points lower than women in the United States, according to the Population Reference Bureau. And that doesn't even take into account the millions of women who use birth control before marriage.
70% of Brazilian women consider themselves followers of the Church yet they practice birth control...Well, let's celebrate with song and dance!

How does the writer of the article suggest that the new Pope "reach out" to our 'inactive brothers and sisters'? With truth and charity?
... people ... have become comfortable living a life without religious guidance...In some respects we have even adopted an elitist attitude toward those who don't share our inactivity and have found spiritual fulfillment in more charismatic faiths such as Pentecostalism.

I am not sure if a liberalized dogma would draw back into the church people who are now Catholics by default or cultural Catholics. I am certain that if the church does not reconsider certain dogmas it will lose further relevance for those in the middle and upper classes who have become pretty good at justifying religious inactivity.
A "liberalized dogma"? I suppose that's similiar to a "half-truth."

At any rate, it always seems to come back to sex at some point in the conversation. People want, not freedom, but license to engage in behavior which is at odds with the dignity and beauty of human life and procreativity. Many have become enslaved by their so-called "freedom."

Gospel for Friday, 3rd Week of Easter

From: John 6:52-59

The Discourse on the Bread of Life (Continuation)

(Jesus said to the Jews,) [52] The Jews disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" [53] So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; [54] he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. [55] For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. [56] He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me. [58] This is the bread which came from Heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." This He said in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.

49-51. The manna during the Exodus was a figure of this bread--Christ Himself--which nourishes Christians on their pilgrimage through this world. Communion is the wonderful banquet at which Christ gives Himself to us: "the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh". These words promise the manifestation of the Eucharist at the Last Supper: "This is My body which is for you" (1 Corinthians 11:24). The words "for the life of the world" and "for you" refer to the redemptive value of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In some sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were a figure of the sacrifice of Christ, part of the animal offered up was later used for food, signifying participation in the sacred rite (cf. Exodus 11:3-4). So, by receiving Holy Communion, we are sharing in the sacrifice of Christ: which is why the Church sings in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Corpus Christi: "O sacred feast in which we partake of Christ: His sufferings are remembered, our minds are filled with His grace and we receive a pledge of the glory that is to be ours" ("Magnificat Antiphon", Evening Prayer II).

52. Christ's hearers understand perfectly well that He means exactly what He says; but they cannot believe that what He says could be true; if they had understood Him in a metaphorical, figurative or symbolic sense there would be no reason for them to be surprised and nothing to cause an argument. Later, Jesus reaffirms what He has said--confirming what they have understood Him to say (cf. verses 54-56).

53. Once again Jesus stresses very forcefully that it is necessary to receive Him in the Blessed Eucharist in order to share in divine life and develop the life of grace received in Baptism. No parent is content to bring children into the world: they have to be nourished and looked after to enable them to reach maturity. "We receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion to nourish our souls and to give us an increase of grace and the gift of eternal life" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 289).

54. Jesus clearly states that His body and blood are a pledge of eternal life and a guarantee of the resurrection of the body. St. Thomas Aquinas gives this explanation: "The Word gives life to our souls, but the Word made flesh nourishes our bodies. In this Sacrament is contained the Word not only in His divinity but also in His humanity; therefore, it is the cause not only of the glorification of
our souls but also of that of our bodies" ("Commentary on St. John, in loc.").

Our Lord uses a stronger word than just "eating" (the original verb could be translated as "chewing") which shows that Communion is a real meal. There is no room for saying that He was speaking only symbolically, which would mean that Communion was only a metaphor and not really eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ.

"All these invitations, promises and threats sprang from the great desire which (Jesus) had of giving us Himself in the holy Sacrament of the altar. But why should Jesus so ardently desire us to receive Him in Holy Communion? It is because love always sighs for, and tends to a union with, the object beloved. True friends wish to be united in such a manner as to become only one. The love of God for us being immense, He destined us to possess Him not only in Heaven, but also here below, by the most intimate union, under the appearance of bread in the Eucharist. It is true we do not see Him; but He beholds us, and is really present; yes, He is present in order that we may possess Him and He conceals Himself, that we may desire Him, and until we reach our true homeland Jesus Christ wishes in this way to be entirely ours, and to be perfectly united to us" (St. Alphonsus Liguori, "The Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ Reduced to Practice", Chapter 2).

