Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Sanctus with the Benedictus is meet and right.

It is funny how long it can take one, namely me, to notice something both obvious and important.  But at Mass last Sunday at Pusey House I noticed how well the Benedictus fits with the Sanctus even if it was appended about a thousand years ago or more.
I therefore consider it an innovation . . . but a good one.
Perhaps the good fit of the Benedictus eluded me because my parish does not use it.  The Reformed Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer is traditional low church (even as we have become slightly higher church) and follows the 1662 BCP in not having the Benedictus with the Sanctus.  My memory is fuzzy on whether REC parishes are allowed to use the Benedictus, but my parish does not.
Back to this past Sunday’s Mass, the musical setting was Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale.  That, sung by the very good Pusey House choir, drew my mind well to the holiness of God expressed in the Sanctus.
But then as the Benedictus was sung, I remembered that Christ is our holy King, yet he comes to us “lowly and riding on a donkey” and he comes to us in the Holy Communion.  And I finally but immediately saw what an excellent summation the Sanctus with the Benedictus is of the Eucharist – God is “holy, holy, holy”; yet he graciously and humbly comes to us in the incarnation and in the Holy Communion.
Yes, as wonderful as this is, it should be obvious to the catholic Christian.  But it is no less good for me to see it this past Sunday at Pusey House.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Hillary: “You cannot be civil” to Republicans

You never know who you are going to run into at Evensong . . . or after Evensong.  There was quite a commotion during and after Evensong at Magdalen Oxford this past Sunday.  Afterward I found out why when I saw Hillary Clinton herself enjoying the adulation of students.  She looked well and happy by the way.
 But look what she said while in Oxford.  Her response to the recent uncivil, abusive, threatening, and, yes, violent tactics of Leftists?
 You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about…
 She thereby justifies the Brown Shirt tactics of the Leftist mob.  She endorses the tactics of totalitarians.  And face it, the way the Leftist base of the Democrat Party has been acting, with the blessing of Hillary, of Eric Holder among others – that is the way totalitarians act.
 I’ve said before the Democrat Party has a totalitarian streak.  Its tactics against Kavanaugh, trying to turn his confirmation into a show trial, its attacks against the free speech of opponents and even against the peace and persons of opponents, reveal it is becoming a totalitarian party if it is not there already.
 And that is further indicated by even the uber-establishment Hillary Clinton being okay with that.
 With the way the Democrats are going, I expect to revisit this subject.  But it suffices for now to say that if they are not politically punished for their totalitarian tactics and soon, namely November, it will be a disaster for the United States. 

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Christ Church Oxford has issues with time

Christ Church Oxford has long had issues with time.  Because they apparently don’t believe in time zones, official Christ Church time is 5 minutes slower than Greenwich Mean Time.
But this evening they really did it.  Their music list had Evensong starting today at 5pm (Christ Church time).  But that was in error; it started at 6pm.  People who came for the non-existent 5pm service were turned away at the gate (although invited to come back in an hour), and my schedule was thrown off for sure.  I adapted but could not make Evensong.
I hope the choir is being run better than that.  Perhaps the Dean, Martyn Percy, should pay more attention to his knitting rather than blackballing the orthodox.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Latin BCP Holy Communion at St. Mary’s Oxford

Yes, a Latin Book of Common Prayer service may seem a bit of a contradiction, an oxymoron even. Wasn’t the BCP written in English precisely so that it would be “understanded of the people”? Wasn’t it a pointed break from the Latin Sarum Rite?
But remember that in times past, Latin was very well “understanded” by Oxford scholars.  You really could not even get into the place, much less flourish within, without knowing Latin well.  So in 1560, just one year after the Elizabethan Prayer Book of 1559 was approved, a Latin BCP was promulgated for the use in the universities.
A survivor of those times – because tradition! – is a Latin BCP Holy Communion service at the University Church of St. Mary’s in Oxford at 8am the Thursday before the beginning of the academic year, which service I attended this morning.
I attended (among only about 15 so to do) because . . . tradition! and because Oxford could use all the Latin prayer it can get.  But I have to admit it was more stirring than I expected.  As I walked down the High about ten minutes early, St. Mary’s main bell was calling scholars to the service. Of course, most of even Oxford students on High Street were probably clueless as to why all the gonging.
The service itself was quiet and said, only about 35 minutes.  I found hearing and saying (tolerably well) the Latin moving.  There is something about Latin.  And when I crossed my arms for a blessing only (Oddly, the sacrament was brought around to the stalls instead of the congregation going forward.), being quietly blessed in Latin moved me indeed.
I attended this in 2007, missed it in 2011.  I am glad I didn’t miss it this time and recommend it to all visitors to Oxford, at least those not allergic to Latin.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Arriving in Oxford

I arrived in Oxford today.   I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Oxford in the past.  But right now it’s love!  It’s funny how excited I was at arriving here and walking around like when I arrived for my past stays.  You’d think that would not happen so much now given my past two Michaelmas Terms here (in 2007 and 2011) were a bit of a struggle.
Oh well.  Oxford does bring out peculiar responses in people as I’ve experienced first hand.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Michaelmas Eve in Cambridge

It is Michaelmas Eve in Cambridge, and I am resting more than usual because I am fighting off a small cold. But that’s okay, especially because, like in 2007, I get to experience Michaelmas in Cambridge!
Tomorrow morning is High Mass for Michaelmas at Little St. Mary’s.  Then late afternoon is the first public Evensong at King’s.  This being the beginning of the last academic year of Stephen Cleobury directing the King’s College Choir is a big reason I am here. Once again, I get to have an auspicious Michaelmas.
But first to defeat this cold….

