Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Dolan-Cuomo Affair

The Dolan-Cuomo affair

Recently, many faithful Catholics publicly asked Cardinal Dolan to excommunicate Gov. Cuomo for the abortion bill he signed into law, which is an open and defiant declaration of war on human life, made in the image and likeness of God Himself. Well, wasn’t His Eminence upset!

The Most Eminent Sir went on Sirius XM and defended his inaction by saying: “I’m a pastor, not a politician.” He feels that “the Far Right” (a.k.a. faithful Catholics) unjustly criticizes him for being “too conciliatory,” and that they expect too much from him who is simply “some fat balding Irish bishop” with not “much clout.”

          He then encouraged the faithful to “do something about it.” In fact, he did more than that: he blamed THEM for being inactive, for not speaking up! According to him, “our folks” (a.k.a. faithful Catholics) unlike those in the Jewish, Muslim, and gay communities, do not speak up! And pointed the finger at the faithful who do not do anything to show that their votes count and that they should make it clear to Gov. Cuomo that they won’t vote for him if he doesn’t keep the “essentials of the faith.” (We’re not so sure that His Eminence actually knows --or cares about-- what the essentials of the faith are, but let's move on).

          Well, color us stupid, but His Eminence’s responsibility does not depend on whether the faithful do their job or not – he must do his job as the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of NY and as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, regardless of whether others do theirs or not. Besides, the faithful would not be the legitimate authority to issue an official declaration that Gov. Cuomo has incurred a penalty for his notorious and scandalous delicts.

His Eminence then went on to say that he feels it would be “completely counterproductive” to excommunicate the governor because Cuomo wants to be seen as being persecuted by the Church, to make himself a martyr in the eyes of the public by being officially excommunicated, and His Eminence does not want to give him that! Well, at the rate at which he has been doing things, Cardinal Dolan is also depriving himself of the palm and crown of martyrdom!

          The Christian Religion, established by Our Lord Jesus Christ as a perfect society for the salvation of souls, from the very beginning, has exercised the right and the authority to excommunicate scandalously delinquent and contumacious members, of which Gov. Cuomo has definitely been one for a very long time, and a very public one at that! Excommunication is “a penalty by which a baptized person, delinquent and contumacious, is deprived of some spiritual goods, or goods annexed to spiritual things, until he ceases to be contumacious and is absolved” by the legitimate authority. This used to be employed not only as a corrective (for the benefit of the sinner in question), but also as a protective (for the benefit of all the faithful) measure, so that other Catholics would not follow the evil example, as well as avoid the company, of the openly contumacious sinner. It was not only for the purpose of punishing the delinquent member, but also to DETER others from following the bad example of the excommunicate by placing before the faithful in a public and official manner the gravity of the punishment (as well as the gravity of the sin).

          Obviously, since Vatican II, bishops in the badly wounded Catholic Church have been reluctant to teach and correct evil members of the Church. We might think that a possible reason could be that they themselves have been doing and allowing so many horrible things for which they themselves should be punished with excommunication, so they do not want to call attention to that weapon of the Church and have the faithful clamor for it to be used against them (the bishops themselves). And to be fair, these days, the Bishop of Rome would be the first one to be kept in mind for such corrective measures! And that is why Gov. Cuomo thinks he can quote Pope Francis to support his sinful behavior and say that he is “with the pope” on certain issues. But that specific Bishop will be judged by a much Higher Authority when Divine Providence decides it is the best time. For now, we’ll focus on the Episcopal Shepherd here in New York.

          It is also possible that the lack of incentive to excommunicate public, contumacious members could be due to the fact that such members would also have to be avoided by the faithful and they would also not be allowed to receive the Sacraments. And in such case, Gov. Cuomo could, in all sincerity, point the finger at so many priests and bishops who should not only not be in church, but shouldn’t be celebrating Mass or conferring any of the other Sacraments due to their egregiously and embarrassingly uselessness as shepherds of souls, with many of them behaving more like wolves than shepherds!

And, again, the current Ordinary of the Diocese of Rome would be the first one at whom the finger would be pointed. And given that, as can be safely assumed and asserted, none of these people in question have any remorse of conscience about what they do (that they should not do) and what they do not do (that they should do) – in this context, the whole matter of dishing out excommunications simply does not even enter the realm of possibilities. It does not enter their minds and hearts that the virtue of religion demands that a sacred thing not be exposed to profanations, and that they should not let public, shameless sinners such as Gov. Cuomo anywhere near any of the Sacraments (save for the Sacrament of Confession, but we can bet that that’s the one Sacrament he does not care for at all).

          St. Jerome and St. Augustine used to compare excommunication to the expulsion of Adam from Paradise, given that it would be an “exile from the Church of God,” the city of God on earth. They also (as the Church always did up until Vatican II) thought it imperative that an organization/society whose principal aim is the sanctification of its members should have the right and the duty to expel from its communion obstinate members who persistently scandalize others and bring religion itself into disrepute by their disgraceful manner of living – even the pagan religions of old employed such measures! Yet Cardinal Dolan wants the faithful to do what is the responsibility of the Bishops to do. He seems to forget that when the hour of his judgment arrives, he’ll have to give an account of his own actions, not those of the faithful (unless what the faithful do wrong is due to his eminent failure as a shepherd).

          Don’t get us wrong, Cardinal Dolan seems to be “very upset” with Gov. Cuomo and his recent ghoulish actions! But, of men like that, who are afraid to say the simple governor of New York should be excommunicated, who forget that in the old days the Church excommunicated princes, kings, and emperors (!), not much can be expected. In fact, it is our belief that when Gov. Cuomo passes to the next life, Cardinal Dolan, if he is still in this world and still driving the Archdiocese of NY to the ground, after the fashion of the Schismatic Orthodox with their leaders, will give him the most solemn of funeral services – whatever that means in the New Order – with the most inspiring byzantine panegyric in which the faithful Catholics (a.k.a. “the Far Right”) will be publicly told how Gov. Cuomo was the wisest, holiest, and most persecuted and misunderstood of men!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Invalidity of Anglican Orders

Does the Question of Anglican Orders Admit of Further Investigation?
Q. As the late decree of the Pope declaring the nullity of Anglican Orders is not an infallible utterance, does it not leave the question as it was, a case for further investigation? Of course, it commands and will receive the obedient acceptance of all Catholics, as a matter of submission to law. This, however, does not make belief in its being infallible as a matter of divine Catholic faith necessary.
May it not be somewhat like the decree of Pope Stephen, who ordered all who had received ordinations from his predecessor, Formosus, to be re-ordained?
~I. N.

Response. The Pontifical Decision regarding the nullity of Anglican Orders is not of a nature to command the same internal assent which is to be given to an infallible utterance regarding a doctrine of faith or morals. It is a judicial sentence as to the proper application of certain laws or forms to an established fact. Hence, it is a misapprehension on the part of Anglicans to assume that the Pope pretends to settle an historical fact by an appeal to infallible authority, that is to say, as if the infallible guidance of the Holy Ghost had revealed to him the nature of such a fact.
          Not at all. The Pontiff simply collects all the accessible evidence which establishes beyond human doubt the credibility of a certain fact. Having ascertained that fact he pronounces that it stands as an infallible evidence that the Anglican Orders administered for a full century were not the same as the priestly Orders of the Catholic Church, and that the difference, as he shows, was one of essentials. Nor can the fact, upon which the Papal judgment rests its logical conclusion of the invalidity of Anglican Orders, be held as doubtful. It is admitted by Anglicans, as well as by those who differ from them (and fully established by documents at hand and known to both parties) that the Edwardian Ritual was used (by law established) in the entire Anglican communion for more than three generations. If the heads of a church make a public avowal of Protestantism in the expressed sense of excluding a priestly ministry (such as is conveyed in the priestly Orders as administered from the days of St. Augustine in England); if that same form of Protestantism is declared by the supreme ministers of state to be the religion of the land; if it is incorporated in the ritual book which declared the norm of public worship; if it is acknowledged in the confessions of the apologists and theologists of the Anglican establishment down to the present day —you cannot say that this Protestantism was not a fact, nor that it was Catholicism.

