Friday, April 24, 2009
Easter Message of Bishop John Michael Botean, Romanian Catholic Diocese

I am glad to have been forwarded this message by (Most Reverend) John Michael Botean of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton. My comments are in red and emphasized sections are in bold.

Eparchy of St. George in Canton
P.O. Box 7189 Canton, OH 44705-0189 Tel: (330) 493-9355; Fax: (330) 493-9963
April 11, 2009

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

It is when the world seems to be crashing in all around us that it is most important to recognize some of the fundamentals of our faith. It is one thing for us to appreciate some of the great things that belonging to one of our parishes has to offer, such as the sense of family, of tradition, and of belonging that we experience. The beauty of the Byzantine liturgy and the sense of God’s closeness that we experience in the sacraments are among the most precious gifts of our heritage.

Sometimes we take the things we always knew for granted [His words can apply completely to the Western Church, in which our Lord is received whimsically on the hand and not in reverence on the tongue, as the long-held practice]. Like our heartbeat, which has been going on nonstop almost from the beginning of our days, those things that are most familiar and most intimate to us are the ones that most often escape our attention and reflection. [Fantastic Points]

Those of us who have been lifelong members of our Romanian Catholic parishes do not always have the sense that visitors and those who are newly joining our parishes from other traditions have of our faith and practice. It seems somehow strange to us that people who have entirely different ethnic and cultural backgrounds find value in our small and homely experience and want to be part of something that, in all honesty, we had become used to seeing rejected instead by the offspring of our communities’ founders.

What is going on? In the opinion of some of our members, our parishes exist only in order to remain precisely as they recall it from their childhood, and then die as the powerful process of cultural assimilation grinds all immigrants into the same homogenized American powder [He needs some points for the imagery in this sentence]. What is the use of trying to hold on to our parishes when all around us there are larger, better organized, and vastly better financed Roman Catholic parishes that we could belong to? Is it somehow preordained that only the Latin rite should have a permanent home on these western shores (though even our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers are having a difficult go of it in an environment with fewer and fewer priests)?

Although I can scarcely speak from my own experience regarding what happens in Romania, it has occurred to me, too, that many whose families had been Greek-Catholic prior to past and present political attempts to eliminate the Greek-Catholic Church from national life in Romania may have likewise found it too hard to swim against the cultural tide. Perhaps they have simply chosen to remain where history and political repression have put them. It is just easier to be Orthodox where Orthodoxy is big and powerful, and Roman Catholic or Protestant (or Evangelical) where western Christianity commands the privileges of a majority.

(In both these situations, of course, I am referring to those who exercise religious “preferences” as a path of least resistance in their worlds, not to those who have chosen where they belong out of conviction and an experience of truth. Far be it from me to judge the mystery of another’s life. I am sure that some of our people who have found a spiritual home elsewhere have done so in response to a spiritual hunger they have not been able to satisfy in our parishes, for whatever reason. I have often said that there are two reasons that people leave our communities: either because they don’t love God or because they do.)

Yet, it is precisely into this situation that I believe the Holy Spirit has stepped in—not because we Greek-Catholics are better than anyone else or more deserving of divine grace than other Christians. Rather, it is precisely because we are small and poor and powerless and a little odd that we are more available for God’s purposes in the great march of human destiny. It is easier to divert a trickle than a flood, to water your tomato plants with a garden hose than with a swimming pool. God chooses the little ones of this world to accomplish his will; what we need to do is simply choose that will over our own grandiose pretentions.

This is where the fundamentals come in (note: one can focus on fundamentals without becoming a fundamentalist!): the very simple faith expressed in our Creed and sung in the Gospel reading of Easter, the Prologue of the Gospel of John [The Last Gospel in the Tridentine Latin Mass]. As elaborate as our liturgy is, as elaborate as our ceremonies may be, it all comes down to the simple celebration of our faith that God is Father, unconditional love and everlasting mercy; that in Jesus Christ God becomes one of us and shares our story, even unto his own death on a cross; that by enduring death, Jesus has conquered it, has freed humanity from enslavement to it, and has healed this congenital defect that has come down to each woman and man since Adam and Eve [The very same thing can be said to apply to the intricacies in the Tridentine Mass]. Furthermore: it all comes down to an acknowledgment that, despite the foibles of every age, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in the world, in an especially unique way in the Church, making of us the Mystical Body of Christ, the extension in time and space of the words and works of our Master through an unbroken communion with him who promised to be with us all days, even to the end of the world.

