ASK FATHER: Is it a mortal sin to criticize the Pope?

peter-with-keysFrom a reader…

Can a Catholic criticize the Pope? Or is it a mortal sin to do so?


No. Not necessarily.

Catholics are obliged to have filial love for and obedience to our Holy Father. Neither that love nor that obedience are required to be blind or stupid.

Criticism of the Pope can become a mortal sin if one’s criticism is filled with a hatred and vitriol that shows a lack of respect or filial love for Our Sovereign Pontiff.  One must also consider to whom you show that lack of respect.  If by your words and actions you harm his reputation with others unjustly, you do him and them a grave wrong.  You also may be committing the sin of sacrilege.

The Pope is Christ’s Vicar, and deserves all the respect of that office.

The Pope is, however, not Christ. Nor does his charism of infallibility render him perfect in all his words and actions.

He may do things that are objectionable.  When he does, he can be criticized – respectfully.

But be careful in aiming criticism at the Pope.  Be careful to whom you open your mind or reveal your attitude.  Examine your conscience with brutal honesty, remembering that His Holiness has a perspective on the Church that we do not.

Catholics loves their Popes.  That doesn’t mean that we always like them or everything they do.

We should, however, avoid giving scandal.  Maintain respect for the Holy Father when speaking about him to others, heed his words on faith and morals, and give him obedience when it is called for.

You can bet that for this one the moderation queue is ON.

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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

WDTPRS – 13th Sunday after Pentecost: “E ‘n la sua volontade è nostra pace!”

Piccarda Philipp Veit DanteToday’s prayer survived the redactors to live on in the Novus Ordo as the Collect for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  It is an ancient prayer, found in the Veronese and the Gelasian Sacramentary.


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, da nobis fidei, spei et caritatis augmentum: et, ut mereamur assequi quod promittis, fac nos amare quod praecipis.

The verb assequor, according to our splendid tool the Lewis & Short Dictionary, means mainly “to follow one in order to come up to him, to pursue”, and by extension “to gain, obtain, procure.”

Have you noticed that sometimes in our prayers we call God aeterne or also sempiterne?  Our French dictionary of liturgical Latin Blaise/Dumas says aeternus and sempiternus are both “eternal”, that is, not “temporal” or that which endures only for a time.  But in the philosophy and theology (indistinguishable from each other in late antiquity) of the era when today’s prayer was composed, much thought was dedicated to figuring out time and God’s relationship to time.  If we want to get at what our ancient prayer really says, we must hear “eternity” and “sempiternity” as different concepts.  First, eternity can be thought of as completely independent of time, entirely outside of time.  Another kind of eternity has no beginning or end.  Boethius (+c.526) gave shape to the thought of St. Augustine (+430) on time and distinguished eternity as the simple simultaneous possession of life by God.  It is not a drawn out process.  It is a simple possession.   Sempiternity, a term occurring in ancient Latin but only as a synonym of eternity, was famously redefined by Boethius as the “eternal now”.  It is “everlastingness”.

Indulge me, dear readers.  Occasionally one of you will write saying that I lose you in what seem to be nitpicking digressions.  Let me be clear: I’m not trying to be a psilological doryphore.  I drill into these texts to help people understand, after decades of banal prayers purged of content and color, that our language of liturgical prayer is rooted deeply in ancient pondering, man’s great questions before God and the cosmos.  The words themselves are treasures, carefully weighed and finely polished, handed down with centuries of love by our forefathers… to you.   Every syllable belongs to you.  Each exquisite term is your millennial patrimony.


Almighty everlasting God, grant us an increase of faith, hope and charity, and cause us to love what You command so that we may merit to obtain what You promise.

Let’s have a glance at what I believe is the most current draft of the new English translation of the same prayer intended for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time:

CURRENT ICEL (2011 – 30th Sunday):

Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise.

Pretty close to the WDTPRS version. I think we will be pleased with the new translation, provided that the foot-dragging ceases and the project is completed.  As a contrast, here is the lame-duck version from the old incarnation of

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 of the 1970MR):

Almighty and ever-living God, strengthen our faith, hope, and love. May we do with loving hearts what you ask of us and come to share the life you promise.

See how the lame-duck ICELese strips the prayer of the concepts “command”, reduced to a request, and “merit”, dissolved into a vague sharing?

