08 August 2017

Cardinal Burke: The Hope of Fatima?

A controversy has been brewing among Traditional Catholics regarding the address of His Eminence Cardinal Burke at the Roman Life Forum in May of this year. The subject of this address revolved around the continued importance of the Message of Our Lady of Fatima one hundred years after the apparitions in 1917, a reflection that moved the Cardinal to speak of a more explicit consecration of Russia, made by the Pope and bishops in union with him. The reaction to this address within the Traditional world was generally one of gladness. In fact, it was seen as a major breakthrough that could lead to the Pope fulfilling the explicit request of Our Lady that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.

Now it is not the point of this reflection to enter into the personal motives of His Eminence. In fact, charity bids us to "hope all things". We trust that Cardinal Burke desires that Russia indeed be consecrated, and that he desires to obey Our Lady's command. But even giving him the most noble of desires, it does not seem laudable to ignore some very uncomfortable truths- the most important of these being that his vision of Fatima is closely tied to a vision of the designs of Providence not compatible with true Catholicism. After describing the events of Fatima, His Eminence identifies the desires of Our Lady for a triumph of Her Immaculate Heart with that of the triumph of the Conciliar Church. Her triumph, in his opinion, will indeed be the renewal sought by the "New Evangelization" of Pope Paul VI and Pope John-Paul II. Throughout the address the importance of the message being connected to the desires of the "saint" and the "blessed" cannot be denied. The Cardinal has made of the message of Fatima the very modernism so strenuously fought against by the forces of Tradition since Vatican II.

This point must not be forgotten. The "New Evangelization", as rightly pointed out by the writer Cornelia Ferreira, is not the same as a "re-evangelization". It is not the Faith once delivered to the saints  being re-propagated, but rather, it is the preaching of the new definition of it expounded by the Council and the popes following that Council, the popes who have based their pontificates upon it. The change of doctrine brought by the Second Vatican Council is at the heart of the desires of these popes. There must be a new evangelization, that is the preaching of a new Evangelium (Gospel), even as there is now a new ecclesiology and a New Pentecost. Let us listen to the words of the Cardinal as to his belief that Our Lady's message is linked to this Conciliar vision:

"… let us heed once again the maternal direction of the Virgin of Fatima for a new evangelization of the Church and, thus, of the world.”

“Reflecting upon the pressing need to respond to the grace of a new evangelization, we see how timely the apparitions and message of Our Lady of Fatima remain.”

“The words of Pope Saint John Paul II make clear the perennial importance of the Message of Fatima: the giving of one’s whole heart, together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and thus the commitment to become an ever more effective agent of the sorely needed new evangelization of our culture.

Over and over, His Eminence makes mention of the Fatima message as being the natural complement of the desires of Pope John-Paul II and Pope Paul VI. It will not be the purpose of this reflection to spend time refuting such a proposition, but merely to remind the reader that for those holding on to Tradition, an unbridgeable chasm exists between the desires of these popes and the Tradition of the Church. One wonders if Traditional Catholics have suddenly suffered from amnesia when they read the Cardinal's claim that "The pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II, in fact, may be rightly described as a tireless call to recognize the Church’s challenge to be faithful to her divinely given mission in a completely secularized society and to respond to the challenge by means of a new evangelization." The pontificate of John-Paul II may be described in various ways, but for any Catholic who holds to Tradition, this is not one of them! Have Catholics forgotten the disaster, universal in scope, brought about by Popes Paul VI and John-Paul II?

If one is to add insult to injury, the Cardinal assures us that "Attention to the maternal direction of Our Lady of Fatima draw souls to Christ Who will give them the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit for the conversion of their lives and the transformation of a culture of death into a civilization of love." This choice assurance follows upon a paean of the saintly pontificate of the Polish pope. That pontificate is not so distant in the past as not to cause the writer to wince at the memory of the many falsities of doctrine and scandalous if not heretical actions committed by John-Paul II, so well symbolized by the supposed excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Bishop de Castro-Mayer, and the four newly consecrated bishops! Such was the attempt at the assassination of Catholic Tradition by the ally of Fatima!

