News

December 2001 – January 2002

Pope apologises to China On the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci in Peking, the Pope made an apology for Catholics’ treatment of Chinese in the intervening period, “I feel deep sadness for these errors [personal limitations, political pressure and theological disputes] and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church.” In response to the Pope, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi called the Pope’s apology “a positive expression”, and then continued; “However, we have also noticed that the pope did not make a clear apology for the canonisation [of Chinese martyrs] last year, which deeply hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”

The last word on the subject can go to Catholic historian Warren Carrol, who describes the funeral of Fr. Ricci: “Ricci’s body lay in state in his new church in Peking. Large crowds including some of the leading mandarins of China came to honor him. The Wan-li Emperor granted him a lot in a cemetery where only the greatest Chinese had been buried, under a hexagonal brick chapel with a plaque reading: “To one who loved righteousness and wrote books. To Li Ma-tou [Ricci] the Far Westerner, from Huang Chi-shih, Governor of Peking.” Out of the mouth of honest pagans…..

…..and praises the Old Mass, in a message to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Pope John Paul II praised the Mass of Pope Pius V for its prayers that beautifully expressed the attitudes of humility and reverence towards the Sacrament. The people of God need to see in priests and deacons a comportment full of reverence and dignity, able to help them penetrate invisible things even without many words and explanations,” the Pope said in his message. “In the Roman Missal, referred to a that of St. Pius V, as in various Eastern liturgies, there are very beautiful prayers with which the priest expresses the deepest sense of humility and of reverence before the sacred mysteries; these reveal the very substance of any liturgy.” He went on to say that those following Mass should have the experience of being in the presence of the holy. “Consequently, the attitude required cannot help but be permeated by reverence and by the sense of awe which flows from knowing you are in the presence of the majesty of God.” Hear, hear, but when will it dawn on His Holiness that he is explaining why Traditional Catholics could not accept the New Mass?


IPPF against the family. 
Karin Helsecke of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the world’s largest pro-choice organisation, affirmed that parents are potential enemies of children’s rights, she condemned attempts to “strengthen parental authority and control to the detriment of established children’s rights” and criticized the traditional conception of the family as being “based on a man and woman united by marriage and their children,” because such institutions “are neither safe, particularly for young girls, nor models of gender equality.” Whom the gods wish to destroy…..


Britain continues funding abortionists. 
The House of Lords has rejected an amendment which would have ended UK funding of coercive abortion programmes in China. An amendment to the International Development bill, which had been tabled by Baroness Cox, a Conservative peer, was defeated by 149 votes to 67 last Thursday. The clause would have blocked funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), both of which support China’s one-child population control policy. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s political secretary, said: “It is a scandal that the government imposed what was rumoured to be a three-line whip against the amendment….The government clearly has no intention of applying an ethical foreign policy to its own budget. However, we intend to continue the campaign in the House of Commons because we know that our case is water-tight.”

November 2001

Persecutions in India and Pakistan, The recent wave of violence against priests and religious in India has one cause, according to Milind Parande, a leader of Bajrang Dal, an organisation affiliated with the ruling pro-Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. “Conversions are the root of the violence…..If this continues there will be violence.,…they [Christians] should expect it,” he said. “The federal and state government should immediately stop conversions. The Hindu society will not take this lying down.”

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, a number of Christians face the death penalty under the Islamic blasphemy laws, which prescribes capital punishment for those who “by words, either spoken or written, …..directly or indirectly defile the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (Mohammed).” The law is being applied in an extended sense to any Christians found guilty of making converts, and even to journalists who criticise the ruling party.

…..and in China. In addition to countless priests, religious and faithful, the Bishop of Peking, Msgr. Mathias Pei (aged 82), the Bishop of Hebei, Msgr. Shi Enxiang (aged 79) and at least eight other Catholic bishops remain imprisioned, kidnapped in unknown locations or under house arrest in Communist China.

Contraception damages the uterus. This account is from Human Life International: “During my time of training as a medical Cytology technician at Royal Free Hospital in London, England some 30 years ago, the Family Planning Association conducted an experiment to find out what contraception does to the lining of the uterus of a normal woman.

To this effect they performed a microcurettage of the lining of the womb of a normal woman. The histology slide showed normal epithelium, several layers deep, followed by normal tissue, vascularisation, glands, etc. After having the patient on the contraceptive pill for six weeks they repeated the experiment and took a second microsection. This time there was only one straight line of epithelium with some amorphous tissue under it, no more vascularisation.

We were told that this showed that the lining of the uterus, after sometime on the contraceptive pill, is now much more vulnerable and is prone to all kinds of infection. This we later verified for ourselves on the slides we were seeing under the microscope. Pill users invariably had many bacteria, blood ceils, pus and often cells that showed infectious changes. When these changes became too distinct and some of the cells were showing pre-cancerous or cancerous tendencies, the Specialist Doctor who was the head of the then upcoming Cytology Department, invariably advised the doctor treating the patient to take her off the pill.

I think that this is a very good contra-indication for the use of the pill in general and we should be very careful to qualify the use of oral contraceptives and injections as harmless and morally justifiable, as medically speaking these hormones can be very obnoxious and will adversely affect the health of even the strongest women.”

October 2001

Christianity over in Britain. In an address to the National Conference of Priests in Leeds, UK, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said Christianity had been almost “vanquished” in Britain: “It does seem in our countries in Britain today, especially in England and Wales, that Christianity, as a sort of backdrop to people’s lives and moral decisions—and to the government, the social life of the country—has now almost been vanquished.”

“There is indifference to Christian values and to the Church among many young people and, indeed, not only the young.

The Cardinal went on to say that Britain was now “quite a demoralised society.”

Speaking on the vocations crisis, he said the trouble was not about celibacy but about “a crisis of faith that affects the whole Catholic community. We have to ask ourselves whether it is because we have not yet managed to find exactly where it is that people itch. And they do itch.” They do too, Your Eminence. Those whom you are to have any hope of influencing want a Faith and morality that is uncompromisingly upheld, and it is not the pastors that are giving it to them. Compare this with the Cardinal’s assertion last year that “while being taught the facts of differing sexuality [read: homosexuality] children should not be encouraged to engage in sexual activity,” and “I believe that people with a homosexual orientation are not just to be tolerated, but should have equal rights.” Where do you think the indifference came from?


Anglican baptized a minority in UK.
 According to research done by the University of Sheffield, the number of infants born in England and baptized into the Church of England dropped to 21% in 1999. Fewer than a million people regularly worship in the Church of England, but among the over-50’s in the country some 70% are baptized Anglicans. The findings show that there was almost universal baptism before World War II, with 75% of babies christened in the Church of England in 1933. Since the war, with the exception of 1950, the number of baptisms has declined


Abortion on the cards in Poland.
 The left-wing alliance between the small Labour Union party (UP) and the ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) has made an abortion bill its priority second only to a programme to rescue public finances and European membership talks. The SLD-UP coalition, which won 41% of the vote in recent elections, aims at overturning Poland’s 1997 anti-abortion law which allows abortion only in cases of irreparable damage to the foetus, serious danger to the woman’s health, or when pregnancy results from rape. Illegal abortions carry a prison sentence of up to two years. A vote on aboriton in Parliament could be close since the coalition is 10 seats short of an outright majority and the other parties are generally opposed to abortion. May it stay that way!


Vatican OK’s organ transplants from animals.
 Organ transplants from animals to man are morally acceptable if certain conditions are respected, the Pontifical Academy for Life explained the Church position in a special document. Such transplants could be accepted ethically if experimentation was done on animals first, and only later applied to persons in desperate need. “Despite appeals for donations, which come from different areas and which have resulted in an increase in the number of donors, there is a constant lack of human organs for transplants to patients,” Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy, noted.

Theologian Fr. Maurizio Faggioni OFM, professor of bioethics at the Alfonsiana Academy of Rome, said “The recourse to animals as sources of organs is no more than an instance of the use that man can make of animals.” He warned on “the need to to observe the greatest caution at the moment of introducing uncontrollable genetic modifications that can significantly alter the biodiversity and balance of the species in the animal world.” Indeed. Aren’t we opening a Pandora’s box?

September 2001

Hierarchy against conversions. Msgr. Tauran, a highly placed prelate in the Vatican Secretariat of State, declared whilst on a visit to the Philippines on June 4 that “It would be erroneous of us to consider the faithful of other religions as being someone to convert. He is rather a person that one must understand, leaving to God the task of enlightening his conscience. Religions must not enter into competition against each other, but they must rather be as brothers and sisters walking hand-in-hand so as to construct channels of brotherhood, building up a beautiful world in which it is possible to live and work.” His Lordship could only disapprove of Christ’s final instruction to His Apostles: “Go and preach to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” And Christ wasn’t that interested in making a brave new world either.


…and fond of Judaism.
 Cardinal Kasper whilst in New York said of Judaism: “The Hebrews and the Christians, in their specific respective identity, are intimately united one to the other. The Church that Judaism, in other words the faithful reply of the Hebrew people to the irrevocable alliance of God, is source of salvation for them, inasmuch as God is faithful to his promise.” Sorry, Eminence. You may believe that, but the Church does not. It is Catholic dogma that the alliance of the Old Testament ended with the death of Christ and that a soul is saved only by being united in some way (even if only imperfectly by grace) to the Church Christ founded. Judaism, like any false religion, retards the supernatural work of salvation since its admixture of error with truth weakens the effect the truth might have.

Archbishop Hurley against SA bishops’ condemnation of condoms. In an interview with the Mercury on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of his elevation to archbishop, Archbishop Hurley accepted that there are situations in which the use of condoms could be permitted. Saying he was not an “avid promoter of condoms” the Archbishop nevertheless maintained that their use involved a clash of moral values and, in such cases, one specific moral value should not predominate.

This was in opposition to the position adopted by the SA Bishops’ Conference which decided that condoms were a “misguided” weapon in the battle against HIV/Aids. The bishops said that condoms might even be one of the mains reasons for the spread of HIV/Aids.

In the same interview, Archbishop Hurley said it was “inevitable” that married priests would one day be permitted in the Church, and that it was important to record that the call for ordination of women as priests was growing. No comment required …..

Condoms no protection against AIDS. The US Department of Health and Human Services has recently revealed in a report that condoms offer little protection against AIDS. The report fulfilled a legal requirement that federal agencies provide medically accurate information on the role of condoms in preventing disease. Dr. Tom Coburn, a physician retired from Congress who authorised the law, said that a panel of independant experts concluded that condoms offer “little protection for the vast majority of sexually transmitted diseases.” Anyone got Archbishop Hurley’s phone number?

Archbishop Milingo rejoins the flock. The Vatican has released a letter from 71-year-old Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo in which he declared he was recommitting his life “in the Catholic Church with all my heart, renouncing my living together with Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev Moon and the Family Federation for World Peace.” The Archbishop had taken part in a marriage rite with Maria Sung at a mass wedding conducted by Rev Moon on May 27. Maria Sung herself had begun a hunger strike until allowed to meet Milingo, who convinced her he was not being held in the Vatican against his will.

August 2001

John XXIII’s intact body not a miracle. A considerable stir resulted from the announcement that the body of Pope John XXIII, moved to its new location at the altar of St. Jerome following his beatification, was found to be preserved intact. However, the press agency APIC, repeating the indications of Cardinal Sodano, affirmed that the “conservation of the body of John XXIII is not miraculous.”

“During the night of 3 to 4 June 1963, Doctor Gennaro Goglia, then expert in the treatment of corpses, was called to the Vatican to embalm the body of John XXIII, dead a few hours before. 38 years later, on the 3 June, he was present at the ceremony during which the preserved body of “good Pope John” was exposed. He gave his impressions to several journalists, after having recounted the facts in the June number of the Italian monthly “Famiglia cristiana.”

