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Our Lady's Electronic Newsletter: August 2007
On the 7th day of the 7th month of 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued his long-awaited Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which authorizes Catholic priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass -- the Mass of St. Pius V -- if a "stable group of faithful" request it. Currently, such requests must be approved by the local bishop. This has proven to be a great obstacle, since many bishops, especially in western Europe and North America, are strongly opposed to any hint of return to the Mass of All Time.
Partly as a sop to the modernists in the Church, the Holy Father, in an accompanying letter to the bishops, stressed that he was in no way rolling back the reforms of Vatican II. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Benedict's Motu Proprio "doesn't impose any return to the past, it doesn't mean any weakening of the authority of the council nor the authority and responsibility of bishops."
The Pope stated clearly what traditionalists have maintained all along, that the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated. "What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful," Benedict wrote.
Now we are to see the traditional Mass coexist alongside the Protestantized Novus Ordo Mass. The Pope said that the new Mass celebrated in the vernacular that emerged after Vatican II would remain the "normal" form of Mass, while the Tridentine version would remain an "extraordinary" form that, according to the Vatican, would probably only be sought by relatively few Catholics.
Reaction to the Pope’s "reform of the reform" has been mixed. While traditionalists have naturally approved, others have been hostile. The Jewish Anti-Defamation League called the move a "body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations".
Some French bishops and liberal-minded clergy and faithful elsewhere expressed fears that allowing freer use of the Tridentine liturgy could create divisions in parishes since two different liturgies would be celebrated. Perhaps what they truly fear is that the faithful will "vote with their feet" and return to the traditional Mass, leaving Novus Ordo liturgies even more empty of worshippers than they are already.
Meanwhile, in a letter published on July 8th, Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of St. Pius X, said "The letter which accompanies the Motu Proprio does not hide the difficulties that still remain." In his letter to the bishops, Benedict himself acknowledged removing the restrictions on the Tridentine Mass will not heal the split between the traditionalists and the liberal clergy, since the reasons behind the break "were at a deeper level."
There needs now to be an in-depth discussion of the deeper doctrinal questions arising from Vatican II, including ecumenism, religious liberty and the sharing of power with bishops. The Pontiff clearly wants to make things right, and most traditionalists rejoice that a good beginning has been made.
But this is only the beginning. Lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of the liturgy is that of the faith. We must not cease to pray not just for the return to the traditional liturgy, but for the return of the entire Catholic Church to the faith which has been professed "always, everywhere and by all."
The Suicide of Altering the Faith in the Liturgy by Father Paul Kramer
In mid-July officials of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association -- the pseudo-church set up by the Communists to supplant the Roman Catholic Church in China -- announced that they had selected a new Bishop of Beijing. Joseph Li Shan, currently serving as a parish priest in the CCPA diocese of Beijing, was named on July 16 to succeed Michele Fu Tieshan, the government-approved head of the Beijing archdiocese, who died in April.
Although Li was not chosen by the Pope, AsiaNews reports that the bishop-elect was one of several candidates to whom the Vatican "raised no objection". AsiaNews says the bishop-elect was selected through an "independent process that appears to be an effort to compromise between the demands of the Holy See and those of the [Communist] Beijing government".
Coming as it did not three weeks after the release of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics, the appointment appears to be a deliberate provocation, aimed at testing the resolve of the Holy See.
In his letter, dated May 27th but not released until over a month later, the Holy Father wrote that closer relations between Beijing and Rome were hampered by "entities that have been imposed" upon the Church in China. Benedict was clearly referring to the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is controlled by the Communist Party and claims authority to appoint bishops in that country.
Li Shan’s nomination will now be rubber-stamped by the "Chinese Council of Bishops". But in his letter, the Pope wrote that the Chinese bishops' conference "cannot be recognized as an Episcopal conference of the Apostolic See", because it includes some bishops who have been ordained without the required permission from Rome, and excludes others -- the bishops of the underground Catholic Church -- who are recognized by Rome.
The argument over who has the right to appoint bishops is one of the main obstacles to improved relations between China and the Vatican. The Communists are afraid of losing control of the "church" which they set up in 1957, after China severed ties with the Vatican and expelled all foreign priests.
Since then, many local priests have been imprisoned, tortured and even executed. Several priests and bishops who remain loyal to Rome are still in jail because of their opposition to CCPA. China says it now has about five million Catholics, but there are believed to be twice as many who worship in underground churches with priests not recognized by the state. The Pope's letter said Catholics could worship in state churches, even if their priests had no links with the Pope, if finding Vatican-approved clergy caused "grave inconvenience".
There are other signs of a possible compromise between Rome and the Communists. In recent years the CCPA has allowed names to be submitted to the Pope in advance for his secret approval before its "official" ordination takes place. According to Chinese sources, the name of Li Shan was among those put forward in that manner.
AsiaNews seems to think Li Shan is a good compromise candidate. It says he "is considered across the board as a good and true pastor. A man of faith, capable of relating to both the faithful and the political authorities." It says Li Shan has not hesitated to stand up to the CCPA when required, and has fought against the forced expropriation of Church property in his parish. Yet it says he has managed to keep on the good side of the local and national governments.
If this is so, it makes the new bishop-elect quite different from another recent papal appointment, Joseph Zen, the Cardinal Archbishop of Hong Kong. When Archbishop Zen was elevated to the rank of Cardinal last year, there were some who thought that he would be the one to build a "bridge of reconciliation" between Rome and Beijing.
Yet in practice, Cardinal Zen has proved a more intractable anti-Communist now than he was before. He has also spoken out strongly against the CCPA. When, following his elevation, the Communists ordained three new "bishops" without Vatican clearance, Cardinal Zen described the ordinations as "acts of war".
This July, on the 10th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to Communist China, Cardinal Zen joined tens of thousands in a pro-democracy march through the streets of the city. His participation was condemned by a senior official of the CCPA, Liu Bainian, who was quoted by the South China Morning Post as asking how the Vatican could win China's trust if it appointed people like the Cardinal.
That begs the question of why the Vatican should seek to win the approval of the Chinese Communists, by softening its stance on the CCPA and otherwise compromising its stand in favor of the freedom of religion and democracy for which so many Chinese Catholics have suffered.
It seems to us that now, when China is seeking to improve its human-rights image in the West ahead of the Olympics, is the time for Rome to stand fast. The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association is by definition schismatic. It cannot ever be part of the Roman Catholic Church because it owes its allegiance not to Rome and the Pope, but to Beijing and atheistic Communism.
Led by Father Nicholas Gruner, Our Lady’s Apostolate has called consistently and tirelessly for nearly three decades for the Pope, in union with the bishops, to solemnly and publicly consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Through that Consecration, Our Lady of Fatima promised us, Russia will be converted.
Converted to what? Surely the answer must be, to the Roman Catholic Faith. That means the Orthodox believers, our separated brethren, must abandon the schism of nearly a thousand years and return to the fold of Rome. At least, that was what the Church always taught and we always thought. In recent times, though, some Catholics, even priests and bishops, seem to have forgotten this.
According to the Interfax news agency, Russia 's leading Catholic prelate, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, said at a conference in Moscow marking the 90th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearances at Fatima, that it is "completely wrong" to think that the Virgin's prediction about the conversion of Russia meant that all Russians would come into the Roman Church.
Conversion, the Archbishop said, "is a long and ongoing process, and we should all participate in it." He urged cooperation between the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and decried "aggressive proselytism".
" Russia is above all an Orthodox country and it is the Russian Orthodox Church that is responsible in the first place for converting people," Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said. He told his listeners that the Catholic Church teaches "that proselytism is absolutely unacceptable and cannot constitute a strategy for the development of our structures either in Russia or in any other country in the world."
These are truly amazing statements for a Catholic prelate to make. With all respect to the Archbishop, it seems that if he has not lost the faith entirely, he has forgotten what the Church has always taught. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus! Outside the Church there is no salvation!
Let us hope that Archbishop Kondrusiewicz has now read "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church", released by the Vatican on July 10th. This text was signed by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and approved by Pope Benedict XVI.
This short document is a must-read for all those in danger of being taken in by the false ecumenism which is one of the "fruits" of Vatican II. It reaffirms the traditional teaching that the Roman Catholic Church is the one, true Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, in which only are to be found all of the elements necessary to our salvation.
The text said the Second Vatican Council used the term "church" in reference to Orthodox Churches because, although separated from the Catholic Church, they have preserved apostolic succession, the ordained priesthood and the Eucharist. Nevertheless, the document continues, they "lack something in their condition as particular Churches" because they are not in union with the Pope.
As for "the Christian communities born out of the Reformation", i.e. the Protestants, the text declares that because they do not enjoy apostolic succession -- the unbroken succession of bishops going back to St. Peter -- they "cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense."
The key words here are "according to Catholic doctrine". Extra ecclesiam nulla salus is dogma, and has been for over 700 years! According to Unam Sanctam, written in 1302 by Pope Boniface VIII, "it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." This doctrine also appears in the profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council: "One, moreover, is the universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all is saved."
"No one at all". Devout though many Russians and other Orthodox believers may be, they need to come back to Rome, to welcome the embrace of the Roman Catholic Church, to be saved.
Let us remember that the Blessed Virgin appeared at Fatima before the Communist revolution. When She asked us to obtain for Her Immaculate Heart the conversion of Russia, She was speaking of a nation which was officially Orthodox, not officially atheist as it later became. Clearly Our Lady of Fatima intended and intends today the conversion of Russia from Orthodoxy to Catholicism.
Now, in a cover letter, Cardinal Levada asks the world's bishops -- presumably including Archbishop Kondrusiewicz -- to do all they can to promote and present the document to the wider public. The Catholic Church's teaching, the text says, is that the fullness of the Church "already exists, but still has to grow in the brethren who are not yet in full communion with it and also in its own members who are sinners."
U.S. Dominican Father J. Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary of the CDF, said the document does not call into question the Pope's pledge to work for ecumenical progress. "The Church is not backtracking on its ecumenical commitment," he affirmed, "But ... it is fundamental to any kind of dialogue that the participants are clear about their own identity." Father Di Noia told Vatican Radio "When people go into a Catholic church and participate in Mass, the sacraments and everything else that goes on there, they will find everything that Christ intended the Church to be."
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