Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cardinal Sins

Since April and May, I've been less inclined to just post outside articles on the massive corruption in the Church. You all know it exists now. However, I thought this article was very good in light of the announcement of the upcoming consistory:
In passing over Dublin’s courageous Archbishop Diarmuid Martin when he named a batch of new cardinals at the Vatican today, Pope Benedict XVI has finally closed the book on the shocking child sex-abuse scandal and its cover-up in Ireland.

What’s that, you ask? How can the case be closed when there are still priests and other Church officials whose roles in the crime have not been fully explored, when there are very likely still guilty clerics who deserve punishment – both from the Church and from judicial authorities? And what has been done to trace the “exporting” of predator priests from Ireland to all corners of the world where they can escape investigation and continue their crimes?

And what became of justice for the victims of this horror?

Well… We said we were sorry, Benedict and his Vatican entourage endlessly repeat, as if to ask: What else can anybody expect? Why can’t everybody just forgive us and start paying up again when the collection plate comes around?

It’s the understatement of the century to say that Irish Catholics are not in a forgiving mood, and it’s hard to blame them. They have heard all the Church’s regrets, apologies, anguish, concern, contrition, disappointment, discomfort, dissatisfaction, grief, heartache, heartbreak, lamentation, misgivings, nostalgia, penitence, remorse, repentance, self-accusation, self-condemnation, self-disgust, self-reproach and sorrow for a long time now.

Benedict has even allowed the hard-charging Martin to evict a few obvious targets from their lofty Church positions.

But is that all there is? By stacking his list of new cardinals with longtime Vatican insiders – like himself – and carefully avoiding anyone who might bring a reminder of “problems” back to front-and-center – like Martin – Benedict is veering back to the closed and conservative Vatican that vigorously condemns other people’s sins, but hides its own.

Martin is not perfect, but his courage and conviction in fighting the scandal and rooting out the guilty has not earned him the high respect in Ireland he truly deserves from Irish Catholics, who expect instant justice and results from an institution that is simply not built for speed.

His zeal was originally lauded by Rome, which was happy to have someone – anyone – doing something about the mushrooming scandal. But at some point, the increasing volume and stridency of Martin’s campaign grew too sharp and incriminating for the Vatican. They were fine when he fingered and cast out a few of the worst abusers, but as he saw the true scale of the crimes, he knew and proclaimed that it was the Church as an institution that was the biggest part of the problem.

And that was a no-no. The always-right, supreme judge of others was guilty of something? Impossible! Almost heresy! There were just a few bad apples, Rome claimed. A little housekeeping and the dirt would be gone – so what’s this guy Martin trying to stir up?

Small wonder that Benedict called off the crusade – refusing in August to accept the Martin-inspired resignations of two Irish bishops named in the Murphy Report, and then reinstating them. There had previously been wide speculation that Martin was soon to wear a new red hat as one of the Church’s cardinals. Up in smoke!

In a letter to seminarians a few days ago, Benedict – for the first time – spoke of the Church’s much-debated policy on priestly celibacy in the same breath as the sex-abuse scandal:

“Even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure … in the life of celibacy.” This from the same pontiff who has cynically invited conservative Anglicans and their married priests to leave their church and join the Catholic Church!

Does Benedict just not get it? Far from it: Passing over and undercutting the fiery Martin is simply part of the overall strategy to fill the Curia with even more-conservative loyalists who will, at any cost, protect the Church from its “enemies.”

Like the innocent victims of predator priests and their fellow conspirators.


FrGregACCA said...

By Christ's institution and Apostolic implementation, the Church is counciliar and synodal from very bottom to the very top. (cf. Acts 15) "It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to US."

The West has lost this understanding, dividing itself from the top down into the magisterial "teaching Church" and the lay "hearing Church". This article demonstrates the result.

"Peter, when you are converted..."

sortacatholic said...

The last two of Martin Luther's ninety-five theses:

94. Exhortandi sunt Christiani, ut caput suum Christum per penas, mortes infernosque sequi studeant,

95. Ac sic magis per multas tribulationes intrare celum quam per securitatem pacis confidant.

94. Christians must be exhorted should they yearn to follow Christ's leadership alone through privation, death, and Hell.

95. Christians trust with the surety of peace all the more when a chisel engraves great tribulation.

Luther's words resonate at a time when the Pope and Curia are again deaf to desperately needed reform. It is as if the Vatican is the chisel of suffering for so many Catholics. Many of us bow under its blows. Yet, we are ultimately bounden to Christ and his holy sacraments, and not the trappings of Curia, conclave, integrism, or ultramontanism. Often what passes for piety is merely a fear of criticizing our ailing church. Luther's eventual rejection of the Holy Canon went too far. Yet, he deeply understood the pitfalls of ultramontanism and integrism that feed the sickness of the Church. At some time all of use have been seduced, and alternately crushed, by the illusion that the liturgy can save and grace has failed. This is poison.

PC said...

An apposite article and well written.

It does seem that Rome never learns and that protecting the 'party' and its leaders is placed above all other matters.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder why people enjoy slamming the Holy Father. He has done his duty and he is trying his hardest to reconstitute a fractured people. ... I look forward to many more fruitful years of this Holy Father.

I think the problem is that the II Vatican opened up the doors for certain 'sicknesses' to creep in. Now it will take monumental courage to restore the once forgotten Mass; it is time to abolish the current Protestant 'Novus Ordo' and return to a vibrant and holy truth. ... Only then can the doors be slammed shut on certain 'vile sicknesses'.

FrGregACCA said...


The problem is, Vatican II would not have been possible without Vatican I(which would not have been possible without more than a millenium of papal aggrandizing and, from that, trickle down clericalism).

It is all a question of this magisterial positivism which, in fact, makes the magisterium the master, not the servant of the "Word of God."

Anonymous said...

Do not forget that the Church is at the same level as the Word.

Scripture AND Tradition.

Trying to destroy the Papacy will only intensify the scandals in the Church.

The issue is not with the Magesterium, the issue is with wayward Priests.

As Catholics, we have a duty to defend the Pontiff and expose those who want to defile the Holy Office of the Priesthood and bring blemish upon the Most Holy Sacrifice of the High Altar.

If the Holy Father cannot be given the respect and support he needs to chasten the Church, then the whole body will become erratic, dysfunctional, and displaced.

Correct the errors of the liberal-left of the Church and crush the head of the Protestant daemons and the people will once again prevail over the powers of dankness that seem to be running rampant within the Universal Communion.

FrGregACCA said...

James, I'm using the phrase, "Word of God" in the same sense the Roman Church uses it, which includes the Tradition as distinct from the Bible.

It is not an issue of destroying the papacy. Far from it. It is an issue of "Peter converting" to what Peter was before Peter sought and got total, monarchical rule of the Western Church. This is not the Church as Christ founded it, the Apostles built it, and the Holy Spirit empowers it. The authentic Church,as in the latter, is, as I said above, synodical from the very bottom to the very top.

So again, I say:

"Peter, when you are converted, strengthen your brethren."

sortacatholic said...

James: I think the problem is that the II Vatican opened up the doors for certain 'sicknesses' to creep in.

Your statement epitomizes the illness itself and not the cure. Ultramontanism (blind adulation of the papal office) and integrism (the exaltation of the sacraments over grace) have reduced the faith of the self-righteously devout to a slavish ritualized false piety and encyclical fundamentalism. Yes, we should support the Pope. But should we be his sycophants or fellow travelers?

Why have I quoted Luther's Theses? We now live in the early 16th century. Luther dared to shout what few dared to whisper -- that Christ is the head of His Church and not the Roman court. The pope is Christ's vicar, an alter Christus, but not a self-anointed despot. Pope Leo X surrounded himself with fawning men. Instead of convening a German council, he issued Exsurge Domine and sparked sectarian war in Central Europe. Could he not have acceded to certain of Luther's demands, such as the limitation of Mass stipend abuse and the sale of indulgences? No. He was blinded by wealth, as Benedict is blinded by illusions of power and control that have destroyed many psyches. The Mass, then, needs to be liberated from dysfunctional power and not the other way around.