“For 38 years, this professor of medicine, 78 years old, profoundly Christian, has kept the secret of his work of embalming. Gennaro Goglia admitted to the monthly “Famiglia cristiana” his lack of surprise when the news came out that the body of John XXIII was still intact. Processor Mazzoni, private doctor of the Pope had asked doctor Gennaro Goglia to undertake the work of embalming at the instruction of John XXIII himself. On the day of the death of John XXIII, Gennaro Goglia was at the university and a chauffeur came looking for him to drive him to the body of the deceased. Having need to keep an absolute secrecy in this affair, he warned his family that he would be spending the whole night in his laboratory. He remained in fact at work until 5h00 in the morning, but in the Pope’s bedroom, injecting more than 10 liters of a product of his composition into the body of John XXIII.”

Pope against Bush on death penalty. During a visit to Castelgandoifo on July 23, US President George Bush was upbraided by John Paul II for his support for the death penalty. “A free and virtuous society must reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception antil natural death” the Pope said. God in the Old Testament and the New (the deaths of Ananias and Sepphora) thought otherwise. When one finally falls out of a pink cloud one comes to earth with a very hard bump, Your Holiness …..

SA bishops discuss endorsing condoms. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg has publicly advocated the use of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of Aids. “Responsibility for one’s choices and for one’s actions towards another person has the potential either to protect from or to cause potential death if one is infected with the HIV-virus and chooses to enter into a sexual relationship with that person. In that context, the use of a condom can be seen not as a means to prevent the `transmission of life’ leading to pregnancy [which is forbidden by Church moral teaching], but rather as a means to prevent the `transmission of death’ or potential death to another, “the bishop said.

Commenting on Bishop Dowling’s statements, Cardinal Napier said that they should be seen “as one of the positions [the bishops] will be debating [at their forthcoming plenary session]. It will of necessity have to be weighed up against the backdrop of not only the Church’s traditional teaching, but also current scientific evidence about the quality, effectiveness and actual usability of condoms in situations which pose the greatest risk of infection.” There is no debate, Eminence. Condoms are morally indefensible. Full stop.

The handicapped don’t deserve to live. A French high court confirmed a lower court’s ruling, known as the “Perruche sentence”, that the parents of a handicapped child may sue a doctor who, from a mistaken diagnosis, did not inform them that the child would be born handicapped, thus giving them the option of abortion. Fr. Gino Concetti, writing in I’Osservatore Romano, said that the sentence “explicitly recognises that it is better to die than to be born handicapped. Hitler said exactly the same thing…..

July 2001

Illegal abortions abound in SA. Health workers estimate that up to 80,000 illegal abortions may have been performed in South Africa this year alone. The 2,500 – 3,000 abortions performed each month at hospitals and clinics in the country are overburdening faculties, was the concern of the Department of Health, reported by City Press. Since abortions became legal, nearly 156,000 pregnancies have been ended in state hospitals and clinics. This figure excludes abortions performed at private clinics like Marie Stopes. The figure could top 200,000 by the end of the year.

Of the legal abortions, 80,873-more than half the total-were for girls under the age of 18. This is all going to have a day of reckoning.

Vatican cracks down on liturgical translations. Liturgiam Authenticam, an instruction from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship requires that translators of liturgical texts

– should not adapt the original Latin texts, but render them faithfully in the vernacular language,

-should preserve gender-based references, especially those from Scripture, as opposed to making them gender inclusive,

– should obtain Vatican approval at each step in the process of translation, editing and adaptation of texts.

Informed sources say Liturgiam Authenticam is aimed particularly at the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL), whose policies it clearly contradicts. Specific changes required by the document include the following:

– use of the first person singular in the Nicene Creed, beginning it with “I believe” rather than “We believe”;

– replying to the celebrant’s “The Lord be with you” with “And with your spirit” rather than “And also with you”;

– rendering the term “fathers” with the masculine equivalent in the vernacular when it refers to patriarchs or kings of the Old Testament, or Church Fathers.

Cardinal Napier, commenting on the document, declared its requirement for faithful translations from a Latin original to be unworkable, since too few people have a sufficient knowledge of Latin any more. Our answer: teach the language! The Church worked very well over the last 2000 years with its own lingua franca. And we don’t have these problems in Tradition ….

Belgium legalizes “morning after” pill. As of June 10, the potentially abortive “morning after” pill is available without prescription in Belgium. Belgian health minister, Magda Alvoet, said she had made the decision following a recommendation by the Medication Committee of the Public Health Ministry. “Seeing the growing number of terminations of pregnancies among women of less than 20 years was also taken into account in enacting this emergency solution.”

The “morning after” pill kills an embryo by preventing it from implanting itself in the uterine wall. To consider abortion a problem to be solved by abortion is something that truly defies logic. Whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad, as the saying goes …..

Couples trash stored embryos. 95% of couples who undergo in vitro fertilization in the state of Victoria, Australia, prefer their embryos to be killed after five years in storage (the legal time limit) rather than give them to other childless couples, a IVF clinic director was quoted as saying. “Often they don’t give it a great deal of thought,” Gab Kovacs said of the parents who opt to kill the human embryos. “I find it surprising that people who have been through the pain of infertility aren’t more sympathetic towards others.” How about towards the unborn children?!

At present there are 65,518 embryos in frozen storage across Australia, a threefold increase since 1994. It is Aldous Huxley’s worst nightmare come true.

June 2001

Catholics far from Church’s teaching. A survey conducted earlier this year by Rev. Prof. Leslie Francis of Bangor university showed that a significant majority of Catholic and Anglican youth reject their Church’s teaching on central issues. A questionnaire completed by 15,000 children aged between 13 and 15 revealed that 85% or Catholics dismissed the Church’s teaching against sex outside marriage as wrong. 82% of Anglicans rejected lifelong marriage and believed divorce to be acceptable. Half the young Catholics and 31% of the Anglicans thought abortion was wrong. In comparison with these figures, 49% of Muslims held that sex should be confined to marriage, 42% believe divorce is wrong, and 58% opposed abortion. We have a Church to rebuild from the ground up.

A less-than-prestigious company. Imagine working for a company that has little more than 500 employees and has the following statistics:

29 have been accused of spouse abuse.
7 have been arrested for fraud.
19 have been accused of writing bad cheques.
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least two businesses.
3 have done time for assault.
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit.
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges.
8 have been arrested for shoplifting.
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits.
84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year.

The company? None other than the US Congress, with 535 members, responsible for the laws that govern the lives and well-being of US citizens. Secular democracy does have its fruits…..

Pope visits mosque. During his visit to Greece and Syria, John-Paul paid a ten-minute visit to the Umayyad Great Mosque in Damascus. The May 6 visit was his first time in a mosque, where he was apparently well-received by the dozens of Imams and other Islamic leaders there. “It is my ardent hope that Muslim and Christian religious leaders and teachers will present our two great religious communities as communities in respectful dialogue, never more as communities in conflict.”, the Pope said. A pipe-dream, Your Holiness. For a Muslim to convert to Catholicism is still treason, punishable by death in countries like Sudan, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan. Our Lord was a realist. “I have not come to bring peace upon the earth…..”

Archbishop of Canterbury hurt. In a preface to a report from the House of Lords, George Carey said the Catholic Church’s ban on the two denominations sharing Holy Communion was particularly damaging, calling its attitude “hurtful and unhelpful”. It called for a more “flexible” approach from the Vatican and said sharing the Eucharist should not be reserved for the “end point of unity between separated churches”.

Carey’s preface was in response to a document published three years ago by the Catholic bishops of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, entitled ‘One Bread, One Body’, which caused great offence when it declared Anglican orders to be invalid and Anglican Eucharistic services to lack “the authentic full reality of the Eucharistic mystery.” Doctrine-eroding ecumenism, RIP.

Cardinal Hoyos on the SSPX. During a visit in Germany to members of the Society of St. Peter and of Pro Missa Tridentina, Cardinal Hoyos, the principal mover in the recent negotiations with the SSPX, described the Society bishops as “brothers in the episcopacy.”? He added, however, that they have a small faith since they lack confidence the Church’s Magisterium. He maintained that one cannot call the New Mass bad since the Pope approved it, and so the Society must rethink its position. Freeing the old Mass is impossible due to opposition from bishops, nevertheless he keeps hope of an eventual accord: “if not at Easter then at Pentecost.” It won’t be that easy, Eminence.

May 2001

Holland legalises euthanasia. The Dutch parliament has legalised the practice of active euthanasia, whereby a doctor may positively end the life of a patient at that patient’s request. Although active euthanasia was performed by Dutch doctors (with or without the patients’ consent), the practice was illegal though the doctors concerned were rarely prosecuted.

Americans see value of religion. A recent poll revealed that Americans as a whole feel that religion (the term is left undefined) should have more influence on public life. 69% agreed that religion is “the best way to strengthen moral behavior and family values.” Large majorities of the 1,507 polled linked religion with decreasing greed, materialism and crime, increasing volunteerism and better child-rearing. Nearly three-quarters indicated that “it’s a bad idea for families to raise children without any religion.” But even though Public Agenda President Deborah Wadsworth claimed that these results show that Americans “believe religion has enormous power to elevate people’s behavior and address many social problems”, it must be kept in mind that this applies to religion as a moral force only, not as a revealed truth. And to reject Truth is to reject religion, for it is the Truth that sets you free.

Global shift in Church demography. The new Vatican yearbook, released in April, shows Church membership shifting increasingly towards the Americas, Africa and Asia, and away from Europe.

The Church is increasing at about the same rate as the world population growth, with 1 038 000 000 Catholics worldwide, about 17,4% of the global population. But 25 years ago more than 37% of Catholics lived in Europe, as opposed to 27% today. The Catholic population in Europe has in fact dropped by 6 000 000 over the past five years, but the percentage of bishops-a third of the world total-remains the same. 54% of Cardinals are European, as are 52% of the world’s priests, although these percentages are dropping steadily.

The number of Catholics in North and South America now stands at just under 50% of the world total. The greatest increase percentagewise has been in Africa, containing 12% of the world’s Catholics compared to 6% 25 years ago.

Vocations have been up worldwide. In Africa there has been a 300% increase in seminarians since 25 years ago, with a 125% increase in Asia and a 75% increase in the Americas. In Europe the overall increase was 6%, and vocations have dropped in the last few years. The birthplace of postconciliarism has not thrived.

Pope warns Church in Germany. In a personal letter to Germany’s 9 cardinals, dated February 22, John Paul II asked for prompt action to curb improper developments within the Church in Germany. “We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that more and more people are abandoning the active practice of the faith, or accepting only a portion of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church,” the Pope wrote. The process of secularisation threatens the inner life of the Church, he continued, so that Catholicism “may appear strong on the outside, but has no inner vitality, and has lost credibility in the process.”

In proposing remedies, he focussed on priestly formation and the teaching of Catholic theologians, which must be “firmly rooted in the faith”, and not give in to “the spirit of the age, or resignation.” On family life he focussed on adherence to Catholic teaching found in Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio and the reception of Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics. He opposed excessive participation of the laity in functions specifically reserved for the ordained ministry, something he said must be rectified “because a renewal of hope for the Church is impossible without a renewal of the priestly ministry and consecrated life.” Archbishop Lefebvre said exactly the same thing since 1970, when he founded the SSPX. Your Holiness, look to where your true friends are…..

