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The following address was given by Professor Roberto de Mattei at the "Human Life, the Family, and the Splendor of Truth" conference held on Monday, May 21, 2018 in Rome.
Like 2017, 2018 is also a year rich with important and significant anniversaries which we need to remember, because the roots of the present are in the past.
The most noted anniversary does not need further explanation, the date is enough: (Nineteen) Sixty-Eight, when the Student Revolution which began at Berkeley, exploded at the Sorbonne, and spread throughout Europe.
But 1968 is a year that is also remembered, because on July 25, the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI was promulgated, which constitutes in a certain way, the antithesis of Sixty-Eight’s revolutionary spirit.
In fact, the essence of the student revolution was found in the slogan “it is forbidden to forbid,” a slogan which expresses the refusal of every authority and every law, in the name of the liberation of instincts, of needs, of desires. Forbidden to forbid means: everything is allowed, sexual freedom and drugs were the two ingredients to affirm this new philosophy of life.
Humanae Vitae reiterating the condemnation of abortion and of contraception recalled that not everything is allowed, that absolute and unchangeable moral laws exist, that a supreme authority exists, the Church, which has the right and the duty of proposing good and prohibiting evil, that which is in contrast with the Divine and natural law.
Humanae Vitae was unable to halt the consequences of Sixty-Eight. Sixty-Eight was a cultural revolution which launched a process, of which the following were stages in Italy: the law and referendum on divorce (1970-1974 and then the law and referendum on abortion (1978-1981). The laws on civil unions and living wills [Disposizioni anticipate di trattamento - DAT] meaning homosexual so-called marriage and the opening to euthanasia, are the latest expressions of this path to annihilation of the moral law, which is self-annihilation, the suicide of society.
But the roots of the negation of the natural law go back further in time. And I wish to recall another event, although it is not the case that its anniversary is occurring, but it is at the origin of the anniversaries which we have mentioned; it is an event which took place within the Church, during the Second Vatican Council. It happened in Rome, in the conciliar assembly, on October 29, 1964. I recall it so that we can better understand the existence of a link between two parallel revolutions: the political-cultural one of Sixty-Eight and the ecclesiastical one which exploded in the same year, in the form of objection to Humanae Vitae
But, let’s go on to that October day in 1964. The Second Vatican Council was moving toward its conclusion: it would end two months later. But there was a problem about which everyone spoke, but which Paul VI did not wish to have enter in to the Council: the subject of birth control.
In 1960, in America, the famous pill of Doctor Gregory Pincus was marketed. Pincus had worked on [in vitro] fertilization since the 1930’s and had been removed from Harvard University for his unscrupulousness in research (they had nicknamed him Doctor Frankenstein) but his projects began to come to fruition in the 50’s thanks to decisive support from feminist activist Margaret Sanger. The birth and marketing of the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, Dr. Pinkus’s famous pill, marked a historic turn. In his book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, Jonathan Eig ascribes the birth and spread of the pill to four “crusaders”: the feminist star Margaret Sanger, the iconoclastic scientist, Gregory Goodwin Pinkus (1903-1967), the Catholic doctor John Rock (1890-1984), “and the supplier of cash behind it all,” Katharine McCormick (1875-1967).
Science made artificial birth control possible, and in those same years, a group of progressivist theologian saw in this scientific innovation the occasion for changing Catholic morals on matrimony. The new progressivist morality had as one of its centers the University of Louvain, whose protector was the Cardinal Primate of Belgium, Leo Joseph Suenens.
At this point, we need to recall what was, and still is, the Church’s doctrine on marriage.
Marriage according to the Magisterium of the Church, is a one-time and indissoluble institution, destined by God for the propagation of the human race.
According to the doctrine of the Church, the ends of marriage are three: and not on the same level, but ordered (subordinated).
The first end: procreation, which doesn’t only mean bringing children into the world, but raising them, intellectually, morally and above-all spiritually, steering them toward their eternal destiny, which is Heaven.
The second end: mutual assistance between the spouses, which is not only a material assistance, which is not only sexual or romantic, but is above all, a spiritual assistance and agreement.
The third end: the remedy of concupiscence, which is a consequence of original sin, but which should not be confused with sin. Luther held that this concupiscence in itself is sinful and invincible. But the Council of Trent distinguished between original sin which wounds all men and the concupiscence which remains in men after baptism, and is not a sin in itself, but only an inclination to sin; not irresistible, because man can overcome it by good will and Divine grace.
That the very end of marriage is the propagation of the human race is attested to by the passage from Genesis 1:28: “Increase and multiply.”
The vision of the Church in the matter of birth control has always been restrictive, because Sacred Scripture says: “increase and multiply.” Don Pietro Leone rightly observes that “multiplying, in the common meaning of the term, means the multiplying of one factor to more than one, so that this excludes the maintaining of the status quo, which would be reached in producing only two children.” (pg. 112)
That means, practically speaking, that a family must have at least three children.
A recent book by the Honorable Lorenzo Fontana and Professor Ettore Gotti Tedeschi has the significant title “The Empty Crib of Civilization.” (La culla vuota della civiltà) Professor Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, has demonstrated in numerous writings, that one of the causes of the current economic crisis is the demographic collapse, and the demographic collapse is derived precisely from the fact that the average number of births is smaller than the rate of 2.1, the only rate which would allow for the growth of the population. With an average of two children or less per couple, the population will decrease and move toward extinction. Gotti Tedeschi says that economic growth corresponds to demographic growth, but I add that so too, does spiritual growth, because large families mean a spirit of sacrifice, and the spirit of sacrifice is a factor in spiritual and moral progress, because it implies the existence of principles and values for which one lives, and, if necessary, one dies.
One of the last addresses of Pius XII was an allocution to large families, on January 20 1958:
“Only the Divine and eternal light of Christianity gives full life and meaning to the family and this is so true that right from the beginning and through the whole course of its history, large families have often been considered as synonymous with Christian families. Respect for Divine laws has made them abound with life; faith in God gives parents the strength and vigor they need to face the sacrifice and self-denial demanded for the raising of their children; Christian principles guide them and help them in the hard work of education; the Christian spirit of love watches over their peace and good order, and seems to draw forth from nature and bestow the deepest family joys that belong to parents, to children, to brothers and sisters. Even externally, a large, well-ordered family is a kind of visible shrine: the sacrament of Baptism is not an exceptional event for them but something constantly renewing the joy and grace of the Lord. The series of happy pilgrimages to the baptismal font is not yet finished when a new one to Confirmation and First Communion begins, aglow with the same innocence. The youngest of the children will scarcely have put away his little white suit among the dearest memories of life, when the first wedding veil appears to bring parents, children, and new relatives together at the foot of the altar. More marriages, more baptisms, more first Communions follow each other like ever-new springtimes that, in a sense, make the visits of God and of His grace to the home unending.”
This conception of the family and marriage expresses a philosophy of life: the philosophy of the life of the Gospel. A new philosophy of life had made strides in Catholic circles under the influx of new secular intellectual currents, like the Frankfurt School, in which Marxism and psychoanalysis merged. This new Catholic philosophy of life tended to remove the idea of an absolute and objective natural law, and counterposed it with the worth of the human person, attributing a normative value to the individual conscience. Conscience lost its reference point which was natural and Divine law, and itself became the established norm of human action.
Many of the new theologians were periti, experts who assisted the Council Fathers. And that October 29, 1964, all of the Council Fathers awaited the speech of Cardinal Suenens.
Suenens, a man with a good-looking, 60 year old presence, is the undiscussed protagonist of Vatican II. Cardinal Suenens, the young cardinal of Brussels, who just after his elevation to the cardinalate rushed to Rome to suggest to John XXIII to give a pastoral imprint to the Council, to adapt the Church to the modern world and allow collaboration with Protestant and Orthodox churches. It was he who since the beginning of the Council established an iron pact with Bishop Helder Câmara, auxiliary bishop of Rio, later archbishop of Recife, who communicated with him using a secret code, calling him “Father Miguel.”
He was the one chosen to guide the four “moderators” of the Council: a key position which he would hold for three years.
When, on December 4, 1962, toward the end of the first session, Cardinal Suenens proposed to the general assembly that the Church study the whole of her relations with the world, the Pontiff entrusted Suenens with the duty of developing a new schema, to gather the teachings of the Church, which would have a direct relationship with the problems of the modern world.
At that moment there were in the Church, two commissions which worked on the family and marriage. The first was the commission which prepared the constitution Gaudium et Spes.
The second was an ad hoc commission, suggested by Suenens himself to John XXIII to study the problem of birth control. This commission, secretly constituted in 1963 and made public by Paul VI in 1964 was composed of members tapped above-all by Suenens, and which kept in close contact with him.
Suenens took the floor, and referring to the ad hoc commission, said:
“The first task of this committee lies in the line of Faith and must consist of this: to check if we have sufficiently highlighted all aspects of Church teaching on marriage. (…) It may be that we have over-stressed the words of Scripture: ‘Increase and multiply’ to the point of leaving in the shadows the other Divine words: “And the two shall be in one flesh.” (…) It will be up to the Commission to tell us if we have not overly-emphasized the primary purpose, which is procreation, at the expense of an equally imperative purpose, which is growth in marital unity. Similarly, it is up to the Commission to respond to the immense problem posed by the current demographic explosion and overpopulation in many parts of the earth. (…) The Commission’s second task lies in the line of scientific progress and more in-depth knowledge of natural ethics. The Commission will have to examine whether traditional doctrine, especially in the manuals, takes into sufficient account the new data of today’s science. We have made progress since Aristotle and discovered the complexity of the reality in which biology interferes with psychology, the conscious with the subconscious. New possibilities are constantly discovered in man, in his power to direct the course of nature (…) Who does not see that in this way we will be perhaps led to further research on the problem of what is for or against nature’? Let’s follow the progress of science. I beg you, Brothers. Let’s avoid a new ‘Galileo trial’. One is enough for the Church.“.
After the final words of Cardinal Suenens, thunderous applause broke out in the hall. Bishop Helder Câmara recounted in his correspondence that Suenens himself had tasked him with organizing the “claque.”
Listening to Suenens’ speech, Cardinal Ruffini could not contain himself and pounded the table out of indignation, and two days later he vented to Cardinal Cicognani, the Secretary of State, calling Suenens’ words “horrendous,” and requesting his removal as a moderator. “Does it seem that the concept of marriage, that which we have believed dogmatically and morally until the present,” he wrote, “must now change, at least in practice?” Archbishop Helder Câmara, instead, expressed all of his enthusiasm for the Primate of Belgium: “He said everything that one could dream of hearing regarding birth control, this even included the courage of affirming - he, a cardinal of Holy Church, a moderator of the Council – in the full Basilica of Saint Peter: “let us not repeat the trial of Galileo!’”
Paul VI, who did not share the progressivist positions on moral issues, was bewildered and in a turbulent audience with Suenens, scolded him for a lack of good judgement.
What had Suenens said, that was so revolutionary?
He attacked the traditional concept of matrimony, according to which, the first end of marriage is that of procreation, affirming that the primary purpose was instead, that “the two shall be in one flesh.” Marriage was presented not as a bond, or a commitment rooted in nature and dedicated to the propagation of the human race, but as an intimate communion between the spouses, having as its end their reciprocal love.
We go from a theological and philosophical definition to a psychological definition of marriage. But if matrimony is reduced to a communion of love, birth control - natural or artificial as the case may be - is seen as something good and is encouraged under the name of “responsible parenthood,” in as much as it contributes to strengthening the conjugal union, and it is clear that at the moment when this intimate communion fails, the marriage would dissolve.
The inversion of the ends is accompanied by the inversion of the roles within marriage. Large families imply a notion of the value of sacrifice, but now the idea of sacrifice is removed. The woman’s psycho-physical wellbeing substitutes her mission of motherhood. The birth of a child is seen as something which disturbs the balance of the family. The child is seen as an unjust aggressor, to be defended against through contraception, and in extreme cases, with abortion. To “increase and multiply,” Suenens contraposes: reduce births in the name of science, because science offers the means to do so. Which means? The birth control pill, from which descended another pill: the abortion pill, presented as a contraceptive even though it is a form of chemical abortion (RU 486, administered during the second month of pregnancy.)
What do the two pills combine? Not only their refusal of birth, but what they represent is a private revolution. Abortion needs public structures, the approval and support of the State: the pill, contraceptive or abortive respectively, is left to conscience. A false conscience which overlooks natural law.
If today, the cribs are empty, the responsibility also belongs to Cardinal Suenens.
The Work of the Commission after the Council
Vatican II closed, but a large part of the Council Fathers, of the bishops who returned to their dioceses, followed the ideas of Suenens, promoted by the mass media throughout the world. Meanwhile, the commission which occupied itself with the pill, continued its work. Paul VI had progressivist ideas in liturgical and political-social areas, but not in the moral camp, and did not share the positions of the progressivist theologians favoring contraception. To force the situation and employ media pressure on the Pope, in April 1967, the progressivist lobby leaked the rumor that the commission had decided to authorize contraception, to the main press services of the international media. The belief that Paul VI had changed the doctrine of the Church on birth control spread throughout public opinion, also because nearly everywhere family planning was presented as a necessity of the modern world, and the birth control pill as an instrument of women’s “liberation.”
After several months of agonizing indecision, on July 25, 1968, Paul VI published the encyclical Humanae Vitae. In this document, contrary to the opinion of the majority of experts he had consulted, the Pope reaffirmed the traditional position of the Church on artificial contraception with these clear words:
“Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these.” (n. 14)
Paul VI expressed himself with Humanae Vitae in a way that theologians would judge infallible, and therefore, unchangeable, because he reaffirmed a doctrine always taught by the perennial Magisterium of the Church.
The Protest against Humanae Vitae
The words of Paul VI were unable to put out the fire which had spread for months in all of Europe: that of “French May.” It was in this white-hot atmosphere that the protest against Humanae Vitae developed.
A few days later, on July 30, 1968, under the title Against the Encyclical of Pope Paul, the New York Times issued an appeal signed by over 200 theologians who invited Catholics to disobey the encyclical of Paul VI. This statement, also known as the “Curran Declaration,” (the name of one of its promoters, Charles Curran, theologian of the Catholic University of America) was something never witnessed before, in the whole of Church history. The exceptional fact is that the dispute was not only between theologians and priests, but also between some episcopates, including, first of all, the Belgian one headed by Cardinal Primate Leo Suenens. The Declaration of the Episcopate of Belgium on the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of August 30, 1968 was, together with that of the German episcopate, one of the first drafts elaborated by a bishops’ conference, and served as a model of rebellion for other episcopates.
A group of protagonists of the Council, opposing the encyclical of Paul VI, including Cardinals Suenens, Alfrink, Heenan, Döpfner and König, met in Essen to decide on opposition to the document and on September 9, 1968 during the Katholikentag of Essen, in the presence of the pontifical legate Cardinal Gustavo Testa, an overwhelming majority voted for a resolution to review the Encyclical. From the correspondence of Bishop Gérard-Maurice Huyghe (1909-2001), bishop of Arras, with Suenens, we know about many other reactions, such as that of Cardinal Michele Pellegrino (1903-1986), archbishop of Turin, who defined the encyclical to be “one of the tragedies of papal history.”
In 1969, nine Dutch bishops, including Cardinal Alfrink, voted for the so called Independence Declaration inviting the faithful to refuse the teaching of the encyclical Humanae Vitae. On the same occasion, the Dutch Pastoral Council, with the abstention of the bishops, supported the New Catechism, refusing the corrections suggested by Rome and calling for the Church to remain open to “new radical approaches” on moral issues, which were not mentioned in the final motion but which emerged from the Council’s work, such as premarital intercourse, homosexual unions, abortion and euthanasia. This request was consistent with the role of sexuality as recognized by progressivist theology: an instinct that men do not have to suppress through asceticism but rather “liberate”, finding in sex a form of “realization” of the human person.
“In 1968” – recalled Cardinal Francis J. Stafford – “something terrible happened in the Church. Within the ministerial priesthood, among friends, fractures occurred everywhere, which would never again be healed, those wounds continue to afflict the whole Church”.
Paul VI was almost traumatized by the dispute, which emerged from some of the Council’s main characters closest to him and, in the 10 years following Humanae vitae, he did not publish any other encyclical, after having published seven of them between 1964-1968.
1968 was also the year in which Paul VI, in a speech to the Lombard Seminary on December 7, spoke of the auto-demolition of the Church, that is of a process which shook and destroyed the Church from the inside.
The Catholic World
Humanae Vitae was unable to stop the consequences of Sixty-Eight. In Italy, the feminist movement and the radical party, with the support of the mass media, were able to impose the legalization of divorce, abortion and new family rights.
It was the Catholic ruling class which approved these laws, wished for by the secular left. The law on divorce was promulgated on December 1, 1970 under the Christian Democrat government, presided over by Catholic Emilio Colombo; the law on abortion of May 22, 1978 was signed by the President of the Council, Giulio Andreotti; just as Civil Unions became law in the Italian State on May 20, 2016 under the government of the “Catholic” Matteo Renzi, and as did living wills (DAT) on December 20, 2017 under the government of “Catholic” Paolo Gentiloni. None of these “Catholic” Council presidents felt the moral need to resign, rather than sign these things into national law, in open contrast with the principles of natural law.
This occurred because the Cultural Revolution of Sixty-Eight was preceded and accompanied, in the years of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar era, by the process of auto-demolition of the Church which..
Put away those birthday cakes for the Church on the 50th day after Easter Sunday. It is time to snuff out the candles on a cake made from non-Catholic ingredients. The Church was NOT born at Pentecost.
Traditionally, Catholics have held that the Church was born three days before Easter on Good Friday. Yet, many Catholics and most Protestants are celebrating the ‘Birthday of the Church’ at Pentecost based upon the Protestant ideal of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) interpretations. Informed Catholics somberly recall the venerable and authoritative Traditional teaching based on Sacred Scripture that the Church was born amidst blood and water from the wounded side of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ on Calvary.
The ultimate foundation for our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith is not based on Sacred Scripture alone. It is based on the twin pillars of truth: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. We may recall the teaching of the Second General Council of Constantinople (553 AD) on Sacred Tradition:
“We firmly hold and teach the Faith which from the beginning was given to the Apostles by our great God and Savior Jesus Christ and by them proclaimed to the whole world. The holy Fathers confessed it and explained it and handed it on to the Holy Church …”
In Sacred Scripture, Saint Paul the Apostle (d.67 AD) declared that Adam foreshadows the coming of the Son of God, thus first evidencing the Apostolic Tradition of interpreting the first man as a ‘type’ of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (I Cor 15:45)
“… yet death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over those who did not sin after the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of Him Who was to come.” (Romans 5:14)
The Fathers of the Church and others have expounded upon Saint Paul the Apostle’s typology between the first Adam from the Garden of Eden and the second Adam Whose Garden of Gethsemani (aka: Gethsemane) led to Calvary. Their instruction forms the foundation of the Church’s Sacred Tradition. In addition, a number of these Church Fathers are also Saints honored as Doctors of the Church recognized for being of particular importance in their contributions to theology or doctrine.
Tertullian (d. 223 AD) considered to be the ‘founder of Latin theology’ was a Latin Father of the Church who expressed: “If Adam is a type of Christ then Adam’s sleep is a symbol of the death of Christ and by the wound in the side of Christ was formed the Church, the true Mother of all the living.”
