Catholic Tradition Newsletter

A weekly presentation of News, Information, Readings and Commentary for traditional Roman Catholics and Catholic Families remaining faithful to the teaching Magisterium as held by all faithful Catholics through the centuries.

Vol 11 Issue 45                    Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier

November 10, 2018

Saint Andrew Avellino

  1. What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
  2. Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
  3. St. Martin of Tours
  4. Family and Marriage
  5. Articles and notices


Dear Reader:

Here in the United States we just had what is called mid-term elections. The results nationwide are mixed, but where I live in a city it is clear the community is steered by organizations which claim progress is attained by government control and so-called social benefits. The loss of faith by our youth, who turn to destructive life styles because they cannot find or will not accept a philosophy of life that guides them clearly through a life that is full of contradictions, has caused them to fall for the deceptions of these demagogues who promise them happiness through hedonistic events and freedom from obligations. Placed in an education system that denies them the ability to become independent and capable of thinking logically, they are told they are more intelligent than their parents because their parents had only a black board while they have computers. They don’t tell you that the black board didn’t do the school work, their parents did—whereas now they don’t do the school work, the programmed computer does; that is, their parents were intelligent enough to know how to do the work and show it on a black board, but the children are not intelligent enough to do the work unless assisted by a computer. Brain washed into thinking self-control—which is what parents are supposed to teach children—is oppression, they are now actually oppressed by their covetousness, anger, gluttony, lust, and sloth because of pride and envy that prevents them from living a truly free life to develop their personality to its fulness by living a spiritual life rather than simply an animal life. Surprisingly, because they are in darkness (caused by ignorance and/or sin), many believe that because they are choosing (as there is no struggle for self-mastery) to live an animal life they are rational and free—but they are deceiving themselves since, if they studied animals, a comparison of their life and that of an animal will be a reflection of each other. That is why they use rats and mice (before they would include monkeys) in place of humans for learning animal responses, knowing that the response of the mouse or rat (or monkey) mimics a human’s animal response.

Even in the natural order, a spiritual life would be one that agrees to what is better for oneself: a life of truth and goodness, a life of giving and enrichment of one’s personality. As Catholics, we are called to a higher life than one just to base nature. We are called to live a life in conformity to God’s desire that we dwell with Him in heaven by knowing, loving and serving Him. This serving God is morality (religion); and morality is based on both His placing in our heart that of the moral law (natural) and then set in what He has revealed to us as His divine will: worship in the Church He established and the Two Great Commandments: Love of God and love of neighbor. You may notice that as soon as you mention marriage is between a man and a woman they cry one is imposing their religion; that as soon as you say abortion is murder they scream that Christians have no right to tell them how to live; that when you tell them divorce is wrong they will tell you that the Church has no authority over their lives. It is a red-herring, because these crimes are against nature (written in the heart of man) and not simply Church teaching. At the same time it shows that only those who are religious are moral since there is a higher authority that holds one accountable for one’s crimes or there is no crime at all—and one who believes in God recognizes God requires justice.

Being in the lions’ pit, as Daniel was, we can only place our faith in God to protect us from these organizations that believe progress is achieving state tyranny over dependent masses. As Saint Peter says:

Be you humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in the time of visitation: Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you. Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalls your brethren who are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:6-10)

As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor



by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

1917 Code of Canon Law Concerning Confirmation


On Confirmation

Canon 794

  • 1. A sponsor presents only one person to be confirmed, or two, unless it seems otherwise to the minister for just cause.
  • 2. There is also only one sponsor for each person to be confirmed.

What makes one a valid sponsor, i.e., a spiritual relationship with the confirmand? The following canon gives the requirements:

Canon 795

In order to be a sponsor it is required that one:

1.º Also be confirmed, having obtained the use of reason, and having the intention of fulfilling the role;

2.º Not belong to any heretical or schismatic sect, or be under any penalty mentioned in Canon 765, n. 2, or be under a declaratory or condemnatory sentence;

3.º Not be the father, mother, or spouse of the one to be confirmed;

4.º Be designated by the one being confirmed or the parents or the guardians or, if these are absent or refuse [to name a sponsor], by the minister or the pastor;

5.º Physically touch personally or through a procurator the one being confirmed in the very act of confirmation.

