Why the Synod Has No Magisterial Significance (Hint: Latin)

Synod Bishops © LifeSiteNews

Synod Bishops © LifeSiteNews


The mealy-mouthed, politically correct betrayal of the Catholic Church occurring at the Synod of the Family in Rome is magisterially irrelevant.

There are two main audiences to this news.  There are those living in what the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines as grave sin — fornication, homosexual relations, or adulterous unions with a person who is not their spouse (the politically correct term is “divorced and remarried Catholics”).  Anyone who commits these sins with full knowledge and consent is guilty of mortal sin and will go to Hell unless they abandon their previous lifestyle and go to confession.  Although the Synod may throw anesthetic on uneasy consciences, Catholics must continue to proclaim the truth to these people in charity.

But there is another way the Synod can give scandal.  Faithful Catholics struggling to conform their lives to the teaching of Church are going to be tempted to question the indefectability of the Church.  Jesus promised the Gates of Hell would never prevail against the Catholic Church.

How can a Church contradict its magisterial teaching on sexual ethics do so without the Gates of Hell prevailing against the Catholic Church?

The answer is simple.  The contradiction against Catholic magisterium cannot take a magisterial form.

For example, the “Pastoral Care for Homosexual Persons,” released while Saint John Paul II was Pope and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was still  Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, is magisterial.  It forbids Catholics from using reductionist terminology — “homosexual” when used as a noun (which conflates the homosexual inclination and the homosexual person), or adjectives such as “gay” (which conflates the sin of homosexual sex with the homosexual inclination).  Similar magisterial documents condemn same-sex civil unions as something a Catholic cannot support in good conscience.

The document the Synod has released thus far directly defies the magisterial teaching in the Pastoral Care for Homosexual Persons by using the word homosexual as a noun.  It is possible that Pope Francis will release a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation will also make the same mistake or others (I certainly hope not, but it would not defy my expectations).

No Apostolic Exhortation coming out of this will not be part of the papal magisterium.

When Evangelii Gaudium came out, there was a great deal of controversy over the English translation using Leftist political terms like “trickle-down economics.”

Father Z suggested that the English translator had a political axe to grind and that the translation was unfaithful to the original Spanish draft.  He advised that we wait for the definitive Latin edition of the document to come out.

So we waited.  And we waited.  And we waited.

No definitive Latin publication of Evangelii Gaudium was ever released.

According to the Constitution Veterum Sapientia promulgated by Saint John XXIII, Latin is the official language of the Catholic magisterium.

No Latin = No Magisterial document.

There is precedent for papal documents not to be written in Latin.  Pope Saint John Paul II would often write pastoral documents after his famous visits.  For example, he wrote a document about the Catholic Church in Europe and another document about the Church in Oceania.  These documents never had any Latin edition because they were not magisterial.  They were not universal in time or in geographic applicability.  They were a snapshot message from Pope Saint John Paul II to the people of that place and time.

Cardinal Burke in an interview with EWTN (relevant section 20:00 minutes in) declared that he believed after reading Evangelii Gaudium that it was intended to be pastoral but non-magisterial.  The lack of any Latin translation tipped the hand of the Church.

Cardinal Burke was right (as usual).

And so now we come to the Synod on the Family.  On October 6, Pope Francis declared that Latin would not be the official language of the Synod.

Given precedent, we can assume no Latin edition will ever be published.

Now, the interesting question: Why?

Pope Francis is not interested in doctrine.  He has emphasized that doctrine cannot change.  But he seems willing to allow or encourage worldly German clerics to encourage more deference to sin by adopting the confusing terminology of modernity and allow people, in the words of Saint Paul “to eat and drink judgment on themselves.”

Denethor despaired of the West: “The West has failed!  Go back and burn!”

We must not despair or join the Denethors of modernity who encourage disobedience as a result of the cowardice and sinfulness of members of the Catholic Church (read: SSPX).

Get thee to thy Bibles, be outspoken, shun despair, and do not lose heart.  The magisterium is protected by the Holy Spirit and this Synod is magisterially irrelevant.

But when in Rome, do not do as the Synod Fathers do!

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The Predictable Defeat of Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney Fiddled While His Campaign Burned

This blog, contrary to all appearances, is not permanently abandoned.  However, posts have become non-existent.  This is because I am spending my writing hours working on a book articulating Catholic Populism.  Once I finish, I expect to go back to blogging regularly.  Until then, this may be the last post in a long while.

However, I feel the need to comment on the incompetent campaign performance of Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections.  Opponents of free will love to claim that something was inevitable after it has occurred.  These people will say that given the state of the American populace and the candidacies of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Mitt Romney could not have won.  His roots in Wall Street made it inevitable that he would be opposed by the American people as an out-of-touch plutocrat, they say.  Others will say that the only hope would have been to nominate someone more moderate (Giuliani is the only such person who comes to mind) or more conservative (such as Gingrich).  All of that is a load of crap.

Mitt Romney could have won but instead did not.


Mitt Romney ran an elitist campaign and Barack Obama ran a populist campaign.  That is why it has been evident for months who would win this race.

The person running the populist campaign has won every election for decades.

What is a populist campaign and what is an elitist campaign?

The populist campaign is one that makes the argument that the election is about a moral choice.  It defines the ideologies of the two candidates and the direction that they want to change the country as diametrically opposed.  It portrays the election as dramatic.  It trusts the people to understand the issues enough to understand the direction they wish to take the country through their selection of the candidates.  It seeks polarizing and divisive contrasts between the candidate policies.  It attacks or minimizes the all-important resume of the elitist campaign’s candidate.  It de-emphasizes bipartisanship in favor of arguing that the American people need a fierce advocate to stand up to evil special interests.  And it tends to focus on moral issues, since they are most clearly about fundamental principles.  Its primary accusation is that the opposing candidate is immoral.  Its advertisements tend to be filled with contrasts, accusations, warnings, and policy differences.

The elitist campaign claims that both of the opposed campaigns want the same result but that the candidate supported by the elitist campaign is more competent at delivering that result.  It presumes the most important difference in the campaign is the kind of expertise each candidate has.  It assumes that instead of deciding which direction the country ought to go, the people are merely competent to decide which kind of expert they want.  The campaign runs primarily on the resume and expertise of the candidate.  It attacks the other campaign for being too partisan.  It typically claims to be above partisanship and proclaims the ability to reach across the aisle.  It often accuses the other campaign of being melodramatic.  Its primary accusation is that the opposing candidate is incompetent. Its advertisements tend to be filled with statistics, promises of bipartisanship, and experts.

It is a case of the polarizer vs. the pragmatist, the ideologue vs. the moderate, the man with the plan vs. the man with the resume, the the moral agenda vs. the pragmatic agenda.

Another election a lot like this one (a populist incumbent campaign against an elitist challenger) was Bush v. Kerry.  Bush declared he was fighting evil Islamists.  Kerry scolded him for having been melodramatic on the possibility of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Kerry touted his resume as a war hero and member of the foreigns relations committee as key to the expertise Bush lacked.  The Bush campaign organized Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of veterans who had known Kerry and argued that his valor in combat was radically over-hyped.  Kerry claimed to be more pragmatic and moderate in working with allies in the war on terror.  Bush accused Kerry of being too cowardly to stand up to evil men abroad.  Bush also attacked Kerry for supporting same-sex marriage and partial birth abortion.  Kerry refused to engage on issues but had facts arguing that Bush was weak on foreign policy.  Kerry accused Bush of presiding over a polarizing partisanship.

In this election, Obama claimed he was fighting for economic fairness against entrenched special interests.  Romney said Obama was melodramatically fighting the very people who created jobs.  Romney touted his business experience at Bain Capital and Governor of Massachusetts.  Obama attacked Romney’s Bain Capital tenure as greedy and immoral.  Obama ran ads on issues like abortion and taxes.  Romney refused to engage on those issues but continually cited statistics illustrating Obama’s poor performance on the economy.  Romney accused Obama of being unable to reach across the aisle.

This script happens every single election.  The pragmatic moderate has never won.  Ever.

To win, a candidate must illustrate stark moral choices to the American populace.

Did Romney have an opportunity to run a populist campaign?

Mitt Romney had three opportunities to portray Obama in a polarizing way.  He could have argued that Barack Obama had attacked religious liberty through the HHS mandate.  This message would have resonated in fiscally liberal but religiously conservative Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  He took a pass on this opportunity in the first debate and ran no election-time ads on this.  Mitt Romney could have attacked the Obama Administration on Benghazi as an example of Obama’s unwillingness to listen to his own Ambassador warning about the ascendancy of Islamism in Libya, proving that he was too ideological to prepare for Militant Islam.  He passed on this issue in the third debate and never ran ads on it.  And he could have attacked ObamaCare and the individual mandate as unconstitutional.  But he never mentioned the word “Obamacare” in any of the ads for his campaign.

However, Mitt Romney could never have levied any of those attacks without acknowledging that Barack Obama wanted to take the country in a different direction.  He would have had to argue that Benghazi was not a lack of leadership but a systematic Administrative-wide denial of the ongoing dangers of Islamism.  He would have had to argue that ObamaCare was not only bad for pragmatic budgetary reasons but also due to its invasive deprivation of American liberty.  And Romney would have had to argue that Obama was hostile to religious liberty, an issue on which the challenger refused to engage.

The reality is that despite his populist rhetoric and campaign style, President Barack Obama does not have a populist policy agenda.  The only issue where he seems to be more populist than Mitt Romney is immigration (though Obama destroyed immigration reform in 2007 and probably cannot be trusted on the issue).  Immigration hurt Mitt Romney badly by making Latinos the only portion of the electorate where he did worse than McCain.  Romney also hurt himself by failing to exploit the joint weakness of both Obama and Bush, who both pushed a regressive, elitist, easy money monetary policy.

Although the President’s policies push the boundaries of acceptable elitism in US politics, Obama’s campaign style is so populist that swing voters — who are less political — can be forgiven for thinking that Romney is more elitist than Obama.  Barack Obama made a moral argument for the policies of the Left.  And Romney insisted that he and Obama wanted the same pragmatic solutions but that his own resume was better for that outcome.

Game.  Set.  Match.  And so predictable …

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Chinese Catholics Are Called To Follow Christ Even To Death

Cardinal Zen seeks a Thomas-a-Becket Moment in China

Henry II of England nominated Thomas-a-Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury because he firmly believed that Thomas would be loyal first to the State and second to Rome.

We know how that turned out.

After bitterly fighting with the formerly easy-going Thomas, Henry growled to his advisers: “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

Someone did.  Thomas, chosen to be a tool of the State, grew a backbone and became a martyr for the Faith.

During Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” Catholicism was made illegal.  The millions of Catholics in the country were put into labor camps.  Mao put about 60 million citizens to death.

After the Cultural Revolution was completed, Catholicism in China went underground.  However, the Communist government decided that it preferred the devil that it could see to the devil that it could not.  The Communist government created the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, an allegedly “Catholic” organization managed by the Chinese government that repudiated allegiance to “foreign powers” such as the Pope.

The Communists rounded up priests and Catholics and tried to register them with the Communist regime as part of the Patriotic Association.  Many Catholics risked torture, brutality, and martyrdom by instead staying “underground.”  These Catholics were ministered to by the Vatican Congregation for Evangelization, which handled the underground Church as a mission Church operating under historic persecution.

The Vatican Secretary of State, however, attempted to work with the Communist regime.  The Communist government and the Catholic Church  sought to find candidates acceptable to both.  The Communists viewed these CCPA Bishops as primarily loyal to the Communist Party.  The Vatican viewed these CCPA Bishops as primarily loyal to the Vatican.

In order to agree only to suitable candidates, the Vatican worked in consultation with the “underground” Catholic Bishops to give canonical jurisdiction to some candidates who were often first appointed by Bishops from the CCPA.  Until 2000, the Vatican process for reviewing candidates was very thorough.  In 2000, according to Cardinal Zen, the leading Catholic critic of the Chinese government, the Vatican became too accommodating to the Communists — allowing unsuitably weak candidates to become Bishops.  Now, the truth is that some CCPA Bishops are more loyal to Rome.  Others are more cronies of the Communist regime.  However, in the last year, the Vatican has grown a stronger backbone, insisting that Bishops can only be appointed with the approval of Rome.

The Communists have responded by upping the ante — appointing schismatic Bishops, an action that incurs canonical automatic excommunication for the Bishop ordained and those participating in the ceremony (as occurred also with SSPX).  The matter is complicated by the fact that Bishops are often pressured into participating in illicit ordinations.  This confrontation between Rome and Beijing is forcing CCPA Bishops to choose sides.  Some CCPA Bishops are finding their inner Thomas-a-Beckett and refusing to participate.  If Beijing continues to force this confrontation with Rome, they will increasingly force the Bishops more loyal to the CCPA into formal schism.  This heavy-handed strategy may not work as the Communists plan.  The more schismatic and excommunicated the CCPA becomes, the less influence the Communists may have on authentic Catholicism.

Currently, about 8 million Catholics are “underground” — ready to suffer martyrdom if apprehended.  And this number is swiftly growing.

About 5 million Catholics attend Mass with the CCPA.

There is some mingling between CCPA Catholics and “underground” Catholics.  And many CCPA Catholics are truly loyal to Rome in their hearts.

In other words, Catholics represent about 1% of China’s population.

Cardinal Zen has been aggressive about speaking up about this confrontation and the danger and opportunity it presents.  Authentic Christianity, following Christ to the end — even, if necessary, to death — is the calling of every Catholic.

As the Communists force the CCPA increasingly into schism and excommunication, we must pray that Chinese Catholics associated with the CCPA — particularly the Bishops under the watchful eyes of the Communist regime — find the courage to find their inner Thomas-a-Becket and remain unfailingly loyal to Rome.

And may Christ lead them along the path to Greatness.

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