Sunday 30 November 2014

The First Sunday of Advent...

The First Sunday of Advent reminds us of the both the first and second coming of Christ.

The Gospel of the Sunday reminds us, in dramatic terms, of the second coming of the Lord, when there shall be great signs in the heavens.

It is salutary to remind ourselves from time to time of the signs of the latter times as well, of course, of the present times, and the connection between the two.

We cannot know the time but we can see, and recognise, the signs. These should remind us to consider our eternal end which is always a salutary thought.

GOSPEL Luke 21. 25-33

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves: men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand." And He spoke to them a similitude: "See the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; so you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away".


Why the Roman Catholic Church so rightly condemned the Irish Fenians...and all other terrorist fanatics and revolutionaries

A reader called "Irish Jacobite" asks me (in an earlier post on the Carmelites of Compiegne):

"Why did the Church condemn the Fenians exactly? What were the specific reasons?"

It's a perfectly good question.

Here's why: the Fenians were a parcel of revolutionaries hell-bent upon overthrowing the established order in Ireland - including the clergy - and bringing in a secular republic guided by principles based upon the anti-Catholic French Revolution and upon a form of incipient Communism.

They expressly eschewed the non-violent approach to reform of Daniel O'Connell and deliberately opted for violence and murder of the innocent, particularly police officers.

In short, they were a gang of heathen thugs and murderers.

Bishop David Moriarty of Kerry said of the Fenian leaders (and I quote) that they were:

"criminals, swindlers" and "God's heaviest curse" and "deserving damnation" adding that "eternity is not long enough, nor hell hot enough" for their kind.

I should add that Bishop Moriarty was an Irish patriot. However, he objected to swindlers and murderers.

Bishop David Moriarty, Roman Catholic Bishop of Kerry

Here is what Lawrence John McCaffrey says in his book The Irish Catholic Diaspora in America (1976), page 150:

" to the British government, the Catholic Church in Ireland was the leading foe of Fenianism. Bishops denounced the IRB as a secret, oath-bound society, and denied the sacraments to its known members...[Cardinal] Cullen [the Archbishop of Dublin] and his fellow prelates were also frightened by the violent rhetoric and strategy of the IRB, believing that the group's inspiration came from Giuseppe Garibaldi-style continental, anti-Catholic, radical nationalism and the egalitarian and violent mood of urban America...Cardinal Cullen decreed that no Catholic church in his archdiocese could be used for any religious ceremony that might be construed as an honour to revolutionary nationalism."

Here is what Oliver Rafferty says in his book Catholicism in Ulster, 1603-1983: An Interpretative History (1994) at pages 162-4:

"A more important and decisive intervention in Irish political affairs was the condemnation of Fenianism 'by name'  issued by Pius IX in January 1870...[Cardinal Cullen] called a meeting of the bishops, then all in Rome for the First Vatican Council, and persuaded them in the interests of religion to petition the Holy See for a condemnation of the Fenians. All the Ulster bishops voted in favour of the petition. Pius IX duly obliged and the decree condemning Fenianism was issued at the end of January 1870."

In fact, the decree was a clarification, ordered by Blessed Pope Pius IX to be issued in case there were any doubt that his earlier decrees, including Apostolicae Sedis Moderationi, meant to condemn the Fenians specifically. It was issued on 12 January 1870 by the Roman Inquisition on the direct order of Blessed Pope Pius IX. Here is what it says:

"As it may be doubted by many whether the society of Fenians is included and denounced among the societies condemned in the Pontifical Constitutions, our most Holy Father Pius IX, having first taken the opinions of the eminent cardinals, the inquisitors-general appointed to guard against heretical perversity in the universal Christian republic, lest the hearts of the faithful, particularly the simple, should be perverted, to the imminent danger of their souls, and adhering to the decrees of the congregation of the General Inquisition issued in like circumstances, especially the decree of 5 July 1865, has decreed and declared that the American or Irish society called Fenian is comprised among the societies forbidden and condemned in the Constitutions of the Supreme Pontiff, and in particular by that lately issued by his Holiness, dated 29 October 1869, beginning Apostolicae Sedis in paragraph 4 of which are declared liable to sentence of excommunication, to be removed only by the Pope, 'those sects called Freemasons, Carbonari, or any other kinds of sects which either openly or privately plot against the Church or legitimately constituted authorities, together with those who in any way favour the same; as also their secret heads or leaders, so long as they shall not have denounced them.' He has, therefore, commanded this answer to be given to certain bishops who have asked the question.

Notary of the Holy Roman Inquisition
12 January 1870"

Apostolicae Sedis Moderationi was a papal bull issued by Blessed Pope Pius IX on 12 October 1869 which revised the list of censures that in canon law were imposed automatically (latae sententiae) on offenders. It reduced their number and clarified those preserved. Of the total of 45 censures, one (the fourth among those for which absolution was reserved to the Pope, but not in a special manner) was directed against membership of "Freemasonry, the Carbonari and similar groups".

Some sought to excuse the Fenians from being condemned by this and earlier papal bulls and so Blessed Pope Pius IX ordered the clarification quoted above so that there could be no doubt. He did this at the invitation of the Irish bishops, led by Cardinal Cullen.

His Eminence Paul, Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin

Any objective person considering the revolutionary violence espoused by, and practiced by, the Fenians and the IRB can be in no doubt whatsoever that they fully deserved this condemnation. The Fenians and IRB made no bones about committing plain, outright murder to try to get their way.

