30 November 2008

CWR Interview with Archbishop Burke


Catholic World Report has an interview with His Grace, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura:



 

 

Interview

The Chief Justice

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke on his appointment to the Vatican Supreme Court and the controversies he leaves behind.

Interview by Anita Crane | November 2008


On June 27, Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop Raymond Burke to the office of prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Before serving as archbishop of St. Louis, Burke served as bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Now as head of the Vatican's supreme court, he is expected to be elevated to the rank of cardinal.

CWR spoke to him about the appointment and his tenure in St. Louis.

Were you happy about the appointment?

Archbishop Burke: Well, I am always happy to do whatever I am asked to do. And of course, when the Holy Father asks you to do something, it is a great honor. Yes, I am happy to do it. Clearly, it is very difficult to leave my flock here in St. Louis, but I realize that it is God's will and that he will provide another shepherd for St. Louis.

How many judges are on the Signatura?

Burke: They don't all sit on each case. Normally, they judge cases in groups of five. The total number of judges is 19, counting me. You always have to have a majority vote for the final decision or definitive sentence in each case.

What kinds of cases does the Apostolic Signatura handle?

Burke: The most common cases are called "administrative contentious cases." By that I mean that they are cases in which a member of the Church makes a recourse against an administrative decision, claiming that the administrative act has done an injustice to him or her.

For instance, the transfer of a pastor; the pastor may make a recourse claiming that the transfer was not handled in a just way. Or a religious may have some complaint about an act of her or his religious superior and claim that it has affected him or her unjustly—those kinds of cases.

Among your many scholarly articles on canon law was the 2007 treatise entitled "The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin." Prior to that in 2004, you announced that then-presidential candidate Senator John Kerry would be denied Holy Communion in your archdiocese.

Some say that your statements on canon law regarding denial of the Eucharist to those who are manifestly unworthy "risk politicizing the Eucharist." What do you say to that?

Burke: It is not a question of politicizing the Eucharist. It is a question of showing the right respect for the Eucharist and also safeguarding individuals from committing sacrilege. And so we have to refuse Holy Communion to public officials who persist in supporting legislation contrary to the natural moral law, after they have been duly admonished.

If I read your article correctly, you place equal responsibility on both parties: the communicant and the minister, whether he is a priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister.

Burke: Yes, that is correct. And it is not a question of my opinion in the matter. Church discipline demands that not only the individual communicant be attentive to respect the Holy Eucharist, but that also the minister of the Holy Eucharist also show respect for the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist—it is the most sacred reality in the Church. 

Why do you think that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' documents on worthy reception of the Eucharist only place responsibility on the communicant?

Burke: Because the documents are not complete. They do not report the Church's discipline in its completeness. The conference of Bishops did not want to take up what is clearly the discipline of the universal Church, in canon 915, placing the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the minister of Holy Communion to deny Holy Communion to a person who approaches to receive and whom he knows to be persistent in public and grave sin, after having been admonished.

It seems like you are saying that if a known abortion cooperator, such as a lawmaker, approaches the Eucharist, but has not been publicly admonished by his bishop, the minister should not deny him Holy Communion.

Burke: I understand your concern. The discipline of the Church, however, provides that a person who is publicly and gravely sinning be admonished not to approach to receive Holy Communion. 

Generally, in my experience, once I admonished, for instance, Catholic legislators who were voting in favor of abortion legislation, they did not presume to approach to receive Holy Communion. The discipline does not open a way to give Holy Communion to those in public and grave sin by failing to admonish them. The bishop and his priests have the gravest obligation to admonish them. If not, they will answer before God.

Some people see you as controversial, to put it lightly.

Burke: Well, that is a creation of the media—the secular media who wanted to discredit the positions I have taken by simply characterizing them as idiosyncratic or as the ideas of a controversial figure. And I have said repeatedly, when people have asked me about various things that I have said and done, "I am a Catholic priest and a bishop, what else did you expect?"

For instance, when the foundation of the local Catholic children's hospital featured Sheryl Crow as a performer at its annual fundraising dinner, I protested as a member of the board and people tried to construe that as being controversial. Yet she had openly fought for the passage of an amendment to the Missouri state constitution to guarantee the so-called right to clone human life for the purpose of obtaining stem cells, and she is an open proponent of procured abortion.

And my response to that simply is, "What would you expect a priest or bishop to do?"

[In January, Coach Rick Majerus of St. Louis University made a campaign appearance for then-presidential candidate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Afterwards, on the anniversary of the US Supreme Court's devastating Roe v. Wade decision, Archbishop Burke said Majerus should be disciplined and he recalled the incident.]

Burke: When the head basketball coach of a Catholic university here was openly espousing a position in favor of a "woman's choice" to have a procured abortion, and other things which are contrary, not only to the Church's teaching, but also to the natural moral law, I protested.

The media want to discredit me by saying, "Well, you are just a difficult person or you are not pastoral." It is they who have created the image of me as difficult and unpastoral. It is not the reality.

I am certainly not a perfect priest or bishop, but I do have a pastor's heart. I think that the St. Louis Catholics who have met me and know me, even if they do not agree with me in every decision, understand that.

Indeed, you have the reputation of a kind and fatherly pastor. For example, there was the "Coming Out of Sodom" story in Celebrate Life, the amazing testimony by a man who suffered same-sex attraction, surrendered to it, and renounced the faith to you as bishop of La Crosse, but who returned to the Church and sacraments with your help. Now that you are leaving the United States, would you please offer some counsel to American Catholics?

Burke: The counsel I would offer is simply that our nation desperately needs Catholics to live their faith with integrity, with enthusiasm, with energy. In so many ways, what the Church teaches addresses the many trials that our nation is facing.

For example, the whole question of respect for human life. So I just urge Catholics to learn their faith more deeply and to give themselves wholeheartedly to living their faith.

In urging Catholics in our nation to know their faith and live it, I would urge especially the invocation and intercession of the Blessed Mother, under her title Our Lady Guadalupe, the Mother of America, the Star of the New Evangelization.

I just had the great joy to dedicate a beautiful shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse—a place of pilgrimage, to which I hope that many people will have the occasion to go and to hear the words of the Blessed Mother to Saint Juan Diego, which are really words to all of us.