It is also, in order legitimately to accept the office of sponsor in Confirmation that one follow these laws in the following canon:

Canon 796

In order to be licitly admitted to the role of sponsor it is required:

1.º That he be different from the sponsor at baptism unless for reasonable cause in the judgment of the minister it argues otherwise, or if confirmation is legitimately conferred immediately after baptism;

2.º That he [ or she] be of the same sex as the one being confirmed unless in particular cases it seems to the minister there are reasonable causes to do otherwise;

3.º That the additional prescriptions of Canon 766 be observed.

Canon Law Digest I points to the Instructions of the Sacred Congregation of the Council of January 12, 1930 (AAS 22-26) that adds:

Council of Vigilance: To Treat of Modesty in Women's Dress

In virtue of the Supreme Apostleship which he exercises in the universal Church, His Holiness, Pius XI, has never ceased to inculcate in word and writing that precept of St. Paul (I Tim. II, 9, 10): "Women also in decent apparel; adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety. . . as it becometh women professing godliness, with good works."

And on many occasions the same Supreme Pontiff has reproved and sharply condemned the immodesty in dress which today is everywhere in vogue, even among women and girls who are Catholics; a practice which does grave injury to the crowning virtue and glory of women, and moreover unfortunately leads not merely to their temporal disadvantage, but, what is worse, to their eternal ruin and that of other souls.

It is no wonder, then, that Bishops and other Ordinaries of places, as becomes ministers of Christ, have in their respective dioceses unanimously resisted in every way this licentious and shameless fashion, and in doing so have cheerfully and courageously borne the derision and ridicule sometimes directed at them by the ill-disposed.

Accordingly this Sacred Congregation for the maintenance of discipline among clergy and people, in the first place accords merited approval and praise to this vigilance and action on the part of the Bishops, and moreover earnestly exhorts them to continue in the purpose and undertaking they have so well begun, and to pursue them with even greater vigor, until this contagious disease be entirely banished from decent society.

That this may be accomplished with greater ease and security, this Sacred Congregation, in pursuance of the orders of His Holiness, has determined upon the following regulations on the subject:

  1. Girls and women who are immodestly dressed are to be refused Holy Communion and excluded from the office of sponsor in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation; and in proper cases are even to be excluded from the church.

AAS 22-26; S. C. Conc., Instruction, 12 Jan., 1930.

Periodica, 19-195.

The problem of women ignoring proper decorum flows from mothers who themselves have not matured and recognized their role of seeking attention from the opposite sex should have ceased when they were engaged. The appeal to their vanity that they should still turn men’s heads as they enter a room clouds their mind that they are doing the devil’s work and are blameworthy while losing the graces needed to have a good family life. Men who fell from grace are cursing them for leading them into temptation. Young daughters, following the example of a vain mother, have lost their innocence and now curse the mother for betraying them to the animal appetites of wicked men, never experiencing love but always living in hate.  The sons curse such a mother because these boys grew up in a culture that focused their minds on the body and not the obligations of a man and when seeking a companion they found themselves only embracing prostitutes who have no desire to be a wife. Such a woman, dressed for this reason, shows contempt for God—but our young girls have learned this is expected of them and are taunted if they reject the immodest fashions. It is why many choose to wear pants and loose blouses: to retain some modesty, to hide the body. That it did not start in the ‘60’s is evident by the above Instruction. This was already mentioned above (Canon 782; AAS 27-11, Section II.):

Those who are to be confirmed must not present themselves for this Sacrament with dirty face or hair uncombed; but they should be dressed, as should also the sponsors, simply and modestly. Women who are to receive the Sacrament or to act as sponsors must not come into the church decked in vain ornaments or with painted faces, but with all modesty and reverence.                (To be continued)


Dr. Pius Parsch

The Church’s Year of Grace (1958)

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Rev. Pius Parsch

The King comes as the wise Judge

Holy Mass The Readings (Epistle and Gospel) sketch the Church from two contrasting approaches; one is light and cheery, the other dark and sobering; one depicts the ideal, the other remains closer to life and reality. In the Epistle Paul describes the ideal—a community of saints adorned with every Christian virtue. In this community love is queen; in her train follows the peace of Christ. The apostle is giving us a glimpse of the liturgical worship and the private lives of the early Christians. With them the word of God "dwelt abundantly." We hear them singing psalms and spiritual canticles; and, privately, their every act is performed "in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

The Gospel, by way of contrast, shows another Christian community, one marred by human weaknesses and sins, grave scandals, lukewarmness, indifference, petty jealousies. Which makes our hearts heavy. But Jesus' words help us understand the enigma of evil in the Church. From the two readings it is easy to deduce a program for the week. Personally, and in my relations with others, I will try to reproduce the ideal; if evil crosses my path, I will not be scandalized; I will seek to imitate God's patience toward it.