Since murder is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, as the Catechism teaches us, there can be little doubt that unrepentant Fenians and IRB members were in obvious and mortal danger of Hellfire. All Catholics needed to be told this and Blessed Pope Pius IX did not shrink from the task.

The term "Fenian" is an umbrella term used to describe both the Fenian Brotherhood, founded by American John O'Mahoney, and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (originally called the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood), founded by James Fitzjames Stephens on 17 March 1858 in Lombard Street, Dublin, together with Thomas Clarke Luby, John O'Leary and Charles Kickham.

 The odious founder of the Fenians, American rebel and murderer John O'Mahoney 
The odious founder of the IRB, Irish rebel and murderer James Stephens

Both organisations were consciously modelled on the ideas of the French Revolution and the Irish tricolour flag was even brought over to Ireland from revolutionary France by Thomas Francis Meagher for that very reason.

Be in no doubt: the tricolour is an anti-Catholic, revolutionary flag - or, more properly, rag. It deliberately eschews anything resembling the Christian cross.

Generations of Irishmen have been swindled into believing otherwise.

Thomas Francis Meagher,
rabble-rousing revolutionary and promoter of mayhem and violence,
who brought the revolutionary tricolour to Ireland

Both organisations were secret societies with secret, blood-curdling oaths, and they were dedicated to the establishment of an independent, secular Irish republic by violence, murder and mayhem.

O'Mahoney expressly claimed that Irish independence could only be obtained by armed revolution. He was, in effect, an early Communist. Stephens was, if anything, even more openly Communist in his views.

O'Mahoney even managed to help orchestrate the Fenian invasions and raids of Canada from the USA between 1866 and 1871. These raids, which were designed to take over parts of Canada and then try to pressure or blackmail the British government, all failed and ensured that Irish-Canadians ceased to have any sympathy for the Fenians, if they ever had any. It also engendered much anti-American feeling since the American government did little to stop the Fenians using US territory to mount the raids.

Both Stephens and O'Mahoney had participated in the failed 1848 "Young Ireland" rebellion which Dan O'Connell had roundly condemned. The "Young Irelanders" expressly split from O'Connell precisely because he refused to countenance any violence.

In 1867 three Fenians - William Allen, Michael O'Brien and Michael Larkin - attacked a police van trying to release captured Fenian criminals. In so doing they murdered policemen. For this they were later tried and hanged at Salford. The backlash against these violent criminals set back the cause of Irish Home rule by decades. Their murders achieved nothing but grieving widows, a growing hatred of Irish politics and a diminishing of the prospects for Home Rule.

The stark reality is that the peaceful, constitutional campaigns of Dan O'Connell which, a generation earlier, had achieved so much including land reform, Catholic emancipation throughout the British Empire and material assistance for the poor, was gravely prejudiced by the stupid and irrational violence and murders committed by the Fenians.

Daniel O'Connell,
the "Liberator" and the true friend of Ireland,
who forbade violence and used only constitutional and peaceful methods
with the result that he succeeded where the men of violence failed

Home Rule, which could have been achieved in the early to mid-19th century, was set back half a century by the rash and senseless acts of violence of these Fenian terrorists, fanatics and murderers.

The Phoenix Park murders on 6 May 1882 of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish and the Permanent Under-Secretary, Thomas Henry Burke, thoroughly scuppered Home Rule for Ireland since Gladstone's minister, Lord Hartington, was Cavendish's elder brother. He split from Gladstone's Liberal Party, and went on to help form the Liberal Unionist Party, so that the Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893 failed.

These atrocious murders of innocent men in Phoenix Park served only to put the cause of Home rule back decades and to cause senseless suffering to the families of the victims. Such are the cankered and hateful fruits of Fenian fanaticism, terrorism and murder.

Lord Frederick Cavendish,
Chief Secretary of Ireland,
murdered in cold blood in Phoenix Park by Fenian terrorist fanatics

Thomas Henry Burke,
Permanent Under-Secretary at the Irish Office
murdered in cold blood in Phoenix Park by Fenian terrorist fanatics.
He was an Irish Catholic in favour of Home Rule and moderate land reform who opposed the men of violence

It was only the long, hard, arduous, dedicated and, above all, peaceful and constitutional continuance, by John Redmond and John Dillon, of O'Connell's campaigns that finally resulted in the Irish Home Rule Act in 1914.

John Redmond MP,
leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons,
a decent and patriotic man who eschewed violence and opposed the men of violence.
He succeeded in getting the Home Rule Bill passed in 1914.

The Phoenix Park murderers, Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly, were all convicted and hanged. They belonged to an obscure off-shoot of the Fenians called the "Irish National Invincibles".

Thus did the Fenians and their allies hopelessly set back the cause of Irish Home Rule by their murders, violence and acts of hatred.

The Fenians and the IRB eventually turned into Sinn Fein and the IRA, both murderous organisations which have continued to massacre the innocent right up until the present day.

In case anyone is in any doubt that the modern IRA has not been openly in favour of murder, here is a reminder from Martin McGuiness, who, although a Cabinet minister in Northern Ireland, has been an openly defiant apologist for killing the innocent. Such a man should automatically be excluded from the government of any civilised nation. 

In this video he says that the IRA punishment for those they consider "informers" is, as McGuinness put is, "death, certainly" meaning they will be murdered by the IRA [LATER NOTE: this video has now been removed by Youtube almost certainly because it shows how utterly dishonest, murdering and appalling, Martin McGuinness truly was.]

Here is an interview with IRA leader, Sean Mac Stiofain, who boasts about murdering the innocent. Ironically, Mac Stiofain was in reality English-born, with an Irish mother, and  was baptised John Stephenson.

Here is an even more disgusting individual, Dan Breen.

An IRA member who was one of those who started the 1919 rebellion, this scoundrel openly boasts of murdering innocent people even to saying that he "makes no apology for killing...and murder" and deceitfully pretends that "all killing is murder". He is a particularly nasty example of the moral poison that was, and still is, Fenianism:


Notice how this ghastly old heathen says he is "not a bit sorry for any man, or God"!

He is not sorry for the murders he committed and, even though he is, as he puts it, in the "winter of his life" he is "not one bit any man or God".

Note that: he is not sorry even to God for the murders he committed. He remains an unrepentant murderer, boasting of his murders.

But he even tells us who his real "gods" were, namely his fellow terrorists like Michael Collins. And his earlier heroes, Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, were both revolutionary Protestants. Wolfe Tone was a suicide who cut his own throat in prison with a razor blade rather than face the gallows.

This man, Dan Breen, was very far from being a Catholic. He was a terrorist murderer and a hate-filled killer.

He was not even remotely Christian. He was a deep heathen and a violent, murderous revolutionary. He was the very worst sort of person to claim to represent Ireland, a land of Christian saints and scholars. He was the very enemy of true Irishmen and the real Ireland - a shocking criminal, God help him, but a typical representative of the evil genius of Fenianism.

He is also an example of how many of the Fenians were sympathisers with Nazism.

Breen published an account of his guerrilla days, My Fight for Irish Freedom, in 1924. He represented the Tipperary constituency from the fourth Dáil (the Irish Parliament) in 1923 as a "Republican", along with Éamon de Valera and Frank Aiken. He became the first anti-Treaty TD actually to take his seat in 1927 but was defeated in the June 1927 general election and decided to travel to the United States. He returned to Ireland and regained his seat as a member of Fianna Fáil in the Dáil at the 1932 general election.

During World War II he was known to hold largely pro-Axis (i.e. Nazi) views.

According to some, in 1948 an Irish-American visited Breen and was shocked to see two pictures of Adolf Hitler on the wall of Breen's study.

After hearing these appalling villains, it must be clear to any sane human being that the whole Fenian, IRB, Sinn Fein and IRA movement is disgraceful, criminal and immoral and thoroughly deserving of the highest possible condemnation by all men, whether religious or not, whether Irish or not.

It is a movement inspired by Hell itself, as Roman Catholic Bishop David Moriarty rightly stated.
Blessed Pope Pius IX was clearly entirely right to condemn this horrible, murderous movement and all decent people should be grateful to him for doing so.
Blessed Pope Pius IX
who roundly and openly (and rightly) condemned
the Fenians and their fanatical terrorist allies

Thursday 6 November 2014

El Dialogo de Carmelitas - a Spanish version of this heroic witness...

For those who can follow the Spanish, here is an excellent version of the story - El Dialogo de Carmelitas (originally in French).

It stars, as the Mother Prioress, the famous Italian actress, Alida Valli, born  Alida Maria Laura, Reichsfreiin (Baroness-imperial) von Altenburger von Marckenstein und Frauenberg of the Holy Roman Empire, who is famous in the English-speaking world for her role as Anna, the amour of the outlaw, Harry Lime, in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Third Man, itself set in the ruins of old, Catholic and imperial Vienna.

There is no escaping it: Europe owes its true origin and greatness to the Catholic religion and its decline to its retreat from Christ.

This version of the Compiegne story of the holy Carmelite martyrs is a particularly expressive one and again emphasizes the heroism of these saintly and remarkable women.

Oh, how we lack, in our times, convents as faithful and zealous as this - and how much we are in sore need of them! It is for lack of such that our times have become so perilous, godless and faithless. We lack these role models of sanctity, humility and simplicity - and, of course, heroism.

It is a salutary reminder to us that we must strive and pray with fervour to be even remotely worthy to share heaven with heroines such as these holy princesses who have deserved to reign forever in glory with their sacred Spouse, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Holy sisters of Compiegne, pray for us!


Veni Creator Spiritus - let us again remember those heroic, holy and royal Carmelites of Compiegne

On 17 July 1794, sixteen Carmelite nuns of Compiegne were guillotined in Paris, convicted of crimes against the state by the tribunal of the French Revolution.

Mother Henriette de Jesus, renowned for her great beauty and strong personality, stood up to represent the other Carmelite sisters before the revolutionary tribunal.

Since the prosecutor accused the Carmelites of being fanatics and counter-revolutionaries, she asked him to explain the meaning of those words. The irritated judge vomited a torrent of offenses against her, and then said: "It is your attachment to your Religion and the King".

Hearing these words, she replied, "I thank you for the explanation".

Then, addressing her companion Carmelites, she said: "My dear Mother and my Sisters, we must rejoice and give thanks to God for we die for our Religion, our Faith, and for being members of the Holy Roman Catholic Church".

In particular, the Revolution hated the fact that they promoted the counter-revolutionary and royalist devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Infant Jesus of Prague, a long-standing Carmelite devotion associated with royalty and nobility and the Order of Malta in Prague. In truth, however, they were devotions much beloved by the ordinary people - not least, of course, in Ireland where the Carmelites became very popular (I cannot suppress a chuckle whenever I see Irish republicans warmly attached to such royalist devotions!).

She was the last one before the Prioress to mount the scaffold to die. To the end, she encouraged her Sisters to persevere. When a charitable person offered a glass of water to one of the Sisters, Mother Henriette told her: "In Heaven, my Sister, in Heaven we will soon have water aplenty to drink."

The late Brazilian Catholic scholar, politician and activist, Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira comments upon this remarkable story:

"These Sisters knew that they were being put to death for their fidelity to the Catholic Church and the King, but they wanted the prosecutor to admit it out loud, because this would be a public witness of their martyrdom and an encouragement for them in face of the dangers of apostasy. This is why Mother Henriette was charged with asking that question.

When the answer came, she was happy and transmitted it to her Mother and Sisters in religion. All of them shared that joy and went forward to die. Mother Henriette, who was very resolute, offered assistance to each of them until the end. Only the Prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, died after her, because she was the superior, and the Captain must always be the last one to leave the sinking ship...

You can contrast Mother Henriette de Jesus with an imaginary personage in a popular novel, The Dialogue of the Carmelites by George Bernanos. The character was called Blanche de la Force and was presented as a weak and timid Carmelite Sister. She is an imaginary personage, but it is worthwhile considering her, because she represents a common character type. In his novel, Bernanos presented her as a Sister who had panicked when the other Sisters were taken by the revolutionary soldiers and sentenced, and for this reason had apostatized from the Order. She was no longer living inside the Carmelite community, but she went to see the execution of her former companions who would suffer martyrdom that day. The Sisters were chanting the Veni Creator in chorus and, one by one, they walked up the steps to the scaffold to be guillotined. When she saw this, she was moved by a grace, stepped out of the mob and, singing, joined the cortege to be executed along with them.

The two attitudes of both religious, Mother Henriette and Sister Blanche, express well the different paths of Divine Providence for different souls - the different marvels God works with His chosen ones. For some He chooses the glory of repentance; this is one of the glories attributed to the Apostles who fled during His Passion. For others He gives the strength that he gave to Mother Henriette of Jesus, that is, to view death from a distance and face it bravely, walking toward it joyfully. This was what He did with Mother Henriette, who helped all the others face their martyrdoms. These are two different paths God chooses to lead and direct souls. Seeing these two contrasting paths, you can admire the infinite beauty of God in the unity and variety of His ways. This is why the Saints are different from one another and why there are different schools of spirituality in the Catholic Church. It serves to show the beauty and richness of Holy Mother Church, a reflection of the beauty of the Heavenly Jerusalem".

The Veni Creator Spiritus is the hymn sung at Pentecost and after, calling upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon us and is often sung at the Ordination of a priest or the Reception of a sister into the convent. It, together with the Whitsun Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus, are two of the most ancient and beautiful chants sung by the Roman Church to the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps the best story told of these most holy Carmelites is that told by Gertrude von Le Fort, a German-French convert from Protestantism, who writes superbly well the Bernanos story of Blanche de la Force, the little marchioness who enters the convent and becomes one of the sisters but is afraid of her own shadow and flees the convent at the first sign of trouble but returns to watch the other sisters die at the scaffold. There courage suddenly comes to her, almost miraculously. The author tells the story as an observer of these momentous events:

"I stood in the midst of the howling rabble. Never have I felt the hopelessness of our position so desperately as then. You know that I am not tall. Chaos surged above me. I was immersed in it. I could not see what happened, I could only hear. All my powers of perception centred in the sense of hearing and sharpened it incredibly.

The Carmelites were coming to Revolution Square, singing, just as Sister Marie had expected. Their psalms could be heard from afar and penetrated the screams of the populace with strange clarity. Or did the tumult subside as the victims came in sight? I could scarcely distinguish the last words of the Salve Regina - sung, you know, at the deathbed of a nun - and soon after the first line of the Veni Creator. There was something light and lovely in their singing, something tender and yet strong and serene. Never would I have thought that such song could flow from the lips of those condemned to death. I had been deeply agitated, but when I heard this singing I grew calm. Creator Spiritus, Creator Spiritus - I seemed to hear these two words again and again. They cast anchor within me.

The song flowed on full and clear. To judge by the sound, the cart must have been moving very slowly. Probably the crowd blocked the way. I had the feeling that the nuns were still far from the square. For this singing transcended all sense of time; it transcended space, even bloody Revolution Square. Creator Spiritus, Creator Spiritus! It effaced the Guillotine. It effaced even chaos. All at once I had the feeling of standing among human beings again...

I was startled - Revolution Square was deathly still. Even at the execution of the King there had not been such utter silence. The song seemed fainter too. Probably the cart had gone on; perhaps it had already reached its goal. My heart began to pound. I was suddenly aware that a very high voice was lacking in the chorus - a moment later, another...I thought that the execution had not even begun and in reality it was almost over!

Now only two voices sustained the song. For a moment they hovered like a shining rainbow over Revolution Square. Then one side extinguished. Only the other continued to glow...shimmering...fading - but quickly the song was taken up by another voice, thin, frail, and childlike. I had the impression that it was not coming from the height of the scaffold but from the thick of the crowd, just as if the people were making a response. Wondrous illusion!

At the same moment the dense lines heaved and broke. A gap opened right in front of me, just as on that September night. And I saw - exactly as on that night - Blanche de la Force in the seething mass of those dreadful women. Her small pinched face broke forth from its surroundings and cast them aside like a wrap. I recognised her every feature, and yet I did not recognise her face - it was absolutely fearless. She was singing. In her small, weak, childlike voice she sang without a tremor, exulting like a bird! All alone across the great terrible square she sang the Veni Creator of her Carmelite sisters to the very end:

Deo Patri sit gloria
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito
In saeculorum saecula.

Distinctly I heard the profession of faith in the Holy Trinity. The Amen I did not hear - the furious women struck her down on the spot.

And now, my friend, the rainbow over Revolution Square had died away. And yet I had the feeling that the Revolution was over. As a matter of fact, the Reign of Terror collapsed ten days later."

Indeed, it did!

For ten days later the leading figure of the Terror, Maximilien Robespierre, was himself arrested and taken to the Guillotine with his brutal lieutenant, Louis-Antoine de St Just, and thereafter the period known as "The Terror" was over, although the destruction wrought by the Revolution was far from over. St Just was he who had coined the devilish phrase "the Revolution consists in the destruction of all that opposes it" thus proving that its main purpose was but destruction.

However, the awful murder of the holy Sisters of Carmel had turned even the brutal, cynical Paris mob and they had, at last, become sickened. They now demanded the head of the chief terrorist himself.

From Heaven, the holy sisters, now re-joined by the little Marquise de la Force, Sister Blanche once more, interceded most powerfully for the devastated vineyard that was France and the 13 month Reign of Terror at long last came to an end.

Here is a dramatic representation of that awful scene as it must really have been on that fateful day when these saintly souls mounted the scaffold on their way to the heights of heaven to live forever with the Holy Martyrs of our noble Faith:

The great French composer, Francois Poulenc (7 January 1899-30 January 1963), wrote, in 1957, a remarkable opera about these holy women called Les Dialogues des Carmelites - The Dialogue of the Carmelites - which tells the story of the convent during the Revolution and ends with this awesome scene before the Guillotine.

Here is that final scene:

Holy Carmelites of Compiegne, pray for us!


International Una Voce Federation says threatened SSPX ex-communications may be illegal





International Una Voce Federation: threatened SSPX ex-communications may be illegal


LONDON 4 November 2014 – The International Una Voce Federation which seeks to promote the traditions, particularly the liturgical traditions, of the Roman Catholic Church, within the official structures of the Church, today questioned the legality of a “notification” dated 14 October 2014 of the Roman See of Albano, Italy, claiming to ex-communicate those who receive the sacraments from, or attend religious services of, the Society of St Pius X (SSPX).


The Federation questions the legality of a notification in similar terms of Bishop Óscar Sarlinga of Zárate-Campana in Argentina, issued on 3 November 2014.


The Federation, which is a lay movement independent of any priestly or religious community, believes that preservation of doctrine, law and justice, as well as good pastoral practice, within the Church, is important.


The Federation believes that these “notifications” tend to imply that anyone who has ever attended services of the SSPX is not welcome in parish churches in these dioceses.


This view is clearly in direct contrast with the emphasis of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, upon mercy and forgiveness, as well as the “openness of heart” requested by Pope Benedict XVI as a prelude to a healing of divisions “in the heart of the Church”.


The Bishop of Albano is the Rt Rev Marcello Semeraro, media spokesman of the Italian Bishops’ conference and secretary of the Papal inner Council of 9 advisers.


The Federation is asking the Holy See to advise that these notifications are defective and to require them to be modified so as to comply with the law of the Church and the decisions of the Holy See.




On 14 October 2014, the Chancery of the Diocese of Albano issued a notification to parish priests claiming that anyone who attends SSPX services, even, apparently, children, thereby “break communion with the Catholic Church” and can only be re-admitted to the Church after “an adequate personal path of reconciliation”. The notification reads:


“The Catholic faithful cannot participate at Mass, neither request and/or receive sacraments from or in the Society. Acting otherwise would mean to break communion with the Catholic Church.


Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church. A readmission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation, according to the ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop.”


Bishop Óscar Sarlinga of Zárate-Campana in Argentina, in a letter to his diocese dated 3 November 2014, states:


“It is not licit for the Catholic faithful to take part in the celebration of Mass in these conditions, neither to request nor to receive sacraments from the priests of the aforementioned "Society of Saint Pius X", including in private places turned into places of worship, without excluding, in case of obstinacy, also the ferendae sententiae penalties that may apply, according to the ecclesial spirit and that of protection of the faithful.


In the case of the rupture of ecclesiastical communion by the above-mentioned founded motives, in order to be later readmitted to the Catholic Church, a personal path of reconciliation (and eventually of removal of the canonical censure) will be required, according to the discipline advised by the Holy See and the [diocese's] own, established by the diocesan bishop.”




The attitude of the Holy See has always been that lay faithful who receive the sacraments from priests of the SSPX are not excommunicated. Examples are as follows.


a.      In 1991 Bishop Joseph Ferrario of Honolulu declared six lay Catholics excommunicated on grounds of schism for having procured the services of an SSPX bishop to administer confirmation. These appealed to the Holy See which, through Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared the decree invalid because their action, though considered blameworthy, did not constitute schism.


b.      On 5 September 2005, the Holy See, through the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, affirmed that “the faithful who attend the masses of the aforesaid Fraternity are not excommunicate, and the priests who celebrate them are not, either—the latter are, in fact, suspended.” (Protocol n.55/2005, signed by the then Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mgr Camille Perl).


c.       On 27 September 2002, quoted and reaffirmed on 18 January 2003, the Holy See, through the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, stated that “In the strict sense you may fulfil your Sunday obligation by attending a mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X.” (Letters signed by Mgr Camille Perl).


“To break communion with the Catholic Church”, i.e. excommunication, can only be incurred where there is both an “external violation of a law or precept” and it is “gravely imputable by reason of malice or culpability” (canon 1321) and only if the proper penalty is excommunication.


Excommunication is not the proper penalty for “participating at mass” or “requesting or receiving the Sacraments” from SSPX priests or in SSPX-administered places of worship.


a.      It is accordingly not correct that ex-communication is thereby incurred.


b.      In any event, those under the age of sixteen cannot incur a penalty (canon 1323.1); this would apply to those under this age who received baptism or confirmation.


Even when basing a canonical argument on the assumption that the SSPX has no canonical status in the Church and that its priests are suspended, following ordination without dimissorial letters, it does not follow that to seek the sacraments at their hands is an illegal act on the part of the lay faithful.


To say otherwise also conflicts with the provision in canon law (canon 1335) for the suspension of any prohibition of the celebration of the Sacraments or sacramental, or the exercise of a power of governance, when one of the faithful requests it for “any just reason”.


Furthermore, the notifications appear to challenge the Decree of the Congregation of Bishops dated 21 January 2009 lifting the excommunications of the SSPX bishops and instead seem to wish to re-impose those ex-communications, within each diocese, contrary to this decree of a Congregation of the Holy See.


Moreover, it would be incongruous for the legislator to lift the excommunication of the bishops while imposing or maintaining it on the lay faithful to whom they minister.




The Federation is thus obliged to question the notifications since they appear to undermine papal legislation and canon law.


Saturday 1 November 2014

The Feast of All Saints and All Souls or Hallowtide...

Hallowe'en, All Hallows, Hallowmas and Hallowtide...

All Saints’ Day, All Hallows, or Hallowmas begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October – which, of course, is known as the Eve of All Hallows, Halloweven or Hallowe’en, and ends at sundown on 1 November. This is the feast commemorating the saints, all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven.

The following day, unless it is a Sunday, is called All Souls’ Day. The Feast of All Souls is a day of prayer for all the Faithful departed who have not yet been purified in the fires of Purgatory and reached Heaven, remembering that there is a union of prayer between those in Heaven (the "Church triumphant"),those in Purgatory (the "Church suffering") and the living (the "Church militant"). 
The Church Suffering are taken from Purgatory into Heaven to join the Church Triumphant

Some scholars believe that the Feast of All Saints may have been a christianisation of the ancient Roman observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. 

Churches in Britain were already celebrating All Saints on 1 November at the beginning of the 8th century to coincide or replace the Celtic festival of the Dead (Samhain). Others suggest that date was a Germanic idea, rather Celtic. Interestingly, according to Óengus of Tallaght (d. ca. 824), the 7th/8th century church in Ireland celebrated All Saints on 20 April. 

The Eastern Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Tradition commemorate all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints’ Sunday (Greek: Αγίων Πάντων, Agiōn Pantōn). 

The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninteenth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Emperor Leo VI "the Wise" (886–911). 

After the death of his devout wife, Empress Theophano in 893, her husband built and wanted to dedicate a church to her but, when not ecclesiastically permitted, he dedicated it to all the saints so that she would in effect be celebrated thereby.
The Emperor Leo IV the Wise and Empress Theophano
In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each and the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed one day for all.  

On 13 May 609 or 610, Pope St Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs and the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since.
Pope St Boniface IV
Pope St Gregory III (731–741) founded an oratory in St Peter’s Basilica for the relics of all the apostles and saints and moved the feast day from 13 May to 1 November. 
Pope St Gregory III

A November festival of all the saints was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Emperor Louis the Pious, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV and all the bishops, with an octave added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).

The Bishop of Albano is the newest episcopal Pharisee...

The Bishop of Albano disgraces himself and the Church... 


The following is the recent “notification” to parish priests issued by Rt Rev Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of the Roman Suburbicarian Diocese of Albano.
It claims to ex-communicate anyone in his diocese who merely attends a traditional mass celebrated by the Society of St Pius X ("SSPX") or Sacraments administered by any minister from the SSPX. 

It is an illegal and outright attack on the Pope, the Papacy and the decree of Pope Benedict XVI lifting the ex-communications against the Society of St Pius X. 
This blog carries no brief for the Society of St Pius X but is concerned to draw attention to a bishop who arrogates to himself the right to undermine papal legislation whilst hypocritically complaining and protesting against the SSPX for, as he sees it, doing just the same.
If the Bishop seeks to re-ex-communicate the SSPX then he should start with ex-communicating himself for defying – blatantly and openly and by pretended legal means – the Pope and papal legislation.
However, it is also worth noting:
(1)   Marcello Semeraro, although not a cardinal, is the only non-cardinal on the council of 9 Cardinals in charge of reforming the Curia and the Church and he is secretary to that body. He is thus no ordinary bishop. And yet he is willing to break the canon law of the Church.
(2)   He is also the media spokesman of the Italian Conference of Bishops with particular oversight of the Italian daily Avvenire, in which his note was also published.
(3)   The SSPX was a duly and properly established institute of the Roman Catholic Church, established lawfully in 1970, legally approved by the Holy See and canonically approved in 1971 by John, Cardinal Wright, then Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. The Society was first legally erected in the Diocese of Geneva-Lausanne & Fribourg by his Lordship, Bishop François Charrière on All Saints Day, 1 November 1970. It was approved for 6 years ad experimentum. However: "A congregation founded by a Bishop is and remains a diocesan congregation... until such time as it receives pontifical approbation, or, at least, the decree of praise (can. 492(2))". This is precisely what happened. On 18 February 1971 a "decree of praise" from his Eminence John, Cardinal Wright gave the SSPX formal approval of the Holy See thus removing the SSPX from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Geneva-Lausanne & Fribourg. Further proof of Roman approbation is the fact that in 1972, the Vatican allowed 3 members of religious orders, having pronounced their perpetual vows, to be transferred from their orders into the SSPX. Thus de facto the Holy See recognised and approved the existence of the SSPX. A Dominican religious who, even after the suspensio a divinis of 1976, asked and obtained from Rome permission to leave the Dominican Order to join the SSPX. If the SSPX was really suppressed why would the Holy See allow a Dominican religious to leave the Dominicans to join a suppressed Society? It is said that the approval given to the Society was retracted by Mgr Mamie, successor of Mgr Charrière, by a decree of May 1975. That may be so but once a religious order has been approved by a bishop it can only be suppressed by the Holy See (can. 493 in the 1917 code applicable at the time but also reproduced by can. 584 in the code of 1983). There was thus no legal suppression of the Society and the latest “Note” of Bishop Semeraro is factually wrong. Additionally, it is well known that the Holy Roman Rota receives and accept petitions for nullity from those who have been married in chapels of the SSPX, accepting them as valid until the petition of nullity is proved, not claiming that the marriage is null by virtue of taking place in an SSPX chapel. thus the Holy See does recognise the administration of Sacraments by the SSPX ministers.
(4)   The HQ of SSPX in Italy is located in this Diocese, near Castel Gandolfo. Bishop Semerero is clearly challenged by that fact.
The bishop is a disgraceful hypocrite in a Church which already has far too many hypocritical bishops who ignore, or even defy, the law and who think the law is no more than what they, themselves, say – the mark of every lawless tyrant and oppressor that ever was.
It is also the mark of Antichrist that he will be lawless and yet he will pretend to be a man of religion.
That is why the child abuse scandal in the Church was allowed to happen in the first place – disregard of the law, both civil and canonical.
And now a member of the Council of 9, charged with reforming the Curia and the Church, is himself defying the very law he is charged to uphold.
If the Church is going to avoid the charge, in the public media, of being run by Pharisaical hypocrites, then men like this bishop must be disciplined and removed.
But will it happen?
 The letter of Cardinal Wright formally approving the SSPX on 18 February 1971
Suburbicarian Diocese of Albano
In the past few weeks, requests of clarification have reached the Diocesan Chancery regarding the celebration of Sacraments at the "Society of Saint Pius X" of Albano Laziale.
Regarding this, it is right and proper to point out that the above-mentioned "Society" is not an institution (neither parish, nor association) of the Catholic Church. [THIS IS LEGALLY FALSE]
This applies even after the decree of the Congregation for Bishops of 21 January 2009, by which the Holy Father Benedict XVI, reaching out in good will in response to reiterated requests by the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, revoked the excommunication which the four Prelates had incurred since 30 June 1988. [THIS IS ALSO FALSE]
This was highlighted by Benedict XVI with his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church of 10 March 2009: "the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church” (in AAS CI [2009], n. 4, p. 272). [THIS IS A DISHONESTLY INCOMPLETE QUOTE OF WHAT POPE BENEDICT SAID. HE SAIDuntil the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church” AND THIS IN A PAPAL DOCUMENT THAT IS NOT A LEGAL OR DEFINITIVE DECREE BUT MERELY A LETTER, ADDRESSED IN THE FIRST PERSON, TO BISHOPS. IT WAS NOT INTENDED TO HAVE THE EFFECT OF A LEGAL DECREE. IN TREATING IT OTHERWISE, BISHOP SEMERERO IS BEING, AGAIN, DISHONEST.]
The same Benedict XVI, in the following Letter m. p. Ecclesiae Unitatem, of July 2, 2009, added: "the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the context of ecclesiastical discipline to free the individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However, the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry." (in AAS CI [2009], p. 710-711). [AGAIN, ALTHOUGH THIS LETTER HAS A HIGHER STATUS THAN THAT OF 10 MARCH 2009, IT DOES NOT PRESUME TO MAKE A DECREE ON THE STATUS OF THE SSPX AND CANNOT BE READ AS SUCH. IT MERELY REPEATS THE 10 MARCH LETTER. ITS LEGAL EFFECT IS TO RE-STRUCTURE THE ECCLESIA DEI COMMISSION AND PLACE IT UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE CDF. THAT IS ALL. BISHOP SEMERERO AGAIN DISHONESTLY TREATS IT OTHERWISE.]
As a consequence of the above, it is right and proper to restate what had been formulated in the Pastoral Note on the Society of Saint Pius X of [former bishop of Albano] Dante Bernini, in which it can be read:
‘The Catholic faithful cannot participate at Mass, neither request and/or receive Sacraments from or in the Society. Acting otherwise would mean to break communion with the Catholic Church’.
Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church. A re-admission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation, according to the ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop.
It is sincerely saddening that such options, particularly when in reference to the Christian Initiation of Children and Adolescents, must be undertaken in contrast with the pastoral orientations of the Italian Church and, consequently, with the choices of the Diocese of Albano, where formative paths for the growth and maturation of the life of faith are favoured.
To the Parish Priests, remains the duty of providing adequate information to the faithful.
From the Albano Chancery, 14 October 2014, Prot. 235/14.
+ Marcello Semeraro, Bishop.
The pharisaical hypocrisy of this purported and illegal decree is at least three-fold:
(1)   First, in its naked, impudent, disobedient and schismatic defiance of the 21 January 2009 decree of the Holy See remitting the Ex-communication latae sententiae of the bishops of the SSPX;
(2)   Secondly, in its imposition of a ludicrously un-pastoral, unjust and oppressive penalty upon those who wish to worship as their ancestors did and who, by virtue of the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae of Vatican II, ought not to have their religious freedom thus shamefully, immorally, unnaturally and illegally curtailed and restricted;
(3)   Thirdly, by the sheer and brazen hypocrisy entailed in showing such oppressive intolerance whilst, at the same time, talking about tolerance, equality, non-discrimination, liberty and freedom, extending the hand of friendship to any other group but denying it to those who wish harmlessly to worship as their ancestors did; and
(4)   Apparently claiming even to punish with ex-communication of children who attend mass in an SSPC church and requiring them to under go a “special penitential path” which is not applied even to those who blatantly and openly defy the Pope or Catholic doctrine.
It is only fair, I believe, to post the following statement in reply of the local district of the Society:
ALBANO, ITALY – 10-31-2013
In a notification dated October 14 of this year, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, Ordinary of the Diocese of Albano Laziale (Italy), made particularly odious statements about the Society of St Pius X, for the purpose of keeping the faithful away from masses celebrated by our Society and from the religious instruction given to young people, declaring that the Society was not “an institution of the Catholic Church”.
Bishop Semeraro cannot be unaware of the fact that the Society of St Pius X was erected with the approval of the Bishop of Fribourg (Switzerland) on 1 November 1970, and that this establishment was ratified by Rome with a decree issued by Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy on 18 February 1971.
The house itself of the Society in Albano, with its semi-public oratory for the administration of the sacraments, was canonically erected by the decree of Bishop Semeraro’s predecessor, Bishop Raffaele Macario on 22 February 1974 (Protocol n. 140/74).
Despite the problems with the ecclesiastical authorities that developed following the deviations in the Faith and the liturgy brought about by the Second Vatican Council, and notwithstanding the illegitimate attempts to suppress our Society because of its fidelity to the Tradition of the Church, the Holy See itself, through the Roman Ecclesia Dei Commission, affirmed that one can perform one’s Sunday duty “by attending a mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St Pius X” (18 January 2003) and, as everyone knows, it no longer considers the bishops of that same Society to be out of communion with the Catholic Church.
It is very odd that Bishop Semeraro should intervene in this way when he has made himself the champion of ecumenism in his diocese. In 2009 he granted the Church of San Francesco in Genzano, which was built with the labours and sacrifices of our ancestors for Catholic worship, to schismatics and heretics. On 28 January of this year he organized an ecumenical vigil in the cathedral to pray with persons who are certainly not “in communion with the Catholic Church”, such as an Evangelical Lutheran pastor and an Orthodox bishop.
In the month of November alone, three [ecumenical] meetings are scheduled in the diocese, and the bishop will preside at one of them, thus supporting religions that deny truths of the Faith that have been defined by the Church and spreading the false doctrine of indifferentism, which says that every religion is sufficient for salvation. He does not seem to care that this openly contradicts the teaching of the perennial Magisterium of the Church, in particular of Pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Mortalium Animos.
Moreover from 26 to 28 March of this year the house of the Somaschi Fathers in Albano hosted the First Forum of Christian Homosexuals, at which the practice of sodomy was defended in principle as an act of true love!
All this is possible in the diocese... but not attending the masses or classes of those who hand down the Church’s Tradition in doctrine and the liturgy!
This blatant inconsistency is an obvious symptom of the terrible crisis that is affecting the whole Church and that was manifested again recently in the last Synod, in which, under the pretext of mercy, there was discussion of the possibility of changing the Sixth Commandment of God and of abandoning the indissolubility of Christian marriage!
The Society of St Pius X, following the example of its founder, will continue to transmit in its entirety the deposit of the Catholic Faith and morals, openly taking sides against all the errors that try to distort it, without fear of threats or of unjust canonical sanctions, because neither Bishop Semeraro nor any other member of the ecclesiastical hierarchy will ever be able to change this deposit. As St. Peter said, “It is better to obey God rather than men”.
All who wish to receive the sacraments as the Church has always administered them, or to receive authentic catechetical instruction for their children, adult formation, spiritual direction and comfort for the sick will always be welcome in our chapels.
Society of St Pius X, District of Italy