It is particularly easy to forget this simple story when everything comes crashing down on us, when we are too sick or too busy to keep on doing what we think we are supposed to be doing; when thoughts of our own eventual death or the actual death of one we love threatens to make a mockery of our hope; when all we have worked and sacrificed to build collapses in smoldering ruin because, yes, greedy people (perhaps ourselves among them?) have thought that a house built on plastic could be as sturdy as one built on the Rock. These are times when just being can seem a bitter prospect, and every tomorrow brings fresh disappointment.

But these are also the times that even the Divine Liturgy itself cries out to us, “Wisdom! Be attentive!” If we pay attention and stop to think about it, we can see all around us little signs of life. If you are fortunate, as I am, to belong to a parish that has seen new members you know what I am talking about. Something about us, something so intimate or familiar that we have taken it for granted and barely notice anymore, that something has drawn others into its light while we were busy worrying about our heating bills and parking lots.

That something is the risen Lord Jesus. Somehow, hen we gather to sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and bestowing life to those who are in the tombs,” there can be no doubt in the heart of any visitor that this is the truth, and in a cynical and weary world this Truth itself is risen from the grave. We sense his presence in the proclamation of his resurrection, and those who have been looking for him can find him among us: And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father (John 1:14).

It is not enough to say that Jesus is God-made-human. This is indeed true, but the point the Evangelist wishes to make is that Jesus, that is to say God, dwelt—indeed, dwells—alongside us. The Greek verb in this passage carries the notion of pitching one’s tent, becoming a fellow traveler and sojourner. Therefore when we are doing our job as a church, we enable other travelers to know and experience the One who is always with us on our way.

For it is Christ who is risen—not someone else, not Moses, nor Muhammad, nor Mother Theresa. Christ is not Napoleon, Caesar, or Alexander the Great. The one who has conquered death is the only one who could conquer it, and the rest of humanity awaits its call to rise from the tombs. Alexander the Great, Caesar, and Napoleon all conquered lands and enslaved kingdoms, and they did so by inflicting great misery and death. They, and others like them, were not conquerors, in truth, but the conquered, having become lackeys and instruments of the great Enemy of the human race, that is, death itself. The one who has overcome death and destroyed this Enemy, who has granted freedom to every child of God, used only the weapons of forgiveness (grace) and truth to accomplish his victory.

And from his fulness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:16-17). Christ’s resurrection means resurrection for everybody. The task for each of us is to live our immortality here and now, being witnesses to the truth of the grace that has been poured out upon the world. Following Christ in our present lives, and then for all eternity, is something available to us no matter what the circumstance. It is something every one of us can do, no matter how the world cracks and fizzles at our feet, no matter how threatened or frightened or vulnerable we may feel. It takes neither an army, nor money, nor an education, nor powerful connections to be a follower of Christ. It only takes a willing heart and a trusting spirit. And one another.

That is why I am glad to be where I am, part of a little flock that is truly God’s own. As I listen to you sing “Christ is Risen” on Easter Sunday, I know that I am safe at home with you, sheltered in the loving arms of our Savior and wrapped about with the protecting mantle of his Mother. Come what may, I know this simple truth shines from the heart of all our communities, because I have seen how people of all kinds have found light, life, and safety in our midst, as have we. It does not matter whether the Berlin Wall or Wall Street is crumbling to bits all around us. We are safe and we are free, for Christ is risen indeed.