In what the prayer really says, we ask God the Father for an increase of the theological virtues faith, hope and charity, given at baptism, with a view to what we merit after doing His will.   Let’s get out the theological drill and look into these concepts.

The German writer Josef Pieper (+1997) describes our supernatural life as having three main currents.   First, we have some knowledge of God surpassing what we can know about Him naturally because He reveals it to us (faith).  Second, we live by the patient expectation that what we learn and believe God promises will indeed be fulfilled (hope).  Third, there is an affirmative response of love of the God whom we come to know by faith as well as love for neighbor (charity).

Natural human virtues are acquired through education and discipline.  The three theological virtues faith, hope and charity are given to us by God.  They perfect and elevate everything virtuous which man can do naturally.  Considered one at a time, charity is the greatest of the three, followed by hope and then faith.  But they are all three intimately woven together.  St. Augustine (+430) says, “There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither love nor hope without faith” (enchir 8).  The goal of the virtuous life, as we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1803), is to become like God.  Living the theological virtues concretely reveals in us the image of God and the grace He gives to His adopted children. “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony’” (CCC 1827).  Virtues must be gained, naturally on our own or supernaturally with God’s help.  They can also be lost.  That is entirely our own doing.  Today we pray for their increase in what God gave us in baptism and what we maintain when we are in the state of grace.

We also pray this Sunday to love what God commands.  In the natural spheres of our lives, doing what another commands is not always pleasant.  Our wills and passions rebel. We prefer to command rather than to be commanded.  It is easy, from the worldly point of view, to think that by being the one who commands we can find peace.  Without doubt each one of us desires peace and happiness.  We long to find the means to attain them.  When we attach our happiness to the created things of this world we are inevitably disappointed.  All created things, including people, can be lost.  They are all passing, not enduring, temporal not eternal.  Not even our most beloved spouses, children, or friends can be the foundation of lasting peace.   Even the fear of losing them lessens our peace in this life.  God alone provides the lasting peace we desire.  Because He alone is eternal and unchanging He is perfectly trustworthy.  We cannot lose God unless we ourselves reject Him.  God must be in command of our happiness.  Our peace must be entrusted to Him alone.

In Canto III of the Paradiso of Dante’s Divine Comedy the Poet is in the Heaven of the Moon. There he encounters the soul of Piccarda.  Dante queries her about the happiness of the blessed in heaven.  He wants to know if somehow, even in heaven, souls might be disappointed that they do not have a higher place in celestial realm. In response Piccarda utters one of the greatest phrases ever penned and or recited (l. 85):

In His will is our peace.
It is that sea to which all things move,
both what it creates and what nature makes…. 

We are all made in God’s image and likeness, made to act as God acts.  He reveals something of His will to us.  When we obey Him we act in accordance with the way He made us and what He intended for us.  All things that live and move and have their being must come to rest in God or forever be in conflict with themselves and the cosmos.  St. Augustine, who authored the unforgettable “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”, described us and our love as working like gravity, which in the thought of the ancients was a force within a thing that sought to go to its proper place of balance in relation to all other things.  “Amor meus pondus meum” (conf 13, 9, 10) said Augustine, “My love is my weight” drawing the restless soul to God, the only source of lasting peace.

E ‘n la sua volontade è nostra pace.  In His will is our peace.  His peace is His promise.

Our Collect prays that we may “love what You command”.  This is a prayer for happiness.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, WDTPRS | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments




Next… 23 August (the 23rd day of each month, that is) is a “lean day” for the blog, with only 3 monthly donors out of the many thousands who come here every day!  If you are making use of the blog regularly, please consider signing up for monthly donation.

Some options


And…  since posts scroll off so quickly…

Many thanks to readers to have been contributing through monthly donations and through the donation button on the left side bar.  I record your names and regularly pray for you, as is my duty and pleasure.  Also, thanks to readers who sent item from my Amazon Wishlists.  I have been putting together some emergency med carry packs.  Several useful things came today from LGA.  It is not often that I receive nasopharyngreal airway tubes.  Also, RR sent a beautiful book, the catalog of an exhibit of Turner’s late works.   Not long ago I also received some books on Sargent.  These are of great interest to me.  Thanks!

I recently said Holy Mass for my benefactors (donors and wishlist items senders).  I will schedule another soon.