While His Eminence indeed recalls many truths to mind in his address, he interweaves the errors of the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar popes, But this is not to be wondered at. Cardinal Burke has always been the champion of the Council and the new doctrines. He has never refused to say the "bastard rite" of Pope Paul VI disastrously foisted upon the Church since the liturgical reforms. His vision is the new vision, not the vision of Catholic Tradition. Conservative he is, no doubt, in many things; outspoken he may be against some of the more radical moral ideas now current; but his talk is certainly not compatible with the truth. The wrath of Heaven rests on the vision and reforms of Vatican II, and until the cause of our disaster is truly admitted, His Eminence Cardinal Burke cannot be the hope of Fatima, however much sympathy we may have for him for the good that he has done.

20 July 2017

Which Code for Tradition?

One of the more noticeable developments within the Society of Saint Pius X in recent years has been the growing references to canons found in the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John-Paul II. Although one might be tempted to speculate as to the reason of this development, this present reflection will limit itself to the problem of the Code itself. Certainly, there has been disagreement among those Catholic desiring to be faithful to Tradition as to the respective status of the two Codes of Canon Law- that of 1917 and 1983. Those who hold to the sedevacantist thesis reject the New Code on the grounds that the man who promulgated it was no pope, and thus incapable of imposing anything upon the Church. Among those who embraced fully the Second Vatican Council, there was likewise no problem. Pope John-Paul II had acted within his rights, and indeed, within the realm of his duty- to reform the law of the Church in the light of the Council.

But for those who both recognized the legitimacy of John-Paul II as Successor of Saint Peter and yet questioned the decisions of Vatican II, things were not so simple. On the one hand, there were those who argued that since the Pope had promulgated the New Code, there was a duty to accept it, or at least as much of it as was possible, given the problematic nature of some of the canons. These saw the code as simply a collection of individual canons. One could not speak truly therefore of the Code as one thing, except as a convenience. It was one in the sense that all the canons were gathered together within it and organized. Each canon was what counted, since each canon was a law promulgated by the pope. In such a scenario, every canon would be accepted save for those which went contrary to the teaching of the Church, such as Canon 844.4 which allows non-Catholics to receive the sacraments (such as Holy Communion) from the Catholic Church provided they cannot approach their own ministers and likewise profess the Faith of the Church regarding those sacraments. This, of course, is contrary to the practice of the Church for reasons grounded in the Faith itself. One cannot have the virtue of Faith only on one point, while rejecting other dogmas of Faith. But apart from such cases, all of the other canons are received as validly promulgated.

Yet there is another manner of regarding the Code of Canon Law. One may regard it not as a simple collection of individual canons, but as something promulgated as a unity or whole. Pope John-Paul II, after all, did not speak of the Code as a simple collection of canons, brought together for convenience sake into one book. It was as one thing that he promulgated it, and it was meant to be taken as something unified, a book of Law. Indeed, the Code was to be the canonical embodiment of the Second Vatican Council, the legal incarnation of its teaching. Thus, in the L'Osservatore Romano of the 12th of March, 2012, it is affirmed,

"In his report during the introduction to the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, he [Pope John-Paul II] emphasized to the bishops that the Code was part of the Council and that in this sense it was the Council’s last document."

It is in this canonical embodiment of the Council's teaching that we must examine the binding nature of the Code of 1983. It is insufficient to simply regard the Code as if it was a collection of canons, each independent and to be examined according to each one's merits. The Code has a purpose and a spirit that defines it. This is not something that is hidden, or the opinion of conspiracy theorists. Indeed, in the Constitution whereby the New Code was promulgated, "Sacrae Disciplinae Leges" the Pope speaks precisely of the purpose of the New Code and its new spirit.

To understand the problem more deeply, it is necessary to turn to some notions from philosophy. This is not to turn the discussion to matters too difficult for the normal Catholic to understand. These notions can be understood. Philosophy speaks of all things created as having four causes: the Formal Cause, the Material Cause, the Efficient Cause, and the Final Cause. This breakdown is of such importance that all four can be found in the definition of every true law given by Saint Thomas Aquinas. To this definition, indeed we will soon turn. In any case, if we examine the Code by looking at each cause we will see the following. The Final Cause, which is the most important, is that the Code will move the Church in the direction willed by the Second Vatican Council, the renewal of the Church through the teaching of the Council. The Formal Cause will be the translation into the Code of its new teachings. These must inspire the Code if it is to bring us to that renewal. The Pope tells us of this new spirit. The Code is to translate the new ecclesiology expressed at Vatican II. Let us look at the Pope's own words, found in the promulgating Constitution:

"...Indeed, in a certain sense, this new Code could be understood as a great effort to translate this same doctrine, that is, the conciliar ecclesiology, into canonical language. If, however, it is impossible to translate perfectly into canonical language the conciliar image of the Church, nevertheless, in this image there should always be found as far as possible its essential point of reference.