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A church-aided Syrian “refugee,” murder, and an object lesson for ACNA

Out of Vancouver comes a heart-rending and perhaps enraging story.  The oh-so progressive and inclusive St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church to their credit (or discredit) contributed not a little money to import a lovely refugee family.  But that did not have a happy ending:
The 30K/ 30Day project on Bowen Island through St. Andrews- Wesley set out to raise $30,000 to bring Syrian refugee families to Vancouver. They succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. The money they raised paid for Ali’s brother and his family to come to Canada. 
And an extra $15,000 was raised to bring Ibrahim Ali and another brother.
“It would mean they could have a family reunion along with family that is in Burnaby,” was the pitch.
At 1 in the morning, last summer, the body of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen was found in Burnaby’s Central Park. The last sight of her was on the security camera of a Tim Horton’s. After over a year of searching, as her photo in a sailor suit looked out from the TV news, posters and flyers, after hundreds of interviews and tips, the case broke wide open.
St. Andrews- Wesley’s gift to Canada was arrested for her murder. That extra $15,000 had paid for a little girl’s life.

Read more here.  My point in bringing this up is not to address the politics of refugees and immigration, but to present an object lesson the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) must consider.  I do not think ACNA has any churches as sold out to the social justice gospel as St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church.  But there are a few parishes, organizations, and at least a diocese or two in ACNA that are very committed to refugee and immigrant ministry.
Now certainly we should minister to refugees who are refugees indeed and to other immigrants.  But we should not enable wrong behavior such as illegal immigration, deceptive refugee claims, or otherwise taking wrongful advantage of host countries or even preying on them.  If that seems harsh, remember that St. Paul wrote that assistance for widows should go to those who “are widows indeed” and that assistance to the poor should not go to those who are able-bodied but unwilling to work.  Part of his reasoning was to avoid enabling sinful behaviors.
Likewise, we should not enable the sinful conduct of illegals and of faux refugees.  But I fear some ACNA parishes and organizations are not being as careful as they should be.  Someday the result could be as awful as in Vancouver.  And then ACNA would be found to have enabled awful crime.  ACNA could even be found with blood on its hands.
I do not have easy answers to prevent this.  But perhaps the College of Bishops could give firmly worded guidelines and instructions in line with St. Paul’s above instructions about church charity. Some in ACNA may still chose to disregard wise guidelines, but that would then be on them, not on ACNA as a whole.  And any wise steps to avoid enabling can only do good.
But for now, the attitude of much of ACNA towards immigrants and refugees seems not that much different that that of St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church.  If that continues, it will only be a matter of time before a similar awful result.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Remembering the East Yorkshire Regiment in World War I

In the past when I visited English churches, I’ve rarely paid much attention to war memorials. My focus has been much more on older, especially medieval aspects of church buildings.  But with this year being the 100thanniversary of the end of World War I, I am making a point to pay more attention.
So two days ago, I noticed a cenotaph style memorial in a small chapel of Beverly Minster.  Around all sides are the names of those who died in “The Great War” from the East Yorkshire Regiment.  I walked around it and saw all. the. names.  From just one regiment. 
It was overwhelming.  I had to sit down for a few moments to regain my composure.
Us Americans came in late to World War I.  And today we frankly suck at history.  So most of us do not get how devastating WWI was.  But I am at least beginning to get it in recent years.  Being in England certainly assists with that.  I was chatting with some gentlemen in York, and they told me a big reason the term “Lost Generation” came about.  When the English went off to war, they wanted to be together with their buddies and brothers, of course, (And I’ve noticed this desire reflected in some of C. S. Lewis’ letters.) and to a large extent this desire was accommodated. So during some of the worst battles and/or in some of the worst hit regiments, the male youth of whole towns were decimated.
And some of that decimation is documented, name by name, in that memorial in Beverly Minster.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Anglo-Catholics Are That Much More Important Now.

I hope it goes without saying for my good readers that traditional Anglo-Catholics are a vital part of Anglicanism and of the whole church.  With the current crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, they are now that much more important.
(And this is such a weighty subject that I apologize ahead of time that I will be glossing over it.  I also apologize if what I am about to say seems a bit obvious.  Sometimes, however, we need to remind ourselves of the obvious.) 
Anglo-Catholic parishes and jurisdictions have long been havens for those who love traditional catholic worship and orthodox teaching but who for various reasons cannot conscientiously join the Roman Catholic Church.  I count myself among these.  Pusey House, especially, has been a haven for me when in Oxford.  And when anywhere near North Dallas on a Sunday, I can hardly keep myself from visiting Smokey Matt’s.
Without rehashing the sordid details, matters have gotten so awful in the Roman Church that those of a traditional catholic mindset who can no longer abide the Church of Rome will surely increase – and surely are increasing now.  And where will they go except to Anglo-Catholic parishes? Jurisdictions outside of both the Church of Rome and Anglicanism that have traditional catholic worship with which Anglicans and Roman Catholics are familiar are few and far between. Without desiring it to be so and in spite of their ecumenical mindset, Anglo-Catholics have close to a monopoly on non-Roman traditional catholic worship.  (By the way, has anyone addressed why this is so? Perhaps this question would make for a good thesis.)
So traditional Anglo-Catholics who hold to the orthodox catholic faith should know that they are that much more important now.  They should not attempt to poach from the Romans, but they should be that much more committed to letting people know you are there and to being a welcoming haven to those who thirst for catholic faith and worship.
And, frankly, the rest of Anglicanism should know this, too, and be more committed to the genuine flourishing of Anglo-Catholic parishes and jurisdictions.   Anglo-Catholicism is a great gift of Anglicanism to the world and to the church.  Anglo-Catholics live out that one can be a robust catholic outside the Church of Rome and all her enormities.  And now more than ever for the health of the whole church, there needs to be a place for traditional catholics to flourish outside the Roman Catholic Church – especially since the days may be numbered for traditional catholics to flourish inside the Roman Catholic Church.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Francis and Cupich Transcend Satire

