Second Word – Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

This Day Thou Shalt Be With Me In Paradise

“Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

As Our Blessed Lord hung dying on the Sacred Cross, His ears are filled with words of abuse hurled at Him by ungrateful sinners. In the midst of this vulgarity and injury, one voice alone speaks out in His defense. Rebuking the blasphemous robber, the Good Thief (traditionally known as St. Dismas) said “‘Neither dost thou fear God, seeing; thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man hath done no evil.’ And he said to Jesus: ‘Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.'” (Luke 23:40-2, DRB) Upon hearing this, Our Lord assured him that he would see paradise that day.

Imagine what it must have been like to witness the excruciating pain that Our Lord went though from such a close proximity. It could only lead to repentance. The Good Thief must have had a special grace to recognize Jesus’ Divine innocence. We should beg God to give us the grace to avoid sin so that we may never again cause the Innocent Lamb of God so much pain. Let us not be among those who hurl abuse at Jesus, but let us be those among who strive to bring joy to His Heart by renouncing satan and all his empty promises and repenting of our sinfulness. Amen.

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Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (May 8, 1895 – December 9, 1979)

ArchbishopSheen1Venerable Fulton J. Sheen was born on May 8, 1895 in El Paso, Illinois to Newton and Delia Sheen. He was baptized Peter John Sheen, but later became known by his mother’s maiden name: Fulton. He was the oldest of four boys. After his family moved to Peoria, Sheen was an altar boy at St. Mary’s Cathedral. He graduated from high school as a valedictorian in 1913. After attending St Paul Seminary in Minnesota, Sheen was ordained in 1919. He went on to earn a doctorate in philosophy at the Catholic University in Belgium. He was the first American to win the Cardinal Mercier award for philosophy.

After he returned to America, Sheen received offers from Oxford and Columbia to teach philosophy. However, at the request of Bishop Dunne of Peoria, Sheen took on the duties of a parish priest. Nine months later, Dunne sent Sheen to teach philosophy at the Catholic University of America, which he did until 1950. In 1951, Sheen was consecrated a bishop and served as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York for the next 15 years.

ArchbishopSheen2Sheen’s communication skills would go far to help the Church. He published the first of 73 books in 1925. In 1930, he began a weekly Sunday night broadcast entitled “The Catholic Hour”. By the time it finished twenty years later, the show had an audience of four million. Sheen began a weekly television program in 1950 entitled “Life is Worth Living”. It was given the graveyard slot of Tuesday nights at 8:00pm, so it would not compete with rating giants, such as Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra. However, the show’s rating grew quickly. Berle joked, “He used old material, too.” In 1952, Sheen won an Emmy Award for his show. He said, “I feel it is time to pay tribute to my four writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” In one of his best remembered shows was in February of 1953 when he denounced Joseph Stalin. He ended the show by saying, “Stalin must one day meet his judgement.” Stalin suffered a stroke and died within a week. The show ended in 1957

Sheen became the director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the US. Eight years later, he was appointed the Bishop of Rochester, New York.  From 1961 to 1968, he hosted another TV show entitled The Fulton Sheen Show. Sheen was responsible for the conversion of several notable figures. The people he converted include: agnostic Heywood Broun, politician Clare Boothe Luce, Henry Ford II, Communist Louis F. Budenz and actress Virginia Mayo.

ArchbishopSheen3On the 50th anniversary of his ordination in 1969, Sheen resigned as bishop of Rochester and was appointed archbishop by Pope Paul VI. In October of 1979, Pope John Paul II visited the United States. Upon meeting Sheen at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the Pope embraced him and said, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church.” Sheen died on December 9. 1979. Billy Graham said of Sheen’s death, “(His death was) a great loss for the nation and both the Catholic and Protestant churches…He broke down many walls of prejudice between Catholics and Protestants. I mourn his death and look forward to our reunion in heaven.” Pope Benedict XVI declared Archbishop Sheen Venerable in June 2012.

