Catholic Family News

This Month’s Edition

This month’s edition of Catholic Family News contains the articles listed below. Only a few of these are reprinted on this website. To read all of the articles contained in this month’s edition, choose one of our subscription options, each of which comes with access to the E-Edition of the paper so you can start reading these articles now.

August 2022 Contents

Roe and Casey Overturned on Feast of Sacred Heart (Brian M. McCall)

June 24, 2022 is a day that should be long remembered and honored. Priests should offer Masses of Thanksgiving on this date in the future. On this date, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) corrected one of the most egregious wrongs in its over 200-year history. Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas voted to overrule the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade. A sixth justice, Chief Justice John Roberts, voted to uphold as permissible under the U.S. Constitution the 2018 Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks (the “Gestational Age Act”), but he did not vote with the other five to overrule Roe v. Wade.

This event is obviously of great social and political consequence, but primarily it has spiritual causes and will have spiritual effects. Before examining those causes and effects, we will review the five-member majority opinion as well as the separate opinion filed by Justice Thomas.

The Decision

Justice Alito wrote the opinion of the Court which, as to the overall result (upholding Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act” as constitutional), was joined by all five other justices mentioned above, but as to overruling Roe was only joined by the four justices excluding Chief Justice Roberts. The substance of what the five-member majority decided is the following: “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the United States of America and there is no alleged right to kill one’s baby in the womb.

The direct effects of the ruling are that the Mississippi law that gave rise to the decision can be enforced. It also means that every state can enact or return to enforcing existing laws that restrict or prohibit abortions at any point or altogether. “It follows that the States may regulate abortion for legit­imate reasons, and when such regulations are challenged under the Constitution, courts cannot ‘substitute their so­cial and economic beliefs for the judgment of legislative bod­ies’” The Court explains, “A law regulating abortion, like other health and welfare laws, is entitled to a ‘strong presumption of validity.’ It must be sustained if there is a rational basis on which the legislature could have thought that it would serve legitimate state interests.” Elsewhere, the justices make clear that the protection of life in the womb constitutes a rational basis for abortion restrictions. They explain that a state may restrict or eliminate abortion as a lawful act for any of the following legitimate interests: “respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development; the protection of maternal health and safety; the elimination of particularly gruesome or barbaric medical procedures; the preservation of the integrity of the medical profession; the mitigation of fetal pain; and the prevention of discrimina­tion on the basis of race, sex, or disability.” It is very significant that the nation’s highest court has said it is reasonable for a state legislature to conclude that abortion is a “gruesome or barbaric” procedure and that doctors engaging in such behavior undermines the “integrity of the medical profession.” Beyond the result, which is significant in itself, this blessing of such reasons for banning abortion is to be celebrated.

Thus, states are once again free to pass and enforce restrictions on or bans of abortion, as they were throughout all of U.S. history. The Court declared that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided from the beginning. The Constitution did not and does not include a “right” to commit the wrong of abortion. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Pope Breaks Silence on Biden’s Support for Abortion: “I Leave It to His Conscience” (Matt Gaspers)

After nearly two weeks of silence following the overturning of Roe v. Wade (1973), Pope Francis finally commented on the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022), which was rendered on June 24.

The Pope granted an interview to Reuters in early July, during which he was asked about the historic Supreme Court ruling. According to Reuters, “Francis said he respected the decision but did not have enough information to speak about it from a juridical point of view.” (One need not possess legal expertise in order to celebrate an obvious judicial victory!)

While Francis said that abortion is like “hiring a hit man,” an analogy he has used in the past, he essentially side-stepped questions about nominally Catholic politicians who present themselves for Holy Communion while obstinately supporting abortion. When asked about this issue, the Pope stated, “When the Church loses its pastoral nature, when a bishop loses his pastoral nature, it causes a political problem. That’s all I can say.” (What about pastoral concern for the salvation of souls who commit sacrilege?)

One week after his comments to Reuters were published, Francis appeared on a Spanish-language TV network and responded to a question specifically about U.S. President Joe Biden. Catholic News Service reported:

“In an interview that aired in the United States July 11 on Univision, the Spanish-language network, the pope was asked his opinion about President Biden’s continuing support for abortion.

‘I leave it to his conscience and that he speaks to his bishop, his pastor, his parish priest about that inconsistency,’ he said.

However, repeating what he has said before about bishops declaring a politician unfit to receive Communion, Pope Francis said bishops must focus on the pastoral care of their people rather than on public condemnation.

‘When a shepherd leaves pastoral care aside, or does not have a mature pastoral care, it creates a political problem. That is where all the confusion lies,’ the pope said.”

His comments to Univision came on the heels of an executive order (signed July 8) in which Biden says: “It remains the policy of my Administration to support women’s right to choose and to protect and defend reproductive rights. Doing so is essential to justice, equality, and our health, safety, and progress as a Nation.” To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

*The Popes Speak* Pius XI’s Encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii on the Catholic Priesthood, Part II

Ministry of the Word

25. Consider the truths themselves which the priest, if faithful to his ministry, must frequently inculcate. Ponder them one by one and dwell upon their inner power; for they make plain the influence of the priest, and how strong and beneficent it can be for the moral education, social concord, and peaceful development of peoples. He brings home to young and old the fleeting nature of the present life; the perishableness of earthly goods; the value of spiritual goods and of the immortal soul; the severity of divine judgment; the spotless holiness of the divine gaze that reads the hearts of all; the justice of God, which “will render to every man according to his works.” [Rom. 2:6] These and similar lessons the priest teaches; a teaching fitted indeed to moderate the feverish search for pleasure, and the uncontrolled greed for worldly goods, that debase so much of modern life, and spur on the different classes of society to fight one another like enemies, instead of helping one another like friends. In this clash of selfish interest, and unleashed hate, and dark plans of revenge, nothing could be better or more powerful to help, than loudly to proclaim the “new commandment” of Christ [John 13:34-35]. That commandment enjoins a love which extends to all, knows no barriers nor national boundaries, excludes no race, excepts not even its own enemies.

26. The experience of twenty centuries fully and gloriously reveals the power for good of the word of the priest. Being the faithful echo and re-echo of the “word of God,” which “is living and effectual and more piercing than any two-edged sword,” it too reaches “unto the division of the soul and spirit” [Heb. 4:12]; it awakens heroism of every kind, in every class and place, and inspires the self-forgetting deeds of the most generous hearts. All the good that Christian civilization has brought into the world is due, at least radically [i.e., in its roots], to the word and works of the Catholic priesthood. Such a past might, to itself, serve as sufficient guarantee for the future; but we have a still more secure guarantee, “a more firm prophetical word” [2 Pet. 1:19] in the infallible promises of Christ.

27. The work, too, of the Missions manifests most vividly the power of expansion given by divine grace to the Church. This work is advanced and carried on principally by priests. Pioneers of faith and love, at the cost of innumerable sacrifices, they extend and widen the Kingdom of God upon earth.

Ministry of Prayer

28. Finally, the priest, in another way, follows the example of Christ. Of Him it is written that He “passed the whole night in the prayer of God” [Luke 6:12] and “ever lives to make intercession for us” [Heb. 7:25]; and like Him, the priest is public and official intercessor of humanity before God; he has the duty and commission of offering to God in the name of the Church, over and above sacrifice strictly so-called, the “sacrifice of praise,” in public and official prayer; for several times each day with psalms, prayers, and hymns taken in great part from the inspired books, he pays to God this dutiful tribute of adoration and thus performs his necessary office of interceding for humanity. And never did humanity, in its afflictions, stand more in need of intercession and of the divine help which it brings. Who can tell how many chastisements priestly prayer wards off from sinful mankind, how many blessings it brings down and secures?

29. If Our Lord made such magnificent and solemn promises even to private prayers, how much more powerful must be that prayer which is said ex officio in the name of the Church, the beloved Spouse of the Savior? The Christian, though in prosperity so often forgetful of God, yet in the depth of his heart keeps his confidence in prayer, feels that prayer is all-powerful, and as by a holy instinct, in every distress, in every peril whether private or public, has recourse with special trust to the prayer of the priest. To it the unfortunate of every sort look for comfort; to it they have recourse, seeking divine aid in all the vicissitudes of this exile here on earth. Truly does the “priest occupy a place midway between God and human nature: from Him bringing to us absolving beneficence, offering our prayers to Him and appeasing the wrathful Lord.” Click here to continue reading

The New Conciliarism: Vatican II Overdrive (Peter A. Kwasniewski, Ph.D.)

As a historical phenomenon, “conciliarism” refers to the view that a general council of the Church is superior to the Pope in matters of faith and morals — that a Pope can be trumped, so to speak, by all the bishops assembled. This error was dealt a series of blows throughout the second millennium of Christianity, culminating in the coup de grâce of the dogmatic constitution Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I.

In the past 40 years, however, a new form of conciliarism has arisen, one harder to define with precision and far more influential: the view that Vatican II, all by itself, was a Council that redefined the Church and her theology from top to bottom. In the memorable words of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, speaking to the bishops of Chile in 1988:

“The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of ‘super-dogma’ which takes away the importance of all the rest.”

For historians of the influential “Bologna school,” the Council gave birth to a new Church, ushered in a new age, cleared away ages of debris and decadence, proclaimed at last an ecumenical Gospel that sought out the world and passionately embraced it. While the falsity of such a bald statement may cause a wry smile, it is a sad fact that this peculiar brand of conciliarism has been the main force at work in the wreckage of the sacred liturgy for over 50 years — and has aggressively returned, after a sort of siesta, in the full-on rupturist ideology of Pope Francis and his courtiers. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that a new “Great Schism” appeared in the 20th century: a schism between a self-styled modern Church and the Church of Tradition. This virtual schism, like the doctrinal rupture and rampant liturgical abuses that are the hallmarks of its proponents, is far worse than any internal crisis the Church has ever faced before, outstripping in combined ignorance, error, and contempt even the horrors of the Protestant Revolt. Like Modernism, it is worse because it is more subtle, pervasive, and “official,” wrapping itself in the mantle of hierarchical endorsement.

As students of Church history know, the Holy Spirit does not long allow the Church to be storm-tossed and in danger of shipwreck. All the hard-won gains of the aging old guard — religious liberalism, laicism, secularism, feminism, soft modernism, horizontalism, relativism, and so forth, a whole litany of “-isms” that have replaced the Litany of Saints as the standard and measure of Catholic life today — are now being called into question by a new generation of believers, partly inspired (ironically) by the writings of a still-living elderly “pope emeritus” who was a major force at the very Council whose spirit is claimed to be embodied in the new order of Mass and the new style of worship it promotes. Those who follow the Catholic media can see it daily: the graying liberals sound outraged, panicked, desperate. The more intelligent among them must surely know that the sun is beginning to go down on their long-reigning agenda. This is why they are now savage in their crackdowns and reprisals. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Kwasniewski’s Latest Work Offers Needed Perspective (Robert B. Greving)

In art, perspective is crucial; otherwise, you make some things more important than they should be and, consequently, overlook items of significance. It’s like a child’s drawing with the head three times as large as the torso and the ears so small you can barely see them. Perspective, though, is necessary in any endeavor to find the truth. In his two-volume work The Road from Hyperpapalism to Catholicism: Rethinking the Papacy in a Time of Ecclesial Disintegration, Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski shows that we have lost our perspective on the papacy, inflating its authority and, as a result, neglecting its shortcomings. In the first volume, he puts the papacy in its doctrinal and historical perspective (revealing the “hyperpapalism” of today), and then, in Volume II, he documents the failings of Pope Francis’s pontificate (exacerbated and obscured by this “hyperpapalism”).

I am not a theologian or Church historian. (And one thing I appreciated about this work is that a layman can easily understand the arguments.) Like many Catholics raised after Vatican II, though, I have struggled to reconcile the Faith taught by my parents and lived in the lives of the Saints with the doings of the last 60 years. To solve any problem, you need to know not only what went wrong, but also how it went wrong. We’ve had many answers to the “what” of our current mess — Freemasonry, Modernism, moral and financial corruption, etc. Dr. Kwasniewski gives a much-needed answer to the “how.”

Answering the “How” of Our Current Mess

He starts Volume I, subtitled Theological Reflections on the Rock of the Church, with a piece entitled “My Own Journey from Hyperpapalism to Catholicism.” It is one of my favorite pieces because it echoed my own odyssey. Simply put, we Catholics had come to view the Pope as not so much the deputy of Christ as almost His replacement. Perhaps this was understandable in the wake of Protestantism when the papacy served as a rallying cry for Catholics. We fell on hard times with the diffidence of Paul VI’s pontificate, but thought we had the answer in the vigorous and charismatic John Paul II. In his defense of life, his stance against communism, and with encyclicals such as Veritatis Splendor, we thought, “This is it! Just follow the pope and you can’t go wrong.” With the temperance of Benedict XVI, it seemed as though things might straighten out. We thought all we needed was the “right” pope because the pope was always “right.”

This is hyperpapalism. It confuses infallibility with inerrancy and inculpability. While the office of the Pope is central to Catholicism, the man isn’t. With the election of Francis, we were caught in our own web. We now had a Church and a pope infected with hyperpapalism. This, combined with Francis’s heterodoxy and loquacity, has led to our “perfect storm.”

Dr. Kwasniewski pulls us back. He quotes Benedict XVI: “[The pope] must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.” Apparently, Francis didn’t get the memo. And somewhere along the line, we didn’t either. We didn’t realize, after coming up from the water, that the Pope can be wrong; that he can, in Dr. Kwasniewski’s words, “blow it big time just like the rest of us.” To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Traditionis Custodes after One Year (Anthony Stine, Ph.D.)

On July 16, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Church observed a less-than-auspicious anniversary: the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes (TC). The year since the release of that document has been tumultuous within the life of the Church, seeing Vatican action against traditional religious orders, strange non-documents issued to defend the right of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) to offer the traditional liturgy, and countless diocesan Traditional Latin Masses canceled. As Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò said in a statement on Francis’ most recent follow up to TC (the Apostolic Letter Desiderio Desideravi released on June 29), this is “cancel culture” at work within the Church (more on this subject later).

The initial responses to TC from the traditional world were predictable. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf noted that July 16 was the anniversary of the detonation of the Manhattan Project’s first atom bomb, as well as the anniversary of the Great Schism of 1054, before likening TC to a nuclear bomb being detonated on the liturgical life of the Church. But, as he noted, it is good that there is no ambiguity about the fact that unity is no longer something to be fostered in the Church, but rather, is something to be forced at metaphorical gunpoint on the faithful. This is a theme that became obvious in the aftermath of TC as 2021 progressed.

Sam Guzman of The Catholic Gentleman noted the obvious: that the traditional movement and the sacred Tradition it has sworn to defend and revive is not going anywhere:

“… with a few notable exceptions, traditional communities and religious orders are the only ones that are growing. Admittedly, this statement is largely anecdotal, but parish closures and consolidations are commonplace in the great majority of dioceses. Vocations have plummeted in recent decades, and it is not unusual for overworked priests to be managing three or more parishes at one time. Meanwhile, my traditional parish, and every traditional parish I have ever visited, is bursting at the seams and running out of room.”

This is the story of nearly every traditional parish in the United States and beyond. Your parish probably fits this description. My parish certainly does.

Three Basic Responses from Bishops

But that hasn’t stopped the bishops from responding in one of three ways. The first response was to try and ignore Traditionis Custodes, either by invoking Canon 87 of the Code of Canon Law, which permits a bishop to ignore decrees from Rome if they are harmful to the faith in his diocese. The second was to issue a statement saying that TC would be examined in detail and a decree issued eventually, which often led to the cancellation of some Traditional Masses in diocesan parishes in late 2021 and into 2022. The third response was the rapid issuance of an interpretation of TC that resulted in draconian closures of diocesan TLM offerings — and in some cases, the total elimination of the traditional liturgy altogether in a given diocese.

When talking about the first wave of closures, it’s worth noting that an estimated 150,000 Catholics attend the Traditional Latin Mass in the United States, according to a December 2021 report from Catholic News Agency,[vi] though the report does not mention whether this number includes Catholics who attended Masses offered by the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), whose priests offer valid Masses which Rome permits the laity to attend while the SSPX itself has an “irregular” canonical status. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Rorate Caeli Interview with Dom Alcuin Reid

Editor’s Note: This exclusive interview was conducted and published by Rorate Caeli (appeared online on July 15, 2022). It is reprinted here with permission from the publisher.


In May, the news broke that two monks of the Monastère Saint-Benoît in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France, a Public Association of the Faithful that celebrates the traditional liturgy exclusively and that lives a classical Benedictine observance, had received ordination from an unnamed “senior prelate in unimpeded communion with the Holy See” after its own bishop, Mgr. Dominique Rey, had repeatedly said that he was unable to confer them. The monastery argued that these ordinations were necessary for their survival in the face of the inertia caused by the bishop’s fear of the Holy See. The bishop reacted by suspending the monks.

Early in June, it emerged that Bishop Rey and his diocese had recently been the subject of a “fraternal visit” by his Metropolitan Archbishop and that, in the light of this, the Holy See had forbidden Rey to ordain anyone for the foreseeable future. (Annual ordinations had been scheduled for June 26 and others were due later.) On June 10, the bishop decreed the suppression of the monastery’s Association of the Faithful.

The founding Prior of the Monastery, Dom Alcuin Reid, well known in traditional circles for his erudite liturgical scholarship, agreed to give this exclusive interview to Rorate Caeli.

RC: Dom Alcuin, many people around the world are astounded by your disregard of the canonical norms in respect of the reception of Holy Orders that has left you suspended and your monastery’s Association of the Faithful suppressed. Why have you and your monks taken the course of action that you have?

In short: in order faithfully to be able to live our vocations as monks and to be able to survive the storm that is raging around us, and now with a particular ferocity in our diocese. If we did not accept the offer of ordinations outside the canonical norms we would now be a priest-less and therefore Mass-less monastic community at the mercy of the Holy See — and we know how much sympathy they would have for a traditional monastery!

As our statement dated May 13 explains, we made a decision in conscience over time after much prayer, fasting, and consultation to engage in a material disobedience that we firmly believed then, and believe now, to have been necessary in due prudence in order to be able to continue to live our vocations according to the vows we have made to Almighty God. Click here to continue reading

The Marian Character of August (John A. Monaco)

The summer begins with June, the month traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, continues with July (devoted to the Most Precious Blood), and holds August as its final full month. By August, the temperatures have reached their highest points and vacations are in their final weeks, with students and teachers preparing for the beginning of a new school year.

In Italy, August is the ‘slow’ month, when most businesses and daily routine pauses. Since the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus (63 B.C. – A.D. 14), August was a time dedicated to rest from harvesting the fields, and this festival time was called Feriae Augusti, now commonly called ferragosto. It was a mandatory time for rest and relaxation before beginning the tasks necessary for the fall harvest. During the Fascist days of Mussolini, his government organized special trips for poor workers, in which they would have the opportunity to take train rides at a discounted rate, so that they could visit other parts of the country. Since the late medieval times, the Catholic Church appropriated the timing of this festival, and incorporated into it the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which historically was a time for special processions and traditions.

August is the month traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (celebrated liturgically on Aug. 22 in the traditional Roman calendar), but it also contains a number of other Marian feasts and commemorations, including the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Aug. 5) — also known as “Our Lady of the Snows” — and the Assumption (Aug. 15). In the revised General Roman Calendar of 1969, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is moved to the Saturday following the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Queenship of Mary — which since its inception by Pope Pius XII was celebrated on May 31 — is transferred to Aug. 22.

For Eastern Christians, Aug. 15 is also known as the Dormition of the Theotokos, and is preceded by a two-week-long strict fast. On the feast day, flowers are blessed in accordance with the pious tradition that, when the tomb of the Theotokos was opened on the third day following her Dormition, it was empty, aside from the sight and smell of fragrant flowers. It is no coincidence that during August, Catholics commemorate several saints who had a strong Marian devotion, including St. Alphonsus Liguori (Aug. 2), St. Dominic (Aug. 4), St. Jean-Marie Vianney (Aug. 8), St. John Eudes (Aug. 19), St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Aug. 20), and St. Rose of Lima (Aug. 30).

A Time for Rest and Marian Devotion

August is a time for rest, and a time to honor the Blessed Mother in her Immaculate Heart and glorious Assumption. These two things — rest and Marian devotion — may not seem inherently related. However, a deeper look into the Church’s liturgy can help uncover a possible link between the two. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Our Lady of Fatima: The Seven Distinct References to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Marianna Bartold)

It can be said and should be said, again and again: Fatima is the crown of all Marian apparitions. Fatima is exceptional, even among the extraordinary. Fatima offers a most holy, most sanctifying remedy to the Modern Age ― an age so spiritually destitute, so forlorn, and so wanting in charity toward God and neighbor that, in anticipation of these worsening times, in the course of the 1917 apparitions, the Mother of God made seven distinct references to her Immaculate Heart.

Seven is viewed by the Church as the symbolic number of God’s perfections; for this reason, it is no small matter that, during the 1917 Fatima apparitions, the Immaculate Heart of Mary was referenced or manifested a total of seven times. (On a related note, Our Lady also foretold that she would return to Fatima a seventh time, an occurrence which has not yet happened.) It is likewise a wonder to discover that seven allusions to the Immaculate Heart were made only during two of the six apparitions ― in June (the month of the Sacred Heart) and July (the month of the Precious Blood of Jesus; it is also the same month in which Our Lady gave the children the Great Secret of Fatima).

During the first apparition on May 13, 1917, Our Lady made no explicit mention or display of her Immaculate Heart. Instead, she first highlighted four key doctrines of the Faith ― the existence of Heaven, the reality of Purgatory, the purposes of bearing willingly the suffering that God may send us, and the Virgin Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces. When the Lady asked the three children if they were willing to offer themselves to God and bear all the suffering He willed to send them “as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners,” Lucia, as the eldest child, answered, “Yes, we are willing.” Our Lady’s response was simple and direct: “Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

Sr. Lucia later wrote a description which clearly illustrates that God’s graces are literally distributed through the hands of the Immaculate Virgin, for as the Madonna uttered the words “‘the grace of God will be your comfort,’ Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors.”  The Lady’s last words before she serenely rose and departed to the east were these: “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.” This one request for the daily Rosary would be repeated at every following apparition. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

*Apologetics Series* Msgr. Fenton’s Handbook on Catholic Apologetics: The Concept of Revelation (Matthew Plese)

The Sources of Revelation Defined by Vatican I

After having established that an apologist’s purpose is to present the reasonableness of Catholic doctrine, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton commences his chapter on the concept and sources of revelation by quoting the decree on revelation issued at the First Vatican Council in 1870:

“The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the Principle and the End of all things, can be known with certainty in the natural light of human reason from created things, ‘for His invisible things, from the creation of the world are seen, being understood by the things that are made’ [Rom 1:20]. Nevertheless it has pleased His wisdom and goodness to reveal Himself and the eternal decrees of His will to the human race in another, and this a supernatural way. ‘Diversely and in many ways in times past, God speaking to the fathers in the prophets, last of all in these days hath spoken to us in His Son’ [Heb 1:1-2].”

As immediately noted by Msgr. Fenton, such a declaration has direct applicability to the role of the apologist:

“The ultimate and essential purpose of apologetics is to demonstrate that the teaching which the Catholic Church proposes as a divine message and which the members of the Church accept on divine faith is actually such a revelation.”

Before launching into a summary of the two ways of knowing about God (supernatural and natural), Msgr. Fenton first establishes the meaning of the word “revelation” in a manner unique from many other apologetic works. He states:

“The very term ‘revelation’ gives us some insight into the claims made by the Catholic Church in favor of her doctrine. The word is an adaptation of the Latin revelare. As such it implies the removal of a veil, the taking away of some factor which has hitherto rendered an object unintelligible or invisible. A person is said to reveal something when he exhibits or makes known that which was previously concealed.

The Church claims that this is verified in her own dogma. Asserting that God has chosen ‘to reveal Himself and the eternal decrees of His will to the human race,’ she places the body of this dogmatic teaching in the class of truths which the children of men would otherwise not have known.”

The Natural and Supernatural Way of Knowing God

As affirmed at the First Vatican Council, the existence of God “can be known with certainty in the natural light of human reason from created things,” yet certain aspects of God’s inner life (e.g., the mystery of the Trinity) can only be known by supernatural revelation. As a result, there is both a natural way of knowing God and a supernatural way of knowing Him. In regard to the supernatural means of knowing the one true God, Msgr. Fenton remarks:

“Furthermore, when the Catholic Church insists that the truth we possess in her dogmatic utterances has come to man ‘in another, and this a supernatural way,’ she makes obvious reference to a means of knowing about God which is within the natural competence of man and at the same time is quite distinct from revelation. We cannot hope to appreciate what the Church means by ‘a supernatural way’ unless we are aware of her teaching about the purely natural manner by which can be learn about God.”

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New Workers for the Vineyard: Report on SSPX Ordination Weekend 2022 (Brian M. McCall)

It was a longtime custom of John Vennari (RIP) to publish in one of the summer editions of Catholic Family News a report on the SSPX ordinations. He loved traveling to ordinations and meeting new friends, as well as reuniting with old ones. For several years after John’s death, Sean Romer provided a report for CFN. He was prepared to do so again in 2022, but Divine Providence asked him for a sacrifice for the new priests.  His flight to Virginia was cancelled by the airlines and he was stranded, unable to make it to Virginia. Thus, it is my honor to attempt a report.

A Special Ordination

The ordinations in 2022 were very special as it had been three years since the typical ordinations were celebrated. In 2020, due to severe governmental restrictions in Virginia the seminary had to hold ordinations privately, open only to the families of the ordinandi. Virginia reopened and eliminated most restrictions in 2021, but only shortly before ordinations. Although open to the public, the numbers of faithful attending were unusually low. One of the new priest’s relatives who live in Europe were not able to make the trip and had to watch the livestream. The entire atmosphere, although joyful, was certainly muted from prior years.

With a recently elected Republican governor, Virginia posed no problem to a large gathering for the ceremonies. With the striking down of the Biden Administration’s mask mandate as unconstitutional, there were even few inhibitions to traveling. Finally, the weekend also included a celebration of Bishop Bernard Fellay’s 40th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.

For those who arrived early for ordinations, Thursday, June 16 dawned to a special Pontifical Mass to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. The Mass was followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Following the liturgical celebrations, the seminary hosted a banquet to celebrate 40 years of priesthood for Bishop Bernard Fellay, who served as Superior General of the Society for two consecutive terms (1994-2018). This celebration was a beautiful way for the ordinandi to meditate on the step they were about to take by answering the call to their vocation.

Friday morning, despite earlier predictions of rain, a clear sky met the crowds that were assembling. There was no rain all day, but it was sweltering. The temperatures reached the low-90s. The number attending was dramatically increased this year over 2020. I would estimate the numbers were in the thousands. Anticipation grew as the procession made its way from the seminary down the hill to the ordination tent. The ordinands were graced to have two bishops of the SSPX at their ordination. Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais was the ordaining bishop, while Bishop Fellay attended in choir.

The Deacons: Levites of the New Law

The ordinations began at the prescribed time just after the Epistle. The bishop preached a beautiful sermon before commencing the rites so as to properly dispose all present. The transcript of his sermon is reproduced elsewhere in this edition. One of the most memorable lines for me was his exhortation that priests should die tired. They need to spend themselves for the Church.

Following the sermon, the subdeacons to be ordained deacons are called forward. Rev. Mr. Joseph Budds of Ireland and Rev. Mr. Gregory Pfeiffer of Kentucky were called to the diaconate. Before proceeding to ordain, the bishop calls upon all to invoke the intercession of the Saints. The subdeacons and deacons to be ordained prostrate before the altar. It is a moving scene to see these young men die to the world so that they can rise again to ordination. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition

Biopolitics and the Rise of of the Biometric Dictatorship (Christopher A. Ferrara)

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a lecture presented by the author at this year’s Roman Forum Summer Symposium (July 7-18, 2022) in Gardone Riviera, Italy. The theme of this year’s symposium was “The Church and the Great Reset”.


“The Utility of Moral Panics”

What we have endured over the past two-and-a-half years demonstrates what Matthew Crawford has called “the utility of moral panics.” Crawford rightly observes that the COVID regimes were justified by the hysterically exaggerated threat posed by a single virus, while all other threats to life, including those provoked by the COVID regimes themselves, were ignored.

What Crawford calls the resulting “culture of COVID” is, as he rightly argues, “the endgame of political liberalism.” But what Crawford does not appear to recognize is that this endgame is not an abandonment of supposed Lockean conservatism, but rather the final revelation of what was apparent even to Locke’s contemporaneous critics: that Locke, whom one commentator calls “the confused man’s Hobbes,” had merely ushered in the Leviathan in the form of the principle of representation under an irrevocable social compact from which the only escape is violent revolution.

Crawford argues that the culture of COVID represents a Hobbesian replacement of the summum bonum with the summum malum — the fear of death. But what Crawford does not see is that this is a Lockean project as well.

This article looks at that project under the rubric of biopolitics. For starters, what do I mean by biopolitics, a term as equivocal as it is useful? The precise meaning of the term varies according to the commentator or political philosopher who wields it, but in its broadest, common-denominator sense, which I will develop further, it means a politics of body as opposed to the politics of the soul that characterizes the traditional view of man as a political animal in the Greco-Catholic tradition.

We Catholics know, as Werner Jaeger has observed, that both the theology and political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, to quote Jaeger, “led the way into the newfound land of the soul,” producing “a new order of values…” which “paved the way for the universal religion, Christianity.”

In short, the politics of the soul.

Politics of the Soul: Importance of Platonic and Aristotelian Philosophy

As Father Copleston observes in his monumental history of philosophy: “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Plato in the intellectual preparatio evangelica of the pagan world… The natural theology of Aristotle was a preparation for the acceptance of Christianity.”

This is why the Catholic Church has recognized the seeds of the Word in the Platonic and Aristotelian speculations, which as Pope John XXIII observed in Veterum Sapientia, “served, surely, to herald the dawn of the Gospel which God’s Son, ‘the judge and teacher of grace and truth, the light and guide of the human race,’ proclaimed on earth.”

Now, according to the politics of the soul, versus the biopolitics of the body, the “state exists for the sake of the good life; and not for the sake of life only,” as Aristotle so famously put it in the Politics. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition