Young Father Ratzinger was a peritus at the Council, i.e. a theological expert available for consultation by the Archbishop of Cologne, Joseph Frings. Photos of the then-young priest show him in a business suit and tie, as clerical garb was becoming unfashionable in progressive circles at the Council. (See: "Pope in a business suit".) Of course, as Supreme Pontiff, Benedict XVI is known for his penchant for digging into the papal wardrobe, as demonstrated in the famous photo showing him in a Santa-Claus like hat at Christmas-time. (See: "'Santa Pope' woos Vatican crowds".)
So, Papa Ratzinger's taste in fashion appears to have changed. What about his taste in theology? Judging from his comments on the importance and profound meaning of the teachings of the Council, it would seem that the young progressive in the business suit still occupies a prominent place in the brain beneath the Santa Claus hat. (See: "Card. Ratzinger: There is no difference between
my work at Vatican II and now".)
The Holy Father recently described the Council as a "giant fresco painted ... under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." A rather grandiose and laudatory phrase, and one with significant implications for what remains of this papacy. (See: "Audience: Pope's personal memories of Vatican II".)
The 14 surviving Council Fathers physically able to travel to Rome remind one of that handful of octogenarian veterans from a long forgotten war shuffling along in a Fourth of July Parade, like Spanish-American War veterans in the 1950s.
One can be reasonably certain, however, that, like the Pope, these Vatican II vets see the Council as a grand event and their participation in it as the high-point of their lives. But if you were to poll Catholics younger than 60-years-old, many would have only the vaguest knowledge of Vatican II. Certainly, few would think it a relevant factor in anyone's life.
This is the way the two-edged sword of timeliness cuts. It confines its advocates to the backwater of a particular viewpoint in a frozen moment, while history flows on relentlessly. And loyalty to that particular viewpoint becomes stubborn, for so much self-identity is invested in it. Much harm is often worked to preserve narcissistic memories.
One way to understand the seeming contradictions of the current papacy is to bear in mind always that Pope Benedict remains a creature of Vatican II. Beneath the traditional papal robes is the 35-year-old theologian in the business suit who glories in the belief that he's revolutionizing the Church.
For Catholics loyal to the Magisterium, Pope Benedict appears an ambivalent figure. He angers progressives by his concessions to Traditionalists, such as Summorum Pontificum and the lifting of the alleged excommunications of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, and then angers these same traditionalists with concessions to progressives, such as his lavish praise for the supposed benefits to the life of the Church made by the innovations of Vatican II and the appointment to Vatican posts of heterodox figures such as Archbishop Gerhard Müller. (See: "Archbishop Müller on the SSPX and His Controversial Writings" and "Leadership Conference of Women Religious Meet Amid Vatican Dialogue".)
Just who is Pope Benedict, theologically speaking? He appears to be one who believes in the resolution of opposites through the dialectic. In a word, he is a proponent of compromise. The formula appears to be: take some Tradition, add some contradictory innovation, stir thoroughly and bake for a long time at a low temperature. Voila! The continuity cake!
The trouble is, no one is lining up to buy the papal confection.
In the middle is ranged the vast majority of Catholics who will go along with whatever their pastor says. The trouble is, the pastor often doesn't know what to say. This is the trouble with ambivalent leadership: it's confusing and indeterminate.
Donald Cardinal Wuerl, of Washington, D.C., delivered what is considered the keynote address, which sets the tone for the synod. (See: "In major synod address, Cardinal Wuerl rues secularism and poor catechesis, analyzes new evangelization".) But you can sift the Cardinal's words and not find anything more than stale lamentations about growing secularism, poor catechesis and vague exhortations to a greater fidelity to Christ. As for a clear definition of New Evangelization, its methods and aims, His Eminence's words fall short.
It is as though a huge pep rally has been convened, but no one will say what the game is or who the players are. Three cheers for .... what, who, why?