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First Word – Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

(Note: This is the first of seven meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ. )

With this one phrase Jesus begs His Heavenly Father to have mercy on us. Why? Because of our ignorance. We are ignorant of God’s plan for us. We are ignorant of how often and how deeply we hurt God the Father. He has given us such great blessing and how to we repay Him? By sinning in our ignorance. We choose to overlook and ignore the pain that our actions cause God because they give us some sort of pleasure. However, this pleasure is a passing pleasure, which will turn to pain later on.

How often have we injured others with our thoughtless words or deeds? Too often. Just so, we often hurt and offend God by not thinking about our actions and their consequences. Jesus is asking His Father to forgive us; but for forgiveness to be complete we must repent for our sins. God may forgive us repeatedly, but if we continue to sin, the measure of the punishment due to sin continues to build. We must now repent  of our ignorance. We must repent in a heartfelt manner, not just with words or thoughts, but with actions too.
Lord Jesus Christ, give me the grace and the strength to overcome my ignorance and never hurt You again. Amen.

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The Angelic Doctor

St. Thomas Aquinas before the Crucifix

St. Thomas Aquinas before the Crucifix

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelic Doctor. St. Thomas was a tremendous theologian whose works influence the Church to this day. In honor of this great saint, I thought I would tell a couple of my favorite stories of his life.

Many heresies have used by the devil in his effort to damage the Church. The Middle Ages where no different. A new form of the Manichaean heresy was shaking the Church. St. Thomas was engaged in fighting this heretical outbreak when he was invited to a banquet at the court of St. Louis IX. As St. Thomas sat deep in thought near the king, ladies, lords and knights talked and feasted around him. Suddenly, the saint slammed a mighty fight onto the table and shouted, “And that will settle the Manichees.” Everyone was frozen to the spot in horror at the breach in etiquette. Knights were ready to eject the Italian friar. Instead, St. Louis turned to his servants and told them to bring a pen and paper so that St. Thomas would not forget his argument.

St Thomas’ most well know writing is the three-volume Summa Theologica. He spent most of his life working on it and was not able to finish it before he died. At one point, St. Thomas took his manuscript into the chapel and laid it at the foot of the life-sized crucifix. Kneeling in prayer, St. Thomas told the Lord, “Lord, what I have written here is so much straw.” One of the hands of the Crucified Christ came off the cross and touched St. Thomas’ head. “Thomas, you have written well of me,” said Christ from His Cross.

God Bless and pray to St. Thomas.

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Is the Society of the St. Pius X (SSPX) In Schism?

In December Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Mueller told an Italian newspaper that the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X was in schism. As you might expect, many SSPX supporters quickly jumped to the Society’s defense. Since I have talked about this organization many times before, I decided I would cover this question and study it based on canon law. I am not an expert in canon law, but I will be quoting relevant canons from the Code of Canon Law of 1917. I will be using the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law from Ignatius Press. (Interestingly, it is called Pio-Benedictine because the project to compile canon law was started by Pope St. Pius X and finished by Pope Benedict XV).

Definition of Schism

Before we examine the actions of those involved, let’s define our term. The 1917 Code of Canon Law Canon defines schism in canon 1325 paragraph 2:

If finally he refuses to be under the Supreme Pontiff of refuses communion with the members of the Church subject to him, he is a schismatic.

What is the penalty for schism? That can be answered with canon 2314, paragraph 1:

All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic:

  1. Incur by that fact excommunication;

  2. Unless they respect warnings, they are deprived of benefice, dignity, pension, office, or other duty that they have in the Church, they are declared infamous, and if clerics, with the warning being repeated, they are deposed;

  3. If they give their names to non-Catholic sects or publicly adhere to them, they are by that fact infamous, and with due regard for the prescription of Canon 188, n 4, clerics, the previous warning having been useless, are degraded.

Essentially, anyone who refuses to obey the Pope, is in schism. By extension, anyone who is in schism is excommunicated. That seems simple enough. Now let’s move on to the events surrounding the 1988.

What Happened

After its foundation 1970, the Society of St. Pius X was constantly in conflict with Holy Mother Church. Archbishop Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, was the main source of ordinations for the society. In 1987, when Lefebvre was in his 80s, he announced his decision to consecrate a new bishop to take his place. However, he was prepared to do so without papal approval, which is against canon law.