May the Spirit of the risen Christ bring great joy to your hearts this Easter, and may you abide in that joy for all your days. With every good wish and blessing this bright season, I remain

Your brother in the Lord,

(Most Reverend) John Michael Botean
A sinner, and Bishop
Eparchy of St. George in Canton
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Holy Communion Given by Pope Benedict XVI to Only be Given to Those Kneeling

EWTN reports, "To receive Communion from Pope Benedict at Papal Liturgies one will have to receive on the tongue," which is a fantastic affirmation of the Real Presence of our Lord. And as the Body and Blood of Jesus, nothing is of higher value than the Most Holy Eucharist. Raymond Arroyo offers editorial remarks in agreement with the Church's enduring Tradition.
St. Thomas Aquinas: "Out of reverence towards this Sacrament, nothing touches it but when it is consecrated" - Summa, Pt III Q, Q2 Art. 3

Fr. John Hardon, S.J.: Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God.” (November 1st, 1997 Call to Holiness Conference, Detroit, Michigan, panel discussion.)

Dietrich von Hildebrand: "Is it believable that instead of applying the most scrupulous care to protect the most sacred consecrated host, which is truly the Body of Christ, the God-man, from all such possible abuses, there are those who wish to expose it to this possibility? Have we forgotten the existence of the devil who wanders about seeking whom he may devour'? Is his work in the world and in the Church not all too visible today? What entitles us to assume that abuses to the consecrated host will not take place?" (Communion in the hand should be rejected)

Excerpt from "Mission Restore Eucharistic Reverence."
This is an excellent step forward. Now we must continue striving for Holy Communion to only be distributed to those who are kneeling throughout the world. Glory to our Lord.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Jade Music Offers Free Music Downloads through

Jade Music Offers Free Music Downloads through

Site members can download free songs each week through June 10;
Partnership provides online venue for Jade Music’s complete song collection

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – April 15, 2009 – Jade Music ( has partnered with MyCatholicVoice ( to offer a featured free music download each Wednesday through June 10.

From a deep catalog of sacred and classical music, these free downloads will include works by Giulio Caccini, Hildegard von Bingen, as well as chant recordings by the Benedictine Choir of Santo Domingo de Silos, and the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey, among others.

“We’ve carefully selected music related to the Catholic calendar, and we’re excited to share these rich recordings as digital downloads through MyCatholicVoice, said Stefan Karrer, head of Jade Music U.S. “Available beginning today as the first free download will be ‘Alleluia Omnes Gentes’ by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, in their inimitable style of freedom and expressive power of love and faith.”

Jade Music has created a name for itself recording and distributing high-quality sacred and classical music. For more than 20 years, it has been working with renowned choirs and musicians from around the world.

“We are always looking for new and inventive ways to promote our music,” explains Nick Bobetsky, senior vice president of Jade Music. “MyCatholicVoice is a perfect partner for us in extending the availability of our complete music catalog online, and introducing our music to many new listeners.”

About MyCatholicVoice
MyCatholicVoice ( is an online, multimedia Catholic resource designed to provide personal inspiration and support community ministry. Created to serve the Catholic community and those interested in the Catholic tradition, MyCatholicVoice uniquely combines social networking capabilities with easy online access to a broad range of current and historical Catholic multimedia material, including both published and user-generated content.

About Jade Music

Jade Music is distributed through Ryko/WEA in the U.S., Universal in France, JVC/Victor in Japan and Warner Music in the rest of the world.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Victimae Paschali Laudes

On certain Solemnities, there is added to the Alleluia or Tract, what is called the Sequence, (Sequentia).  It was added to the chant of the Mass long after the time of St. Gregory; the addition was made some time about the 9th century.  It received the name of Sequence, that is to say, sequel, because it originally consisted of certain words adapted to the notes which form a sequel to the word Alleluia, and which were called Sequentia, even before the introduction of the Sequence. 
It is called, also, the Prose (Prosa,) because originally, it bore no resemblance either to the metrical hymns composed by ancient writers, nor to cadenced rhythms, which appeared later on.  It was a real piece of prose, which was sung in the manner we have described, as a way of putting words to the pneuma of the Alleluia.  By degrees, however, it partook of the character of a Hymn. - The Sequence thus added to the solemnity of the Liturgy; and, whilst it was being sung, the Bells were rung, as now, and the Organ was played.   
There was a Sequence for every Feast, and, therefore, for the Sundays during Advent.  In the Roman Missal drawn up by order of St. Pius the Fifth, only four of the Sequences were retained.  These four are, the Victimae Paschali, which is the most ancient of all, and was followed as the model of the rest; the Veni Sancte Spiritus, the Lauda Sion, and the Dies irae.  Later on, there was added the Stabat Mater.  The Monastic Missal has also the Laeta dies, for the feast of St. Benedict; it is a composition of the 16th century.
The Sequence currently traditionally used was modified around the time of the Council of Trent to remove a reference to the Jews.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Easter 2009 Urbi et Orbi


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world,

From the depths of my heart, I wish all of you a blessed Easter. To quote Saint Augustine, “Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra – the resurrection of the Lord is our hope” (Sermon 261:1). With these words, the great Bishop explained to the faithful that Jesus rose again so that we, though destined to die, should not despair, worrying that with death life is completely finished; Christ is risen to give us hope (cf. ibid.).

Indeed, one of the questions that most preoccupies men and women is this: what is there after death? To this mystery today’s solemnity allows us to respond that death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end. This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning, but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body. Jesus is risen so that we too, believing in him, may have eternal life. This proclamation is at the heart of the Gospel message. As Saint Paul vigorously declares: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” He goes on to say: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:14,19). Ever since the dawn of Easter a new Spring of hope has filled the world; from that day forward our resurrection has begun, because Easter does not simply signal a moment in history, but the beginning of a new condition: Jesus is risen not because his memory remains alive in the hearts of his disciples, but because he himself lives in us, and in him we can already savour the joy of eternal life.

The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, that has opened a “new way” between heaven and earth (cf. Heb 10:20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. In fact, at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, Peter and John found the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene and the other women encountered the risen Jesus. On the way to Emmaus the two disciples recognized him at the breaking of the bread. The Risen One appeared to the Apostles that evening in the Upper Room and then to many other disciples in Galilee.

The proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection lightens up the dark regions of the world in which we live. I am referring particularly to materialism and nihilism, to a vision of the world that is unable to move beyond what is scientifically verifiable, and retreats cheerlessly into a sense of emptiness which is thought to be the definitive destiny of human life. It is a fact that if Christ had not risen, the “emptiness” would be set to prevail. If we take away Christ and his resurrection, there is no escape for man, and every one of his hopes remains an illusion. Yet today is the day when the proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection vigorously bursts forth, and it is the answer to the recurring question of the sceptics, that we also find in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?” (Ec 1:10). We answer, yes: on Easter morning, everything was renewed. “Mors et vita, duello conflixere mirando: dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus – Death and life have come face to face in a tremendous duel: the Lord of life was dead, but now he lives triumphant.” This is what is new! A newness that changes the lives of those who accept it, as in the case of the saints. This, for example, is what happened to Saint Paul.

Many times, in the context of the Pauline year, we have had occasion to meditate on the experience of the great Apostle. Saul of Tarsus, the relentless persecutor ofChristians, encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and was “conquered” by him. The rest we know. In Paul there occurred what he would later write about to the Christians of Corinth: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Let us look at this great evangelizer, who with bold enthusiasm and apostolic zeal brought the Gospel to many different peoples in the world of that time. Let his teaching and example inspire us to go in search of the Lord Jesus. Let them encourage us to trust him, because that sense of emptiness, which tends to intoxicate humanity, has been overcome by the light and the hope that emanate from the resurrection. The words of the Psalm have truly been fulfilled: “Darkness is not darkness for you, and the night is as clear as the day” (Ps 139 [138]:12). It is no longer emptiness that envelops all things, but the loving presence of God. The very reign of death has been set free, because the Word of life has even reached the “underworld”, carried by the breath of the Spirit (v. 8).

If it is true that death no longer has power over man and over the world, there still remain very many, in fact too many signs of its former dominion. Even if through Easter, Christ has destroyed the root of evil, he still wants the assistance of men and women in every time and place who help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love. This is the message which, during my recent Apostolic Visit to Cameroon and Angola, I wanted to convey to the entire African continent, where I was welcomed with such great enthusiasm and readiness to listen. Africa suffers disproportionately from the cruel and unending conflicts, often forgotten, that are causing so much bloodshed and destruction in several of her nations, and from the growing number of her sons and daughters who fall prey to hunger, poverty and disease. I shall repeat the same message emphatically in the Holy Land, to which I shall have the joy of travelling in a few weeks from now. Reconciliation – difficult, but indispensable – is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My thoughts move outwards from the Holy Land to neighbouring countries, to the Middle East, to the whole world. At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope. Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ’s Resurrection. For as I said earlier, Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love.

Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra! The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and invincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place, especially where Christians suffer persecution because of their faith and their commitment to justice and peace. She invokes the hope that can call forth the courage to do good, even when it costs, especially when it costs. Today the Church sings “the day that the Lord has made”, and she summons people to joy. Today the Church calls in prayer upon Mary, Star of Hope, asking her to guide humanity towards the safe haven of salvation which is the heart of Christ, the paschal Victim, the Lamb who has “redeemed the world”, the Innocent one who has “reconciled us sinners with the Father”. To him, our victorious King, to him who is crucified and risen, we sing out with joy our Alleluia!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

1st Image Source: (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
2nd Image source: REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN RELIGION)
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Monaco Legalizes Abortion

Catholic Monaco Legalizes Abortion Legislature unanimously approves law permitting abortion in cases of rape or fetal deformity

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

MONACO, April 8, 2009 ( - The Catholic nation of Monaco, one of the last holdouts against the tide of abortion legalization in the European continent, has approved a new law permitting abortion for "hard cases," including rape, fetal deformity, fetal illness, or danger to the life of the mother.

The law was passed unanimously by Monaco's National Council, its parliament, in a 26-0 vote, despite the fact that 90% of its population is formally Catholic. The legislation had been in process for five years.

Archbishop Pernard Barsi of Monaco reportedly blasted the measure as being "incompatible" with the constitution of Monaco, which recognizes the Catholic faith as the state religion.

"When they say that the text [of the law] only concerns extreme cases, they are not saying the truth," said Barsi. "There is a risk that all of the rest will follow and the worst is to be feared because they will not stop trying to conform Monaco to the lowest ethical standards."

Members of the council denounced Barsi for his criticisms, claiming they were made at the last minute. However, as LifeSiteNews has reported, Barsi has been denouncing the measure since at least 2006.

Monaco was one of the last three nations in Europe where abortion is illegal. The other two countries are Ireland and Malta.

Source: LifeSiteNews
St. Gemma Galgani

Today is the anniversary of the death of St. Maria Gemma Umberta Pia Galgani (March 12, 1878 – April 11, 1903), an Italian mystic, commonly referred to as St. Gemma Galgani. Below is a photo from her canonization on May 2, 1940 in Saint Peter's Basilica by His Holiness Pope Pius XII.

"Saint Gemma Galgani showed an inherent love for prayer at a very young age. She displayed an innocent simplicity and deep humility throughout her entire lifetime. When studying the Passion of Christ, she wept. It was said that her entire life was one constant prayer. Her intense love of Christ (especially Christ Crucified) grew constantly and was shown through her physically and emotionally reliving the Passion of Our Lord every week. Ultimately she lived in union with Christ Crucified and was blessed with the gift of stigmata. Saint Gemma was beatified in 1933 and canonized in 1940. Her feast day is April 11" (Servants of the Holy Family)
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Holy Thursday 2009

Ubi Caritas et amor
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI and H.E. Bernard Fellay Release Additional Statements

Pope Benedict XVI releases a letter on his decision to "lift" the SSPX excommunications. Below is the letter from His Holiness along with my comments in brackets. Emphasis is in bold and my comments are in red.

Dear brethren in the Episcopal ministry!

The lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 without a mandate of the Holy See has led, both within and outside the Catholic Church, for a variety of reasons, to a discussion of such vehemence as we had not experienced for a long time. Many bishops felt at a loss before an event which came unexpectedly and could barely be integrated positively among the questions and tasks of the Church of today. Although many pastors and faithful were willing in principle to value positively the Pope's desire for reconciliation, against this was the question of the appropriateness of such a gesture, given the real urgency of a believing life in our time. Several groups, however, accused the Pope openly of wanting to return behind the Council. An avalanche of protests was set into motion, the bitterness of which made injuries visible which transcended the moment. Therefore I feel pressed to address to you, dear brethren, a clarifying word, which is meant to help to understand the intentions which have guided me and the competent organs of the Holy See in this step. I hope in this way to contribute to peace in the Church.

One mishap for me unforeseeable, was the fact that the Williamson case has superimposed itself on the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards the four bishops ordained validly but not legitimately, suddenly appeared as something entirely different: as a disavowal of the reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and therefore as the revocation of what in this area the Council had clarified for the way for the Church. The invitation to reconciliation with an ecclesial group separating itself had thus become the opposite: an apparent way back behind all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews which had been made since the Council and which to make and further had been from the outset a goal of my theological work. The fact that this superposition of two opposing processes has occurred and has disturbed for a moment the peace between Christians and Jews as well as the peace in the Church I can only deeply regret. I hear that closely following the news available on the internet would have made it possible to obtain knowledge of the problem in time. I learn from this that we at the Holy See have to pay more careful attention to this news source in the future [This is interesting that the Holy Father is acknowledging the influence of the Internet]. It has saddened me that even Catholics who could actually have known better have thought it necessary to strike at me with a hostility ready to jump. Even more therefore I thank the Jewish friends who have helped to quickly clear away the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust, which - as in the time of Pope John Paul II - also during the entire time of my pontificate had existed and God be praised continues to exist.

Another mishap which I sincerely regret, is that the scope and limits of the measure of 21 January 2009 have not been set out clearly enough at the time of the publication of the procedure. The excommunication affects persons, not institutions. Episcopal consecration without papal mandate means the danger of a schism, because it calls into question the unity of the Bishops' College with the Pope [But the Holy Father does not even discuss the canonical arguments of the Society of St. Pius X, which seem to be a valid argument]. The Church must, therefore, react with the harshest punishment, excommunication, and that is to call back the persons thus punished to repentance and into unity. 20 years after the ordinations this goal has unfortunately still not been achieved. The withdrawal of the excommunication serves the same purpose as the punishment itself: once more to invite the four bishops to return. This gesture was possible after the affected had expressed their fundamental recognition of the pope and his pastoral authority, albeit with reservations as far as obedience to his magisterial authority and that of the Council is concerned. This brings me back to the distinction between person and institution. The releasing of the excommunication was a measure in the field of ecclesial discipline: the persons were freed of the burden of conscience of the heaviest ecclesial censure. From this disciplinary level one has to distinguish the doctrinal area. That the Fraternity of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical position in the Church is not based ultimately on disciplinary grounds but on doctrinal ones. As long as the Fraternity does not possess a canonical position in the Church, its officials do not exercise legitimate offices in the Church. One has therefore to distinguish between disciplinary level affecting the persons as persons, and the level of doctrine, at which office and institution are concerned. To say it once again: As long as the doctrinal issues are not resolved, the Fraternity has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers, even if they are free from ecclesiastical censure, do not exercise in a legitimate way any ministry in the Church [This is a very strong statement from the Holy Father, but we must also realize that this and all other statements in this article - from those condemning the liberal left to those against the far right - are not infallible. This document is not protected by papal infallibility].

Given this situation, I intend to connect the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", which since 1988 is responsible for those communities and individuals who, coming from the Fraternity of Pius X or similar groups, want to return into full communion with the Pope, in the future with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This shall make it clear that the problems now being treated are essentially doctrinal in nature, especially those concerning the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the postconciliar Magisterium of the Popes. The collegial organs through which the Congregation works on the questions arising (especially the regular assembly of the Cardinals on Wednesday and the General Assembly every one or two years) guarantee the involvement of the prefects of various Roman congregations and of the worldwide episcopate in the decisions to be made. One cannot freeze the magisterial authority of the Church in 1962 and - this must be quite clear to the Fraternity. But to some of those who show off as great defenders of the Council it must also be recalled to memory that Vatican II contains within itself the whole doctrinal history of the Church. Who wants to be obedient to it [sc. the Council] must accept the faith of the centuries and must not cut the roots of which the tree lives.

I hope, dear brethren, that with this both the positive meaning as well as the limit of the measure of 21 January 2009 is clarified. But now the question remains: Was this necessary? Was this really a priority? Are there not much more important things? Of course, there are more important and urgent things. I think that I have made clear the priorities of the pontificate in my speeches at the beginning of it. What I said then remains my guideline unchangedly. The first priority for the successor of Peter, the Lord has unequivocally fixed in the Room of the Last Supper: "You, however, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22, 32). Peter himself rephrased this priority in his first letter: "Be ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you." (1 Peter 3, 15). In our time, in which the faith in large parts of the world threatens to go out like a flame which can no longer find food, the first priority is to make God present in this world and to open to men the access to God [And the Church has done this effectively for centuries by spreading the Tridentine Latin Mass throughout the world. Such an "archaic" Rite of Mass some how led to the conversion of hundreds of thousands from the primitive cultures of the world] . Not to just any god, but to the God who spoke on Mount Sinai, that God whose face we recognize in the love unto the end (John 13, 1)- in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. The real problem of our historic hour is that God is disappearing from the horizon of men and that with the extinguishing of the light coming from God disorientation befalls mankind, the destructive effects of which we are seeing ever more.

To lead men to God, to the God speaking in the Bible, is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and the successor of Peter in this time. From it then it follows on its own that we have to be concerned for the unity of believers. For their strife, their internal dissent, calls their talking about God into question. Therefore, the effort for the common witness of faith of the Christians - for ecumenism -is included in the highest priority. Then there is also the necessity that all who believe in God seeking peace with each other, trying to become closer to each other, in order to walk, in the different-ness of their image of God, yet together towards the source of light - inter-religious dialogue. Those who proclaim God as love unto the end, must give the witness of love: devoted to the suffering in love, fending off hatred and enmity - the social dimension of the Christian Faith, of which I have spoken in the encyclical "Deus caritas est".

If then the struggle for Faith, hope and love in the world is the true priority for the Church in this hour (and in different forms always), then still the small and medium-sized reconciliations also belong to it. That the quiet gesture of a hand stretched out has become a great noise and thus the opposite of reconciliation, we have to take note of. But now I have to wonder: Was and is it really wrong, also in this case, to go to meet the brother, who "hath any thing against thee" and to try for reconciliation (cf. Mt 5, 23f)? Does not civil society, too, have to try to prevent radicalizations, to bind their possible supporters - if possible - back into the major creative forces of social life to avoid isolation and all its consequences? Can it be entirely wrong to strive for the lessening of tensions and constrictions and to give room to the positive which can be found and integrated into the whole? I myself, in the years after 1988, have experienced how by the return of communities previously separating themselves from Rome the interior climate there has changed, how the return to the great, wide and common Church overcame onesided-ness and lessened tensions, so that now they have become positive forces for the whole. Can a community leave us totally indifferent in which there are 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university institutes, 117 brothers, 164 sisters? Should we really calmly leave them to drift away from the Church? I am thinking, for example, of the 491 priests. The plaited fabric of their motivations we cannot know. But I think that they would not have made their decision for the priesthood, if next to some askew or sick elements there hot not been there the love of Christ and the will to proclaim Him and with Him the living God. Should we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical marginal group, from the search for reconciliation and unity? What will then be?