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Pope Francis attended Mass in St. Peter’s on Feast of St. Pius X

This is rather interesting.

According to ZENIT in Italian, the Holy Father showed up in St. Peter’s Basilica the other morning to pray at the altar and tomb of St. Pius X for his saintly predecessor’s feast. He sat down in a pew and stayed for Mass celebrated by a Monsignor in the Secretariat of State.

I used to say Mass there pretty often, in my day… with the 1962 Missal, too boot. One can dream.

Anyway, it seems he may even have received Communion at that Mass, as well. He had already said Mass that day. He told the priest after that he is devoted to St. Pius X.

Would that the Holy Father and the SSPX would, through the intercession of St. Pius and through the help of their Guardian Angels, come to a reconciliation.

Here is the Italian:

Messa in Vaticano per San Pio X. Mescolato tra i fedeli c’è anche il Papa
Francesco già dal mattino all’altare dedicato al Papa trevigiano per pregare. È quindi rimasto per la funzione celebrata da mons. Lucio Bonora, della Segreteria di Stato, tra lo stupore di fedeli e celebranti
Di Redazione
Città del Vaticano, 22 Agosto 2015 (
Hanno ricevuto una sorpresa speciale i fedeli che ieri mattina hanno preso parte alla celebrazione eucaristica all’altare di San Pio X, nella Basilica di San Pietro, in occasione della festa del Pontefice trevigiano. Seduto tra i banchi, alla Messa presieduta da mons. Lucio Bonora, impiegato in Segreteria di Stato, c’era infatti Papa Francesco, già lì dalle prime ore del mattino all’altare per una preghiera privata.
Quando è iniziata la funzione il Santo Padre si è quindi fermato per prendervi parte, ricevendo l’abbraccio di pace e la comunione da mons. Bonora, dopo essersi messo in fila tra i fedeli che si accostavano all’Eucaristia. Ai fedeli che intanto erano accorsi in gran numero alla Cappella, il celebrante ha chiesto di affidare a San Pio X tutte le necessità delle proprie famiglie e della Chiesa, non dimenticando di pregare per l’attuale Pontefice.
Bergoglio stesso, al termine della celebrazione ha confidato a Bonora di aver pregato in modo particolare per i catechisti, visto che, in Argentina, San Pio X, è conosciuto come il “Papa del catechismo”, il patrono di tutti i catechisti. Quando Bergoglio era arcivescovo di Buenos Aires, infatti, ci teneva ad incontrare i catechisti della diocesi nella festa di Pio X. Al termine della celebrazione mons. Bonora ha ringraziato di cuore Papa Francesco, il quale gli ha detto: “Ero venuto per una preghiera mia, perché avevo già celebrato la Messa presto, ma poi ti ho visto che venivi all’altare a celebrare, e allora mi sono fermato… Te l’avevo detto che sono devoto di San Pio X”.

L’Osservatore Romano has it also HERE


Posted in Just Too Cool, Pope Francis | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

CQ CQ CQ – #HamRadio Saturday – DX SUCCESS!

Happy news.

On Thursday a local ham and expert on antennas (who also attends the TLM) came to my BOQ to consult about antennas and a potential location in the complex for a station.  We worked on my rig and made some progress. We also worked on it for a bit on Friday.  I learned some stuff, especially about old fashioned – dare I say, traditional? – operator’s etiquette.

Inter alia, he explained that the type of CW key I have (sent by a reader): a US Army Signal Corps J-38.

Once we got the antenna tuned up we heard a fellow in the Canary Islands who was provoking a pile up (that’s when all sorts of hams try to make a contact with him because his location is a bit exotic or the event is special). We also heard a guy in Barcelona provoking the same. Using my station, the Elmer made a QSO with him, thus proving that, with my rig, IT CAN BE DONE.

Now we have to make it be done better!

I have a couple shots of stuff he brought to work on the rig.  I am sure that this is familiar to you experts, but it was new to me.



When he went home, I made my first 20m QSO with him and then I listened around for a while – still on 20m.

I managed to make my first long distance contact by working a station in W. Palm Beach.

He putting out 400W and I could hear him well. I was on 100W and he could barely hear me, but after taking a dozen runs at my callsign – the band was going in and out – he got me!

So, I made my first long distance QSO on Thursday evening, using the small vertical antenna a contributor here sent me. Thanks to him!

“-… ..- – ..-. .- – …. . .-. ..–.. -… ..- – ..-. .- – …. . .-. ..–..”, some of you are sending as fast as humanly possible, “What is the antenna? Don’t keep us in suspense unless you hate Vatican II!”

Glad you asked. What I have set up now is a … yes… it’s cheesy sounding, a Super Antenna. It sets up and breaks down in a couple minutes and goes into a small nylon bag.  And it works!

I am also going to be setting up on the balcony a dipole with wire in an inverted V to see what I can get and send.  There are also some attractive trees nearby.

At this point my objective is to learn to use well the basic equipment I have received before getting into anything more complicated or powerful. If I can use this rig and some simple antenna solutions well, then I’ll be in better shape later to expand my horizons.

I still have my eye on portability, however. I’d like to put together a good radio Go Bag.


After posting this I saw that our own WB0YLE was going to be listening on 14.265.  I dashed (not dotted) to my rig and heard him calling CQ.  I responded a couple times and he heard me. We had a successful contact. Very cool.  The band was in and out, making it a little hard.

Then I tuned around and heard a big pile up of people trying to work a station in Hawaii.  These pile ups!  It’s a JUNGLE out there!  You’ve got to fight for your life, it seems!

I may be exaggerating a little.

Posted in Ham Radio, Just Too Cool, SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , , , , | 92 Comments

WDTPRS: 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time – When “virtues” are replaced by “values”.

Let’s look at the Collect for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time:

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis, da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis, ut, inter mundanas varietates, ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.

A master crafted this prayer.  In the 1962 Missale Romanum we use it on the 4th Sunday after Easter. It is also in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.  Listen to those “eee”s produced by the Latin “i”. Savor those parallels.

Varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”  It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy.”  I like “vicissitude”.  The adjective mundanus is “of or belonging to the world”.


O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command, to desire that which You promise, so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.


O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.

Let us revisit that id…quod. We can accurately say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but that strikes me as vague.  Can we be more concrete and say “love the thing you command… desire the thing you promise”?

We are called to love and desire God’s will in concrete situations, in the details of life, especially when those details are little to our liking.  We must love God in this beggar, this annoying creep, not in beggars and creeps in general.  We must love Him in this act of fasting, this basket of laundry, this ICEL translation. I said it was a challenge!  We must not reduce God’s will to an abstraction or an ideal. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven”… or so it has been said.

Lest we forget why we needed new translation….


Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart.

Good riddance!  “Values”.  Very slippery.  Typical of the obsolete translation.

To my ear, “values” has a shifting, subjective starting point. In 1995 Gertude Himmelfarb wrote in The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values that “it was not until the present century that morality became so thoroughly relativized that virtues ceased to be ‘virtues’ and became ‘values.’”

In this post-Christian, post-modern world, “values” seems to indicate little more than our own self-projection.

John Paul II taught about “values”, but in contradiction to the way “values” are commonly understood today.  For example, we read in Evangelium vitae 71 (emphasis added):

“It is urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority, and no state can ever create, modify, or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect, and promote.”

In his 1985 letter to young people Dilecti amici 4, John Paul II taught:

“Only God is the ultimate basis of all values…. in Him and Him alone all values have their first source and final completion… Without Him – without the reference to God – the whole world of created values remains as it were suspended in an absolute vacuum.”

Benedict XVI taught about the threats we face from the “dictatorship of relativism”, from the reduction of the supernatural to the natural, from caving in to “the world”.

Christ warned His Apostles about “the world”, saying said: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).  He spoke about this world’s “prince” (John 12:31; 14:30 16:11).  St Paul wrote: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

If what “the world” offers gets priority over what God offers the world through His Holy Church, we produce the situation Paul VI described on 29 June 1972, the 9th anniversary of his coronation:

“Through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God.”

Our Collect today asks God to grant that His will be the basis of our “values” in concrete terms, not in mere good intentions or this world’s snares.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, WDTPRS | Tagged , | 9 Comments

What is this thing? No, really! What is this?

The other day a priest friend and I went steeple-chasing – to visit churches in the area that I had not yet seen.

At one place, where there is – or was, at least – the presence of Sinsinawa Dominicans we saw this curious objet.

The back.


The front.


The center part.


I am not entirely sure what this is, so I thought I’d open it up to the readership.

