Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fr. Perrone: "Personal holiness, heroic witness, martyrdom: these things once converted the world from horrific paganism to Christ."

The Church is composed of human persons in possession of rational minds and wills. No matter how dire ecclesiastical waywardness, clerical indifference, there is the personal accountability and responsibility of each person in the Church to the message and law of God. There is no such thing as ‘corporate sin’ but only the personal sins of individuals. It is the sins of individuals which are the root cause of the corrupting and decaying dismemberment of human society. - Fr. Eduard Perrone

I have been going to other Mass times because I find the longer 9:30 AM Traditional Latin Mass sometimes too taxing with a digestive order that is flared up. So, I try to go to the 6:30 AM Mass on Sundays, which is shorter since there is no music.

Last week, Fr. Perrone had the 6:30 AM Mass (new calendar).  His homily, as usual, was very moving.  He brings out some points that speak for me.

After Mass, a small group of parishioners caught up with him and asked him to email me his homily so I could post it.  He told us it would cost six cents.  He increased that stipend from a nickel, but one parishioner had the full sum in his pocket.  He emailed it to me late this past week saying he wanted to make good on his agreement since it was paid in full.  However, he sends his regrets that there it may have some typos or other small errors.

Comments are being closed since I would rather not be moderating them.

2-A 2014

“The Lord formed me as His servant...formed me from the womb.”

That “me” in the preceding sentence from Isaiah’s prophecy was not an historical person but a personification of the Israelite people. God took special interest in this particular people over all others, but only–as it appears in retrospect–as an instrumental means to bring salvation to all humanity. The Jews were indeed the “chosen people” of God, but not for their own glorification, but for God’s. They would be, as we know, the race of people from which would come mankind’s Redeemer–Christ–and so, all mankind would benefit by them. One can see then that God’s conferral of a special status to the Jews was not directed at exclusion of others but rather their inclusion: for the common good, so that all might be beneficiaries of His goodness: the primary thing being their salvation, which is the whole and final purpose of religion.

Extending the scope of divine election from the Jews, now to the Catholic Church–the one and only true Church–we [may] well say that the purpose of the Church is not the glorification of its members in the sense of being specially favored by God over non-Catholic people, but rather to serve as the vehicle for transmitting the message and the means of salvation to everybody. Privilege, however, carries with it responsibilities. The Church is meant to be that city raised upon a hill, drawing all people to come to it to derive their share of the divine largess.

Throughout her history the Catholic Church has been trying to fulfill its given mission for the world. It was our Lord who [g]ave the apostles the mandate to preach to all the nations, to baptize peoples, and to gather them-in, like so many grains of wheat in the heavenly granary. At certain times it seemed that this was succeeding famously, when, for example, Christianity triumphed over the ancient, pagan Roman Empire and the works of the Church began to flourish in converting not only the noblemen of society but also the barbarians and the ignorant. This was the ferment of the Gospel which was enhancing European society, East and West: the promise of claiming the whole earth for Jesus Christ.

Those missionary efforts of the Church were successful because men had both the ambition and the will to succeed. The life-force of Christianity was motivated by the conviction that God had come to save humanity through the sanctifying means of the Church: preaching, educating, administering sacraments, blessing, inculturating society with the supernatural energy of divine grace. The effects of this impetus were immensely impressive: the Church left her mark everywhere, in the Western world as well as in the East, causing a cultural explosion that refined and civilized men and inclined them to the pursuit of the highest of human achievements, in the cultivation of the devout life, the daily living of saintly people.

And now we are here, so many centuries later, and in this new year 2014–one used to say in such a context, “the year of grace”–and we look about what we must admit to be the ruins, the shell and remnant of that accomplished work in today’s re- paganized world and we wonder how it happened. Young people of today may not be able to enjoy this perspective, but anyone my age or older can testify to a decaying of what once-was a decidedly Christian world. As a prime example of this, and one so close to home that it smarts to mention it, I point to the city of Detroit.

I was once told that around the turn of the twentieth century-from the nineteenth, a Parisian newspaper touted the city of Detroit in its headlines as “the Paris of America.” I accept that bit of oral history without having seen it in print myself. Without attempting to defend or challenge that, it is obvious to anyone who can see, that a once prosperous city now lies in ruins. And while the Church itself does not particularly concern itself with a city’s buildings, roads, landscape and the like, it is compelled to admit its own share in this defeat. The closure of so many Catholic churches and the decimation of once thriving Catholic neighborhoods (the one encircling this parish, as an example) gives evidence that something has gone wrong–not economically, racially, or architecturally–but spiritually. The once extensive influence of Christ in this city has been reduced to a frighteningly small space. One can almost feel it on the surface of one’s skin: that there has been the loss of that peace and tranquil order which result from the stabilizing presence of Christ. And that presence is not only a moral presence; it is sacramental as well. The number of places in which the Blessed Sacrament is housed in the city has been dramatically reduced. Gone then is the preaching, teaching, educating, worship, the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the tabernacles and thus the adoration of the Lord. Christ has in this way been made to attenuate His presence, making Himself sparse, rare, hard to find. And so, one should not wonder about the “devastated city” (so reminiscent of the book of Jeremiah’s lamentations) so much as the vanishing presence of Christ.

How such a thing came about in this city will be debated for years to come. Men are quick to speculate and try to analyze causes that are empirical, provable by statistical calculations. But spiritual causes can’t be measured and computed in that way. When the light departs there is not twilight but darkness. When truth vanishes there is not half-truth but error, confusion and misery. When the grace of Christ is withheld there is the ferment of sin and wretchedness. It is this that has caused the depravity we see all around us and–here one must sit up and take careful notice–it is not confined to this city, but your own home neighborhoods, to our whole of this country, and to the once Christian world at large.

While I would like to blame liberalizing trends in the Catholic Church for much of the erosion of the true faith (and I do), one cannot put the blame on impersonal causes, on the institution of the Church. The Church is composed of human persons in possession of rational minds and wills. No matter how dire ecclesiastical waywardness, clerical indifference, there is the personal accountability and responsibility of each person in the Church to the message and law of God. There is no such thing as ‘corporate sin’ but only the personal sins of individuals. It is the sins of individuals which are the root cause of the corrupting and decaying dismemberment of human society. If your ears are hearing this correctly, this means that one need not look outward to find the cause of blame for the sad state of things in the city, in the country, in the Church, but only into one’s own soul to discover the guilty culprit. Our own personal sins, our disobedience to God, our spiritual laziness constitute our personal contributions to the resulting chaotic condition in which we find ourselves today.