James: Now it will take monumental courage to restore the once forgotten Mass; it is time to abolish the current Protestant 'Novus Ordo' and return to a vibrant and holy truth. ...

Do you know what the priest says on your behalf on Sunday? Or has the Mass itself become your badge of self-righteousness, as if warming the pew makes you better than the "novus ordo"s? The Mass is the Sacrifice for the sins of all humanity. It is also the means of grace for fallen humanity.

The Tridentine liturgy does not exist to to separate wheat from tares, sheep from wolves. The Mass (and especially the Holy Canon) is one of the most profound expressions of Latin. Even if it were doggerel, it would nevertheless be _the_ means of grace and not a vehicle for demented pietism.

PC said...

Peter having denied Christ yet again needs to repent and return to Him.

Archbishop Martin's brave attempt to do something about the scandal should mark him out for reward and recognition not to be quietly ostracised because he has refused to play the 'party' game.

To suggest that this malaise has something to do with the Second Vatican Council is quite disgraceful and disingenuous as last week's canonisation of St Mary of the Cross poignantly reminds us.

Pervert priests, pervert bishops and pervert popes should all be publicly exposed and dealt with.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I guess my time here at this post is short lived, as I will not see the Holy Office of the Pontiff or the Magisterium be shredded to pieces by those who find the 'heretic and schismatic' Luther more appealing. Lutheranism has polluted the very fabric of ecclesiastical truth and has reduced the fullness of Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

I am thankful for the Modern Office of the Inquisition (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and look forward to certain faults being corrected and certain heresies squashed.

Thank-you 'Renegade Trads Blog', unfortunately, certain ranking followers have polluted my appetite and I therefore have to retire to other areas of interest! Maybe, just maybe, I will return and bask in your intriguing work once the fire has subsided...

FrGregACCA said...

James, you understand, do you not, that I am not Lutheran, but Orthodox? Lutheran threw the baby out with the dirty bathwater (or maybe, threw out the baby but kept a great deal of the bathwater).

In any event, these types of problems, both from "left" and "right," will continue to surface as long as THE "heresies" underlying Roman ecclesiology are not dealt with, specifically that of the role of the Pope in the Church, as spelled out at the First Vatican Council.

Maybe you can relate to the following example. At some point in the past century or more, perhaps before Vatican I, maybe shortly afterward, some prelates, perhaps including a future pope, went to the reigning pope and asked him to insert the name of St. Joseph into the canon of the Roman Rite Mass. "What?," replied the Pope, "who do you think I am, to ask me to change the canon? I am only the Pope."

Thus, the question: who is the master, the magisterium or the "Word of God" as found in the Tradition as a whole (which includes the Bible)? And who is the servant? From where, and in whose voice, does the Holy Spirit speak first?

BTW, James, many people who were once traditionalist Roman Catholics, in discovering the truth of what I write above, are now Orthodox.

sortacatholic said...

James: Let me say that my quotation of Luther's theses and the actions of Leo X were meant as illustration of the error that is the conflation of papal power and the proper role of the papacy as the earthly custodian of Christ's bride the Church. I do not endorse Lutheran sacramental theology. Luther's great folly was not the call to action against papal abuses but his rejection of the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary and the apostolic faith. Yet even heretics sometimes speak the truth in error. Aside: I always find it so odd that Luther venerated Our Lady well into old age. How could he claim to follow the Blessed Mother's path to the Calvary/Mass but reject the very sacrifice itself. So very strange and sad.

Fr. Greg:
Thus, the question: who is the master, the magisterium or the "Word of God" as found in the Tradition as a whole (which includes the Bible)? And who is the servant? From where, and in whose voice, does the Holy Spirit speak first?

This, then, is a precise summary of the inherent disability of Roman ecclesiology. I agree that nothing will change until the Pope returns to primus inter pares. I agree that at this point the goal is almost impossible after the development of infallibility.

sortacatholic said...

Let's try this again.

Thesis 95.

Ac sic magis per multas tribulationes intrare celum quam per securitatem pacis confidant.

celum, -i is a chisel in classical Latin. The word should be caelum, -i, or "heaven". Damn medieval Latin diphthong mergers.

"Christians, through great tribulations, all the more enter heaven when they trust in the surety of peace."

My metaphor of being "chiseled" by the scandals of the contemporary Church holds nevertheless.

Andrew said...

Why does it seem that folks on the fringe of "traditionalism" start sounding like eastern or "Old Catholic" schismatics? "Primer inter pares"? Really?

George said...

"on the fringes of traditionalism" would make a good blog name!

FrGregACCA said...

Because, Andrew, the question of the Tradition cannot be confronted without likewise dealing with the fact that the concept of the papacy, as defined at the First Vatican Council (the groundwork for same being laid over many centuries), is in conflict with the Tradition. What happened at Vatican II and subsequently is only a result of Vatican I.

Andrew said...

Granted, you will disagree because you are Eastern Orthodox, but Vatican I defined papal infallibility infallibly. A Catholic owes this exercise of the Magisterium their faithful assent. There is no "conflict" with Tradition because when we listen to Peter we are listening to Christ.

When laymen or clerics decide to crown themselves Pope and sit in judgement of the solemn pronouncements Popes and Councils they are perilously tottering on the edge of heresy and/or schism.

The real issue is not with papal infallibility and/or supremacy as defined at Vatican I as it was a pretty narrow definition. The problem is the implicit application of papal supremacy and infallibility (in an ultra-ultramontanist reading thereof) as free reign for the Pope to do what he wishes in disciplinary matters and to consider such actions through the lens of a fuzzy infallibility as if everything a Pope says or does is somehow covered in this charism. This is where we get the sycophantic ultramontanism that is loathe to even question any disciplinary matters in the light of whether or not they were prudently carried out.

This is a legitimate grievance, the silly ultramontism that would wish to have infallible ex cathedra papal pronouncements printed in every morning paper. The misunderstanding of some does not somehow undermine the fact that the Pope really does have universal jurisdiction and speaks infallibly when defining matters of faith and morals.

If we want to start drawing lines as to when the Roman Church (Mother and Mistress of All Churches, mind you) "went wrong" where would it stop? Was St. Clement's epistle to the Corinthians an abuse of his role as "primer inter pares" since it was sent without their request for his interference?

FrGregACCA said...

Andrew, I am glad that you recognize that there is a problem, even if you cannot at this time accept that this problem is as radical as I, and all Orthodox, find it to be.

As illustrated in Acts 15 and spelled out (with regard to the relationship between bishops) in Canon 34/35 of the "Apostolic Canons," the Church is synodal and counciliar from bottom to top.

When did things start going off the rails? When a Pope, whoever he was, first conceived of his authority as separate from that of the episcopate as a whole, contrary to the inherent counciliarity of the universal Church/Communion (which is itself grounded in,and a reflection of, the intra-Trinitarian relationships between the Three Divine Persons) and the above-mentioned canon.

"Peter, when you are converted, strengthen your brethren."

Andrew said...

Collegiality itself is a problem. When Arianism ran amok, who adopted this heresy? Bishops. Like one of the Fathers said, The world awoke and groaned that it was Arian.

The Church is not synodal from bottom to top. The Pope is supreme, Peter's voice trumped the other Apostles at Jerusalem. If nothing else, our little trip through collegiality in the last 40+ years has showed that. There is a lot more opportunities for crazy bishops to try to do their thing in the "primer inter pares" sense than anything else. I suppose if bishops actually held the Faith they'd be a more authentic sign of Catholicity but unfortunately there are many who don't and many who see themselves basically as bureaucrats for the USCCB or other national conferences.

I checked on your own allegiance, and it seems that you are in a group that is a schism of a schism, am I correct? Or are you in Communion with one of the ancient Sees?

FrGregACCA said...

"We're all schismatics," Andrew.

Collegiality a problem, eh? Tell that to all those Orthodox bishops, martyrs, saints, and ordinary people who have embrace it for the last 2,000 years. It is not a problem. It is a reflection of the life the Trinity within the Church.

Peter is supreme? The problem is, Peter, in all probability, is currently a heretic, and has been since at least 1870. If he's not, he's darn close.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Um, I believe a person becomes outright anathema at the blaspheming of the Chair of Peter.

The Holy Father 'IS' the epitome of 'in persona christi' and is the SUPREME head of the Church. To question his infallibility in the areas of faith and just morals and to downplay his DIVINE OFFICE is to reject the very fullness of God.


Main References:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, 1997, paragraph 1548 and following. // HH John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (17 April 2003) // Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, (21 Nov 1964) // HH Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei (20 November 1947) // HH Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Ad Catholici Sacerdotii (20 December 1935) // and HH Pius X, Apostolic Exhortation Haerent Animo (4 August 1908)

FrGregACCA said...

"The Holy Father 'IS' the epitome of 'in persona christi' and is the SUPREME head of the Church. To question his infallibility in the areas of faith and just morals and to downplay his DIVINE OFFICE is to reject the very fullness of God."

Well, James, to Orthodox ears, THAT sounds pretty blasphemous. With statements like that as background, it is any wonder that many Orthodox (as well as certain Protestants) think that the Pope might well be the antichrist?

"By their fruits you shall know them."

Which, in your opinion, in general produces better fruit, Orthodoxy or contemporary Roman Catholicism?

Also, remember that contemporary Roman Catholicism is a direct result of the actions of Peter in the person of John XXIII.

Andrew said...

Sure, we are all schismatics depending upon who you ask but coming from a Catholic perspective this scope is limited to those who we consider to have broken off from us, i.e. you guys.

The "collegiality" pushed after VII is a problem. No one is going to argue that the bishops are merely and only the vicars of the Pope. They have their own ministry in their own diocese that doesn't absolutely depend upon the good will of the reigning Pontiff. They also have their own part to play in the Magisterium. However, they are all under the Pope. None of them collectively or singularly has the same authority as him.

The Pope isn't a heretic, not Benedict XVI or Bl. Pius IX. However, my original intent was not to pick a fight with Eastern Orthodox. What I was originally saying is that those folks who consider themselves Catholic cannot stubbornly hold the same opinions on ecclesiology and papal infallibility as you guys and still consider themselves properly Catholic.

FrGregACCA said...

"The Pope isn't a heretic, not Benedict XVI or Bl. Pius IX. However, my original intent was not to pick a fight with Eastern Orthodox. What I was originally saying is that those folks who consider themselves Catholic cannot stubbornly hold the same opinions on ecclesiology and papal infallibility as you guys and still consider themselves properly Catholic."

Well, properly "Roman Catholic" anyway. (Are you saying that John XXIII was possibly a heretic? ;-)

I understand what you're saying above. I just wanted to point out that this conflict, between the Tradition as such and the magisterial positivism of the Roman Church, which, after many centuries, resulted in the victory of the latter at the First Vatican Council and which then has borne further fruit in the SECOND Vatican Council and subsequently, points up the fact that we Orthodox may well have been right all along. Certainly several former traditionalist Roman Catholics have come to that conclusion and have become Orthodox. The sede vacantist crowd, for all their other craziness, is about half way there already.

PC said...

Well said Fr. Greg.

The modern RC papacy is a blasphemy and mockery of Jesus Christ and the Triune God.

It is highly doubtful if Peter the Apostle ministered in Rome and one can be sure that he regards the incumbents of the last millenium or so with complete horror.

FrGregACCA said...

Well, actually, PC, the historical tradition is constant in that it points to both Peter and Paul having been martyrted in Rome, so let's not overstate things.