          It boots nothing that some modern Anglicans of a more pronounced tendency toward the old forms of worship call the Edwardian Ritual a Catholic Ritual, and hence claim the validity of the Orders administered according to its forms. Surely, we who are Catholics, by the admission of all—at least so far as our sacramental worship and the sacerdotal continuity is concerned—should know what Catholic Orders are, and what the Church holds them to be. Indeed, our chief theologian, the Pope, is the very one who is asked for an expression on a subject which he must surely be at home with, and which he could not very well distort or exaggerate to the prejudice of anyone, for there are some more theologians, past and present, who have had knowledge on the same subject, and who establish an important recourse to the fountain of Catholic truth.
          Hence, as the fact of the use of the Edwardian form is unquestioned, and as the difference between that form and the Catholic form in essentials is easily ascertained, the Pope did not have to seek information beyond that of historical evidence and Catholic doctrine. What he had to do was to show his readiness to have the topic discussed, lest anyone be kept from the fold by false pretense or the influence of blinded guides. The Papal utterance thus stands, not as an infallible declaration, but as a judicial sentence which practically admits of no appeal or reversal.

I say practically, because the possibility of a further discussion theoretically is not excluded by the Papal document. It may, indeed, be that not all the facts concerning the Edwardian ordination have been ascertained. Nevertheless, one thing is assured, that, whatever facts may come to light, they cannot alter the evidence at hand. They may cause new investigation and fresh discussion, not with a view of changing the verdict of Leo XIII, which is that of his predecessors only confirmed, but in order to satisfy anxious minds who have been led to think there is no evidence against Anglicanism
Yet even this chance of ever having the question recalled for examination by the Holy See is practically null; each past declaration has lessened the probability of a reopening. There has been no changing in the judgment of the highest court of appeal for three centuries, and Leo’s words do not indicate the likelihood of a change in the future. “Wherefore,” says the Pontiff, “strictly adhering in this matter to the decrees of the Pontiffs, our predecessors, confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own motion and certain knowledge, We pronounce and declare that the ordinations conferred according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and void.”
~The American Ecclesiastical Review (1897, Vol 16)

Friday, January 11, 2019

La Grande Chartreuse: A Lonely Island of Prayer

It is without doubt a very solitary life, that of a Carthusian father. On ordinary days he only leaves his cell three times—at night (10:30) for the great night service, in the morning for high mass, in the afternoon for vespers, and on these three occasions the cell is exchanged for the chapel of the monastery. At those hours you would see the white-robed monk with his white cowl shading his face, noiselessly coming from his house or cell into the cloister, passing silently into his stall in the chapel, and then without a word to any mortal, only the whispered or chanted words to God, returning after service all silent to the solitude of his cell.

Is he ever weary of this strange, prayer-filled, lonely life? What thoughts occupy him, as day after day, year after year, after that brief visit to the chapel, he comes back to that silent home of his? Does he regret the movement and stir of the life he has left behind? Does this solitude and silence pall upon him, weary him? They say not. The general of the Order spoke to me of the serene, quiet happiness of the fathers. There is never a vacant cell. There are many we know waiting for a chance to fill one of these strange, silent homes. Everyone connected with the Order with whom I have spoken, bears the same unanimous testimony. The happiness of these silent, praying men seems to be deep, unbroken, real.

The especial work of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse is not the care of the sick and afflicted, but they maintain homes for the suffering poor, their revenues being sensibly augmented by the great sale of their famous liqueur, manufactured at a distillery a few miles distant from the monastery, and into the composition of which many herbs growing on the slopes of the Alps largely enter. The secret of the liqueur is rigidly kept. But the raison d'etre of the life of a monk of the Chartreuse without doubt is prayer. Such a life, where all is sacrificed for this one end, may not be our ideal of life surely. The busy man of the nineteenth century seeks more definite, more tangible results than the Carthusian father: He would aim at the blessed guerdon of the honoured philanthropist, at the laurels of the great soldier, at the applause ever given to the successful writer.

The solitary believes that only in the silence of his cell—a silence rarely broken, save by the solemn chant and psalm of his more public services, shared in with his brother monks—comes that whisper of the Eternal, the vena divini susurri, which teaches him the language of communion with God, which dictates the words of those earnest, passionate prayers to his God, by which it is his belief he can best help his brothers and sisters struggling and suffering in the world.
Who among us who believe in the mighty power of prayer would dare to cast a stone at these devoted men, who, in pursuit of what they deem the highest ideal of life, have given up all that men hold dear and love—home, friends, love, rank, fame, ease, comfort. They have voluntarily cast all these prized things aside, and only live their grave, austere, perhaps joyless lives, to help in the way they deem most effective, their suffering, erring neighbours.