55. In the same way as bodily food is necessary for life on earth, Holy Communion is necessary for maintaining the life of the soul, which is why the Church exhorts us to receive this Sacrament frequently: "Every day, as is desirable, and in the greatest possible numbers, the faithful must take an active part in the sacrifice of the Mass, avail themselves of the pure, holy refreshment of Holy Communion and make a suitable thanksgiving in return for this great gift of Christ the Lord. Here are the words they should keep in mind: `Jesus Christ and the Church desire all Christ's faithful to approach the sacred banquet every day. The basis of this desire is that they should be united to God by the sacrament and draw strength from it to restrain lust, to wash away the slight faults of daily occurrence and to take precautions against the more serious sins to which human frailty is liable' (Decree of the S.C. of the Council, 20 December 1905)" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Mysterium Fidei").

"The Savior has instituted the most august sacrament of the Eucharist, which truly contains His flesh and His blood, so that he who eats this bread may live forever; whosoever, therefore, makes use of it often with devotion so strengthens the health and the life of his soul, that it is almost impossible for him to be poisoned by any kind of evil affection. We cannot be nourished with this flesh of life, and live with the affections of death. [...]. Christians who are damned will be unable to make any reply when the just Judge shows them how much they are to blame for dying spiritually, since it was so easy for them to maintain themselves in life and in health by eating His Body which He had left them for this purpose. Unhappy souls, He will say, why did you die, seeing that you had at your command the fruit and the food of life?" (St. Francis de Sales, "Introduction to the Devout Life", II, 20, 1).

56. The most important effect of the Blessed Eucharist is intimate union with Jesus Christ. The very word "communion" suggests sharing in the life of our Lord and becoming one with Him; if our union with Jesus is promoted by all the sacraments through the grace which they give us, this happens more intensely in the Eucharist, for in it we receive not only grace but the very Author of grace: "Really sharing in the body of the Lord in the breaking of the eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. `Because the bread is one, we, though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread' (1 Corinthians 10:17)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 7). Precisely because the Eucharist is the sacrament which best signifies and effects our union with Christ, it is there that the whole Church manifests and effects its unity: Jesus Christ "instituted in His Church the wonderful sacrament of the Eucharist, by which the unity of the Church is both signified and brought about" (Vatican II, "Unitatis Redintegratio", 2).

57. In Christ, the Incarnate Word sent to mankind, "the whole fullness of deity, dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9) through the ineffable union of His human nature and His divine nature in the Person of the Word. By receiving in this sacrament the body and blood of Christ indissolubly united to His divinity, we share in the divine life of the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. We will never be able to appreciate enough the intimacy with God Himself--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--that we are offered in the eucharistic banquet.

"We can therefore do nothing more agreeable to Jesus Christ than to go to Communion with the dispositions suitable to so great an action, since we are then united to Jesus Christ, according to the desire of this all-loving God. I have said with `suitable' and not `worthy' disposition, for who could communicate if it was necessary to be worthy of so great a Savior? No one but a God would be worthy to receive a God. But by this word suitable, or convenient, I mean such a disposition as becomes a miserable creature, who is clothed with the unhappy flesh of Adam. Ordinarily speaking, it is sufficient that we communicate in a state of grace and with an anxious desire of advancing in the love of Jesus Christ" (St. Alphonsus Liguori, "The Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ Reduced to Practice", Chapter 2).

58. For the third time (cf. 6:31-32 and 6:49) Jesus compares the true bread of life, His own body, with the manna God used to feed the Israelites every day during their forty years in the wilderness--thereby, inviting us to nourish our soul frequently with the food of His body.

"`Going to Communion every day for so many years! Anybody else would be a saint by now, you told me, and I...I'm always the same!' Son, I replied, keep up your daily Communion, and think: what would I be if I had not gone'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 534).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

On Christian Perfection, Part 3

On Christian Perfection, Part 1
On Christian Perfection, Part 2

We have seen in what Christian perfection consists, and to whom we have to look as our model; but we must not close this instruction without asking ourselves whether or not we are all bound to aim at so high a standard.

Certainly we must aim at it, for our Saviour has commanded it, saying: "Be ye perfect." But, more than this, perfection consists in loving God above all things, and this love is also commanded us by the greatest and the chief commandment: "Thou shall" (note well these words) "love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind; this is the greatest and the first commandment." To aim at perfection is therefore commanded us; it is the primary commandment, enjoined on all.

Now spare me, I beg, the ordinary excuses of lukewarm, slothful, and worldly-minded Christians. Perfection is all very well for religious, for monks and nuns who have said good-bye to the world, for priests who are to a great extent relieved of its burdens, for women to whom piety is attractive, and for children who are not yet emancipated. But for us who live in the very midst of the cares and business of life, in the full stream of its perils and temptations, perfection is out of the question. Such reasoning, though very general, is absolutely false.