Canon 332, paragraph 1 states:

Whoever is to be promoted to the episcopate, even if he is elected, presented, or designated even by a civil Government, needs canonical provision or institution by which the Bishop is constituted in a vacant dioceses, which only the Roman Pontiff can give.

Canon 953 adds:

The consecration of a Bishop is reserved to the Roman Pontiff so that it is not permitted to any Bishop to consecrate another as Bishop without first having gotten a pontifical mandate.

After talks, Lefebvre signed an agreement with the Vatican that would make his organization canonically recognized and allow him to consecrate one bishop. Upon returning to Switzerland, Lefebvre changed his mind and announced he would consecrate four bishops, without papal approval. Pope John Paul II even sent Lefebvre a personal letter asking him to reconsider and reminding him of the penalties he was about to incur. The consecrations took place on June 30, 1988. The Vatican replied by issuing a decree stating that those who took part in the consecrations were excommunicated. Canon 2370 covers this issue.

A Bishop consecrating another Bishop, and the assisting Bishops or, in the place of Bishops, priests, and those who receive consecration without an apostolic mandate against the prescription of Canon 953 are by the law suspended until the Apostolic See dispenses them.

After examining the pertinent portions of canon law, I think it is safe to say that SSPX is in schism.

Emergency?

Most SSPX supporters try to get around the penalties of canon law by claiming a state of emergency within the Church. They claim that if Lefebvre had not consecrated the four bishops, there would have been no one to ordain new traditionalist priests. This falls flat for two reasons. First, the Vatican had given Lefebvre permission to consecrate one bishop to replace him. This would have kept the Church supplied for years. Second, there would have been “outside” bishops. For example, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest both depend on bishops from outside the organizations for ordination. These bishops include Archbishop Sample, Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Hoyos and others.

Thoughts of a Former Member of SSPX

During an interview with the Wanderer newspaper, former SSPX member Fr. John Emerson FSSP said the following about SSPX and schism:

Q. We can get off on some of these other groups and associations later. Right now, you raised an interesting point en passant. You spoke of the consecration of the four bishops [by Archbishop Lefebvre] as not being a ‘necessary disobedience.’ I wonder If you would speak to the difference between disobedience and schism.
A. Yes, well, for example, the priests that Monsignor Lefebvre ordained, including myself, I never believed, and it was entirely clear from their attitude that Rome never seriously thought, this was in any way a schismatic act. It was purely disobedient. It was a disobedience which many of us were willing to go ahead and commit because we believed it was absolutely essential for the life: of the Church, for the health of the Church, that traditional liturgy continue and not simply disappear, and it seemed at the time that was the only way it was going to continue. Now, that can be argued, but in conscience we felt fully able to go ahead and do that without sin, without any kind of real suspension.
The consecration of bishops, on the other hand, is a clear act of schism, of breaking with the head of the Church, of setting up a parallel hierarchy, setting up an independent church. Of course that is exactly what schism is. It is not to be a heretic, which is to say, no, the Pope is, not head of the Church. It is to say, yes, he is, but we are simply going to ignore that and go ahead on our own.
Another part of schism, interestingly, is this: Even if one continues to say, yes, we are under the Pope, we obey the Pope, but it is then to break entirely with those who also are under the Pope, and that the Society of St. Pius X also has done very clearly since the break by considering utterly traditional groups like us, like the Abbey at La Barrou in France , to be now part of the Modernist conspiracy, if you like. In truth, we are in every way traditional, but we accept the Pope and we obey him. Therefore we are outside the pale. That, too, is classically the schismatic mentality.
It’s clear the Society [of St. Pius X] has accepted the dangers of a real schism and is just plowing ahead.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Current Situation

Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication for the four bishop in 2009, but that does not change things. Just because an excommunication is lifted, it does not mean that the person who was excommunicated is automatically returned to full communion with the Church. For example, when the Great Schism (or East-West Schism) took place, the Pope and the patriarch excommunicated each other. Those orders of excommunication were lifted in 1995 by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. Even though the excommunication is lifted, the Orthodox Church is still separated from the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI made the situation clear in 2009.

The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church. – Pope Benedict XVI March 10, 2009

Final Thoughts

I agree with SSPX on several points. I agree that Vatican II was a major rupture with the past. I also agree that the Latin Mass is the premier form of worship and that the pre-Vatican II sacraments are more powerful. However, I do not agree with Lefebvre’s actions. Nor do I agree that the English Mass invalid, it is watered down but it is still valid. There are god people in the SSPX, but they are misled by men who like leading their own church. Please keep SSPX in your prayers. Pray that they will return to return to communion with the Holy See.

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God, Family, Ducks

Phil Robertson, head of the Robertson clan and creator of the Duck Commander duck call.

Phil Robertson, head of the Robertson clan and creator of the Duck Commander duck call.

Most people should be away for the record-breaking, extremely popular reality TV show: Duck Dynasty. It is loved by the majority of Americans and hated by a small, ignorant minority. Recently, this insignificant minority decided to flex its muscle, all because the head of the Robertson family decided to paraphrase the Bible, admittedly in a rather coarse way. A&E, the channel that broadcasts Duck Dynasty, immediately bowed to the wishes of the minority and announced that they would suspend the resulting cast member. What resulted was the biggest outcry by Americans that I have every seen. Millions protested A&E’s decision. Viewership plummeted. Wal-Mart sold out of all Duck Dynasty material. Fans put pressure on Duck Dynasty sponsors to continue to support the show. Glen Beck offered the Robertson family a place on his channel if they decided to leave A&E. Within a couple of days, A&E caved and lifted the suspension.

Jase Robertson, second son of the Robertsons and head of duck call manufacturing.

Jase Robertson, second son of the Robertson’s and head of duck call manufacturing.

Now that you are up to date, I’d like to tell you about my experience with Duck Dynasty. We don’t have a TV at home, so the only time we get to see TV, outside of DVDs or videos on the web, is at Grandma’s. Christmas Day we came across a Duck Dynasty marathon and proceeded to watch a couple of hours. And it was great. Each episode centered around the Robertson’s and their adventures. Quite often they start with several of the main characters (usually Jase and Si Robertson and a couple of employees) sitting in the duck call assembly room talking. Quite often the conversation leads to a challenge, which kicks off the entertainment.

For example, in one episode Si says that you can eat hot donuts faster than regular donuts.

Si Robertson, Phil's younger brother

Si Robertson, Phil’s younger brother

He then challenged the other three in the work room to hot donut eating contest at the new donut shop down the street. When they saw a camping trailer and an advertisement for a drawing for the trailer outside of the donut shop, Jase said, “If you park a camper outside a donut shop, rednecks will come running from rocks, caves, and mountaintops to eat your donuts.” Inside, after betting $20 Si proceeded to out eat the other three. Si then used the $80 in prize money to buy tickets for the camping trailer raffle. Later, as they are unloaded supplies, the camper is delivered for Si. Si then proceeded to turn the camper into his “office”. After cooking a squirrel concoction, Si took a nap. Jase decided to play a trick on his uncle by hooking up the trailer and driving the sleeping Si into the woods and driving away. Just like every other episode it ended with Phil saying grace over a large family dinner.

Willie Robertson, third son and CEO of Duck commander

Willie Robertson, third son and CEO of Duck commander

In my opinion, the reason people enjoy this show is because it is very funny, but also because it is very relatable. As one article stated, the A&E top dogs intended Duck Dynasty to be the usual laugh at the dumb redneck, but instead viewer laughed with them, not at them. It is a series about a goofy uncle with crazy stories, brothers who get on each others nerves, about getting back to the simpler things. While the Christian overtones are not always obvious, they are there. As I said before, every episode ends with Phil saying grace over a large family meal. In an episode, one of Phil’s grandsons stops by Phil’s house to go on a fishing trip with his girlfriend. Upon hearing this Phil decided to join them as a chaperon. While going down the river, Phil tells his grandson that he should not touch his girlfriend below the neck until “he signs the dotted line”.