The Gospel, moreover, provides revealing insights into the mysterious and often inexplicable character of God's kingdom as it continues to grow through the centuries. There is, for instance, the mystery of the abiding presence of evil in the Church. Evil is the devil's sowing. Evil is permitted; indeed, in God's providential plan it must thrive and ripen. On earth both good and evil enjoy freedom of action, and both serve a purpose. Evil is designed to chasten the good, to prove their strength and steadfastness; it is God's rod of correction upon the virtuous. Strictly speaking, it can cause no harm to God's kingdom. This reassurance should be a consolation, especially in days like the present, when we meet so much evil in the world.

Now let us apply the lesson of the Gospel to ourselves. Today at Mass the divine Sower sows the good seed (wheat) of the Eucharist in my soul, expecting it to grow during the week. Of course, as the week passes, the devil, too, will sow his weeds; but by penance and mortification we can nullify their influence. May this day's "Sacrifice of propitiation" steady our "vacillating hearts" (Secr.). The Eucharist is the "pledge" of "salvation's fulfillment" (Postc.); in the light of the Gospel parable this means that the divine Reaper is already gathering our ripened sheaves into His heavenly barns.

  1. Sunday Meditations. A. The Seaside Sermon. For a better understanding of the parables on the fifth and sixth Sundays after Epiphany, it would help to be familiar with the historical context in which they appear. Hence, a few remarks are in order concerning our Lord's activity previous to the sermon on the shores of Lake Gennesareth.

When Jesus began His public ministry He directed His efforts toward the Jewish people at large. He wanted all of them to enter God's kingdom (the Church), irregardless of their status in life. So He preached everywhere, in Judea, in Samaria, in Galilee. He addressed Himself not only to the well-bred, to the doctors of the Law and the Pharisees, but likewise to the common people, the plain folk and the illiterate. In short, He wished to be the Redeemer of all. Yet the longer He preached and the more miracles He worked, the more did the Jewish leaders strive to turn the people away from and against Him. Wherever His preaching or His miracles had won popular admiration and approval, the Pharisees, too, appeared, weakening and undermining the effect of His work.

Presently He was staying at Peter's house in Capharnaum, where He cured a man possessed by a devil. The people, of course, were amazed; but the Pharisees quickly retorted that Jesus Himself was possessed and that He cast out devils by invoking the prince of devils. It was a low blow. He who had come to break the devil's power and to redeem mankind from bondage to Satan, He was now accused of being in league with His archenemy. The blasphemous accusation could not go unanswered. Before Jesus finished His apology, He had made it plain to the Pharisees that not He but they themselves were possessed by a sevenfold devil; and because they would not accept the Messiah, they who had been a "chosen people" would be rejected.

The incident was a turning point in our Lord's ministry. From then on He became more reserved and began to concentrate His efforts on the preparation and formation of His disciples. Shortly before He had chosen twelve among His followers, whom He called apostles. These were destined to preach His gospel to the world. Therefore He would use every means to confirm their belief in His mission of salvation and to prepare them for the great missionary work that lay ahead. His activity was now dedicated primarily to the task of forming His apostles. And though He still went among the people, His preaching to them took a new turn. Evidence of His altered approach soon appears in the sermon to the crowd preached from Peter's boat on the Sea of Galilee. It was His so-called "Seaside Sermon." He spoke only in parables, without explaining them to His listeners. But later when alone with His apostles, He interpreted and applied them.

What was the message of that sermon? Jesus Himself pointed out its principal theme, namely, the mysteries of the kingdom of God (or, the kingdom of heaven - the terms are interchangeable). God's kingdom, or the kingdom of heaven, is the Church on earth. "Mystery" here does not mean a doctrinal statement, such as a dogma of faith. Christ is using the term to designate the mysterious nature and growth of the Church, a development that goes counter to human expectation. To know the mystery of the kingdom, then, is primarily to realize that outwardly the kingdom makes no pretensions or display as it adheres to the ordinary course of events, without miracles or other astounding phenomena. All its power and majesty lie within, invisible to earthly eyes.

