Tag Archives: Cardinal Burke

7 7 7 – Summorum Pontificum: the 10th anniversary in Lourdes. “Just wear dental guards, Father George!”

LOURDES-GROTTO

Things are never as they seem. After Pope Benedict XVI came out with Summorum Pontificum on 7 July 2007, the permanent chaplains in Lourdes, including myself, were called to a special meeting announced by the rector of the time on behalf of the bishop of the time. We were going to be the very first to implement S.P. even before the start date.

The rector asked: “Who knows how to offer Mass in Latin? The bishop wants to know because of the Pope’s letter.” Three of us raised our hands, one who may have known it but didn’t want to offer it but was willing to fake it by saying the Novus Ordo in Latin (he didn’t last long), one who didn’t care one way or the other (and would soon regret raising his hand and quit), and myself. I was put in charge of bringing Summorum Pontificum to fruition, being naive enough to think for a little while that all this was actually sincere. It wasn’t. This was all a way to look cooperative with the Holy See but it was instead a way to control and smack down anything to do with Summorum Pontificum.

lourdes

Generally speaking, only chaplains were allowed to offer this Mass (there were a few exceptions such as when the SSPX would come with all four bishops, etc.) which meant that many other priest-pilgrims were regularly denied or given the run around, creating chaos, frustration and bad feelings on the part of the pilgrims. Priests and even bishops were simply treated like trash. Tempers flared. It was all so very unnecessary. So sad.

Places allowed for this Mass were thrown around all over the sanctuaries so that no schedule at a set place could be established for a long time, which also meant that I had to prepare rolling suitcases filled with the necessary items to drag all over the sanctuaries, up and down staircases, in the rain (sometimes all the way to the front gate at Saint Joseph’s), etc. No advertisements were allowed for this Mass either on the internet or at the info office, though finally, sometimes, it would be put on the roster, though often with the wrong time and place. I would put up notices on doors around the sanctuaries to announce the inevitable change of time and venue, only to find the notices immediately ripped down, etc. Mockery for saying this Mass coming from other chaplains was extremely intense. The last thing they wanted was to actually permit this Mass to be offered. One of the worst ones to mock was the priest who had almost single-handedly throughout the last decades reduced the “Youth Mass” to a McDonald’s picnic and irrelevant theater and total screaming from one end to the other throughout “Mass.” Yep. I say “Mass” in quotes because they did do the consecration, I guess, but everything else was ip for grabs, including whether laity could participate in the consecrations.

LOURDES-MICHAEL

Finally, with clever chess moves, Masses were allowed in a half dozen chapels for pilgrimages of up to dozens of people (offered by myself, rarely by another priest) and finally were allowed in the hidden side chapels in the crypt of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for priests coming with one or two others. Never in the grotto. A Sunday Mass was allowed, usually in the smallish Immaculate Conception upper Basilica, but, of course, the Mass times were changed wildly and sometimes scheduled at the same time and place as other Masses, or so closely back to back that chaos ensued. Unending, unending, unending.

The mockery coming from the other chaplains (and some others) was vicious, loud, public, and, truly unending. It’s hard to imagine more hateful attitudes, because, after that, people go into uncaring, zero conscience mode, which I suppose is the ultimate hate. I guess our Lord wanted to introduce me to just how bad it can get, and how bad it was throughout Europe as it all was concentrated and put into a package for me at Lourdes. A special gift, really.

But in the midst of all this, the Lord was doing what He wanted, and so there were simply some of the most beautiful moments that Lourdes had seen in dozens of years. One I remember had to do with me taking the oaths of new European Boy Scouts down in front of the Rosary Basilica after a Traditional Mass in the Immaculate Conception Basilica. Another was the pilgrimage of soon to be Cardinal Burke:

cardinal burke lourdes

Another was just over a year later on the National Feast Day of France, August 15, 2008, during the National Pilgrimage, when I was able to arrange for and offer the Mass in the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. A solemn high Mass with a good 7000 people assisting:

Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

That Mass was a nuclear explosion and caused no end of troubles for me, with accusations being made against me from near and far, with letters of complaint being sent near and far. What a nightmare. “You told people that the new Mass is invalid and they are obliged to go to the traditional Mass!” It never happened. But the same higher-ups insisted that this was the case until I finally departed for the USA (at a time foreseen before I went to Lourdes in the first place). What to do with such slander? I’m only telling you just a fraction of what went on.