Certainly, we have long and have again on this occasion heard many dissonances from representatives of this community - pride and a patronizing know-it-all attitude, fixation into onesidedness etc. For the love of truth I must add that I have also received a series of moving testimonials of gratitude, in which was made perceptible an opening of hearts. But should the great Church not also be able to be magnanimous [in German its a play on words: "great Church - great of heart"] in the knowledge of the long wind she has; in the knowledge of the promise which she has been given? Should we not, like good educators, also be able not to hear some bad things and strive to calmly lead out of the narrowness? And must we not admit that also from ecclesial circles there have come dissonances? Sometimes one has the impression that our society needs at least one group for which there need not be any tolerance; which one can unperturbedly set upon with hatred. And who dared to touch them - in this case the Pope - lost himself the right to tolerance and was allowed without fear and restraint to be treated with hatred, too.

Dear brethren, in the days in which it came into my mind to write this letter, it so happened that in the seminary of Rome I had to interpret and comment the passage of Gal 5, 13-15. I was surprised at how directly it speaks of the present of this hour: "Do not make liberty an occasion to the flesh, but by charity of the spirit serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if you bite and devour one another; take heed you be not consumed one of another." I was always inclined to regard this sentence as one of the rhetorical hyperbole which occasionally there are with St. Paul. In some respects it may be so. But unfortunately, the "biting and devouring" is there in the Church even today as an expression of a poorly understood freedom. Is it surprising that we are not better than the Galatians? That we at least are threatened by the same temptations? That we have always to learn anew the right use of freedom? And that we have always to learn anew the first priority: love? On the day on which I had to speak about this in the seminary, in Rome the feast of the Madonna della Fiducia - our Lady of Trust - was celebrated. Indeed - Mary teaches us trust. She leads us to the Son, in Whom we all may trust. He will guide us - even in turbulent times. So at the end I would like to thank from my heart all the many bishops who have given me in this time moving signs of trust and affection, but above all the gift of their prayers. This thank I extend to all the faithful who have shown me during this time their unchanged fidelity to the successor of St. Peter. The Lord preserve us all and lead us on the path of peace. This is a wish that spontaneously rises from my heart, especially now at the beginning of Lent, a liturgical time particularly propitious to inner purification, and which invites us all to look with new hope towards the radiant goal of Easter.

With a special Apostolic Blessing, I remain Yours in the Lord

Benedictus Pp. XVI

From the Vatican, on 10 March 2009

This document as a response by His Excellency Bernard Fellay is quite interesting as well.

Press Release from the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X

Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church, dated March 10, 2009, in which he makes known to them the motives which guided the important step of the January 21, 2009 Decree.

After the “avalanche of protests unleashed” recently, we wholeheartedly thank the Holy Father for having placed the debate back on the level on which it must be held, that of the Faith. We fully share his main concern of preaching the Gospel “in our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel.”

Indeed the Church is going through a major crisis which can be resolved only by an integral return to the purity of the Faith. With Saint Athanasius, we profess that “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” (Athanasian Creed)

Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and post-conciliar teaching in the light of this Tradition which St. Vincent of Lérins defined as “what has been believed at all times, everywhere and by all” (Commonitorium), without rupture and in a perfectly homogenous development. Thus we will be able to contribute efficaciously to the evangelization requested by the Savior (see Matthew 28; 19-20)

The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its determination to enter into the doctrinal talks recognized as “requisite” by the Decree of January 21, with the desire to serve revealed Truth, which is the first act of charity to perform towards all men, Christians or non-Christians. It assures him of its prayers so that his faith fail not and that he may confirm his brethren. (cf. Luke 22:32)

We place these doctrinal talks under the protection of Our Lady of All Confidence, with the assurance that she will obtain for us the grace to hand down faithfully what we have received, “tradidi quod et accepi.” (I Cor.15:3)

Menzingen, March 12, 2009
+Bernard Fellay
Friday, February 27, 2009
Pray for the Canonization of Marcel Lefebvre

I ask for your prayers for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and his saintly parents, as well as prayers for his canonization. Saints like St. Joan of Arc and St. Anthanasius were despised - St. Anthanasius was at one time excommunicated and St. Joan of Arc was executed for supposedly being a "heretic".

Pray for the canonization of Marcel Lefebvre. Without his role in the restoration of the Tridentine Latin Mass, it would not be available in the world today. Without his role, Summorum Pontificum would not exist. Our Savior has sent to us a shepherd after His own heart to protect the Mass of the Ages.
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