Another example to the point. Every year now since 1973 we have been praying, speaking, or being in some way active about the pro-life cause in the face of the persistent practice of crime-free abortion in the USA. It gets a little tiring to be beating the proverbial dead horse (Pope Francis admitted the same thing, much to the dismay of some people). While there are peak moments of changing public opinion in regards to the pro-life cause (meaning here especially the anti-abortion cause) the results have remained substantially ineffective. The attributed reasons are variously given for this failure. But it is only the-logical-outcome of a general moral decline, indeed a steep decline in moral standards and practical Christian living for many decades which has rendered us helpless in our ability to win the fight for life.

I do think that saints can win the day–even now. The Church, you know, will never go down. It’s an unsinkable ship. But there’s no telling how few there may be left in the final rundown. Personal holiness, heroic witness, martyrdom: these things once converted the world from horrific paganism to Christ. The same can revitalize a flabby, lethargic and enfeebled society of men today.

I would like to see once again that indomitable spirit, that enthusiasm, that zest for the cause of Christ, for the Church, for moral goodness and the zeal for holiness that have always marked out people of the Catholic Church. You must rouse yourselves from the malaise all about you and be once again ardent Catholics. You can yet be salt of the earth, light of the world. The sheer joy that will radiate on your graced faces will prove to the world that you belong to God and headed for heaven. And your influence, however insignificant you may think it to be, will have its transformative effects on this society of men.

I don’t know much about how to rebuild the physical ruins of a city but I know the prescription for rebuilding souls that inhabit a city. It is by drinking in to the full the
draft of spiritual vitality which is found in the Catholic Church. This is the remedy for us personally and collectively. This is the one thing needed for the success of the pro-life cause. A little leaven will affect the whole dough.

My comment:

I want to point out what Fr. Perrone doesn't say in his talk so there are no misunderstandings.

He does not say Catholics should avoid working in the public square to change legislation; or to change hearts and minds with dialogue and other actions.

What he is saying is that job one is for each of us to work on personal holiness in every facet of our lives, and daily.

Just as one of many, many examples: Consider how each of us plays a role in encouraging a continuing moral decay on television by watching programs that give a free pass, and even promote things that are out of  harmony with Christian values and morality.  When we watch shows that make vice look like virtue, or which do not treat vice as vice, we encourage them by increased ratings.  That was one of the first things I concluded after taking my faith seriously, and I ceased watching a number of popular programs.  It boggled my mind how people could go to Mass on Sunday, then watch something like Sex in the City, or Desperate Housewives, without any reserve.  One woman told me she hadn't thought about that, and she stopped watching.  When people see these things, especially young, uncatechized people, they see pre-marital and extra-marital sex is no big deal.  That leads to the loss of unborn life in great numbers.  It also sends a message to Hollywood when we drive up ratings for these things: Give us more of the same lewd and immoral programing to pervert and distance another generation from following God's laws.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bishop Athanasius Schneider - ITV's "Top Ten" of 2013

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, ORC is in the news at Inside the Vatican Magazine online. He is being honored as one of the "Top Ten" people of 2013.  Here is the opener:

Athanasius Schneider – Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan 
“Preferential option for the poor”: this formula has long been used in the Church, in line with the teachings and commands of Our Lord, to indicate that the Christian faithful should accord preferential treatment to the less advantaged and fortunate sections of society, the marginalized, downtrodden, powerless, defenseless, vulnerable. And who are the “poorest of the poor”? For many people the “poorest of the poor” are the unborn, who due to today’s unChristian widespread legislation in most countries worldwide are increasingly exposed to the dreadful risk of abortion. 
But the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan, Athanasius Schneider, who is also Secretary General of the local Conference of Catholic Bishops and Chairman of the Liturgical Commission, has a different opinion. “The Eucharistic Jesus, that is Jesus Christ actually, personally and substantially present under the Eucharistic species, in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, is indeed the most poor, weak and defenseless in the Church,” Schneider says in his latest book Corpus Christi, la Santa Comunione e il rinnovamento della Chiesa (The Body of Christ, Holy Communion and the Renewal of the Church). Therefore, as a fundamental aspect of his pastoral mission, he is pleading the case of a “preferential option for the poorest” in order to restore the proper devotion toward the Eucharist. For this courageous commitment, we honor Bishop Schneider as one of the “Top Ten” people of 2013.

Scheider’s book, published by LEV (the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house) is a passionate plea for the faithful to be aware of the paramount importance of receiving Our Lord with the appropriate preparation, devotion, respect and reverence, and especially kneeling and upon the tongue. This work is a follow-up to Msgr. Schneider’s previous book entitled Dominus Est: riflessioni di un vescovo dell’Asia Centrale sulla sacra comunione (It is the Lord: Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion). There Schneider gave arguments in favor of Communion on the tongue and on one’s knees, arguments that are believed to have prompted Benedict XVI to revert to this practice in administering the sacrament after his celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi in Rome on May 25, 2008. 
Schneider’s basic thesis is that the renewal of the Church cannot be brought about without a profound review of our devotion to the Eucharist, which produces a new momentum and fervor in our sacramental practice….
Continue reading on Bishop Schneider at Inside the Vatican

Bishop Schneider communicates in over a half-dozen languages, which gave him access to more writings on the early Church and the Eucharist.  He is a patristics scholar.

While I love what he teaches about the Eucharist and agree with him on the need for a syllabus to clear up confusion over Vatican II, I have always been intrigued with his meekness.  It is a virtue that is not well understood today where we communicate our likes, dislikes, preferences and other things, often in an "edgy" way.  This is popular today in reporting.  Bishop Scheider can speak to people about delicate subjects (aka "hot-button topics")  in a way that invites reflection, especially among the non-choir members.  Meekness does that.  It tempers anger in the one who is meek and when he presents a controversial subject, that absence of anger allows people to drop their defenses and simply listen.

That is one of the reasons I'm always talking about *how* we communicate and the importance of not divorcing virtue from our online discussions.  Bishop Schneider gets that and I believe, in time, Bishop Schneider will win more hearts with reason as he appeals to intellect of others in a gentle and loving way. Some might still disagree with him after hearing him, but they know they can continue the discussion later because he doesn't proceed with condescension. He is also very patient and knows it takes time to penetrate hearts.  I have seen people reject his arguments one year, only to be quoting him years later on the subject of receiving Communion kneeling and one the tongue.

Pray for his efforts and for all who listen to him.

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Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Join Father Z at the Detroit Institute of Arts, February 15, 2014

I'm copying and pasting this note from a previous post on Fr. Z coming to Detroit for a DIA event Saturday, February 15, 2014. See below. 

On a side note, as I explained previously, I am on medical leave from work while a disabling digestive disorder is looked into, so posting will be sporadic.  I regret that I cannot publish or discuss everything that I would like to.  My lightweight Macbook Pro allows me to blog while nearly laying, but I'm fatigued and not up to blogging regularly.  It's easier to use an iPhone while lying down, pushing a share button on Facebook or re-tweeting things in Twitter with a brief comment, so I am a little more active there.  Along with TV, spiritual reading, and praying, those are ways I pass the boredom. 

Below this line is a copy/pasted post made earlier. 

From the Call to Holiness Facebook page:

Don't miss Fr. Z's exclusive lecture on the impact of Catholicism on society and culture through the arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Feb 15, 2014. Fr. Perrone will speak to the youth on culture. Visit for more information or register via Eventbrite
Visit the Call to Holiness website for more info and for a printable PDF

Follow Call to Holiness also on Twitter

While Fr. Perrone doesn't set the schedule for Masses too far in advanced, I would not be surprised to see Father Z celebrating the 9:30 TLM at Assumption Grotto the next Sunday.

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vatican Insider report on Medjugorje commission report is speculative {Updated}

Pope Francis to Curia: "Gossip is harmful to people, our work and our surroundings."
Message to Curia, Christmas 2013

Updated at bottom

I think that those attempting to  "scoop" the Church on a highly sensitive and charged issue, such as Medjugorje, are engaging in the kind of harmful gossip Pope Francis has railed against.  The reason is simple: It causes quarreling and division.

It is one thing to discuss hopes or beliefs about the outcome, or even to offer thoughts that are explained as speculative; it is quite another thing to claim to know something about the work of a commission that is suppose to be working in secrecy.

I'm getting lots of notes and questions regarding a Vatican Insider report by Giacomo Galeazzi and Andrea Tornielli that is claiming to know parts of the verdict of the commission on Medjugorje.

I would encourage people to read these things very carefully and to wait for the Holy See to speak on the matter before spiking any footballs.

Problem No. 1 is a conflict between the headline and the body of the letter.

The headline reads:

Verdict on Medjugorje nears as Commission claims apparitions are “no hoax”

The body of the article on that point reads (my emphasis in bold with added emphasis using asterisks):

Vatican Insider has learnt that the Commission has focused mainly on the first phase of apparitions. There is *apparently* no proof of any tricks, hoaxes or abuse of popular credulity. However, it is proving difficult for the Church to form a definitive verdict on the supernatural nature of a phenomenon that is ongoing.

"Apparently" is a speculative word. If they knew this as a fact, they would not be using words like "apparently."

If you put the Italian version into an auto-translator, you get words like "seems" and "unlikely" - more so than I'm seeing in the English translation.

And how do we know it is proving difficult to form a definitive verdict on a phenomena that is still ongoing.  I addressed this misleading kind of speculation in last night's post which looks at why I believe the Church has taken so long on the case of Medjugorje. 

My second problem with the *who* they learned this from.  

*If* they have learned something from a member of the commission, then that person caused a breach in trust given to them by the Holy See.  I believe the commission members are honorable people so I am inclined to naturally disbelieve they would break the secrecy they promised.

So, then, from whom did Vatican Insider learn this information?

Perhaps it was someone who knew someone, who knows a member of the commission.  Of course, that would be hearsay; otherwise, known as gossip.

Perhaps it was a clerk who had access to a part of the findings, but not the full docket.

Perhaps it was a floor sweeper who happened to notice a piece of paper in the copy machine.

And, maybe, just maybe, it merely an opinion of someone, even a respected theologian, doing his best to, "read the tea leaves."  How well did that work for us in predicting who would succeed Pope Benedict XVI?

Is Andrea Tornielli objective on Medjugorje?

I know nothing about Giacomo Galeazzi, but I know that Andrea Tornielli has pretty much followed the reasoning of devotees of Medjugorje when discussing the subject, sometimes to the exclusion of important information from the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno.  I was disappointed when Tornielli went a step further by engaging in the spread of a rash, calumnious, and malicious suggestion that the former bishop of Mostar was colluding with the communists to take down Medjugorje.  Bishop Zanic couldn't defend himself because he was in the grave, but the diocese did respond.

In any event, those trying to scoop the Church ahead of an official statement are doing nothing more than engaging in the very kind of gossip that Pope Francis has admonished us not to participate in.

Patience is a virtue.  I'm waiting for Holy See to speak.

Can we get a reaction from the Holy See on the Vatican Insider claim?

In the meanwhile, perhaps a *professional* journalist would ask Fr. Lombardi on behalf of all of us, if the Holy See would care to offer a reaction to the Vatican Insider report.  Better yet, please send this blog post to him, making him aware that someone from the peanut gallery wants to know.  

What am I going to do with these people?


Jimmy Akin has taken his analysis deeper than did I.

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why has the Church taken so long on Medjugorje?

Preface: Pray for truth and rejoice carefully!

I believe the Holy See is concerned with seeking the truth on Medjugorje, not an outcome that appeals to one group or another. Truth cannot co-exist with untruth. Co-workers of truth seek it no matter where it leads and regardless of the pain it may cause. When truth prevails, there are no losers among truth-seekers; rather, there are some people disappointed that what they hoped was true, was deemed untrue.  Therefore, our prayer should not be for approval or disapproval, but for truth to be found and for truth to be conveyed by the Holy See.

I think it is worth mentioning something else. When the Holy Father answers the question of Medjugorje, some will be very happy and some will be very unhappy.  It is contrary to virtue to rejoice in the suffering of others (Proverbs 24:17, Obadiah 1:12).  No matter where you stand on this, please keep that in mind when the Holy Father speaks.  Faithful Catholics on both sides of the divide have a great love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and for the Church.  The disagreement is whether it is Mother of Our Lord who is appearing to anyone associated with Medjugorje.