What were those words?

Burke: She told him that she wanted a chapel built in which she would manifest to her children of America and to all her children the mercy and love of God. She asked Saint Juan Diego to be her messenger.

In conversations with Juan Diego, she taught him to be her messenger of God's mercy and love. She taught him that, no matter how poor we may be or how little-gifted we may believe ourselves to be, we are called to give witness to our faith. She taught him that we should have courage because the Mother of God is calling upon us to be her witnesses to divine mercy and divine love.

[Archbishop Burke initiated the cause for Father John Hardon's canonization. Hardon was a prolific theologian, teacher, author, Vatican advisor, and spiritual advisor to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Church has declared Father Hardon a “servant of God,” the first of three degrees in the canonization process. While this cause is left to the next bishop of St. Louis, Archbishop Burke spoke of his friend.]

Burke: I worked with [Father Hardon] during the last years of his life, in a number of his apostolates, but principally with the Marian Catechist Apostolate.

We introduced it in the Diocese of La Crosse, where I was bishop, and it actually grew from there. Then I helped Father Hardon to spread the apostolate to other parts of the country….

In the years that I knew him, the servant of God was very sick with cancer. But in those years, I like to say, he was always the quintessential Jesuit—he just would not give up the apostolate. The last meeting I had with him was late December in 2000 and he died on December 30 of 2000. His last words to me were, "Bishop, will you continue to work with me?"… I saw that and how he devoted himself to caring for the people most in need in the Church, especially people who had, in some way, been alienated by something that happened to them in the Church.

Anita Crane is a freelance writer and former senior editor ofCelebrate Life.

Here It Comes


Common currency leads to common government.  Whither the U.S. Dollar?  From Breitbart:

Britain thinking of joining euro: Barroso
Nov 30 04:50 PM US/Eastern
Britain is considering joining the eurozone as a direct consequence of global financial turmoil, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Sunday.

"We are now closer than ever before. I'm not going to break the confidentiality of certain conversations, but some British politicians have already told me: 'If we had the euro, we would have been better off'," Barroso told a weekly French news programme, referring to the fall in the pound's value since markets and liquidity meltdown earlier this year.

"The British have an enormous quality, one of many, that is they are pragmatic," he said on the panel of a joint RTL-LCI radio and television broadcast. "This crisis has emphasised the importance of the euro, and also of Britain," he added.

"I don't mean this will happen tomorrow, I know that the majority (of British people) are still opposed, but there is a period of consideration underway and the people which matter in Britain are currently thinking about it," the former Portuguese prime minister said.

Barroso pointed to the case of Denmark, another EU state which has so far refused to accept the euro but is now planning another referendum on the single currency. The Danish voted against joining in 2000.

29 November 2008

Were You There?


The Tradition for Tomorrow blog has a nice wrap-up of the 100th Anniversary Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory.  

There was also a nice write-up in the Review.  The link is here, but for some reason I couldn't find it listed on the front page or local news sections.  Technology continues to befuddle me.

St. Francis de Sales Oratory celebrates centennial of church 

by Jennifer Brinker, Review Staff Writer


St. Francis de Sales Oratory celebrated the 100th anniversary of its church, the "Cathedral of the Southside," with a centennial celebration last weekend. 

Bishop Robert J. Hermann, archdiocesan administrator, celebrated the Nov. 23 Pontifical High Mass, which featured the oratory’s choirs and a full orchestra performing Charles Gounod’s Mass of St. Cecilia. More than 1,000 people were in attendance. 

A German "Kirchweifest," featuring sauerbraten, bratwurst, black forest cake and other German specialties and the German Waterloo Band, was held in the parish hall after Mass and was organized by St. Francis de Sales Knights of Columbus Council 14067. 

The oratory announced during its celebration the kickoff of a new fundraising campaign, "Tradition for Tomorrow," which will go toward restoration of the church building in need of extensive repair work. 

The first phase, which is expected to cost some $1.5 million, will involve a complete restoration of the steeple tower, which is pulling away from the church foundation because of inadequate foundation support. More information can be found on the web at www.tradition fortomorrow.com. The oratory, which is administered by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, is the center for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, otherwise known as the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. 

"I have found here a very large and well-established oratory of the Institute," said rector Father Michael K. Wiener, who arrived at the oratory earlier this fall. 

"We have so many faithful and so many families — I am very impressed by the piety and the faithfulness of the people here," said Father Wiener, who also is episcopal pro-delegate for the implementation of "Summorum Pontificum" in the archdiocese. The document, issued "Motu Proprio," or "on his own accord," allows for greater use of the Traditional Latin Mass according to the 1962 missal. 

"I am looking forward to serving here — to serve the faithful and to serve the whole Archdiocese of St. Louis," added the native of Hamburg, Germany. 




Advent Begins


Photo of Papal Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent (photo taken from NLM).

Novena to the Immaculate Conception


Beginning today at St. Francis de Sales Oratory--through the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception.  Each Mass will feature a different homilist.  I will post a list as soon as I have it.  The Novena is followed, of course, by the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  This is a patronal feast of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the faithful may receive a plenary indulgence for assisting at any Institute apostolate's Mass that day.

Novena to the Immaculate Conception, Nov. 29 - Dec. 7

Saturday, Nov. 29-12:10pm; Sunday, Nov. 30-10am; Monday, Dec. 1-6:30pm; Tuesday, Dec. 2-6:30pm; Wednesday, Dec. 3-6:30pm; Thursday,Dec. 4-6:30pm; Friday, Dec. 5-6:30pm; Saturday, Dec. 6-12:10pm; Sunday, Dec. 7-10am.

Monday, December 8 - Solemn Feast of the Immaculate Conception: Patroness of the Institue of Christ the King Sovereing Priest-Holy Day of Obligation. Solemn High Mass 6:30pm


List of Homilists:

November 29:  Father Edward Richard, MS

November 30 (Sunday):  Monsignor C. Eugene Morris

December 1:  Monsignor Theodore Wojcicki

December 2:  Father Bede Price, OSB

December 3:  Father Noah Waldman

December 4:  Father Ambrose Bennett, OSB

December 5:  Father Michael Houser

December 6:  Father Samuel Weber, OSB

December 7 (Sunday, Vigil of the Immaculate Conception):  Father Michael Wiener, ICRSS

26 November 2008

Act of Thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity


This prayer was written by St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Doctor of the Church. The prayer is from her Dialogue on Divine Providence.

O ETERNAL God! O Eternal Trinity! Through the union of Thy divine nature Thou hast made so precious the Blood of Thy only-begotten Son! O eternal Trinity, Thou art as deep a mystery as the sea, in whom the more I seek, the more I find; and the more I find, the more I seek. For even immersed in the depths of Thee, my soul is never satisfied, always famished and hungering for Thee, eternal Trinity, wishing and desiring to see Thee, the True Light.

O eternal Trinity, with the light of understanding I have tasted and seen the depths of Thy mystery and the beauty of Thy creation. In seeing myself in Thee, I have seen that I will become like Thee. O eternal Father, from Thy power and Thy wisdom clearly Thou hast given to me a share of that wisdom which belongs to Thine Only-begotten Son. And truly hast the Holy Spirit, who procedeth from Thee, Father and Son, given to me the desire to love Thee.

O eternal Trinity, Thou art my maker and I am Thy creation. Illuminated by Thee, I have learned that Thou hast made me a new creation through the Blood of Thy Only-begotten Son because Thou art captivated by love at the beauty of Thy creation.

O eternal Trinity, O Divinity, O unfathomable abyss, O deepest sea, what greater gift could Thou givest me then Thy very Self? Thou art a fire that burns eternally yet never consumed, a fire that consumes with Thy heat my self-love. Again and again Thou art the fire who taketh away all cold heartedness and illuminateth the mind by Thy light, the light with which Thou hast made me to know Thy truth.

BY this mirrored light I know Thou are the highest good, a good above all good, a fortunate good, an incomprehensible good, an unmeasurable good, a beauty above all beauty, a wisdom above all wisdom, for Thou art wisdom itself, the the food of angels, the fire of love that Thou givest to man.

THOU art the garment covering our nakedness. Thou feedest our family with Thy sweetness, a sweetness Thou art from which there is no trace of bitterness. O Eternal Trinity!
__________________________

O DEITAS aeterna, o aeterna Trinitas, quae per unionem divinae naturae fecisti tantum valere pretium sanguinis unigeniti Filii tui! Tu, Trinitas aeterna, es quoddam mare profundum, in quo quanto plus quaero, plus invenio; et quanto plus invenio, plus quaero te. Tu quodammodo instabiliter animam satias; quoniam in abysso tua ita satias animam, quod semper remaneat esuriens atque famelica, te, Trinitas aeterna, peroptans desideransque te videre lumen in lumine tuo.

GUSTAVI et vidi cum lumine intellectus, in lumine tuo abyssum tuam, aeterna Trinitas, atque pulchritudinem creaturae tuae: propter quod intuendo meipsam in te, vidi me fore tuam imaginem: donante videlicet mihi te, Pater aeterne, de potentia tua et de sapientia tua, quae sapientia Unigenito tuo est appropriata. Spiritus vero Sanctus, qui procedit a te Patre et Filio tuo, dedit mihi voluntatem, per quam me facit aptam ad amandum.

NAM tu, Trinitas aeterna, factor es, et ego factura: unde cognovi, te illuminante, in recreatione quam me fecisti per sanguinem unigeniti Filii tui, quod amore captus es de pulchritudine facturae tuae.

O abyssus, o Trinitas aeterna, O Deitas, o mare profundum: et quid maius mihi dare poteras quam teipsum? Tu es ignis qui semper ardes et non consumeris; tu es qui consumis calore tuo quemcumque proprium amorem animae. Tu es iterum ignis qui tollis omnem frigiditatem, et illuminas mentes lumine tuo, quo lumine fecisti me cognoscere veritatem tuam.

IN huius luminis speculo cognosco te summum bonum, bonum super omne bonum, bonum felix, bonum incomprehensibile, bonum inaestimabile, pulchritudinem super omnem pulchritudinem, sapientiam super omnem sapientiam: quia tu es ipsa sapientia, tu cibus angelorum qui igne caritatis te dedisti hominibus.

TU vestimentum cooperiens nuditatem meam, pascis nos famelicos tua dulcedine, qua dulcis es absque ulla amaritudine. O Trinitas aeterna!


'Twas the Night before the Day before Black Friday

And all through the neighborhood, the Christo-seculars are ready to put up Christmas decorations.

That's right, I just made up a word: Christo-seculars. Who are they? They are Christians, well-meaning no doubt, who love Christmas so much they can't wait to celebrate it. Yet they have, like so many, traded in the Christian calendar for the secular retail calendar. And in the retail calendar, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving.

Sure, some retail "modernists" try to foist Christmas on us just after Halloween-- but this is St. Louis, and we are traditionalist-Christo-seculars. Old school.

So now it begins... it doesn't matter whether it's Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This is The Weekend of Christmas Decorations.

And it is also the Weekend that my family begins its annual exercise in self-flagellation and reasserts its status as Neighborhood Pariahs.

How? Because we still attempt to follow the Christian calendar, which, with regard to Christmas anyway, used to be known as "the calendar". And the more traditional we have become in our practice of the Catholic faith, the more assiduously we have striven to really follow the seasons--Advent first, Christmas after. That means we don't have our Christmas tree lit up like a beacon in our bay window until Christmas Eve, and we don't have any outdoor decorations. Moreover, the advent wreath on our dining room table is not visible to the outside, unless you get so close to the house that I will be forced to procure a restraining order.

I don't know, of course, which neighborhood you live in, but my neighborhood thinks VERY highly of itself. If the name weren't taken, or perhaps if the local schools provided anything like a classical education, it might go by the name of Narcissus Peaks. I mean, it is a lovely little neighborhood, but its denizens think it is simply the cat's meow. Or at least the dog's bark.

In our neighborhood, nearly everyone has fallen in love with the idea that quality outdoor Christmas decorations involve the most garish lights, multiple--I mean multiple-- inflatable snowmen, snow globes (complete with blowing snow), Santas, penguins, polar bears and other such items. All of these are crammed onto front yards the size of an NBA free throw lane. Every cornice, roof line, window pane, lamppost and tree are jammed, JAMMED with lights. I could almost attest in open court that for the next forty days, at dusk, I will notice a discernible dimming of my indoor lights as the greenest of Obama voters turn on the juice.

The neighborhood sturmtroopen hand out awards every year for the best "holiday" lighting and decorations. There are individual awards and block awards. Obviously, I don't mind being overlooked for the individual honors (sniff), but the much-coveted block award is the single most culpable vehicle that dooms my family to outcast status. You see, my block has never won the award. It never will win the award. It is handed out before Christmas day, and so my house is a total dud. Oh, and the Jehovah's Witnesses down the street don't help, either.

This is OK by me, too, and I get a little guilty pleasure seeing the angst on certain faces. We have one Particularly. Well. Respected. Neighbor. who always wins an individual award. In our home, he is affectionately known as uber-neighbor. He tells you how fast (slow) to drive. He signals his minions on the exact times to begin raking, or mowing, or shoveling, as the seasons demand.

He rarely returns my wave this time of year.

But the absolute best Christo-secular neighbor has no pet name in our house. This is because we hold him in absolute awe-- because his ability to assault the beautiful and tasteful in his Christmas decorations goes so far beyond tacky as to be truly sublime. It goes without saying that if you look directly at the holiday lights on his property for more than two seconds you will be left permanently blind. Welders can't handle the optics of it. And inflatable gadgets? You bet. He has an inflatable, scantily-clad in Santa's little-seen underwear Barbie that would make a streetwalker blush. Inflatable NASCAR. Inflatable hula dancer. Inflatable EVERYTHING. Plus tacky, over-stylized Christmas music blaring from speakers.

And yes, he is usually the big award winner of the entire neighborhood. Perfect, if you ask me.

Now we have approximately 37 children living in our three bedroom house. They have eyes (having been warned about the house above, mind you) and can see that everyone else has the decorations up. They ask legitimate questions. We try to give them answers that explain the faith and that satisfy their natural excitement for the season. And on some level it works, but of course every night my wife and I go to bed wondering if it is another day in which we have wrecked their lives.

We take solace, of course, in the fact that they get to look out the windows and see all the festive lights, whereas our neighbors must look out and see our home as festive as a penitentiary the night of an execution.

Ha!

So, we look forward to Christmas Eve, when we festoon the tree, put up decorations, go to Midnight Mass, and enjoy the solace and beauty of that Wonderful Night so long ago when our beloved Savior saw fit to be born into the world of men. The night of humble glory. We thank Him, and pray for the grace to be His faithful children.

And this year I will make a special effort to pray for our neighbors. After all, the day after Christmas begins the second Christo-secular season in which my family are neighborhood pariahs.

That is because on December 26, when all of the lights are down, the trees stuffed in the yard waste bins, and the neighborhood reels about in post-holiday hangover, we are just getting started. We celebrate Christmas. And Epiphany. And our Lord's Baptism. And the tree in our bay window will be up until February 2.

I can already see uber-neighbor's head shaking ruefully as he drives by.

25 November 2008

Tradition-Oriented Reform... For the Sake of the Future

New Liturgical Movement has translated and published the press release by the German Trappist Abbey Mariawald explaining the reasons for its decision to return to its ancient, pre-conciliar liturgy.

The release points out that those monasteries that have embraced tradition are flowering with vocations, and that among many reasons this return to tradition is made with an eye toward the future of the monastery itself. This is an interesting read for those who wonder why the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum is important for the future of the Catholic Church. I have emphasized certain points in italics:

[NLM Note]: After the very brief note from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei about the return of the German Trappist abbey of Mariawald to the Liturgy and the Observance in use in the Trappist Order until 1963/64 (cf. NLM report here), Mariawald Abbey itself has now issued a press release. This declaration, which is nothing less than a manifesto for a return to monastic tradition, I happily present to you here in an NLM translation:

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has granted to the abbot of the Trappist abbey Mariawald (diocese of Aachen), Dom Josef Vollberg OCSO, according to his petition, the privilege to return with his abbey to the liturgy and observance in the Ancient Use of the Order which was in force up to the reforms in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.

This so-called "use of Monte Cistello" was approved during the time of the Council in the years 1963/1964 as a preliminary step of reform.

In a letter of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" of 21 November 2008 this papal privilege is granted to the Abbey. In it, reference is made to the personal decision of the Holy Father to accede in all respects to the privileges desired by the Trappist for a full return to the Ancient Use in liturgy and monastic life. This includes the return to the ancient liturgical tradition of the Order in the celebration of Mass and Divine Office as it was binding until the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council.

The project of reform in Mariawald and the petition of the Abbot concerning this can be regarded as a fruit of the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI for the renewal of the Church in the spirit of tradition.

As the various postconciliar reforms have not yielded for the monastery the expected flowering in liturgy and in the life of the Convent, now the return to tradition links to the centuries-old tradition of the Order. Through the return to the ancient Gregorian liturgy and the stricter use of the monastic form of life, Dom Josef promises himself new spiritual impulses, also regarding new vocations for the abbey.

Worldwide, it can be felt that monastic communities, which cultivate the preconciliar Latin liturgy, can boast of significant numbers of vocations. Especially in France, on the background of a traditional interpretation of the rule of St Benedict and the Gregorian liturgy in Mass and Divine Office, there are flourishing abbeys. In Germany it has previously not been possible for vocations to the monastic life of a traditional form to join a corresponding community. With the papal privilege in Germany, too, there is now for the first time the possibility for young men to live the ancient tradition of contemplative life in the august forms of the classical liturgy and in the strict observance of the rule of St Benedict.

Dom Josef sees himself confirmed in his decision by the Holy Father, whose generously formulated privilege of all desired forms of return to tradition also bespeaks his personal desire that in the rediscovery of the ancient liturgy and manner of life, a renewal of monastic life as a whole may be stimulated. Thus, the abbot is convinced, the personal and direct action of the Pope for the Mariawald Abbey corresponds to the "Project of Tradition", which the Holy Father has initiated in 2007 by his Motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" for the liturgy.

Dom Josef finds himself and his abbey sustainably motivated by the Holy Father and his immediate and direct papal juridical act, to implement the tradition-oriented reform of the monastery with new spiritual vigour for the sake of its future. The Abbey assumes in this a pioneering role worldwide to renew the monastic life out of the spirit of tradition and to counteract the decline of monastic life, which especially some Trappist abbeys have had to experience in recent years.

In the field of economics, the monastery has in recent years already put an emphasis on its focus on organic agriculture. Now it is the spiritual content of contemplative life which is to receive new stimuli from the great tradition of the Order and its classical Latin liturgy.

Currently in Mariawald there are living ten monks, a novice and an oblate. The history of the abbey began with the founding of a Cistercian priory in the 15th Century. After an interruption of monastic life of more than sixty years through the turmoil of the French Revolution, the monastery, newly populated in the 19th Century by Trappists from Alsace, was raised to abbey on the Feast of St Michael in 1909.

On the background of this historic date, now the implementation of the full return of the abbey to the old tradition of contemplative life and to classical Gregorian liturgy is to be completed on the Centenary on 29 September 2009.

Marienwald, the 25th of November, 2008
Dom Josef Vollberg, O.C.S.O., abbot

Bishop Hermann and the Abortion Issue


Linked here, this Spero News story does a nice job of covering the recent public statements of His Excellency. A kind reader pointed out to me that this story essentially uses the interview of His Excellency by Jennifer Brinker and runs with it:

A bishop willing to die for an end to abortion

A Roman Catholic bishop of St. Louis MO said that it would be a privilege to die in order to bring about an end to abortion. Christians' response to abortion should be proportionate to the scale of the practice of abortion.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
By CNA

At the recent fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Robert J. Hermann, the administrator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, declared that for any bishop it would be a “privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion.” He has further explained that Catholics' response to abortion in our country should be proportionate to the scale of the tragedy.

At the bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, Bishop Hermann had said: "We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution.

"I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion.”

“If we are willing to die tomorrow, then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."

Speaking with the archdiocesan newspaper the St. Louis Review, the bishop commented: “I think that the way abortion has been presented over the past 35 years so often is that this is something that’s horrible, and we need to stop it. But it seems to me that people do not realize that it is 50 million children that we have killed. We have campaigned to save the baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians — which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

Bishop Hermann also described how bishops can look to the example of soldiers. “If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their life down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, if it meant putting an end to abortion. And if we’re willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people,” the bishop said in an apparent reference to those Catholics who have recently begun to give up the fight to outlaw abortion.

He proposed an “awareness- raising campaign” to help people realize “the destruction that we’ve brought about” and “the atrocities that we’re committing.”

“There should be 50 more million Americans in our midst, and anyone under 35 can look around and say, ‘Where are they?’ And, ‘I’m very lucky to be alive.’”

Bishop Hermann reported that after he made his comments one or two bishops started clapping, but the meeting then moved on to other business. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver, along with other bishops, personally thanked him afterwards.

He reported that about 95 percent of the popular responses to his remarks have been positive, with some people consulting him about how they ought to deal with past voting habits. Bishop Hermann said many people have been conditioned to act as if God does not exist. “I have great empathy and great compassion for people who are influenced by society and are taken in by the big lie that God does not exist.

My job is to raise their awareness to, yes He does (exist), and it does make a difference what you believe. It makes a big difference in what you do. “We also have to be aware that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and the powers and the spirits of this world of darkness, as Paul tells us in Ephesians.

“Therefore, behind Planned Parenthood, behind the abortion issue, is the evil one,” Bishop Hermann stated. “I often see human beings caught up in this as victims of the evil one who need my prayers and who need my compassion and who need my love. We don’t only want to save our children from destruction; we also want to save our adult brothers and sisters from eternal destruction.”

The bishop expressed concern about President-elect Barack Obama’s support for Planned Parenthood, which he claimed targets blacks with abortion information and facilities in their neighborhoods.

[...]

“For an individual to have a proportionate reason to vote for a candidate who supports abortion would be very hard to come by. The only way I could see that happening is if we had one candidate who supports abortion and another one who may mandate abortion ... as they do in China.”

[...]

100th Anniversary of the Dedication of St. Francis de Sales--Report‏


From St. Francis de Sales Oratory:

ST. LOUIS, MO - Over 1,000 faithful gathered in the church of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, to assist at the Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Robert J. Hermann, Administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. From the powerful beginning of the “Premiere Symphonie” of Guilmant to the sweeping phrases of the Credo of the “Messe Solemnelle” of Charles Gounod to the soaring lines of the closing hymn of “To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King,” sixty musicians filled the magnificent Gothic edifice of the St. Francis de Sales church. The splendor of the sacred liturgy was adorned fittingly by the majesty and richness of the music, directed by Mr. Nick Botkins, director of sacred music and master of the choirs at the Oratory.

His Excellency, Bishop Hermann gave a moving sermon. He invited all faithful of good will to reclaim the fullness of the sacraments. He impressed upon all present the “verticality of the architecture of the church” which corresponds so visibly with the theocentricity of the Mass.

The Holy Mass was then followed by a festive gathering in the Oratory Hall, celebrating St. Francis de Sales church’s German immigrant heritage. Complete with traditional German food and beer and even a German band, the afternoon was enjoyed by hundreds of families with children of all ages who crowded the church hall. This overwhelming turnout was a testament to the thriving youthful community of faithful at the Oratory.

On this 100th Anniversary, it was also announced that St. Francis de Sales is beginning a capital campaign called “Tradition for Tomorrow.” This campaign will raise the necessary funds to restore the church of St. Francis de Sales to its former glory and ensure that it remains a true landmark of South St. Louis. More information can be found at http://www.traditionfortomorrow.com/ .

New Blog on the Roll

Fr. Edward Richard, the eminent moral theologian who is on the faculty of the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, has a new blog on Catholic morality entitled, fittingly enough, "Catholic Morality".

He already has some thought-provoking posts up on matters involving Holy Communion and worthiness to receive it. Check it out. I have added the link to the right.

Preview of Coming Attractions


Great roundup over at Gateway Pundit about the latest act of the beneficent judiciary in California-- investigating the Mormons over their support of Proposition 8 banning "gay marriage". (WARNING, the story linked above contains one photo of an anti-Mormon sign with a serious profanity). I have excerpted the family-friendly parts below, with my comments.

Next stop, the Catholics:

Unreal!... California Courts Will Investigate Mormons Over Prop 8 Role

CALIFORNIA WILL INVESTIGATE THE MORMON CHURCH--Somebody help me... Is this California or some Far Left tinpot regime? [Can't it be both, like the late Earl Warren?]

The California courts will investigate the Mormon Church over its role in the gay marriage ban.

The proposition did not affect domestic partnerships in California.

FOX News reported:

California officials will investigate whether the Mormon church accurately described its role in a campaign to ban gay marriage in the state.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said Monday a complaint by a gay rights group merits further inquiry. [Because we know the left is very concerned with fair political practices, yes?]

Executive director Roman Porter says the decision does not mean any wrongdoing has been determined. [But, like the faux Sarah Palin "troopergate" non-scandal, any excuse to discredit and punish those who stand up for morality will do.]

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of failing to report the value of work it did to support Proposition 8, which amended.

This will teach the "vile" Mormons to speak out against gay "rights!"
___________________

Again, I'm just waiting for a Court to declare a Constitutional Amendment to be unconstitutional.

To Answer Your Question: Nothing.

Sacerdos in Aeternum-- A Priest and His First Mass


The little wind had dropped last night, and the hills round Lewes stood in mellow sunlight; the atmosphere was full of light and warmth, that tender glow that falls on autumn days; the trees in the court outside stood, poised on the brink of sleep, with a yellow pallor tinging their leaves; the thousand pigeons exulted and wheeled in the intoxicating air.

The shadowy church was alight with sunshine that streamed through the clerestory windows on to the heavy pillars, the unevenly paved floor, and crept down the recumbent figures of noble and bishop from head to foot. There were a few people present beyond the screen, Sir James and his daughter in front, watching with a tender reverence the harvesting of the new priest, as he prepared to gather under his hands the mystical wheat and grapes of God.

Chris was perfectly practised in his ceremonies; and there was no anxiety to dissipate the overpowering awe that lay on his soul. He felt at once natural and unreal; it was supremely natural that he should be here; he could not conceive being other than a priest; there was in him a sense of a relaxed rather than an intensified strain; and yet the whole matter was strange and intangible, as he felt the supernatural forces gathering round, and surging through his soul.

He was aware of a dusky sunlit space about him, of the glimmer of the high candles; and nearer of the white cloth, the shining vessels, the gorgeous missal, and the rustle of the ministers' vestments. But the whole was shot with an inner life, each detail was significant and sacramental; and he wondered sometimes at the inaudible vibration that stirred the silent air around him, as he spoke the familiar words to which he had listened so often.

He kept his eyes resolutely down as he turned from time to time, spreading his hands to the people, and was only partly conscious of the faces watching him from the dark stalls in front and the sunlit nave beyond. Even the sacred ministers, Dom Anthony and another, seemed to be little more than crimson impersonal figures that moved and went about their stately business with deft and gracious hands.

As he began to penetrate more nearly to the heart of the mystery, and the angels' song before the throne rolled up from the choir, there was an experience of a yet further retirement from the things of sense. Even the glittering halpas, and the gleams of light above it where the five chapels branched behind-- even these things became shrouded; there was just a sheet of white beneath him, the glow of a chalice, and the pale disc of the sacrificial bread.

Then, as he paused, with hands together-- "famulorum famularumque tuarum"-- there opened out the world where his spirit was bending its intention. Figure after figure came up and passed before his closed eyes, and on each he turned the beam of God's grace. First Ralph, sneering and aloof in his rich dress, intent on some Satanic business; -- Chris seized as it were the power of God, and enveloped and penetrated him with it. Then Margaret, waiting terrified on the divine will; his mother in her complacent bitterness; Mary; his father-- and as he thought of him it seemed as if all God's blessings were not too great; Nicholas; his own brethren in religion, his Prior, contracted and paralysed with terror; Dom Anthony, with his pathetic geniality....

Ah! how short was the time; and yet so long that the Prior looked up sharply, and the deacon shifted in his rustling silk.

Then again the hands opened, and the stately flood of petition poured on, as through open gates to the boundless sea that awaited it, where the very heart of God was to absorb it into Itself.

The great names began to flit past, like palaces on a river-brink, their bases washed by the pouring liturgy-- Peter and Paul, Simon and Thaddeus, Cosmas and Damian-- vast pleasure houses alight with God, while near at hand now gleamed the line of the infinite ocean.

The hands came together, arched in blessing; and it marked the first sting of the healing water, as the Divine Essence pushed forward to meet man's need.

"Hanc igitur oblationem..."

Then followed the swift silent signs, as if the pilot were ordering sails out to meet the breeze.

The muttering voice sank to a deliberate whisper, the ripples ceased to leap as the river widened, and Chris was delicately fingering the white linen before taking the Host into his hands.

There was a swift glance up, as to the great Sun that burned overhead, one more noiseless sign, and he sank forward in unutterable awe, with his arms on the altar, and the white disc, hovering on the brink of non-existence, beneath his eyes.

*********

The faintest whisper rose from behind as the people shifted their constrained attitudes. Sir James glanced up, his eyes full of tears, at the distant crimson figure beneath the steady row of lights, motionless with outspread hands, poised over the bosom of God's Love.

The first murmured words broke the silence; as if next to the Infinite Pity rose up the infinite need of man-- Nobis quoque peccatoribus-- and sank to silence again.

Then loud and clear rang out Per ominia saecula saeculorum; and the choir of monks sang Amen.

So the great mystery moved on, but upborne now by the very Presence itself that sustained all things. From the limitless sea of mercy, the children cried through the priest's lips to their Father who was in heaven, and entreated the Lamb of God who takes away sin to have mercy on them and give them peace.

Then from far beyond the screen Mary could see how the priest leaning a little forward towards That which he bore in his hands, looked on what he bore in them; and she whispered softly with him the words that he was speaking. Ave in aeternum sanctissima caro Christi...

Again she hid her face; and when she raised it once, all was over, and the Lord had entered and sanctified the body and soul of the man at whose words He had entered the creature of bread.

-- From The King's Achievement, by Robert Hugh Benson, Part II, Chapter II.


24 November 2008

Signs of the End of the World, No. 432,850



I am guessing this woman was not homeschooled. Thanks to Carolina Cannonball for the video link.

Signs of the End of the World, No. 432,849



I found this at the Mamalogues site. A chilling vision of the future.

Says Sharon, "Boris Becker doesn't even know who you are."

Greetings, and Thank You


Not to get all --. - on you, I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who read this blog, again, for your interest, your participation, your prayers and well wishes. Thank you even for your private frustrations (you know who you are ;-)).

As the site approaches a quarter of a million visitors in a fairly short time, I am gratified by the cross-section of regular readership. A majority of the visits come from Missouri, particularly the St. Louis area, which is great because I wanted to have blog to cover local Catholic news. Yet there are many other regular readers from Italy, France, England, Germany, Malta, Belarus and the Philippines, and from all over the U.S., which is also great because I didn't want the blog to be just about St. Louis, but about the advance of faithful Catholicism everywhere. And I think the leadership of Archbishop Burke, continued so ably by Bishop Hermann, has made St. Louis Catholic news of interest to Catholics outside the area.

Again, thank you all. You are in my prayers daily.

Christ is King, Mary is Queen


Kansas Catholic has a very nice post about the role of one stained glass window in his conversion process.

22 November 2008

Tradition for Tomorrow: The Restoration of St. Francis de Sales Oratory


At Sunday's 100th Anniversary of the Dedication of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, Father Michael Wiener, Rector, will announce the official launch of the restoration campaign-- with its motto, "Tradition for Tomorrow".  

In order to promote the project and give needed information to the public, there is a new website dedicated solely to this effort:  www.traditionfortomorrow.com .

"Tradition for Tomorrow" crystallizes the harmony of the vision of the builders of this beautiful Church, and the vision of the Holy Father in affirming and reintegrating the traditional sacramental forms of the Church.  

The faithful who built this church did it right, creating a stunning treasure of art and architecture in a space most fitting for the worship of God.  They intended it to endure.

The Traditional Mass (the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) and other sacraments in the classical forms are not merely a nostalgic nod to the past, but are a beacon for the future growth and strength of the Catholic Church.  They have endured, too.

They provide a tangible and living link to the worship and belief of our forefathers in the faith-- the Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas and Blessed John XXIII; the sacraments as celebrated by St. Isaac Jogues and St. Jean Marie Vianney; the traditional calendar, music, rhythm and seasons as experienced and prayed by countless millions of Catholics for two milennia.

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has always had a special charism to promote the integration of faith, liturgy and culture.  The edifice of the de Sales Church is a fitting place to lead the grounding and growth of the faith in St. Louis.  The Institute has undertaken several important restoration projects, with notable success. For examples, check out the restored sacristy at St. Francis de Sales and the "new" Old St. Patrick's Oratory to see that the restoration is in very good hands.

I will link the restoration site on the right of my blog.  I encourage everyone to please prayerfully consider supporting this restoration.  Everyone-- whether you primarily attend an Ordinary Form parish or an Extraordinary Form church, whether you live in St. Louis or elsewhere, whether you are Catholic or not.  The presence of such a place in the world today is a living beacon of the light of Christ in a darkened world. 

The Oratory will be a center not only of magnificent liturgy (though it is) but also of authentic culture, art, music, education and evangelism.

May God bless this effort abundantly, and all who support it! 

Our Mother of Perpetual help, pray for us!

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

More Names to Ponder


In the spirit of today's Post article on the St. Louis Archbishop watch, I would like to add the following names of possible new Archbishop candidates given to me by a very confidential source close to Saint Louis Catholic:

Father Joseph Fessio

Bishop Robert Hermann

Bishop Bernard Williamson of the SSPX

Cardinal Francis Arinze

Father Noah Waldman

Cardinal Roger Mahoney

____________________________

Mind you, these are on the hush-hush.





21 November 2008

Hello Again: FBI Returns to St. Louis Metropolitan Towing

From STLToday:

FBI agents remove 26 vehicles from StL tow lot

By Joe Mahr
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
11/21/2008


UPDATED 3 P.M.

Tow trucks and a car hauler brought in by the FBI began removing vehicles from St. Louis Metropolitan Towing today, three months after the FBI raided the lot.

FBI agents on the scene would not say why they were at the tow lot, which has been at the center of a Post-Dispatch investigation into questionable ties to the police department.

A lawyer for Metropolitan Towing, Sanford Boxerman, said the company was told that 26 vehicles were being removed but was not told why the vehicles were chosen.

...The newspaper found that the private lot hadn't paid about $700,000 owed to the city and police department in the 21-month span that could be studied. It also found that the company gave daughter of longtime Police Chief Joe Mokwa free use of two cars and sold her three more at prices below wholesale.

...In addition to the federal investigation, the state auditor's office is studying the department's books.
__________________

Again, Post-Dispatch, I ask: WHO OWNS METROPOLITAN TOWING? Why the lack of curiosity by your paper about the owners of the company?

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

V. Dignáre me laudáre te, Virgo sacráta.

R. Da mihi virtútem contra hostes tuos.

Oremus.
Deus, qui beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, Spíritus Sancti habitáculum, hodiérna die in templo præsentári voluísti : præsta, quæsumus ; ut, ejus intercessióne, in templo glóriæ tuæ præsentári mereámur. Per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte ejúsdem Spíritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Phyllis Schlafly on the CCHD

Washington University Honorary Degree Holder Phyllis Schlafly has written about the connection between the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Obama election:

The Catholic Connection to Barack Obama

by Phyllis Schlafly, November 14, 2008

Do you wonder why 2008 election data show that the majority of Catholics voted for Barack Obama even though his record as Illinois State Senator proves him the most pro-abortion candidate who ever ran for President?

Perhaps one answer is that on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, millions of Catholics will again be putting in their church's collection plate their annual donation to what the pre-printed envelope calls "Campaign for Human Development: The Catholic Church working to end poverty and injustice in America; We'll turn your dollars into hope for the poor of our nation."

The generous Catholics who respond to that well-phrased appeal probably think they are making a Good Samaritan gift to provide necessaries to the down-and-out. Most would probably be shocked to learn that the money donated to the Campaign for Human Development (CHD) does not go for charity but for radical Obama-style community organizing.

Over the last ten years, CHD has given $7.3 million of Catholic-donated dollars to the Saul Alinsky-style group called ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). When in 1998 some Catholics complained that CHD grants were not used for Catholic charity but were actually funding groups opposed to church teachings, CHD changed its name to Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

The name change did not redirect the flow of money. In 2007 alone, CCHD increased its support of ACORN, giving ACORN 37 grants totaling $1,037,000.

During 2007 and 2008, ACORN and its affiliated organizations were aggressively registering what they claimed were 1.3 million poor people. ACORN focused on new registrations in the key toss-up states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida.

You can listen on YouTube to clips from ACORN's national convention and decide for yourself how partisan it is.

CCHD knew how ACORN spent its money. CCHD's executive director, Ralph McCloud, admitted to Catholic News Service that "some of the funds that the Catholic Campaign contributed to ACORN in the past undoubtedly were used for voter registration drives."

Even though the pro-Obama political activity of ACORN had been widely reported, and employees of ACORN and affiliated organizations like Project Vote have been either indicted or convicted of submitting false voter registration forms in 14 states, in June 2008 CCHD approved grants of $1.13 million to 40 local ACORN affiliates for the cycle beginning July 1, 2008. Those grants were ratified by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at its June 2008 meeting.

The CCHD-ACORN relationship suddenly became too embarrassing to ignore, and CCHD announced it was suspending (not canceling) the 2008 grants. But the reason given for suspension was not ACORN's partisan political activity or registration frauds; it was because Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, had embezzled nearly $1 million from the organization and its affiliates back in 1999 and 2000.

CCHD also announced that it has formed a task force to ensure that Church funds are spent according to the guidelines of the Bishops' poverty-fighting program. Presumably, the previous millions of dollars given to ACORN were within the Bishops' guidelines.

Barack Obama knows the political value of ACORN. He gave $800,000 in campaign payments disguised as payments for "advance work" to an Alinsky front group called Citizen Services Inc.
Obama admits he got his start as a community organizer in Chicago, saying it was "the best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School." He tries to downplay his connection with ACORN, claiming he worked for churches, but he was trained by Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation and then spent years in the 1980s teaching the Alinsky method to others through several Alinsky offshoots such as Project Vote and Developing Communities Project in Chicago.

Saul Alinsky's son Lee David Alinsky felt compelled to remedy Obama's failure to give proper credit. In a letter to the Boston Globe in August after Obama's open-stadium rally in Denver, the younger Alinsky wrote: "Obama learned his lesson well. I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday."

Saul Alinsky explained his community organizing tactics in his book "Rules for Radicals." His game plan was to divide the community into the Haves and the Have Nots, make the Have Nots believe they are unjustly treated by the Haves, build resentment against the American social and economic system, use church congregations to mobilize street agitators, and lobby government for higher taxes and big-spending welfare programs in order to confiscate the wealth and power of the Haves and turn it over to the Have Nots.

Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer, "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom."

Another Alinsky quote seems remarkably prophetic: "Ego must be so all-pervading that the personality of the organizer is contagious, that it converts the people from despair to defiance, creating a mass ego."

Cardinal Schonborn Blasts Bishops on Lack of Teaching against Contraception

An interesting piece from the Austrian Cardinal, who was involved in the sad"youth Mass" debacle in Vienna recently. This piece comes from Catholic Action UK, reprinting from the Tablet:

Cardinal Schonborn lambasts the failure of bishops to condemn contraception

AUSTRIA'S MOST senior Catholic cleric has issued a blistering attack on his predecessors, accusing them of lacking the courage to speak out against birth control and blaming them for the declining birth rate in Europe, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, gave his damning critique in a sermon at a Neocatechumenate meeting in Jerusalem on 27 March this year, the text of which was only made public late last month on his archdiocesan website.After the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae outlawing the use of birth control for Catholics in 1968, numerous bishops' conferences around the world - including those of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the US and later Australia - issued statements assuring the faithful that the issue was a matter of conscience.

But those bishops, said Cardinal Schonborn, were "frightened of the press and of being misunderstood by the faithful". Blame lay not only with the bishops responsible at the time - none of whom is still alive - but with all bishops for the fact that Europe is "about to die out". "I think that it is also our sin as bishops, even if none of us were bishops in 1968," he added. Bishops have not had, or did not have, the courage to "swim against the tide" and say yes to Humanae Vitae, he said. The cardinal, who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, particularly criticised two of the many 1968 bishops' conference declarations on Humanae Vitae, which all stressed the importance of the individual conscience.He singled out the Maria Trost Declaration, whose signatories included Cardinal Franz Konig, the late Archbishop of Vienna, president of the Austrian bishops' conference and a Father of the Second Vatican Council, and the Konigstein Declaration, whose signatories included Cardinal Julius Dopfner, the late Archbishop of Munich, president of the German bishops' conference and another Council Father.

Cardinal Schonborn accused the signatories of "weakening the People of God's sense for life", so that when "the wave of abortions" and increasing acceptance of homosexuality followed, the Church lacked the courage to oppose them. There were a few memorable exceptions in 1968, the cardinal said, one of which was in Krakow, where a group of theologians led by the Archbishop and Cardinal of Krakow, the [future] Pope John Paul II, drew up a memorandum which was sent to Pope Paul VI urging him to write Humanae Vitae.

"I think this witness by a martyr bishop of the so-called Silent Church carried more weight than all the expertise Pope Paul VI had drawn up on this subject. It led him to make his courageous decision. I am convinced in my inner being, even if I have no historical evidence, that this text from Krakow helped to give Pope Paul VI the courage to write Humanae Vitae"Cardinal Schonborn thanked the Neocat¬echumenate families for having so many children and producing so many new priests, and he thanked Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI for discerning be-tween the different charisms and, following the example of St Paul in 1 Corinthians 14, saying which one is of God. He asked God to forgive all bishops and give them courage to say yes to life.