With my warped sense of humor, I should have noticed this earlier, but Weird Dave of Ace of Spades, being weird, has noticed it. (There’s handy screenshots at the link.  Scroll down to “Satire is dead.”)
Pope Francis and Cardinal Cupich have transcended satire . . . or killed it.
First, on August 16th, the Babylon Bee posted “Pope Says He Will Address Sex Abuse Scandal Once He’s Finished Talking About Climate Change.”  It began:

In his first public statement on the horrifying, devastating report on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis stated he would address the controversy in detail once he’s done talking about climate change for a few more weeks.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church claimed he is deeply concerned with the tragic report, but is “just too swamped” with work fighting climate change, criticizing capitalism, and advocating for other issues of social justice to talk about the repulsive report at the moment.
Now that is satire, just to be clear. . . . Or it was satire.
For ten days later, after the Vigano statement, Cardinal Cupich made this statement as I’ve noted:

The pope knows we have a bigger agenda. We have to speak about the environment, about the poor, we have to reach out to people who are marginalized in society. We cannot be distracted at this moment,” Cupich said.
Elsewhere, Cupich was quoted, “The Pope has a bigger agenda. … He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on with the work of the church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
That is not satire. . . .  Really.  I’m dead serious.  It is not satire.
Beyond that, I’ve got nothing.  How can satire survive that?
Perhaps we need a new feast day?  The Feast of the Translation of Holy Satire?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cardinal Cupich Doesn’t Like You Distracting Bigots

Cardinal Blase Cupich is not happy with you bigots who think Pope Francis should resign or, at the very least, think Francis’ promotion of apostate predators and wolves should be thoroughly investigated.
“The pope knows we have a bigger agenda. We have to speak about the environment, about the poor, we have to reach out to people who are marginalized in society. We cannot be distracted at this moment,” Cupich said.
Yes, the Gospel, the purity of the church, and protecting the young are such annoying distractions from lib/left political activism.  And Vigano’s testimony is a really bad distraction:
Cupich described the contents of Archbishop Carlos Maria Viganò’s 11-page testimony, published Aug. 25, as a “rabbit hole” that he does not think the Church should be going down.
Yes, the church should ignore Pope Francis’ rehabilitation of Uncle Ted McCarrick and the appointment of Uncle Ted’s libchurch allies as Cardinals.  Nothing to see here!
And Cupich knows the real reason I and others dislike Francis:
“Quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino,” said Cupich. Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Italian descent.
But don’t let that detail keep you from playing the race card, Cardinal.
Now there is a reason I mock Cupich’s statements other than that there are such easy targets.  Backed by the predatory Uncle Ted, this is the sort of libchurcher with which Francis has stacked the College of Cardinals. Therefore, if we are to have a robustly orthodox Pope in our lifetimes, it is not enough that Francis resign. The likes of Cupich, Wuerl etc. must be shown the door as well. 
But I have serious doubts that even Francis will resign.  I might get to that another time.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Abusing and Covering-Up Libchurchers Elected Pope Francis and Were Rewarded

Yes, I have been slow to respond here to the explosive statement of ex-Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Vigano for a number of boring personal reasons and for a not so personal reason – that statement was so candid and so from the inside that I doubted at first that it was authentic.  But by now it is obvious it is authentic.  And it is a must read.
Francis responded to the statement yesterday if it can be called a response:
“I will respond to your question,” says the pope in a video of the plane presser translated by LifeSiteNews. “But I would prefer that we first speak about the trip, and then other topics[.] … This morning I read that statement. I read it, and I will say sincerely that I must tell you all this – you [CBS] and all of you who are interested: Read the statement carefully yourselves and make your own judgment.I am not going to say a word about this.I believe that the statement speaks for itself, and you all have sufficient journalistic ability to draw conclusions.”

And overnight, Vigano’s statement received important confirmation:

Meanwhile, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) obtained a brief statement from Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counselor of the nunciature in Washington, whose job it was to inform Cardinal McCarrick of the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict XVI. Lantheaume, who declined to give an interview, merely confirmed the veracity of Viganò’s report.
Viganò said the truth. That’s all,” said Lantheaume, in a written response to CNA.

A number of traditionalist catholic sites are covering this closely.  (The twitter of Rorate Caeli is particularly impressive.)  And I do not want to duplicate their efforts. So I will try to restrain myself as this unfolds to pointing out some aspects that may be below readers’ radars or are in some other way value-added. 
First, it must be noted that there is an ugly pattern here as pointed out by Damian Thompson:
In other words, key libchurchers who abused/enabled abuse/covered up abuse backed Bergoglio for Pope and, behold!, were rehabilitated after the election of Francis.  Not only that but, as Vigano’s statement states, they become influential in the appointment of other libchurchers, some/most of whom are also tied to abuse.  I hope no reader is so naïve as to consider all this a coincidence.
Uncle Ted McCarrick himself has been quite open about throwing his influence behind the election of Bergoglio.  And, lo and behold, his record of abuse, very well known in the Vatican, and the restriction of him by Pope Benedict was then [Anglican Understatement Alert] overlooked.
This mafia-like pattern is one reason it would not be enough for Francis to resign.  The libchurchers who conspired to elect a Pope who would favor them and sweep their sexual abuse and cover ups under the rug must be done away with as well.
But I will likely say more about that another time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bishop Jack Iker to Retire in 2019

I hate to see Bishop Iker retire soon.  We need more bishops like him.  The man is a hero to me. 
But he has announced his intention to retire at the end of 2019 and has called for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor.
Beyond that I am at a loss for words.

Monday, August 20, 2018

We Want Not Words, But Wuerl! UPDATED

It took a while, but Pope Francis has issued a letter “to the people of God” concerning the abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Church.  I’ve read it, but not closely enough to parse it.
I have good reason for my negligence. Unless Pope Francis repents of being a libchurcher and pledges to remove libchurchers from positions of power, his words are close to pointless.  For, as I and others have pointed out, it is the dominance of libchurchers in key areas of the Church of Rome that has enabled its widespread sexual predation.
If Pope Francis’ concern is worth anything, he will give us not mere words, but Wuerl.  He will accept the resignation of Cardinal Wuerl.

What? Wuerl resigned?  Yes, back in 2015 when he turned 75.  Pope Francis could accept that pro forma resignation (as he has oh-so quickly when certain orthodox prelates reached resignation age).  And it would be a perfect resignation to accept. For not only has Wuerl presided over abuse and likely helped cover up the predations of his friend Uncle Ted Cardinal McCarrick, he is practically a prototype of a libchurch abuse-enabling bishop
He has suspended and intimidated conservative priests, and has even blocked conservative bishops from offering sacraments in his archdiocese, while doing almost nothing to combat the numerous shenanigans administered by Jesuits at Georgetown University. 
Of course, far far more needs to be done than accepting one resignation. Far far more libchurchers must have their church careers ended for the Roman Catholic Church to recover from their wolfish predations.  Nonetheless, more words mean little at this point.  Don’t give the faithful more of your words, Francis.  You talk too much anyway.  Bring us the mitre of Cardinal Wuerl.  Not words, but Wuerl!

Yes, Your Holiness, we know you don’t like capital punishment.  So the head need not be attached to said mitre.  At least it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s a taste of Wuerl in action if you can stomach it: hard on orthodox priests, easy on predator priests.
With the WARNING that it’s difficult reading, here’s more details on how easy he was on predator priests.

He. Must. Go.
And maybe he will soon.

One of Pope Francis’ Friends Lets the Truth Slip Out

With the current abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, it may be easy for some to miss its even bigger problem – the lack of faithfulness to traditional catholicity.  And as I noted in my last post, that lack of faithfulness has led to other problems, including endemic sexual abuse.  These problems have all been made worse by the lack of faithfulness of the current Bishop of Rome.
A fervent friend of Francis, Fr. Thomas Rosica has let slip the extent of that lack of faithfulness: 
Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants, because he is “free from disordered attachments.” Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.
When a furor promptly and rightly broke out, the remarks were revised.  But, too late, alert people remembered. 
There is a book out about Francis called The Dictator Pope.  Some may find its premise overwrought and even I hesitate to call Francis a dictator (although I can call him a lot of things).  But if the Church of Rome “is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture,” and Francis has acted in that manner in changing the catechism on capital punishment among other matters, that is a bit dictatorial, no?
Fr. John Hunwicke notes what a grave situation the Church of Rome is therefore now in.  I will let him conclude.

Bergoglianism has been encapsulated in an even more extreme form than this by the cynically blasphemous observation of the jesuit "General" that the Lord's Words were not captured on camera, and by Fr Rosica's boastfully candid admission that the Church is now entirely at the mercy of a pope to whom neither Scripture nor Tradition are prescriptive. Such exponents appear to offer a model of Christian teaching ministry unknown even to the heretics of earlier ages. Here we have not heresy, but the supraheresy. Earlier heresiarchs may have monkeyed around with, and perverted the sense of, both Scripture and Tradition, but, I think, never before have we had the diabolical claim that a major heretical teacher is quite simply free from any control whatsoever within the Word of God whether written or orally transmitted. When I use the term 'diabolical', I mean it in the fullest possible sense. The fingerprints all over these preposterous claims are unmistakeable.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Understanding the Rot in the Roman Catholic Church