To strive after perfection is the duty of every one, be he priest or layman, monk or secular, married or single, young or old. There is but one God, one heaven, one Christ, one commandment; the end is the same for all men; the same perfection, namely, to love God above all things, is required of all, and without it there is no salvation; the only difference that exists consists in the fact of its being easier of attainment in the quiet of the cloister-not in its having no bearing on other lives; the commandment is binding on all.

O dear Lord and Saviour, master, teacher, model of all perfection, grant that Thy commandment may be ineffaceably impressed on my heart, that Thy life may be ever present to my mind, that Thy almighty hand may guide and support me so that I may follow in Thy footsteps in life and death, till I reach eternity. Amen.

Adapted from:
Popular Sermons on the Catechism, Bamberg & Thurston, 1914

A Open Letter to the Board 'Chairman' Of St Stanislaus Kostka Parish

I received the following letter this evening. It is an open response to the deplorable action of the board of St Stanislaus Parish in removing certain members from the Parish Registry, presumably it seems, because some parishioners want to be obedient to the Archbishop and the Church, and because they want the parish to remain Catholic and restructured to be in accord with the laws of the Church.

Some have wondered where the Board spokesman, Roger Krasnicki, has been of late...this letter seems to indicate a reason why he has not been heard from recently.



Mr. Bialczak:

The whole world was mourning the death of our Holy Father. It was the only subject nearly everyone was thinking and talking about. People of all religions of the world were paying tribute to the Holy Father, John Paul II, but you were preoccupied with your petty fight. It was so insensitive that you chose to inform us by letter (postmarked 4/04/05) regarding your decision to remove us from the "Parish registry" during this solemn time - disturbing our mourning and prayers for our beloved Pope.

Let me explain to you, Mr Bialczak, that the Parish, as a part of the Archdiocese, is where the Pastor and faithful parishioners are. The Pastor, not you, represents the leader of the Parish. You can remove us from your registry, please do so, but you have no right to remove us from a parish in which you never had such authority in the first place. You currently have no legal parish position recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, therefore all your actions are illegal.

Your behavior is ridiculous and desperate. You should be thankful to the Archbishop for giving you so many opportunities to make amends and, for not taking you to court because of your illegal takeover of the Parish.

Mr. Bialczak, I would like to remind you that, as members of the board of directors, you were appointed by the Archbishop, and the Archbishop had a right to remove you. The reorganization of the Parish, started by Archbishop Rigali, was not just about the property issue. It was requested by over 180 Polish-speaking parishioners in the year 2000 after your action to remove from our parish Father Jacek Nowak, a very popular and beloved Polish Priest. In 2003 the Archbishop asked you to step down, and you had an obligation, based on the by-laws, to obey this request. You were violating the Parish by-laws by disregarding your obligation to follow the authority of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. By refusing to accept the decision of the Congregation of the Clergy, you put yourself out of the structure of the Roman Catholic Church. In January 2005 you chose to ignore the petition of 140 parishioners who have urged you to respect and obey the Archdiocese's request and the Vatican's decision.

Do you realize how arrogant you were in 2000 when you told us that "this is America, not Poland", implying that we cannot practice our Polish traditions here. How hypocritical you are now, pretending that you want to preserve those traditions.

You caused great pain to our Parish in 2000. Now by creating the present crisis, you are destroying our 125 year old Parish. Our Founding Fathers established this Polish Roman Catholic Parish, which was supposed to be run, according to their by-laws, in conformity with the principles and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church and in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. By your disrespectful disobedience and defiance of the Archbishop, you betrayed the will and wishes of our Founding Fathers.

In your letter, you wrote that we have left the historical Mother Church of St Louis Polonia, but it is you who are abandoning our Polish religious traditions. You are the one who is hijacking our Parish, leaving the Roman Catholic Church, and looking for other options. You are proposing a breakaway from the Archdiocese, and you are considering switching the faith.

We are simply striving to preserve our Faith and our Polish Roman Catholic St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in our Archdiocese for the future generations.

Your most vocal, self-appointed spokesman, Mr. Richard Bach, is a member of a different parish. (Isn't it strange that he is not protesting against the Archbishop in his own Parish, but chose ours instead?) Recently we were informed that your official spokesman, Mr. Roger Krasnicki, is not representing the board of directors or the St. Stanislaus Parish anymore. Is it because his affiliation with the Polish National Church has been revealed? It has become more and more apparent from whom, besides the liberal media, you are receiving support.

Eugene Brzyski
Parishioner of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

The Mood in the Vatican

Inside the Vatican has released a report describing the general mood in Rome:
When a sailboat is becalmed on a quiet bay, the sails no longer flap, the rigging no longer whines, and a pleasing silence descends. One can rest and wait, knowing the wind will pick up again soon, straining the sails, making the ropes sing, slicing the boat's prow through the black water.

Today was like that in Rome. Yesterday was, too, and tomorrow seems likely to be as well.
La Repubblica, the leading Rome daily, yesterday morning set everyone chattering with a piece by Marco Politi saying this: that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the present "front-runner" with some 40 cardinals ready to vote for him, perhaps even 50, due to the support of Cardinal Camillo Ruini of Rome, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, and three cardinals from the Roman Curia, Cardinals Julian Herranz of Spain, and Alfonso Lopez-Trujillo and Dario Castrillon-Hoyos of Colombia.

Politi claimed that Ratzinger had made it known that he did not want to endure a long series of failed votes, which would suggest that a large number of cardinals did not really want to elect him, so he had indicated he would withdraw his candidacy if he did not reach a two-thirds majority on the first few ballots.

Politi said Ruini and Scola had joined the "Ratzinger group" in order to block the election of Dionigi Tettamanzi, the diminutive cardinal archbishop of Milan.

La Stampa of Turin yesterday reported that another strong Italian candidate besides Tettamanzi was Ennio Antonelli of Florence.

Politi reported that Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano had spoken to the 137 cardinals for a full three hours about the world political and diplomatic situation, but had never once mentioned the Holy See's opposition, ordered by Pope John Paul, to the US attack on Iraq in 2003.

In a second article, also yesterday, Politi argued that Sodano was a strong candidate, an alternative to Ratzinger.

He concluded his piece by arguing that Cardinal Walter Kasper was "silently" emerging as a possible candidate, partly because of the good work he has done in building bridges toward the East, and toward the Russian Orthodox in particular.
These NewsFlashes change frequently and may not remain on the web for very long. I could not find an archive of the Newsflashes, although I did not spend much time looking. The best way to keep in touch and up-to-date is to subscribe to the Email updates. If someone needs a copy of a previous Newsflash, please let Slatts know and he has assured me that he can forward a full copy to you.

*** Update ***

The link to the Newsflash Archives is here.

Progressives, Moderates, Neocons: Notes Before the Conclave

(Cardinal Ratzinger is one of my personal favorites along with Cardinal Arinze)

On one side, Ratzinger, Ruini, Bergoglio, Scola with their proposal for a new “Papal Revolution.” On the other side, the list of their opponents, with Tettamanzi as the man for all seasons.

by Sandro Magister
ROMA, April 14, 2005 – On Tuesday, April 19, the first full day of the conclave which will elect the new pope, the feast in the calendar of the Roman Church is that of Saint Leo IX. He was pope between 1049 and 1054. He was a standard bearer of the great “Papal Revolution” which, at the beginning of the second millennium, between the 11th and 12th centuries, refashioned the Church and the West. He was German.

And the indisputable front runner in this conclave at the beginning of the third millennium is also German – but above all, he is “Roman.” He is Joseph Ratzinger, and he will turn 78 on April 16. The morning of Monday the 18th, he will be the one presiding over the “missa pro eligendo romano pontifice” at Saint Peter’s. And during the first secret ballot on Monday afternoon, he is expected to receive numerous votes of consensus and esteem, certainly several dozen at least. The quorum necessary to be elected, with 115 cardinals present, is 77 votes. At the tally, Ratzinger and the other cardinals will be watching and judging. They will be standing beneath the terrible gaze of a Judge infinitely higher than they are, the Christ painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.
. . .
The most fearsome conflict of the next decades, Ratzinger and Ruini have both said on numerous occasions, will not be that between the Church and Islam, but rather the cultural conflict between the Church and “the radical emancipation of man from God and from the roots of life,” which characterizes contemporary Western culture and which “leads in the end to the destruction of freedom.” For the neoconservative cardinals, the Church’s commitment to this clash centered in the West must be given absolute priority in the next pontificate. (my emphasis)
More here.

Thousands reflect at Pope's grave

VATICAN CITY - Thousands of mourners filed past the grave of Pope John Paul II after the Vatican reopened its grottoes for public viewing Wednesday.

Lincoln Nebraska -Heartland of Orthodoxy

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Many liberal Catholics hope the new pope will make changes in the centuries-old teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to fit the modern world, but not the faithful here in one of the most conservative dioceses in the country.

"The church shouldn't adapt to society changing; the church should stay as a rock," said Richard Danek, 51, a real estate appraiser who lives near Lincoln, an hour's drive southwest of Omaha. "If the church adapts, then at what point do we stop adapting?"
Some people fail to understand that Truth is immutable - it is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. What is Truth? Jesus is the Truth. Some think that Vatican II changed all of this, however, Pope John XXIII called the Council for the purposes of preserving the Sacred Deposit of Faith and for better presenting it to the world.
"The church is eternal, and it has given us these teachings for 2,000 years," said Sandra Danek, a former Southern Baptist who converted to Catholicism after she married Richard. "It's the teachings from Christ himself."
Amen, sister!
Such lock-step orthodoxy is not the norm in the United States. Polls suggest most American Catholics disagree with the Vatican on several core issues. In a World Values Survey conducted between 1999 and 2001 for international researchers based in Sweden, 37 percent of American Catholics agreed with the church that abortion was "never justifiable," compared with 46 percent of Catholics worldwide. In that survey, 20 percent of American Catholics said homosexuality was never justified, compared with 51 percent worldwide.
"Lock-step" orthodoxy? Rather, it's true name is "Faith", the theological virtue "by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself" (CCC 1814).

May God continue to bless Bishop Bruskewitz, a faithful servant and defender of the Faith. The people of the Diocese of Lincoln are blessed to have him as Bishop.

More on this article here.

Two sue archdiocese, allege sexual abuse

Two men filed suit against the St. Louis archdiocese, Archbishop Raymond Burke and a Festus property owner Wednesday, claiming they ignored sexual abuse that occurred more than 30 years ago and failed to protect young boys from a predatory priest.

The suits claim that the men, known in the lawsuit as John Doe 110 and John Doe 112, were molested by the Rev. Norman Christian while he was a priest at Sacred Heart Church in Crystal City. The archdiocese removed Christian from the ministry in 1995 after an allegation of sexual abuse. He died in October at age 69.

The suits say Christian molested the boys on church property and at a Festus swimming hole in 1970 and 1971, that the archdiocese knew that Christian was a pedophile and that it failed to act to protect children.

Archdiocesan spokesman Jamie Allman said that he couldn't comment but said the church immediately acts on accusations of sexual abuse.

American Catholics favor lenient pope

Blanca Valle's words embody what challenges the Catholic Church in America. "I believe that everyone should have their own opinion on abortion, capital punishment, birth control,' said the 23-year-old Victoria's Secret sales clerk.

Believing that Jesus was the Christ is essential to her faith, the Fontana Catholic woman said. The rest is open to interpretation.
Moral relativism at its finest, yes? Perhaps she (and others) have not heard the words of Jesus, "He who hears you hears Me" (Luke 10:16).

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said in "Lumen gentium" #20:
"This sacred Council teaches that the Bishops, from divine institution, have taken the place of the Apostles, as the pastors of the Church: he who hears them, hears Christ; he who spurns them, spurns Christ, and Him who sent Christ".
Polls taken since John Paul's death indicate a majority of American Catholics think the Vatican should allow priests to marry and women to be ordained. About 80 percent told Gallup the next pope should permit the use of birth control.
If these figures are to be believed, one can legitimately wonder, "When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?" (Lk 18:8).

What a tremendous and daunting task remains for faithful Catholics to re-evangelize and re-catechize their lost brothers and sisters. May God grant His faithful the patience, strength, and wisdom to help our bishops and priests in this endeavor.

Full article here.

Ratzinger Said Gaining Papal Elector Favor

As with all stories coming out of Rome on who may be emerging as the next likely Pope, a healthy skepticism is probably the best attitude one could have. While for some of us, this would be a most acceptable outcome, we must resign ourselves to the fact that our best approach is to continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will overshadow and enlighten the Cardinal electors and that God will bless us with a good and holy man to be our shepherd.
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Support for German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger appears to be building ahead of the conclave to select a new pope, Italian newspapers reported Wednesday.

Corriere della Sera, citing anonymous sources, said at least 40 cardinals have voiced some backing for the conservative Ratzinger during daily meetings before the conclave opens Monday with an expected 115 cardinals.

Next Pope's Silk Vestments on Display

ROME (AP) - The secret talks to name the next pope haven't even begun, but the papal tailoring shop already has his vestments on display in the front window.

The tiny, old-fashioned Ditta A. Gammarelli shop in downtown Rome displayed three sets of white vestments - small, medium and large - to be shipped to the Vatican.

Some may recall that last year when Archbishop Burke was in Rome to receive the pallium there was a discussion in the Post about Gammerelli's.

eBay Response to Sacrilege

An eBay spokesman explained Wednesday why the online auction site allowed the sale of a Holy Communion wafer allegedly blessed by the late Pope John Paul II in 1998 at his 20th anniversary Mass.
Hani Durzy of eBay said the listing "kicked up a minor controversy at eBay," as well. But, he said, it was determined that the listing did not violate eBay's policy of what can be posted.