Why so long?

The alleged apparitions in Medjugorje began in June of 1981, so why has it taken so long for the Church to get to the eve of answering the question of Medjugorje?  You will see variations of that question in online discussions whenever the topic is at hand.

I cannot read the minds of the hierarchy, but there are some things I've taken into consideration that may be useful to others. We are now waiting on the findings of the international commission of inquiry on Medjugorje to make its way from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to the Holy Father. There has been no mention as to how long the CDF will keep it, or whether any part of it will be released to the public.  One thing I do hope for is that a certain amount of catechesis will accompany any statements.

Here are those considerations on why I believe it has taken so long:
  1. The alleged visions are ongoing
  2. War and the break-up of the former Yugoslav Bishops Conference (YBC)
  3. The aftermath of the war
  4. There is more than Medjugorje of concern to Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) bishops

In addition, a few words on these subjects
  • The Diocese of Mostar-Duvno is a valid source for information
  • Names and faces of the bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina

1. The alleged visions are ongoing

Many will say that the Church has let this go for so long because the alleged visions are still ongoing. In fact, this is almost a sole reason we see people put forth.  They might even argue that no definitive judgement can be made until the visions are done.  But, we know this is not true because many alleged apparitions have been judged as not supernatural while they were still happening. So negative judgments can come any time for the good of the faithful.  On the other hand, an alleged apparition would never be approved while ongoing because if the entity began talking about a "fourth person" of the Trinity, after such approval, the credibility of the Church would suffer great harm.

Sometimes the Church cannot affirm supernaturality, but also does not have sufficient evidence to determine that there is fraud, diabolical involvement, psychological or natural explanations, etc.  Because the question is open, historically - at least until Medjugorje - bishops have been careful not to do anything that could lend credibility, especially giving visionaries a platform on Church property. This was a point made recently to US bishops by the CDF.

Of course, if the Church does find evidence of fraud or diabolical involvement, or other explanation, the Holy See technically could not allow it to continue, even if some good was coming from it (Veritatis Splendor 75).  Moreover, to continue on in the face of any manifestations of falsehood is to participate in a lie, which is no less harmful, even if it comes through omission.  Here again, truth and untruth cannot co-exist.

Not wanting to feed solely on low-hanging fruit, let's look at some other considerations.

2. War and the break-up of the former YBC

In 1987, the third commission making an inquiry into the events in Medjugorje began, at the level of the bishops conference of the former Yugoslavia, which represented all 23 dioceses.  The reason was given in a joint statement by the president of the YBC, Archbishop Franjo Kuharić and the local ordinary, Bishop Pavao Žanić:

During the inquiry these events under investigation have appeared to go much beyond the limits of the diocese. Therefore, on the basis of the said regulations, it became fitting to continue the work at the level of the Bishops' Conference, and thus to form a new Commission for that purpose.
That correlates with Section III.2 of the 1978 Norms for Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations: Interest in it had spread outside the bounds of the diocese. For those who have read this and still say, "it was taken from the hands of the local bishop" - they are engaging in intellectual dishonesty.

On a side note: With the current international commission, Fr. Lombardi explained, it too was created because the bishops of BiH requested it since it had spread outside the bounds of the diocese. Reading section IV of the same norms, we learn that the Ordinary's way of proceeding must be judged, which explains the absence of Bishop Perić on the commission.  He cannot participate in judging his own way of proceeding.  Sadly, people gloated over the fact his name was not on the list, even suggesting he was shunned. Some journalists, not doing their homework, neglected to see the truth of the matter and report it as such. The net effect was that many developed a lower opinion of the local bishop, but I digress.

On April 10, 1991, the YBC issued the Zadar Declaration, with 19 voting in favor, one abstention, and three absentees, which said:
On the bas[is] of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.

In his book, Medjugorje Revisited, Donal Anthony Foley, points out an interesting predicament that surely had been on the minds of the bishops with what was bubbling in the background as they met:

Around the same time that the statement of the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference was issued, the political situation in the country began to come to a climax. Franjo Tudjman and Slobodan Milosevic met in early 1991, and decided between them that they would partition Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the Croats to take the northwestern section, the Serbs the southeastern section, with a Muslim buffer zone in the middle. On 25 June 1991, almost exactly ten years after Medjugorje began, both Croatia and Slovenia declared independence. The result of these declarations was that the Yugoslav army, essentially a Serb-run military, invaded Slovenia, thus initiating full-scale hostilities. 
Foley, Donal Anthony (2011-10-27). Medjugorje Revisited: 30 Years of Visions or Religious Fraud? (Kindle Locations 4866-4871). Theotokos Books. Kindle Edition. 

The war ended in 1995.  I think we can all understand why there was no action from anyone at any level of the Church with regards to answering the question of Medjugorje during this time.  Many churches and monasteries were left in ruins. The cathedral and the bishop's palace in Mostar were not spared, nor was a library of over 50,000 books housed there. And, that was just the tip of a very big iceberg.

3. The aftermath of the war

Things do not just go back to, "normal," after a war.  Even today, the ruins are still seen in places by those who travel to the region.  View it through the lens of a Fulbright Scholar living in Mostar.  

A boy runs through Mostar in 1995,
grenades still being lobbed.
Consider what the four bishops of BiH were facing in 1995: Dead people, displaced people, hungry and cold people, people in tension, the maimed, the orphans, those with the invisible scars on their minds and in their spirits.    The economy was devastated, and it suffers still today with heavy unemployment. There will probably always be some tensions because of the way the nation was divided between three ethnic and religious groups.   This says nothing of an increase in radical islamists entering the region since the war.  When I lived there in 1980-83, I was unaware of any radical elements in the Muslim community.  This 2002 interview with Cardinal Puljić sheds some light on what happened. Have things changed since then? This is a question for journalists to ask.  

Just as fighting and tensions don't just abruptly cease with war ending agreements, the effects of any war can linger for many years, even decades.  

I would humbly suggest that during that 10-15 year period after the war, the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina were overwhelmed with things much more important than discerning the authenticity of Medjugorje. For those of us abroad, that often seems to be a singular focus of our interest in what goes on there.  I suspect Pope Benedict felt it was best to let things remain as they were for the time being, as well,  rather than put those people through the rigors of what will be a painful decision for some no matter which way it goes.  

4. There is more than Medjugorje of concern to BiH bishops

Question: How much news do you find in English or Italian press about BiH that doesn't involve Medjugorje?

I ask this question because we put the Medjugorje lens on without looking at what else is happening in that region.  Cardinal Puljić said he was tired, after all these years, of spending countless hours going through information.  Now, some might think he is tired of Medjugorje, and that may very well be the case.  But the most charitable explanation is that the volume of work associated with it has been taking time away from other things he needs to work on, or making his days much longer.  I count myself among those who believe this commission was wrapping up it's work about the time Pope Benedict XVI abdicated the throne.  What else could the Holy See do but delay completion?

I think the bishops of that nation have a story to tell about life there - one that is different from neighboring Croatia because of how it has been divided between the ethnic and religious groups.  I would love for journalists to talk to the bishops and enlighten us in English and Italian Catholic press.  Do Catholics suffer persecution there? If so, how?  How has the population of Catholics changed there since the war and what has happened with local sacramental life? How are priests and religious treated?  Do young Catholics feel they have a future there, or are they migrating to Croatia? There is much more in Croatian media, and the language barrier doesn't help. but most bishops know a second language or can find interpreters. All of this news is largely hidden behind Medjugorje.

Also, hidden behind the news about Medjugorje, is a situation no bishop would ever want to be faced with: Members of a local religious order in open rebellion with the diocese and the Holy See itself and the numbers are not insignificant.  Yet another set of invalid "confirmations" was held last year at a parish usurped in the late 1990's, by now former Francisans (since suspended a divinis, and removed from the Order of Friars Minor).  See my report on this from April of 2013.  Hopefully it is clear that Medjugorje is not the only thing the Holy See is concerned with in that region.

Is this connected with Medjugorje?  Perhaps it is not directly connected, but you will find opinion pieces on many pro-Medjugorje sites, saying the bishop is at odds with the Franciscans, or persecuting them, rather than the Franciscans being at odds with a decision of the Holy See (some in open rebellion.)  Aside from that, one ought to wonder how hundreds, if not thousands of invalid sacraments, can be happening a stone's throw from Medjugorje, and the "gospa" says nothing?

Incidentally, the Holy See document at the heart of the conflict - the 1975 decree, Romanis Pontificibus -  comes from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on which I believe Cardinal Puljić still serves. There is a great deal of history and catechesis in the first part of that decree.

The Diocese of Mostar-Duvno is a valid source for information

One of the open wounds in the Church today -- one that I hope is bandaged by Pope Francis, is the utter contempt some have for the local bishop of Mostar.  The contempt on some pro-Medjugorje sites ranges from overt, to passive-aggressive. When ordinary people google Medjugorje, they land at these sites and their opinion of this apostolic successor is formed by the rash judgments and even calumnies, such as the malicious and ridiculous one suggesting that Bishop Žanić colluded with the communists to take down Medjugorje (see herehere and here; and diocesan response here)

There is a lot of information detailing the problems the diocese has had with regards to Medjugorje, in English; and in Italian for those who don't dismiss this as a valid source for information.  With regards to information about the rebellion of some Franciscans in the Herzegovina province, there is an entire page devoted to that at the diocese - all of it worked out with the OFM in Rome and the Holy See.   Scrolling down you will see a list of nine men dismissed from the OFM's; and, another 18 who remain without faculties for refusing to sign a declaration of obedience to which the Franciscan Minister General and local bishop agreed, and the Holy See confirmed.  It should be noted that the majority of Franciscans in that province have cooperated.

Names and faces of the bishops of Bosnia - Herzegovina

To reporters and journalists: These are the men who lead the Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Got questions? Ask them.  Are there conflicts with what you find elsewhere on the web with what they say? Take your questions to the appropriate congregation at the Holy See if you doubt what they tell you, then tell us what you learn.

The bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina with Apostolic Nuncio from left to right: Bishop Pero Sudar (auxiliary - Sarajevo); Bishop Ratko Perić (Mostar-Duvno/Trebinje); former Nuncio, Alessandro D'Errico; Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Sarajevo; Bishop Franjo Komarica (Banja Luka); Bishop Bishop Tomo Vukšić (Military Ordinariate of BiH); Bishop Marko Semren, OFM (auxiliary - Banja Luka)

The Bishops' Conference of BiH has grown with the addition of the auxiliary bishops in recent years, and with the establishment of a Military Ordinariate in February of 2011.

Also noteworthy is that when Bishop Marko Semren, OFM was consecrated he became the first Franciscan bishop in the dioceses making up BiH since the mid-1940's.  He hails from the Bosnian Franciscan Province (there are separate provinces for Herzegovina and Bosnia). Bishop Semren is an expert on Franciscan history in the region, something that may be helpful in cutting through the stories you will find on some websites.   See my coverage here and the rather interesting homily by the Apostolic Nuncio here.

Corrections and Edits.

  1. Corrected a sentence that said the war ended in 2005, to 1995. 
  2. Added the missing quote from the 1987 joint statement on the YBC commission and related discussion, along with link to the 1978 Norms for Discernment of Presumed Apparitions and Revelations. 
  3. Note and links added in "Diocese is a valid source for information" about calumny against local bishop

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fr. Lombardi: Commission on Medjugorje has sent findings to CDF {UPDATED}

UPDATE 1: The Vatican Information Service now has this news up.  It was not available when I was composing this post.  Here is what it says:

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, confirmed on Saturday that the international commission investigating the events in Medjugorje held its last meeting on 17 January. The commission, created by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. 
The commission has reportedly completed its work and will submit the outcomes of its study to the Congregation.

UPDATE 2: Večernji List report

There is speculation in a popular, secular, Croatian paper that the status quo will be maintained. However, unlike the other reports I discuss below, it acknowledges that it is *assumed* the 1991 decision will be maintained on the basis that the visions are ongoing.  You can put that article into a google translate.  People speculate on both sides, but at least this source was clear that it is an assumption.

Additional updates will be posted here. 
Below this line is my original post.

The Italian news agency ANSA is reporting that Fr. Lombardi has confirmed that the International Commission of Inquiry on Medjugorje is done and has sent their findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith.  This is an unedited Google translate:

CITY 'OF THE VATICAN - It took place yesterday, the last meeting of the International Commission of Inquiry on Medjugorje, presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. The outcome of the study will now be submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This is confirmed by the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi.