Origen of Alexandria (d. 254 AD) the head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria and a Greek Father of the Church explained: “Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty He sends a spring of living water from the wound which the spear opened in His side. From the wound in Christ’s side has come forth the Church, and He has made Her His Bride.”
St. Ambrose of Milan (d. 397 AD) was a Bishop and Latin Father and Doctor of the Church. Ambrose professed: “He (Moses) also taught that God made woman: for He made Adam sleepy, and he fell asleep, and He took a rib from his side, and covered it with his flesh. And the Lord God fashioned the rib which He took from Adam into woman … that they should be two in one flesh and that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and that we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones … The Church, who is gathered together from the gentile peoples, leaves Her parents … for the sake of which Man … from Whose side, while asleep God took a rib … when the soldier opened His side, immediately there poured out Blood and water for the life of the world … This life of the world is Christ’s rib, the rib of the second Adam … Therefore we are members of His Body, of His flesh, and of His bones … This is Eve, the mother of all the living … therefore the mother of the living is the Church.”
St. John Chrysostom (d. 407 AD) was a Greek Father of the Church who was also the Patriarch of Constantinople and a Doctor of the Church. The renowned speaker known as the “golden-mouthed” deepened our understanding: “The Gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the Cross, a soldier came and pierced His side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and Blood. Now the water was a symbol of Baptism and the Blood of the Holy Eucharist … From these two Sacraments the Church is born … Since the symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His side, it was from His side that Christ fashioned the Church, as He had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam … As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us Blood and water from His side to fashion the Church, God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the Blood and the water after His own death.”
St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430 AD) was a Bishop who earned the titles of Latin Father and Doctor of the Church. Augustine elucidated:
“When [Christ] slept on the Cross, He bore a sign, yea, He fulfilled what had been signified in Adam: for when Adam was asleep, a rib was drawn from him and Eve was created; so also while the Lord slept on the Cross, His side was transfixed with a spear, and the sacraments flowed forth, whence the Church was born. For the Church, the Lord’s Bride, was created from His side, as Eve was created from the side of Adam.”
“Adam sleeps, that Eve may be born: Christ dies, that the Church may be born. When Adam sleeps, Eve is formed from his side; when Christ is dead, the spear pierces His side that the sacraments may flow forth whereby the Church is formed.
“The first woman was called Life and Mother of the living. The second Adam with bowed head slept on the Cross, in order that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from His side as He slept. Death, by which the dead come to life again! What could be more cleansing than this blood? What more healing than this wound?”
Quodvultdeus (d. 453 AD), Bishop of Carthage, was a disciple of Augustine who instructed his flock: “Now let our Bridegroom climb onto the Cross and sleep there in death, and let His side be opened and the Virgin Bride come forth. As once from the side of Adam Eve was formed, so let the Church be formed now from the side of the dying Christ, as He hangs on the Cross. Oh wonderful mystery! The Bride is born from the Bridegroom!”
Venerable Pope Pius XII (d. 1958 AD) in his Encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ, Mystici Corporis Christi, authoritatively proclaimed:
“As we set out briefly to expound in what sense Christ founded His social Body, the following thought of Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, occurs to Us at once: ‘The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed Herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost.’ For the Divine Redeemer began the building of the mystical temple of the Church when by His preaching He made known His Precepts; He completed it when He hung glorified on the Cross; and He manifested and proclaimed it when He sent the Holy Ghost as Paraclete in visible form on His disciples.”
“That He completed His work on the gibbet of the Cross is the unanimous teaching of the Holy Fathers who assert that the Church was born from the side of our Savior on the Cross like a new Eve, mother of all the living ... One who reverently examines this venerable teaching will easily discover the reasons on which it is based.”
Pope Pius XII also expounded upon the subject of Pentecost in Mystici Corporis Christi, without once mentioning the words, birth, born, or birthday: “The Church which He founded by His Blood, He strengthened on the Day of Pentecost by a special power, given from Heaven … He wished to make known and proclaim His Spouse through the visible coming of the Holy Spirit with the sound of a mighty wind and tongues of fire … Christ our Lord sent the Holy Spirit down from Heaven, to touch them with tongues of fire and to point out, as by the finger of God, the supernatural mission and office of the Church.”
The Post-Vatican II Catholic Catechism holds to this Tradition of the Fathers of the Church: “The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the Cross. ‘The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the Blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.’ ‘For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the Cross that there came forth the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.’ As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced Heart of Christ hanging dead on the Cross.”
The visionary Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (d. 1824 AD) saw Adam after his expulsion from the Garden of Eden weeping at Mount of Olives (Gethsemani) where Jesus would have His ‘Agony in the Garden.’ She also had a vision in which she received insight into why Calvary (in Greek) also known as Golgotha (in Hebrew) was known as the “Place of the Skull.” She saw the tomb of Adam and Eve at an immense depth below the rock which constitutes Mount Calvary. She beheld the Cross of Christ placed vertically over the skull of Adam. In addition to the foregoing authoritative sources, including Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the typology of the first and second Adam is attested to by this acclaimed mystic of the Church.
The ‘Vision of Tuy’ of the Most Holy Trinity with Our Lady of Fatima on June 13, 1929, showed to Sister Lucia our Crucified Lord shedding His Precious Blood onto a Communion Host, then pouring forth into a Chalice, both suspended in the air. The Blessed Virgin Mary with Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart was at the foot of the Cross at Tuy, just as She was at Calvary. Under the left arm of the Cross were large letters, as if of crystal clear water, which formed the words: “Grace and Mercy.”
The Traditional teaching on the Birth of the Church with the Blood and water flowing from our Savior on Calvary could well be reinforced at Tuy.
Perhaps the dreadful situation that the Mystical Body of Christ finds itself today was also predicted in that Tuy vision of which Sister Lucia would say: “… I received lights about this mystery which I am not permitted to reveal.” Consider that at Bethlehem, Our Lady felt no pain at the Virgin Birth. Conversely, at Golgotha, Our Lady experienced great pain as the Church was born. As the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, is being crucified in our time, Our Lady is afflicted once again – as She is Mother of the Church. Perhaps Our Lady of Sorrows appeared at Fatima to console the faithful members of the Church who are undergoing a horrific crucifixion today. She is standing by our side, just as the Mother of God stood near the Cross of Her Divine Son.
The Vision of Tuy can also refer to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, especially in that the apparition appeared over the Altar in Sister Lucia’s convent and was a powerful re-presentation of Calvary. One of the many distressing deviations from the venerable Traditional Latin Mass was that for centuries of not ever having referred to Pentecost as the ‘Birthday of the Church’ in the liturgy, the Novus Ordo Mass in its initial Preface for Pentecost referred to “At the Church’s beginning …” and later, after Pope Benedict XVI’s reform, revised it to “ …as the Church came to birth …” The introduction of such novelties inconsistent with Church Tradition is a source of great distress for those of us who profess what should be unchanging Catholic truths.
Also be aware that various publications – even some written before 1960 – lamentably evidence that many Catholics of different ranks and most Protestants adhere to the innovation that the Church was born at Pentecost. The Catechism Explained is a book written 118 years ago that has the gratuitous unsupported undocumented sentence: “Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.” This is a ‘red-flag’ that goes along with the Modernistic sub-title of the book: “An Exhaustive Exposition of the Christian Religion, with Special Reference to the Present State of Society and the Spirit of the Age.” No wonder Pope Saint Pius X had to write the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis on the doctrines of the Modernists in 1907. Modernism existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has become even more virulent today.
Many of the people celebrating the Birthday of the Church at Pentecost are good souls who are simply misinformed. In charity, we have a duty to instruct them in the truth of Tradition, even if it ruins their party. Others, such as Modernists, deliberately seek to attack venerable Traditions of the Church in order to weaken the One True Faith founded by Christ. As the Church Militant, we have a duty to refute Modernism.
None of the Fathers of the Church ever said that the birth of the Church was at Pentecost; nor did they offer any recipes for any such birthday cakes. Neither should we. It is time to put an end to such nonsense that undermines Church Tradition.
We conclude with this quote from the ‘Oath Against Modernism’ prescribed by Pope Saint Pius X: “I reject any way of judging or interpreting Holy Scripture which takes no account of the Church’s Tradition … So I hold, and I shall firmly hold till my dying breath, the faith of the Fathers …”
Always remember my Three R’s of Modernism: Recognize it; Refute it; and Return to Tradition.
Last year, anno Domini 2017, was truly historic in many ways. Although it did not meet the expectations of some in regard to apocalyptic signs, the Fatima Centenary featured a host of significant happenings in the Church and the world, in general. Dubbed “a year of disaster” by CNBC, 2017 witnessed a variety of devastating natural disasters across the globe: flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, and wildfires, to name a few. For the Church, it could appropriately be styled the “year of resistance” – that is, of resisting Pope Francis “to the face” (Gal. 2:11).
The first notable example that comes to mind is the publication of George Neumayr’s The Political Pope (May 2017), a penetrating exposé of Jorge Mario Bergoglio based largely on direct quotes from the man himself, as noted in my review of the book (published in the July 2017 issue). A few months later (Sept. 24, 2017), the famous Correctio filialis (“filial correction”) was made public, a respectful but firm indictment “on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions” of Pope Francis. This was followed, in turn, by a similar initiative (Dec. 12, 2017): “Pledge of Fidelity: Faithful to True Doctrine, Not to Erring Pastors”.
Perhaps the most intriguing manifestation of resistance, however, appeared in between the Correctio filialis and Pledge of Fidelity in the form of an e-book entitled The Dictator Pope (Nov. 2017). The mysterious author, writing under the pen name “Marcantonio Colonna” (after the famous Italian admiral who led the papal fleet in the Battle of Lepanto), revealed precious few personal details. Initially, he disclosed only that he is “a graduate of Oxford University and has extensive experience of historical and other research. He has been living in Rome since the beginning of Pope Francis’s pontificate, and his book is the fruit of close contacts with many of those working in the Vatican, including the leading Cardinals and other figures mentioned in the narrative.”
