10 less than perfectly reported points about Pope Francis’ US trip

I direct the readership’s attention to a helpful contribution from Acton Institute (which you should share with as many as possible in order to provoke MS Fishwrap into a case of the vapors).

I won’t share the whole thing. Go there to find all of it.

10 Stories The Media Won’t Tell You About The Pope’s USA Visit
posted on September 25, 2015






The waterworks started early for House Speaker John Boehner, when Pope Francis opened his congressional address with a greeting to “the land of the free and home of the brave.”



In his speech before Congress, the pope [or his speech writer] demonstrated a nuanced understanding of liberty when he suggested that all freedoms are related, and the decline of any of these results in the deterioration of them all.



Unless you are Catholic, you might have missed Pope Francis’s repeated use of the term “subsidiarity”.



No, this is not the great Onion headline about the power of Oreo cookies.



Some pro-lifers are probably dissatisfied with Pope Francis’s comments about the sacredness of life during the congressional address. Although he did affirm his staunch pro-life position when he exhorted Americans to “protect and defend life at every stage of its development,” he immediately shifted the focus to capital punishment. Note that Pope Francis effectively equated abortion to state-sponsored execution, which is covert way to reaffirm his pro-life views.. If there is any question as to his position on abortion, just read his remarks to the U.S. bishops yesterday.


Pope Francis visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, demonstrating his solidarity with one of the foremost opponents of Obamacare’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that all employers buy contraception for employees, even those that work as abortifacients.




Pope Francis concluded his congressional address by grieving the loss of traditional family values. In no uncertain terms he declared that human flourishing would be diminished because of the redefinition of the family: “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”

Pope Francis’s pastoral sensibility and gentle demeanor continue to make him one of the most popular figures in the world. It ought to be the hope of many Christians and conservatives that this popularity encourages his admirers—many of whom are leftists or openly skeptical of religion—to reexamine the moral foundations of the man for whom they have such regard. I think they might find a new appreciation for traditional, Christian orthodoxy.

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My View For Awhile: Domum

Off I go again, after this short trip to the land of the rising sun.  The system works well here: bus service runs to the airport regularly (though I am informed that it will be late to the hotel today).  Hopefully this won’t cause problems on the airport end.


After rapid checkin and security and emigration, I found the lounge to be comfy.  Not much time here, but it’s better than the terminal’s seating and brouhaha.

The second most tedious part now though perhaps the most irritating.

The boarding process. Although they are good at putting people into lines.  They put me in the wrong one, naturally.  There were many apologies.

My view for a good long while.

We lucked out… seat open by me!

Waving and bowing to the plane…


WiFi!  What a difference that makes. I’ve seen most of the (worthwhile) movies already and I shan’t want to read for the entire time.  Furthermore, I would just as soon stay awake for the flight.  When I arrive it will be late afternoon.  I actually am scheduled to arrive 20 minutes before I depart.  And there’s a social thing I am supposed to be at tonight….



Next flight.  I’m in pretty good shape.

The Minnesota air wing is across the way.

I determined that the lunar eclipse tonight will be at midpoint at about 2130.

Is everyone ready for TEOTWAWKI?


Last leg

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ASK FATHER: Another nitwit priest changes words of absolution. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

PenanceFrom a reader…


During my recent confession, the words the priest used to absolve me was: “I release you from your sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” Is it a big deal saying “release” instead of “absolve”? Was my confession still valid? Friend, I am so sorry you had this experience.  Please don’t iet it put you off going to confession.

I am not the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the dicastery that makes determinations about the validity of sacraments in specific, concrete circumstances.

That said, I suspect that the absolution was valid.  I suspect your sins were forgiven.  If you are not sure, go to confession again, explain what happened, and confess your sins, preferably to a different priest.

There are any number of little variations which would not invalidate the absolution. Lest people who are on the scrupulous side freak out every time they hear or THINK they hear some little variation… again… tiny little variations usually won’t affect the validity of the sacrament.

BUT… BUT… priests have a book with an approved form. FOLLOW THE BOOK. Why cause any problem for any soul in such a circumstance as the forgiveness of sins? Why do this to people? Say the black and do the red.