If you get a chance, watch Duck Dynasty. Skip the rest of the shows on A&E because they are junk, just like every other channel. Keep the Robertson family in your prayers because the minority that has attacked them in the past has a long memory and may do so again.

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Happy Thanksgiving

GeorgeWashingtonPrayI would like to wish all of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving. Instead of writing an article today, I will post George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation which made it a national day of prayer, not a great day for shopping deals.

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

“Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted’ for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.” – George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789

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Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Celebrates 25 Years of Fidelity to Rome

FSSPCoatOfArmsThis year the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) celebrates their 25th anniversary. In July 18, 1988, twelve priests and a number of seminarians decided that they did not want to follow the rest of the Society of St. Pius X into schism when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops without Papal mandate. As of 2011, the FSSP 228 priests, 10 deacons, and 154 seminarians in 117 dioceses around the world.

Pope Francis sent the following message to the FSSP, through the nuncio to France, regarding their anniversary and many years of service to the Church.

Pope Francis joins the thanksgiving of her members for the work accomplished in this quarter-century spent at the service of ecclesial communion cum Petro et sub Petro.

It was in a moment of great trial for the Church that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter was created. In a great spirit of obedience and hope, her founders turned with confidence to the Successor of Peter in order to offer the faithful attached to the Missal of 1962 the possibility of living their faith in the full communion of the Church. The Holy Father encourages them to pursue their mission of reconciliation between all the faithful, whichever may be their sensibility, and this to work so that all welcome one another in the profession of the same faith and the bond of an intense fraternal charity.

By way of the celebration of the sacred Mysteries according to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and the orientations of the Constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, as well as by passing on the apostolic faith as it is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, may they contribute, in fidelity to the living Tradition of the Church, to a better comprehension and implementation of the Second Vatican Council.

The Holy Father exhorts them, according to their own charism, to take an active part in the mission of the Church in the world of today, through the testimony of a holy life, a firm faith and an inventive and generous charity.

Entrusting to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Peter, apostle, all the pilgrims assembled in Lourdes or at the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris to give thanks to the Lord on this occasion, the Holy Father grants them with open heart the Apostolic Benediction.

Paris, October 28, 2013
On the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles.

Please keep all the members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Pray that they will have many more years to spend in service to the Church.

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SSPX Widens the Gap Between Themselves and Rome Yet Again (Will They Ever Stop)

Once again the SSPX has been in the news. And once again, I have a bone to pick with them. (Actually, several bones.)

To begin with, Fellay made a couple very stupid statement recently at the Angelus Press Conference in Kansas City.

I’m going to start with the worst:

“The situation of the Church is a real disaster, and the present Pope is making it 10,000 times worse.”

Fellay, by making this one statement, has done more to harm SSPX relations with the Vatican than anything since Lefebvre’s original schismatic act. By attacking the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, Fellay is attacking Christ and His Church. What self-respecting “bishop” would dare to attack the Pope, especially one that claims to uphold the traditions of the Church? The Church has had her share of liberal Popes in the past, but that have never changed the validity of the office of the Pope.

Fellay’s second statement concerned the recent Vatican-SSPX negotiations:

They want us to recognize not only that the [New] Mass is valid provided it is celebrated correctly, etc., but that it is licit. I told them: we don’t use that word. It’s a bit messy, our faithful have enough [confusion] regarding the validity, so we tell them, ‘The New Mass is bad, it is evil’ and they understand that. Period!’” Of course the Roman authorities “were not very happy with that.

Regardless of what you believe about English (or Novus Ordo) Mass, as long as the words of Consecration are still present then the Mass is valid. The whole purpose of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is to give the Children of God spiritual food. As long as the required words exist, the Mass is valid. That is not complicated as Fellay maked or wants it to be.

The second recent event really ticked me off was the funeral of Erich Priebke. The former SS captain was found guilty of taking part in the massacre of 335 Italians by an Italian court in 1998. Since then he has lived under house arrest. After he died, Diocese of Rome said that his funeral should take place in private. This did not satisfy the Priebke family lawyer, who went to SSPX who in turn agreed to hold a funeral for Priebke. The result was over 500 people protesting outside of the SSPX chapel.

This funeral does nothing help the image of the SSPX, especially among World War II survivors and Jews. They already look anti-semetic, Holocaust deniers because of Williamson.

Finally, a week or so ago members of the SSPX disrupted a commemoration of Kristallnacht, when the Nazi burned synagogues and wrecked Jewish homes and businesses. The SSPX member shouted that they did not want people who followed false gods in a Catholic cathedral. What group are they talking about? Jews. Remember those people? They share the same faith that Jesus and His family practised.

For those who think that the Catholic Church is supposed to be anti-semetic, here is Pope Gregory X’s thoughts on the subject.

Pope Gregory X’s Papal Bull “Papal Protection of the Jews” issued October 7, 1272:

Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, extends greetings and the apostolic benediction to the beloved sons in Christ, the faithful Christians, to those here now and to those in the future.

Even as it is not allowed to the Jews in their assemblies presumptuously to undertake for themselves more than that which is permitted them by law, even so they ought not to suffer any disadvantage in those [privileges] which have been granted them. [This sentence, first written by Gregory I in 598, embodies the attitude of the Church to the Jew.] Although they prefer to persist in their stubbornness rather than to recognize the words of their prophets and the mysteries of the Scriptures [which, according to the Church, foretold the coming of Jesus], and thus to arrive at a knowledge of Christian faith and salvation; nevertheless, inasmuch as they have made an appeal for our protection and help, we therefore admit their petition and offer them the shield of our protection through the clemency of Christian piety. In so doing we follow in the footsteps of our predecessors of blessed memory, the popes of Rome — Calixtus, Eugene, Alexander, Clement, Innocent, and Honorius.

We decree moreover that no Christian shall compel them or any one of their group to come to baptism unwillingly. But if any one of them shall take refuge of his own accord with Christians, because of conviction, then, after his intention will have been manifest, he shall be made a Christian without any intrigue. For, indeed, that person who is known to have come to Christian baptism not freely, but unwillingly, is not believed to posses the Christian faith.

[The Church, in principle, never approved of compulsory baptism of Jews.]

Moreover no Christian shall presume to seize, imprison, wound, torture, mutilate, kill or inflict violence on them; furthermore no one shall presume, except by judicial action of the authorities of the country, to change the good customs in the land where they live for the purpose of taking their money or goods from them or from others.

In addition, no one shall disturb them in any way during the celebration of their festivals, whether by day or by night, with clubs or stones or anything else. Also no one shall exact any compulsory service of them unless it be that which they have been accustomed to render in previous times.

[Up to this point Gregory X has merely repeated the bulls of his predecessors.]

Inasmuch as the Jews are not able to bear witness against the Christians, we decree furthermore that the testimony of Christians against Jews shall not be valid unless there is among these Christians some Jew who is there for the purpose of offering testimony.

[the Church council at Carthage, as early as 419, had forbidden Jews to bear witness against Christians; Justinian’s law of 531 repeats this prohibition. Gregory X here — in accordance with the medieval legal principle that every man has the right to be judged by his peers — insists that Jews can only be condemned if there are Jewish as well as Christian witnesses against them. A similar law to protect Jews was issued before 825 by Louis the Pious (814 – 840) of the Frankish Empire.]

Since it happens occasionally that some Christians lose their children, the Jews are accused by their enemies of secretly carrying off and killing these same Christian children and of making sacrifices of the heart and blood of these very children. It happens, too, that the parents of these very children, or some other Christian enemies of these Jews, secretly hide these very children in order that they may be able to injure these Jews, and in order that they may be able to extort from them a certain amount of money by redeeming them from their straits. [Following the lead of Innocent IV, 1247, Gregory attacks the ritual murder charge at length.]