On March 19 of this year (the anniversary of Francis’s installation as Pope), in preparation for the release of the second edition, the mystery man revealed his true identity:
“Marcantonio Colonna is the pen name of Henry Sire (H. J. A. Sire), an author and historian. Sire was born in 1949 in Barcelona to a family of French ancestry. He was educated in England at the Jesuits’ centuries-old Stonyhurst College and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he gained an honors degree in Modern History. He is the author of six books on Catholic history and biography, including one on the famous English Jesuit, writer, and philosopher Father Martin D’Arcy, SJ. The Dictator Pope is the fruit of Henry Sire’s four-year residence in Rome from 2013 to 2017. During that time, he became personally acquainted with many figures in the Vatican, including Cardinals and Curial officials, together with journalists specializing in Vatican affairs.” (Hardcover edition, book jacket)
I recently asked Mr. Sire for an interview to discuss his explosive book, which has grabbed the attention of the Church and the world, alike. While much of the book’s contents are not pleasant to read, the terrible truth about Pope Francis must be told and widely disseminated so that, in the author’s words, “the cardinals might never again place a dictator pope in the See of St. Peter.”
Catholic Family News (CFN): First of all, thank you, Mr. Sire, for granting this interview and for your work in writing The Dictator Pope. I can imagine it was not necessarily a pleasant task, but an important one, nonetheless.
Henry Sire (HS): You are exactly right. This was not a congenial subject for me to choose; but after four years in Rome, with all the knowledge I had about what was going on, I felt I would be failing in my duty if I didn't reveal what I knew.
CFN: Before we discuss your book and the grave crisis it details, perhaps you could share with our readers a little about your academic field of expertise and career. What first sparked your interest in studying and writing about Church history?
HS: When I was at school in the 1960s, in spite of all the very bad influences of the time I had the advantage of having access to a library which had all the classic Catholic books of the past fifty or sixty years. I became a strong devotee especially of Belloc and Chesterton. In 2015, I published Phoenix from the Ashes (Angelico Press), which was really the materialization of an idea which I had had from the age of seventeen. My previous books on subjects of Catholic history were rather frivolous sideshows, although they did include a biography of the famous English Jesuit, Father Martin D'Arcy, which was a more worth-while project.
CFN: According to the book jacket of the newly released hardcover edition, “The Dictator Pope is the fruit of Henry Sire’s four-year residence in Rome from 2013-2017.” What originally brought you to Rome? Did you arrive in time to witness the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013 and his introduction to the world that evening?
HS: No, I arrived in Rome exactly a month later. I was called there by the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, Fra Matthew Festing, to work as historian of the Order.
CFN: What was your first impression of Pope Francis? Did you know anything about him prior to his election?
HS: I watched the election on television, and I must say that I felt rather depressed by his hangdog face and manner when he appeared on the balcony. However, I was suspending my judgment on him for the first couple of years. I knew absolutely nothing about Bergoglio beforehand. He was not mentioned as a papabile in any of the newspapers articles I read at the time of the Conclave.
CFN: What were some of the first indicators to you that there was something terribly wrong with Pope Francis and his pontificate?
HS: There were obvious indicators right from the start, for example, his famous “Who am I to judge?” remark. On the other hand, Francis was being very ambivalent, and it was not possible to judge which side he would come down on. Living in Rome, I got blow-by-blow accounts of the two Synods on the Family, but I was receiving Cardinal Pell's accounts mainly, and he did not point to Pope Francis as the man to blame.
CFN: Was there anything in particular that convinced you of the need to write The Dictator Pope?
HS: It was more an accumulation of causes. In December 2015, I wrote an article for Angelico Press, “Pope Francis's Papacy – Where is the reformer behind the media idol?” which was The Dictator Pope in embryo. A year later, I was telling friends that it was necessary that a book exposing the Francis papacy should be written, but at that time I was fully employed as historian of the Order of Malta. The dismissal of Grand Master Festing in January 2017, however, left me free to devote myself to the work.
CFN: As you may know, CFN contributor Christopher Ferrara wrote a review of the first (electronic) edition of The Dictator Pope, giving your research high marks and summarizing the book’s major topics – for example, the St. Gallen Mafia, the homosexual lobby in the Vatican, the infamous Synods on the Family and their predetermined result (i.e. Amoris Laetitia), and the destruction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. For those who have read the first edition of your book (released in late 2017), what differences will they notice in the “Completely Revised and Updated” hardcover edition?
HS: The book has been copy-edited for an American readership, and I have also added sections on the papal scandals that have emerged since the e-book was published. The most important of these is the case of Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, who is Pope Francis's right-hand man and the president of the C9, the council of cardinals who are supposed to be planning the reform of the Church. It is now becoming clear that Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga is one of the most corrupt prelates in the world-wide Church. The Pope sent a Visitor to Honduras last May to investigate serious allegations, and he discovered shocking evidence of deep financial and sexual corruption; yet for the last twelve months, Pope Francis has been personally covering up these facts, in keeping with the blatant cronyism which is central to this pontificate.
CFN: In your recent video interview with the National Catholic Register (recorded March 26, 2018), you were asked, “As a historian, how does this pontificate [of Francis] compare with previous ones?” to which you responded (in part), “Well, there are two aspects of that. There’s a doctrinal one and, yes, the only parallel in that respect is the pontificate of Paul VI.” Similarly, towards the beginning of The Dictator Pope you mention “the radical consequences of the Second Vatican Council” playing out during the reign of Paul VI. What, in your view, is the connection between Vatican II, Paul VI’s pontificate, and the decades-long crisis in the Church that has now reached unprecedented levels under Pope Francis?
HS: The connection is a direct one. It is only in the climate created by the Church revolution of the last fifty-five years that a man of Jorge Bergoglio's character could have been elected pope. But this papacy is going to force Catholics to re-examine the events of the 1960s, which are closely parallel to those of the present reign. In 1963, as in 2013, there was a secret meeting of liberal cardinals on the eve of the Conclave to get their man elected, in direct contravention of canon law. Paul VI's rigging of the Second Vatican Council to push it in a liberal direction was just like Francis's rigging of the Synods. Catholics have been refusing to look at these events, but the omertà (“code of silence”) will have to break down quite soon.
CFN: Although many readers are aware of the St. Gallen Mafia’s scheming in the 2013 Conclave, the “secret meeting of liberal cardinals” prior to the 1963 Conclave is probably less familiar. Would you elaborate a bit on the details of that affair and recommend a good source from which to learn more?
HS: This was organized by Cardinal Lercaro, and the meeting was held on the night before the Conclave opened, in the house of Umberto Ortolani, a banker and prominent Freemason who was Lercaro's right-hand man (Ortolani was later imprisoned for financial fraud). The meeting was attended by nearly all the leading liberal cardinals of the time, and they agreed to try to get Cardinal Lercaro elected, or, failing him, Montini. Paul VI presumably was not aware of the meeting, but the participating cardinals were precisely the ones he promptly appointed to direct the Council and the Church, when they ought to have been excommunicated for their violation of canon law. You will find the story, with references, in my Phoenix from the Ashes.
CFN: Professor Roberto de Mattei, a fellow Catholic historian, recently stated during an interview with CFN concerning the crisis in the Church, “Pope Francis is not its cause, but rather the product of a process of auto-demolition which has its roots in modernism, in the Nouvelle théologie, in the Second Vatican Council, and in the post-conciliar era. Only a serious analysis of the nature of this crisis will allow us to find the right solution, without forgetting that the situation is so grave that only an extraordinary intervention of grace can resolve it.” Do you agree with Professor de Mattei’s assessment?
HS: Professor de Mattei is absolutely right in placing the present crisis within the context of Modernism, which wasn't properly defeated in the early twentieth century because there was a deficient intellectual grasp of it among the clergy as a whole. Then the Second Vatican Council opted for an uncritical acceptance of the Nouvelle théologie, in line with its ill-considered rage for modernity. It would be a very shallow judgment indeed to think Pope Francis solely responsible for the present crisis.
CFN: Do you believe the Church was in “good condition” during the reigns of John Paul II and Benedict XVI?
HS: Absolutely not. When I was writing Phoenix from the Ashes, under Benedict XVI's papacy, I wrote: “For those who have eyes to see, the official modern Church is an empty shell, and it will not be many years before its collapse is impossible to ignore.” I also wrote of John Paul II: “His restoration was a shallow one, founded not on rock but on the sand of the Second Vatican Council.”
CFN: Perhaps due in part to a lack of action from the hierarchy, some Catholics have decided for themselves that Francis is not the true Pope, whether because they believe that Benedict XVI’s resignation was invalid, or Francis’s election null and void (due to the political scheming), or that Francis has lost his office due to heresy. What would you say to those who have chosen to go this route?
HS: I look at this matter as a Church historian, and the principle has always been that the pope is whoever the Church of Rome (i.e. the Roman clergy and laity) recognizes in practice as its bishop. If you applied the criteria of regularity of election, you would have to rewrite a large part of papal history. Similarly, there have been popes who have been condemned posthumously as heretics, but they are still regarded as valid popes. The Church has not yet arrived at a recognized method of deposing a pope for heresy, and attempts in the past to do anything of the sort have always resulted in schism.
CFN: One of the themes that runs throughout The Dictator Pope is Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s skill in manipulating both individuals and the general public. In light of this, what are your thoughts about the new film Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, which premiered in theaters across North America on May 18? What do you believe Francis is hoping to achieve by producing such a film?
HS: If you look at the trailer for this film, it begins: “No matter what divides us, his words unite us.” This, about the most divisive pope the Church has seen for centuries. It is typical of the whole tenor of liberal propaganda, which depends on standing the truth on its head. The producer, Wim Wenders, is the classic left-wing liberal of the 1960s. He is a lapsed Catholic who has run through about five wives, I believe, in his lifetime. This is the audience Pope Francis has been playing to ever since he was elected, and it has served him very well. He just keeps pressing the right buttons and the liberal media salivate like Pavlovian dogs. In fact, if there were a film-maker prepared to do his homework, a good subject for a film would be Bergoglio's career in Argentina in the forty years prior to his papal election. It could be titled: “Jorge Bergoglio: Don't Trust Him An Inch.”
CFN: One final thought and question: It strikes me as quite providential that The Dictator Pope, as well as George Neumayr’s The Political Pope, first appeared during the Fatima Centenary (2017), considering that Sister Lucia (1907-2005), the oldest of the three seers, warned about a “diabolical disorientation invading the world and misleading souls!” Pope Francis, despite his many defects, seems to have sincere devotion to Our Lady, and particularly, to Our Lady of Fatima. Do you believe Our Lady will play a role – perhaps even a decisive role – in resolving the current crisis and restoring Holy Mother Church to her proper condition?
HS: If you look at the Church's history, I think you must recognize that God has always sent special revelations, including many apparitions of Our Lady, to warn the Church in moments of danger. But what you don't find is interventions overcoming the hordes of satan by force. That is not God's way. He offers us the graces we need, but it is up to us to listen to what He tells us. If churchmen had listened to Our Lady's warnings, at Fatima and elsewhere, the whole course of the Church in the last sixty years would have been avoided; but they despised those warnings. We have been under the rule of leaders too sophisticated to take apparitions seriously, or to take simple devotions seriously, and that is why the Church is the wasteland that it is. If Pope Francis has a sincere devotion to Our Lady, we could pray that he listens to the messages She has given us in Her apparitions, and then a miracle could indeed take place.
 Marcantonio Colonna (aka Henry Sire), The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2018), p. 8.
Every woman is meant be a mother; this call to motherhood still stands even if she leaves for the cloister or remains single her whole life. If she ignores this call, it will be to her detriment and to the detriment of society. Unfortunately, we have many women trying to escape this role of mother through abortion, neglect of their children, and an obsession over professional success, to name a few.
Society no longer upholds motherhood. Not only is it becoming increasingly difficult to live off of one income to allow her to stay at home with the children even if she wants to, but, with the push of the feminist movement, the title is now grossly downtrodden, or at the very least devalued. Society says it is a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to become a mother. Thing is, she was born to be a mother. That is every woman’s calling. If she ignores this calling, depression, restlessness, and that terrible feeling that she lacks purpose will assuredly follow. It is her purpose, it is what she was made for. And we see it even in those who try to deny it, saying they don’t want children, hate children, etc. Yet, more often than not, they have a pet, and how do they treat this pet? Like a child. Why? Because they feel unfulfilled and empty if they cannot nurture.
A woman needs to have some sort of outlet for this immense, innate desire to nurture. She may find this outlet in teaching, nursing, or spiritually by way of prayer and fasting as a religious sister or simply as a devout single woman for the sake of saving souls. Edith Stein, who as a cloistered Carmelite nun took the name Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, died in a concentration camp during World War II. She wrote that this role as mother “extended to all people with whom woman comes into contact.” (Stein, Edith Stein Essays On Woman, p. 11). So this nurturing quality could be found in how she cares for her aging parents, even how she approaches strangers on the street. Even in unmarried women in the world that do not have the Faith, you can see this nurturing aspect or at least fragments of it. If you do not see it, if it is so terribly suppressed, the woman is more often than not bitter or, at the very least, unfeminine.
The modern thinking is inspired by selfishness, so no wonder we have many in the world claiming that a woman’s worth isn’t found in the giving of herself, but in the taking: in worldly success, in money-making, in living her life completely detached from the responsibility of caring for another. “Many of the phenomena which moderns hastily condemn are really parts of this position of the woman as the center and pillar of health,” said G.K. Chesterton (Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World, Ch. III). As mother, as giver, she is the health of society. She is the pillar and support of her children. Much of a child’s sense of being loved comes from the love of their mother. Take away the mother, and society crumbles. The gentle and nurturing nature of a mother is what builds the child’s sense of self-worth and confidence; without her acting as a true mother, the child will likely deal with many insecurities.
Edith Stein said that “everywhere the need exists for maternal sympathy and help, and thus we are able to recapitulate in the one word motherliness that which we have developed as the characteristic value of woman.” The world needs women in sync with their maternal nature. It is this nurturing quality, this gentleness, that inspires men to be men, that inspires them to want to protect the innocent and not be so selfish. It is this wonderful, selfless quality that is so natural to a woman and which helps all those around her become less selfish and more heroic.
Many who follow the feminist agenda claim that this idea of being a stay-at-home mom is not only archaic, but basically abuse. How dare men lock up women in these homes to care for their children! How dare men expect the sole privilege of working outside of the home! The feminists claim this domestic duty of motherhood is mundane, forlorn, and uneventful. G.K. Chesterton practically laughs in the face of such claims. He said that when people talk about this domestic duty as “trivial and dreary”, he simply gives up the question, for, as he said: “I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home…But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up.”
He then goes on to compare the hard work of mothers to that of men who fight in battle, to Queen Elizabeth in her kingdom, to Whiteley providing “toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books”, and to Aristotle “teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene.” (Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World, Ch. III). Indeed, how can such responsibility be seen as little worth? The mother is every essential profession combined. She is cook, cleaner, teacher, psychologist, and doctor. Most important of all, through her example and instruction, God uses her as a tool to cultivate in her child’s soul the faith.
The worldly thinking is that to be a mother at home with the children limits her impact to just a small group of people; limits her creativity and drive. If a woman wants to have children, fine, let her have children, but why should she make this little family of hers a priority? Why should she choose this family of hers over her own selfish wants, over her desires as businesswoman, over her friends, over all the fun she could still have in the world?
This way of thinking is not only rooted in selfishness, but is also incredibly narrow-minded and false. “How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?” G.K. Chesterton once asked. “No,” he answers, “a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.” (Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World, Ch. III). How foolish it is for the world to pity the mother who is everything to this child of hers! And to be the world to this child of hers ought to bring her more joy than some worldly promotion at work or a raise in pay. Why, then, should she prioritize a job or other people over this child to whom she gave birth and for whom she is responsible? Her priority is to God and her family. If she puts anyone or anything before them, she is harming not only herself, but her family, and she will not be happy because her God-given purpose will not be fulfilled.
This family unit, which has the mother as the heart and father as the head, which feminists want to destroy, holds great impact against the evils of today, which include this extreme and disgusting form of feminism that is so prevalent in our culture, this feminism that drives its leaders to spout out, “The nuclear family must be destroyed….the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process,” (Linda Gordan, a feminist historian) and also, “Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the women’s movement must concentrate on attacking this institution.” (Sheila Cronin, leader of the feminist movement NOW) (Brown, Saving a Sick America, p. 92). If we attack the family, which is the child’s first society and which will help form them as good citizens in the world, society will self-destruct. The woman, being the queen of this family, therefore has a great responsibility to help save this self-destructing society we live in now.
Our Lady is the ultimate mother. She is a mother to the God-Man literally. She is a mother to us spiritually. Because She embraces both motherhoods, She is therefore the most perfect example for all women, in all walks of life, to look to and follow. Edith Stein said: “For an understanding of our unique feminine nature…” we must “look to the…love and…maternity of Mary. Wherever a woman functions authentically in this spirit of maternal pure love, Mary collaborates with her…whether the woman is married or single, professional or domestic or both, a religious in the world or in the convent.”
A woman has a huge impact on society as mother, just as Our Lady has a huge impact on our salvation as Mother. It was through Mary’s fiat that Our Lord came into the world. She is the Co-Redemptrix. Our Lord did not need Her in a strict sense to participate in our salvation, but He used Her nonetheless. Since Eve participated with Adam in the fall of mankind, it was only right that Our Lord allow Mary to participate with Him in the uplifting of fallen mankind. Likewise, women must try and imitate this ultimate mother, not only in Her tender care of the infant Jesus, but in the sacrifice of Herself for the sake of souls.
A woman’s “motherliness”, according to Edith Stein, “must be that which does not remain within the narrow circle of blood relations or of personal friends; but in accordance with the model of the Mother of Mercy, it must have its root in universal divine love for all who are there, belabored and burdened.” (Stein, Edith Stein Essays On Woman, p. 264). Mary does not restrict Her motherly love to just a few select souls. She does not even restrict it to those baptized Catholic. Time and time again, we see this loving mother extending Her arms to great sinners who have fallen from the state of grace. As women, we must not put limitations to our motherly love. While, our duty may be to our family, we must still pray in earnestness for poor souls, for the dying, for those living on the streets. If we know a neighbor who is sick in bed, then we should bring her a warm plate of food regardless if such a work of mercy will be returned. We must treat those suffering with the gentleness and love of a mother.
It is a very noble calling, this vocation of motherhood. A mother is, in a very beautiful and real way, a participant and a tool used by God to create and sustain life. “A woman is God’s special weapon in [God’s] fight against evil,” said Edith Stein, and how true that is! When a woman acts in accordance with her God-given nature, when she responds to her God-given calling, she combats the evil in this world. She combats it by being a mother, by loving and caring for others as a mother.
Every year on the second Sunday of May, numerous countries throughout the world celebrate Mother’s Day, a beautiful occasion on which to express love toward our own mothers and gratitude for the gift of motherhood, in general. “Honor thy father, and forget not the groanings of thy mother” (Ecclus. 7:29).
This “honor which children are commanded to pay to their parents,” says the Roman Catechism, “should be the spontaneous offering of sincere and dutiful love. This is nothing more than their due, since for love of us, they shrink from no labor, no exertion, no danger. Their highest pleasure it is to feel that they are loved by their children, the dearest objects of their affection” (Part III: The Decalogue, Fourth Commandment, Manner of Honoring Parents).
There is perhaps no greater pain a mother can suffer than to feel unloved and disregarded by her own children, yet this is precisely the sort of pain expressed by our Blessed Mother to Sister Lucia of Fatima on December 10, 1925: “Look, My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude.” For this reason, the Child Jesus prefaced His Mother’s words by imploring Lucia: “Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother…”
This Mother’s Day, which happens to fall on May 13 (anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition at Fatima), let us all remember to “have compassion” on the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Mother, especially by practicing the Five First Saturdays devotion of reparation. In the words of Our Lady, “I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to Me.”
Subscribe or renew your subscription to Catholic Family News today and receive a free CD recording of my talk, “The Five First Saturdays: Console Your Mother, Save and Sanctify Your Soul,” to help you better understand and fulfill this crucial devotion.
Happy Mother’s Day and I hope to hear from you soon!
This past weekend [May 5-6, 2018] was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, who is widely recognized as the architect of the most brutal and bloodthirsty philosophy ever to scar the earth: Atheistic Communism. On the occasion of this infamous event, it was my intention to write an article about the horrors of Communism, the legacy of Karl Marx, the Marxist hatred of humanity, and even his connection with secret societies.
After countless attempts to write this article, committing well over 5,000 words and three days of chasing rabbit holes and rhetorical dead ends, two things became painfully obvious to me. The first is that the bitter fruits of Marx’s ideologies are self-evident, and the second is that I am not as clever as I thought.
On the verge of abandoning my article, my wife suggested that I take a walk and pray the Rosary, and since Our Lady has never failed to help me when I ask, I knew that this was inspired advice.
It didn’t take long into my Rosary to realize that the answer to the problem of Marx was resting in the very beads I held in my hand; each of the Joyful Mysteries I had been praying was an answer provided, long before Marx’s birth, to his philosophy of revolution.
The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
Marx’s entire philosophy is built upon the tension between two vices: greed and envy. He accuses, not entirely wrongly, the upper class of the greedy enslavement of the lower classes. But rather than address the upper class and remind them of their duties through filial love to care for those who struggle to feed their families, he appeals to the suffering of the laborers and fans the flames of envy into an all-out rage. His demagoguery is built upon vice, encouraging a class warfare that leads directly to revolution.
In the first mystery of the Rosary, we meditate on the Annunciation of the Incarnate Word, given to Our Lady by the Angel Gabriel. St. Bernard of Clairvaux explained in his homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother:
“You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a Son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.”
It was through Our Lady’s reply, “Thy will be done,” that She answers the war of vices proclaimed by Marx. Marx announced a revolution which he claimed would be the salvation of the working class, and it was a revolution predicated on grasping at power, wealth and control for the supremacy of the state. Yet, Gabriel announced the salvation of men’s souls through the shedding of Divine Blood! All of Heaven awaited Her answer because without Her willful consent to God’s proposal, man was doomed to the material salvation offered by the likes of Karl Marx. Through meditation on this mystery, we give thanks to Almighty God for Our Lady’s consent to bring the Savior into the world.
The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
As soon as Gabriel left Our Lady, Scripture tells us that She “made haste” [Luke 1:39] to be with Her cousin Elizabeth, who was then in her sixth month of pregnancy. Thus, filled with the Holy Spirit, and carrying the Christ in Her womb, Our Lady’s first desire was to help family and serve others. She is the very model of the corporal works of mercy.
Marx, on the other hand, proposes a system that abolishes and ridicules the service of charity and seeks to impose a heavy-handed system of a labor-fed society. In Marx’s system, there is no love of neighbor, but only the service of all under the imposing gaze of the state.
The Third Joyful Mystery: The Birth of Christ
As we contemplate the Birth of the Savior of mankind, we have in mind the image of Joseph, Mary and the infant Christ Child lying in a manger. This image alone could fill volumes of contemplative meditations. Here, we see the image of the Holy Family as an earthly representation of the Holy Trinity: Joseph the Father, Our Lady filled with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, and Our Blessed Lord bridging the gap between Trinity and Family. But in all the various ways we could contemplate this Mystery, what remains is the image of the family.
Marx’s revolutionary manifesto asked, “What will be the influence of communist society on the family?” His answer is to abolish it by destroying its very foundations:
“It will transform the relations between the sexes into a purely private matter which concerns only the persons involved and into which society has no occasion to intervene. It can do this since it does away with private property and educates children on a communal basis, and in this way removes the two bases of traditional marriage – the dependence rooted in private property, of the women on the man, and of the children on the parents.”
If the Holy Family is the model for all families, and the Holy Family is the reflection of the Holy Trinity, then Marx’s assault upon the family is no less an assault on God, which is why, at its very core, Communism is an atheist philosophy.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
When the priest Simeon received Our Lord from Our Lady, he prophesied: “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted.” [Luke 2:34] At this very moment, he foretold of the crucifixion of Our Lord, and in so doing, he told Our Lady that “thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” [Luke 2:35]
Here we can see the willingness to suffer and die out of love. Our Lady knows that because She shares in the great joy contained in Our Lord, that She will also share in His suffering. There is no man who has ever lived who knows suffering like Our Lady does. At the Annunciation, She knew that if all mankind would fall and suffer because of Eve’s rebellion against her husband and God, that all mankind would be saved because the Christ Child would take the sin and pain of all mankind to Himself, and it could only be accomplished by Her consent. At the Visitation, She knew the joy the Divine Savior growing within Her womb would bring to others. After His birth, She laid Him upon the dead wood of a manger, which is a food trough for animals … a manger that would prefigure the wood of His Cross as He became the food for all mankind. And while Simeon was prophesying the suffering Our Lady would share in Her Son’s Passion, She embraced it all with humility.
In the second chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he said, “Jesus Christ, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” [Philip. 2:5-8]
But Marx preaches a rejection of suffering and servitude. Rather than accepting one’s state in life, Marx preaches an anti-Gospel of envy, where the collective of workers cast off their servitude and rise against the upper class and GRASP what is not theirs.
The Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding of the Child Jesus Teaching in the Temple
In the final Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, we read the conversation between Our Lady and Our Lord, wherein Our Lady asks Him to explain why He left them frantic for three days. At the end of the conversation, St. Luke tells us, “And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.” [Luke 2:51]
The lesson to be had here is Holy Obedience. Our Lord delights in those who are obedient. Beginning with Adam and Eve and running throughout all of Scripture, we see a theme of the curses associated with disobedience and the blessings associated with obedience. When we are obedient to God and subject to proper authority, we are pleasing to Him. When we are disobedient and rebel against rightful authority, we incite His wrath.
The materialist philosophy of Marx’s Communist Manifesto is a blueprint for rebellion against God and rebellion against rightful authority. When one considers the state-sponsored executions, the state-generated famines, the wars, and the spread of abortion, its bitter fruits have resulted in the deaths of countless millions.
Even now, the horrors of Marx’s philosophies are infecting nearly every facet of human civilization. It comes in the form of contraception, abortion, homosexuality, on-going rebellious movements, and every other man-centered -ism that takes our minds away from the Four Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven and Hell.
As we can see, the Rosary provides the answer. The Mysteries we meditate upon provide for us an understanding that man is not made for this world, as Marx would have us believe … but that we are made for love of God and love of neighbor. But more than that, the Rosary is the remedy to Marx’s poison.
The Golden Legend tells us that St. Martha went to the southern part of France, and while she was there, a horrible dragon had taken up residence in the River of Rhone. The locals, try as they may to defeat it, could do nothing to slay this beast. According to the legend, the locals asked Martha for help, who went with them to find the dragon. They found it devouring a man, but St. Martha approached with the Sign of the Cross and cast holy water on it, at which point the creature became as docile as a sheep. She bound it with her own girdle and led it to the villagers, who then killed it with spears.
Through this image, we can see a foreshadowing of the prophesied Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Our Lady asked us to pray the Rosary every day. If the dragon scourging us now is the philosophy of Marx, can we not see how the symbol of the Cross and the girdle of St. Martha, which bound her dragon, make the loop of beads and the Cross of the rosaries we have today? The beast facing St. Martha could not resist her, and neither will the Marxist Dragon of today resist Our Lady.
Oh, Holy Virgin of the Rosary, pray for us!
This article originally appeared at LifeSiteNews. Reprinted here with permission.
When I first began writing about the Church and Islam, I devoted a lot of space to describing ways that Church leaders could resist the spread of Islam. It seemed only a matter of time until they would wake up to the need to resist. As it turned out, however, that assessment was overly optimistic.
The immediate task, as I soon learned, was not to find ways to counter Islam, but to convince the Church’s hierarchy that Islam ought to be resisted. There’s no use talking battle strategies to people who won’t admit that they have an ideological enemy.
The enemy is not Muslims per se, but a belief system adhered to by the majority of Muslims, albeit with varying degrees of commitment. Although Islam does not easily lend itself to moderation, many Muslims manage to practice their faith in peaceful ways. Others merely give it lip service, and still others are on fire with a passionate zeal to spread it—by fire and the sword if necessary.
The idea of opposing dangerous ideologies is not foreign to Americans, but the idea of opposing an ideology that is also a religion is more problematic. It has become increasingly problematic now that we live in an era in which merely disagreeing with another’s opinions is tantamount to a hate crime. So, just for the record, critiquing Islam does not mean that one hates Muslims. Criticizing Islam is not the same as criticizing Muslims, any more than criticizing communism is equivalent to criticizing Soviet-era Russians. One can acknowledge the humanity and good intentions of others without having to endorse their ideology. And if their ideology or belief system presents a grave danger to others, it would be wrong not to criticize it. Of course, one should employ tact and prudence when offering such criticism.