On Christian Perfection, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Now that we see clearly what perfection is we naturally ask, where shall we find a pattern, a model of this Christian perfection which we may follow; which is the way that leads to it! The way to perfection lies in the imitation of Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus Christ must be our model and pattern; it is by contemplating and imitating it that we shall attain perfection.

Artists of all kinds, painters, sculptors, poets, if they want to excel in their art, give themselves up to the careful study of the work of the old masters, and try to form their style on this model. In Jesus Christ we have the highest, most sublime, and complete type of Christian perfection, the perfect pattern for every age, station, and condition of life.

As a child He was perfect, growing in grace and wisdom before God and man; although more holy, more powerful, more wise than Mary and Joseph, he was subject to them in the lowliness and poverty of the little house at Nazareth. As a youth He was modest and obedient, offering a perfect example to those about to undertake any new enterprise. Consider how He prayed and prepared Himself in the desert for His public life; what strength He displayed in rejecting the suggestions of the evil spirit; and what burning zeal He showed all through His public life to accomplish the mission given Him by His Father. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me. (John 4:34)"

How great was His reverence for the Father, His patience with the apostles and disciples, His condescension to the multitude, His compassion for the sick and poor, His love for sinners, His humility in the working of His daily miracles! It is in times of trial and suffering above all that we expect the perfection of a Christian to stand fast and endure, and so it is in His sufferings and death that the sublime example of Jesus Christ shines out most conspicuously.

We find Him enduring His passion with infinite fortitude and in complete resignation to the will of God; and, full of love for His enemies, offering Himself on the cross in a spirit of complete self-sacrifice for the sins of the world. His every thought, word, and deed, His life, sufferings, and death, are alike stamped with the impress of infinite perfection; and the saints who strove to lead perfect lives here below have all taken Him as their type and model.

Our Saviour Himself calls upon us to imitate Him, saying: "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart," (cf Matt 11:29) and especially in His sufferings He wishes to give us an example: "If any man will be My disciple, let him take up his cross and follow Me." ( cf Matt 16:24).
St. Peter tells us the same thing: "Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps." (1Pet 2:21)

If we want to know what particular points and virtues in Our Lord's life to keep specially before our eyes in order to imitate them ourselves in our own lives, we should do well to study the eight beatitudes given by our Saviour at the beginning of His public ministry in the Sermon on the Mount.

They are:
(1) "Blessed are the poor in spirit"-those who are humble;
(2) "Blessed are the meek"-the patient and gentle;
(3) "Blessed are they that mourn"-those who repent and do penance;
(4) "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice' '-who strain earnestly after perfection;
(5) "Blessed are the merciful"-who practice brotherly love;
(6) "Blessed are the clean of heart"-the chaste;
(7) "Blessed are the peace-makers"-those who love peace;
(8) "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake"-who show fortitude under suffering and injury.

Our Saviour in very clear language promised the reward of eternal life to all who practice these virtues; they will inherit the kingdom of heaven, the land of promise; they will enjoy the consolation of eternal life, the bliss of everlasting happiness, the vision of God, their Father, for all eternity. The eight beatitudes give us a complete plan or program, so to speak, for a perfect Christian life, and a glance at the life of our divine Saviour, one look at His cross, will convince us that He Himself practiced in the most complete manner all that He requires of us.

Adapted from:
Popular Sermons on the Catechism, Bamberg & Thurston, 1914

Gospel for Thursday, 3rd Week of Easter

From: John 6:44-51

The Discourse on the Bread of Life (Continuation)

(Jesus said to the Jews,) [44] "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. [45] It is written in the prophets, `And they shall all be taught by God.' Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. [46] Not that any one has seen the Father except Him who is from God; He has seen the Father. [47] Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. [48] I am the bread of life. [49] Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. [50] This is the bread which comes down from Heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."

44-45. Seeking Jesus until one finds Him is a free gift which no one can obtain through his own efforts, although everyone should try to be well disposed to receiving it. The Magisterium of the Church has recalled this teaching in Vatican II: "Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth" ("Dei Verbum", 5).

When Jesus says, "They shall all be taught by God", He is invoking Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:33ff, where the prophets refer to the future Covenant which God will establish with His people when the Messiah comes, the Covenant which will be sealed forever with the blood of the Messiah and which God will write on their hearts (cf. Isaiah 53:10-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34).

The last sentence of verse 45 refers to God's Revelation through the prophets and especially through Jesus Christ.

46. Men can know God the Father only through Jesus Christ, because only He has seen the Father, whom He has come to reveal to us. In his prologue St. John already said: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known" (John 1:18). Later on Jesus will say to Philip at the Last Supper: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), for Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one goes to the Father except through Him (cf. John 14:6).

