Erasing the Magisterium of a Pope. Wherein Fr. Z rants and suggests.

damnatio_memoriaeThere is a long standing political tool employed to eliminate opposition which is associated with the past, or a defeated regime.  You can see evidence of this tool all around Rome, in monuments both ancient and recent.  It is called damnatio memoriae… the condemnation of the memory (of someone).  In effect, the winners destroy even the memory of the losers by effacing and erasing their very names from public view… as if they never existed.  For the ancient Roman, this was a fate worse than death.  The Roman wanted to extend the gloria of his family, especially through public works which would bring honor to their names in perpetuity.  Think about the way Paul V put “BORGHESE” smack in the middle of the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica.  In any event, walking about in Rome you can see inscriptions wherein the names of the defeated were literally chiseled out or filled in, made illegible.

It has become evident over the last few years, that there is a major agenda item on the slate of those who are around Pope Francis. They are working on the systematic erosion, degradation, scratching out, erasure, the damnatio memoriae of the Magisterium of St. John Paul II.

John Paul, with his “theology of the body” reinforced the Church’s constant teaching about the inseparable connection of sexual acts and marriage.  Today, there are legions made of seemingly disparate groups who tirelessly work along side each other to pull sex and marriage apart.  If they can accomplish that “divorce”, then virtually anything in the Church can be restructured for their own temporal ends, whatever they may be – homosexual “marriage”, Communion for divorced and remarried self-identifying lesbian or questioning giraffes, etc.  It’s mostly about sex for the agents in the field, agents of the Enemy of the soul, that is.

After the 1980 Synod (“walking together”) of Bishops on the Family (sound familiar?), Pope John Paul II responded to a suggestion from the Synod and established the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and the Pontifical Council for the Family. The establishment of the Institute was supposed to be announced by John Paul during his Wednesday General Audience on 13 May 1981. Does that date sound familiar? After John Paul recovered from the assassination attempt, with the help of Our Lady of Fatima, he formally established the institute on the Feast of the Holy Rosary on 7 October 1982, and entrusted it to Our Lady of Fatima. Thus, the institute was a monument to how Popes and Synods can work together (in a way that doesn’t involved rigging them to pre-determined outcomes) and how the Family and our Marian devotion intersect.

The first head of the Institute, situated at the Lateran University in Rome, was one Carlo Caffarra, later Archbp. Cardinal of Bologna and, more recently, one of the Four Cardinals of the Five Dubia. As a matter of fact, he probably wrote the dubia.

As an aside which isn’t an aside,  Card. Caffarra, in an interview in 2008, revealed that, when John Paul had asked him to found the Institute, he wrote a letter to Sr. Lucia dos Santos, the last living visionary of the Fatima apparitions.  Sr. Lucia wrote back to him and said that the final battle between Christ and Satan would be over marriage and the family.  She also said not to be afraid and that anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be opposed because this is the decisive issue.

So, the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family is to be renamed:

Institute of Studies on the Family.

Nota bene the absence of “John Paul II” and “Marriage”.

17_06_30_Institute_Family_screenshotAs of this writing, it still bears its proper name.  HERE

More on changes HERE

The Institute is also now caught up in the restructuring which is going on, so its leadership and, hence, direction will also change.

St. John Paul cannot be erased from the “album of the saints” in which he has been enrolled, but that doesn’t mean that, as many other saints have been, he won’t be forgotten.  As I write this, it is the feast of St. Pope Paul I (+767).  Do you think about him often?

Moreover, the saintly Pope John Paul would never have thought of his own gloria in establishing an institute for the family and marriage.  That doesn’t mean that others won’t try systematically to eliminate the influence of John Paul Magisterium for their own purposes.

I have from time to time suggested that you form “base communities” to combat the onslaught from within and without the Church on our Three C’s of Cult, Code and Creed.

Here’s a suggestion.  How about starting a reading group, in your parish or down at the local breakfast and coffee shop (where you might be more welcome in some cases).  Choose as your first item Pope John Paul II’s Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris corsortio, (The Role of Christian Family in Modern World) which he penned after the 1980 Synod (“walking together”).

You can get it online (for now). Or, for less than the price of the cup of coffee at the shop you choose, you can get a booklet.


Read it with others.  Read it with a pen in hand.

When you hear something that contradicts Familiaris ask questions.

How else do we learn?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, Synod, The Coming Storm, The Drill and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Adaquano says:

    What I think often isn’t stressed enough regarding the current debate on second marriages, is it how it relates to same-sex marriage in national politics. Those favoring took it as a means to push forward a far left agenda, disguising it as an appeal of being nice to all people. “How come you don’t want others to be happy?”

    Here it is presented as a push to change church doctrine in the gamut of sexual issues.

