Tuesday, March 12, 2013


12 March 2013
Feast of St Gregory the Great

The BBC news service last evening did a short piece on the Conclave which, as of this writing, has already commenced.  Amidst the usual banalities coming from the mouths of the TV talking heads viewers were shown a number of Cardinals, walking toward the Vatican in preparation for the momentous gathering.  All of them were sporting wide smiles and a back-slapping affability.  Many waved happily toward the cameras as they walked by.  None of them had the appearance of a worried doctor visiting the bed of a mortally wounded patient.

That no one in that group of Cardinals seemed to have a sense of the seriousness of the situation, nor any kind of apprehension over the serious danger that the Church and the souls of billions are in, leaves me with a sense of dark foreboding.  None of their public utterances have been anything other than the same upbeat cliches one often hears from corporate executives just prior to the collapse of their corporations.  Their demeanor is one of jollity, completely unwarranted confidence in the health of their "corporation" and a sense of fun (and self-importance) that they are all together enjoying a lovely holiday in Rome where the food is excellent and the wine superb.

Many in the Catholic blogosphere have adopted the same demeanor.  Bloggers speak of "Super Tuesday" or "Be Very Not Afraid" or  some such thing to describe the beginning of the election of a man who will be Christ's Vicar.  No unease among those bloggers.  "The Holy Ghost will handle it", so they assure us.

A Catholic should have Hope.  A Catholic has no grounds for optimism.

There is everything to hope for;  there is nothing to be optimistic about.  A cursory look at many of the movers and shakers now sitting in the Sistine Chapel should be enough to convince the Catholic realist that  we had better be prepared for what may befall us.  Several weeks ago The Eye Witness cautioned its readers that there is no assurance that the Holy Ghost is going to make the final selection of Supreme Pontiff.  The other day the more eminent thinker Mr Robert de Mattei made the same observations much more forcefully.  Brother Andre Marie over at St Benedict Center enlarges on that  with some thoughtful observations pointing out that while the Holy Ghost showers graces upon the electors there is no guarantee that those men will cooperate with those graces.

Consider.  Some of the Cardinals in that Conclave today are sympathetic to the scourge of homosexuality.  I will name three: Timothy Dolan, who allows sexual miscreants to have their own special "masses" in his New York diocese; Roger Mahony, who did his very best to allow to continue the buggering of adolescent boys by some priests in his diocese; Donald Wuerl, who talks piously out of one side of his mouth while encouraging this unspeakable vice to flourish in his diocese even going to the lengths of publicly humiliating a simple priest for refusing to give Holy Communion to a sexually deviant Buddhist (This month marks the one year anniversary of that shocking event - one year in which nothing whatever was done to discipline Wuerl over this outrage).

There are Cardinals voting who never think about the salvation of non-believers.  There are Cardinals who are so terrified by the media that they daren't speak a word about  the mortal sins the world is awash in.  There are Cardinals who promote false ideas like "liberation theology".  There are Cardinals so afraid of the Jews and their considerable influence that they refuse to attempt to lead these tragic people out of the darkness and into the Church.  There are Cardinals whose grasp of Catholic theology is scant at best.  There are some who are Protestants at heart, some who despise the very traditions that have nourished the Faith for twenty centuries.

There are public embarrassments like certain American Cardinals, some of whom have brought with them to Rome a retinue of publicists and sycophants, arranging press conferences and "schmooze" sessions.  The electioneering going on is ludicrous. Yet more proof that not too many ecclesiastics have a grasp of the gravity of the situation if, indeed, they ever did.

If that is insufficient to crush the happy optimism of some Catholics about the conclave I give you characters like balloon Cardinal Christoph von Schonborn.  There is Daneels and O'Malley.  We point this out so that we remain realists not optimists.  Optimists are busy preparing Pope parties to celebrate the election;  Realists are praying.

Then, of course, there are some fine men in that group.  They have their cheering sections among many Catholics.  We join them in their cheering.  But we will remain watchful.