The Vatican spokesman said that "yesterday, Friday, January 17, took place the last meeting of the International Commission of Inquiry on Medjugorje, established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the presidency of Cardinal. Camillo Ruini." The Commission "has thus completed its work," explains Father Lombardi. "As expected - he adds - the outcome of the study will now be submitted to the competent instances of the same Congregation."

Commission voted status quo?

Yesterday, some Croatian news outlets were reporting something from Nova TV which suggested the findings were, "neither yes or no" and that they were okay with people visiting there.  Someone from Croatia looked into it for me and had this to say about the wording:

The article says Commission decision is "niti da ni ti ne, vec da se povjerenstvo ne protivi..."--neither yes or no, but that they don't object people going there. This could also mean that they couldn't agree on the verdict, but agree people can continue to go there. OR maybe that their job wasn't the final verdict but just to decide if people can continue to go there. 

I'm inclined to believe that it is more like the latter because that is consistent with what the Holy See has said all along.  The final say is not with the commission, but with the Holy Father, after the CDF reviews the findings.  It seems to me there was confusion over a similarly leaked rumor to a media outlet before, misinterpreting a "neither yes or no" statement from someone on, or close to, the commission.

Everyone is free to guess or speculate in the absence of information and there will be plenty of it as we wait.  No one knows whether the CDF will take some time with the findings, or if it has been following proceedings all along and is ready to send it on to Pope Francis.

I find it hard to believe such a commission would go on for four years only to end up at the same place.  Could it happen?  Sure.  Is it likely?  I have my doubts. If there is anything at all which points to a lack of authenticity, I do not believe the Church will engage in a kind of consequentialism where they allow a lie to persist for the sake of good fruits.  I know former "Baysiders" who acknowledge the falseness of that condemned apparition, but who credit the experience with bringing them back to the Church.  It wasn't the false apparition that did it, but the graces that came when they began praying the Rosary daily and using the Sacraments frequently.

The best possible outcome for devotees is for the Holy See to maintain the current status of non constat de supernaturalitate (it cannot be affirmed as supernatural).  It's an unfortunately vague judgment to the ordinary lay person. It is the best hope for devotees because the Church does not approve ongoing, alleged apparitions. The reason is simple: If today the Holy See gives approval, and tomorrow the presumed apparition starts talking about the fourth person of the Trinity, we would have a serious problem; and, the credibility of the Church, seriously harmed.

However, the Church has intervened in other cases and given negative judgments against ongoing phenomena for the good of the faithful.  Usually this is at the local level, such as when the Holy See invited Bishop Lennon of Cleveland to make a definitive judgment on what was taking place at Holy Love Ministries. That's still ongoing and people there try to say it is not over, but when the Holy See invited that bishop to make a definitive judgment, it was clear it was the judgment of the Church, not just an opinion of the bishop. People are free to write to the CDF and inquire if a definitive judgment has indeed been made in that case, but I will not be posting comments defending those false apparitions.  On November 14, 2009, just three days after that decree by Bishop Lennon, came this "message."  My comments in red, emphasis in bold.

"I have come to issue forth this Decree of Truth [Bishop issues a decree condemning the "apparition" as not supernatural and the "apparition" issues it's own decree]. The Holy Spirit is alive and well here at this apparition site. Indeed, Heaven and, I Myself, have taken possession of this property [like I said, run quickly away from this place]. No one can prove otherwise no matter his distinction in the world."  [That was a jab at the bishop.  In other words -a pretty clear, "non serviam"]. 

Back to Medjugorje, in any case, as I reported yesterday, Cardinal Puljic has had enough, which is what the headline says here in Croatian.  He's actually been working on the matter for five years.

The best thing we can all do is pray for the CDF and for the Holy Father.  As I have said many times before, we should not pray for approval or disapproval, but for truth to be found and made known.  That is my prayer.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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Friday, January 17, 2014

On illness and blogging…


I've had gut problems much of my life, but nothing that affected my ability to work daily… until now.  So, I am on medical leave from work as I undergo further testing. Aside from abdominal pain, nausea and other unmentionables, eating is a challenge.

I do not discuss my work, or even my field of work online as I like to keep my online activity - which is primarily religious - separate from my work. Suffice it to know that I work in a technical field for a major corporation. Few people can claim to still love their job after 25 years, but I'm blessed in this regard as I find my work fun in the way crossword puzzle lovers enjoy playing the game.  I also work with, and for, some of the greatest people one could hope for in a team.  I suppose that is part of what makes work fun for me.

Similarly, I usually do not discuss my health online.  But, after some thought, I've decided to share something which might explain a change in some of my usual habits online, and at Assumption Grotto.

One test showed what appeared to be a problem with an intestinal artery, but a cardiovascular surgeon I saw this past Wednesday at the University of Michigan Health System was able to rule that out with another test - a CTA.  He got me an appointment with a gastroenterologist the first week of February.  I've been "scoped" from both ends several times over the years, along with other usual tests and they are always clear.  My GP thinks it's a functional gut problem and the kind of studies I need can be done at the U of M's Livonia location, closer for me than running to Ann Arbor.

I was using a work laptop (more of a workstation) at home when matters got more disabling, but the thing weighs over 11 pounds.  It's not exactly something you put on your lap, even with a cushion.  I was sitting in one chair that has now become too uncomfortable to sit in for more than 20 minutes. I cannot sit upright for very long without a lot of abdominal pain. So, I spend most of my time in a recliner leaning back about 45 degrees or more.  Using my Macbook Pro in the recliner is easy because it is lightweight and it is where I do most of my blogposts.  There's also a draft option that allows me to compose one ran indefinite period of time.   I do much of my Facebook and Twitter interactions from my iPhone, or Galaxy Note tablet, sometimes when I'm laying down.  In fact, I've been half asleep hitting those re-tweet and share buttons, at times, if that explains a stray tweet or share.

Aside from my prayer obligations as a secular Carmelite, I'm killing boredom with spiritual reading, social media, blogging, and wholesome TV programming, much of which is in the classic category (hence, my discussion of Wagon Train episodes in Facebook - LOL).

On Sundays I'm not always able to make the longer 9:30 AM Mass at Assumption Grotto.  Sometimes it is easier to go to the shorter 6:30 AM Mass where I'm not sitting upright as long. Other times, I opt to go to a parish closer to home.  I regret not being able to make the Midwest Apologetics Conference tomorrow that I signed up for, but I'm glad I found someone to take my seat.

My photography hobby at Grotto is pretty much on hold for the time being.  That is why I have not been taking many pictures.  And, the post-processing is done on my desktop where I have difficulty sitting.  I have unfinished photos from past events I may try to complete on my Macbook.

For those who have sent me things hoping I would post them on the blog, I regret that I have been unable to keep up.  I can't promise posting things, but I'll consider whatever is sent, if I have the time and the wherewithal to make a post.

In closing, please know that mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, I'm perfectly fine.  Prayers are always appreciated for physical healing, if it is in harmony with the will of God.

Col 1:24

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Is the Vatican commission on Medjugorje completing its work this week?

Final Update: Fr. Lombardi confirms the news; and, my latest commentary focuses on why I believe the Church has taken so long

[This post has been updated several times.  Until there is something on the Holy See website, updates will be made to this post, so check back.]

On January 15, 2014, the Croatian language portal,, reported, in what it calls, "an exclusive," that the Vatican commission on Medjugorje will end it's work this Friday and send it's findings on to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The report says it will then quickly go to the desk of Pope Francis where a decision will be set.

The rest of the report goes through some background and history.

While I hope this is all true, we have been fooled by rumor many times before.  But, this is not a little precise when it says it is happening this Friday. In any event, I'll believe it when I see official communication from the Holy See.

On January 14, Cardinal Vinko Puljić, the metropolitan of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the commission is still working, but likely soon to share it's findings with the CDF.  The site, "24 Sata" (24 Hours) also reports, in it's headline, that the archbishop of Vrhbosna has grown tired of working on this commission.  A touched up, crude google translation is as follows:

Cardinal Puljić
"I'm a little tired of the work on this committee. You do not even known how many things I had to study, from television records, and more. I hope that it will happen this year, that the Commission will complete its work, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will make it's conclusions, and the Holy Father will announce his decision." - Puljic said.

We need to consider that this commission began on March 17, 2010.  For the the metropolitan of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this has gone on much longer than the nearly four years the international commission has been working, and for Bishop Ratko Perić it has been going on for decades.

I hope the first report is correct and that the CDF will get the commissions findings this week.  I think we are all getting a little tired of waiting for the Holy See to answer the question of Medjugorje.

UPDATE 1: Cardinal Puljić met with Pope Francis today.

Mark De Vries, a Catholic blogger out of the Netherlands I enjoy reading when I can, replied to my tweet this morning with this:

Checking the Vatican Information Service for January 16, I see the note.

UPDATE 2: Bosnia-Herzegovina Bishops' Conference Note:

I just received an email with this notification, now on the website for the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  This is a direct, unedited google translation, which is sufficient to understand what they desire the public to know about the meeting.  No mention of Medjugorje was made in the public statement.  I myself have a hard time believing the subject was not discussed, but it is within the right to disclose or not disclose, what was discussed in private meetings.  That said, there are many serious issues the bishops of that nation are dealing with, aside from Medjugorje.

On the 16th siječnja 2014th, Francis Pope received in private audience Archbishop Cardinal Vinko Puljic Vrhbosnia accompanied by his former personal secretary Fr. Josip Knezevic, who is currently in graduate school in Rome. 
File photo
In a cordial meeting, which lasted more than half an hour, the Holy Father recalled the previous meeting with Cardinal Puljic, and recalled his appointment and before the 20-odd years as then the youngest cardinal in the College of Cardinals. The Holy Father is spontaneously spoke with Cardinal Puljic on the situation in the troubled war Bosnia and Herzegovina, with special emphasis on the situation of the Catholic Church. 
After displaying the current political, social and religious-spiritual state, and in particular the situation of the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cardinal Puljic met with the Holy Father's initiative to maintain the Synod of the same archbishopric. Pope Francis specifically supported the initiative of holding the Synod of the same archbishopric, which, in a pastoral perspective, encouragement in the faith and hope of priests, monks and nuns, as well as the whole of the people of God who lives and works in the area of ​​the diocese. 
During the meeting they discussed the historical fact that the current of 2014.year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I who somehow started in Sarajevo, which has greatly affected the peace and stability of the whole region, including the current state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They emphasized the need to take this opportunity to send a strong message of peace and a call to prayer for peace since the last century was indeed a bloody century in Europe and the world, and especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina.The Holy Father said that something must be done to both Europe and the whole world is taken seriously for peace must be based on equal rights for all people. 
At the end of the conversation, Pope Francis is interested in a particular way for the family to come Puljic showing that he is a known fact that he comes from a very large family. After talking Puljic knelt and asked apostolic blessing to him by the Holy Father has bestowed upon the Archbishop of Sarajevo as a whole and for the family they come from. (KTA)

UPDATE 3: Tweet from follower in Croatia on January 17

Marilena also tweeted a link to the press release which says, (Google Translate version)

Zagreb archbishop in Rome 01/17/2014. 
Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanic traveled to Rome where he will today, 17 siječnja of 2014. The part at the meeting of the International Commission of Inquiry into the events in Medjugorje at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 
Press Office of the Archdiocese of Zagreb

This somewhat correlates to something I saw in one report that suggested there would be some kind of vote today.  If so, I think we can expect notice from the Holy See very soon, that the CDF has received the findings of the international commission.  Remember, they do not make the final judgment. The CDF will review it and pass it along to Pope Francis who will ultimately answer, "the question of Medjugorje."  I put that in quotes as it comes from the words of the then Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop D'Errico said to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina when the commission was announced in March of 2010.  This translation was based on the report found on the BiH Bishops Conference at that time, which conflicted with versions found in other reports which omitted the word, "question."

From personal experience, every time I met the Holy Father he had great interest in the question of Medjugorje, a question to which he was directed from the very beginning that he became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It deals with a question for which he feels responsible as the supreme head of the Church to pronounce a clear message.
The Holy Father personally knows it very well and he has told me that several times - he is well acquainted with the whole phenomenon. He knows about the great good that is being done in this region by the priests, the Franciscan friars, and the laity. And on the other hand he asks himself how come there is information in such opposition to this phenomenon.

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Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Catholic Virtual Wars 10: What Aquinas really said about fraternal correction of prelates...

So, you have probably read or heard that St. Thomas Aquinas says that we can correct our bishops, even in public.  I'll bet you haven't seen the rest of what the Angelic Doctor said on the subject.  He is often quoted thus:

It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly.

However, people stop there, without studying all that the Angelic Doctor said on the subject of correcting a prelate.  If all of us spent as much time with our noses in the Summa as we do perusing Catholic commentary about current events, we might actually become holy witnesses for the faith.  Some of what is out there is downright disturbing and a danger to any soul humbly pursuing holiness and virtue.  There's nothing like adding water in a gas tank to make it go nowhere fast. One such spiritual danger is the sport of bishop-bashing.   Paul rebuked Peter just once, not daily.

If you think members of today's episcopacy are more plagued with problems than bishops of past centuries, you don't know your Church history.   It was just a few decades ago that it took weeks or months for us to learn what a pope said, and it was only periodic that something was deemed worthy to disseminate more publicly. Now, a bishop can't burp without someone tweeting it. As one of the priests at my parish recently pointed out: Who knows what seemingly outrageous things popes did or said outside of official business that would have scandalized us if the technology we have today, had been in place then?

So, what does Aquinas really say?

After explaining that we may not correct a prelate as a matter of justice, but only as an act of charity, Aquinas says (emphasis mine in bold):

"...a virtuous act needs to be moderated by due circumstances, it follows that when a subject corrects his prelate, he ought to do so in a becoming manner, not with impudence and harshness, but with gentleness and respect. Hence the Apostle says (1 Timothy 5:1): "An ancient man rebuke not, but entreat him as a father." Wherefore Dionysius finds fault with themonk Demophilus (Ep. viii), for rebuking a priest with insolence, by striking and turning him out of the church."

St. Thomas is telling us that we can slay a priest with the sword of our tongues!  We get to engage in fraternal correction, but we do not get to do it our way; rather, it has to be done God's way. This does not involve mocking bishops and making them the butt of disrespectful jokes and commentaries, even when we believe them to be in error.

In discussing this with some solid, orthodox, holy and spiritually mature priests I know, I was reminded about how David had the young Amel'ekite slain after he took credit for dispatching Saul (who had tried to kill David). Upon hearing the young man claim he ended Saul's misery, David tore his shirt then ordered his death, saying:
“Your blood be upon your head; for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have slain the Lord’s anointed.'" (2 Sam 1:16)
If you have read the life of Saul in the Old Testament, you will know he was no saint. Nonetheless, he was anointed by God.

Going back to Aquinas on fraternal correction of prelates, in responding to Objection 2, which points to Paul rebuking Peter, Aquinas writes:

To withstand anyone in public exceeds the mode of fraternal correction, and so Paul would not have withstood Peter then, unless he were in some way his equal as regards the defense of the faith. But one who is not an equal can reprove privately and respectfully. Hence the Apostle in writing to the Colossians (4:17) tells them to admonish their prelate: "Say to Archippus: Fulfil thy ministry [Vulgate: 'Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.' Cf. 2 Timothy 4:5." It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter's subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss ofAugustine says on Galatians 2:11, "Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects."

That paragraph above had the sentence often quoted in isolation, in full context. And, it must be taken in the context of the other points made by St. Thomas, namely to be respectful in carrying it out.  In his reply to Objection 1, which used Exodus 19:12 as justification to not correct a prelate, he makes this clear and points out the distinction:
It would seem that a subject touches his prelate inordinately when he upbraids him with insolence, as also when he speaks ill of him: and this is signified by God's condemnation of those who touched the mount and the ark.

You would be hard pressed to find any place in the section on fraternal correction of prelates, where Aquinas allows us to speak in such a way as to make them look like buffoons, even when they may be in error.   Quoting one more time, from his main answer in Article 4:

When a subject corrects his prelatehe ought to do so in a becoming manner, not with impudence and harshness, but with gentleness and respect.
Something should be said here about encouraging people to speak with impudence, harshness and disrespect.  All it takes in this media driven era, is lots of hits to encourage someone to do more of the same.  I try to avoid sources that poke fun of bishops and mock them, especially on a frequent basis for this reason, but sometimes things come to my attention.  On the other hand, I have shared some critiques of something a bishop said or done, when I felt it was written with due respect for the office.  These are usually done dispassionately and devoid of name-calling, and entertaining put-downs. Those critiques appeal to reason, not just of the reader, but hopefully of the bishops themselves, rather than appealing to emotions and feelings.

Don't read a sentence in the Summa in isolation

If five people used a sentence or two in isolation, you can see that different conclusions could be drawn by each. We now know there is an acceptable form, to God,  of fraternal correction of prelates. We also know of ways to engage in it that are offensive to God (and thereby worthy of Sacramental Confession).  This may be vague, but Confession can be a discernment aid.

Sometimes when I have criticized a priest or bishop publicly, or even in conversation with others, I take the matter to a trusted priest in Confession and let him pass judgment on what I said, how I said it, even when I think I am in the right. Of course, building virtue is dependent on how honest you are with the priest and this takes serious reflection and being honest with oneself.  Time in Adoration is the best place to cool off and do an examination of conscience.  Using Sacramental Confession in this way is how you learn. Of course, this is dependent on finding not just a solid, orthodox priest, but one who is spiritually mature and holy.  There's a difference.  A priest who knows the faith well and celebrates a good liturgy is not necessarily spiritually mature in terms of virtue.  The best thing to do is ask God to help you discern the best possible confessor available, then trust him.

Read the entire section on Fraternal Correction in the Summa, several times.  Then, put it aside and come back to it again later.  Review it a few times yearly.  Share the link with others when you see isolated quotes.

Summa tips

Reading the Summa can be intimidating.  Here is a useful, simple aid on the structure

For those who like detail, the New Theological Movement has one

Also, the language in the Summa may make things difficult to understand, especially for those of us without background in philosophy.  However, don't be afraid to go back to the old habit of using a dictionary. Many are online, including philosophy encyclopedias.  That said, even if you understand the words, but struggle putting it together, just say a prayer and read it slowly a few times.  Put it away and come back to it later.  Sometimes, it's best just to let the one thing go and keep going as it may have no ill effect on the thing you are trying to glean from the passage.  

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Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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