    I think other “conservative” or “traditional” Catholics miss this point. They don’t want to be unmerciful, so of course this pontificate must not being going against Christ, meanwhile before they know it the Church has compromised itself.

  2. anilwang says:

    St. John Paul cannot be erased … but that doesn’t mean that, as many other saints have been, he won’t be forgotten.

    Being forgotten is better than being given the St. Francis treatment or even the Jesus treatment. Anyone who has actually read St. Francis knows he is not an effeminate tree hugging hippie. Jesus is anything but “Buddy Jesus” or “Hippie Jesus” or “Doting Grandfather Jesus that accepts all his children and just wants them to have a good time without repentance and dote of them in the life to come”.

    Personally, I think it’ll be impossible for the current Magisterium to eliminate the legacy of Pope John Paul II. Go into any Catholic Book store and you’ll find that the Theology of the Body section is one of the top five sections, and the Catechism has become core to many study and evangelization efforts. Add to the 30 years of bishops created by Pope John Paul II and the 8 years of bishops by Pope Benedict XVI, there’s no way Pope Francis could erase this legacy unless he lives until 110. Even then the “talk with everyone…you don’t have to change to be accepted by the God” really doesn’t translate into vocations or converts or even parish membership retention. So the only Catholics that remain if he lives to 110 will be the ones who reject this message and cling to Tradition, or at least the legacy of Pope John Paul II and/or Pope Benedict XVI.

    That being said, it’s easier to destroy than to build. So if the “John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family” has been destroyed, then why can’t it be rebuilt on lay foundation (especially those from the members that were kicked out)? Since it’s unlikely that the Vatican would approve of a new official lay apostulate with the mission of the old “John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family”, it would just have to gain the backing of other apostulates like National Catholic Bioethics Center, the St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization, Catholic Answers, EWTN, etc. It could carry on the old mission and when the current Magisterium is gone, it could elevated to the level the “John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family” and the “Institute of Studies on the Family” can be handed off to the Anglicans.

  3. Tom A. says:

    You can say the whole V2 Church has erased the memory of the whole pre council magesterium. Why stop at JP2? Pius XII , gone. Pius X, gone. Vatican I, gone. Trent, bye-bye.

  4. Sconnius says:

    Today is not a good day. The above, the previous post about Card. Muller, the assault on Card. Pell, the pathetic response from the Academy for Life about the family in England, and so on and so on… and it’s only just after noon.

    Well, what are we to do but pray, fast, avail of he Sacraments, and carry on? Our diocese has 3 new priests being ordained in a few hours! So there is good still happening.

    [Good men, too!]

  5. Benedict Joseph says:

    Yesterday in an exchange with a Legionnaire of Christ at the NCRegister I was amused, mystified and repelled simultaneously to read him defend “Amoris Laetitia” by basically attributing AL as a development of the thought of Pope John Paul.
    They not only erase, they debase, and misrepresent.
    How they scrounge for a justification at all cost.
    Mendacity on steroids.

  6. Geoffrey says:

    I have been criticized in the past here for doing so, and I confess to have gotten sloppy in remembering to do it over the years, but today I am making a firm commitment to henceforth always refer to St John Paul II as St John Paul the Great.

    Sancte Ioannes Paule Magne, ora pro nobis! Ora pro Ecclesia! Ora pro mundi!

  7. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I wonder whether it isn’t Providential that it was during the pontificate of Saint JP the Great (1978 – 2005) that the World Wide Web got off the ground.

    The frequent warning to young people is that “what you post to Facebook, stays on Facebook forever.” There are – and I believe always will be – too many traditional Catholic sites and blogs for the legacy of this great saint to be forgotten. Much of what he had – has – to offer, is already on www forever.

    (Unless we postulate a group of curial functionaries clustered around one of their own seated before a glowing screen, and urging him on with the words, “now, can you hack into the web’s main interface portal for the Western hemisphere, and redirect that data stream into the radio frequency assigned to one of those defunct satellites?”)* Not any time soon, anyway.

    I think Cat has left the bag.

    * Techno-gibberish: I know zip IT.

  8. msc says:

    The Latin of the start (at least) of Familiaris Consortio is a delight to read. But I was amused to see that in the first paragraph of the version currently on the Vatican’s web site what I presume is a failure in optical character recognition: fundamentum has become funclamentum. I would think that texts would have been uploaded, not subjected to the vagaries of o.c.r. I will have to read the whole thing and see if there are other errors.

  9. Aquinas Gal says:

    This distresses me but there is hope. A similar thing happened with St Faustina, in fact, she records in her Diary that Jesus told her the message he gave her would be opposed for a while. That’s exactly what happened, when it was forbidden to be circulated. But then Bishop Wojtyla came along…and we know the rest of the story.
    Perhaps God is doing the same thing, allowing the suppression of St John Paul’s magisterium for a while, only to more gloriously resurrect it at a future time, which I hope will be soon.

  10. Nan says:

    No. I was confirmed with the name Pius X, on the anniversary of St John Paul’s death and carry a rosary commemorating the Lourdes centennial, complete with Pius XII medal. Vatican I and Trent live on, this is but a moment to God.

  11. JustaSinner says:

    Oh if it were true today! I have my list…but then who am I but a sinner?

  12. ChesterFrank says:

    I certainly am not the right person to throw out a comment but, could it be that the change the Pope is interested in is purely pastoral and not magisterial?

    [That’s a distinction without a difference.]

  13. Nan says:

    What gives me hope is that the less catechized than me have been asking questions about Church things and for the most part, I’ve had more information for them about what the Church actually teaches. This, from a product of CCD through second grade.

  14. amenamen says:

    Names have a way of lingering in the minds of people.

    Ask any Vietnamese immigrant for the name of the capital of Vietnam. They will not say “Ho Chi Minh City.” It is Saigon, as it has always been.

    Where is “Leningrad” now?

  15. Dirk1973 says:

    I see parallels with pope Pius XII, he also was a true giant with a huge legacy. Look how they stabbed him in the back after his death. I have to say Father Z: It’s getting a bit too much for us, traditional catholics. What will be the next step? The abrogation of Summorum Pontificum ? Am i a bad catholic if i would join the SSPX? What have we, traditional catholics, done to deserve this?

  16. Boniface says:

    Tom A., Dirk: Ven. Pius XII is quoted 201 times in Vatican II’s documents, from 92 of his Acts. He’s the most frequently-quoted pontiff in that council’s documents, as Cardinals Siri and Angelini liked to point out. St. John XXIII spoke of him publicly as if he were already canonized Bl. Paul VI opened his cause for canonization at the earliest possible date under the rules in place, during Vatican II itself. St John Paul, Benedict, and Francis all praised him effusively and publicly. So….??

  17. Pingback: Erasing the Magisterium of a Pope. Wherein Fr. Z rants and suggests. | Fr. Z’s Blog | Trump:The American Years

  18. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Dirk1973 asks, “What have we, traditional catholics, done to deserve this?”

    It would be preferable, indeed, for all to go our way in the liturgy and in the Church generally, Dirk1973, but alas, things generally don’t go the way that God’s holiest ones might wish. When they walked upon this Earth, when did things go Our Lady’s way? Or Our Lord’s way? Overlooked, reviled, dismissed, plotted against, multiple attempts to arrest Him, to kill Him, at last successful attempts to destroy Him, betrayed by the religious authorities, and by one of His own, abandoned by His friends, given up to torture and a shameful death before all, including before the eyes of the vile pagan Roman soldiers, and worst of all the agony of witnessing His dearest Mother’s agony . . . well might one ask, what had He done to deserve all this?

    In a way, what an opportunity to take advantage of a great blessing . . . for traditional Catholics to be the more closely conformed to Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified. And from those from whom He would expect loyalty, a defense . . . at least sympathy – nothing, worse than nothing.

    A priceless opportunity *to make it up to Him* spiritually, and from the standpoint of one who has seen something resembling His own ordeal, but of course, on an infinitely smaller order of magnitude. (But enough to get the job done. Where He has a Crown of Thorns, we can show a pinprick or two; but where He has a broken heart, we have one, as well! An honor! A glory for us!)

  19. PTK_70 says:

    The idea of starting, or becoming involved in, a reading group is a splendid one to my way of thinking. Blogs can be helpful, as can sharing thoughts with one another on blogs, but who seriously ascribes to the motto: “Save the blogosphere – Save the world”?

    We’ve got to each do our own little part in our own little place amongst our own kin and friends and neighbors and fellow parishioners, keeping peace – so far as possible – with those in authority. We’ve got to each live ordered and joyful lives, eh? :-) God willing, we can do this in company with a few others…..

  20. Elizabeth D says:

    You will not go wrong by going the extra mile and extra sacrifice of time and money to make dinner for your reading group each meeting. Mine was doing fine with just fresh baked goods or etc but it has truly made a difference for the friendship and feeling of belonging people have from actually sharing a meal. And for me it is an honor to feed Jesus’ family and in a way to feed Jesus (after all He is always feeding me, and all things including all food were made through Him and for Him). To listen to Jesus’ word attentively is the better part of welcoming Him, but to serve and feed Him is also good, to do both is very wonderful. If you are inclined to complain about the cost or that they are not grateful then you are not thinking right. If it is actually a cost issue to feed Jesus’ family as your own then go to a food pantry to help you, just like you would if your own family were hungry. Let me put it another way what I started out saying: you will not go wrong making friends in Christ feel sure that you love them even as family members.

    [I’ve been involved in a reading group which I started in my native place some 20 years ago. Every meeting always concludes with a meal.]


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