Much of the discussion so far focuses on internal squabbles between contending factions within the Church. Familiar topics such as the role of women (read: women's ordination) have reared their tired heads. Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York said the Sacrament of Penance is key to the New Evangelization. So, is this evangelization to be aimed at Catholics who don't go to Confession?
One may venture a guess that the Old Evangelization is aimed at converting non-Catholics to the Catholic Faith. This is now known under the pejorative term "proselytizing" and is anathema in the post-Vatican II Church, which is guided by ecumenism.
Of course, a clear definition of ecumenism has never been provided, either. So we don't quite know the aim of ecumenism. Nor do we know the aim of the New Evangelization. We assume the New Evangelization must be compatible with ecumenism, but what exactly does that mean?
The Old Evangelization is what built the Catholic Church. But it apparently is not in step with the times. Something new is needed for ... what precisely? If people are not to be converted, what is the purpose of evangelizing? Are we to talk about the Gospel, but not too persuasively? Are we to suggest the Catholic Faith is true, but not urge anyone to take it seriously enough to renounce their errors and embrace it?
The New Evangelization, with all its ambiguities and purposelessness, is what comes of the policy of compromise and "continuity" that mistakenly assumes truth and error can be conflated in a way that preserves truth without discarding or offending error. This mistaken assumption is traced by some to the imprecision in the formulations of Vatican II, whose opening to the world became an accommodation of the world — in all its worldliness.
Pope Benedict appears as the soul of civility. But civility is not among the heroic virtues. It may be distantly allied to Charity. But Charity is desiring the good of another in fraternal love. The ultimate — indeed the only real good — for anyone, according to Catholic dogma, is salvation. And salvation comes exclusively through acceptance of the Catholic Faith.
This is the unambiguous truth. This is the sole message of the True Evangelization. This is the heart of the Message of Fatima. This is what the successor of Peter is obliged to proclaim.
But the Church continues to sink in a morass of confusion. It is as though our leaders are suffering from a disorientation. We were warned of this. We were also told how to stop it. Fatima is the key to the True Evangelization. Let us pray the Holy Father will realize it before too long — and before it is too late.
Our Lady came to Fatima to save our souls. She came especially for us living in the Church today. She saw, and She sees our souls in danger — grave danger. She cannot remain silent. As Pope John Paul II explained: "Can the Mother, Who with all the force of the love that She fosters in the Holy Spirit and Who desires everyone's salvation, can She remain silent when She sees the very bases of Her children's salvation undermined?" The Pope then answered his own question: "No, She cannot remain silent."
The first basis of our salvation is our Catholic Faith. As the Catholic Creed (known as the Athanasian Creed) explains it: "Whoever wishes to be saved must before all else adhere to the Catholic Faith. He must preserve this faith whole and entire; otherwise he shall most certainly perish forever."
We must hold on to all our Catholic dogmas. But Our Lady said in the Third Secret, "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc", clearly indicating that dogma will not be preserved elsewhere. With all the confusing views coming from bishops and Cardinals, including some of those in the Vatican, we must not lose sight of the essentials. Now more than ever!
We know, for example, the Secret of Fatima — the part that is not yet published — condemns errors that would come into the Church as a result of Vatican Council II. We need to see and hear Our Lady's actual words so that we do not fall into heresy and damnation because we thought the priest, bishop or Cardinal that advises us is okay — yet we know the Third Secret warns us that one-third of the Cardinals, bishops and priests are working for the devil. We need the actual text of the Third Secret now in its entirety — so we can save our souls!
We must also keep informed. Read the recent "Fatima Perspective" articles listed below.
Latest Fatima Perspectives
Old Liberals Die Hard — The German traditionalist website kreuz.net contains an infuriating report on the dedication of a new cathedral in honor of Our Lady of Fatima in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. The cathedral was largely the work of auxiliary bishop Athanasius Schneider, the courageous prelate who has called for a "syllabus of errors" to correct the Modernist readings of Vatican II that have turned the Church upside down.
On the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Disaster, the West is
Now Mission Territory — October 7, 2012 marks the beginning of a synod of 262 bishops and archbishops in Rome, meeting with Pope Benedict to discuss "how to counter rising secularism on the 50th anniversary of the momentous Second Vatican Council." The Pope is calling for a "new evangelism" of the Western world as part of the planned "Year of Faith" commencing October 11. Come again? What happened to the "great renewal" of the Church in the "spirit of Vatican II"?
An Athanasius for Our Time? — In his monumental work The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, the renowned liturgical scholar Monsignor Klaus Gamber decried the "real destruction of the Roman Rite" during the "liturgical reform" after the Second Vatican Council, and "the cancerous growth of modernist theology." He declared: "What we need today is a new Athanasius" — in imitation of Saint Athanasius, who (with Saint Basil the Great) stood fast against the Arian heresy that seduced most of the Church during the 4th century. Perhaps today we have a new Athanasius ...
Only Chocolate Cake for Putin — An article in The Moscow Times of September 28 provides a handy update on how the "conversion of Russia" is proceeding on the political front with the construction of a neo-Stalinist, neo-Soviet state under Vladimir Putin.
Kudos to Archbishop Myers — Finally — finally! — an American prelate has spoken out against the absurd abomination of "gay marriage" on the basis of something weightier than a prudential preference for the "traditional family" as a matter of the "traditional understanding of marriage." Finally, an American bishop has spoken of the law of God.
France Prepares to Ban Mom and Dad — The Telegraph of London online edition reported on September 24 that France is set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise gay marriage."
The New York Times and Father Martin: Perfect Together — As the Apostle James observes of belief in God, "the devils also believe and tremble." Theirs is not a supernatural faith, of course, but a faith born of experience and diabolical cunning. When it comes to God in the person of Jesus Christ, The New York Times evinces a similar demonic prudence. Suspecting that Christ is just who He says He is, the Times has always been rather overeager to advance any sort of nonsensical claim that questions His divinity. Most curious is a front-page headline story in the Times of September 18, 2012. Based on nothing more than a scrap of papyrus of unknown origin and history, whose owner is anonymous, the headline screams: "A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus' Wife."
The Continuing Embarrassment of Cardinal Dolan — This column has already noted the scandalous appearance of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, at that coven of fiends known as the Democratic National Convention. Also previously noted was the scandal of Dolan's invitation to Mr. Obama to crack jokes and promote his presidential campaign at the Al Smith Dinner on October 18. "Some have told me the invitation is a scandal," Cardinal Dolan admits. But that will not deter him.
The Vatican's Blunder on the Attack in Libya — Following the attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, supposedly provoked by a laughably crude anti-Muslim video that went viral on YouTube, the Vatican Press Office issued a declaration that expressed more concern for the alleged offense to Muslims than the murder of four American Embassy staffers, including the United States Ambassador to Libya himself.
Abracadabra in the Banjo Basilica — Although Monsignor Luciano Guerra is no longer rector of the Fatima Shrine at the Cova da Iria in Portugal — no doubt his departure was motivated in large part by the infamous incident in May 2004, when Guerra invited a Hindu "priest" and his "congregation" to desecrate the Capelhina (Little Chapel), erected on the very site of the Fatima apparitions, by conducting a Hindu ritual at its altar — the insanity at Fatima continues. The new Fatima basilica — a preposterous banjo-shaped structure, half buried in the ground — that is Guerra's legacy has hosted some very strange doings of late, much in the manner of Novus Ordo churches and basilicas throughout the world in this time of unprecedented confusion in the Catholic Church.
Dolan at the DNC: Our Most Cherished Freedom? — So, Cardinal Dolan gave his benediction at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, thereby legitimating the gathering of that coven of fiends for whom the burning issues of the day are free birth control for college students, the preservation of abortion on demand, and the legal right of homosexuals to pretend to "marry" each other.
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