In other words, in Christ God's revelation to men reaches its climax: "For He sent His Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all men, to dwell among men and to tell them about the inner life of God (cf. John 1:1-18). Hence, Jesus Christ, sent as `a man among men', `utters the words of God' (John 3:34), and accomplishes the saving work which the Father gave Him to do (cf. John 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see His Father (cf. John 14:9)" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 4).

48. With this solemn declaration, which He repeats because of His audience's doubts, (cf. John 6:35, 41, 48), Jesus begins the second part of His discourse, in which He explicitly reveals the great mystery of the Blessed Eucharist. Christ's words have such a tremendous realism about them that they cannot be interpreted in a figurative way: if Christ were not really present under the species of bread and wine, this discourse would make absolutely no sense. But if His real presence in the Eucharist is accepted on faith, then His meaning is quite clear and we can see how infinite and tender His love for us is.

This is so great a mystery that it has always acted as a touchstone for Christian faith: it is proclaimed as "the mystery of our faith" immediately after the Consecration of the Mass. Some of our Lord's hearers were scandalized by what He said on this occasion (cf. verses 60-66). Down through history people have tried to dilute the obvious meaning of our Lord's words. In our own day the Magisterium of the Church has explained this teaching in these words" "When Transubstantiation has taken place, there is no doubt that the appearance of the bread and the appearance of the wine take on a new expressiveness and a new purpose since they are no longer common bread and common drink, but rather the sign of something sacred and the sign of spiritual food. But they take on a new expressiveness and a new purpose for the very reason that they contain a new `reality' which we are right to call "ontological". For beneath these appearances there is no longer what was there before but something quite different [...] since on the conversion of the bread and wine's substance, or nature, into the body and blood of Christ, nothing is left of the bread and the wine but the appearances alone. Beneath these appearances Christ is present whole and entire, bodily present too, in His physical `reality', although not in the manner in which bodies are present in place.

For this reason the Fathers have had to issue frequent warnings to the faithful, when they consider this august Sacrament, not to be satisfied with the senses which announce the properties of bread and wine. They should rather assent to the words of Christ: these are of such power that they change, transform, `transelement' the bread and the wine into His body and blood. The reason for this, as the same Fathers say more than once, is that the power which performs this action is the same power of Almighty God that created the whole universe out of nothing at the beginning of time" (Paul VI, "Mysterium Fidei").

49-51. The manna during the Exodus was a figure of this bread--Christ Himself--which nourishes Christians on their pilgrimage through this world. Communion is the wonderful banquet at which Christ gives Himself to us: "the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh". These words promise the manifestation of the Eucharist at the Last Supper: "This is My body which is for you" (1 Corinthians 11:24). The words "for the life of the world" and "for you" refer to the redemptive value of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In some sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were a figure of the sacrifice of Christ, part of the animal offered up was later used for food, signifying participation in the sacred rite (cf. Exodus 11:3-4). So, by receiving Holy Communion, we are sharing in the sacrifice of Christ: which is why the Church sings in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Corpus Christi: "O sacred feast in which we partake of Christ: His sufferings are remembered, our minds are filled with His grace and we receive a pledge of the glory that is to be ours" ("Magnificat Antiphon", Evening Prayer II).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Adrift in a Sea of Moral Confusion

Immediately following the death of the Holy Father on April 2, "Catholics Speak Out" and the "Quixote Center", issued a Press Release titled: "A Man of Contradictions: Pope John Paul II Leaves a Mixed Legacy"
This group begins by stating:
Catholics Speak Out and the Quixote Center pray for the pope’s soul. We acknowledge his essential goodness and deep spirituality.
They then begin to expound on the Holy Father's "very mixed legacy." There can be no doubt that the Holy Father constantly affirmed the perennial teachings of Christ and His Church. For this, many professed Catholics became upset - they were upset because the Church would not approve them in their sins. A rational and knowledgable Catholic can hardly hold the position that the Holy Father's continued exposition of irreformable Church teaching resulted in a "mixed legacy." The only thing which seems to be "mixed" are the scrambled ideas and positions held by those who have been seduced by Satan.

Some of the statements include:
He even shared the Holy Eucharist with men and women who had publicly dissented with church teachings, then turned around and signed a solemn statement that no member of another Christian denomination could sit at the holy table.
The Catholic response to this confused statement can be read in a number of places:

For starters, one can look in Ecclesia de Eucharistia
44. Precisely because the Church's unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord's sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty,92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.93

I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so 'with one heart'”.94

The next "reason" given for a "mixed legacy":
...he denied that grown women and men should be able to control their reproductive lives without interference from the church or the state. Under his reign, millions walked away from the church or ignored its teachings.
What is the difference between those who walk away today and those who walked away from our Lord, as we read in the Sixth Chapter of John? "This is a hard saying - who can accept it?"

Grown men and women who are followers of Christ "should be able to control their reproductive lives" - indeed they should! And the Church provides the moral teaching for us so that we can be clear what is and is not pleasing to God. The Church assists us with her wisdom which comes from the Holy Spirit. We receive certain gifts of the Holy Spirit, provided we are properly disposed. These gifts, these graces, give us the necessary strength and protection against the sins of impurity, against the sins violating the commandments of the Decalogue.

The Holy Father has affirmed the constant teaching of the Church. The "millions' who ignore the teaching of the Church on artificial contraception, directly procured abortions, and homosexuality are not only ignoring and disobeying the Church, they are refusing obedience to Christ, Himself.
He tried to construct a new understanding of the role of women in church and society, spoke of women’s “complementarity,” their fundamental equality, but made sure they would never receive equal treatment in the church.
Men and women are different, yet equal in dignity. This subject has been beaten to death but some still refuse to accept that God created man and woman as He did.

Rather than address each issue, for there are many, I will instead just post those which are listed by this group of professed "Catholics". It would be one thing if there were one or two issues which could be discussed in an intelligent manner. However, these groups, quite often, raise numerous issues, many of which are sexual in nature and each one has been addressed at length by the Church before. A defective understanding of Catholicism and general morality is often the cause of such vehement disagreement and defiance of Church teaching.
He waged a war against homosexual persons, and bitterly denounced a gay pride march in Rome, taking it as a personal affront—never acknowledging the role that gay men exercise in staffing the churches as priests.
The Holy Father was very clear to show concern for the individual while rejecting the individual's sins. As the Catechism (#2357) reminds us, "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "...homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."

And Paragraph 2358 states: "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
John Paul II extolled democracy, but exercised an iron hand over the church.
There are many, many others who would disagree with this statement. The Holy Father was very lenient and allowed much of this dissent to continue unabated, as were many of the bishops who failed to excise the cancer from the body.
John Paul strengthened the Curia, which hated and fought Vatican II, stripping the bishops of any real authority, setting in motion a determined effort to roll back the clock and the prophetic gains envisioned at Vatican II.
Again, the Holy Father, repeatedly fostered and promoted the reforms of Vatican II. Those who persist in claiming he was "rolling back the clock" are flagrantly ignorant of the efforts of the Pope in implementing the vision of the Council. Most of these people, I suspect, could not even tell us what the documents of Vatican II are, and probably do not even know how many documents were issued by the Second Vatican Council.
John Paul II’s machinery subjected the bishops to galling bouts of liturgical editing by junior members of the curia with little or no linguistic experience.
Sheer lunacy...
John Paul II oppressed those who disagreed with him. The man who advocated for human rights denied freedom of expression to theologians...
Again, it is clear from statements like this, particularly when the facts utterly refute this statement, that these people appear to be deranged, suffering from a glaring inability to see and deal with reality. They either ignore or distort the facts. When we can still see Richard McBrien and others spouting heresy at every opportunity, we can be certain that the Holy Father did not deny freedom of expression to a sufficient number of so-called "theologians".
When it became clear that John Paul II would never drop the man-made (not revealed) rule of celibacy, thousands of priests walked away from their deeply loved call to serve in vocations they loved, unable to live a lie.
"Unable to live a lie?" What a revealing statement...! Those men entering the seminary knew well beforehand of the sacrifices they would be making and of the gifts, the graces, they would receive for dedicating their lives to God and to His people. Those, whether priests, religious, or laity, who deliberately chose to live a lie are ultimately responsible for their own actions.
Because of his rigidity, the church is nearing collapse.
I could be wrong, but it seems that it is because of heretics and apostates infiltrating the Church and poisoning the faith that the Church, at least in the West, is faltering. Decades of little or no catechesis has left many unable to protect themselves from the poisoned elixir of pride offered by groups such as these.

Perhaps, if the Church had addressed this cancerous disease in a manner relative to its dangers to the faithful and exercised her available discplinary and medicinal remedies, the Church would not be in the precarious position she is in now. It seems that the Church needs a cleansing of the putrification that continues to contaminate and poison the faithful. Are those who belong to dissenting groups such as this really and truly Catholic? How is this possible, while they may have been baptised as Catholics, demonstrate by their obstinate actions that they have rejected Christ and His Church and that they have no qualms in corrupting others.

May our Lord have mercy on us, on His Church, and on those hell-bent on destroying His Church.