Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Pope to the Old Catholic Bishops' Conference

The Pope to the Old Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Union of Utrecht: build bridges of mutual understanding and practical cooperation.

Vatican City, 30 October 2014 (VIS) – “A spiritual journey from encounter to friendship, from friendship to brotherhood, and from brotherhood to communion” must be embarked upon by Catholics and Old Catholics to promote unity of the Church in Christ, Pope Francis affirmed this morning as he received the members of the the Conference of Old Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Union of Utrecht, whose visit to Rome coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree “Unitatis Redintegratio” on ecumenism, which marked the beginning of a new era in the search for unity among Christ’s disciples.

In his address, the Holy Father remarked that the work carried out during the intervening years by the International Roman Catholic / Old Catholic Dialogue Commission has made it possible to “build new bridges of a more profound mutual understanding and practical co-operation. ... Convergences and consensus have been found, and differences have been better identified and set in new contexts”.

“While we rejoice whenever we take steps towards a stronger communion in faith and life, we are also saddened when we recognise that in the course of time new disagreements between us have emerged”, he continued. “The theological and ecclesiological questions that arose during our separation are now more difficult to overcome due to the increasing distance between us on matters of ministry and ethical discernment. The challenge for Catholics and Old Catholics, then, is to persevere in substantive theological dialogue and to walk together, to pray together and to work together in a deeper spirit of conversion towards all that Christ intends for his Church. In this separation there have been, on the part of both sides, grave sins and human faults. In a spirit of mutual forgiveness and humble repentance, we need now to strengthen our desire for reconciliation and peace. The path towards unity begins with a change of heart, an interior conversion. It is a spiritual journey from encounter to friendship, from friendship to brotherhood, from brotherhood to communion. Along the way, change is inevitable. We must always be willing to listen to and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth”.

“In the meantime, in the heart of Europe, which is so confused about its own identity and vocation, there are many areas in which Catholics and Old Catholics can collaborate in meeting the profound spiritual crisis affecting individuals and societies. There is a thirst for God. There is a profound desire to recover a sense of purpose in life. There is an urgent need for a convincing witness to the truth and values of the Gospel. In this we can support and encourage one another, especially at the level of parishes and local communities. In fact, the soul of ecumenism lies in a 'change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians'. In prayer for and with one another our differences are taken up and overcome in fidelity to the Lord and his Gospel”, Pope Francis concluded.

Neither Fish nor Fowl; Devoutly Roman Catholic

Through the years there have been those who have questioned the canonical authenticity and origin of the Old Roman Catholic Church. This question was settled years ago by the Holy See in Papal dispensations and fully reinforced by Canon Law. The only problem has been those individuals in today’s society who refuse to accept the truth as it exists.

It is shown from Vatican records that in 1145, Pope Eugene III granted the cathedral chapter in Utrecht the right to elect successors to the See without requesting permission to do so from Rome, after such had been requested by the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III and Bishop Heribert of Utrecht. The Fourth Lateran Council confirmed this again in 1215. This special autonomy became known as the Leonine privilege. Later Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Debitum Pastoralis in 1520 giving extraordinary powers to Philip of Burgundy, 57th Bishop of Utrecht, essentially removing the ability of any external authority to "in the first instance, have his cause evoked to any external tribunal, not even under pretense of any apostolic letters whatever; and that all such proceedings should be, ipso facto, null and void". 

These two special dispensations by succeeding popes placed the Archdiocese in a most enviable position. Utrecht was no longer required to ask permission from Rome to consecrate their own bishops and no outside entity, including Rome herself, could initiate proceedings against the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese of Utrecht had, by Papal edict, become a self-sufficient catholic body yet faithfully continuing on in full communion with and obedient to the Holy See.

By being the unique autonomous church in Holland there were those within the Catholic Church unquestionably who wished her harm? It was the intrusion of the Jesuits bringing false charges against Archbishop Peter Codde and the subsequent non canonical trial that followed causing the Archdiocese of Utrecht to break communion with Rome. Archbishop Peter Codde was tried in absentia; these charges were never revealed, nor was he permitted to offer any defense to said charges as required by cannon law. The History of the So-Called Jansenist Church of Holland says of the event "...the head of a great national Church suspended by the mere will of the Pope, his accusers never named, their charges never communicated, his faults not even specified in the instrument of his disgrace. It was a stet pro ratione voluntas which appears to have staggered the most thorough-paced advocates of Papal supremacy."

Due to the actions of Pope Clement XI formal communion with Rome was severed in 1711 yet the Archdiocese of Utrecht continued faithfully on, undisturbed and unchallenged, for two hundred and sixty years as the Catholic church of Holland until 1853 when Pope Pius IX established a parallel archdiocese in direct contradiction to Roman Canon Law. This unwarranted action caused much public distress among the Catholic faithful. The Archbishop of Utrecht and the Bishop of Haarlem, as the lawful canonical occupants of those sees, issued a formal protest against the new Hierarchy. They pointed out to Rome, with little avail that it was contrary to the rights of the Churches of Utrecht and Haarlem to set up rival Bishops for sees that were already occupied.

But the die was cast and the great Catholic conundrum had been created.

Now we have two canonically valid Roman Catholic Archdioceses in direct parallel to each other. What the Church of Rome chose to do was to ignore the Archdiocese of Utrecht as if it simply did not exist. The attitude appeared to be, perhaps if we can do this shunning over several hundred years they will simply fade away. Much to Rome’s displeasure the faithful heirs of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Utrecht continue to survive.

Today we hear distractors from the Church of Rome and other sources saying; they are not a Catholic church, their priests may be apostolically ordained but their ordination is illicit, they are not in communion with Rome so they are not a recognized Catholic Church.

Let us address each of these misconceptions:

  1. They are not a Catholic Church:

    The Old Roman Catholic Church is a direct linear descendant of the historic Archdiocese of Utrecht. In doing so it has faithfully maintained its Roman Catholic roots being by Rome’s own canon law apostolically and liturgically intact.  For two hundred and sixty years there had never a question concerning the Catholic heritage of the Archdiocese of Utrecht nor has there been a recorded challenge since the unprecedented action of 1853.
    Unfortunately within the Old Roman Catholic Church over years there have been those who have fallen by the wayside in reference to the priesthood such as the ordination of women and accepting individuals with a questionable backgrounds who would not qualify for acceptance into the seminary. Additionally there have been others who have sought elevation to the episcopacy only to drop to the wayside by creating non-canonical entities that are not in communion with other accepted Old Roman Catholic Jurisdictions. The Holy See, throughout the years, has also been plagued with such non canonical groups splitting from the mother church.

  2. Their priests may be apostolically ordained but their ordinations are illicit:

    Within the Roman Catholic Church one must have approval of Rome for the consecration of bishops. The Papal dispensation of 1145 that was granted by
    Pope Eugene III to the Archdiocese of Utrecht removed forever the requirement of Rome having to approve all Archdiocesan successors. Therefore any ordination or consecration within the Old Roman Catholic Church is by Rome’s own Papal dispensation and by canon law completely correct in their creation.

  3. They are not in communion with Rome so they are not a recognized Church:

We believe and continue to maintain, as we have always done since 1691, that these irregular proceedings against the Church of Utrecht, based, as they were, upon charges which were proved at the time to have been groundless, were therefore null and void and in direct contravention of the privileged rights of the See of Utrecht for immunity from prosecution outside her territory.

Add to all of this the uncanonical actions of Pope Pius IX in 1853, again contravening the ancient historic canons, as well as the privilege granted the See of Utrecht in 1145 regarding the election and appointment of her own Bishops and despite the majority opinion of the vast number of Catholic canon lawyers and academics being in favor of the Church of Utrecht, the actions of the See of Rome can be viewed in no other light than to declare them patently unjust, uncanonical and utterly null and void. Thus it is that we have faithfully remained, and are still in actual technical canonical fact, and not according to any fanciful or far-fetched theory, part and parcel of the Roman Catholic Church, despite her refusal to acknowledge or honor our historic and canonically proven position as true Roman Catholics.

Additionally since the great schism of 1154 there have been churches within the Christian world that have remained apostolically correct in their linage and sacraments.  Following the upheaval of Vatican II a number of dissenting jurisdictions were created breaking communion from Rome. A prime example is The Priestly Society of St Pius X formed immediately after Vatican II  They certainly are from the very fabric and heart of  the Catholic Church, yet continue not in communion with her. The Old Roman Catholic Church is considered by Rome as a “particular church” since we faithfully retain the historic unbroken Apostolic Succession. As a result of this on August 6, 2000, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, while serving a prefect of the, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued the document Dominus Jesus which states in part:

“…[chapter] IV. Unicity and Unity of the Church…[paragraph number] 17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church, since they do not accept the [Roman] Catholic doctrine of the Primacy [of the Pope].”

This far reaching document was published during the reign of Blessed John Paul II and most certainly with his expressed blessing.

So to answer the time honored question, The Old Roman Catholic Church is neither Fish nor Fowl.

Therefore it is by Roman Canon law and  the Papal dispensation  of 1145 undeniably Apostolically and Liturgically fully Roman Catholic.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Conservative US cardinal demoted by pope!

Cardinal Raymond Burke leaving the Synod Hall in Vatican City

The following is a post from the The Guardian and is of great concern to those faithful of the traditional Catholic Church. There are far reaching moves being made within the church today and Cardinal Raymond Burke was perhaps the strongest voice heard against the creeping liberalism seeping in. It seems to an all out attempt to silence those voices of reason within the Church hierarchy.  This move apparently shows a plan to simply shuttle these individuals off to some dark corner of the Catholic Church, never to be heard from again.

"Cardinal Raymond Burke, the conservative American who holds the top position in the Vatican’s justice system, on Friday told BuzzFeed he was being demoted.

Burke, a former archbishop of St Louis, has publicly challenged Pope Francis on issues including abortion and homosexuality.

A preliminary report from the church’s extraordinary synod on the family, released on Monday, signaled a readiness to adopt a more conciliatory attitude towards homosexuality, divorce and other “irregular” family situations.

More than 200 bishops contributed to the report, which said: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?”

A day later, Burke expressed concern, and said a great number of synod fathers had objected to the contents of the report. He told the Catholic World Herald Francis was “long overdue” in making a definitive statement about suspected changes in the Catholic church.

“The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth,” Burke told Buzzfeed. “The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”

Burke told Buzzfeed he was being transferred from his position as prefect of the supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura to be patron of the sovereign military order of Malta, though he said he had not received a formal order. He assumed his role as chief guardian of canon law in June 2008, having been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Benedict also appointed Burke to the Congregation for Bishops in 2009. Four years later, Francis removed Burke and 13 other bishops from the 18-man group. Days after he was removed from that post, in December 2013, Burke criticized Francis in an interview with the Catholic broadcaster EWTN.

“One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media, that he thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman,” Burke said. “But we can never talk enough about that.”

When National Catholic Reporter asked Burke who told him that he was being removed from the Vatican’s justice system, he replied: “Who do you think?”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Proposed Changes from Rome

It did not take Pope Francis long to begin showing a great leaning toward the proponents of Liberation Theology and it’s so called “social justice” standard. What is even more troubling is the fact that a earth shattering paper proposing change in the Churches attitude toward Homosexuality, same sex marriage and cohabitation was leaked to the press in Rome a full day before the paper was presented to the convened Bishops Synod. Certainty some one intentionally let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. Does this mean that as faithful Catholics we are now to be told to completely ignore the straight forward teachings of the bible to become more “so called politically correct?”

At the direction of Pope Francis I, the Vatican has released a document that says gay people have "gifts and qualities to offer," and even praises same-sex relationships for being "a precious support in the life of the partners."

It is being called "a dramatic shift in tone" in news reports, and "an earthquake" in tone by John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author of the New York Times' bestseller, The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church.

"Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home," the document, the relatio, reads, according to the AP.

"Are our communities capable of proving that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?" it asked.

A number of participants at the closed-door synod have said the Church should tone down its condemnatory language when referring to gay couples and avoid phrases such as "intrinsically disordered" when speaking of homosexuals.

While the Church continued to affirm that gay unions "cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman", it should recognize that there could be positive aspects to relationships in same-sex couples.

"Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners," the document said.

But just last week, Raymond Burke, the Vatican's number two man -- a judge second only to Pope Francis -- in an interview said parents should not let their children have any contact with gay people, who engage in these "evil, wrong," and "disordered" relationships. It may well be that he had been warned of this proposed new direction in Church thinking. We should give great thanks for such a stalwart defender of the faith as Cardinal Burke.

John Smeaton, co-founder of the conservative Catholic group Voice of the Family, said "Those who are controlling the synod have betrayed Catholic parents worldwide. He called it "one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history."

This Vatican document will most likely be the basis for discussion for the second and final week of the bishops assembly which is known as a synod. It will also serve for further reflection among Catholics around the world ahead of another definitive synod scheduled for next year

The have been numerous calls for Benedict XVI to come out of retirement and make a definitive statement reinforcing the traditional values of the church.

Only time will tell!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Islam, the Rosary, and the Battle of Lepanto

Islam, the Rosary, and the Battle of Lepanto

In Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know, Diane Moczar traces the rise of Islamic terrorism and writes about the Battle of Lepanto, a decisive victory won by the power of the Rosary. Islamic terrorism began in the seventh century when Arabs began attacking Christian Europe. One of the most famous battles was the Battle of Tours in 732 AD when Charles “the Hammer” Martel took a stand and defeated the Islamic forces.

In the East, the Byzantine Empire was also under siege. Pope Urban II urged the Western kingdoms to organize Crusades which were military expeditions to help Constantinople in the fight against Arab and Seljuk Turks and to reclaim the Holy Land.

Then came the Ottoman Turks with their powerful military and their goal of Islamic imperialism. While Europe was distracted by domestic problems as well as plagues, schisms, and multiple claimants to the papal throne, the Muslims were building an army. They developed “fanatically devoted soldiers” called Janissaires by kidnapping young boys from the lands they occupied and turning them into “little Muslims.” Through education, rigorous physical training, circumcision, and demanding loyalty to their captors, these boys were turned into an elite fighting group and the Sultan’s bodyguards.

In 1453, Sultan Mehmed best expressed militant Islam’s imperative: “The empire of the world must be one, one faith and one kingdom.”

With that goal, they moved on to Eastern Europe. Western Europe was too pre-occupied with its own problems to be much help when the Turks entered an inadequately armed Hungary. If they could conquer Belgrade, then “all of southeastern Europe would be open to the Muslim armies.”

John Hunyadi, the commander-in-chief of the Hungarian army fought them bravely. The siege lasted for three weeks in July 1456. The Hungarian army was “pitifully small and untrained.” Dangerously close to losing the fight, it was St. John of Capistrano who reassured the troops. He told them of a vision he had seen where the Lord said, “Fear not, John. Go down quickly. In the power of my name and of the Holy Cross, thou wilt conquer the Turks.” He gathered volunteers and rallied the Hungarian army. “During the fighting, the tireless Capistrano would stand on a high point of the shore, within sight of both Turks and Christians, waving a banner of the cross and calling out the name of Jesus.” His battle cry was: “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” By 22 July 1456, the battle was over and the Turks were defeated. Shortly after the battle, John Hunyadi died of illness and St. John of Capistrano died soon after.

With Hunyadi dead, Pope Callixtus needed a new warrior for Christendom. He chose Gjergj Scanderbeg, an Albanian, as the new commander-in-chief. Known as the “Champion of Christ,” he held off the Islamic armies until his death in 1468. The Muslim Turkish army finally conquered Albania thereby positioning themselves closer to the West.

In the next century, Suleiman the Magnificent became the Ottoman ruler and the Ottoman Empire expanded. “The Turks controlled the Persian Gulf and all the trade routes to the East. North Africa from Egypt to Algeria belonged to them, while the Moors, defeated at Granada in Spain in 1492, were eager to ally with the Ottomans and reinvade the Iberian Peninsula.” Onward they moved, conquering Hungary in 1526.

The time had come to conquer Vienna, “the gateway from Eastern to Western Europe.” Thankfully, Suleiman’s attempt was unsuccessful.

When Suleiman died, his drunkard son Selim succeeded him. During his reign the Ottomans continued their imperative of converting the world to Islam.

Pope St. Pius V recognized the Islamic threat but the rest of western Europe paid no attention to him. Only Philip II of Spain gave a weak attempt at defending western Europe by sending his half-brother Don Juan of Austria and a few dozen ships to engage the oncoming Turks. Don Juan managed to garner a small fleet of volunteers and 208 ships. This army, which was much smaller than the Islamic fleet, was known as the Holy League. Pope St. Pius asked all of Europe to pray the Rosary to ensure victory and when the fleet set sail from Messina on 16 September 1571, “all of the men had rosaries, too.”

In the early morning of 7 October 1571, the Battle of Lepanto began. The battle was horrific. G. K. Chesterton described it thus:

Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds.

Later on that fateful day, Pope Pius suddenly halted a meeting with his treasurer. He stood up, walked to the window and announced: “This is not a moment for business; make haste to thank God, because our fleet this moment has won a victory over the Turks.” He had seen a vision of the Holy League’s victory. Pope Pius V pronounced 7 October as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. Later, it was changed to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

In time the Turks would rebuild but by 1922 they were known as “the sick man of Europe” and were no longer considered a threat. In the years after World War I, the Europeans divided up their conquests in the Middle East.

But the Islamic threat didn’t die. In her book, Diane Moczar ends the chapter on this note:

One might have thought at that time that any further threat to the West from Islam was a pipe dream. Instead, it turned out to be a nightmare, one that has now come true. The British agents who taught the Arab subjects of the Ottomans to revolt against them found that—surprise—they later did the same to their Western “saviours.” When those saviours then placed a Jewish state in the midst of the volatile nations they had arbitrarily created, they raised Arab consciousness still further. The rest we know. We might yet have need of another Hunyadi, Scanderbeg, or Don John of Austria in our time.

Today, the Rosary remains our most powerful weapon against Islamic terrorism. Pray the Rosary daily. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Source: Moczar, D. Ten Dates Every Catholic should Know. New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 2005.