April 2001

UN becoming a world government. In September a new parliamentary body of “civil society” members will meet on the occasion of the convening of the UN People’s Millennium Assembly. The aim of the Assembly is to create a world parliament. Dr. Andrew Strauss, involved in working out the structure of the parliamentary body said in an interview, “…..we could think of this meeting symbolically, where civil society has been officially called in to have this meeting at the UN, as the end of the “old paradigm.” And what is the old paradigm of sovereignty? It says “Citizens, if they are going to be represented at the international level, are going to be represented through their states”…..I think perhaps if the very meaning is about anything it is about the end of that order; that citizens want to be directly represented at the international order; that the old idea of sovereignty of politics for citizens within or between states is over.”

The new parliament will start as an advisory body, but its ultimate goal is to become a global lawmaking body. This follows on a report by the UN Commission on Global Governance in 1995 which ecommended, amongst other things, the following:

  • A system of global taxation;
  • A standing UN army;
  • A Court of Criminal Justice;
  • Expanded authority for the Secretary General;
  • An Economic Security Council;
  • An end to the veto power of permanent Security Council members.

Although the report eschewed the term ‘world government’, this is clearly what it intends. Mr. 666, your stage is nearly set…..

Abortions outnumber births in Russia. According to data published by the World Health Organisation, in 2000 there were 1,696 abortions for every 1,000 births, compared to 1,971 abortions for every 1,000 births in 1990. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe abortions continue to be proportionally higher than in the West. Hungary has seen in increase, from 544 abortions per 1,000 births in 1980 to 697 per 1,000 births in 1999. Russia and central eastern Europe, with a tenth of the world’s population, account for a third of all abortions worldwide. Only Poland has reversed this trend.

New York rabbi praises Pius XIII. New York Rabbi David Dalin has proposed that Pius XII be proclaimed ‘Righteous among the Nations’, the highest award given by the State of Israel to persons who were outstanding in assisting persecuted Jews during World War II. “Any fair and thorough reading of the evidence demonstrates that Pius XII was a persistent critic of Nazism. Consider just a few highlights of his opposition before the war. Of the 44 speeches Pacelli gave in Germany as Papal Nuncio between 1917 and 1929, 40 denounced some aspect of the emerging Nazi ideology. In March 1935, he wrote an open letter to the Bishop of Cologne, calling the Nazis ‘false prophets with the pride of Lucifer.’ That same year, he assailed ideologies ‘possessed by the superstition of race and blood’ to an enormous crowd of pilgrims at Lourdes.” Has anyone told Cornwell?

Freedom of speech for Christians. Pennsylvania State University Professor David Warren Saxe recently won a lawsuit against the State College Area School District. The District had upheld a policy forbidding criticism of homosexuality or homosexuals, protecting them from “unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct which offends, denigrates or belittles an individual.” In a 3-0 ruling on February 14, an appeals court said that the anti-harassement policy was over-broad and violated the free speech right of Christians, endorsing Saxe who said in his lawsuit, “[Christians] believe, and their religion teaches, that homosexuality is a sin. Plaintiffs further believe that they have a right to speak out about the sinful nature and harmful effects of homosexuality. Plaintiffs also feel compelled by their religion to speak out on other topics, especially moral issues.” Good news for once!

 

March 2001

The despair of rap. Sr. Mary Rose McGeady, a Daughter of Charity and head of the Covenant House youth shelter in New York, has said that lyrics by popular rap star Eminem and others are an example of the cultural forces that are giving young people a sense of hopelessness.

She joined a group of young people watching TV at the youth shelter. “The next 20 minutes are like an endless stream of horror and nightmare.” Singling out Eminem, who rapped lyrics such as one imaging “the joy” of murdering “wives, nuns, sluts-whoever”, she described the rap message as a “dark philosophy of recklessness, hopelessness and nothingness.”

“Somewhere along the line, we have lost something as a culture. Somehow in these times we’ve forgotten that there are limits to what kind of language and behaviour are acceptable in a civil society, and what kind of responsibility our role models have to those who are younger and more impressionable.” Very true Sister, but have you removed that TV set?

TV immorality a deluge. A new US study, commissioned by the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation and released in February, found that sexual behaviour on TV has increased from 56% in the 1997-8 season to 68% in the 1999-2000 season. The study looked at a week’s worth of viewing on 13 major channels and cable channels. 938 programmes, excluding news broadcasts and children’s programmes, and which were shown between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm, plus another 265 prime time shows. Movies, sitcoms and dramas had sexual content each in at least 80% of their shows. “This study confirms that sexual messages are an increasingly frequent part of the television landscape.” It added that only 25% of the shows containing sexual content made any mention of the risks and responsibilities (never mind the morality) of sexual activity. Is the message clear?

Media: what is truth? In his annual message for World Communications Day the Pope painted an unusually sombre picture of the media: “The world of the media can sometimes seem indifferent and even hostile to Christian faith and morality. This is because media culture is so deeply imbued with a typically post-modern sense that the only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths or that, if there were, they would be inaccessible to human reason and therefore irrelevant.” All too true, but then the Pope takes an optimistic note: “As much as the world of the media may at times seem at odds with the Christian message, it also offers unique opportunities for proclaiming the saving truth of Christ to the whole human family.” Malcolm Muggeridge, arguably the most experienced Catholic journalist of the 20th century, describing a fellow journalist, pictured him “in his dressing gown, like some old hermit looking after a shrine; in his case, dedicated to News Everlasting. – “In the beginning was the News, and the news became words, and dwelt among us, graceless and full of lies.”” He should know.

Küng at it again. Hans Küng, former Catholic theologian whose licence to teach theology was withdrawn by the Church a number of years ago, has proposed term limits or a mandatory retirement age for popes. “A limit determined by age for the head of the Catholic Church, or a reduction of the pontifical mandate to six, eight or twelve years, is a matter of human rights”, he told a Swiss radio station, adding that he found it “unbearable”? that the current Pope was “not fully present from a psychic or physical point of view.”? The time will come when the papacy will finally see who its true supporters are.

The Pill linked to cancer. The National Toxicology Program advisory committee of the US voted 8-1 that steroidal estrogen, used in birth control pills, should be placed on the list of cancer-causing substances. Steroidal estrogen is definitely linked with endometrial cancer and, to a lesser extent, breast cancer, the committee found. God, truly, is not mocked.

 

February 2001

Muslim converts face death. Mullah Mohammed Omar, head of the extremist Taliban movement that took power in Afghanistan four years ago, has announced the death sentence for any Muslim Afghan that converts to Christianity or Judaism. Warning that outside forces were trying to seduce Muslims to convert to these faiths through money and other inducements, he went on, “Therefore, all countrymen are seriously notified that any Muslim Afghan will be sentenced to death if he accepts Christianity and has converted to this nullified religion or is seen inviting people to Christianity and Judaism as well as propagating and distributing their books.” He added that anyone caught selling material insulting Islam or promoting another religion would face five years in prison. In 1400 years nothing has changed.

Understanding Islam. According to the Southern Cross (Feb. 4, 2001), “Pope John Paul has hailed ongoing cultural and religious dialogue with Muslim countries, saying it would lessen misunderstandings and help protect the religious rights of minority Christians.”? Charles Martel, the Crusaders and Pope St. Pius V had no misunderstandings vis-à-vis Islam, Your Holiness. History is a teacher…..

Churches in Rome to charge entrance fees. The Pantheon, the basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Church of St. Peter in Chains – owned by the Italian state – are to be handed over for management by private companies, who intend to set up bookstores and ticket booths. This has been opposed by the diocese of Rome, who has filed an appeal with the regional court to have the transfer of management blocked. Marco Fibbi, Rome’s diocesan press officer, said that just because the state owns a church and contributes to its upkeep, “it does not mean that the state has the automatic right to choose a certain company to provide certain services.” He added that according to the 1984 update of the 1929 Lateran Treaty, even when the the Italian state owns a church building, Church authorities still have the final say on what takes place there. In this case the diocese was not consulted or even informed, but only the priests who run the churches. At St. Peter in Chains the three priests were ordered by the state in November to shut down their bookstore because a publishing house was taking over. The fruits of laicisation are not sweet.

New Cardinal for SA. Archbishop Wilfrid Napier of Durban is among the 42 new cardinals nominated by Pope John Paul II, to receive the hat on February 28. This will bring up to 128 the number of cardinals below 80 and hence eligible to vote for a new pope. Looking at some of the other names on the list, it is fairly clear there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of anything like a traditional pope being chosen in the next conclave. The crisis still has a long way to run.

UN demographers alarmed at declining population. More than a dozen noted demographers meeting at the UN headquarters last October expressed alarm at the rapid decline in population growth in many countries. Antonio Golini of the University of Rome said his country has become the oldest in the world with the “highest proportion of population aged sixty-five and older and the lowest proportion of people under fifteen. He and others believe Italy’s population will fall from 57,3 million to “a number ranging between 36,8 million and 46,8 million in 2050.” The demographic shift will put increasing pressure on the workforce in terms of medical assistance and pension schemes, and there will be fewer workers to perform necessary tasks.
No effective solutions were put forward by the demographers. All recommended that states encourage childbirth, but most suggested that this would be ineffectual. Immigration would cause severe social dislocation and create greater problems than it would solve. And still the UN (UNICEF in particular) promotes contraception and abortion!

 

January 2001

China blows up churches. Chinese authorities in Wenzhou have torn down or blown up more than 200 illegal churches and temples, and a further 239 small places of worship in the east coast city, of which many belong to the underground Catholic Church. “In the past week I have received several reports from China that bishops and priests have been detained by police, and I am now trying to authenticate them,” said Joseph Kung, head of the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, which monitors the underground Church in China. “Probably this is the beginning of the crackdown for the Christmas season. All the important feast days, they always crack down.” Many of these underground churches were not proper church buildings, but private homes where the millions of Catholics and other Christians unwilling to worship in the ‘official’ churches gathered in secret. Pray for them.

Hindu persecution of Catholics. Early last October two recently-constructed Catholic churches in India were destroyed by Hindu fundamentalists. This was followed later in the month by a brutal attack on Fr. Lameswar Kanhar of the parish church in the village of Beticola. The priest and his cook were assaulted by Hindus and left for dead. Archbishop Cheenath of Cuttack Bubhaneswar described the attack as “preplanned and well-organised.”

In the same month Cardinal Francis Arinze gave message to the Hindus in the world in which he said, “The Catholic Church places special emphasis on the deepening of friendly ties between Christians and people of other religious traditions.” He expressed the wish that Hindus and Christians could work together for the welfare of mankind, becoming “examples of harmony and peace for many others, in India and elsewhere.” A pipe dream, your Eminence.

Vatican reaffirms family. Family, Marriage and De Facto Unions, issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family, reaffirms the need for families built on marriage ties as opposed to other forms of cohabitation. “It does not seem reasonable to hold that the vital functions of family communities, whose nucleus is the stable and monogamous institution of marriage, can be carried out in a large-scale, stable and permanent way by merely emotional forms of cohabitation.” Insisting that “the family is a necessary and indispensable good for the whole of society” the document goes on remind lawmakers, especially Catholics, of their “grave responsibility” to oppose efforts to give so-called same-sex unions juridical recognition. Now tell that to a few bishops.

Trefoil blasts Dominus Jesus. In the southern African Catholic Quarterly Magazine Trefoil, Brian Gaybba – professor of Theology at Rhodes University – criticizes the traditional theology on the unique nature of the Catholic Church, laid out in the Vatican document Dominus Jesus. Speaking on the document’s affirmation that other religions are “deficient” and suffering from “error”, he says, “This can give the impression that the teachings of the Catholic Church are in no way ‘deficient’ or suffering from ‘error’… Deficiencies, errors, even enormous human injustices litter our history, all in the name of our ‘faith’[any examples?]. Even ‘infallible’ expressions of our faith can be ‘deficient’ and contain ‘errors’ [and hence are not infallible, he means] that will need purifying.”

Commenting on the documents affirmation that only the Catholic Church can be properly-speaking called a Church, he said that Vatican II’s definition of a church referred to a religious community having ‘valid orders’ and therefore a ‘valid eucharist’.”….. Catholic theology today has the recourses for arguing in favour of the validity of Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, etc., ordinations and therefore their Eucharists — and therefore their  theological status as ‘Church’ and not just ‘ecclesial community’. [!] This theological work has simply been ignored by the ‘Note’ [attached to the document] (and by Dominus lesus )”Glad to hear it. Trefoil, it is really time to stop calling yourself Catholic …..

 

December 2000

Tradition in the Ukraine. In a recent visit to the Ukraine, Fr. Schmidberger of the SSPX met with a group of 7 priests of the Greek Catholic Rite who have founded a new congregation to conserve their Traditions. They have been joined by 9 seminarians, 7 nuns and 3 postulants. 6 of the 7 priests are at present still in their parishes, caring for hundreds of souls, but opposition from the hierarchy should not be long in coming. Pray that this new enclave of Tradition may survive and flourish. As one of the priests told Fr. Schmidberger, “The priests in this country are divided into two camps: the persecuted and the persecutors.” No comment.

Asian bishop celebrates Mass at Ecône. His Lordship Bishop Manat, from Thailand, celebrated Solemn High Mass before the Asian pilgrims (from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Korea, China and Vietnam) at Ecône’s seminary chapel on August 16th.  Deo gratias!

Concubinage a poor second. According to a report published in the UK last August by the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, couples who cohabit without getting married are more abusive, more unfaithful and more unhealthy than married couples. Following research done in 19 countries, cohabitants suffer more from stress and are more likely to be depressed than married people. They also behave more like single people: Only 43% of cohabiting British men claimed to be faithful to their partners, compared to almost 90% of married men. Patricia Morgan, author of the report, affirmed that most people want to marry but lack confidence. “The consistent return from opinion samples shows that around 90% of young people want to marry and most want children. But [there] is mounting pessimism about the chance of attaining this.”

First Anglican priest(ess). The Rev. Peter Stone, 46, parish priest of Swindon, south-west England, and twice-divorced with one daughter, announced his decision to have a sex-change operation this month, changing his name to Carol Stone. He has had the full blessing of his local bishop. Following the operation he resumes parish duties on December 3. Comment: it is time the body of the ecumenical movement was given a decent burial!

Islam pushed in Malawian schools. A reform, supported by Malawian Muslims, would have abolished Bible Knowledge as a school subject and replaced it with Religious and Moral Education, which includes teaching the Koran and traditional African religions. The reform appears to be part of a process of “Islamisation” of Malawi. Last December, the Muslim Eid feast was made a national holiday, and recently the school calendar was adapted to Muslim culture. Pressure from donor countries, notably Libya and Saudi Arabia, appears to be behind this process.

After protests by Christian denominations, President Bakili Muluzi withdrew the reform and set up a National Consultative Committee composed of the ministry of education and the major religious groups concerned: Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and African traditional, to discuss the issue. Out of a population of about 10 million, 27.6% are Catholic, 33.7% Protestant, 16% Muslim and 23.7% Animist.

UK Catholics convert to Islam and Judaism. A high proportion of the 1,500-2,500 converts to Islam each year in the UK are Catholics. Dr. Ahmed Andrews, lecturer in the sociology of religion at Derby university and a convert from Catholicism to Islam said: “There are between 5,000 and 10,000 white Muslim converts in this country, and most of the ones I know are former Catholics.” Judaism is another beneficiary. According to Rabbi Romain, of the 300 – 400 converts to Judaism every year, about a fifth are Catholics. Comment: could these ex-Catholics be looking for a religion in which there are still clearly laid-down beliefs and moral guidelines?

 

November 2000

Pope uncomfortable with Dominos Jesus. Following the general criticism of the Vatican document Dominos Jesus, the Pope has reaffirmed his commitment to ecumenical dialogue. The Pope met with representatives of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches after it expressed concern at the document which affirmed that the “Church of Christ….continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church”, adding that churches without a Catholic recognized Eucharist and ordained clergy were not “properly speaking churches.” Setri Nyomi, secretary-general of the Alliance council, in a letter to Cardinal Cassidy, interpreted the document “as part of a sustained effort by Catholic conservatives to deny the growing relationship and respect between and among the different ecclesial communities.” The alliance had considered canceling further dialogue with the Catholic Church “until we are sure of where we stand in our relationship.”

The Pope greeted the alliance representatives as “dear friends” and said that dialogue with it “has already led to significant results.” In another address to the 13th annual “People and Religion” encounter, which brought together representatives of 10 religions including Christians, Muslims and Jews, the Pope said, “At the beginning of the new millennium we should not slow our steps (in interreligious dialogue). If anything, we should promote acceleration along this promising path.”

Comment: ecumenism has been puttering to a halt over the last few years and any “acceleration” will be achieved only by real, doctrinal concessions made by the Catholic Church, concessions which Dominos Jesus rules out. The Pope will be unable to have his cake and eat it.

St. Luke’s relics given to Greek Orthodoxy. Following a request from the Greek Orthodox Church in Thebes, central Greece, the Church agreed to transfer the remains of the Evangelist St. Luke from their resting place in Italy to his birthplace in Thebes. One can only imagine the Evangelist turning in his grave for being turned out of it in this way.

Ecumenism really is going nowhere. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II cited two main reasons impeding fully-mended Catholic-Orthodox relations. These were Catholic “persecution” and proselytizing of Orthodox. In an interview with the Italian paper Corriere della Sera, the Patriarch appealed for an end to the “persecution of Orthodox Christians by Greek Catholics in western Ukraine and the work of proselytism carried out by Catholic Church structures among the traditionally Orthodox population of the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.” Fr. Sergio Mercanzin, director of the Rome-based Russian ecumenical centre criticized Alexei II’s remarks. “It seems that there is almost more respect and friendship for Islam, while when the patriarch speaks about Catholics, he mentions only these two sins.” Anyone surprised?

Genuflections further reduced in New Mass. The new General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which replaces the general instruction of 1975, has, amongst other provisions, reduced the number of genuflections in the New Mass. In the 1975 Instruction, it had been stated: “Three genuflections are made during mass; after the showing of the eucharistic bread, after the showing of the chalice, and before communion. If there is a tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament in the sanctuary, a genuflection is made before and after mass and whenever anyone passes in front of the Blessed Sacrament.” This has been amended by the following rule: “If the eucharist is reserved in the sanctuary, the priest and all ministers involved in the celebration genuflect toward it only at the beginning and end of mass, never during the celebration. Cross and candle bearers bow their heads instead of genuflecting at those times.”

Comment: Any conservative Catholics who wish to show reverence towards the Real Presence during massare now out of order. The decay in the Church is not standing still….

 

August-September 2000

Remarried divorcees may not receive Communion. In a declaration signed by Archbishop Julian Herrana, President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, and Bishop Bruno Bertagna, its secretary, it was affirmed that Catholics who have civilly remarried after divorce remain barred from receiving Communion. The only exceptions to this ban are couples who separate or who abstain from sexual relations. Those “living in full continence, that is, abstaining from the acts proper to spouses”, “will be able to receive eucharistic communion only remoto scandalo,” that is, if scandal is avoided. The document added that scandal must not be limited simply to conduct that shocks people, given in present circumstances “that scandal exists even if such behaviour, unfortunately, no longer arouses surprise.” “In fact it is precisely with respect to the deformation of the conscience that it becomes more necessary for pastors to act with as much patience as firmness” to protect the sanctity of the sacraments, defend Christian morality and educate the faithful. Priests should endeavour to explain to such couples why they could not receive Communion, but if, despite this, they approached the altar “the minister of communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly unworthy.”

Aids rampant in Zimbabwe. According to the Southern Cross, one quarter of the population of Zimbabwe will contract Aids in the near future. In Harare the figure is one third, at Beit Bridge it is 60%. Each week, at least 1,200 Zimbabweans die of the disease, and life expectancy has plummeted from 59 to 41 years. Antiretroviral drugs like AZT significantly reduce mortality rates, but are too expensive for the vast majority of sufferers in a third-world country like Zimbabwe. Aids patients get little or no treatment in state hospitals as there is little money made available for them: last year defence spending totalled R1,7 billion, 50% more than the entire health budget. A handful of aid agencies and religious orders do what they can. Many who contract Aids do through no fault of their own, eg wives of promiscuous husbands and children from infected parents.

According to a report published by the UN in June, Aids has resulted in 19 million death so far, and has infected a further 34 million. Sub-sahara Africa is the worst-affected region, and it is expected that the disease will extend to half the teenage population in some African countries.

Bishop urges use of contraceptives. Patrick Dunn, Catholic Bishop of Auckland, has said that young people who are determined to have casual sex should “contracept themselves to the eyebrows”. His first advice to such youngsters was “don’t do it, but if they went ahead, they should protect themselves by taking “all the precautions”. “I am not advocating anything,” he said, “but if that is the way people want to behave, certainly be careful. We are not just talking about physical risks, we are also talking about broken hearts.” Comment: if a bishop advocates stopgap measures that are morally indefensible then he will only succeed in making the problem worse. And where, in all this, does the salvation of souls feature?

St. Peter`s at the divide. In a letter by Cardinal Hoyos, new superior of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, which was read at the General Chapter of the Society of St. Peter last July, the following was decided:

– replacement of Fr. Bisig as Superior General by Fr. Devillers. The latter favours an occasional biritualism by priests of the Society, in order work more easily in dioceses;

– replacement of superiors of the Society’s seminaries of Wigratzbad and in the US. The former superiors are considered intransigent as regards the celebration of the New Mass;

– a reaffirmation that priests of St. Peter’s Society have the right to celebrate the New Mass when they wish, and an encouragement to at least its yearly concelebration in the Chrismal Mass;

– a reminder that the New Mass must not be considered as having less value than the old.

The decisions represent an attempt to mix oil and water, but risk leading to the break up of St. Peter’s. Compromising the Faith doesn’t work …..

 

July 2000

Future Archbishop of Westminister supports `gay sex’ education. The British Government’s plans to repeal Clause 28, which prohibits schools from promoting homosexuality, has received support from Bishop Corman Murphy-O’Connor, Catholic Archbishop-to-be of Westminister. In opposition to Cardinal Thomas Winning, who had described homosexual practice as `perverted’, Bishop Murphy-O’Connor has made it clear that he is far more accommodating. “I am neither for nor against Section 28,” he says. “The principle and primacy of marriage and family life should be taught to children in schools. And, while being taught the facts of differing sexuality, children should not be encouraged to engage in sexual activity.”

“I believe people with a homosexual orientation are not just to be tolerated, but should have equal rights. But I also believe homosexual activity is wrong. The norm is a heterosexual relationship in a lifelong union of marriage.” Comment: to teach homsexuatity to children without clearly telling them it is wrong, at the same time giving it positive rights, will make it morally acceptable in the minds of many of those children. Our Lord’s attitude to those who do this is not accommodating: they would be better off having millstones tied around their necks and being cast into the sea.

Violence at Mass. Fr. de Merode, a Society priest who visits Albania, was violently attacked whilst celebrating Mass on Easter Sunday. On the previous day, three conciliar priests came to the principal place of his apostotate to celebrate the Easter Mass. The following day, three men, more or less fired up by the clergy, entered the Church where Fr. de Merode was celebrating Mass and began to drive out the faithful, following which they attacked Fr. de Merode himself at the altar. It was only with difficulty that he was able to escape, taking the chalice and Host with him. Question: in this incident who would qualify for the epithet ‘extremist religious fanatics’?

Women’s rights in St. Peter’s Society. A woman theologian has been recently appointed to teach the seminarians at Wigratzbad, the seminary of the St. Peter’s Society, which was founded by priests who left the Society of St. Plus X after the 1988 episcopal consecrations. It is one more stone out of the crumbling edifice of what is supposed to be a traditional refuge within conciliardom. Where the Faith is concerned, compromises never work.

Earth Charter at UN. The `Earth Charter’, described by its framers as a “new Ten Commandments”, is gathering support from leftwing NGO’s and parliamentarians round the world prior to its being submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2001. A project of, among others, Mikhail Gorbachev and Steven Rockefeller, it is designed, according to Alexander Likhotal, who works for Gorbachev, to be “a vehicle for changing the mentality of generations to come.” Concerned chiefly with environmental matters, the charter includes clauses that would have a profound effect on human societies:

“11. b. Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision makers, leaders, and beneficiaries.”

“12. a. Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social origin.”

On the surface it looks good, but the consequences will be–in fact already are–disastrous.

Italians consult astrologers. Each year 12 million Italians consult Astrologers. 40% have a high school education, 30% have university degrees. According to Bishop Ennio Antonelli, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Occultism makes $750 million annually in Italy whilst the Catholic Church receives $500 million. Second Pentecost, where art thou?

 

June 2000

Miracle attributed to Padre Pio. A six-year old child fell violently ill whilst at school, and was rushed to an emergency room where he was diagnosed with acute meningitis. He was then transferred to the hospital built by Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotundo. Doctors told the hospital staff and Capuchins at the shrine that only 5 out of 1000 people struck with this form of the disease survived. The child’s parents went to Padre Pio’s tomb each evening to pray for his cure, and were joined by visitors once the news spread. The boy recovered completely. The case is being studied by Church authorities and doctors. If there is a strong possibility of a miracle it will be submitted to the Vatican Congregation for sainthood causes. A panel of doctors must attest that there is no natural explanation for the healing and that it was spontaneous, complete and lasting. Following this, a group of theologians will study the link between the cure and the intercessory prayers. If it passes this test it will become one of two miracles required for the canonization of Blessed Padre Pio.

Vatican condemns gay right vote. The European Parliament, in a 251-169 vote, has recommended to its member states that couples who live together, whether heterosexual or homosexual, have the same legal status as married couples. This was strongly criticized by the Vatican, which in a statement from the Pontifical Council for the Family, “This resolution represents a serious and repeated attack against the family, which is founded on marriage.” Try telling that to certain bishops…..

Bishops support gay law. A plan by the New Zealand government to grant same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples has had the backing the bishops of that country. In a report to the ministry of justice they said they would support the granting of legal rights, including tax allowances, legal aid and property entitlements, like married couples. The bishops opposed adoption of children by same-sex couples and access to “reproductive technology” to enable them to have children. However to support the legalization of something is to endorse it, which will make it very difficult for the bishops to morally oppose homosexual and lesbian `families’. And he who scandalizes one of these little ones…..

Shroud being re-examined. An international congress, including 40 scientists, met at Turin in March to re-evaluate the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. In four working sessions were discussed:

  1. a) the nature and formation of the image on the cloth;
  2. b) the physical and chemical characteristics of the bloodstains, including their DNA;
  3. c) the relationship between the Shroud, the Gospels and the suffering of the Crucifixion; and
  4. d) the dating of the Shroud. All another way of saying it’s authentic.

Persecution in China continues. Dozens of priests belonging to the underground Church in China have been arrested by the Chinese police over the last few months. At least 6 bishops have `disappeared’ for refusing to accept the authority of the government-controlled Patriotic Association, the `official’ Catholic Church in China. In October Bishop Xie Shiguang, 85, of Mindong, was “called in for a chat” with government officials and has not been seen since. Hebei Bishop John Han Dingxiang, 63, was arrested at the end of November whilst giving a retreat, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Children of underground Catholic families are being banned from schools and churches are being destroyed. According to Church officials in Hong Kong, the government’s objective is, by intimidation, to absorb the underground Church into the Patriotic Association or destroy it altogether. Meanwhile the USA is preparing a resolution to condemn China at a human rights meeting in Geneva. The European Union is expected to second the resolution. Now that is a surprise. Pray for those poor Chinese Catholics.

 

May 2000

Bishop Lazo has passed away.
Bishop Lazo, the first postconciliar bishop to return to Tradition, passed awayat 4:00 am on April 11. His Requiem Mass was celebrated by Bishop Fellay at the Society church of Our Lady of Victories at Manila, Philippines. Bishop Lazo returned to the Tridentine Mass after reading literature on the crisis in the Church given to him in 1994. Requiescat in pace.

Archbishop promotes blood sacrifices. Writing in The Southern Cross, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Bloemfontein expressed his support for the incorporation of traditions! African blood sacrifices into the liturgy. “It is obvious that we need to look at sacrifice within the context of inculturation” he wrote. “Even among practising Christians the ritual of slaughtering a sacrificial animal is a common family occurrence, for example, after the celebration of a baptism, marriage or funeral.”

Comment:– in recently evangelized regions, pagan practices take time to die out. Even St. Augustine had to forbid his mother, St. Monica, to pour libations on the tomb of his father.

“Ancestors are the basis of family ties. They are evidence of the continuation of life after death. They are also believed to be the basis of the morality of the community.”

Comment: here is a quote from Fr. Albert Schweiger, addressing the Missionary Conference at Mariannhill in 1914; “They [the Africans] are animists, and their religion, which is eminently a family affair, is nothing more or less but ‘spirit control’. To intensify their belief in the immortality of the soul, but to let religion still remain chiefly a family affair, yet extend it to the community, the larger family, and free it from superstition is the great task before us.”

“Thus I have arrived at the crux of African Christianity, which is superstition. How are we going to deal with an inveterate conviction that lies at the bottom of almost all problems of Bantu life, even among our Bantu Christians? It controls the life of the human person from birth to death, and determines its course — tragically at times.  It depresses the soul with its eternal fear, and destroys all too often the body; it leads to suspicion and hatred, nay, to mutilation and murder, which to the Bantu is a service which is right and just if the welfare of the tribe demands it; it is the code that directs their morality and which has in many cases not been rejected with the acceptance of the Christian faith.” Would an acceptance by the Church of practices that spring from such a ‘spirituality’ have strengthened the Faith in Black Catholics?

 

The Devil’s Door

Traditionally the prayer of exorcism is prayed while the sacrament of Baptism is given. For this reason fonts were always placed opposite the north door of a church, which would be left ajar during the exorcism prayer in order to let the Devil escape – hence the “Devil’s Door”. (from ‘Catholic Trivia’)

 

April 2000

Ecumenical Directory destroys uniqueness of Catholicism. The revised and final Ecumenical Directory, issued by the bishops of southern Africa, has, among others, the following provisions:

– reciprocal representation by churches on each other’s pastoral structures, e.g. parish councils, e.g. by staring retreats and conferences;

– contact and co-operation between Catholic religious Orders and similar bodies in Protestant churches;

– no proselytising by Catholics of Protestants, such missionary activity being deemed ‘unworthy'(!)

by the Directory;

– sharing in spiritual activities, e.g. Sunday services, Bible study groups, shared retreats. Under this provision, Catholics may be buried with Protestant rites, and Protestants with Catholic rites.

In the sharing of the Sacraments, certain limitations are imposed. According to the Directory, “the general rule….is….that abstinence from shared sacramental worship is the normal state of affairs but circumstances can exist in which such a sharing becomes not only permissible but commendable.” Sharing the Sacraments, e.g. distributing Holy Communion to non-catholics, is permitted

  1. a) in danger of death, and
  2. b) in any ‘pressing spiritual need”. Examples of this latter: a non-catholic spouse in a mixed marriage receiving Communion when attending Mass with his/her spouse; a non-catholic receiving Communion “when attending a eucharistic celebration for a special feast or event”; non-catholics receiving the Sacrament of the Sick and Penance at their request and in the absence of their own minister.

Comment: whatever the intentions of the framers of this Directory, its effect is clear: Catholics will cease to believe that their Church is the unique  institution founded by Christ, whose teachings and  sacraments-different from those of any other denomination-are faithfully transmitted from Christ  Himself. There is a dirty word for it——apostasy.

Chickens coming home to roost. A year-old campaign by a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to downgrade the Vatican from its  status of Permanent Observer in the UN to NGO  has now attracted the support of 400 NGOs. The campaign, headed by Catholics (!) For a Free Choice (CFFC), a NGO dedicated to overturning the Church’s teaching on contraception and abortion, will ask UN Secretary, Kofi Annan, to “review” the status of the Holy See. The coalition complains that the Holy See uses its UN status to block the advancement of women’s rights, specifically abortion. Question. If Vatican II had never  taken place, would a creature like the CFFC exist today?

Suicide in one easy lesson. A video demonstrating methods of successfully committing suicide was aired on a US public access cable station  last February. The video, called “Final Exit was produced by Derek Humphrey, founder of the pro-euthanasia Hemlock Society and author of a suicide book that has sold more than 1,000,000 copies in 12 languages. Meanwhile, a do-it-yourself  guide to suicide on an anonymous Dutch-language Web-site has sparked controversy. Step-by-step instructions guide the reader through wrist-slashing, sleeping pills, jumping off buildings and the “reasonably painless  death of carbon monoxide poisoning.” In S.A. the Euthanasia Bill has already been presented to Parliament. Malcolm Muggeridge spoke of “the great liberal death wish.” Now it is literal.

Pope apologises—again. On March 12, the Pope made a sweeping apology for the past sins of the Church, divided into seven categories: general sins, sins in the service of truth, sins against Christian unity, against Jews, against respect for love, peace and cultures, against the dignity of women and minorities and against human rights. One can subject such an open-ended list to any number of interpretations: e.g. is converting Protestants to the Faith a “sin against Christian unity”? Probably.

 

March 2000

.Persecution in Sudan. A drawn-out civil war in southern Sudan, where rebel groups seek more autonomy for the largely Christian and animist population from the Islamic government, has resulted in more than 2 million deaths from fighting and famine. “The worst thing is the bombing of poor, innocent civilians for many years, and nobody is doing anything about it”, said Bishop Paride Taban of Torit. The bishop, speaking in New York, said that the government militia took people, including many children, to concentration camps, where they were indoctrinated in Islam. “They can be sold anywhere,” he said, referring to the enslavement of the Christians. This kind of persecution, on a par with anything in the Roman Empire, passes almost unnoticed by the international media. Anyone surprised?

China steps up persecution. Bishop Hen of the Chinese underground Catholic Church that professes loyalty to the papacy, has been arrested. He has already spent about 20 years in jail in the past. Other priests of the underground Catholic Church have been arrested. Their whereabouts are unknown. Two churches in eastern China were blown up and demolished in mid December. Many underground Catholic faithful are being forced to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, a State-run organisation that elects its own bishops and rejects papal authority. Those who refuse to join risk having their families harassed, or being arrested themselves. Pray for these poor Catholics.

Italian court orders an abortion. A pregnant 13-year old mentally-handicapped girl has received an order from an Italian court to have an abortion. The court-appointed guardian and family doctor, lgnazio Ruffino, recommended that ‘Laura” have an abortion, despite her willingness to have the child. He said that pregnancy would ‘seriously compromise her psychic condition.” Big Brother is not just watching any more.

Masonic priest liven Church funeral. Fr. Desbrosse, a French priest who for many years was a Freemason; was given a Requiem Mass on December 4 at the Cathedral of Autun by the bishop. In 1980 Fr. Desbrosse joined the Masons, having obtained permission from his bishop, Msgr. Le Bourgeois the then Bishop of Autun. In a recent interview the bishop was asked: “in what conditions did you authorize Fr. Desbrosse to enter a Masonic Lodge?” His answer: “In 1980, a young priest of my diocese, Fr. Jean Clouds Desbrosse, came to ask my authorization to enter to Grand National French Lodge (GLNF). He had friends there who insisted that he join. I knew this priest well, of Italian origin and gifted with a great finesse of mind. I knew he would not go into this experience hanging his head. So I gave him my approval.” La Croix, 1 3 December. Just a gentle reminder that, according to Cardinal Ratzinger, it is still a mortal sin to belong to Freemasonry. That is one leopard that hasn’t changed its spots.

Pius IX to be beatified. Plus IX, the last Pope to hold temporal power, will be beatified this year. He is notable for his opposition to Freemasonry during his long reign, and to the liberal thinking of his time, very much in vogue in the Church now. On his death, the Italian Masons organised a protest that includes an attempt to throw his body into the Tiber. A leopard remains a leopard…..

Equity Bill overturns Faith. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Bill, passed by Parliament and now law, makes the following illegal: Quoting Jn 14:6: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by me” in written and spoken form (discrimination against other religions); refusal by pastors and ministers to marry homosexual couples (discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation); coiling homosexuality an abomination before God (hate speech). Mohseen Moosa, ANC chairman of the committee that drew up the Bill, said the Bill set out a value system which would apply to all sectors of society, including religion. Rome’s emperors said much the same….

 

February 2000

Where have all the priests gone? Johannesburg diocese faces a critical shortage o€ priests, according to a (attar by Bishop Orsmond printed in the November 1999 issue of the Johannesburg Diocesan News. “This situation of chronic shortage of Priests is a matter which affects not only the Priests themselves, but also the faithful, who live in parishes which are understaffed, and in some cases do not have a resident Priest at all.”

In the same letter he gave the number of parishes and chapels in Johannesburg diocese, and the number of priests available to serve them:

 

Number of parishes 109
Number of churches (excluding small Mass centres, etc.) 118
Number of priests Serving the above churches 102

 

Of these priests 49 are older than 60, 10 are older than 70 and 4 are older than 80. “While the number of young men entering the Seminaries is encouraging, they will not be able to replace those Priests who, through age, infirmity, or death, are no longer available to staff the existing Parishes, let alone pioneer new developments” the bishop continued.

In Tradition, the ratio of priests to faithful is extremely high. In South Africa there are at present 6 priests ministering to about 780 faithful, with a seventh priest expected shortly. By their fruits…..

Non-catholics assist in opening Holy Door. Flanked by Anglican Archbishop George Carey and Orthodox Metropolitan Athanasios, John Paul II opened the Holy Door of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome. The opening began a ceremony, attended by representatives of the WCC and 22 Protestant denominations, in which the Pope said “We ask for Christ’s forgiveness for all which in the history of the Church compromised his plan of unity.”

‘We know we are still divided brothers and sisters,” he continued, “but we have placed ourselves with decisive conviction on the path which leads to the full unity of the Body of Christ.” If only. But with the bulk of Catholics having practically lost the Faith, what chance do non-catholics have of finding it?

ICEL under fire. Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, has requested a complete overhaul of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. Questioning the quality of the ICEL’s work as well as the way it functions, the Cardinal said that the ICEL in its present form is not in a position to render to the bishops, to the Holy See and to the English-speaking faithful an adequate level of service”. A reform the ICEL’s Statues would need to go in hand with a tighter Vatican control of the Commission’s work, the Cardinal said, adding that the Commission should limit itself simply translating Lain texts into English, and not be “an agent of change on its own.” A Pandora’s box indeed.

Europe in population decline. The overall population of Europe has ceased to grow, and is headed for decline, according to the World Population Report. “Within 30 years, every country except Albania will be dwindling. By 2050, Europe mill have lost 20% of her population [….] By 2100, Europe will have less than half the people it has now.”

This decline is accompanied by a demagogical shift towards an ageing population, with far-reaching results, already felt: “Major imbalances between age groups, as ever-fewer workers must support ever-more retired people. This puts great strain on social security systems and retirement plans, and increases health care costs, leading to more calls for euthanasia. Within 50 years, the average European will be 50, and each worker will have to support two or three retirees. Retirement and health-care systems will simply collapse.” Finally aware of the danger, European governments are trying to promote larger families, but with a total lack of success. It’s too late now…..

 

January 2000

Some are more equal than others. Bishop Walter Kaspar, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, warned against the trend of seeing all faiths as equally valid. He said that there was a growing attitude that all religions can lead to salvation but “no religion can claim a universal validity.” Speaking to French bishops at their plenary assembly in Lourdes in November, he went on to affirm Christ’s uniqueness as saviour and the universality of His message. The Church recognizes in other religions traces of truth that find their fullness in Christ, the one saviour. However, this position is denounced by some as a form of “Christian absolutism”, he said. According to their view, religions were judged not on the basis of their truth but on how useful they were, and particularly on the contribution they made to the advancement of human dignity, justice, peace and freedom. All well and good, but the Pontifical Council Bishop Kaspar serves has done much to promote the attitude he condemns, as has the hierarchy of which he is part. One reaps what one sows.

Parliament of World Religions. At the 1999 meeting of more than 500 delegates of world religions in Cape Town, the Catholic Church was strongly represented. The issues, inevitably, revolved around making this world a better place to live in: “Wrenching poverty exacerbated by systematic injustice and inequitable distribution of resources give rise to disease, crime, violence and hopelessness”, said a document issued at the occasion of the Parliament. In a Southern Cross editorial (28 November), Gunther Simmermacher wrote: “There are those who regard the Catholic Church’s encouragement of dialogue with non-Christians as fruitless, even damaging. This attitude is not new. When the fathers of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 came to vote on accepting the declaration on the Church’s relationship to non-Christian religions, some of their number (Archbishop Lefebvre included) lobbied for its rejection. They felt that it could lead to indifferentism and the collapse of missionary activity.’ Look around you, chum. It has.

Communists to crush Chinese Catholics. The Chinese Communist government has outlined plans for a full-scale crackdown on the country’s underground Church in the event of a re-establishment of diplomatic ties with the Vatican. A secret 16-page policy paper prepared by the Party’s Central Committee and dated August 16,1999, was in large part leaked to Fides, the Vatican news service. In it, measures included the destruction of underground churches, seminaries and convents, and the “re-education” through hard labour of underground clerics who fail to submit to the government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association. Since 1957 the Party has controlled the puppet “Patriotic Church’, appointing its  bishops, whilst Catholics loyal to Rome remain in the underground Church. News reports from Hong Kong claimed that secret Sino-Vatican negotiations had reached a breakthrough, with relations to be established at the end of 1999. Both the Vatican and China have denied this. Whereas it is possible that Rome was involved in negotiations with China, this leaked report will have hopefully-by God’s providence-blown them to the moon. The loyal Chinese Catholics have surely suffered enough in the last 50 years.

In the meantime, the ANC has said it has found a new source of inspiration for fostering unity: the Chinese Communist Party. Over a dozen ANC officials visited China in November last for a week-long visit. On their return they expressed their admiration for the loyalty of the Communist Party’s membership and its disciplinary mechanisms. “Part of the lesson we learned is how they established the whole aspect of party building in 1949 and how successful they are” said Obed Bapela, secretary for Gauteng. God help us. Literally.

 

December 1999

Church declining in the US. A new study, conducted by the Gallup Organisation, has shown that younger adult Catholics are increasingly distant towards the Church and less likely to marry in it. Questions asked in similar surveys held in 1987 and 1993 were replicates to assess trends in Catholic attitudes and practices, in 1987 44% of Catholics attended Mass at feast once a week; by 1999 the figure was 37%. Fewer Catholics see the Church as an important aspect of their lives and fewer say they would never leave it. Fewer Catholics accept Church authority on a wide range of moral issues. There is also in increase in the percentage of marriages taking place without the Church’s blessing, an increase which includes unions between two Catholics as well as mixed marriages. 88% of pre-Vatican II Catholics married in the Church; the figure for post-Vatican II marriages is 59%. Are there any American bishops who still say that Vatican II was the Church’s second Pentecost?

Catholic marriages on the rocks. At the International Catholic Engaged Encounter it was noted that marriage outside the Church and children born out of wedlock was increasing. In most English-speaking countries, at least 50% of couples who married in the Church were already living together or came from different faith backgrounds. In truth, the Church could do with a second Pentecost.

Aids to depopulate southern Africa. Leaders of Zimbabwean religious orders have petitioned the government to declare Aids a national disaster, and take measures such as reducing the defence budget and boosting health care. “Zimbabwe is dying. The government and we, its people, must concentrate on fighting this deadly disease.” According to their estimates, 18 – 25% of all adults are HIV positive, and more than half of the new infections occur among people under the age of 25.

Meanwhile, according to CAFOD, the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, the official aid agency for the Catholic Bishops’ conference of England and Wales, about 30% of South Africans are HIV positive. If the current rate of infection continues over the next decade, the life expectancy of South Africans will fall to 40 years. A campaign by the S.A. government to promote the use of condoms omits to mention that they have a failure rate of about 30%, thereby merely retarding the spread of the disease. The one effective solution-conjugal chastity or celibacy-is the solution no-one wants to think about. But God is not mocked …..

Fatima seems to be beatified. Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira of Leiria-Fatima, has announced that two of the three children who saw the Virgin Mary in 1917 will be beatified on April 9, 2000. Jacinta and Francisco Marco will be the Church’s youngest Blessed, at 11 and 9 years respectively. The beatification ceremony will take place at Rome rather than Fatima as originally planned, the bishop said, in order to give it “a markedly universal character”. Lucia, the third of the shepherd children, is in the Carmelite convent of Leiria. She is over 90 years old.

 

November 1999

Australian bishops support mixed marriages. A report, endorsing mixed marriages, was approved in by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Standing Committee of the Uniting Churches. Describing the report as “a significant document for all interchurch couples”, the Archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, said “it gives encouragement to interchurch marriage”. “Mixed marriages are a form of ecumenism. They are ecumenism lived out in a most powerful way possible.

Mixed marriages are powerful gift to the ecumenical movement. What the report is saying is that these marriages are a movement of the interchurch spirit in the world.” He added that the document “encourages people not to took at; interchurch marriage like poor relations. It looks at the beauty it [interchurch marriage] brings to Christians.

This document will help Churches realize what a treasure they have in mixed marriages as well as the need for Churches to pastor to such marriages.

It will benefit Churches and people involved in mixed marriages.” A brief glance at the facts shows that mixed marriages–especially today–generally result in children who abandon the Faith. But then, one could never accuse a conciliar bishop of being in touch with the real world.

German bishops intransigent over abortion. More than a year after being requested by the Vatican to stop issuing certificates to women seeking abortions–a legal requirement for abortion in Germany—Catholic counselling centres continue to issue them. On September 15 three German cardinals met at Castelgandolfo with officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, to discuss the issue. Any bets they will back down?

Crisis of vocations in Italy. In September, the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference addressed the problem of the shortage of vocations in Italy. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Council, roamed that in a few years the shortage would be acute.

Loss of sense of sin frightening—Pope. In a weekly personal audience, John Paul II blamed “frightening” forms of social evil in the modern world on the erosion of the sense of personal sin. “The drama of the contemporary situation, which seems to abandon several fundamental moral values, depends in great part on the loss of the sense of sin. There exists a frightening attraction of evil that has made people judge many forms of behaviour as ‘normal’ and `inevitable.’ Evil grows and presses with devastating effects on consciences, which remain disoriented and unable to judge.”

He went on to blame this weakened awareness of sin on a widespread religious indifference and outright refusal to accept revealed truths and commandments. “Often, human responsibility is obscured by the pretext of an absolute freedom, which is said to be threatened and conditioned by God as supreme legislator.” All too true, but if one encourages religious indifference by putting revealed truths on a par with error—Assisi, Sinai—and paralysing the spiritual power of those truths—Vatican II, the New Mass—then there is not much point in crying over the spilt milk.

 

October 1999

Evolution voted out. By a vote of 6— 4, the 10 member board of education for the State of Kansas, which has the power to set education policy without approval of lawmakers, has decided on new standards for science lessons that promote evolution as a basic principle of biology. Evidence against the theory has been piling up for decade, but this represents the first practical recognition of the fact from a section of the establishment. Creationism, or the scientific vindication of the Biblical account of creation, has been gaining ground in recent years—a poll by TIME established that about half of Americans believe the Genesis account.

The reaction against the Kansas vote has been considerable. The heads of the state’s six public universities said the vote would “set Kansas back a century”. The American Civil Liberties Union, an association of constitutional lawyers, threatened to sue Kansas school districts if they tried to teach Creationism in the wake of the board’s decision. Kansas Governor Graves said the education board was “out of sync with reality”, and talks of working to abolish it. For a liberal, freedom of speech = freedom to say whatever he holds to be true. Cross him, and the Inquisition will appear Soft in comparison. God be with you, board members…

The tide turning against Euthanasia. Following the conviction in the USA of Dr. Jack Kevorkian for second-degree murder after his killing of a patient by lethal injection was televised, and in the wake of the perceived opposition to euthanasia in this country, the S.A. Law Commission has advised against the legalisation of euthanasia, pending further public debate on the issue. The penny has dropped: being avantgarde is not quite so PC anymore.

….and abortion. In the USA there has been a notable decrease in support for and practice of abortion in recent years, according to Human Life International it quotes Frances Kissling, President of Catholics (sic) far a Free Choice: “Most of the anti-abortion camp is getting younger. The abortion—rights movement is growing older ….To a certain extent, we’re preserving the status quo, which tends to attract an older audience. The anti-abortion movement is the counter culture movement.”

Statistics confirm the view of this prominent proabortionist. Opinion polls show that 13% of American women oppose abortion for any reason; a further 40% favour outlawing abortion except for grave reasons, eg grave medical risk, rape, etc. Support for abortion amongst American college freshmen fell from 65% in 1990 to 51 % in 1999, with the majority among those opposed to abortion being girls. Abortion clinics have dropped by 578 from 1986 to 1996. Abortions have declined from 1.61 million in 1990 to 1.37 million in 1999. In 1987 56% of medical schools taught students how to perform abortions. In 1997 only 12% did. The average age of doctors who perform abortions is 58; young doctors avoid the abortion industry. In 1990 65% of registered nurses said they were willing to take part in abortions. In 1998 the figure was 35%. The largest pro-abortion organisation in the US, the Planned Parenthood Federation, counted 21,000 employees and volunteers in 1995, and only 17,000 in 1998. It had 928 affiliates nationwide in 1995, and 900 in 1998. The tide is definitely turning.

Privacy of the Confessional attacked. The Canadian government has recommended that the newly established International Criminal Court revoke the centuries-old legal tradition that a Catholic priest may not be compelled to reveal what he hears in the confessional. The revocation would also apply to private religious counselling of all faiths. The International Criminal Court will begin functioning once its statute is approved by 60 governments. A harbinger of the persecution to come….

 

September 1999

SSPX founds a new seminary. After a presence of 10 years in the Philippines, the Society of St. Pius X will open a new seminary, St. Bernard Seminary, on the island of Panay. On May 2,1998 a property of 11.5 acres was purchased far US $95,000. The property was blessed by Bishop Fellay on July 8, 1998 and construction of the seminary building began in February this year. It will consist of a 2 1/2 storey building on a slight slope, in the shape of a rectangle.

The pre-seminary is due to open this month, which will become a seminary proper in June 2000. Two Filipino priests have already been ordained after a formation in other seminaries: Fr. Joven Soliman in July 1998, and another priest in June 1999. If anyone is in a position to help, the seminary is still short of US $60,000 to cover costs Any donation would be welcome. Contact Our Lady of Sorrows Priory for details.

Euthanasia on the cards. A revised Euthanasia bill will soon be presented to Parliament this year. The second such revision, it is unlikely to be changed before being voted on. Besides permitting a mentally competent patient to refuse treatment (which includes artificial feeding) and and receive painkillers even if they should as an indirect consequence shorten life, the bill also permits a medical practitioner to kill a patient at his request. The patient may be suffering from a terminal illness (incurable and fatal) or an illness that, without being fatal, is deemed incurable and “causes severe physical or mental suffering of a nature and degree not reasonable to be endured” (This last is wide open in interpretation).

The bill would also permit the `living will’, ie that a patient by a directive written beforehand order treatment stopped or his life ended in the event of being unable to communicate his wishes personally.

Furthermore, the bill would permit a medical practitioner to remove all life-sustaining medical treatment (including feeding!) from patients from patients who are in a state of terminal illness and cannot communicate their desireto live. This does not mean the patient need be in a coma, as the medical practitioner must administer “palliative care only” that is, painkillers for conscious or semiconscious patients. Objections by family members can be overruled by the court. 30 years ago, this would have been a science-fiction horror story. Today, who cares?

Pope denies hell a physical place. In a weekly audience on July 27th, Pope John Paul II said: “More than a physical place, hell is the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.” The Pope described hell as “the pain, frustration and emptiness of life without God.” Comment: That hell is a physical place is Catholic dogma. According to Catholic theology, the suffering of hell is twofold: the pain of loss, or the suffering caused by the absence of God, and the pain of sense, real, physical suffering inflicted by the place of hell. It is held by the majority of the Church Fathers, scholastics and theologians before Vatican II that the physical suffering of hell is from fire, of a kind different from that on earth. If the Pope is right and they are wrong, then Our Lady was being simply sadisctic in showing the little children of Fatima a vision of hell as a place with fire.

Anglican advice on Hume’s successor. Following the death of Cardinal Hume on June 18, the Apostolic Nuncio to England, Msgr. Pablo Puente, will consult Dr. Carey, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, as he draws up a short list of candidates to succeed Hume. The best advice we can give is to reject any candidate Carey might propose!

Further evidence of Shroud’s authenticity. Scientists have identified imprints on the cloth of the Shroud of plants that grow only in Palestine. Botany professor Avinoam Danin identified one imprint as the bean caper plant, which grows in Israel, Jordan and Egypt only. Two other imprints were identified: The Rock Rose which grows throughout the Middle East, and the Goundelia tournefortii tumbleweed, believed to have been used to make the crown of thorns. “In the light of our findings, it is highly probable that the shroud did in fact come from this part of the worlds professor Danin commented. Traces of pollen from the tumbleweed and the bean caperwere also found by Uri Baruch, a pollen expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority. Fancy.

 

August 1999

Brave new world. In a special edition of Watch international, dedicated to the recent exhibition in the Pretoria Art Museum of the sketches and inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, an anti-catholic bias is patent.

“The Renaissance marks the emergence from the darkness of the Middle Ages into the modem era” writes Otto Letze in one article. Comment: it was the monks of the Middle Ages that carefully preserved and elaborated on the intellectual heritage of ‘civilized’ Antiquity. The greatest architectural achievements in Europe—the great cathedrals—predate the Renaissance by two centuries and more. The development of philosophical thinking predates it by as much—Western philosophy was in decline at the advent of the Renaissance, and so on.

To boot, the personalities he puts forward as heralds of the brave new world are apt to make one a little anxious: “Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of political science, was a citizen of Florence.” An example of Machiavelli’s `political science can be found in The Prince where he advises that when he seizes a state the new ruler ought to determine all the injuries that he will have to inflict. He should inflict them once for all ….” By “injuries” he means assassinations. Brave new world indeed.

Vatican at Chartres Pilgrimage. The annual pilgrimage of Traditional Catholics from Chartres Cathedral to the Sacré?Coeur cathedral in Paris has steadily increased in size since its inception 15 years ago. This year is no exception, with a marked increased in the number of non?French taking part?including a delegation from….the Vatican. A wink is as good as a nod.

John XXIII to be beatified. The last major hurdle to the beatification of John XXIII, a cure attributed to his intercession, has been overcome. A panel of five medical experts decided unanimously that the healing of a young nun’s fatal stomach ailment in 1966, attributed to a relic of the pope, was “scientifically inexplicable”. A panel of seven theologians must decide whether this amounts to a miracle, after which a favourable vote by Cardinals and Bishops would clear the way to beatification. It is considered that these final two stages are a foregone conclusion. Last February nine theologians recognized John XXIII’s “heroic virtue”. Observers predict that the pope wilt be beatified some time next year.

Some comments. First, a beatification, an act performed by the Pope, does not fall under papal infallibility. Secondly, recent reforms in the beatification and canonization process have removed the `devil’s advocate’, whose role is was to try and find any flaws in the candidate for beatification or canonization that would rule out his being material for sainthood. Thirdly, black cannot be white. John XXIII is responsible for unleashing on Catholicism the most disastrous Council it has even known, and if is not with His saints that God harms His Church. Liberius was never canonized …..

….as will Francisco and Jacinta. Pope John Paul II has approved the last document necessary for the beatification of the two children who saw the Blessed Virgin in Fatima in 1917. The Vatican said there was no natural explanation for the cure of a Portuguese woman who had been paralyzed for 22 years. The two children will be the youngest beatified since the modem beatification and canonization process began in 1592. Comment: white is white; the devil’s advocate would not object!

The US backs China’s forced abortions. The US House of Representatives voted at the end of July to restore funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which had been withdrawn last year over the UNFPA’s decision to support Red China’s forced abortion programme. Everywoman in China may have one child only; all subsequent pregnancies are obliged by law to be terminated by abortion. The House voted 221 -198 to grant US$25 million to UNFPA in the next budget year. The amount is small, but gives important moral backing to UNFPA. Birds of a feather ….

 

July 1999

Limbo disputed. In the new Catechism of the Catholic Church which appeared in 1992 all mention of Limbo had been removed, without, however; the doctrine being formally repudiated. The removal was in the face of mounting criticism, following the post?conciliar notion of a macro-church embracing all of humanity and from which unbaptized babies would certainly not be excluded. Following the publication in Avvenire of the fact that the Church had not rejected the nation of Limbo, but had merely been silent on it, a large number of letters were sent to the editor of the magazine, opposing the doctrine. All a good lesson that compromise gets you nowhere.

Dom Gerard supports the New Mass. Dom Gerard, Abbot of the formerly traditional monastery of le Barroux in France, who cut ties with Archbishop Lefebvre after the 1988 episcopal. consecrations, that the New Mass is “valid and orthodox”. “Leo X, in his condemnation of proposition 28 of Luther in the bull Exsurge Domine (1520), teaches that it would be a sin, even a heresy, to go against what the Pope and the bishops teach in a mallet related to Faith and salvation. John Paul II and all the Catholic bishops hold that the missal of Paul VI is not heretic but orthodox. Hence to affirm that the new missal is heretic would be a fault against the infallibility of the Church.” (Letter to Friends, 22nd February, 1999)

Same comments. Forthe Pope and the bishops to be infallible requires conditions which in the case of the new Missal certainly have not been met. There is no question that the New Mass is covered by the extraordinary infallibility of the Pope ? Dom Gerard does not make that claim, but appeals rather to the ordinary infallibility of the Magisterium “to which is it is necessary to give one’s adhesion. ” For a Pope’s teaching to be covered by ordinary infallibility, it is necessary (among other things) that what he says be in conformity with what his predecessors taught. As Cardinal Ottaviani wrote, the new Mass, in its whole and in its parts, represents a “striking departure” from the Catholic doctrine on the sacrament. Hardly a conformity. Dom Gerard, in the same fetter, refutes his own argument by writing, “According to John Paul II himself, to criticize the new rite, under certain aspects, or even to desire its revision, is not a priori excluded.” But if a document or a rite is covered by infallibility, be it ordinary or extraordinary, then there can be nothing to criticize in it. It is all really a case of the lady protesting too much…..

Society’s first Gabonese priest. Fr. Médard Bie Bibang of Gabon celebrated his First Mass in Libreville, having been ordained at Ecône. The National Television Company RTGI filmed the Mass for national broadcast. He is appointed deputy Principal at St. Joseph de Calasanz boys’ primary school, which numbers 98 students.

St. Mary’s can teach. For the first time, St. Mary’s Academy and College, in Kansas, USA, entered the prestigious Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency, which measures general education foundational schools typically attained in the first two years of college: The results were excellent. Some students obtained exceptional marks, and all obtained 99% in the written essay. In the National Latin Exam, taken by 115 000 students, one St. Mary’s student obtained a perfect score, achieved by only 889 participants. 57 other students received commendation for their performance, including 10 gold and 19 sliver medals. Society schools can produce academic as well as spiritual results. It works here too in Africa…..

Snippets from Asia. In February Society priests supervised the consecration of the Philippine Department of Trade and industry by its Undersecretary. The following day Fathers Couture and Onada left for Japan, where they blessed two new ships; each with a carrying capacity of 45 000 tons. Following which the managing director of Andika shipping, Mr. Robert Sumantri, consecrated the entire company of 1 500 employees to the immaculate Heart of Mary. May Our Lady bless his stand for the Faith.

 

May 1999

66th cure at Lourdes. Jean-Pierre Befy, father of two was an intensive care nurse before falling ill with MS, a paralysing neurological condition which can go into remission, but frequently leads to an early death. Having been wheelchair bound for 15 years, he visited Lourdes in 1987 seeking solace.

“I didn’t go to Lourdes in the hope of being cured,” he said, “I simply wanted to find a little calm and comfort because I was at the end of my tether. But I met a young woman in white who told me, Don’t be afraid. Mother Mary will make everything right”.

Puzzled, he was taken on a stretcher when suddenly felt “a marvellous liberating force”. He went on: “I felt happy, euphoric. A feeling of getting stronger and stronger, invaded me Then there was a sensation of heat, slight at first then difficult to bear. First in my feet, then up my spinal cord and then all over my body.” The next night he felt a hand on his hip, but when he awoke ‘there was no-one there. “That’s when an idea came into my mind: `Get up and walk!’ I stumbled, like a child learning to walk, but I felt solid on my legs.” Afraid of how other sick pilgrims would react, he said nothing. “And I kept wondering, why me?” So as not to frighten his family, he returned home in his wheelchair, breaking the news gently once he arrived.

After more than a decade of tests by religious and medical authorities, his cure has been pronounced as genuine. Msgr. Claude Dagens, Bishop of Angouleme said, “This recovery can be considered a personal gift from God for this man, – like an act of grace and a sign of Christ the Saviour.”,

“The Virgin Mary’s intercession was a determining factor in this recovery,” he added.

Cardinal Sodano supports Pinochet. Cardinal, Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary State, in a letter to Tony Blair which was leaked to the press, requested the release of General Agosto Pinochet, a close friend of his during his term as papal nuncio in Chile from 1977 to 1987. Clearly writing with the Pope’s approval ? “We are the shadow of the Pope. He is the sole protagonist a we all follow him and work for him” he said ? the Cardinal affirmed that the Vatican had acted “to repeat to the world that at no time can the sovereignty, not only of Chile, but also of any other State, be it big or small be violated, stripping the local government of the power to judge a fellow national.” The question of the General’s extradition to Spain is still unresolved, and a Chilean Air Force aircraft was on standby waiting to fly him home.

Catwalk nuns. Nuns in Rome have become catwalk models at a fashion show for a television audience of millions. “Being beautiful doesn’t have to mean being vulgar, said Sister Danilea, a 25 year-old wearing cherry-red lipstick, who was speaking backstage after modelling a grey bell bottomed trouser suit.

The fashion show was organised by a priest, Fr, Antonio Mazzi, to help fund the drug rehabilitation clinic he runs. The spirit of Vatican II has not blown out just yet …..

Microbiologist backs Creation. Dr. Ian Macreadie, one of Australia’s leading experts in molecular biology, has said he does not believe in the theory of evolution. A principle research scientist at the CSIRO Biomolecular Research Institute in Parkville, Melbourne, as well being national secretary of the Australian Society far Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, he finds it incomprehensible that things could have “just developed from nothing and that we could have developed from ape ancestors. His views, published in Creation magazine, are his own and not those of CSIRO.

Answering a question about evidence far creationism in his own field, Dr. Macreadie said, “Evolution would argue for things improving, whereas I see everything falling to pieces – genes being corrupted….” One more member of a growing throng of scientists who combine honesty with common sense.

 

March-April 1999

Pope opposes legalising gay unions. In an address to judges who serve on the Roman Rota, Pope John Paul II affirmed that “It is an incongruous claim to attribute the conjugal reality to a union between persons of the same sex.” Same-sex unions could not be justified on the grounds of human freedom since they were “deviations from the natural law”. The Pope added that real freedom entailed “adapting one’s personal choices and will to God, and thus becoming ever more like one’s Creator”.

Since there is an “objective impossibility” for same—sex unions to be fruitful by transmitting human life, they lacked the “interpersonal complementarity” that is found in unions between a man and a woman, the Pope said. The latter unions are based on psychological as well as biological realities. Anyone seen Bishop C–t lately?

Padro Pio to beatified. The last step needed for the beatification of the Capuchin stigmatist, Padre Pio di Pietrelcina, has been taken with the reognition by the Pope of a miracle attributed to his intercession. Padre Pio will be beatified during a ceremony on May 2. May his canonisation follow quickly!

A new Our Father. A new version of the Our Father, approved by Johannesburg diocese for use in the liturgy and likely to be approved by other South African dioceses, runs as follows:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive us those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever: Amen.

Some comments: first, “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever” is not part of the Our Father, but an addition made by Protestants in order to give the Lord’s Prayer a ‘positive’ ending. In other words, Christ hadn’t got it quite right and His offering needed some improvement.

Second, there is a point to the use of “Thy” in the traditional version. In early Modem English “thy” was the familiar term of address, used for friends, family or inferiors, as opposed to the more formal “you used for strangers or persons deserving respect. The latter term gradually took over the role of the former familiar conversation, and “thy”, in a curious revers of meaning, came to be reserved for God and the saints, and in consequence acquired a tone of respect. To substitute “you” for “thy’ is to lose the reverence that the latter term has.

Finally, it seems odd that in the desire to modernise: the English of the Our Father, such a venerable term as “hallowed” should be left intact. The ICET version renders it as “held holy”, which is accurate. A wick soul might suggest that a clear translation

“hallowed” does not sit well with calling God “you” but, of course, we don’t suggest such a thing ourselves….

Satanism growing in Spain. Satanic cults and activities are on the increase in Spain, according to an investigation involving interviews with police spokesmen, public officials, Church representatives and sect members themselves. Police estimates put membership of Satanic groups at about 150 000, in a total of about 200 sects. The Spanish Bishops’ Conference offers the figure of 250 000 people engaging in devil worship, associated with 40 main groups.

Human sacrifice is one of the activities of these sects and statistics from Interpol show a rise in it across Europe, with at least 100 cases in the years 1989 and 1990. Whatever happened to the Pentecost of the Church?

German bishops continue to give tacit aproval to abortion. To obtain an abortion in Germany a woman must visit one of the 1650 consultation centres and get a certificate stating she had received consultation. 270 of these centres Catholic-run, which is tantamount to giving necessary assistance for those seeking abortion. After Vatican requested that these centres cease issuing certificates, the Episcopal Conference estabtished a Commission to study the issue and give a reply following year. Come the new year the bishops voted a text that proposes replacing the consultation plan, which includes offering concrete aid to women. This plan, however, qualifies as a legal consultation, and will enable the women receiving it to obtain an abortion, after either taking an oath before a doctor or by the doctor contacting the centre in question by telephone. If the Vatican does not approve of this arrangement (how can it), then it is likely the German Episcopal Conference will set up another Commission to offer another solution And so on, ad infinitum….

 

January 1999

Pope unhappy over annulments. In a meeting in October with US bishops, the Pope made clear that he was not happy with the ease with which annulments are granted for Catholics. “The indissolubility of marriage is a teaching that comes from Christ Himself, and the first duty of pastors and pastoral workers is therefore to help couples overcome whatever difficulties arise.”

Going to Church tribunals for annulments “should be a last resort” the Pope said, warning that care should be taken over explaining what an annulment is “in order to avoid the danger of its being conceived as divorce under a different name.” The Pope added that Church tribunals when in doubt about the validity of a marriage should rule in favour of the union: “Marriage enjoys the favour of the law,” he said.

All true and timely words, however since Vatican II the causes for an annulment have been widened to such an extent – e.g. Psychological immaturity – that now, it is possible for practically every married Catholic couple to get an annulment from a tribunal.

SSPX priest wins pornography case. A book with a cover depicting a topless crucified woman has been banned from display in shop windows in Bordeaux, France, after legal action taken by Fr. Philippe Laguerie. The book, entitled INRI (the initials of the Latin inscription “Jeus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”) takes an antireligious look at the traditional images of Jesus. Three Bordeaux bookshops stock the book, and they may continue to sell it provided it is kept on a back shelf and not put on display. A real, if small, victory.

Spare the Rod or get it.Parents who smack their children with a belt, stick or wooden spoon could be jailed for criminal assault under the national law reforms to be considered by Australia’s attorneys general. Under the proposed law, only smacking with the open hand would be acceptable. Parents would also be liable fo criminal prosecution if they “cause or threaten to cause harm to a child that last for more than a short period.” (How does one interpret that?) Such offences would carry gaol terms ranging from seven to twenty five years. In itself the proposed law could be given a reasonable interpretation, but we al know it is the wedge in the door of parental authority ….

Church in Pakistan facing persecution. A constitutional amendment bill designed to make the Sharia, or Islamic law, the supreme law it Pakistan, was passed with the requisite two-thirds majority by the national assembly, which is dominated by the Pakistan Muslim League of Prime Minister Nawas Sharief. The bill must still be ratified by the 87-member senate in which Sharief’s federal government has only 43 votes, 15 short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

If passed, the law would allow the federal government to define what is “un-Islamic”, and it would overrule all other laws considered inconsistent with Islam. Sharief has said that “we want the kind of system as in Saudi Arabia” where non-Moslems may not worship even in private rooms, and may not keep icons such as a cross or pictures of the saints. In early December a family of nine Catholics were found hacked to death in their home with slogans painted on the walls in their blood. The slogans said: “No more black magic in Nowshera (the town where the killings took place).”

Out of Pakistan’s 140 million, 3 million are Christian, with 96% of the population Moslem. Thanks to energetic lobbying by the Christian Liberation Front, 39 senators have voiced their opposition to the amendment. However, considerable pressure is being applied to them by Sharief, and the outcome is uncertain. Pray for those poor Catholics.