It might be Sophia giving birth to the World Soul over the deep primal waters in the beneath… rather like what the LCWR is into.

Any other guesses?

Posted in Lighter fare, Parody Songs, Women Religious, You must be joking! | 57 Comments

29 Sept – Holy Innocents -Manhattan – BLUE MASS… TLM!


Posted in Brick by Brick | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Six consecutive sixes in one over

It may be a synchronicity, but lately several people have written or spoken to me about Cricket.

The game, not the singing insect.

While we know that Baseball is the sport God loves the most, I figure He must also love Cricket, because in some respects it resembles eternity.

That said, I had an email this morning from a reader.  He also, kindly, provides some context so that we who are on this side of the Pond can understand what occurred:

Sir Garfield Sobers hit six consecutive sixes in one over. The first batsman ever to do it in a first class game of cricket (has to be a county game at least to be classed as first class, so good players is what’s said).

The liturgical equivalent would be Pope Francis offering six Papal High Mases at St Peter’s in the UA form, in a novena to make St JPII a doctor of the Church, and proclaim the next synod on the family null and void…..

Yes, I will stipulate that that would be a rare, almost unimaginable, event.

I have an invitation to view…?  see…?  watch…? go to…? a match at Lord’s.

Perhaps it’s worth while to put the little wavy flag out and see if enough donations come to make it happen before the season is over.

Posted in Just Too Cool | 9 Comments

Facebook locks out Catholic priest Msgr. Charles Pope, for being a “Monsignor”

I think I may have mentioned my plan to change legally my first name to “Monsignor”, ’cause that’s about the only way I’ll ever get the title.

Irony abounds around my friend Msgr. Charles Pope, in Washington DC, a fine pastor and blogger.  He has been give the bounce by the execrable Facebook – not for having only one gender – but for having the actual real title “Monsignor”.

He wrote me the other day – and I apologize to him for not getting to this sooner – with my emphases:

Just a brief note to inform you that I have been blocked from Facebook. They claim that Msgr. Charles Pope is not my real name and are requiring me to submit government ID proving that Msgr. Charles Pope is my true identity. As of now, I have no intention of doing this since I consider it an unreasonable demand by them. They further indicate that even if I supply the IDs from at least two sources, that they reserve the right not to reactivate my account if the name I have used does not meet their preferences. [EXPLETIVE – mine -DELETED!]

They explain the reason for their action as:

We ask everyone on Facebook to use the name they go by in everyday life so friends know who they’re connecting with [jerks]

But of course this IS the name that I go by “in everyday life.” Further, I have had a Facebook account under the name of “Msgr. Charles Pope” for over 6 years now. This is my name, this is who I am. I have 5,000 friends on Facebook who know me by this.

Facebook of course is a private company and they can do whatever they want and treat their clients and users in whatever foul ways they wish. But my current stance on this matter is to resist their demand and seek to share my dissatisfaction.

Facebook was once an open forum to discuss and share. It has become increasingly autocratic and ideological. It may be time for many of us to encourage them to reform or to simply leave Facebook. [Do you use Facebook for your usual online contacts?  Reconsider.]

I respect that some of you may differ with my assessment of things, but I did want to explain my sudden absence from Facebook and I request your help in spread this information with others you think might wonder as to my disappearance from that forum.

My Twitter Feed is @MsgrPope

Rev. Msgr Charles Pope
Holy Comforter – St Cyprian Parish

First, knowing that I’ll probably draw their fire now – ask St. Gabriel the Archangel to afflict Facebook.  Ask St. Isidore of Seville, or other saints to whom you regularly raise requests for intecession, to bring about a conversion to common sense of those who run Facebook.

Secondly, follow @MsgrPope on Twitter!   Follow me, too!  @FatherZ

Thirdly, consider another networking option for the Day When They Start Arresting Us: Ham Radio

And here is a video from Fox News which picked up the story about Msgr. Pope.

I also joined AWESTRUCK – a Catholic alternative to Facebook. HERE

UPDATE 22 August:

From a reader…

I saw Msgr. Pope at an anti-Planned Parenthood protest this morning.  He says he is reinstated on Facebook but he did have to drop “Msgr.” from his name.  He put it in the banner.

Posted in Liberals, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, You must be joking! | Tagged , , | 45 Comments