Month: May 2003

Last year Cardinal Ratzinger personally recommended in an interview that the next head of the Church should come from Africa — saying, “I personally feel that this would be a good sign for Christendom in its entirety.” His comment was interpreted by some as implicit backing for the candidacy of Cardinal Francis Arinze.

Arinze seems well-suited for the task: As recently-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Arinze is attuned and sympathetic to the concerns about proper celebration of the liturgy. As a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he’s concerned about maintaining orthodoxy within the Church. And as previous head for the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and is well-versed and highly regarded for his role in interreligious relations, especially with Islam (certainly of great concern in this time).

And now Cardinal Arinze appears to have made headlines for causing a stir at a Jesuit university commencement ceremony for speaking his mind and, well, behaving like a Cardinal concerned with a nation’s blatant lack of respect for life and family.* * *


John de Fiasole’s recent blog (“an unsolicited testimonial”, 5/22/03) sold me on the notion that I ought to subscribe to The Thomist (a good influence, if the quality of his blogging is any indication). I went ahead and added it to my “wish list” of periodicals I’d like to get at some point when finances permit, along with Touchstone, Crisis, and Communio.

On a similar note, a friend of mine gave me some old issues of The Chesterton Review and the Saint Austin Review, which I have never encountered before, but by all appearances promises to be an excellent read.

The Saint Austin Review ” brings together scholars, journalists, poets and spiritual leaders from around the English-speaking world . . . Each month 12 pages of this 44-page magazine are devoted to a particular cultural or spiritual theme, with lavishly illustrated articles” by familiar authors such as James V. Schall, S.J., Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., Aidan Nichols OP, Thomas Howard, Janet Smith, Ralph McInerny, Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft, and Joseph Pearce — the latter being the magazine’s co-editor and author of three excellent biographies on Tolkien, Chesterton & Belloc, published by Ignatius Press.

George Weigel’s latest column (5/21/03) — “The Catholic Difference” discusses the revolutionary implications of Pope John Paul II’s Marian view of the Church, which he describes as a “theological time bomb”:

Speaking to representatives of the “Petrine Church,” who not infrequently think themselves the center of the Catholic world, Pope John Paul suggested that the “Marian profile” in the Church is the most fundamental of Christian realities. Mary, the Pope said, was the first disciple, whose “yes” made possible the incarnation of God’s son. The incarnation was “extended” in history through the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ. Mary’s bodily assumption into heaven prefigures the glorification of all those who will be saved. Thus, Pope John Paul taught, Mary provides a “profile” of what the Church is, of how the people of the Church should live, and of what that redeemed people’s destiny is.

The Pope then gave the screw another gentle twist. The “Marian profile” in the Church, the Pope said, is even “more…fundamental” than the “Petrine profile.” The two cannot be divided. But the Church formed in the image of Mary — the Church of disciples — preceded and made possible the Church formed in the image of Peter — the Church embodied by the distinguished Churchmen present at the Pope’s address. Indeed, the “Marian Church” made sense out of the “Petrine Church,” for, as the Pope insisted, office and jurisdiction in the Church exist only “to form the Church in line with the ideal of sanctity already programmed and prefigured in Mary.” The Church formed in Peter’s image and the Church formed in Mary’s image complement each other. But, the Pope insisted, “the Marian profile is…pre-eminent,” and is certainly richer in meaning for every Christian’s vocation.

The message was unmistakable. Authority in the Church serves discipleship. The power of the keys serves sanctity. Here was a richly textured theology of Mary chipping away at some old-fashioned assumptions about the centrality of the Church-as-institution — and at the very epicenter of institutional Catholicism.

The film on the life of St. Thèrése of Lisieux (“the little flower”) is scheduled to be released this October. According to Zenit.Org, Vatican officials were provided with an advance screening of the film this past weekend. Commenting on Younce’s performance, Carmelite priest and Thèrése expert Father Donald Kinney stated that, ” Thèrése is truly in that film, her presence is in that film.” (According to Zenit the film also received a standing ovation from bishops and journalists in Dallas).

The film’s director, Leonardo Defilippis, in a recent interview, expressed his confidence that Thèrése could very well be a “renaissance in the production of high-quality Catholic films”.

Christine from Christus Victor says that “Hollywood is keeping an eye on the number of hits the official website receives to determine how many theaters it will open in this Fall.” To that end, please note the banner for St. Thèrése: The Movie on the top left of the page, and click at least once every single time you visit this blog . . . Hollywood’s watching.