If opportunity presents itself, I would calmly and respectfully ask the priest why he uses words for absolution that are not in the book.  If you are distressed and worried and this is going on everytime you go, despite your inquiries,  ask your local bishop if that absolution was valid.

You have the right to ask.  You have the right properly celebrated sacraments.

During confession you can, by the way, tell the priest that you would prefer that he use the actual words of absolution as they are printed in the approved book.  Perhaps take a copy with you, just in case.

At this point, however, I will repeat what I have said a zillion times here.

Priests should stick to the words in the book.

For the love of God… WHY IS THIS HARD TO DO?

When priests make changes on their own authority they run the risk of leaving the faithful in doubt about what just happened.

We are not talking here about changing a word in a collect, or riffing in some part of the Eucharistic Prayer.  We are talking about the actual form of a sacrament… the Sacrament of Penance.

The Sacrament of Penance is the point of contact for a Catholic and mystery in which a Catholic is at his most vulnerable.  Why introduce an illicit change, in some cases invalidating change, which could cause a person to a have doubts about having been forgiven their mortal sins?

If a priest can’t follow the book for the forms of sacraments, at the moment of the consecration during Mass, during the pouring of water at baptism, when absolving a penitent… then perhaps the bishop should remove that priest’s faculties until he is made to understand both what to say and do and why he says it and does it.

Just say the black and do the red and you avoid all of this.  It is so easy.

Here’s my little love letter to clerics:

Dear Reverend Fathers and Most Reverend Bishops,

These are my suggestions to you when it comes to the forms of sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance.

Review the form of the sacrament, the words of absolution.

If you are surprised by what you find, I suggest memorizing them and then using them as they are written.

If you aren’t surprised but think you are going to improve on them: think it through again.

Just say the words as they are.

Otherwise, an increasingly well-informed member of the lay faithful may just challenge you and, unsatisfied and thoroughly irritated with your arrogant and probably wide back-side, may also write a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith… from whom you do not want to hear.   I know some of the people who work there. They are very interested in stories like this.

If you are, reverend gentlemen, changing the words of absolution, pull your heads out of that dark place and knock it off.

With fraternal respect,

Fr. Z

This sort of thing makes me see the red and think the black.

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WDTPRS – 26th Ordinary Sunday: The Bowels of Mercy

Our Collect for the 26th Ordinary Sunday, slightly different from its ancestor in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary, is also in the 1962 Missale Romanum for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost.

Deus, qui omnipotentiam tuam parcendo maxime et miserando manifestas, gratiam tuam super nos indesinenter infunde, ut, ad tua promissa currentes, caelestium bonorum facias esse consortes.

A consors is someone with whom you share a common destiny (cum, “with” + sors “lot, fate, destiny”).  Parco means, “to spare, have mercy, forbear to injure; forgive.”  We see this verb often in our prayers.  Think of the responses during the litanies: “Parce nobis, Domine… Spare us, O Lord!”


O God, who manifest Your omnipotence especially by sparing and by being merciful, pour Your grace upon us unceasingly, so that You may make us, rushing to the things You have promised, to be coheirs of heavenly benefits.


Father, you show your almighty power, in your mercy and forgiveness. Continue to fill us with your gifts of love. Help us to hurry toward the eternal life you promise and come to share in the joys of your kingdom.


O God, who manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven.

We can slip into the trap of associating justice only with the exercise of power.  Today we affirm the other side of power’s coin: mercy.

Nevertheless, the affirmation of God’s mercy does not diminish God’s justice.

One of the ways God reveals Himself as “almighty” is by being forgiving and sparing.

God knows all things which ever were, are or will be, as well as how each human action impacts every other throughout history. For God, balancing mercy and justice is no problem at all.  For us, however, this balancing act is exceedingly difficult.  Our will and our limited intellect are wounded.  We struggle with passions. It is hard to see what is good and right and true and then rein in our emotions. We oscillate between being just and then being merciful. Bringing the two streams of mercy and justice together in just the right way is a tremendous challenge.  When we encounter a person who does this well, we are deeply impressed by him and hold him up as an example of wisdom because he seems to act more clearly as an image of God.  His example moves us because we know that we too must conform to God’s image.

One way in which we act the most according to God’s image, behaving as Christ’s good consortes, is precisely when we act with compassion.  In biblical language, such as the Hebrew racham, compassion is often interchangeable with mercy.  The Latin word compassio comes from Latin cum+patior, “to suffer/endure with” someone.  We are moved when we witness suffering and attendant compassion because they reveal in a mysterious way who we are as human beings and how we ought to act.

In a famous passage from the Council’s Gaudium et spes, we are taught that Christ came into the world to reveal man more fully to himself (GS 22).  Christ did this in His every word and deed during His earthly life.  His supreme moment of revelation to us about who we are was His Passion and death on the Cross and subsequent rising from the tomb.  When we imitate His Passion, in sacrificial love and in the genuine “with suffering” which is compassion, we act as we were made by God to act.   In sincere and concrete acts of compassion we, in our own turn, reveal man more fully to himself!  We in turn show God’s image to our neighbor.  Only the stony, cold and dead are not be moved by examples of genuine compassion rooted in the sacrificial love which is charity.  Pope John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical, Redemptor hominis 9, that “man cannot live without love”.  By this he meant both the love we give and the love we receive.

Unmerited acts of charity, mercy, and compassion make visible to our neighbor the God after whose likeness we ourselves are fashioned.  In sincere and concrete acts of compassion, in our biblical “bowels of mercy” (Colossians 3:12), we in our turn reveal man more fully to himself.  Individuals can by their example effect great changes in a society.  If one person can do much, how much more could be done by armies of men and women thirsting for holiness and righteousness (i.e., a Church), striving to act in compassion, justice and mercy?

By His justice, God will give us what we deserve.

By His mercy, He will not give us certain elements of what we deserve.

By His pouring forth graces upon us, God gives us what we do not deserve.

God’s justice must be received with joyful trepidation, whether we want it or not.

God’s mercy we must beg with humble confidence.

God’s grace, unmerited by us, we embrace with exultant gratitude.

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WDTPRS – 18th Sunday after Pentecost: Sometimes correction hurts.

The Collect for Sunday Mass this week in the Extraordinary Form wound up in the Ordinary Form Missale Romanum as the Collect for Saturday in the 4th Week of Lent. Go figure. It had an ancient source in the Gelasian Sacramentary. For a change, the redactors of Fr. Bugnini’s and Card. Lercaro’s Consilium, with their scissors and glue pots, didn’t mess around with this prayer.

Dirigat corda nostra, quaesumus, Domine, tuae miserationis operatio, quia tibi sine te placere non possumus.


O Lord, we beg You, may the working of Your mercy direct our hearts, for without You we cannot please You.

Fairly stark.  I have mentioned with some frequency St. Augustine of Hippo’s insight that God crowns His own merits in us. Surely that is what is at work in today’s prayer.


Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the operation of thy mercy may direct our hearts, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee.

This is what you would have heard… or rathyr, hearde of yore in the 1559 BCP1549 Book of Common Prayer

O GOD, for asmuche as without thee, we are not able to please thee; Graunte that the workyng of thy mercie maye in all thynges directe and rule our heartes; Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.

I rather, er um, rathyr lyke the way they turned downe syde up the ourdre of thynges. Would that we might be able to have prayers like that in the new, corrected translation! Speaking of the…

CURRENT ICEL (from Saturday 4th Week of Lent):

May the working of your mercy, O Lord, we pray, direct our hearts aright, for without your grace we cannot find favor in your sight.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 – Saturday 4th Week of Lent):

Lord, guide us in your gentle mercy, for left to ourselves we cannot do your will.

The Latin original says nothing about God’s mercy being “gentle” when directing our hearts, our inmost thoughts and aspirations.

If we are invoking His mercy, then surely we are suggesting that, perhaps, we aren’t always so nice after all.  Right? We don’t ask for mercy if we haven’t been “weighed and found lacking”.

Again with the Augustine, taking his cue from from the medical practices of the day, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.  It sometimes hurts to be corrected. But God’s correction, as harsh as it can seem at times, is gentle compared to the torments of everlasting Hell.

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Was the election of Pope Francis “invalid” because Cardinals committed certain crimes?

Canonist Ed Peters looks into the issue of the excommunication incurred by a cardinal elector who “canvasses” for votes in the context of a papal conclave.  HERE

I won’t, here, get into Dr. Peter’s proposal that automatic (late sententiae) excommunication should be done away with.  That’s not at issue.  His examination of the consequences of such an excommunication, incurred by a cardinal elector before (or during) a conclave is of great interest.

Automatic censures should be eliminated from Church law

September 26, 2015

Only two kinds of men publicly admit to doing evil: those who repent of their deeds and are willing to accept the consequences for having acted wrongly, and those who are comfortable with their conduct and believe that no serious consequences will come from divulging it.

Several reports based on Godfried Cdl. Danneels’ just-released, authorized biography indicate that the now-retired Belgian prelate helped lead a clique of cardinals directly opposed to Benedict XVI’s papacy. [Imagine my shock.] If true that suggests sin, but not crime. It seems, however, that some members of this clique, after Benedict resigned, engaged in pre-conclave politicking for then-Cdl. Bergoglio, politicking of the sort that is forbidden by conclave law (Universi 81). If true, that would be a sin and a crime. Danneels’ admissions, read in the light of other allegations and reports, suggests, then, that at least some cardinals committed at least some offenses for which they are at risk of the Church’s highest sanction, namely, excommunication, more precisely, latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication.

Which means they are at risk for—not much, really. Shall I elaborate?  [Please do, Ed.]

The canonical consequences of “excommunication” are set out in Canon 1331. A cursory glance at that canon shows these consequences to be very serious, including: prohibiting individuals from celebrating Mass, participating in sacraments, or exercising ecclesiastical roles, offices, and functions, and so on. [roles, offices, functions… like being a Cardinal elector in a conclave?] Besides suffering the spiritual consequences of having engaged in whatever gravely sinful conduct underlies the crime in question (and note: consignment to hell has never been a consequence of excommunication, though it could be one of unrepented sin), any Catholic automatically excommunicated is in deep trouble. [It’s not good not to be able to “GO TO CONFESSION!”]

But that same cursory glance at Canon 1331 will not show (unless one is trained in canon law) that most consequences of excommunication become relevant in the external forum only if the excommunication is “imposed or declared”. That short, technical phrase means that, while one who is “automatically” excommunicated labors under the personal burdens of this sanction, it is only when an excommunication is “formal” that actions performed by canonical criminals raise questions for Church life and governance.  [So, if you are excommunicated by your acts but there hasn’t been a formal public declaration, you still exercise your roles, etc.  That is why after Archbp. Lefevbre et al. got themselves excommunicated automatically in 1988, the Congregation for Bishops issued a formal declaration of same.]

The canonically untutored do not (and should not be expected to) understand that the consequences of excommunication for public Church life differ dramatically based on whether the excommunication is “automatic” or “formal”, that most of the ‘bite’ that people attribute to excommunication (like not being able to function in Church offices) comes only with formal excommunication, and that formal excommunication has practically disappeared from modern Church life because (1) a host of canonical defenses unnecessarily burdens prosecution of excommunicable crimes, and (2) ecclesiastical authority apparently feels that, as long as latae sententiaeexcommunication is on the books (and most folks think it does what “excommunication” does anyway) why bother with a complex, portentous process for turning an automatic excommunication into a formal one? Whatever the reasons, Roman prosecutions of “formal” excommunication cases are rare; those involving prelates are very rare; those involving cardinals are essentially unheard of. [Too which I respond: Too bad!  When I Pope, they won’t be.]

Thus, it is hard to see what canonical consequences a cardinal would have to fear if he were to admit to a canonical crime punishable by latae sententiae excommunication. If it turns out that one or more cardinals violated, say, Universi 81, they might (and I stress, might) be “automatically” excommunicated, but “automatic” excommunication impacts—I hate to put it this way—only the liceity of ecclesiastical acts, not their validity. So, while it might be distressing to see appointed to synodal service some cardinals who could be “automatically excommunicated”, whatever acts such men might place at a synod would be, by the plain text of canon law, valid. And no one seems especially incentivized to inquire further than that.


Read his jeremiad against automatic penalties there.

The core of this is that the election of Pope Francis was valid even though there were irregularities amongst cardinal electors which (I think) should be dealt with now. Better late than never.


Sigh.  It looks like I have to impose the moderation queue again.  I removed some intemperate comments.

ALL: Please make your points without having a nutty.  This isn’t Fishwrap.




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Tokyo – Day 4: Kabuki, shrine, sushi and Caption Call

For the last full day in Tokyo, let’s start out with another great subway PSA.

Caption call!


Yesterday was Sumo wrestling.  Today, Kabuki.

In the Kabukiza, Ginza.  Photos were not allowed during the performance itself.


We went for just one act (which is possible, for about $8) and saw The Restaurant Ukamuse in Shin Kiyomizu.  The bad guys got tricked and thwarted and punished and the lower class people prevailed.  There were a couple fights and a guy with umbrella who could fly… much like Mary Poppins.

Off to a small ramen shop for lunch.


It’s hard to beat ramen.

Later we went to the shrine that we can see from the hotel rooms, near the tower.   In Shiba Park, this is where the Tokugawa shoguns were interred, including Hidetada, who had all the Christians killed at Nagasaki.

There was a service going on.  It was remarkably “liturgical” and underscored a dimension of transcendence now lost in 99% of our parishes.

Some things are universal.  There was a memorial “garden” for unborn and lost children.

An interesting juxtaposition of modern and … not.

Before supper I saw a little coverage of Pope Francis.

Supper was of sushi.




Anyway… some glimpses of a full day.

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Thomas Merton, the example

At the UN Pope Francis held up Thomas Merton as an example.

Here is a bit of Thomas Merton, the example:

Pope Francis quoted Thomas Merton. Here is Merton on chant:

This is what I think about the Latin and the chant: They are masterpieces, which offer us an irreplaceable monastic and Christian experience. They have a force, an energy, a depth without equal. All the proposed English offices are very much impoverished in comparison — besides, it is not at all impossible to make such things understood and appreciated. Generally I succeed quite well in this, in the novitiate, with some exceptions, naturally, who did not understand well. But I must add something more serious. As you know, I have many friends in the world who are artists, poets, authors, editors, etc. Now they are well able to appreciate our chant and even our Latin. But they are all, without exception, scandalized and grieved when I tell them that probably this Office, this Mass will no longer be here in ten years. And that is the worst. The monks cannot understand this treasure they possess, and they throw it out to look for something else, when seculars, who for the most part are not even Christians, are able to love this incomparable art.&

— Thomas Merton, in a letter to Dom Ignace Gillet, Abbot General of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance (1964)

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Tokyo – Day 3: Edo and Sumo and CQ CQ CQ #HamRadio Saturday

I enjoy the subway PSA’s… this one needs a caption.

I caught a few minutes of the Holy Father’s visit to St. Patrick’s.  My good friend Fr. Murray is one of the commentators.  Alas, rainy Tokyo.  From my window you should see Mt. Fuji.

Off to electronic city to visit Rocket Radio, a ham radio shop in Akihabara.


It is great to see some great live and in person.

I bought a Morse “practice” key and a key with a the two little paddles (I’m drawing a blank at the moment… “iambic”?).

Off to the Edo and Tokyo Museum for some history.

The old wooden bridge.

What’s great about this is that I am reading a novel right now that has one of the characters walking across this very bridge in this very period!

Great models.

Then, next door for some Sumo matches.

Today…. Kabukiza!

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From Spaceweather:

SUPERMOON ECLIPSE: This weekend’s full Moon is a supermoon, the biggest and brightest full Moon of the year. And it is going to be eclipsed. On Sunday evening, Sept. 27th, the supermoon will pass through the shadow of Earth, turning the lunar disk a coppery shade of red. Click on the image, below, to view an animation of the eclipse and to find out when to look:

Sky watchers in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and eastern parts of Asia can see the event. The next total eclipse of the Moon won’t come until January 31, 2018, so if you live in the eclipse zone, check it out.

What makes the eclipsed Moon turn red? A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.

You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it’s not. The rim of the planet looks like it is on fire. As you scan your eye around Earth’s circumference, you’re seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.

Red isn’t the only color.


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