And most falsely do these Christians claim that the Jews have secretly and furtively carried away these children and killed them, and that the Jews offer sacrifices from the heart and the blood of these children, since their law in this matter precisely and expressly forbids Jews to sacrifice, eat, or drink the blood, or to eat the flesh of animals having claws. This has been demonstrated many times at our court by Jews converted to the Christian faith: nevertheless very many Jews are often seized and detained unjustly because of this.

We decree, therefore, that Christians need not be obeyed against Jews in a case or situation of this type, and we order that Jews seized under such a silly pretext be freed from imprisonment, and that they shall not be arrested henceforth on such a miserable pretext, unless — which we do not believe — they be caught in the commission of the crime. We decree that no Christian shall stir up anything new against them, but that they should be maintained in that status and position in which they were in the time of our predecessors, from antiquity till now.

We decree in order to stop the wickedness and avarice of bad men, that no one shall dare to devastate or to destroy a cemetery of the Jews or to dig up human bodies for the sake of getting money. [The Jews had to pay a ransom before the bodies of their dead were restored to them.] Moreover, if any one, after having known the content of this decree, should — which we hope will not happen — attempt audaciously to act contrary to it, then let him suffer punishment in his rank and position, or let him be punished by the penalty of excommunication, unless he makes amends for his boldness by proper recompense. Moreover, we wish that only those Jews who have not attempted to contrive anything toward the destruction of the Christian faith be fortified by support of such protection …

Given at Orvieto by the hand of the Magister John Lectator, vice-chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, on the 7th of October, n the first indiction [cycle of fifteen years], in the year 1272 of the divine incarnation, in the first year of the pontificate of our master, the Pope Gregory X.

Now most of you are saying “So what, SSPX often does things to embarrass or anger the Holy See.” Well, I think these are definite example of the SSPX setting themselves up as an alternative to the Catholic Church. First, Fellay has give up all pretence of discussing reunion and openly attacks the Pope. Second, they gave an unrepentant Nazi (before his death, Priebke denied the Holocaust in a TV interview) a funeral, even though the Catholic Church offered a private service. Finally, their members are so filled with hatred for Jews that they disrupt a service commemorating one of the most horrific events in Jewish history and calling them followers of a false god. It should be obvious to most pople by now that SSPX is not in union with Rome, but has form and organization in opposition to it. As Father Emerson FSSP said:

    The consecration of bishops, on the other hand, is a clear act of schism, of breaking with the head of the Church, of setting up a parallel hierarchy, setting up an independent church. Of course that is exactly what schism is. It is not to be a heretic, which is to say, no, the Pope is, not head of the Church. It is to say, yes, he is, but we are simply going to ignore that and go ahead on our own.
Another part of schism, interestingly, is this: Even if one continues to say, yes, we are under the Pope, we obey the Pope, but it is then to break entirely with those who also are under the Pope, and that the Society of St. Pius X also has done very clearly since the break by considering utterly traditional groups like us (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter), like the Abbey at La Barrou in France , to be now part of the Modernist conspiracy, if you like. In truth, we are in every way traditional, but we accept the Pope and we obey him. Therefore we are outside the pale. That, too, is classically the schismatic mentality.
It’s clear the Society [of St. Pius X] has accepted the dangers of a real schism and is just plowing ahead.

I pray fervently that the leaders of the SSPX will see the error of their ways and return ot Rome, but I’m not going to hold my breath. If one of these days, SSPX is pulled aboard the barque of Peter kicking and screaming (a miracle as great or greater than the parting of the Red Sea), I will delete and renounce every comment I have ever made about the SSPX. However I doubt that day will ever come.

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Vatican Drops the Hammer on Medjugorje

Most people should aware of this story, but the Vatican has finally dropped the hammer on “apparitions” at Medjugorje. The Papal Nuncio to the US issued a letter at the request of the head of the Congregation fo the Doctrine of the Faith prohibiting both clergy and laity for taking part in events which accept the authenticity of Medjugorje. This is a major step that has been needed for many years. I have major problems with Medjugorje, which I will cover in a future post. For now, I’d like to say, I’m very happy the Vatican has finally made a move.

Here is the letter:

MedjugorjeLetter

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