Happy 83rd birthday, Pope John Paul II !!!

At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals, congratulated the Pope on his birthday, not only on behalf of those present in Rome, but also on behalf of the “innumerable people spread throughout the world, well beyond the confines of the Catholic Church, including beyond the confines of the Christian world.”

“To believe and to love: this is the program of his pontificate. You show us, tirelessly, the face of Christ, the face of the merciful God,” Cardinal Ratzinger said. “Tirelessly you lead us, grounding us in Christ, to overcome the forces of hatred, the prejudices that separate, to pull down the walls that attempt to separate us,” he added.

“By beginning afresh from Christ, you help us to find the way that leads to salvation. For this, we wish to give you our heartfelt thanks. May the Lord reward you as he rewards his faithful servants,” he said.

Vatican City. May 18, 2003.

For the first time, the Holy See has given an e-mail address: on its web page (, so that any one who wishes to send congratulations may do so.

Dubious sources in Catholic Family News

Residents of St. Blog’s will recall that the scandal involving Robert Sungenis and CAI in 2002 was sparked by his use of dubious sources in his article “Conversion of the Jews Not Necessary? The Apocalyptic Ramifications of a Novel Teaching.” 1.

One of the key sources of last year’s controversy was Sungenis’ praise of Fr. Denis Fahey, a proponent of the Jewish Zionist conspiry who is held in high regard by both the SSPX and various White Supremacist organizations, and whose book The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation received rave review by John Vennari in The Remnant (and is in fact, sold by the Remant bookstore).

Regretfully, in the past month evidence of another recent traditionalist use of dubious sources has surfaced. The latest issue of Catholic Family News, edited by John Vennari, features an article on The Attack on the Oberammergau Passion Play, which, besides prominent mention of Fr. Fahey, also mentions as a credible source Judaism’s Strange Gods by Michael Hoffman II.2.

18. Talmud, Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, Robert Goldenberg (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), pp. 166-167. Cited from Judaism’s Strange Gods, Michael Hoffman II, p. 6.

22. One of the finest contemporary books on the subject of the Talmud and the Kabbalah is Judaism’s Strange Gods by Michael Hoffman II, (Cour d’Alene: The Independent History and Research Company, Fourth Printing, August, 2002).

This is not the first time Michael Hoffman II is referred to by Catholic Family News. The March 2003 article “The Talmudic Touch: The Real Story of the Offertory’s Replacement” by Craig Heimbichner also cites Hoffman’s book as a source.

So, one may ask: just who is Michael A. Hoffman II? — According to his website, he is a revisionist historian and investigative reporter, self-proclaimed source for “suppressed information on Judaism’s strange gods, secret societies and psychological warfare and radical history”, and when he’s not inveighing against Zionism, the Talmud, and the Holocaust, or defending white separatism , he’s attacking Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger as “covert adherents of the religion of Judaism. They are crypto-rabbis, loyal to Talmudic doctrine, rather than the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, which they betray”. He even refers to the Holy Father as “the Judas Iscariot of our time.” One doesn’t have to look very far to find similar polemics on “The Jewish Mentality”.

Traditionalists may have legitimate grievances about the post-Vatican II church and the right to express them — and it is entirely possible to do so in a respectful and credible manner. However, one can only conclude that Vennari’s high praise of such a controversial source3 as “one of the finest contemporary books on the subject of the Talmud” in the pages of Catholic Family News can only result in the further tarnishing and discrediting of the Catholic traditionalist movement.4

1) After the fallout Sungenis promised readers that this article, along with another titled “The Jewish Talmud – A Sacred Book?”, will both “be reposted in the first week of November [2002] with much more significant information, as well as a good measure of sensitivity to all parties involved.” (Readers are still waiting).

2) Actual text of citations as of May 17, 2003. Perhaps Vennari may choose to retract his commendation (and remove mention of ) Michael A. Hoffman in subsequent revisions to his article.

3) In February 2003, the Anti-Defamation League has released a report of responding to the distortions of Michael Hoffman.

4) To give credit where credit’s due: it was a post to a traditionalist mailing list that raised attention to Vennari’s citations of Hoffman. I did some further googling on Hoffman and felt compelled to express concerns to a broader audience.

I haven’t read The Wanderer on a regular basis — Crisis Magazine and First Things being my usual choices in religious periodicals — but I have to say I’m impressed with the second installment of Omar Gutierrez’s critique of the recent traditionalist manifesto The Great Facade, in which he examines the author’s (ignorant or deceptive?) misreadings of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger.