Month: November 2003

First Sunday of Advent

Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope. All the feasts in the Church’s calendar are events of remembrance and hence events of hope. These events, of such great significance for mankind, which are preserved and opened up by faith’s calendar, are intended to become personal memories of our own life history through the celebration of holy seasons by means of liturgy and custom. Our personal memories are nourished by mankind’s great memories; in turn, it is only by translating them into personal terms that these great memories are kept alive. Man’s ability to believe always depends in part on faith having become dear on the path of life, on the humanity of God having manifested itself through the humanity of men. . . . It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
“Seek That Which Is Above”
Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 1986)

Cardinal Ratzinger on Veritatis Splendor

Cardinal Ratzinger makes an appearance in this week’s edition of “Word from Rome” by John Allen, Jr., along with some notes on the relationship btw/ Karl Rahner & Hans Urs von Balthasar. Ratzinger spoke at a conference at Rome’s Lateran University Nov. 20, the topic being: “Walking in the Light: Perspectives for Moral Theology Ten Years after Veritatis Splendor.” Mr. Allen reports:

When the encyclical appeared in 1993, critical commentary focused on its reassertion of the ban on artificial contraception and other moral norms . . .

Ratzinger told the conference that for him, the “great disappointment” of Veritatis Splendor was not that it caused polemics. “Coming from Germany, I’m used to it,” he joked.

Rather, Ratzinger said, he regretted that the public debate never picked up the main challenge of the encyclical, which was to revitalize Gaudium et Spes’ vision of a Christian morality rooted in scripture and the person of Christ, as opposed to a manualistic, natural law understanding. This project was waylaid, Ratzinger argued, by a number of factors, including the fact that scripture offers few direct answers to the moral problems of our time, and that the language of scripture is too far removed from the positivistic culture of post-modernity. What resulted, Ratzinger argued, is a moral theology that sees scripture as a motivation, a “horizon,” rather than a source of content.

In this context, Ratzinger said, Christian morality was not able to respond to the challenge of relativism, which produced an exaggerated emphasis on “conscience.” The properly Christian vision, Ratzinger argued, is that morality is never subjective because the subject is always open to something greater than itself.”

What strange customs we have . . .

From the Whitehouse:

President Bush pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.

This year marks the 55th consecutive pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey. This event began during the Civil War when Tad Lincoln asked his father to spare a turkey named Jack from a holiday meal. President Abraham Lincoln obliged his son and pardoned the fortunate turkey. Years later in 1947, President Harry Truman pardoned the first National Thanksgiving Turkey.

Every year, the National Turkey Federation has raised a turkey to participate in the ceremony at the White House. This year’s National Thanksgiving Turkey is a female and her name is Katie.

Special care and attention has been given from the first day the turkey was hatched, with increased personal interaction helping acclimate the bird for the crowds at the pardoning ceremony. The turkey will live out her remaining years at the Frying Pan Park’s Kidwell Farm, a petting farm for children in Herndon, Virginia.

Thank you for my beautiful and loving wife who kindly puts up with me; our two kitties; being employed (and by virtue of such, food on the table and a roof over our heads); my parish (staffed by faithful priests whose love for the Church makes it a pleasure to attend); the fact that my city, state and country has not experienced a terrorist incident this year . . . and, last but not least, to all of you bloggers (and St. Blog’s in particular), and those who read them, for the lively and stimulating conversations which have contributed to my ongoing education in the Catholic faith. Very much appreciated!

Controversy & Rumor-Mongering over Fatima (i.e., so what else is new?)

Catholic Light posts about the “Fatima Interfaith Shrine Controversy” currently making its rounds through conspiracy-obsessed radtrad websites and mailing lists. Vatican rep. Michael Fitzgerald has already debunked the rumors. More importantly, they link to a page by Rick Salbato (who lives in Fatima), providing his own take on the affair. According to Salbato:

There would have been no over-reaction to the conference if not for two things: The Pius X Society picked the conference with flyers and the unfortunate invitation of the notorious interfaith theologian, Father Jacques Dupuis . . . . Although the Pius X Society was deigned a permit to build a church in Fatima, they obtained a permit to build a hotel under another name and then converted it into a chapel. Other than this there are no non-catholic organizations in Fatima. And yes, I consider the Pius X Society as non-catholic since they are not in communion with the Holy Father. Because of their connection to Father Gruner and their continuous attacks on the 1984 Consecration, their is great animosity between them and the Shrine.”

The presence of Fr. Dupuis at a conference at Fatima would undoubtebly raise the suspicions of any orthodox Catholic (not just the traditionalists), given his recent investigation by the CDF. But of course the picketing by the SSPX and subsequent rumor-mongering of hysterical radtrads have irresponsibily fanned the flames of controversy. The Lidless Eye Inquisition has also addressed this matter.

I’m glad he was pleased! =)

Thanks to Gen Ex Revert for passing this along:

On Monday 13th October Dr. De Saventhem, Mr. Davies , and Mr. Siebenbürger were granted an audience by Cardinal Ratzinger during which His Eminence received their thanks for the consistent support he has given to those attached to the 1962 Missal, and to discuss a number of issues relating to the apostolate of the Federation. Following the private audience the Cardinal met a group of officers of the Federation, including Fra Fredrick Crichton Stuart, the Federation Vice- President, Mr. Leo Darroch the Federation Secretary, Mr. Fred Haehnel the Federation Treasurer, and Frau Monika Rheinschmitt. Christopher Haehnel, who had accompanied his father to Rome, dearly wished to meet Cardinal Ratzinger, to have his photograph taken with him, and to present him with a Tee-Shirt from the “Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club”. Mr. Davies presented the Tee Shirt during the private audience, and it was accepted by the Cardinal with great good humour. “Very true,” he remarked apropos the words : “Truth is not decided by a majority vote.” Christopher Haehnel achieved his ambition, and was introduced to the Cardinal with whom he was photographed. Somehow or other this seemed to be a fitting conclusion to the highly successful 16th General Assembly of the International Una Voce Federation.

Una Voce International Meets in Rome 11-12 October 2003.

UPDATE: I note with some amusement that this incident has already provoked the ire of one radtrad commentator, who fulminates:


“This Modernist fox — [Ratzinger] — has outfoxed Una Voce, disguising himself as an “angel of light” so as to get these poor, bereft Una Vocans eating out of his hand! At best they are groveling sycophants to New Order gauleiters.”

Response to Mark of Minute Particulars

Mark from Minute Particulars offers a thoughtful response to my previous post on Catholic disagreement w/ the Vatican over Iraq and further reflections on the semantics of “dissent” and “disagreement”. In the latter part of his post Mark expresses his deep concern at the words and actions of various as yet unidentified “Catholic pundits”, online or in print:

I get the impression that Catholics are being encouraged to look for loopholes, to walk within the letter but perhaps not the spirit of Church Teaching, to wiggle and squirm so they can comfortably dismiss the clear statements of concern about current events from the USCCB and the pope. I don’t mean genuine, faithful dissent that may be heroic, objectively correct, and noble. I don’t mean a humble, reverent shaking of one’s head in disapproval. . . . I mean the dissent of Catholics who boldly proclaim the bishops are wrong, the Vatican is wrong, the pope is wrong on an issue of utmost moral significance.

I don’t understand the loud and booming dismissals of official statements by USCCB and the pope that many have offered for public consumption. I don’t quite see how these Catholic pundits can be so confident; from my vantage point they only seem to be offering a simplistic notion of the difference between doctrinal statements and prudential judgments, a shallow reading of the Tradition, and subtle but definite resistance to letting the Lumen Gentium shine without filters or obstruction through the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

But more importantly I’m troubled by the following fact: most of this resistance is coming from faithful, good-willed, intelligent Catholics. Sure there are some frothing fringe folks, but many of these opinions are coming from those who, judging from what they’ve said in the past and on many issues, are wiser, smarter, and older than I am. It’s as if the cap is stuck on the St. Blog’s toothpaste tube and the current crisis is giving it a good, hardy squeeze; the toothpaste is squirting out in places I would have never suspected. And this is disturbing because it makes it clear that the consensus on many issues of earlier times was a little more brittle than I thought.

Mark: Thank you, for offering your thoughts on this matter. If there is anything in this blog such that would give you this kind of impression — mea culpa. While I stand by what I’ve said in my previous post, disputing this war should not be a matter of “looking for loopholes” or cause for “loud and booming dismissals” of the Pope and the statements of our bishops (single or collective); in that I am certainly in complete agreement with you.

I do not have much time to write right now, given the hour. But I understand and am most sympathetic to your concerns. (My recent posts were certainly not the last word on this topic, but rather a brief response and correction).

Lastly, on this note: I have devoted some of my time this past week to putting together a new website on the just war debate. It is actually modeled after my plodding exploration of the Church’s encounter with classical liberalism and, while very much a “work in progress”, will hopefully compile a substantial amount of sources from both sides of the debate so as to provide a resource for further research and ground for civilized and respectful discussion by interested parties. *

    * Note to readers: one can only google for so long, and those better acquainted with various criticisms of the Iraq war on specifically “just war principles” are invited to submit their recommendations (books as well, please). I would sincerely appreciate it.