The abdication of Pope Benedict was a shocking event, given all the circumstances.  A father has left his children alone.  No one knows why he renounced the See of Peter.  It is very possible we will never know.  But we do know that this action is going to have long term effects.  For those in the Vatican, used to breaking traditions with grand insouciance, it is a mere bump in the road.  For others the feeling of uneasiness over this is deep.

Yes, we are in imminent danger.  We realize most who are reading this are already doing so, but please pray for the Church, again and without ceasing.  We have heard that the Society of St Pius X has recommended a day-long fast today.  We applaud that.

We are now in the month dedicated to Saint Joseph, terror of demons and Protector of the Holy Church.  Our little blog here asks everyone to take advantage of what this month can mean for the good of the One, True Faith.

[Above clip from the 1951 MGM production of QUO VADIS.  St Peter is portrayed by dear, old Finlay Currie.  The music was by Miklos Rozsa.]

St Gregory the Great, ora pro nobis.

[UPDATE: March 12, evening....Several hours after posting this the invaluable Ars Orandi blog site alerts us to this striking exchange between Robert Moynihan and an unknown Cardinal.  This Cardinal understands, it would seem, the frightening seriousness of what is going on.  Please read this remarkable piece.]


Jay said...

Sobering commentary. You are so right.

Anonymous said...

In these days I have been beside myself.Praying and praying more. The whole world seems a stage but unhappily not in the Shakespeareian sense.Rather the show biz sense.EWTN,show biz. Yes everyone is so up beat. It's a tragedy and they don't even know it. I did read Dr.Moynihan and felt a small surge of hope. Why do some blogs I read say Cardinal Burke again and again but tv media including good ole EWTN say ++Dolan.++O'Malley again and again.I don't say ++Burke but why have I not once heard his name from tv chatterers? I read at Rorate via a link.I rarely go around there.I have my reasons.Their person at the Conclave says that this is a battleground for their minds,hearts and souls.He says that the Holy Ghost,St. Michael and all the Saints are...? Dear me.Suddenly I think I may have misinterpreted what he said.Forgive me.I'll go back and read it again.Then I will pray and pray more. I know you are troubled too. But I think you have fortitude. It always encourages me to find mine again.

Anonymous said...

I read Dr. John Rao's comments again.I did misunderstand.He spoke of the Holy Ghost,St.Michael and all the Saints 'Contending'for the wills of these men.Contending against the force of their free wills which are subject to less than holy and at present the Unholy one. I initially read him as saying that the Holy in Heaven were contending among themselves as though the battleground was even in Heaven. As I've said I am sometime criticall of Rorate Caeli and I suppose unconsciously look for reason to criticize. So I don't visit there often.

Aged parent said...

Dr Rao always has something interesting to say and, yes, sometimes a second reading of him is desirable to better understand his points. He has a well-fashioned Catholic mind.

What this blog has been noticing in the last few weeks is a certain lightheadedness when it comes to this whole business. It does seem that far too many people are unaware of the depth of the problem in Holy Church and are full of excitement over the choosing of the next Pope. I don't understand this. If I have to be the constant thrower of cold water into the faces of the complacent it is only done to encourage them to implore Heaven's help in this.

Too many of the Cardinal-Electors do not seem terribly interested in what is good for the Church, as can be gauged by their cheery pre-Conclave interviews and comments. That is why I sense danger; they are not convincing me that they intend to accept the graces that are right now showering upon them from Heaven. They seem to be supremely confident in their own private judgments...an attitude quite strange given what we see all around us. As I said I am far from optimistic, but I am hopeful.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Rorate is not as holy and Catholic as they try to paint themselves. Just ask all the wonderful Catholics who try to post comments but get censured when the truth is a bit to inconvenient for them.

I don't do Novus Ordo websites but accidentally found myself on the homepage of NewAdvent. Yikes! Attack of the Neocons! And they have Brokeback Mountain loving Tom Hoopes too. Why am I surprised?

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