Card. Marx pulls a fast one with the text of ‘Evangelii gaudium’.

There was an interview with His Eminence Reinhard Card. Marx in America Magazine.  We can trust that the interview really conveys what Card. Marx thinks because, as we are informed, he had a chance to go over it before publication.

I noticed something in the interview that bothered me… a lot.  Here is the section that most troubled me.  My emphases in his response

What challenge accompanies this new time in the church?

MARX: It is best to read “Evangelii Gaudium.” Some people say, “We don’t know what the pope is really wanting.” I say, “Read the text.” It does not give magical answers to complex questions, but rather it conveys the path of the Spirit, the way of evangelization, being close to the people, close to the poor, close to those who have failed, close to the sinners, not a narcissistic church, not a church of fear. There is a new, free impulse to go out. Some worry about what will happen. Francis uses a strong image: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets,” rather than a church that is very clean and has the truth and everything necessary. The latter church does not help the people. The Gospel is not new, but Francis is expressing it in a new way and is inspiring a lot of people, all over the world, who are saying, “Yes, that is the church.” It is a great gift for us. It’s very important. We will see what he will do. He has been pope for only two years, which is not much time.

Let’s pull this apart.

Card. Marx says… “Francis is expressing”… and he also forcefully says “Read Evangelii gaudium… Read the text.”

Okay, Your Eminence, let’s read the text from Evangelii gaudium you quoted.

49. Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire Church what I have often said to the priests and laity of Buenos Aires: [Here’s what Marx quoted] I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. […]

Again, now, let’s see what Card. Marx said, paying attention to the position of the quotation marks:

I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church that is very clean and has the truth and everything necessary.

Again… let me spell this out:

Francis wrote:

rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.

Marx said:

rather than a church that is very clean and has the truth and everything necessary.

When Card. Marx quotes the Pope, he continues (in the “rather than” section) what people are going to assume is what Francis wrote.

But that’s not what Francis wrote or intended.  Again, pay attention to the position of the quotation marks.

Whereas Francis writes about a Church that is confined, unhealthy, clinging to security, Marx speaks about a Church that is clean and that has the truth.  Marx sets up a dichotomy (a false dichotomy) which is not in Francis’ text: a Church that is clean v. a Church that is dirty… a Church that has truth v. a Church that…. who knows what… that doesn’t?

By closing the quotation marks before the second clause of the sentence, Card. Marx accurately quotes the Pope, but misleads us about the Pope’s intentions.

Card. Marx misintends the intention of the Pope, and sets up a false dichotomy.  The problem with this is that the Church is not susceptible to this sort of dichotomy.

In my years studying Augustine, one thing in his thought was made clear:  Augustine saw the Church in realistic terms as a corpus permixtum malis et bonis, a body mixed through with good people and bad.  The Church is both dirty and clean.

Some people might think that this is a petty point to pick on.  It is after all, only a small item in a longer interview and, as such, not worth the microscope treatment.

I disagree.  This is important.

The words “clean” and “truth” point to the problem of sin.  They set up a discussion, farther along in the interview, of moral issues such as homosexual acts and adultery (civil marriage after divorce without “annulment”).

Card. Marx pulled a fast one with the text of Evangelii gaudium.  Since the Cardinal had a chance to go over this and double-check it, and since the Cardinal told us to read the text and check what the Pope wrote, we have to conclude that we are being misled.

10 votes, 4.40 avg. rating (87% score)
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Richard McBrien, RIP. Fishwrap’s encomium.

Fr. Richard McBrien is dead at 78.

I hope that in his final years he had a chance to rethink and repent of his work. Enough about him. There is an old phrase, Nihil de mortuis nisi bonum… Say nothing but good about the dead.

Over at Fishwrap, however, there is a encomium of McBrien, featuring such darlings of the Left as Fr. Charles Curran, Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, and Fr. Thomas Reese. You can imagine.