I once said that I don’t know any priest who has suffered more for the re-establishment of the Traditional Mass in living memory – and I know a lot of priests who have suffered for this – and I still think that that is true. I include bishops in that assessment. I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but rather to give encouragement to those who suffer. And yet, so many among the traditional-ism-ists on the far end of the spectrum are so bitter and angry with me, I suppose because I am not bitter like them. Why be bitter? That gets no one anywhere. It only hurts oneself. We can be faithful sons of the Church and not be bitter. In fact, we can be joyful.

Anyway, I was being so smashed down that I was grinding my teeth at night so that dentists noticed that my teeth were being worn down and cracked. One recommended dental guards at night such as one might wear for American football. I didn’t, but I have to say that this was at the same time the worst time in my entire life and also the most glorious. I wouldn’t change any of it. And there was joy in the midst of this.

Through it all I got to know Jesus and Mary so very much better. I was told by many priests I talked to at the time – friends on pilgrimage – that surely this time in Lourdes was providential for me, to bring me closer to Jesus and Mary.

And I was happy to do what I could to be a good son of the Church in the best way I knew how, trying to fulfill the wishes of Pope Benedict and, indeed, the Holy See of the time. I was doing my best to make friends with the pilgrimage groups that came, with the priests, with the FSSP, with the SSPX who have a house up the hill across the river. I regret nothing. I would do it all over again. After my requested two year sojourn in Lourdes was completed, I was felicitously replaced by a great young priest of the FSSP. Here’s a changing of the guard picture in the sacristy:

lourdes traditional mass chaplains

I was saying that I was willing to do it all over again. In fact, I did do it all over again in re-establishing the traditional Mass in the Pontifical seminary in Columbus, Ohio, the Josephinum. There were some bishops saying that they would pull out their seminarians unless classes were taught for this. I, of course, volunteered, but it was the same permit so as to control and smash down effort by the powers that be, much of that not seen by the seminarians. I taught the Mass and all the sacraments and even exorcism and blessings in the old ritual, and also liturgical Latin. It was a strictly optional course but, whatever. The traditional Mass was back and it all took on a life of its own. Great! Novus Ordo Latin Mass also became very frequent after this. ;-)

When you really want something you have to be willing to suffer for it, and not be bitter about it, because it’s a matter of love. And I love being a priest. Didn’t Jesus encounter difficulties? Unimaginably worse, and so many priests have actually suffered right around the world right through the centuries, making my ruminations almost seem blasphemous. But, when you’re going through something, it can be kinda rough. We’re all pretty weak, whatever protestations we might otherwise make about ourselves. But we learn. As the Master, so the mere disciple. We learn that it’s all about Jesus’ love and Jesus’ truth and Jesus’ goodness and kindness and all the rest doesn’t matter, as it won’t matter in heaven, and, so as to praise Jesus, that’s where we want to go, where we must go. No bitterness. Just wear a dental guard. Save your teeth for a good smile. I love being a priest!

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Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Liturgy, Priesthood, Vocations

Pope Jackass (some instructive humor)

Pope ByersHah! As soon as you saw that title to this post, admit it, you thought I was referring to Pope Francis, whom I love to pieces. Instead, it seems there is a movement in the Church to elect a new Pontiff, for which action, I contend, the world and the Church is not now prepared, not until Pope Benedict clarifies what it is that his Archbishop Secretary said a while back about his sharing the Petrine Ministry. It would not do to have three Popes, two of whom are, you know…

Elizdelphi has, nevertheless, taken matters into her own hands, and has gone as far as to begin a design on, of all things, my own papal coat of of arms. Hah! It being that I’m a simple priest in the tiniest parish in North America, I’m hoping that people will not take this as a serious campaign and condemn me as a mortal sinner for such shenanigans as these. My detractors don’t seem to realize that I’ve done much worse in crucifying the Son of the Living God with my sin. But let’s get on with some art appreciation!

I note the triple crown regarding prophet (the unvarnished glorious truth), priest (the only Priest being Jesus) and king (the latter involving fatherly governance) has returned. She regrets not finding a way immediately to add Saint Michael. I’m thinking that the white background can be filled with vertically placed feathers representing the Holy Spirit and the messengers sent to instruct us in that fiery truth of love.

The motto is wonderful. You will see these words together throughout the Scriptures, and my dad liked to repeat them to me a lot: “Goodness and kindness, George, goodness and kindness.”

