Friday, January 27, 2017

CATHOLIC AGAIN !

First posted Monday, May 14, 2012

CATHOLIC AGAIN!


Saint Peter's Basilica

Catholic Again!


 I was recently reflecting on my Family Tree. On the Paternal side: Irish Catholic.


On the Maternal side: German and English Protestant. My Mother’s conversion to Catholicism brought back to the Faith branches of the Family Tree which had strayed for over 450 years.


“The evil that men do lives after them….” Shakespeare has Mark Antony say. It is so very true!



MARTIN LUTHER  Death Mask

 In the cases of Martin Luther – the drunken, blasphemous, sacrilegious and bitterly anti-Semitic beginner of Protestantism and King Henry VIII the hypocritical, sex-obsessed plunderer and persecutor of the Church, it is clear that at some stage in the late 1500’s they both set in motion forces that compelled or induced my German and English ancestors to abandon the Faith into which they were born and which had sustained their, and my, earlier ancestors for at least 1,000 years since their conversion from paganism.


The outrageous nature of such an act comes sharply into focus when we consider Our Lord’s description of our relationship in the Church to Him:


 “I am the Vine; you are the branches…..”


These two sinning, arrogant, lustful men literally tore the branches away from “the Vine.” And not just once, but on and on for generation after generation.

KING HENRY VIII


That was not the limit of the atrocity.The Deformation of Christ's Church rolled on and on.


 Like every person in serious error, these successive generations sought to justify their false position by greater and greater error. So we see a multiplying of the number of Protestant sects and at a constantly increasing rate-Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Unitarians, Mormons, Latter Day (!!) Saints and on and on , at such a rate that in the U.S.A. alone the number of Protestant sects has gone from 20,000 to 40,000 in about 60 years. And Henry’s Church of England in its decrepitation, has long since gone beyond parody.


Scientists have very recently reported the discovery that Cancer cells are very much more sophisticated than they had believed. Not only do they multiply at an alarming rate, but they actively disable the defences of healthy cells adjoining them.


The cancerous growth of Protestantism has sought to invade the Church since Vatican II through the back door with false ecumenism. “”Niceness” has become prized by some in place of Truth, “Shared Values” in place of Principles and Sacred Tradition which comes to us from the Apostles, they would put aside to accommodate the inclinations of our “separated brethren”.


Thank God for our truly Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, who gently but firmly cuts through humbug and falsity and vigorously pursues authentic ecumenism which leads those in error back to unity in the Catholic Church.


The errant behavior of Luther and Henry VIII are for God Himself to judge. The sad results for hundreds of millions since their time are difficult to address and have required a long term view. The broken branches have withered where they fell and fertilized myriad coarse weeds. We need to pray for the Holy Father’s success to increase more and more, adding luster to his well earned title of the Pope of Christian Unity.


Catholic Again indeed! For my family a return to Justice and Life with Christ in the Communion of Saints. What a beautiful thought.


And now, with the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross to be established on 15th June, 2012, thousands more former Anglicans will bring their families back to the Communion of Saints in Christ's Catholic Church ! Thanks be to God and His Vicar on Earth, the Pope of Christian Unity, Benedict XVI "gloriously reigning"as the lovely old phrase goes!

That was in 2012  - how quickly and sometimes sadly things can change  . Please pray for Our Holy Father Pope Francis.







Saturday, November 19, 2016

CRASH THROUGH OR CRASH ?

HEADING INTO A STORM DURING TREMORS


AN EARLIER CONSISTORY
Pity the newly-announced Cardinals who will be made Cardinals in the forthcoming Consistory on Saturday 19th November, 2016. They are heading into a storm and beneath their feet the Roman  ground has been trembling. But the “storm” is creating the greater tremors.

Join the dots.

On the 29th June, 2016 48 respected Theologians from around the globe   write a 13 page Open Letter to the Holy Father listing 19 Propositions in Amoris Laetitia which they state, are either false, doubtful and or need amendment. We know of no publicised response.

On 5th July, 2016 , the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Sarah, in a personal Homily urges all Priests from the Month of November, to commence celebrating Holy Mass facing East - Ad Orientem. Like all of his statements and Homilies his proposal was well-reasoned. It was delivered at the Sacra Liturgia Conference in London.

CARDINAL SARAH
PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP
AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS

On 12th July, 2016 the Holy See explicitly rejects the idea stating that there is no Instruction to that effect, nor will there be. Cardinal Sarah is summoned to Pope Francis and the negative message is emphasised.

Lull


CARDINALS BURKE,MEISNER
BRANDMULLER AND CAFFARRA
On 19th September, 2016 4 Senior Cardinal :  Brandmuller, Burke, Caffarra, and Meisner  write a private letter to the Holy Father and Cardinal Muller Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, listing 5 points which they state are “Dubia” or “doubts” for many in the Church concerning “AMORIS LAETITIA” and they respectfully request definitive Papal teaching on these Dubia.


On 24 the October, 2016  in his morning Homily in Santa Marta the Holy Father delivers a significant attack on devotees of Traditioal Catholic worship directly stating that this “rigidity” or “sternness” (la rigidezza) is a sign of something wicked implying without subtlety that such people have flawed characters and secrets to hide. 

On 28th October, 2016 the Holy Father dismisses EVERY member of the Congregation for Divine Worship save the Prefect and nominates replacements including Archbishop Piero Marini and Cardinal-Elect Blaise Cupich.
On 31st. October, 2016 the Holy Father travels to Sweden and in the pre-Deformation Catholic Cathedral – now the Lutheran Cathedral – joins with Lutherans commemorating Martin Luther’s Deformation of Christ’s Church.


POPE FRANCIS MEETS CARDINAL BURKE

On 10th November, 2016 the Holy Father meets with Cardinal Burke. It is made clear that the Holy Father will not answer the Dubia.
On or about 10th November, 2016 there is published in Book form an interview between the Holy Father and fellow Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro (often credited with a major role in drafting Amoris Laetitia). In the course of this interview the Holy Father again launches an attack on devotees of Traditional Worship, saying that the traditional liturgy had needed reform; and goes further to say that the concept of “the Reform of the Reform” is an error. That there will be no more reform. Father Spadaro resorts to Twitter to attack critics of AMORIS LAETITIA.

CARDINAL MULLER
PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

On 11th November the Holy Father meets with Cardinal Muller. There is  no public information on the result.

On 14th November, in the light of the Holy Father’s decision, the Four Cardinals release their letter to the Public so that the Holy Father’s decision may be appreciated and the faithful made aware of the state of current teaching and the developing situation.

On 15th November  in an interview with Edward Pentin for National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke says that if the Holy Father continues to refuse a response to their request for Teaching, the Cardinals and Bishops will be bound by the tradition of the Church in charity and justice to execute an act of correction of the Holy Father’s published teaching.

On 17th November the Italian Vaticanist Marco Tosatti reveals that Pope Francis will not hold the usual formal Meeting of the Consistory ( and thus the Curia) before the Ceremonial Consistory on Saturday 20th November.

On 18th November in an interview i "AVVENIRE" the Newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference Pope Francis is quoted as saying:

"Some people — I am thinking of certain responses to Amoris Laetitia — continue to misunderstand," Francis said. “It’s either black or white [to them], even if in the flow of life you have to discern."
Asked about critics who accuse the pope of “Protestantizing" the Catholic church — an objection often raised by conservative Catholics in the U.S. — Francis said, “I don’t lose sleep over it."
He insisted that he is following the model of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s that set the church on a path to internal reform and greater engagement with the world.
“As for opinions of others," he said, “we always have to distinguish the spirit in which they are given. When not given in bad faith, they help with the way forward. Other times you see right away that the critics pick bits from here and there to justify a pre-existing viewpoint; they are not honest, they are acting in bad faith to foment divisions."
“You see right away that a certain ‘rigorism’ is born out of a lack of something, from a desire to hide inside the armor of one’s own sad dissatisfaction," he said.

We could comment on the significance of these events but at this stage that might be judged inappropriate.
One could comment on numerous of the remarks by the Holy Father, but we do not wish to be uncharitable or unkind. They are not the remarks we would expect from a Roman Pontiff.
The whole chain of events would never have occurred in any of the Pontificates in living memory.
Pope Francis will celebrate his 80th Birthday on 17th December , 2016 in three weeks time.
I guess we are still "GETTING TO KNOW POPE FRANCIS".


Watch this space.

Friday, November 18, 2016

THE POWER OF ONE : BISHOP WILLIAM BRENNAN

HE TURNED THE TIDE - BISHOP A HERO OF GOD


He never did look like a Super Hero but when Bishop William Brennan was ordained Priest on 21st December, 1960 by Cardinal Agaginian ,for the now enfeebled vacant See of Wilcannia-Forbes, few could have guessed that the young man prostrate before before the Altar would quietly turn the history of the Catholic Church in Australia right about. 


On 1st March, 1984 William Brennan was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga , by Cardinal Clancy then  Archbishop of Sydney ,with Archbishop Luigi Barbarito (Apostolic Pro- Nuncio)and Archbishop Carroll Auxiliary of Sydney as Co-Consecrators. I doubt that they would have guessed even at that stage what the practical results of that Sacramental act would be.

The Diocese of Wagga Wagga was erected on 28th July, 1917 toward the latter part of the first World War.It was carved out of the Diocese of Goulburn as it was.By the time of Bishop Brennan's Consecration, The Diocese had near 24,000 Catholics out of a total population of 108,000 (22%), and there were 41 Priests ( all Diocesan) 18 male Religious and 213 female Religious and 21 Parishes (figures actually at 1951).

Even by Australian standards, this was a small Diocese and unlikely to be a source of difficulty for the "progressive" Hierarchs in charge of mighty Sydney and Melbourne or even lesser Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.For at that time the Church in Australia had fallen into the hands of the false "spirit of the Council" people. There were a few strong Suffragan hold-outs for orthodoxy , but one hand was sufficient to count them, even perhaps a hand that had lost a few fingers! Times were tough - the unannounced War had been, it seemed, "won". Most people in the pews did not even know it had been on!

CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE WERRIBEE PARK,MELBOURNE  - NOW A POLICE ACADEMY
Every Seminary in the Country was already in terminal decline. The New Church people had promoted their own into all the Professorial positions in the Seminaries and the Institutes and colleges that supplemented their teaching needs. Seminarians who would hug trees (literally) could flourish but most of the good Catholic young men left the wreckage of once Catholic institutions and, for want of an alternative, gave up their vocations.Scandals and heresy abounded - driving ever more good men away. 

The Second Vatican Council had, in its document "Christus Dominus" noted the perceived advantages for the Church in each country , of closer co-ordination between the Bishops of that country, and lauded the concept of Episcopal Conferences. In 1966 Pope Paul VI by his Apostolic Letter " Ecclesiae Sanctae"directed the implementation of such Conferences among other things.

It is of course an obviously rational idea, as long as the independence of each Diocese is respected.The 1983 Code of Canon Law # 447 ( referring to " Christus Dominus") set out the role of the Conferences.But the gap between rational ideas and clear Canon Law, and political reality is vast. Few would have foreseen the creatures that the Conferences would become, and just how they might operate to the disadvantage of the Church and right and good in certain circumstances. Few indeed, but the e New Church people did. They clearly perceived the potential of the Conferences.And they acted to realise that potential.

They had ample advice from American manipulators well skilled in management techniques.Of course it was only rational that the Conference should have a Secretariat to "serve" it. Then of course the Secretariat must have an Executive Secretary , and indeed the Conference must have Committees and Committee Chairmen "served" by still more Executive Officers and indeed Chief Executive Officers, and away we go. 

But as bad as that was, there was another poisonous effect of the Conferences : rogue , dissident Bishops said and did what they would, thumbing their noses at their often sympathetic but more discreet brother Bishops. But the few orthodox and faithful Bishops felt constrained  by their loyalty to Christ and His Church to not only preserve unity, but to be seen to do so. These few good men then, were effectively neutralised, much as faithful Priests had been largely neutralised during the post-Conciliar collapse, by their silent contempt for what they saw going on around them.

The Man for the Hour

But then along came William Brennan. The man for the hour. The man who found the way.

Instead of being mesmerised by " the signs of the times", Bishop William Brennan saw that it was not necessary to create a great public conflict with his brother Bishops in efforts to protect his Seminarians in the provincial Seminary Saint Patrick's College Manly. He realised that Conference or no Conference, he retained his independent Episcopal powers as Bishop of Wagga Wagga. Not a public conflict. But of course almost every one of his brother Bishops would look askance at any independent action.When it came, they were all made uncomfortable, but might not have seen quite how uncomfortable some of them would become.

His action was not precipitate, but rather, mature and deliberate : in 1992 Bishop Brennan announced the foundation of  Vianney College the Wagga Wagga Diocesan Seminary.As far as the broader Catholic population in Australia knew, the event might not have happened. But among those who carefully followed the health of the Catholic Church in Australia and loved her for what she ought to be, joy bells were ringing. It was obvious why Bishop Brennan had taken this step - the situation at Saint Patrick's had become a scandal.



VIANNEY COLLEGE PROFESSORIAL STAFF AND SEMINARIANS 2011
TOGETHER WITH BISHOP GERARD HANNA
But little Wagga Wagga soon became the tail wagging the National dog! Vocations came flooding from Queensland and from all around New South Wales , from Victoria and from South Australia. As Vianney grew the Seminaries in the other States were collapsing, abandoning the once rightly proud edifices they had occupied and retreating into more modest, even tiny premises in the case of Brisbane's Banyo.

Vianney was carefully staffed with good orthodox Priests of marked achievement, even brilliance, Father Peter Joseph comes to mind and of course the humble and devout present Rector Father Peter Thompson C.M.


Once honoured St.Patrick's College Manly now closed and leased long term
to a Catering School by Cardinal Clancy. The Chapel remains under Church control.

In no time at all there were more Seminarians in Vianney College than in the provincial Seminary of Manly, or the provincial Seminary of Banyo, or the Provincial Seminary at Clayton in Melbourne .And the Seminary in Adelaide had closed. Bishop Brennan must have received some very hard glances at Conference meetings.But he was not a man of limited vision.

Crisis in Australia

In 1998 the situation of the Church in Australia was evolving steadily. Cardinal Clancy was still Archbishop of Sydney,  and Archbishop J.A. Bathersby in Brisbane and Archbishop Leonard Faulkner in Adelaide, but cracks were appearing in the liberal edifice : Archbishop Barry Hickey was appointed to Perth in 1991 and a Bishop named George Pell had been made an Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in 1987 and he succeeded Archbishop Little as Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 after Archbishop Little apparently contracted a Roman illness.

The Holy See was by 1998 alarmed by the state of the Church in Australia and at the Australian Catholic Bishops Ad Limina visits that year,  after exhaustive consultations between the Australian Bishops and the Prefects of the Curial Dicasteries, a formal Statement of Conclusions on the parlous condition of the Church here was signed. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ( later Pope Benedict XVI) had led the Holy See representatives who signed the document together with representatives of all the Australian Bishops.Back in Australia, the Bishops sought to allow the matter to fade into the past. But they had been put clearly on notice. And the document itself was in the public domain and widely circulated. Your scribe was in a position to ensure that this happened. Most Bishops gave the appearance of falling into line. One would not, and despite every opportunity given over the succeeding  years would finally have to be deposed in the new millennium.

Government Issues

In that same historic year of 1998 in October, two months before the Statement of Conclusions, Bishop Brennan issued a decree stating that only Catholics approved by himself might teach religion to Catholic children in government schools in his diocese. In addition, he insisted that the syllabus used must have his approval, and cover all the major elements of the faith.


In an article in the diocesan paper, Together, in October, Bishop Brennan explained that the "pastoral results" of having Catholic children taught a Scripture program by members of other Churches "have not been encouraging" with few of those involved developing "a sense of being Catholic" or becoming "engaged in sacramental programs."

The Bishop indicated that as from the beginning of 1999, the syllabus to be used should include teaching on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the Church, including the roles of Mary the Mother of the Church, the saints and the Pope.

This might seem a rather modest move, but that it was thought to be remarkable, shows how far things had deteriorated.

In late 1999 Bishop Brennan stood apart from his fellow Bishops once again and criticised the Church's involvement in the operation of Government-funded Job Placement agencies under contracts won in competition with commercial organisations, pointing out that this as not part of the Church's proper role considered from a theologically sound point of view. The Secretary of The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Father Brian Lucas, saw fit to distance himself from the Bishop's view when questioned on the matter on ABC Radio.  Subsequently one of Brisbane Archdiocese' adventures in this field failed financially when it overreached its Government funding.

Religious Orders

Bishop Brennan acted in a forthright manner to foster and protect authentically Catholic Religious Orders which could not find a home, or were being actually persecuted in other Dioceses. Two cases stand out :

The Confraternity of Christ the Priest


Father John Whiting and Blessed Pope John Paul II
The Confraternity of Christ the Priest was founded by the saintly Father John Whiting in 1954 in Townsville during the Episcopate of Bishop Hugh Ryan (1938-1967). However, the thoroughly orthodox Confraternity which had rapidly grown, and its equally orthodox Founder fell foul of Bishop Ryan's successor (1967-1983) Bishop Leonard Faulkner who, though a thoroughly charming gentleman was a total " spirit of the Council" prelate. Happily Father Whiting's Confraternity found shelter with Bishop William Brennan in Wagga, where it continues to flourish.

But its Townsville origins left it vulnerable to attack,and in due course Bishop Ray Benjamin of Townsville (1984-2000) who succeeded Bishop Faulkner moved with a vengeance.  (Bishop Faulkner went on to Adelaide as Archbishop and unleashed the false " spirit of the Council" there - a pollution that still swirls about in that Archdiocese despite his retirement in 2001.) Bishop Benjamin initiated proceedings before the Holy See to have the Confraternity canonically dissolved. Happily, this vindictive act, failed and the Holy See preserved the Confraternity.

Thank you Bishop Brennan for protecting this band of good and holy priests from dissident enemies.



The Conventual Sisters of St. Dominic


The Conventual Sisters of St. Dominic were formerly members of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Australia. They entered the Western Australia Province of this Congregation, which had its origins in Sion Hill, Dublin.

In 1988, three sisters left Western Australia to trial a new community in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga. They did this in the belief that God was calling them to return to a more traditional form of Dominican religious life.

FOUNDING MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY

After four years of living 'ad experimentum' in the Wagga Wagga Diocese, the community was formally erected in 1993 by Bishop William Brennan, with the approval of the Congregation for Religious.

Bringing together the New and the Old:This is not a 'new' community with a completely 'new' charism. It has continuity of spirit and tradition with the long history of Dominican women in Ireland and Australia, yet incorporates the vital elements of true renewal and reform desired by the Church in our times.

Whilst this history presents a tranquil picture, the Sisters endured a great deal to protect the integrity of their vocation before finding the protection of Bishop William Brennan.

Conclusion

In this brief sketch of the achievements of Bishop William Brennan we have sought to do some justice to his name, mindful of the repeated efforts in the same direction made by Cardinal George Pell in the past and even as late as two or three weeks ago.

Too many Bishops will go to any length to avoid "rocking the boat"of the Episcopal Conference. Bishop Brennan quietly, humbly not only rocked it he effectively changed its course- brought it back on course! 

If ever there has been a hero in the Australian Episcopate he is the Man. Bishop Brennan has had to live in retirement since he was stricken in health in 2002.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

GETTING TO KNOW POPE FRANCIS FIFTIETH POST

This post first appeared on 10th May, 2016 under the Title "PHYSICIAN HEAL THY BRETHREN.....OR?



POPE FRANCIS - THE JESUIT POPE

It is the popular wisdom that the address given by the then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio S.J. to the General Congregation of Cardinals preparing for the Conclave, secured him the majority vote of the Cardinal Electors.

The feature that is said to have endeared him to their Eminences was the call for reform of the Curia.

As it happened, this call was made against the background of the so-called Vatileaks scandal, which involved the theft and publication of documents by Pope Benedict XVI's Valet. There were rumours - always delightfully vague and suggesting scandal, that behind the whole affair one would find dissension in the Curia.

Now, human nature being what it is, and the Curia being the equivalent of the Head Office bureaucracy in any civil organisation, it is hardly surprising that the Curia should be unpopular. Indeed, it seems a fact of Church life that it has always been unpopular.

Consider every Diocese in the World : the view of the Bishop is often that the last time the Curia got anything right was the decision to appoint him. Subsequently, his requests for this or that have been too slowly processed, or declined for some reason he won't accept; or his Diocesan liturgical problems have come to notice, and he gets a query ; or his pet project to sell a property worth millions has to obtain the consent of the Holy See, and questions asked of him are unwelcome. Etc . etc. 

Have you ever heard of anyone who loves Head Office in any organisation?

After more than 50 years working in several very large oganisations, including one international organisation, I certainly have never encountered a Head Office lover! ( Except of course for the Executives of Head Office!) So I am not overly-fussed by Bishops and Cardinals being upset by the Curia. I would be suspicious if they were enamoured of it.

But a good friend made a good point to me this morning :

If one already belonged to a very large organisation which was an operating disaster in terms of its mission and founding purpose, in fact a scandal round the world - wouldn't people witnessing one's ascension to supreme control of the bigger  organisation it belongs to and serves, be entitled to want one to effect its reform before launching into the reform of the Head Office of the overall organisation ?



                                      Saint Ignatius of Loyola Founder of the Jesuits

Putting it more directly my friend asked: " well, now that we have a Jesuit Pope, and seeing that the Jesuits are supposed to be totally loyal to the person and office of the Pope, shouldn't he hop into reforming them first, before worrying about less glaring scandals?"

I had to admit that he had a point.Why didn't I think of that?

Two years have passed, I would be really pleased if anyone could point to the action taken to reform the Jesuits in that time. Anyone ? Anyone?  No? I wonder why?

SILENCE IS NO LONGER SAFE

This Post was first published in June 2011. There is a powerful message for us to-day.

SAINT BASIL THE GREAT - A.D. 329 -379.  
Saint Basil would have been at home in the Post-Conciliar Church. He was no stranger to the problems that beset the Church even to-day.When he uttered the words "Silence is no longer safe", he, like so many of the early Fathers - think of St John Chrysostom - was attacked for his defence of Catholic doctrine.He shared with the others, the stress and strain of teaching, sanctifying and governing in times of great trial.  Nevertheless, he realised what Saint Augustine ( A.D. 354 -430) would later spell out so clearly,and what that the Church reminds Bishops each year in the Reading of the Liturgy of the Hours: that if they do not correct the errors of those in their charge, they are themselves guilty of their charges' errors. What a great burden to bear , especially in the modern day, when error abounds. No wonder the Church prays for Bishops each time Holy Mass is said!

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was a great student of the Early Fathers. In fact it was through that study that he came to recognise the authenticity of the Catholic Church and was converted. Blessed Cardinal Newman suffered greatly in the course of his conversion.As Cardinal George Pell has highlighted in the past, he endured ruptures with family and  friends , loss of social acceptability in the England of that time, and loss of standing, to a degree hard for us to imagine or appreciate to-day.

For the dissenters slithering about in our midst to-day, the conversion of such an Anglican luminary as Newman was, would be"ecumenically damaging"! How far some have travelled from the Truth in which we are all supposed to be one.

Blessed Cardinal Newman sought the Truth, and, led by God's Grace, his study of the Fathers made him  the forerunner of the many Protestant ministers, particularly in the United States, who have embraced the fullness of our Catholic Faith. Many of them are now vigorous and active Catholic apologists,writers and broadcasters.

The early Fathers lived in times of great turmoil and contention civilly and in the Church. They were not inclined to mince words: Saint Cyprian told one of his suffragans : "Your Diocese is a rubbish bin, and you are a fitting lid for it".That was 150 years before Saint Augustine.

Blessed Cardinal Newman would not be welcome to-day in many Australian Dioceses. He would discomfort so many of the clergy and religious - he was not "politically correct"- he used the "H" word.Yes, he actually named Heresy when he confronted it.

To-day's Heretics do not have the courage to leave the Church, but have rattled around for 30 or more years feeding off her and getting mighty sleek and arrogant  in the process.Names like Fiorenza, Thomas Groome, Richard McBrien, Karl Rahner, Schillibeecx, spring to mind. They have attempted the de-construction and destruction of the Catholic Faith and have found fertile and receptive ground in once Catholic educational institutions in the West. Blessed Cardinal Newman's incisive mind and language would have decimated them and their efforts to deny and undo the constant teaching of the Church on Sacred Scripture, the nature of the Church,the Sacraments and Contraception and Homosexuality etc.Blessed Cardinal Newman was not one for ambiguity or euphemism where Truth was at issue. He would have been their implacable foe.
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

Blessed Cardinal Newman did not of course have the benefit of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, rather , his thinking inspired much of that teaching. Equally he did not have to suffer the burdensome false "spirit of the Council" - a poison which has been slowly subsiding into the mire from which it came, as so many retirements come into effect.But it leaves behind it a great deal of the intellectual detritus of the 1960s.

He referred to the Laity saving the Church.We need to remember the history of the 150 years or so that preceded his times.The French Revolution and its attacks on the Church in France, Napoleon and his attacks on the Church across Europe, the imprisonment of two holy Popes, the loss of the Papal States, the Penal Laws in Ireland : the Church was reeling under these cruel blows. There is no doubt that what he predicted did happen. After the Council,  Mass attendances soared to around 65%, most went regularly to Confession and Communion , vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life flourished.Seminaries, Monasteries and Convents were being built and expanded, and the marvellous flowering of lay activity, devotion, scholarship and piety  was matched by an immense involvement in charitable works which, in a hostile civil environment, was vigorous and effective in promoting justice and meeting the needs of the many poor. The same Laity went on to oppose the Fascist, Nazi and Communist enemies of the Church, and in each case the enemies were defeated.

The Council was the First Vatican Council! Blessed Cardinal Newman was vindicated!

He would no doubt have become ill contemplating the course of events following the Second Vatican Council! Education was always dear to his heart. To-day he would be forced to contemplate our massive Catholic Education systems in which 95% of the students do not practise their Faith, do not pray, worship and they believe.........what?

To-day it is routine to judge by outcomes : what would happen if 95% of the Graduates of the Defence Force Academy would not fight, would not salute the flag and displayed no patriotic conviction. There would be a wholesale change in management and a total reform of the system, process and procedures.

And how would he, and should we, judge the collapse in religious observance in Australia from 65% to 15% ( and less than 10% in Townsville and in New Zealand)?

Blessed Pope John Paul II
We thank God for Saint Basil and for Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. Equally, we thank God for the Pontificates of  Pope Saint John Paul II (the Great) who had been tried by fire in the tragedy of Nazi Aggression and yet again by the horrors of  effective Soviet conquest and occupation of his beloved Poland. He was a Philosopher and great teacher, a man of great holiness and strong personality, who led the Church out of the rubble of the Post-Conciliar period and into the World to confront and convert it, not to be accommodated to it; we thank Him too for our Emeritus Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI an equally holy man, a shy person and modest, who is a great theologian and clear teacher and brilliant analyst of modern day society, for all these characteristics he is greatly loved and admired and keenly supported as he works to restore Catholic identity, build Christian unity and to restore the sense of the sacred to the Sacred Liturgy at the heart of the life of the Church.


POPE BENEDICT XVI

GETTING TO KNOW POPE FRANCIS FORTY NINTH POST

This post originally appeared in 2013 under the Title "HOW DID WE GET HERE?  SIX POPES AND GOD'S MYSTERIOUS WAYS".


First published in 2013  this remains timely:

Statue of Saint Peter and the Keys overlooked by The Saviour
Outside Saint Peter's basilica
It is good to step back occasionally and consider the journey we have travelled in our lives. Such an exercise can be completed on several bases - the purely personal, the familial, the professional, the social, the social environment, the political environment, the technological environment. All will prove rewarding in particular ways.