Like most of you, I am sickened by what a Pennsylvania grand jury has exposed about abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Church.  But what most do not understand is the abuse is largely the fruit of a corrupt and liberal hierarchy.   Yes, there are outwardly conservative clerics who were involved in the abuse and/or cover-ups. But the abuse would not have gotten to be endemic without it being enabled by libchurchers.
Peter Kwasniewski is one of the few who gets it and is not shy about saying so:
The ring of criminal Nancy Boys is the same ring that has been sedulously working for decades to undermine the integrity of the doctrinal, moral, sacramental, liturgical Church. These men – McCarrick, McElroy, Wuerl, O’Malley, Mahony, Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, Lynch, Weakland, Paglia, Maradiaga, their lovable mouthpiece James Martin, Thomas Rosica, and far too many others, including ones who have passed on to their eternal fate, such as Lyons, Boland, Brom – are the same ones who have destabilized and adulterated catechesis, theology, liturgy, and most obviously the Church’s commitment to the unchanging moral law, as we saw in the Amoris Laetitia debacle and all that surrounded and succeeded it….
These are not just men of bad moral character; they are apostates, and they are trying to remake the Church in the image of their own apostasy. The Church has been smashed up in front of our eyes in slow motion for decades and few can even begin to admit that we are now faced with a Church in actual smithereens. The Nancy Boys have conducted their campaign of demolition with a kind of imperial sway. It is not this or that aspect of the Church that is corrupt; the rot is now everywhere. It is a rot on which the McCarrick Ring still sups, like maggots feasting on a corpse. For this reason, to hear well meaning people say Bergoglio must impanel some investigative body to set things right is Alice in Wonderland lunacy. It’s like putting Himmler in charge of Nuremberg….
It is a package deal. This, above all, is what people need to see. The moral depravity, the doctrinal heresy, the liturgical devastation – all of it goes together.

Like I said, he is not shy, but he is right. The abuse and libchurch apostasy go hand in hand, so to speak.  Take Boston, Cardinal Law (spit), and Paul Shanley for example.  Before Shanley’s predations on boys became public knowledge, he was well known as a radical “street preacher” who opposed church teaching on homosexuality.  He even spoke in defense of pedophilia at a NAMBLA conference in 1979. So, even apart from his abuse, why did it take decades after that for him to be defrocked?
Damnable lib bishops, that’s why.  From a 2002 New York Times article: 
Bishop McCormack, who served as a top aide to Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston before his appointment to Manchester, oversaw the transfer of several priests from parish to parish even after evidence of sexual misconduct grew with multiple accusations made against them.
One of those he helped to transfer around the country was the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, who has been accused of the sexual abuse of more than 20 young boys and who publicly defended pedophilia at a 1979 meeting of the North American Man-Boy Love Association.
The rot goes all the way to Vatican. Rod Dreher reveals how Uncle Ted McCarrick became a Cardinal:
Back then, I received a tip from a priest who had gone on his own dime to Rome, along with a group of prominent US Catholic laymen, to meet with an official for the Roman Curial congregation that names bishops. It had been rumored at the time that Theodore McCarrick, the Archbishop of Newark, was going to be moved to Washington, DC, and to be made a cardinal. This group traveled to Rome to warn the Vatican that McCarrick was a sexual harrasser of seminarians. The story this priest shared with me was that McCarrick had a habit of compelling seminarians to share his bed for cuddling. These allegations did not involve sexual molestation, but were clearly about unwanted sexual harassment. To refuse the archbishop’s bedtime entreaties would be to risk your future as a priest, I was told.
Rome was informed by these laymen — whose number included professionally distinguished Catholics in a position to understand the kind of harm this would cause –that McCarrick was sexually exploiting these seminarians, but it did no good. McCarrick received his appointment to the Washington archdiocese in 2000.
That’s some of the “smoke of Satan” in the Vatican Benedict warned about.
Roman Catholics in the pews, like the mainstream Protestant counterparts, have put up with these libchurchers for too long. Kwasniewski again:

We need the apostates identified, denounced, and removed. We need a reaffirmation of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. To clean up this mess, we have to clean up more than the scandal of homosexuality, with all of its attendant horrors. We have to denounce and reject the apostasy that powerful and influential homosexuals and their friends have insinuated into the Church over decades.
Although I applaud and pray for those orthodox who are committed to reforming the Roman Catholic Church, I do not share Kwasniewski’s optimism that it can be done.  For one thing, Pope Francis has stacked the College of Cardinals with the likes of Blase Cupich and worse.  So I fear Benedict may be the last robustly orthodox pope.  Further, reform would require an orthodox pope with the will power and energy to clean up the Vatican and the College of Cardinals.  Not even Benedict had that nor has any pope since Vatican II.

That’s the thing about libchurchers. If you don’t put them in their place early, they end up taking over the place . . . with damnable consequences.
The rot in the Roman Catholic Church has implications of great import for Anglicans.  But I will get to that another time.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Is ACNA Nearing Broken Communion?

Statements by key Forward in Faith bishops at the Fort Worth FiF meeting earlier this month beg the question of whether communion within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will sooner or later go beyond impaired to becoming broken altogether over women's ordination among other issues.
Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth’s statement was particularly strong:

“I am extremely dismayed, because the [ACNA] College of Bishops has decided to fudge the issue by allowing ‘two integrities.’ There are two practices, one is apostolic, universal, scriptural, the other is schismatic, rebellious, feminist and revolutionary. Begun by the Episcopal Church illegally and forced upon the Church.” 
Iker then said that Forward in Faith, the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Mission in North America “came into ACNA” believing “we’d go into a theological discussion of the issue and move the right way forward. Now we’re being told that we signed on to ‘two integrities’.”…

Speeches by retired Bishop William Wantland and Missionary Diocese of All Saints Bishop William Ilgenfritz were perhaps even stronger medicine.  Read excerpts over at Forward in Christ Magazine.
In any case, this does not sound like bishops who intend to stick around if the “two integrities” status quo in ACNA remains the status quo.  Having said that, I do not expect anyone to leave before next year’s ACNA Provincial Assembly.  And with the Diocese of Ft. Worth there is the additional consideration of continuing litigation with The Episcopal Church.  They may want a resolution of that before deciding whether to stay in ACNA.  (But please note that I do NOT have any inside information in that regard.  This is my thinking only.)
As Fr. Michael Heidt concludes, “Whether and to what extent the Anglo-Catholic bishops of Forward in Faith North America will be able to live in a state of impaired communion with ACNA over female ordinations remains to be seen.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Did Pope Francis Really Change Church Teaching?

I promised to comment further on the change in the Roman Catholic Catechism on the subject of capital punishment now that the official Latin text is out. So I guess I should keep my promise.  But I do not have much more to add except to say that it is not as certain as I first thought that Pope Francis has changed official R. C. Church teaching, although I remain appalled at his arbitrary tinkering with the Catechism to turn part of it into an act of political lobbying. 
However, to avoid further ranting and to focus on the presenting question – it is unclear whether official Roman Catholic teaching has changed.  I say this for two main reasons.  First, there is a lot of debate among Roman Catholics whether church teaching has changed, which is a good sign.  Second, as Fr John Hunwicke has noted, the letter that accompanied the Catechism change is hedged and “not how the Catholic Church talks about grave moral offenses.”
My best guess is that whether the Catechism change really is a change in official R. C. Church teaching depends on what future popes do with it.
Please do not mistake that for optimism. Given how Francis is stacking the College of Cardinals, I do not expect another robustly orthodox pope in my lifetime at least.  But if this bit of pessimism and my earlier posts on the capital punishment change prove alarmist and mistaken, I will be most glad to be proven wrong.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Fr. Hunwicke on Pope Francis’ “Deathgate” UPDATED

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Fr. John Hunwicke’s observations on Pope Francis apparently changing the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on capital punishment.  Hunwicke has not disappointed me.  He rarely does.
First, to my surprise, he posits that the situation might not be quite as bad as I and others have feared.  For the official text of the revised R. C. Catechism has not yet been published.  Hunwicke:
I can't see much point in making substantive comments on the "changes made to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the death penalty" until the new text is published. All I can so far find on the Internet are some vernacular versions.

This, in itself, I object to. The world has been given the impression that the Catholic Church has changed its teaching when nobody has the wherewithal to judge whether or not this is true. I can only call this sort of behaviour in matters of faith and morals disgracefully frivolous. Can it be that PF wants to make an immediate impression on world opinion without giving theological professionals the prior opportunity to weaken by their analyses that impact?
But Hunwicke expects that once the official Latin text is published, capital punishment won’t be so completely “inadmissible” after all. 
By the way, he is very much opposed to capital punishment, yet shares my concern about how this apparent change in teaching has come about.
…such an arbitrary change in a documentary henotikon, in which X has metamorphosed into not-X in a very few years, and without (as far as we know) a detailed collegial consultation with the whole College of Bishops (such as Pius XII conducted before defining the Assumption), leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth. It is because I have been driven to the unhappy conclusion that the present pontificate is manipulative and dishonest, that I wonder if this change in the CCC may be preparing the way for some of Senor Bergoglio's other private opinions and personal convictions to be given spurious Magisterial colouring.
That is my chief concern.  I doubt that Francis will confine himself to capital punishment in arbitrarily changing church teaching.

UPDATE: The official Latin text has been released.  I will comment at a later time.

Friday, August 03, 2018

More on Pope Francis Changing Catechism on Capital Punishment: “This. Is. Big.”

Yesterday I concluded that the arbitrary change in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Catechism on capital punishment “could be the beginning of something awful.”
Rod Dreher gets this and spells out why very well.  I highly recommend reading his whole post.  He quotes Edward Feser at length in reviewing the teaching of scripture and the Fathers on capital punishment, which teaches that it is a legitimate tool of the state even if it should be used with great restraint.
Feser, anticipating that Pope Francis might change this longstanding church teaching on capital punishment, then wrote that doing so would be “effectively saying – whether consciously or unconsciously – that previous popes, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and even divinely inspired Scripture are in error.”
Dreher rightly asserts that this is exactly what Francis did and continues:
It seems to me that the Pope has crossed a bright line. He is denying, for the first time in nearly two millennia of Catholic teaching, and in direct contradiction to the Fathers of the Church, that the state has the right to impose capital punishment. That’s a meaningful difference from saying that the state has that right, but shouldn’t use it.
Even if you disfavor the death penalty, understand what this means: this Pope has claimed forthrightly that the Catholic Church taught error, but now, at long last, he has set the Church straight. From a traditional point of view, though, this means that the Pope is teaching error.
This. Is. Big.
Indeed it is.  And to clarify further, this is not just Pope Francis giving his opinion on capital punishment.  Hey, he’s a Libpope who likes to shoot off his mouth.  His stating his opposition to the death penalty is predictable.

He has gone far beyond expressing his opinion.  He has taken his opinion, which is contradicted by scripture, the Fathers, and many faithful today, and enshrined that opinion in the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, and that without the backing of a church council. (In fact, several have made that case that Vatican I forbids what Francis just did.)  Regardless of whether the subject is capital punishment, changing official church doctrine like this crosses “a bright line” that even Francis has not crossed before.
Both the tyrannical act and its implications are greatly alarming. Having pulled this doctrinal coup, does anyone think Francis will stop with only capital punishment? I fear for the damage he may do to the church in his remaining years.
This. Indeed. Is. Big.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Pope Francis Changes Roman Catholic Catechism on Death Penalty

First, the facts which Crux spells out well.
The Vatican announced on Thursday Pope Francis approved changes to the compendium of Catholic teaching published under Pope John Paul II.

“The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church now says on the death penalty, adding that the Church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”
This is a departure from what the document, approved under Pope John Paul II in 1992, says on the matter: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”
As it’s been re-written, the Catechism now also says that “Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.”
Yet today, “there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.”
“Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” says the Catechism now, as it was approved by Pope Francis.
It’s for this reason, and “in light of the Gospel,” that the Church teaches that the practice is now inadmissible.

Let me say that I consider capital punishment an issue on which faithful Christians can differ.  However, the weight of Scripture and of the Fathers leans very much for capital punishment in certain instances.  Steve Skojec reviews that background well.

Thus for the Pope to change the Catechism so that it is dead against all capital punishment is the height of arrogance, dismissing much scripture, the Fathers, and the consciences of many faithful.  That the Catechism is then twisted into a lobbying tool, e. g. the church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide” is outrageous and an attack on the consciences of those faithful who are convinced that there are times when capital punishment is appropriate. 
As Rorate Caeli points out, this is at the very least an egregious abuse of authority:
The current Pope has far exceeded his authority: his authority is to guard and protect the doctrine that was received from Christ and the Apostles, not to alter it according to his personal views. We are reaping the rewards of an unchecked hyper-clericalism: the same hyper-clericalism that allowed for abuses of people like Theodore McCarrick to go ignored and unpunished and now allows for the recklessness of the alteration of established doctrine received from Christ and the Apostles…. He is in open violation of the authority recognized to him by Christ and His Church throughout the ages: he has abused his authority by pretending to have an authority that he has not.
I cannot add much to that at this time. Well, I could rant and rave. But, looking at the bigger picture, it reveals a grave weakness of the Roman Catholic Church that such a man as Bergoglio could become pope and then be very hard, if not impossible, to depose.  I fear that he is now doubling down on his tyranny against the faithful in his final years.  This arbitrary change in RCC teaching on capital punishment, bad enough in itself, could be the beginning of something even more awful.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

World Vision Responds to Islamic Relief Agency Concerns

To their credit, World Vision has contacted me and issued a statement addressing my and others’ concerns about their role in funding the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA or IRA).
I do not have any value-added commentary to add, but I find their statement plausible at least.  I post it below in full.
World Vision’s work in Sudan is focused on improving the lives of the most vulnerable children. In 2017, our programs reached approximately 674,000 vulnerable people, 70 percent of these were children and women.  The work sub-granted to IRA in 2014 was a very small percentage of our significant program expenditures in Sudan, less than 1% of our total at that time.
In March 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) approved World Vision’s grant proposal that clearly listed Islamic Relief Agency (IRA) as a proposed sub-grantee. At the time of selection, there was no indication that IRA had any possible ties to an alleged terrorist-supporting organisation.
There are several Islamic Relief organisations operating around the world which are not blocked, and when we searched the blocked parties lists for "Islamic Relief" in "Sudan," the searches produced no results.  That is still true today on the website of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
In May 2014, when WV applied to renew its registration with OFAC as a charity working in Sudan, it identified IRA as a sub-grantee in its application. OFAC approved the renewal in August 2014 without any comments or questions about IRA.
In November 2014, we informed OFAC and USAID that we had concerns about IRA in Sudan possibly being related to certain other organisations with “Islamic Relief” in their names, designated by the US government as organisations allegedly supporting terrorism.  Because of these concerns, we suspended further grant implementation by IRA pending clarification from OFAC.
In January 2015, OFAC responded that IRA in Sudan “appears to be the same entity” as the one on OFAC’s blocked parties list. The sub-grant by then had expired, it was not renewed, and we discontinued any future collaboration with IRA.  At this time, OFAC authorised us to pay IRA $125,000 for the humanitarian work that was verified to have already been completed under the grant.  The payment made to IRA was not a diversion of funds but payment for programming services of confirmed quality.
World Vision took its compliance obligations seriously, but respectfully asked permission to pay IRA money owing for legitimate humanitarian work (salaries, humanitarian aid and supplies for beneficiaries, travel etc.) already incurred. World Vision explained failure to do so could have exposed it to potential legal liability for breach of contract, resulted in the very real chance of Government expulsion from Sudan and as a consequence, the loss of a lifeline for tens of thousands of children and their families.
World Vision has robust controls and screening processes in place and condemns any diversion of aid funding and strongly condemn any act of terrorism or support for those activities.  
We have no evidence that any of our funds have been used for anything other than urgent humanitarian work.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Pope in the Waterloo Gallery