Elizdelphi says that the blue is water in honor of Lourdes where I was a chaplain for a couple of years at my request. Perhaps she knows that Lourdes is connected with Our Lady of Mount Carmel with which I have a long and far reaching history, throwing me, time and again, in front of those at the top of the Order. The Immaculate Conception appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel to Saint Bernadette. The water can refer to the bitter sea after which our Lady is named, Our Lady of Sorrows. That follows from the clear vision she had as the Immaculate Conception, seeing clearly what we needed when seeing her Son crucified in front of her. She perfectly saw our horror and could perfectly intercede for us. I’m going to say that the blue is the rain coming down upon Elijah’s seven fold prayer on Mount Carmel after the great sacrifice and conversion of the people. The rain cloud came up out of the sea to end the 3 1/2 years drought of punishment. I say that the water is flowing down Mount Carmel. It’s in the form of Mount Carmel, no?

She says that the Star of David represents Mary. O.K. In that case, the Blessed Sacrament is the seventh point of that star, found in the womb of the star as it were. The donkey, kneeling before Jesus, makes up the three stars of the Discalced Carmelite Order, and  the donkey, you have to know, has for many thousands of years been the symbol of the Jewish people. By the way, I’m Jewish! Christ is the Head of the Body and we the members, as Saint Paul says. Mary is our mother.

There is only a couple of changes I would make with the donkey, and that’s to ditch the bridle, to change the color to gray, and to add the cross which is borne by all palestinian donkeys.

For those of you new to such “don’t follow the rules of heraldry” papal coats of arms, perhaps a reminder is needed that this donkey has been resurrected from the dead. You should remember that Corbinian’s bear on the coat of arms of Benedict XVI was actually a donkey, that is, fulfilling the role of the donkey after he killed the donkey. Benedict called himself that “donkey”. See the outrageously wonderful 2005 article of Archbishop Raymond Burke about the newly elected Pope Donkey, Benedict XVI. And then, to those of you who are fuming mad and flinging the rest of us into hell in all the mortal sin you suppose I and Ratzinger and Burke (who may well be the next Roman Pontiff) are in for speaking of the papacy being filled with the likes of a jackass, to you I say, lighten up. Have some Christian mirth. Rejoice! The Lord is good and kind. Again, I will say it: Rejoice!

donkey blessed sacrament

And, just to say it:

(1) Donkeys are intelligent, only doing what they understand, which really is smart. They are not “stubborn as a mule.” Mules are stubborn as mules as they have a reason to be belligerent.

(2) Donkeys can sing: their braying is their praying, as it were.

(3) Donkeys are always with the Holy Family, carrying Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem, warming Jesus with donkey-breathing at the crib, carrying the Holy Family down to Egypt and then all the way back to Nazareth, carrying Jesus into Jerusalem. I’m happy to be a donkey!

P.S. If I place the donkey in adoration before Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, what with salvation coming from the Jews, I am not thereby bringing the Jews to Auschwitz. I’m Jewish. That’s me and any Christian and any Jew who would like to share this greatest love the Jews have given to the entire human race. Jesus, the Jew, is the best, as is His mom.

And… and… if Chesterton still has anything to say about it, behold:

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

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Filed under Humor, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis

Assessing authority of Amoris laetitia

don bosco dream barque of peter

Saint John Bosco’s dream of the Barque of Peter, the Eucharist and Mary

You will remember that the Most Rev Bernard Fellay, superior of the Fraternité sacerdotale Saint-Pie-X has waxed poetic about Amoris laetitia being – if we can read between the lines – a magisterial document:

“This is an apostolic exhortation that bears the title ‘The joy of love’, but it makes us cry. It is the summary of two synods on marriage. It is very long, there are many things that are correct, that are beautiful, but after building a beautiful boat, the Pontiff dug a hole in the hull under the waterline. You all know what happens then. One may say that we made the hole with all possible precautions, one may say that the hole is small, but the boat is sinking.”

I hope that quote is accurate. It was put up by a friend at Gloria.TV who knows something of Tradition. I’m sure the context has more nuance, but forgive my use of this most intriguing image. What I’m afraid of is that people will use such a thing as an excuse to throw themselves into sede-vacantism or sede-privationism or to leave the Church.

His Eminence, Cardinal Raymond Burke, meanwhile, in ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church over at the National Catholic Register, says that Amoris laetitia has a “personal, that is, non-magisterial, nature”, and then insists: “a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.”That doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful, by the way. The Cardinal is upset with those who propose that Amoris laetitia is “a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family,” upset because Amoris laetitia, note well, simply doesn’t have the capacity, considering the kind of document it is, to make any departure from anything. It is what it is. Even if it is wrong in parts, that makes no difference. He concludes that “While the Roman pontiff has personal reflections that are interesting and can be inspiring, the Church must be ever attentive to point out that their publication is a personal act and not an exercise of the papal magisterium.”

As you’ll remember, I defended the Cardinal. There is a reason for that and I want to entrench a bit with that reason. I think it is necessary to deepen our understanding of the vocabulary which, up to this time, we really did not have to do. But now it is a necessity. As good old Wikipedia says: “Studies of the Sami languages of Norway, Sweden and Finland, conclude that the languages have anywhere from 180 snow- and ice-related words and as many as 300 different words for types of snow, tracks in snow, and conditions of the use of snow.” Amoris laetitia is like a type of snow that needs a new description by the Sami. This is not word play. It is what it is and we have to deal with it according to the constant teaching of the Church as the Cardinal says. That is our key.

But first, lets go back to Saturday, 17 October 2015 in the Paul VI Audience Hall, to the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops, and to the address of his Holiness Pope Francis. The Holy Father says strong things with extremely technical language and with citations having stunning sources. Back in the day, I cited this numerous times as that which pointed to an upcoming decision that would be at least an infallible act of the ordinary magisterium of the Church:

“The Synod process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called to speak as “pastor and teacher of all Christians”,(15) not on the basis of his personal convictions but as the supreme witness to the fides totius Ecclesiae, “the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church”.(16)

“The fact that the Synod always acts cum Petro et sub Petro — indeed, not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro — is not a limitation of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. For the Pope is, by will of the Lord, “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful”.(17) Closely related to this is the concept of “hierarchica communio” as employed by the Second Vatican Council: the Bishops are linked to the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) while, at the same time, hierarchically subject to him as head of the college (sub Petro).(18)

15) FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (18 July 1870), ch. IV: Denz. 3074. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 749, § 1.

16) FRANCIS, Address to the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 18 October 2014.

17) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23. cf. FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Prologue: Denz. 3051.

18) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 22; Decree Christus Dominus (28 October 1965), 4.

Meanwhile, a friend at Rorate has posited and insisted upon an opinion that not only is Amoris laetitia a teaching document of the magisterium, but one that from which one can hardly withhold one’s assent. Citing the above paragraphs after I have done so, so many times, Rorate has it that:

“NOTHING in Amoris Laetitia takes back or reverses this statement of intent. Now, the fact that Francis intended to pronounce authoritatively on the matters of discussion taken up by the Synod does not, by itself, make his pronouncement automatically “magisterial”, but it also means that it is highly unlikely that this lengthy document was written in such a way that it can be dismissed as a mere expression of papal opinion.”

Meanwhile, in Amoris laetitia itself, as Cardinal Burke points out, Pope Francis had this to say, cancelling out what he said previously:

3. Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs [“can seek solutions better suited”=no imposition]. For “cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied”.3

3 Concluding Address of the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (24 October 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 26-27 October 2015, p. 13; cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, Fede e cultura alla luce della Bibbia. Atti della sessione plenaria 1979 della Pontificia Commissione Biblica, Turin, 1981 [This has +Bruno Forte written all over it]Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 44; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio (7 December 1990), 52: AAS 83 (1991), 300; Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 69, 117: AAS 105 (2013), 1049, 1068-69.

4. I must also say that the Synod process proved both impressive and illuminating. I am grateful for the many contributions that helped me to appreciate more fully the problems faced by families throughout the world. The various interventions of the Synod Fathers, to which I paid close heed, made up, as it were, a multifaceted gem reflecting many legitimate concerns and honest questions. For this reason, I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather [“gather”=just some Synod Fathers] the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue [“reflection, dialogue” which preempt imposition] and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.

Back to that post on Rorate: “The theme that the cardinal developed at some length and the conclusion he intended readers to draw was that the document ‘doesn’t count’ as real teaching (magisterium) which would impose an obligation of assent on Catholics.”

I agree with that sentence of Rorate. But know this: ex-cathedra teaching is ipso facto authentic. The same cannot be said of “an aid to reflection, dialogue.” It is authentic if it is consonant with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Magisterial interventions such as Trent throughout the ages. The Holy Father specifically refrained from that. That’s important.

I pick on the word authentic because this is a word which obliges someone to give their assent even to the teaching of their local bishop. But if that teaching is not authentic, then there is no obligation. Hey! It can happen! If the Bishop of Rome says that there is no obligation, he is saying that dialogue is possible. Get it? Are there authors that anyone in the world can cite who intimate that anything and everything that the Holy Father teaches is going to be authentic? Yes. But that’s just sycophantic, absurd ultramontantism.

Look, forms of presentation change, sometimes with extreme consequences for the viability of the Church if these changes of forms of presentation are dismissed out of hand. I’ve written on this at great length elsewhere on AEternus ille caelestium, what would have been an ex-Cathedra statement if there ever, ever was one. But it is not. And then Bellarmine tried to burn all the evidence of this misdeed of the now conveniently dead pope right around Europe. Take note.

But Rorate entrenches, saying, “It is makes no sense for Cardinal Burke to say it is ‘non-magisterial,’ or merely ‘personal.'” Sure it does, but let’s back off for just to a moment now to look at the vocabulary. As I said, we’ve not had much occasion to refine the word magisterial, but now we do. So, let’s have at it.

penafortThere’s the Roman Curia which in its various dicasteries puts out all sorts of documents, some better than others, some worse than others. Is all of that the magisterium? In a way, yes. Is it papal magisterium if those documents are provided with an introductory speech given to, say, the Diplomatic Corps, as was the 1993 paper of the Biblical Commission on Interpretation of the Scriptures in the Church (with the caveat that Paul VI ripped the Commission away from the Holy Office so that it is only under its grouping but not part of its teaching authority)? Well, it is the Pope who provides that introductory speech, but even Cardinal Ratzinger at the time attacked the sycophantic ultramonist idea that this had to be given religious assent.

The objection is that a presentation of some bishops’ thoughts by the Holy Father is instantly obligatory for religious assent. No. Does it come forth from the machinery of the bureaucracy? Yes. Is Pope Francis presenting it? Yes. But if it is not presented as infallible, and in fact it is specifically NOT presented that way, then it is fair game for people to decide as to whether it is authentic teaching, the dialogue thing and all that, right? Authentic means in line with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the great Magisterial interventions such as Trent right throughout the centuries. If it is authentic, then one is obliged to take it on board. If it is not authentic, one is not obliged to take it on board. In fact, if it is non-authentic and it is hurtful, one is obliged to dissent from it. In this dissent, one is not dissenting from the Church, but one is rather being obedient to the Church, indeed, to the Holy Father in particular. This does not mean sede-privationism or sede-vacantism, nor is it an excuse to do the Hans Küng thing. People say that such responsibility for examining the teaching of whoever is not fair. Yes, well, grow up. Judas betrayed Jesus, and I’m sure Judas made statements all the time. Peter denied Jesus, and I’m sure Peter made statements all the time. Was Judas always right? Was Peter always right? And you want something better for yourselves?

“The Church has never been so close to dropping into hell as it is now,” exclaimed Saint Robert Bellarmine to, if I remember correctly, Father Andrew, his secretary. And to that observation of Bellarmine my answer is this: times never change, and so what’s the big deal with hanging over hell? Isn’t Christ Jesus our Savior? Isn’t He going to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire? Yes. He is. Thank God. Amen.

penafort-In summary: Yes, O.K., fine, Amoris laetitia is a document put our by the Roman Curia and the Holy Father and it does purport to do some teaching, but in a non-impositional, encouragement of dialogue manner. Call it magisterial all you want, but if it is non-authentic, you are not obliged to follow it. You can cherry pick good stuff, but really the good should be interpreted in view of the bad. You can attack the bad stuff despite whatever else good there is.

Finally: If we are bidden to interpret the document in view of the constant teaching of the Church, it seems to me that we must do this with an eye to a decision regarding authentic or inauthentic. You know why? Because that’s the will of the Holy Father! HE wants us to do that. Don’t blame me. I’m not being rebellious. It just is what it is. And still, I love the Holy Father to pieces. He really delegated heavily for this one. I don’t agree with the extremity of the delegation, but it is what it is.

Finally, I do think I understood something of what Cardinal Burke was trying to do. I hope I put it across in some way people can understand.

Meanwhile, Bishop Athanasius Schneider has made a statement on Amoris laetitia. More on that after a bit. English here.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Holy See, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family

CARDINAL BURKE’S RESPONSE

HERE /// More to come.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family