But here I wish to look at the Catholic religious environment in which I have lived, and in particular to consider the six Popes who have led the Church in  the present era. I have excluded the Venerable Pope Pius XII from this assessment for reasons  I will set out  below.  I hope you will follow me in this exercise, which I believe might be helpful in considering how we should approach the assessment of the present newly- begun Pontificate.

This will then, be a very personal view of those Pontificates I have lived through.

In recent days, in the Post " God and Three Popes": http://vexilla-regis.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/god-and-3-popes.html ,we considered the last three Popes, and the reasons why they could be so different one from another, yet very effective and pleasing to God and greatly loved by the faithful .But our purpose here, is to look at the historic " picture" of the last 55 years , and try to perceive the working out of God's plan for the Church through His last six Vicars.

Venerable Pope Pius XII Wearing the Triple Tiara abandoned by Pope Paul VI

The Pian Background

When I was born and Baptised, Pope Pius XII had already been reigning for 13 Months and 7 Days. When His Holiness died on 9th October,1958 , I was 18 1/2 years of age precisely to the day, and it was 17 Months and 1 Day since I had left St. Columba's Minor Seminary at Springwood.

His passing was a shock - he had been one of the " Givens" of my life, taken absolutely as a fixed part of my world. His presence was revered, austere,noble and beloved, not only by Catholics , but around the world. Now, looking back to that time 55 years ago, it is very clear  that his death marked the end of an era in Church History - an era that had run from the election of Giovanni Maria Mastai- Ferretti as Pope Pius IX on 16th June, 1846 until that day in 1958. Just as the closing of World War II closed a political , and, in reality a social era, the death of Pope Pius XII closed an ecclesiastical era. As I considered then the novel idea of a Papal Election , I am sure that doubt about what would happen obscured from my mind any understanding of how historic the event was.

Older and wiser heads no doubt saw the significance of the event as the closing of one era and the opening of another, but , in the full vigour and pre-occupation of youth , I did not.

He died at  a time when I knew that I was certainly living in the very best of all times - " modern times!" - optimism abounded. We had won the great Crusade of World War II against Evil.  Post -War recovery was bounding ahead. We had even won the Korean War against the Communists. Life was good, and getting better, and everyone knew it.And for a young man, the remote threat of nuclear war with those pesky Russians seemed something so surreal that it was not worth really worrying about.

Blessed Pope  John XXIII


BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII

No-one saw what was coming when Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, then Patriarch of Venice, was elected on 28th October, 1958 only 19 days after the death of his revered predecessor.He took the name John XXIII."Everyone" believed he was an "interim" Pope - elected at age 77 Yrs. And it seems clear that the mind of the Cardinal Electors must have been just that. All except one - the man himself! For he seemed totally free of any such inhibiting thought.

By the Apostolic Constitution " Humanae Salutis" dated 25th December, 1961 Pope John XXIII  summoned the Second Vatican Council. The action surprised everyone, shocked and horrified those familiar with the history of Ecumenical Councils and puzzled many.For, riding the crest of the wave of confidence that buoyed the whole world in the wake of World War II's success in defeating rampant evil, the Church was confident and very highly active .Nor was there any publicly notorious heresy to be confronted.No, this was intended to be a " pastoral Council" to provide "aggiornamento" a "bringing up-to-date" of the Church - to address " modern times"- this was a novelty in Church history.

The Council lasted from from 1962 until 1965 sitting in several sessions.There is no doubt , considering the writings of Pope John XXIII, that he had no better idea than anyone else of the maelstrom of disasters that would beset the Church in the wake of the Council. Going into the Council, and, from what we can read, in the course of the Council, and coming away from the Council, there was a great sense of optimism on the part of many, verging almost on hubris.Many of the Council Fathers have attested to this.

Pope John XXIII was immensely popular, even outside the Church he gained the name of " good Pope John" physically his assets were few- he was plump and had a " face that only a mother could love", yet his very goodness, grace, geniality and openness caused universal approval, and, indeed affection.When he died his Council was still incomplete.He died on 3rd June, 1963 aged 81yrs.

POPE PAUL VI  LATE IN HIS LIFE,WEIGHED DOWN BY TROUBLES
VENERABLE POPE PAUL VI

It seems that the Cardinals' "experiment" with an interim Pope - if they really did think that way - had  alarmed them. Indeed the Council was proving to be seemingly unending, and it was going to take an experienced hand to bring it in for a safe landing. They had their man it seemed - Giovanni Battista Montini Archbishop of the huge Milan Diocese and former joint Secretary of State to Pope Pius XII until moved to Milan by John XXIII.

Pope Paul VI has had in popular history, the exact reverse of the experience of Pope John XXIII : he has been condemned as an indecisive " Hamlet" , reviled by dissidents for the Encyclical Humanae Vitae which defended Human Life from conception to natural death and confirmed the Church's traditional condemnation of contraception and abortion. He was condemned by Liturgical conservatives for his approval of the Novus Ordo and abandonment of the Traditional Latin Mass. He was seen as having been duped by Archbishop Bugnini in this matter,until Pope Paul at last saw him for what he was, dismissed him and sent him in the Diplomatic Service to Iran.

A kind and gentle man according to Cardinal Noe who worked closely with him, Pope Paul was greatly saddened by the liturgical abuse which quickly became common with the new liturgy , and this was the cause of his famous " smoke of Satan" speech in 1972.This was not the only cross he had to bear. The numbers of Priests and Religious walking away from their vocations soared into the tens of thousands whilst the number of vocations shrank from the previous flood to a mere trickle.The poisonous co-operation of quack psychology and the false " spirit of the Council"  worked with diabolical efficiency.Those infected by that spirit, and by the undoubtedly diabolical spirit loose in the secular world since 1968 on the streets of Paris and then throughout Europe, had also talked up the possibility of the Church allowing artificial contraception.  Pope Paul VI acted decisively with the Encyclical " Humanae Vitae" in July,1968 confirming that there could never be a change in this moral teaching. " Humanae Vitae" became the litmus test for fidelity to the Church Christ had established. There can be no doubt that the Encyclical challenged many Catholics and many failed the test - permanently,seduced by the
 " sexual liberation" made available by the contraceptive pill .The " love and peace" " flower power" generation of the " sick, sick sixties"( as a pop song was to call them) obsessed by the notion of sex separated from conception, quickly slid off into homosexuality and drugs, or as the phrase went " whatever turns you on baby!". 

It is little known to-day, that in his time as Archbishop of Milan , Montini had been a very active progressive in putting in place massive programmes which to-day we would term the New Evangelisation ,in his huge Archdiocese in many innovative ways, and involving hundreds of Priests and Bishops and laity in preaching and teaching in churches, factories and public places.

The decimation of the Church under his Pontificate, came as a very bitter blow to him.He had brought the Second Vatican Council to an end in 1965.He died on 6th August, 1978.This brief summary does not do justice to his impressive body of teaching, but in a way, reflects the manner in which his work was obscured by the rising tide of woe.



Pope John Paul I and Cardinal Wojtyla
POPE JOHN PAUL I

Twenty days later, Cardinal Albino Luciani was elected Pope and took the name John Paul  . The novelty of the name was striking, the intention self - evident. The former Patriarch of Venice, since his appointment by Pope Paul VI in early 1970,  hoped to recover the tranquil times and happy memories of John XXIII's Pontificate, and to own the Teachings and reforms of Paul VI's Pontificate. Given the devastating division and implosion of the preceding 13 years, it was an admirable , though ambitious aspiration.

He seemed to all who knew him and saw him, to be a very good, kind and holy man. His warm smile , never far away, instantly won hearts. But alas, it seems a personal practical omission on his part was to prove fatal. On leaving Venice for the Conclave , he had left his heart medication behind. He had not sent for it.Then he was elected Pope and so overwhelmed by events that the omission was not made good. After only 33 days as Pope, he was found dead  early in the morning of 28 September, 1978. 

Reports from the time speak of the great relief of the Cardinals when he was elected, that the deeply divided conservative vs "progressive" groups of the Italian Cardinals were able to agree on someone. But absolute control of the Conclaves was slipping from their grasp more and more as the College of Cardinals had steadily been internationalised.

The crisis caused by the sudden death of John Paul I ( it appears that he chose to be so styled - which was not a necessary form until there was a John Paul II ... it seems an almost prophetic impulse) immediately threw the Italian cardinals back to their impasse. Their inability to agree on one of their own apparently forced them to look to " the man from a far country" Cardinal Karol Wojtyla Archbishop of Krakow , Poland.



BLESSED POPE JOHN PAUL II
AS WE KNEW HIM BEST STRONG ,CONFIDENT FAITH-FILLED
Blessed Pope John Paul II

"God works in marvellous ways his wonders to perform."

The stage had been set : backdrop - devastation, depression , anxiety, desertion, noises off stage : dissent, derision, discord, cast : apprehensive,  attentive, prayerful , Leading Man : 58 yrs old, tried by the fire of Nazi occupation of his homeland, then Communist control of his country and persecution of the Church, he had been one of the Council Fathers - knew all the issues and the cast of characters. More importantly, the Holy Spirit had chosen in him a man of steely Faith, brilliant intellect,a strong outgoing personality and a flair for the theatrical and a profound love of Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother.

The throngs in Piazza S. Pietro had been ecstatic when he was first introduced to them - the Piazza had been packed - everyone was aware how difficult the situation was, and this totally surprising choice of a man 
" from a far country"..." This Slav" as he was to say, was a sensation. That sensation continued for 25 years.

Poor Pope Paul VI's Pontificate had been, for him and for the Church one long Via Dolorosa, steeped in trial and stress and disaster with the one one great triumph - " Humanae Vitae"  itself drawing down on him still greater odium.

The long, long Pontificate of Pope John Paul II was to be no less lived out under attack - even two attempted Assassinations - but the new Holy Father moved out and adopted an outgoing stance announcing from the time of his installation " Be Not Afraid ! " the marvellous exhortation of Our Divine Lord, and the greeting of Angels.

By contrast with previous Pontificates the pace he set was a whirlwind of powerful teaching documents, Apostolic Voyages around the Globe and manifold initiatives of a pastoral nature. The World had seen Pope Paul VI begin international Apostolic Voyages, but this , this was almost Blitzkrieg! The new Holy Father cris-crossed Europe, Africa , the Americas, Asia and , at the end of the Earth, Oceania. The modern Papacy had been brought to vibrant life. Among the lasting initiatives he put in hand were the World Youth Days which attracted crowds often in the millions and have gone on to be spectacular successes - especially in fostering vocations.

John Paul II's Documents constitute a mighty body of work, refuting error, propounding truth, correcting abuses. In figurative terms we might say that he came to the command of the Barque of Saint Peter and found it with its sails torn to shreds and drifting toward rocks with a bewildered and dispirited crew. With his infectious Faith in Christ, he quickly strengthened the brethren, repaired the sails and brought the Barque around, heading her out into the deep once more in search of a catch.

His Grace filled Pontificate has provided the substance of numerous books and is too demanding a subject to deal with here. It was a remarkable time . He did make one or two silly mistakes, but when one is doing so very much , that is always possible. As the long and glorious years passed, it became increasingly evident that Blessed Pope John Paul II was suffering from rapidly advancing Parkinson's Disease. It was a great cross for a once vigorous and active man to suffer this slow and humiliating death process - yet he fought manfully, heroically against it until the very end. He made of it an opportunity to teach, as we saw and suffered with him in Christ's service.His funeral caused a crowd estimated at 5,000,000 to gather in Rome centred on Saint Peter's Basilica.The Eternal City, and the world, had never seen the like.

OUR BELOVED POPE BENEDICT XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

The man who presided at the Funeral Mass of Blessed Pope John Paul II was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger whose devotion to and affection for the late Pope were patently obvious. He spoke brilliantly, inspiringly. One Cardinal , speaking eight years later, was to say that at the Conclave that followed, the task that faced the Cardinals was simple because by virtue of holiness, intellect and experience, Ratzinger was the only one who was ten times the superior of any of the other Cardinals.And so Pope Benedict XVI was elected on 19th April, 2005.


Perhaps no person elected to the Papacy in all of history was already so well known to so many people as to his true personality, his thoughts and beliefs and his sound doctrine. For in his time as a University Professor and more particularly in the 25 years he had spent as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had a prodigious output of books from the completely scholarly to the more popular - though still carefully worded - journalistic interviews recorded in book form( Starting with the Ratzinger Report) . He became for those dedicated to resistance to the false " spirit of the Council" dissidents, a champion of orthodoxy. His "personality" was also widely "known" in those dissident circles under the deceitful shadows of nicknames such as " God's Rottweiler" and the "Panzer Kardinal" . His defenders and admirers smilingly gave the lie to these deceits by adopting the Bumper Sticker Title - " I Love my German Shepherd".

The psychological cost to this gentle soul, this quintessential Bavarian gentleman must have been great, but he soon surprised everyone by achieving a remarkably strong reception from the Catholic faithful in very large numbers wherever he went. And, as we have previously pointed out, his Wednesday Angelus Address crowds far exceeded those of the immensely popular Blessed John Paul II.

He continued the pattern of extensive international Apostolic Voyages several of which stand out, including that to the United States, that to Scotland and England and that to World Youth Day in Sydney .These were brilliant successes, not just in crowds and quality of reception - but in actual teaching achievements. In the United States, one hardened commentator praised the Holy Father, saying that he had given the United States "the vocabulary to address its problems and future". In Scotland and England he politely but firmly confronted 500 years of nationalist anti-Catholic prejudice - even being welcomed formally in Westminster Hall where, he noted the great Saint Thomas More had been condemned to death for his defence of the Faith. And in the stolen Westminster Abbey he was to be received by the then Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Benedict chose to wear the Stole of Pope Leo XIII who,  in " Apostolicae Curiae", had condemned Anglican " Orders" as forever "null and absolutely void".Pope Leo had also made the convert John Henry Newman a Cardinal. Pope Benedict  beatified John Henry Newman whilst he was in the U.K. The resounding success of World Youth Day in Sydney and the Holy Father's part in inspiring the hundreds of thousands of young people was spectacular.

Pope Benedict - as in the case of the Leonine Stole -often taught by example - requiring that those to whom he distributed Holy Communion should be kneeling and receive on the tongue.And the greater solemnity with which Papal liturgies were celebrated showed forth his conviction that all glory praise and honour were due to God, that the Liturgy is about us honoring Him rather than us celebrating ourselves.And in using such things as historic vestments and a Pastoral Cross he emphasised the hermeneutic of continuity.Not a " New" post-Conciliar Church, but the one true Church of all the Ages.

The two most remarkable actions of Pope Benedict were undoubtedly the issuing of Summorum Pontificum on 7th July , 2007 which enabled, in effect any Priest to celebrate the pre Novus Ordo Mass without the need for Episcopal authorisation.The growth in its celebration has been steady and consistent and its impact, especially among the young , has been remarkable. In another move, with the Motu Proprio " Anglicanorum Coetibus" he provided for the erection of Ordinariates to meet the needs of thousands of former Anglicans and hundreds of their Clergy including Bishops, seeking admission into the Catholic Church and in the case of the Clergy seeking to be Ordained Priests and in some cases Bishops.The impact of this measure is continuing to grow.

Earning him the title " The Pope of Christian Unity", Pope Benedict also reached out keenly to the Lefebvrist Society Of Saint Pius X. But, despite his best endeavours, the hard line elements of that Society remained stiff-necked and and distant from the Church, despite Pope Benedict's conciliatory lifting the excommunications on their 4 Bishops.

Pope Benedict also developed growing ties with the Orthodox Churches with good success, except in the case of the Patriarchate of Moscow  where the " warming" was only slight.

A significant achievement was the improvement in the quality of Episcopal appointments , especially after Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal Marc Ouellet as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Earlier in his Pontificate , Pope Benedict had to weather the storm surrounding the scandal of treatment of cases involving the sexual abuse of children .Most of these cases had occurred during the immediate post - Conciliar period 40 to 45 years ago. The fashionable " no win no fee" lawyers greatly encouraged the victims and some false " victims" and the anti-Church mainstream media made sure that a lurid sensation was created over each case. The fact that, at their worst, the number of these cases only reached the levels in the general community and in other Churches, and is now back down to far below those levels - as it should be - has never seen the light of mainstream media spotlights. For such a gentlemanly, and devout soul as Benedict it was a hard cross to bear.

And in the latter days of the Pontificate there broke out the so-called " Vatileaks" affair,. Precisely what it was all about we do not know. And the always lurid speculations of the Italian Press are of no assistance. Time will tell.

THE CATHEDRA OF THE BISHOP OF ROME
THE SEDE - VACANTE
THE BASILICA OF SAINT JOHN THE LATERAN
The greatest surprise of Pope Benedict's Pontificate must be said to be his resignation. Announced to a Consistory of Cardinals in Latin without any prior indication, this historic event - the first such in 600 years - truly shocked the world. But, as the weeks go by we find ourselves shocked by the deterioration in Pope Benedict's condition in the rare glimpses we get of him. This was particularly evident in the low key TV coverage of the visit paid to him by Pope Francis at Castel Gandolfo. He appeared very much reduced, shuffling along with the aid of a walking sick, making very limited gestures, but still retaining that delightful, gentle smile. Pope Francis' solicitude for him and demonstrated gentle kindness was very heart-warming.

POPE FRANCIS
THE POPE OF "FIRSTS"
POPE FRANCIS

The Conclave of 2013 was very different from that of 2005. Firstly there was no deceased Pontiff to mourn. Secondly there was no obvious candidate - though in more ordinary circumstances, many would no doubt have expected Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan to be elected. But these were not ordinary circumstances, There was no-one to mourn, the atmosphere of unresolved scandal and the idea that it involved some faction in the Curia, seems to have made it difficult for the Italians to vote in one of their own. 

There had been abroad a widespread sentiment that it would be a good thing if the new Pope came from somewhere other than Europe. The principle pools of candidates would then be the Latins especially those from Latin America and the Africans, or the Asians. In the case of Africa, there were several potential candidates, and in Asia a lesser number. But Latin America offered several advantages for consideration : around 50% of the world's 1.2 Billion Catholics live in Latin America, there were a number of very well known Cardinals considered Papabile,and some were prominent. 

At the top of the list of those, was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio Archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina.He was renowned for his personal holiness and for his dedication to pastoral concerns, and the needs of the poor.It was widely believed that in the 2005 Conclave he had been adopted as a candidate by a bloc of Cardinal Electors endeavouring to stop the ascendancy of Cardinal Ratzinger in the voting, without his consent or agreement. The effort failed obviously. But memory of his showing in the voting evidently remained. He was, in that sense, an easy choice to make - holy, pastorally concerned and devoted to the poor - even for the non- conservatives he must have seemed a good choice. Had they known more about his record of firm orthodoxy, they might have had second thoughts.

THE PHOTO THE MEDIA DON'T USE
THE THEN CARDINAL BERGOGLIO CELEBRATING MASS IN THE CHURCH OF SAINT LAWRENCE OUTSIDE THE WALLS ONLY DAYS BEFORE HIS ELECTION WEARING A ROMAN CHASUBLE.


UBI PETRUS, IBI ECCLESIA " Where Peter is, there is the Church."

So here we are. To be " here" is one thing. But even Saint Peter, the first Pope, out on the Via Appia Antica ( the Ancient Appian Way) asked Our Lord " Quo Vadis Domine?"  ( " Where are you going O Lord? ") .The question is no less valid and important to-day.And discernment of the answer will be the continuing task of Pope Francis. 

Perhaps our reflection on the last 55 years of the Church's journey through time might help us to consider what lies ahead.

At the end of the Pian era, the Church seemed to the world, to have reached the very zenith of her achievements.. This was truly remarkable for at the beginning of that era, in the Pontificate of Pio Nono - Blessed Pope Pius IX , the Church had appeared to be at the nadir of her standing in the world.

Twice the Pope had been driven out of the City and he had finally declared himself a " Prisoner in the Vatican"when the Papal States were stolen by military force.And this had come after decades of humiliation and persecution during and after the French Revolutions and in the notorious French imprisonment of Pope Pius VI and the Napoleonic imprisonment of Pope PIUS VII. Despite the subsequent " Kulturkampf" attacks on the Church by Bismarck in Prussia, and through all these troubled times, there was an immense re-growth and flowering of spirituality and a series of miraculous and wholly authentic Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes , La Salette,Rue de Bac in Paris and lastly at Fatima in Portugal.

Quite independently there was a wider re-generation in Catholic life through the preaching of Pere Lacordaire, the pastoral activity of the Cure' of Ars, and  the lives of and the Religious Orders founded by Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Saint Marcellin Champagnat and others. This 19th Century glorious flowering had reached full bloom by the 20th Century. It was a wonderful time to be a Catholic. 

Sure, at the beginning of the 20th Century the Church was still suffering civil persecution in a number of places - ranging from socially as in England to politically as in Mexico.But the English prejudice was worn down by  by the experience of World War I  and the Mexican persecution was only overcome very gradually. But the general world image of the Catholic Church continued to strengthen and grow through the first half of the twentieth Century.By the time of the Second World War and through the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII it continued to soar.. Even to extremes of worldly silliness, when an American Business Management organisation rated the Catholic Church as the world' best organised " corporation"!

So, we had come in that Pian era from disaster piled upon disaster to fully-fledged "success" in 132 years.

POPE SAINT PIUS X
That very "success" seemed to be about to be " crowned" by the Second Vatican Council - the Council few people wanted apart from Pope John XXIII and some folk who were the heirs of the " Modernists" condemned by Saint Pope Pius X in " Lamentabili Sane Exitu"("A Lamentable Departure Indeed") and the following great Encyclical " Pascendi Dominici Gregis" ( " Feeding the Lord's Flock") which condemned Modernism as "the synthesis of all heresies". Despite the heights upon which it was launched, and the confidence with which it was approached, the Council left in its wake all too obviously " the synthesis of all heresies" . As poor Pope Paul VI was to find, the Council's wake was littered with the flotsam and jetsam of heresy, division, disaffection, desertion, the widespread loss of the sense of the sacred and a taste in some, for turning the Church of Christ into a " philanthropic NGO" to use the words of Pope Francis'condemnation of the error.

What had gone wrong? Had God abandoned His Church? NEVER! We know that! But what had gone wrong?

It is clear that things had been going so well, that many in the Church had " lowered their guard", had not thought that the Father of Lies could strike and strike hard when the Church was " at the top of her game". 

So the very Council that boldly had set out to bring the Church " up-to-date" did not bring itself up-to-date first. Whilst planning to look out and " take note of the signs of the times" - the Council ignored them as far as its own proceedings were concerned. Convinced that as in times past, the world would wait for the Council to publish its documents to find out what the Council taught, it proceeded, where it own affairs were concerned to look inward. 

But the heirs of the Modernists were shrewd enough to realise that the Mainstream Media ( a phrase that then was not in use) were eager for, in fact desperate for, a story each day  of this historic great show - the Second Vatican Council -  with all its grandly attired participants. That was all it was to them. The Father of Lies was at work.

 And so it came to pass in those days that the heirs of the Modernists became " Spin Doctors" providing the ignorant but sensation seeking Media with what they wanted to hear - novelty. Coming from northern Europe these latter day Modernists led the thirsting Media to believe and spread the word that the Council would change everything from Contraception to Celibacy to abandonment of Latin,to accepting homosexuality etc, etc. You name it - it was coming : the Council was changing everything. The average Catholic was bewildered by what they read in the Press .Yet for the three years the Council sat, this unrelenting Media exercise continued with little concerted effective response.

Even when Council documents progressively became available, as for example, the very first " Sacrosanctum Concilium" on the Sacred Liturgy which required the retention of Latin with minimal Vernacular for such purposes as Readings, and required pride of place for Gregorian Chant, they were largely ignored or treated as if they said what the earlier false stories had said. The Propaganda battle was won by the Modernists who began to speak NOT about the inconvenient Council documents, no, but rather about the false " spirit of the Council".

And so it went for the ten years from the end of the Council until the election of Pope John Paul II when effective countermeasures began to come into play. We have seen above that the Cardinals in Conclave were at first not disposed to elect him for their own collegial reasons. But their choice having been taken to God, they were left with little alternative but to elect " this Slav".

He labored heroically as we have seen, and gradually the Barque of Peter began to answer her helm and to come back on course in the midst of the storm. By the time he too was taken to God 25 years later, things were much improved and the election of Pope Benedict VI ensured that the remaining corrective measures necessary were put in place. And, building on the teaching work of Blessed Pope John Paul II , he began a series of consistent and integrated catecheses on such subjects as the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church and the Saints and to teach specifically against the " tyranny of Relativism" and the " Hermeneutic of Rupture" which was the essence of the Modernists' argument. They wanted a New Church  : the Council had, for them, represented a break from the Church before 
its time. NOT SO pointed out Pope Benedict . The Church founded by Christ is one in the present time and in all time since Christ.

POPE FRANCIS MEETS FRAIL POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT AT CASTEL GANDOLFO
Benedict was very effective in putting the capping stone on Blessed Pope John Paul II's work. But the Father of Lies was not going quietly. Having caused, in the immediate wake of the Council an increase in child sexual abuse among clergy and religious, such that it rose to the same level as in the general population and other institutions , he now incited the publicising of these scandalous matters which, in the manner of the society of the times they were committed, were hushed up to avoid scandal. Now the same Media the Father of Lies used to spread the false 
" Council of the Media" decided to adopt the cause of " victim's groups" to beat the Church around the head . The campaign was scurrilous and run relentlessly, re-hashing the cases over and over to the extent that the man in the street was brain-washed into thinking every allegation had to be " fact". Priest and pedophile were in the public "mind" synonymous. 

No matter that for the last 35 years the statistics had receded to the norm far below the level of the general population and other institutions. And no matter that at its worst it had been no worse than in those same groups.

Then there broke out matters that suggested dissension within the Curia and this became a matter widely and wildly canvassed in the always outlandish Italian press.

The rapidly ailing health of Pope Benedict XVI led him to abdicate, to avoid the type of organisational paralysis he had observed in the declining period of Blessed Pope John Paul II's terrible illness. Especially in the current situation.

The Church around the world is much recovered from the "wake of the Council" rubble. She is growing rapidly in Asia and in Africa.And in Oceania and the Americas there is a strong resurgence of Orthodox Catholicism , and the barren wastes of dissidence are dying back to their roots. Europe remains sick , though again there, orthodox Catholicism flourishes and is spreading. The growth in vocations globally is now starting to outpace the reduction in numbers due to deaths for the first time since the Council.


SUMMING IT UP

Our Lord is of course always in the Barque, and aware , even when he appears to be sleeping. But we have to do our part. The truth remains as Saint Paul and Saint Peter told it : we are battling continually against Principalities and Powers and, the Devil indeed "goeth about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." Nothing should ever lead us to relax or suppose otherwise, not even the greatest historic success, or the most sublime confidence in our mastery of a situation.

The results of failure can be catastrophic as we have seen. And the labours necessary to recover the situation could have been spent on further spreading the Good News.

THE WAY AHEAD

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
  Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
  Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see        
The distant scene,—one step enough for me.
 Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman : " Pillar of the Cloud"


Looking back over the last 55 years blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's advice seems appropriate for the present situation, as it is for most.God has sent us a new Vicar of Christ, who appears to surprise many based on what they read in the Media - but is it all true or largely " spin"? Or as true as it seems?


 Just as we were told when he chose the open Jeep to ride around the Piazza that it was in contrast with Pope Benedict.But Pope Benedict had on occasion done the same. When we were told that he rode in a Mini- Bus unlike Pope Benedict's limousine - yet we were not told that he took the limousine on later occasions. etc.etc.
POPE FRANCIS - " STRENGTHEN THE BRETHREN"
                    
So let us not try to " see the distant scene" but stay with the Holy Father and also cherish the memory and work of his beloved predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Our Lord is in the Barque and ever alert - but He expects us to do our part -
 the new Evangelisation is everyone's responsibility.