I bring to your attention their citation of the late Professor Ralph McInerny, which pretty much sums up the work of McBrien:

“McBrien has terrible ideas,” Ralph McInerny bluntly said in 1990. The late McInerny was a renowned philosopher and author of the “Father Dowling” mystery series, as well as a stern critic of what he once called the “pell-mell pursuit of warm and fuzzy Catholicism” he associated with McBrien.

“I think the demonology he works with is that once we had a hierarchical view of the church, which was authoritarian,” McInerny said. “Then we had Vatican II and, he believes, that model was thrown out. His view is wrong.”

13 votes, 3.46 avg. rating (70% score)
Posted in Liberals | Tagged | 18 Comments

Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point in the sermon you heard for your Sunday Mass? Share it.

6 votes, 4.00 avg. rating (80% score)
Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 35 Comments

“Je Suis Charles Martel”

I noticed this at American Catholic:

The slogan Je Suis Charles Martel is beginning to make its way around Saint Blogs.  Here is some information on the grandfather of Charlemagne who stopped the advance of Islam into what became France in 732 at the battle of Tours.

I think we have to look realisitically at what is going on in the world in regard to Islam.


36 votes, 4.28 avg. rating (85% score)
Posted in The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

My View For Awhile: Jiggity Jig

And off I go again.

It was a great trip. I met lots of old friends and met a few new ones.

The Pontifical Mass was great. The exhibit on Mary fine. The National Gallery edifying. The Army and Navy Club fantastic.




Last leg.


14 votes, 3.07 avg. rating (62% score)
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Francis to new bishops…

Yes, Our Holy Father does have a way of stopping us in our tracks and rereading the sentence.

Not exactly rhetoric in the lofty style, but rhetoric is about getting the point across in way that either persuades, moves or entertains. One considers the ability of one’s audience to follow at which level and then crafts one’s speech accordingly.

According to CNA, Pope Francis said to newly nominated members of the august College of Cardinals:

“The spirit of worldliness … stuns more than grappa on a fast, disorienting and separating one from the cross of Christ.”


So much more than just a great breakfast drink.

15 votes, 3.20 avg. rating (65% score)
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ASK FATHER: When is enough, enough?

From a reader…


When is enough, enough? I help facilitate the RCIA program in my parish and the other leaders in the name of compassion are constantly at odds with the teachings of Holy Mother Church. As one trying to be faithful to our Lord and His Church, I wonder at what point is an environment too toxic for one’s soul? Can the heretical opinions of these people start to rub off on me without me even knowing it. Does working with these people become an occasion of sin?

Hmmm… that reminds me of a song! Maestro? ♫

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother
What will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

No, Fr. Z has not entirely lost his mind. Nor is Fr. Z, “getting in touch with his feminine side.”

Rather, the question proposed has led to a certain flight of mental fancy and the recollection of that delightful song Doris Day sang to alert Jimmy Stewart in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

Like the questioner, the characters played by Day and Stewart – the McKennas – are simply trying to get by in life. They are enjoying a nice vacation when a series of events places them at the center of an assassination plot.

Many Catholics these days seem to be in similar straits.

They attempt simply to eke out a life of holiness day by day, and yet they find themselves embroiled in controversies and conflict.  They are compelled to address the dangers of sin and heresy.

It has always been so.

What is the tipping point? How much do we engage in the battles that rage? At what point do we set the battles aside and retreat to the relative peace of our family lives and homes?

If we retreat, will the battles pass us by?  Will the war bang on our front door?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

I understand the need to back away at times – sometimes to back away temporarily, sometimes to shake the dust from one’s sandals and move on elsewhere.

Choosing the right battles to fight is an important lesson to learn. Prudence is the auriga virtutum, the charioteer of the virtues.

When we struggle, we do NOT struggle alone.

While a Christian does not become either complacent or fatalistic, we need to remind ourselves that Christ has already won the important battle.  We know the final outcome of things.

Christ is at our side.

The battles are difficult, but they are at times necessary so that the Truth be served, the Faith defended, Christ known and loved in His Holy Catholic Church.