The distinction between Citizen X and his beliefs is a simple one. You do not have to respect his beliefs, but you should try to respect him as a fellow human being. Many Catholic leaders, however, have difficulty making this distinction. Rather than try, they have, in the case of Islam, simply declared it to be an upstanding fellow religion with many similarities to Christianity. That way, no one’s feelings are hurt. The problem of Islamic terrorists and extremists is handled in the same way: they are assumed to be a small minority who have misunderstood the peaceful nature of their religion.
By the same token, it stands to reason that critics of Islam have also misunderstood Islam, and need to be set straight. If they persist in their obstinacy, they are dismissed as bigots and “Islamophobes.” Likewise, Church officials assume that opponents of Muslim immigration must be poorly informed, or else racist and xenophobes. If they loved their neighbor, they would not challenge his beliefs or question his religious practices
Under Pope Benedict XVI there were signs—such as his Regensburg Address—that the Church was developing a more realistic view of Islam. But whatever ground was gained by Benedict was given up by Francis. Indeed, it seems fair to say that under Francis, the Church’s understanding of Islam regressed. Perhaps the most glaring example of this regression can be found in the Pope’s assertion that “authentic Islam and a proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” It’s hard to imagine any of his predecessors or any of their advisors making a similar claim.
Unfortunately, very few churchmen have taken issue with Francis’s profoundly flawed view of Islam. Instead, many have joined the chorus—some out of naiveté, some out of misplaced sensitivity, and some, perhaps, out of cowardice.
Several decades have passed since the emergence of worldwide Islamic terrorist networks, and Church leaders are still clinging to a fantasy-based view of Islam. In their defense, it must be admitted that other world leaders have also been in thrall to the cult of sensitivity, and have been equally slow in giving up their dreamy narratives. For a long time, Western leaders kept repeating the mantra that Islamic terror had nothing to do with Islam. But now their tune is beginning to change. The Austrian prime minister has threatened to close one of Vienna’s largest mosques, the French have shut down numerous mosques and deported several radical imams, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have effectively closed their borders to Muslim migrants, and Hungary’s prime minister has unapologetically defended the Christian identity of his country.
It’s strange that the Church which, because of its history, ought to be the first to know, appears to be among the last institutions to grasp that Islam is not really a religion of peace.
Or, perhaps, Church leaders do understand the dangers of Islam and have adopted a strategy of silence to protect potential victims of Islam. That’s one plausible defense of their inaction. Perhaps they fear that any criticism of Islam will bring harsh reprisals against Christians living in Muslim lands. During World War II, Catholic leaders quickly learned that denunciations of Nazism brought swift and deadly reprisals against both Jews and Christians. As Nazi power increased, the Vatican developed more covert tactics for helping Jews to escape, and Catholics to resist.
One might argue that today’s Catholic leaders are following a similar strategy in the hopes of mitigating the persecution of Christians and other minorities. But there’s a difference. If the Church simply maintained a prudential silence about Islamic aggressions, that argument might make sense. But Church leaders have not simply refrained from criticizing Islam. Instead, they have taken every opportunity to praise Islam, to declare their solidarity with it, and to join in various Islamic initiatives, such as the campaign against “Islamophobia.” Judging by the Church’s great solicitude for Islam, one would think it was the most persecuted faith on earth, rather than one of the chief persecutors.
The Church’s current Islam policy does not look like the cautious approach of one who is dealing with a dangerous enemy. It looks more like the trusting innocence of one who thinks he has no enemies. Pius XII may have maintained a prudential silence about Nazi evils once it became apparent that many innocent people would pay the price, but he never praised Nazism as a force for peace, and he certainly never declared the Church’s solidarity with it.
By contrast, Church leaders and Pope Francis in particular, have become, in effect, enablers of Islam. Pope Francis has denied that Islam sanctions violence, has drawn a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism (“If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence”), and has campaigned for the admittance of millions of Muslim migrants into Europe. Moreover, he has criticized those who oppose his open borders policy as hard-hearted xenophobes. In return for his efforts, he has been publicly thanked by several Muslim leaders for his “defense of Islam.”
One might be tempted to use the word “collaborator” instead of “enabler.” But collaborator is too strong a word. In its World War II context, it implies a knowing consent to and cooperation with an evil enterprise. It seems clear to me that the pope and others in the hierarchy are enabling the spread of an evil ideology; however, it’s not at all clear that they understand what they’re doing. Francis, for instance, seems to sincerely believe that all religions are roughly equal in goodness. Thus for him, the spread of any religion must seem like a good thing. It’s an exceedingly naïve view, but one that seems honestly held.
But one can’t plead ignorance forever. Eventually, the reality of the situation will become plain to all but the most obtuse. At that point—at the point the threat is undeniable—we assume that the people in power will wake up and take the appropriate actions. But what if the awakening comes too late? The pope, for one, has shown little evidence that he will change his views on the subject. If anything, he has doubled down—recently going so far as to say that the rights of migrants trump national security. We should not look to the pope to lead the way on this issue. He seems constitutionally incapable of entertaining doubts about his Islam policy. It looks like the impetus to change course will have to come from bishops, priests and Catholic laity. They had better get busy. There is no time to waste.
God occasionally offers us teachable moments through otherwise routine (and sometimes tragic) natural events that are closely linked in space or time. One such moment was in the late summer of 1997 when, in the course of one week, the celebrated Princess Diana died abruptly in a tragic car accident and, six days later on the other side of the world, the humble Mother Teresa passed away quietly after a lengthy illness. Among other teaching points was the radical difference in the reactions of the world press to the two deaths. While brief and perfunctory respect was offered to the 87-year-old Mother Teresa (after all, she made only a small dent in India’s overwhelming problem of poverty), Diana’s death drove the international media into a months-long frenzy about the details of her accident, the allegedly sordid activities of the royal family, and Diana’s legacy to the British people.
The Prince and the Pauper
We saw another such moment last week, also with British connections. On Monday, April 23, the 35-year-old Prince William (elder son of Princess Diana) and his wife welcomed their third child into the world, giving him the (predictably patrician) name Louis Arthur Charles. The infant boy, who is the sixth great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II, is now fifth in line to the British throne. Simultaneously, a months-long drama came to a climax in the British city of Liverpool, where a 23-month old toddler named Alfie Evans was at the center of a legal battle for his very life. On Saturday, April 28, Alfie died, nearly a week after his life support was withdrawn by order of a British court. According to testimony from inside sources, it is quite possible that Alfie’s death was the direct result of four different drugs which were administered by the hospital a few hours before his sudden decline and passing.
Little Alfie Evans joins Charlie Gard, who died under similar conditions in 2017 at the age of eleven months, as casualties of British law and medical ethics (or lack thereof), in which the rights of the state now trump those of the parents. Alfie had suffered from a degenerative neurological condition and had been in a Liverpool hospital since December, 2016. When Alfie’s parents had the audacity to disagree with the hospital’s decision to “pull the plug” on their son, a four-month legal battle ensued. In February, a British court ruled in favor of the hospital administrators, agreeing that there was “no hope” for the youngster and permitting the hospital to withdraw life support. Legal appeals by the Evans family were met with denials at three levels, including the European Court of Human Rights, which called their petition “inadmissible.”
Complicating the situation for British authorities, otherwise in lockstep about the decision to end Alfie’s life, were two irritants. First, Pope Francis made a public plea for Alfie’s life after a personal meeting on April 18 in the Vatican with Alfie’s father, Tom Evans. Secondly, as noted by even the liberal Jesuit America magazine, “the Italian government granted citizenship to Alfie, and Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome has offered to care for the child. Doctors in the U.K. have not been able to make a definitive diagnosis of the 23-month-old child's degenerative neurological condition, but they have said keeping him on life-support would be ‘futile.’ Three specialists from Bambino Gesu had flown to Liverpool and examined Alfie. According to the president of Bambino Gesu, ‘a positive outcome would be difficult, but the baby's suffering can be alleviated.’”
At this point, however, British authorities were not willing to have the Italians come out as heroes by rescuing little Alfie and providing superior care. Thus, two days after the Italian offer, a British Court of Appeal upheld a ruling preventing Alfie from travelling abroad after life support was withdrawn. Thus, the toddler’s fate was sealed – no life support, no travel, and no appeal. Such is the realm of medical “ethics” in the New World Order. After Alfie’s death early Saturday morning, Tom Evans, a Catholic, wrote a magnificent tribute to his beautiful son on Facebook: "My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings... absolutely heartbroken."
A brief look at the British judge at the center of the Alfie Evans case is sufficient to see the forces of death hard at work. As noted by the Church Militant website, High Court Justice Anthony Hayden is a pro-gay activist and a member of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group (BLAGG), a network of gay lawyers in the United Kingdom. “He has repeatedly ruled against Evans' parents, represented by the pro-life, pro-marriage Christian Legal Centre, which has condemned homosexuality as one of the ‘most significant challenges to God's pattern for family in today's society.’” Hayden is also the co-author of a book promoting gay adoption, described as a guide for those "who provide advice and support to same sex families." In his February 20 ruling that permitted the halting of life support, Hayden noted (apparently with no trace of irony) that young Alfie required "peace, quiet and privacy."
As with 1997, the press coverage of these two juxtaposed stories is entirely predictable. The British tabloids will continue full of stories on little Louis Arthur Charles in the coming months and years. The British public and royalists around the world will be regaled with details about his favorite foods, his first steps, his first words, etc. Meanwhile, Alfie Evans will be conveniently forgotten except by “Alfie’s Army,” the local activists who supported his cause, and – of course – in the mind of God.
Providential Date of Passing
One last point must be mentioned that may well be part of our teachable moment. Alfie Evans died on the anniversary of St. Gianna Molla’s death. On April 28, 1962, the 39-year-old Italian mother died of expected complications from the birth of her daughter one week earlier. Gianna had refused both an abortion and a hysterectomy for the sake of her Catholic faith and the welfare of her child. Was Alfie’s death on this anniversary perhaps God’s way of reminding us of the preciousness of all vulnerable life in His eyes? Or, in the words of Christ, “Having eyes, see you not? and having ears, hear you not?” (Mark 8:18).
Along with millions of other concerned bystanders across the globe, I followed closely the heroic struggle of little Alfie Evans and his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, against a hospital and judicial system bent on depriving this poor family of basic parental and human rights. Sadly, the struggle came to a tragic end over the weekend – tragic, most especially, because it could have been avoided.
Upon checking my email inbox Saturday morning (April 28), I saw a fresh update from Dr. Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican magazine, whose periodic “Moynihan Letters” (mass e-mailings) I receive. The subject line, “Letter #25, 2018: Alfie goes home,” immediately raised my hopes that, at long last, Alfie had finally been released from the state-imposed prison known as Alder Hey Hospital. After reading the first several lines, however, I realized that the “home” to which Dr. Moynihan alluded is the everlasting abode beyond this mortal life. Here is an excerpt of his message:
“Little Alfie passed away during the night.
His death came at about 2:30 in the morning, Liverpool time — the darkest hour of the night, the hour that comes just before the dawn...
His frail lungs breathed a final breath, and then ceased breathing...
He had kept breathing for almost exactly 100 hours from the time his breathing support machinery was removed on Monday night [April 23, 2018] at 10:17 by the hospital authorities where he was staying.
He slipped away from this world silently, without a word...
He was not yet two years old...” (ellipses rendered according to Dr. Moynihan’s original usage)
First and foremost, my heart goes out to the brave young parents who fought so valiantly but have now suffered the loss of their precious little boy. As the father of a two-year-old son myself, I can only imagine the pain, sorrow, and near “unreality” they must be experiencing.
Each of them shared the heartbreaking news with the world on Facebook shortly after Alfie’s passing:
Dear Tom and Kate, please be assured of continued prayers from around the world as you mourn the loss of your little Alfie. And try to take comfort in the truth that your son is now safe in the arms of Our Lord, where neither Alder Hey nor the UK High Court can persecute him any longer. As Dr. Joseph Shaw of Oxford University reminded us all via Twitter:
Violation of Basic Parental Rights
The rotten core of this tragedy was the gross violation of parental rights by “the British socialized medical regime,” as EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo described the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). During the latest episode of The World Over (aired April 26, 2018), Arroyo interviewed Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D., the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, who holds a doctorate in Neuroscience from Yale University (among several other degrees). During their discussion of the Alfie Evans case, Fr. Pacholczyk summed up the matter quite well in answer to Arroyo’s comments, “Are we seeing in the British socialized medical regime – parents really don’t have a decision in this process. It is the state that decides what’s in the best interest of that child.” Fr. Pacholczyk responded:
“That’s why this has struck such a chord, an international chord. This is clearly rubbing against the grain of very basic parental rights. Your ability to make healthcare decisions for your own child is under direct threat here, and everybody can see that. I mean, what these parents are requesting is in no sense unreasonable…”
Arroyo went on to ask how Alder Hey Hospital’s decision to periodically withhold “fluids, nutrition”, and oxygen after removing Alfie from life support could possibly be “justifiable”, to which Fr. Pacholczyk replied:
“And, you know, they talk about, for example, sustaining his dignity, giving him a dignified death – that kind of language. And you ask yourself, well, if that’s really the case, why won’t they feed him? Why won’t they make him comfortable with things that are very easily available to administer to him?”
And further, as Arroyo asked, “Why would the National Health Service be so belligerent and deny all of these efforts to help this child [e.g. the Italian government’s offer to airlift Alfie to Rome’s Bambino Gesù Hospital]?”
Whether it was simply a tyrannical “exercise of power,” as Fr. Pacholczyk later suggested, or that the hospital is desperately trying to cover something up, the basic answer to such questions can be summed up with one word: evil. If there had been a single ounce of “good will on the part of decision makers,” to quote Polish president Andrzej Duda, little Alfie would no doubt still be with us.
Open Letter to UK Catholic Bishops
In closing, allow me to share an open letter (dated April 27) written by Jean Pierre Casey, nephew of Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand (German Catholic philosopher), addressed to “the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales,” who scandalously chose to support the hospital and other authorities who usurped the natural rights of Alfie’s parents. Mr. Casey’s letter (full text available from LifeSiteNews, reprinted here with permission) eloquently summarizes what so many of us are thinking and feeling concerning this tragedy. May it serve to galvanize us as we continue fighting “the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12), knowing that little Alfie is now assisting us from Heaven with his prayers:
Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales from a concerned Catholic citizen
Though I can understand the desire to strike a conciliatory tone when both the stakes and emotions are running high, it is a gross understatement to call the wording of your declaration on the Alfie Evans case unfortunate, particularly given the emphasis on the apparent “integrity” of the medical staff and administrators of Alder Hey hospital.
A hospital that acts as a jail, imprisoning a child against his parents’ wishes and better judgement does not act with integrity.
A hospital that seeks a court injunction to prevent the parents from exercising their rightful duty to act in the best interests of their child does not act with integrity.
A hospital that refuses to call into question its (possible, if not likely, mis) diagnosis does not act with integrity.
A hospital that seeks to oust a chaplain who is providing spiritual solace to a family in need and administering sacraments does not act with integrity.
A hospital that refuses to consider alternatives does not act with integrity.
A hospital that requests police presence to prevent parents from exercising their lawful right to remove their child from the hospital's care - threatening parents with a conviction of assault if they so much as touch their child - does not act with integrity.
A hospital that refuses to facilitate a meeting between its medical staff and the head of another hospital prepared to accept the child into its care does not act with integrity.
A hospital that fails to cooperate with other hospitals who send medical staff, equipment and transport to support the parents' wishes for alternative forms of treatment does not act with integrity.
A hospital that refuses to hydrate or feed a child does not act with integrity.
More importantly — and worse than the unfortunate choice of words used in your declaration — is its abject failure to address the heart of the matter: the privileged link between children and their parents as their God-given custodians.
No mention is made in the declaration of the sanctity and dignity of human life.
No mention is made of the rights of parents as the primary educators and sole legitimate custodians of the child.
No mention is made of the primary rights of parents — not the state, or medical doctors, or conflicted, unelected magistrates — to determine what they believe to be in the best interests of their child.
Because the declaration so completely fails to uphold Catholic teachings in regards of life and the family, it ought not be considered a Catholic declaration. To label it as such is intensely misleading.
It is ever more obvious that beyond the thousands of abortions they procure annually, NHS hospitals are becoming death mills not only for the unborn, but for the living. Every parent in the UK, Catholic or otherwise, will now rightly question whether by admitting their child to a NHS hospital, their child will ever again be allowed to leave and see the light of day. That our bishops continue to ally themselves with the NHS in defending the indefensible is beyond comprehension.
Whilst you may be tempted to characterise me and others who share my views as ‘simpletons’ whose intellectual faculties are insufficient to fully grasp the ethical and medical subtleties of the case, I will reply: I know tyranny when I see it. I know oppression when I see it. I know injustice when I see it. And so do many thousands of others across the world. If our Church leaders, meaning the collective you, remain silent in the face of such tyranny, oppression and injustice, then not only do they fail in their mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only do they fail to publicly uphold the sanctity and dignity of all human life, not only do they fail to defend the rights of parents as the primary educators and as the sole legitimate custodians of their children — each one of these being individually considered a serious sin of omission — but they also become accomplices of, and indeed, active participants in, gravely evil acts.
I regret to say that with the kind of leadership — or rather the complete absence of leadership our bishops are showing — in grave public cases where a powerful public witness in defense of life, the family and God-given parental rights is not only necessary but is indeed a moral obligation, it is no wonder the flock of practising Catholics is so rapidly dwindling. For who wants to follow such shepherds? For this to occur so soon after the Charlie Gard saga, and with an essentially identical outcome — namely, the complete lack of leadership, lack of conviction, and lack of courage we are seeing from our bishops, I am afraid to say I am ashamed to be an English Catholic.
As Edmund Burke said: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’
With every hope that the Holy Spirit will prompt you to put into action the prophetic words of [Pope] John Paul II: “If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace the truth [sic] the truth revealed by God.”
From April 9 – April 12, 2018, Una Voce of Puerto Rico (led by Edgardo Cruz) had a traditional parochial mission in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, within the San Juan Diocese. Fr. Jeffery Jambon was invited to preach the traditional mission in Spanish. The mission’s central activity, was the Traditional Latin Mass.
The faithful of the whole island of Puerto Rico have only one Traditional Latin Mass available to them, and it is offered on only one Sunday per month. The faithful (belonging to the local Una Voce chapter) were delighted to have Father Jeffery Jambon (a resident priest in the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky who offers only the Traditional Roman Rite) offer daily Mass not only during the mission, but a few days after its conclusion as well. Even parishioners normally attending the Novus Ordo came to participate in the mission, and all were happy to be a part of it. Many faithful in Puerto Rico are praying and hoping for the growth of the Traditional Latin Mass locally.
Each night the Mission conferences took place in the San Rafael Conference Room in the Parish Center of San José.
From Monday to Thursday Holy Mass was offered in the evening and a nightly sermon was given in Spanish about the Seven Mansions of St. Teresa of Avila (author of the Interior Castle), followed by an hour-long conference on topics as: sin, Heaven, the Blessed Mother and the Glorious Resurrection of Christ. The faithful were also invited to ask questions about the ceremonies of the Traditional Latin Mass. On the first night of the mission, about 25 people came and each night attendance increased until the last evening of the mission, when 70 people were present.
At the Mission’s conclusion, there was a High Mass sung in the same San José Parish Church, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
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