From this there are derived certain fundamental criteria which should govern the entire new Code, both in the sphere of its specific matter and also in the language connected with it. It could indeed be said that from this there is derived that character of complementarily which the Code presents in relation to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, with particular reference to the two constitutions, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium and the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes.

Hence it follows that what constitutes the substantial "novelty" of the Second Vatican Council, in line with the legislative tradition of the Church, especially in regard to ecclesiology, constitutes likewise the "novelty" of the new Code.

Among the elements which characterize the true and genuine image of the Church, we should emphasize especially the following: the doctrine in which the Church is presented as the People of God (cf. Lumen gentium, no. 2), and authority as a service (cf. ibid., no. 3); the doctrine in which the Church is seen as a "communion," and which, therefore, determines the relations which should exist between the particular Churches and the universal Church, and between collegiality and the primacy; the doctrine, moreover, according to which all the members of the People of God, in the way suited to each of them, participate in the threefold office of Christ: priestly, prophetic and kingly. With this teaching there is also linked that which concerns the duties and rights of the faithful, and particularly of the laity; and finally, the Church's commitment to ecumenism."

The Pope makes it quite clear that this Code of 1983, is meant to be the Council's "last document", for it embodies the "novelty" of its teaching by putting it into canonical form. There is indeed a unifying spirit that binds the canons together, and that is the new vision of the Church put forward by the Council. Thus we see that the Church must express itself now according to the new idea of itself found especially in "Lumen Gentium" and "Gaudium et Spes". This new vision permeates the Code, gives it life, and therefore provides the reason why Catholic Tradition must refuse it. There cannot be a new definition of the Church, given to us now after 1900 years. The Church's nature has always been understood by the Magisterium. It certainly does not now need to be discovered.

If we look at the definition of Saint Thomas on the nature of Law, we find that he teaches that it is an ordinance of reason, promulgated by the proper authority, for the common good. In this succinct definition, we have the four causes. It is an ordinance (material cause) of reason (formal cause) promulgated by the proper authority (efficient cause) for the common good (final cause). It is not enough that it be promulgated by the proper authority. The same must hold true for the promulgation of the Code. It is not enough that it be promulgated by the Pope. It must be for a purpose, and this purpose governs its nature. The Laws of the Church must be ordered to their purpose- the salvation of souls, and this salvation can only be acquired by means established by God firstly: Faith and the life of the virtues. The supernatural order was not discovered at Vatican II. The Church had had myriads of saints from her founding, all of whom reached Heaven by adherence to the true Faith and by sanctity of life. The New Code is ordered to the "renewal of the Christian life" according to new principles, principles which did not demand conversion of life and opposition to the world. And so the Code incarnates this new vision, a vision of a modern Church no longer at war with the world, but  friends with it, a Church no longer identified with the Catholic Church.

So we end with the stark reality of this Code of 1983 having a life of its own, child of a Council turned away from the past towards a humanistic future. The new spirit is the life binding together the canons even as the soul makes one in operation the organs of the body. It cannot be accepted for the very reason the reform cannot be accepted, even if there are good and traditional elements sometimes present. The life and direction of this new law is the death of the Catholic spirit. For Tradition then, Catholics must hold on to the 1917 Code, inspired by its own life and finality. It is not a question of denying the Pope's authority, but of taking John-Paul II at his own word. This is a New Code for a New Ecclesiology, not for the Catholic Church.

01 July 2017

Sanctity is the Answer

Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey

"It is not scholars or great orators that we need, especially at the present moment; it is Saints." These words might seem too simple when we are faced with the disaster that is the modern post-Conciliar world. Within the Church we see the spirit of apostasy spreading. Churchmen seem to daily question more and more of the dogmatic and moral teaching of the Magisterium. Many, from the Pope downwards, seem to wish to divorce teaching from practice. Yes, Divorce and "remarriage" are wrong; but such as those who have entered into illicit unions may still be able to approach the sacraments, even if the union continues. Contraception has again become a topic of discussion, along with other subjects answered long ago by Rome.

In the face of such heresy and moral depravity, the average Catholic is adrift. How is he or she to know the truth if those who are by office the teachers of the faithful bend the truth to please a world which is ever-more weary of the Faith and the truth?  It is a grave situation indeed. But while its gravity cannot be doubted, all is not hopeless. The words of Our Lord cannot be ignored "... the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it [the Church]."

Traditional Catholics, if we may so name them, see that the truth cannot change; that the Church before the Council cannot be discarded in favour of an updated one, friends now with all species of unbelievers from heretics to atheists. This grace of remaining true to the unchanging doctrine of the Church certainly is to be acknowledged for what it is: a gift from God. But this grace of seeing the truth is given in a time of war and possible discouragement. How is a Catholic to respond to the present crisis? We must be on our guard; for although light has been given to us, the devil has not forgotten us. He desires the destruction of the Church and the means of salvation. He goes about, says Scripture, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

One of the traps laid down by the demons is one of hyper-intellectualism. By this it is not to be thought that one must avoid the use of the intellect. Every Catholic must know his Faith if he is to avoid the manifold errors of our time. The Catechism must be learned and understood; good books on the subject of the crisis, such as those written by Archbishop Lefebvre, must be taken up and studied. But knowledge alone will not suffice. Often Catholics become deceived as to the extent of their knowledge in matters beyond their actual understanding. Armchair theologians have sprung up like mushrooms after the rain, theologizing on every subject whether they actually understand it or not. Seminaries have been replaced by one forum or another. "In this crisis no one may be trusted," except of course oneself. Catholicism is thus reduced to knowing about the Faith, rather than practicing it. One might even say that it is kind of Gnosticism whereby a false intellectualism replaces the actual teaching of the Church on the spiritual life. It is knowledge that saves according to this mode of temptation. But this is not the answer, for it betrays Tradition in the name of a false Traditionalism.

Another trap is that of Ecclesiastical politics, which is at root a form of Naturalism. God cannot restore the Church by grace; only by seeking approval by the authorities in the Church can Tradition be restored. But this brings with it grave dangers, if not fatal ones. How can there be a union based not upon the Faith, but upon some other agent of union? It is not a question of denying that the Pope or the diocesan bishops have their authority from the Apostles, but rather of the simple fact that they are not in the discharge of their offices faithful to their charge. Many have fallen into heresies of one kind or another, while many more at least hold ideas that savour of heresy. A growing number of Traditional Catholics have begun to thing that "traditional Catholicism" is not simply Catholicism. Yet the entire point of the resistance to these new teachings and practices rests on the fact that these new things are not Catholic. It is as simple as that. And there is no doubt that Pope Francis and those authorities constituted by him hold these false notions. The "novus ordo," to give it a name that is perhaps not theologically exact, manifests a recognizable spirit, false and leading to heresy; a spirit that binds the new thing together. There can be no regularization until this New Rome converts and professes the same Faith as has always been professed.

What must be the answer to our current distress? The answer lies in becoming that which we know God desires us to be- saints: "this is the will of God, your sanctification"(I Thess 4:3). In other words, the only answer possible to a spiritual crisis is a spiritual one, a supernatural one. It is not a question of rejecting the intellect, of laying aside those works that help us know the immemorial teaching of the Church. Truth must inform our mind, for God is Truth. But knowledge alone does not make us good. We may know all about the causes of the crisis, but this will not really solve anything if we do not do God's will. Knowledge must be joined to the love of God, to devotion, to the actual practice of the Faith. It must involve going to Holy Mass where the only sacrifice really important is offered up for the glory of God and the salvation of our souls. We must pray our Rosary with devotion and attention, approach the fountains of grace which are the sacraments, and fulfill the great law of Charity both towards God and towards ones neighbour. The words at the beginning of this reflection are from the great apostle of the Sacred Heart, Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, and they confront us with the truth. It is sanctity that is the solution to the problem of sin, and thus to the problem of the modern crisis.  It is the saint that alone can turn the tide, for the saint alone fulfills in himself the petitions, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."