What will be, will be, of course. But what we do to help bring about what will be is the stuff upon which our own salvation is built.

Do not let the demon of discouragement distract you.  But, taking stock of your state in life, the exigencies you face in your vocation, the circumstances you live in, learn also “when to fish and when to cut bait.”

29 votes, 4.45 avg. rating (88% score)
Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

A piece of good news

A very smart priest friend sent me a note this morning with two pieces of good news regarding Pope Francis.  I’ll simply share what he sent…. no, wait… I’ll share the first piece of good news.  I may post the second in another post.

1. For Pope Francis, understanding  
 the nature of marriage is a criterion in investigating a marriage’s validity


Cardinal Kasper’s thesis was to let people decide for themselves if their previous marriage was null and void.

This article makes three points:

In his speech, Pope Francis 

1. maintained that an understanding of the nature of marriage is a criterion by which to judge the validity of a marriage

Obviously if you don’t understand what the duties and obligations of marriage are, you can’t give consent.

2. asked for an increase of the number of canon lawyers available at local tribunals; 
Speaks for itself. 
But also why bother with Canon Lawyers and Tribunals if you accept Kasper’s “Wild West” / ” grant yourself an unofficial annulment”  solution?
3. and that the availability of services free of charge be increased.

It seems bizarre to me that the parishes are charged for the running costs of the Diocesan Offices – and then people applying for annulments are charged.
Access to the sacraments should be free of charge.

A pity Pope Francis doesn’t remind Cardinal Kasper and the other German Bishops this.

BTW… Pope Francis’ remarks about the cost of “annulments” were a departure from his prepared text.   He said: “How I would like all marriage processes to be free-of-charge.”   That’s a desire, it isn’t an edict.  Let us not forget that someone has to pay the bills in order to keep a tribunal open.

19 votes, 4.16 avg. rating (83% score)
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WASH DC – DAY 3: Old stuff

I have had time before my flight home to visit, for the first time since 1976, the National Archive to view the charter documents of the founding of these USA.

No photos allowed, alas.

While it was great to see the Declaration and Constitution and Bill of Rights, I was more interested to see the Lee Resolution, proposed at the behest of Virginia in June 1776 and passed on 2 July.


And then there is the copy of 1297 Magna Carta.


I like the fact that Magna Carta is here a few steps from the US National Gallery while a few steps from the UK National Gallery is a statue of George Washington.

Now lunch at the Gallery before seeing some last pieces.


My handy notebook is there. I make lots of notes and sketches in musea. Thanks again to the reader who sent the little books from my wish list.


Since I can’t post shots of my feeder easily, I must have recourse to museum visits for my Feeder Feed.

Here is Giuliano de Medici. a striking fellow to be sure.


Giuliano came to a bad end. A painting commemorates him. Botticelli’s rendition:


The half open door recalls imagery on ancient Roman sarcophagi. It is a sign that the resident – and you – will pass through and pass away.

But what about that bird in the dead, dry branch?


Meet Mrs Turtle Dove, widow. They are symbols of constancy, because it is said that they mate for life.

In this case Mrs Turtle Dove could be an allusion to the famed beauty Simonetta Vespucci, renowned as the easiest on the eyes of her era.

She died a couple years before, if memory serves. I’m working on memories from the spectacular Italian Renaissance Portrait exhibit at the Met a few years back.



9 votes, 3.22 avg. rating (66% score)
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Pope Francis says: GO TO CONFESSION!

Pope Francis is nothing if not interesting.   When he goes off text or speaks off the cuff… anything can happen.  The usual result is that we are left stopped in our tracks and scratching our heads, trying to figure out what he is talking about.  Sometimes he seems to contradict Catholic teaching or practice (he doesn’t).  The MSM grabs his somewhat artless sound bites and trumpets them, with the result that many Catholic faithful are left confused.   One need only call to mind his remarks on nearly every airplane presser he has given.

However, if we breathe deeply and think, we eventually sort out what Francis is talking about.

Today, however, Francis spoke extemporaneously in one of his non-magisterial morning sermonettes about a topic on which he is rock solid: the need to GO TO CONFESSION.

This Pope often talks about the sacrament of penance.   Francis talks about confession more than his predecessors, as a matter of fact… and that’s a big win.

From the Vatican Radio account we learn:

Pope Francis said confession is not a judgment but a meeting with God who forgives all our sins, without exception. His words came during his homily at his morning Mass on Friday celebrated in the Santa Marta residence. [I would put it a little differently.  Confession is judgment but it is also an exercise in mercy.   In the tribunal of confession we are our own prosecutors.]

Basing his reflections on an extract from St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, the Pope said our God forgives all our sins, always and without exception and He rejoices when somebody asks him for pardon.  [That’s a key: we must ask.] This God who pardons us, he continued, choose Jesus to set up a new pact with humanity and the cornerstone of this pact is forgiveness for our sins.

“First of all, God always forgives us.  He never tires of this.  It’s we who get tired of asking for forgiveness.  But HE does not tire of pardoning us.   When Peter asked Jesus: ‘How many times must I forgive? Seven times?’ – ‘Not seven times: seventy times by seven.’ Namely always.  That’s how God forgives us: always.  But if you have lived a life full of so many sins, so many bad things, but in the end, a bit repentant, you ask for forgiveness, He will immediately pardon you!  He always pardons us.”

Pope Francis said a doubt can arrive in a person’s heart over how far God is prepared to forgive us. But, he stressed, all you have to do is repent and ask for forgiveness and you don’t have to pay because Christ has already paid on our behalf. [Keep in mind that Christ established the sacrament of penance as the ordinary means by which God desires us to obtain forgiveness for our sins.]

There is no sin which He won’t pardon. [We little finite mortals cannot commit a sin that is so bad that our infinite and all-powerful God cannot forgive.] He forgives everything.  [Provided we ask.] ‘But father, I don’t go to confession because I have committed so many really bad sins, so many that I can’t be pardoned.’  No, this is not true.  He forgives everything.  If you go (to confession) repentant, He will forgive everything. [And all the sins you have forgotten are forgiven as well, provided you make your confession sincerely and completely as you are able at the time.]  When… so many times He doesn’t even let you speak! You start to ask for forgiveness and He lets you feel that joy of forgiveness before you have even finished confessing everything.”

The Pope went on to describe how God rejoices when somebody asks for forgiveness and at the same time He “forgets” or wipes out from his memory our sins.  [An important point! But note that Francis used ” “. God cannot forget.  That said, once we have confessed our sins and obtained absolution, it is as if they never were on our soul.  They are gone, eradicated, taken away, washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb.  They are not merely “ignored” by God, or “covered over”.  That is an error non-Catholics make.  On the contrary, they are so thoroughly forgiven that they are, quite simply, no more.  We remember them, but the sins will not be “remembered” against us at our judgment.] The reason for this, he explained, is because what matters for God is for us to meet with him. Confession is not a judgment but a meeting with God. [Well… it’s also a judgment, but one in which mercy is exercised.]

“Confessions often seem like a procedure, a formality.   Everything is mechanical!  No!  Where’s the meeting in this? [Well… the process, the formality can free a penitent and help her get past the jitters.  Also, there is nothing wrong with formality in a moment which is so profound as submitting oneself to God for, yes, judgment and mercy.  But the Pope is surely meaning to be encouraging.] The meeting with the Lord who pardons you, hugs you and rejoices.  [Maybe the Lord hugs you, but don’t expect me to, not in the confessional.] And this is our God who is so good.  We too need to teach (others): teach our children, our youngsters to make a good confession, because going to confession is not like going to the dry cleaners to get a stain removed.  No!  It’s about going to meet with our Father who pardons us, who forgives us and who rejoices.”


21 votes, 4.62 avg. rating (91% score)
Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Pope Francis | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments