In the early mid 1980s I was finishing a semester of licentiate coursework at the Lateran’s John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family. Institutional founder (later Cardinal) Carlo Caffarra (+2017) was my professor for a course on some entirely fascinating passages from the great Saint Thomas Aquinas, particularly De Veritate, the Summa Theologiae, and some bits and pieces from his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. At the time, there was a war going on between the JPII Institute and the Redemptorists’ Alphonsianum, their school of “moral theology,” or more precisely between John Paul’s Caffarra and their heretic Bernard Häring. The JPII Institute and the Alphonsianum were only some stone’s throws from each other in Rome. I happened to live between the two, only a couple of stone’s throw from each.
The place where I lived had plenty of brave students at the JPII Institute, bucking the mafia-esque bullying of political correctness, but the powers that be sided with Bernard Häring (+1998) and had him give a lecture in the our library located just below my room. I went down to listen to the enemy. A dialogue? No. The tyranny of relativism. The bullying consequent to the abandonment of the Christ of the commandments. The ambiguity ensuring that no one, not now, not ever, will live in that love who is God, that love stronger than our situations, stronger than our weakness, stronger than our temptations, stronger than death. The JPII Institute was about growing in the strength of the love of Christ Jesus. The Alphonsianum was about never coming to know the strength of that love.
In the picture above I am just days before getting on a plane to be on my way Stateside. The picture with JPII was taken just after early morning Mass in the tiny chapel behind the “library” up in the Apostolic Palace of the day. The book, published by the JPII Institute, was a collection of some of the writings of John Paul II himself. If I reckon correctly, it was the eighth time I had met with the sainted Pontiff.
Yesterday (end of July 2019) I dedicated some time to catching up on what’s happening at the JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family. I perused the new constitutions, read up on the backgrounds of some of the new players, such as Paglia, and allowed myself to get upset, rightfully so. This brought out what seems to be some post traumatic stress from those ever-so-dark-days in Church history in Rome. So dark. All the horror of those days came flooding back. All of it. The demonic attitudes of the heretics, the loss of souls scandalized, the fright of seeing self-centered, absolutely narcissistic arrogant pride lusting after the power of being “the one, the only one” of importance in the universe. This set me to experiencing that hell as if for the first time all over again. A nightmare. Getting the legs cut out from under oneself? Yes, I know what that feels like. (That’s me in the picture having literally had that happen). That was my day yesterday.
What shocked me is that nothing at all has changed for the heretics over all these decades… Nothing! It’s all the same lust for power, lust for prestige, lust for… lust. All so very disgusting. It’s all the same arguments. So tired. So nothing. So lifeless. So boring. So very full of lies. So very predatory.
I, for one, am tired of it all, fed up, upset, but not despairing, not giving in, not caving in. This new scandal of the destruction of the JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family – following up on the 2017 warning – was, of course, good for me. You know the drill: It was character building. I now stand more confirmed – How to say? – more validated, more vindicated in standing with the truth of the “old” JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family, with Him who is Living Truth. Jesus is the One, the only One. It’s a sin to give up! We must stay strong. We must remain with Christ Jesus.
Alright. I should be more honest. I’ll be more graphic about my darkness. What came to mind yesterday in my darkest moment was a demonic twist of story line, an analogy with the Wizard of Oz, you know, with the proclamation that the wicked witch is dead. In my upside-down, back to front, inside-out analogy, in my dark and beady heart, the munchkins singing are the same as the overlords of the destruction of the “old” JPII Institute: The “old” JPII Institute in this twisted analogy is the wicked witch that the heretics are so happy is dead. The heretics also hold themselves to be the ever so innocent Dorothy.
Having said all that, it’s a sin to be lost to hopeless bitterness. So, it needs to be said that I’m not better than Paglia or Häring or, to drudge up old names, Richard A. McCormick, Charles E. Curran, Joseph Fuchs, or even their guiding “light” Karl Rahner with all of his confusion of the natural and supernatural. Jesus is the only one who is good.
Having said all that, I don’t think it’s a sin to point out heresy and the spread of darkness. Nor do I think it is a sin of presumption to want to remain in the joy of the Holy Spirit even in the face of the darkness of all the heresy all around us. Blessed are we if there are two things going on:
- We see the darkness so as not to fall into the error. The JPII Institute will now be a cesspool of heresy.
- We see our salvation in the light of Christ, salvation from the darkness and error. We can know His truth.
“They” might say that Saint John Paul II is dead. They might say that the Church is dead. “They” might say Good riddance! But the sainted Pope is still with us in heaven. And Jesus is still with us. Jesus sees all these things. He wants that we be faithful in Him no matter what. Don’t be mistaken. Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.
We read in the Book of Revelation: “The one who gives this testimony says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.” (Apocalypse 22:20-21)
5 responses to “My PTSD symptoms at the destruction of my Alma Mater: John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family”
I am saying a Rosary for your intentions, right now, Father. God knows what you need. Let us knock on His door together.
Father George, don’t ever change! Reading your posts the past while has strengthened my resolve not to give up on the Church even though it has given up on me at this time. You have reminded me that Jesus loves each and every one of us. Instead of watching hopelessly the collapse of the Church under the weight of our sins, you remind me to focus on Jesus. It reminds me of when St. Peter got out of the boat onto the water. As long as he focused on Jesus he was able to walk on the surface of the water but sank when he took his eyes off the Lord. You reminded me of God’s Love and what is truly important…Jesus our Lord and Saviour. We need to have a personal relationship with Jesus in order to bring light into this darkness that seems overwhelming. You are such a blessing to us all Father George! God bless you. I hold you in my prayers and are very grateful for your faith and guidance.
Your comments brought back memories for me too. I have never been to Rome or met the Pope, but I too was subjected to the bullying of the folks who used the ‘new theology’ of the Vatican Council II, as a weapon. The problem was that this theology was the invention of those who thought they could remake the church to their will.
it was during this time that I experienced the truth of the gospel. When Jesus said, ‘don’t worry what you will say, the Holy Spirit will speak for you,’ not to sound vain or dramatic, this actually happened more than once. I could write a book, but it would probably be more charitable and prudent to just recall more of Jesus’ advice – when things get frustrating and scary say, ‘Jesus I trust in You.’
It is all about Jesus! He’s not going to abandon us!
Those photos are lovely, Father, and together with what you wrote brought the Beatitudes to mind. No power on earth or in the angelic sphere can take away what God has prepared for those who love Him.
Just keep giving those flowers to Mary and we will limp along with you…
knowing, KNOWING, God loves us so very very much. Thank you Lord for Fr. George David Byers. Tom Petty’s song “I won’t back down” is playing in my head. You can see by your readers’ comments how we love you and are grateful for you helping us grow in the love of God. Soldier through.