Taking the Seaside Sermon as a whole, its content may be divided into five parts:

  1. the founding of God's kingdom (parable of the sower)
  2. the tragedy of evil (parable of the good seed and the cockle)
  3. growth and development of the kingdom:
  4. a) parable of the growing seed
  5. b) parable of the mustard seed
  6. c) parable of the leaven
  7. incomparable value of God's kingdom (parables of the treasure and the pearl)
  8. conclusion: final phase of the kingdom (parable of the fish-filled net)

First part. The parable of the sower describes the founding of God's kingdom (especially with reference to individual souls). The moral. Whether and how far God's kingdom will be realized in me depends upon my cooperation. I am the soil. God is continually sowing His grace in my heart. His kingdom should yield an abundance of full-grown, ripened fruit, such as may be expected from a divine planting. If it fails to do so, the fault is mine, completely. I hindered or stifled its growth. The soil was deficient. Some of it may have been worn hard by constant treading (spirit of indifference). Or my heart was stony ground (too superficial). Perhaps the whole field was overgrown with the thorns of earthly hankerings and pleasures, choking God's seed. Briefly, the great lesson of the parable is: God's kingdom is glorious indeed, but first it must grow in me and I must cooperate with grace.

Second part. The parable of the weeds throws light on the tragedy of evil in the Church. Evil is the devil's planting. God allows it to thrive and reach full maturity, unhindered. In this life both the good and the bad are granted complete freedom of operation. Yes, evil has its place in the divine plan. As noted earlier, it serves to chasten the good and test their steadfastness. It is God's rod of correction, and should contribute to the growth of virtue in the good. It cannot cause the kingdom of heaven any real harm. It will not, however, go unpunished; no, the wages of evil is eternal ruin and punishment. Be patient, therefore, with evildoers. Do not begrudge them their short-lived, earthly happiness. Above all, do not hate them, rather they are to be pitied. Thus does this parable contribute to a solution to that greatest enigma, the presence of evil in God's kingdom.

Third part. The growth and impact of God's kingdom is the burden of three brief parables. The first, that of the spontaneously growing seed, is found in St. Mark 5:26ff. This short, little-known parable conveys some goodly thoughts on God's kingdom. Both its founding and its termination at the end of time are effected by Christ in person. Meanwhile, however, He does not intervene personally but leaves things to their normal development. It is as though Jesus slept, like the man in the parable, and the seed He had sown continued to grow of itself. Nevertheless, the kingdom's inner vitality is derived from Him. If the parable of the sower emphasized the need of man's cooperation with grace, the parable of the spontaneously growing seed stresses the intrinsic power and efficacy of grace.

The inherent vitality of the Church finds further expression in the parables of the grain of mustard seed and the leaven. Of these the first reveals the outward expansion of God's kingdom, the second its inner dynamism. Christianity grows from a small beginning to unexpected greatness (first parable); it leavens or transforms the whole man (second parable). Christ's Church does not spread by means of tangible power and natural resources, but quietly and unassumingly through the inherent, invisible dynamics of grace, which leave no human fiber untouched. Putting these three parables together, we find they have a common message; in outward appearance God's kingdom is small, unpretentious; but its inner potentiality is vast and mighty.

Fourth part. The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price teach us how much to prize and esteem God's kingdom. There are two main lessons, one doctrinal, the other practical. 1. (Doctrinal lesson). The kingdom of God exceeds in worth and value anything material or of this world - wealth, honor, pleasures. 2. (Practical lesson). I must therefore be prepared to forego them all, if God so wills. The kingdom of God must be my greatest treasure.

Fifth part. The parable of the fish-filled net makes a fitting conclusion to the whole discourse because it pictures the termination of God's kingdom on earth on Judgment Day. Only then will the good be definitively separated from the evil.

To sum up. The Seaside Sermon contains very valuable instruction. From it we too may obtain a better understanding of the "mysteries" of the kingdom of heaven.



St. Martin, Bishop and Confessor

  1. St. Martin was the first great father of monks in the West, and the successful apostle of Gaul. He was born about 316 in what is now Hungary, of heathen parents. Growing up in Pavia, he enrolled among the catechumens at the age of ten, because he was attracted to Christ. At fifteen he had to enter service in the royal army, and he proved himself a good soldier. Proven as a Christian, he was baptized at eighteen, and upon being released from the army he went into solitude, where he could live undisturbed for Christ. In 355 he visited St. Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, and received the order of exorcist from him. His zeal for the cause of Christ impelled him to return to Hungary to try to win his parents for Christ. His father refused but his mother gladly received the good tidings he brought. Martin had to suffer much at the hands of the Arians. In 360 he went again to visit St. Hilary, just returned from exile.

Near Poitiers Martin founded, at Liguge, the first large monastery for cenobites in the West. Here he lived an austere life with his brethren. Meanwhile, news of his sanctity and miracles reached Tours, and the people there elected him by unanimous vote to be their bishop, in 372. Even as bishop, Martin lived in monastic poverty and simplicity, and before long he built, near Tours, the monastery of Marmoutiers, assembling eighty monks for it. He often went out to work for the conversion of the pagans in the vicinity, and the fearless power of his preaching gained results. Wherever a heathen temple fell a Christian sanctuary was established. In this way he quickly overcame the opposition and won the confidence of the people; he also won them by charitableness and by defending their rights against certain governors. While on an apostolic journey St. Martin died at Candes on November 8, 397. He was buried at Tours. In Martin, monk and apostle were happily united, so that he became a trail-blazer for all Western monasticism.

  1. “Nobody lights a lamp, and then puts it away in a cellar or under a bushel measure; it is put on the lamp-stand, so that its light may be seen by all who come in” (Gospel). St. Martin was a lighted lamp placed on the lampstand by God so we all may see it and be illumined and warmed by it. “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). He sought seclusion from the world; he wanted to be unknown, It was only by a trick that the people of Tours were able to secure him as their bishop; but he immediately began to let his light shine for all to see. In the silence of the cloister, in the school of poverty, self-abnegation, and prayer, Martin learned to cooperate with grace and thus became the great Apostle of Gaul. He carried his light into the darkness of paganism and drew many to Christ by his prayers, example, and miracles. St. Martin is a light for our age to look at, too.

“Thy body has the eye for its lamp; and if thy eye is clear, the whole of thy body will be lit up. . . . Take good care, then, that this principle of light which is in thee is light, not darkness” (Gospel). The liturgy presents St. Martin, monk and bishop, as a man of faith. Faith—profound, living faith—is the bright light in him that makes him a light for the world. It was toward this faith that the boy of ten was reaching as a catechumen, and which he received eight years later in baptism. By its light he was able to see Christ in the poor man to whom he gave half his mantle. Filled with its light, he opposed Arianism even in the person of Emperor Maximus, and won out. This faith gave him strength to bear insults both from opponents and from those who should have been true to him. He never became excited, but proved himself one of those men who are called to establish the reign of charity in the world by kindness and mildness. It was his living faith that gave him the strength to continue tireless efforts on behalf of the kingdom of God and to say on his deathbed: “Lord, if I am still necessary to thy people, I shall not shirk labor; thy will be done.”

  1. “Martin is taken to Abraham’s bosom, rejoicing. Martin, needy and poor on earth, enters heaven rich and is celebrated with heavenly song. O fortunate man, whose soul dwells in paradise. Therefore, the angels rejoice, the archangels are happy, the choir of saints exult, the throng of virgins sing their invitation: ‘Stay with us forever!’” (Respon. of III Noct.)

His disciples said to St. Martin: “Why are you leaving us, Father, and to whom do you entrust your orphans? Behold, ravening wolves will fall upon your flock.” And he: “Lord . . . thy will be done!” Hail, “O incomparable man, whom neither labor subdued nor death conquered; who neither feared to die nor hesitated to continue living” (Antiphon at Vespers).

Collect: O God, who seest that we put no reliance in our strength, grant us this boon, that by the intercession of Thy blessed confessor bishop Martin we may be fortified against all harm. Amen.

(Benedict Baur)


The Catholic Marriage Manual

Reverend George A. Kelly

Random House, New York 1958


Danger Signs

in Marriage

One partner feels bored or ill-at-ease in the others presence. Some unions seem to wither from pure boredom when a husband or wife fails to make life interesting for the other. This frequently occurs when the main basis for the marriage is sexual. After the first months of physical exploration, there is little mutual interest to sustain the relationship. The coming of children, which gives the husband and wife a continuing experience to share together, is an especial blessing in such cases.

When a husband or wife feels uncomfortable, it may indicate that the other partner is a perfectionist—one who seems to be waiting to pounce on some fault. The person who is ill-at-ease may also be doing something of which he is ashamed and of which the other partner is not aware. When two persons realize that their personalities are at odds, they should try to appraise the causes objectively. For the bored partner and the ill-at-ease partner are traditionally the ones who cultivate the dangerous vices of drinking, gambling, or engaging in extra-marital affairs.

How to handle the danger symptoms. It should be emphasized again that inasmuch as no marriage is perfect, you may detect indications of some of the above danger symptoms in your own union. Where these symptoms are not a major cause of tension, they should not be a source of worry. But you should try to remove any defects which a survey of your own marriage might reveal.

Once you recognize the trouble areas, try to learn what conditions cause them. Ask God to help you see the real factors clearly. In analyzing them, try to understand your partner's feelings, motivation and needs. You may discover that you are primarily at fault. Maybe your partner's attitude toward you stems from your behavior; or maybe you have at least contributed to the situation in question. Few problems in marriage are the fault of one partner entirely.

Once you believe that you clearly understand the problem, talk it over with your mate. Resolve not to become angry, regardless of the turns the discussion takes. Select an occasion when you have enough time to discuss the problem leisurely. Try to view the problem constructively-in terms of what you can do in the future to make conditions better, rather than rehashing old incidents which may have led up to the problem. You will gain nothing-and may lose much-if you attribute to your mate an unwillingness to solve the problem or accuse him of obstinacy because he fails to see things your way. Try to reach an understanding—even if only a partial one on a small point. If you can conclude your discussion feeling that something has been gained from it, the door will be open for future talks and more progress later.

What if these approaches fail and the danger symptoms grow to constitute a real threat to your married happiness? You probably should then obtain outside guidance. By consulting your pastor or an experienced Catholic marriage counselor, you can usually obtain a helpful perspective. Often a husband or wife is blind to basic factors in marriage which an observant, experienced outsider can detect easily. If possible, both husband and wife should visit the counselor together. By talking to both, he can often gain a quick understanding of the true nature of the difficulty, and if both parties truly want to eliminate the sore points, he usually can suggest a workable compromise. In extreme cases, psychiatric help may be needed.

Some Catholic dioceses have established marriage reconciliation courts where persons with serious grievances are encouraged to work out their problems under the guidance of trained counselors. Thanks to these courts, couples are saved future misery on earth and perhaps damnation in eternity; and children who might otherwise grow up without proper spiritual and physical care are given a chance to lead normal lives of sanctity and happiness. The benefits, not only to the family involved, but also to society in general, can hardly be estimated. All that is necessary is the willingness of both spouses to discuss their problems calmly and, when the fault is established by an impartial observer, to amend their lives in the necessary way.

When seemingly insoluble marriage crises occur, try to use your sufferings to improve your trust in God and your acceptance of His Will. As Christians, we must remember that Jesus did not promise that we would not be obliged to bear a cross but rather that we would have one. The promise you made on your wedding day to love your mate "for better or worse" clearly foresaw that you would experience days in which your faith and fortitude would be severely tested. You do have Christ's guarantee, however, that any cross can be made bearable with His Help.

(To be continued)



Settimo Cielo

di Sandro Magister

31 October

New Charges of Homosexuality in the Church. But the Pope Is Silent, and Blames “Clericalism”

At the closing of the synod on Saturday, October 27, Jorge Mario Bergoglio once again identified the “Great Accuser,” Satan, as the ultimate author of the accusations unleashed against him, the pope, in order to strike out in reality against “Mother Church”:

“This is why it is time to defend the Mother. […] Because the Accuser in attacking us is attacking the Mother, but the Mother is not to be touched.”

With this Francis justified yet again his silence in the face of the accusation - publicly addressed to him by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former nuncio in the United States - of having long kept with him as a trusted advisor a cardinal such as the American Theodore McCarrick, even though like many both in and outside of the Vatican he knew about his homosexual activity with seminarians and young people.

But there is another silence to which the pope constantly adheres. And it is on the homosexuality practiced by many churchmen. Francis never mentions it when he denounces the scourge of sexual abuse. What is instead at the origin of everything, he maintains, is “clericalism.” Even the final document of the synod, in the paragraphs concerning abuse, makes this judgment of Francis its own, and defines clericalism as “an elitist and exclusive vision of vocation, which interprets the ministry received as a power to be exercised rather than a free and generous service.”

They are a silence and a diagnosis, these of the pope, that are meeting with strong criticism above all in the United States, where public opinion both Catholic and not, both progressive and conservative, is more active than ever in reclaiming truth and transparency.

One particularly revealing expression of this public opinion is the article that came out on October 26 - right when the synod was wrapping up - in “Commonweal,” a storied magazine of “liberal” American Catholicism, written by Kenneth L. Woodward, for thirty-eight years the esteemed vaticanista of “Newsweek”:

In Woodward’s judgment, the McCarrick case is revealing of the extent to which homosexuality is really rampant among churchmen, on all levels, as already documented starting in 2003 by the famous report of the Jay College of Criminal Justice, according to which “eight out of ten reported abuses by priests over the past seventy years were cases of males abusing other males.”

Therefore “one would have to be either blind or dishonest,” Woodward writes, to reject as “homophobia” the denunciation of the role of homosexuality in the abuse scandal.

In his decades of work as a vaticanista, Woodward recalls having collected innumerable accounts not only of individual cases of homosexuality but of genuine “networks” of support and complicity among churchmen living a double life, in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and other dioceses. In Chicago, the priest Andrew Greeley, one of the most widely read sociologists and writers in the United States, publicly denounced the presence of gay circles in the offices of the diocese, which was managed by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, his friend and a highly influential leader of the progressive wing of the American Catholic Church.

But even the Vatican curia was infected, Woodward further recalls. And he cites the case of John J. Wright (1909–1979), for ten years the bishop of Pittsburgh and in 1961 the founder of an “oratory” for young university students in that diocese that drew in homosexual priests like bees to honey. Wright was a brilliant intellectual, hosted by “liberal” journals including “Commonweal,” but orthodox in doctrine, and Paul VI called him to Rome in 1969 to head the Vatican congregation for the clergy, making him a cardinal. And yet many knew about his double life with young lovers, precisely while he was overseeing the formation of Catholic priests all over the world.

Not only that. Among those today who “would surely know the truth” about him - Woodward continues - is Cardinal Donald Wuerl, until a few weeks ago the powerful archbishop of Washington, he too accused of having “covered up” cases of abuse, but granted his retirement by Francis with moving expressions of esteem. Wuerl was Wright’s personal secretary when he was bishop of Pittsburgh, and he also remained “closer to the cardinal than the hair on his head,” to the point of assisting him at the conclave of 1978 that elected John Paul II.

Woodward does not cite other specific cases of homosexuality practiced by dignitaries of the Roman curia. But a reliable illustration came out in Italy in 1999 in a whistleblowing book entitled “Gone with the wind in the Vatican,” by an anonymous author who was later identified as the curial monsignor Luigi Marinelli, who died the next year. It tells about the career of an American prelate with a weakness for young people, who was called to Rome at the Vatican congregation for bishops and then was sent back to his country as the head of an important diocese that was visited for the first time by a pope, John Paul II, on one of his journeys, and was then promoted to an even more prominent diocese and made a cardinal, and finally retired for reasons of age. Or one reads in it about a high-level diplomat who put together agreements on the most complicated fronts, from Israel to Vietnam, from China to Venezuela. Recent events have added to this cross section, which in recent years seems to be on the rise, not in decline.

In the United States they are called “lavender lobbies,” the homosexual networks that permeate seminaries, dioceses, chanceries. The trouble, Woodward writes, is that “no one in the Catholic hierarchy seems eager to investigate,” not even after ex-nuncio Viganò took the lid off the scandal and held Pope Francis himself answerable.

Woodward concludes:

“Total transparency is probably too much to expect. But if structural reforms are necessary to protect the young from abuse, the scandals of the summer of 2018 ought to be seen as spurs to thoughtful action, not occasions for fruitless displays of anger, shock, shame, and despair. The danger of clerical double lives – of secrets that can be used as weapons to protect other secrets – should now be clear to everyone. There will be clerical hypocrisy as long as there is a church, but we can and should do more to combat it.”

Certainly neither silence nor improperly sounding the alarm against “clericalism” can lead to more transparency and to an elimination of the scourge.

(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)


Father Krier will be in Eureka on November 15. He will be in Los Angeles December 13 and in Pahrump December 20.


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