It is interesting what can stick in one’s mind during travel.  Pope Pius VII sticks in my memory from my visits to Windsor Castle.
That may seem odd given that the focus of Windsor Castle is the history and housing of the British Royal Family.  And the glorious Chapel of St. George certainly stands out as well.  So my focus on a pope may indeed be odd.  
Yet I remember him indeed thanks to a wonderful portrait in the Waterloo Gallery in the State Rooms of the castle.  As one may guess from the name, the Waterloo Gallery displays portraits of worthies who played a role in resisting and defeating Napoleon and in dealing with the aftermath.  Most of the subjects are in idealized stately and/or heroic poses.  But not Pius VII.
With Pius, the genius of the man who painted the portraits of the gallery, Sir Thomas Lawrence, is most evident. Pius VII is painted very honestly, in a remarkably informal sitting posture, and with few obvious trappings of the papacy.  He is elderly yet at the same time with a lot of life and personality.  His expression is almost mischievous as if saying, “Napoleon thought he had me beaten.”
An excellent video on the Waterloo Gallery with some focus on the portrait of Pius VII may be found here.
It is interesting that Pius VII is enshrined in this gallery; for he actually had a mixed record in opposing Napoleon.   His predecessor, Pius VI was dogged in opposing attacks on the church from the French Revolution and from Napoleon.  That did not work out well as he died a prisoner of Napoleon.  The papacy itself was in peril as well.
Pius VII understandably wanted a different result, so he was beyond reasonable in seeking accommodation with Napoleon. That included attending Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor in 1804, against the advice of some of his Cardinals, and enduring petty disrespectful treatment from the tyrant while in Paris for the occasion.  And it also included later agreements that reduced the papacy’s power.
But Napoleon was not nearly as flexible as the Pope.  When Pius was pushed to the point where he felt he had to say no – the appointment of bishops in the Papal States was a presenting issue, but who knows if Napoleon could have been appeased even if Pius VII gave in on that – then the furious Napoleon had him arrested on the night of June 9th, 1812 with the intention of confronting him at Fontainebleau.

In poor health, Pius barely survived the trip.  But it turned out the health of Napoleon’s regime was even more precarious.  By the time the Pope made it to Fontainebleau, Napoleon was off to fight Russia where he would eventually lose most of his army.
But Pius VII did not know this, and when Napoleon returned, he was able to badger the isolated pope into an agreement that would have greatly weakened the papacy.  After deep regret, Pius later repudiated that.  And at that point there was little Napoleon could do about it.  He abdicated on April 14th, 1814 (temporarily it turned out -- Waterloo was in June 1815). Pius VI triumphantly returned to Rome on May 24th.
Thus for all Pius’ human frailty, miscalculations, and concessions, his imprisonment and twice saying no to Napoleon rightly turned Pope Pius VII into a symbol of resistance to Napoleon’s tyranny.
And Thomas Lawrence’s portrait captures well both the human frailty and the resilient strength of character of Pius VII. It captures the little old pope who outlasted Napoleon.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

BREAKING: Obama Admin Gave Funds to Terror-listed Group . . . After Pressure from World Vision

Overnight, some attention is being given to the breaking story that the Obama Administration granted aid funds to the terror-listed Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA).  ISRA has quite a history.

By 2000, ISRA had raised $5 million for bin Laden’s group. The Treasury Department notes that ISRA officials even sought to help “relocate [bin Laden] to secure safe harbor for him.” It further reports that ISRA raised funds in 2003 in Western Europe specifically earmarked for Hamas suicide bombings.

Lovely.  But what I find most troubling about this story has not yet been given much attention – World Vision’s role in pressuring the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to make the grant to ISRA:
Despite this well-documented history, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in July 2014 awarded $723,405 to World Vision Inc., an international evangelical charity, to “improve water, sanitation and hygiene and to increase food security in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.” Of these funds, $200,000 was to be directed to a sub-grantee: ISRA.
Responding to a Middle East Forum (MEF) inquiry, a USAID official explains that World Vision had alerted it in November 2014 to the likelihood of ISRA being on the terror list. USAID instructed World Vision to “suspend all activities with ISRA” and informed the State Department, OFAC, and USAID’s Office of the Inspector General. USAID and World Vision then waited for OFAC to confirm whether ISRA was designated or not.
USAID emails obtained by the Middle East Forum reveal that in January 2015, World Vision was growing unhappy while waiting for OFAC’s assessment. Mark Smith, World Vision’s senior director of humanitarian and emergency affairs, wrote to USAID, stating that the Islamic Relief Agency “had performed excellent work” for World Vision in the past, and that “putting contractual relationships in limbo for such a long period is putting a significant strain” on World Vision’s relationship with the Sudanese regime. Smith also revealed that World Vision had submitted a notice to OFAC indicating its “intention to restart work with [ISRA] and to transact with [ISRA]” if OFAC did not respond within a week.
World Vision’s statement stunned USAID officials, who complained that World Vision’s behavior “doesn’t make sense.”

But the grant was eventually made anyway.

Then, incredibly, on May 7, 2015 — after “close collaboration and consultations with the Department of State” — OFAC issued a license to a World Vision affiliate, World Vision International, authorizing “a one-time transfer of approximately $125,000 to ISRA,” of which “$115,000 was for services performed under the sub-award with USAID” and $10,000 was “for an unrelated funding arrangement between Irish Aid and World Vision.”
An unnamed World Vision official described the decision as a “great relief as ISRA had become restive and had threatened legal action, which would have damaged our reputation and standing in Sudan.” 

I don’t want to jump to conclusions. Perhaps ISRA somehow reformed, and World Vision knew that better than bureaucrats up the line?  But World Vision has been at the very least careless about partnerships before, even (apparently without their knowledge) funding Hamas.  This ISRA story, too, is troubling and bears watching.  
If I see a response from World Vision, I will post it.