Online Edition Only, Please
Regarding your October 2007 Editorial and your fundraising appeal in response to the postal rate hikes, I would willingly pay the full online/print combo subscription rate ($29) for an online-only subscription (you already provide archiving). Paying the full combo rate but foregoing the print edition would help ensure that the NOR stays available in print for those who can't -- or won't -- receive it in electronic form for whatever reason (e.g., Keir Derek E. Gray and his wife, letter, Dec. 2007). This would let those of us who can and do use the Internet take some of the mailing cost burden off of the NOR.
In short, I'm willing to help subsidize those who can't or won't access the NOR via the Internet.
James W. Spradling
Bossier City, Louisiana
Gift Subscriptions to Local High Schools
I have a suggestion for readers who want to do more to support the NOR: give gift subscriptions to local high schools. This helps the NOR by increasing the number of subscriptions. It also enables students to read the NOR, some of whom may even subscribe themselves. Thank you for your excellent publication.
Livingston, New Jersey
Pope John Paul II Was Not Saintly
In your Editorial "Opportunity & Crisis" (Oct. 2007), you prayed that Pope Benedict XVI would be "more traditional, a much better administrator, more insistent on orthodoxy in the Church , but no less saintly than John Paul." Since when is deviation from Catholic traditions, laxity in administration, and not being "insistent on orthodoxy" a sign of sanctity?
You do not set forth any particulars to indicate that Pope John Paul II was saintly. So I will set forth some to indicate the opposite, that in fact suggest that he may have been on a grandiose ego trip to remake the Church, and even the world, in his own image; that, in effect, he may have been playing God by altering things that have been divinely mandated or made.
John Paul said that the Church did not come into her own essence until Vatican II, and then, with his deciphering assistance, she was led out of her 1,900-year amnesia. In his book Sign of Contradiction, he said that the Church has newly defined "her own nature." In this work he talks of "the Church of the living God [which] gathers together all men who in one way or another share in this marvelous transcendence of the human spirit." This trait, along with the redemptive death of Christ, seems to mean that "all men from the beginning of the world until its end have been redeemed and justified by Christ and His cross." As Fr. Johannes Dormann said in his book Pope John Paul II's Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi, it suggests universal salvation. Therefore, it would make faith, Baptism, and even a virtuous life unnecessary for salvation. It would even seem to make the Church as we have known her unnecessary. This may have been behind John Paul's statement in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope that "If the world is not Catholic from a denominational point of view, it is nonetheless profoundly permeated by the Gospel. We can even say that the mystery of the Church, the Body of Christ, is in some way invisibly present in it." All of this led to the massive worship of false pagan gods at Assisi -- a Break-the-First-Commandment Jamboree orchestrated by Pope John Paul II.
Not content with changing the nature of the Church, John Paul suggested that all religions can lead to God, since all are an attempt to reach the God "of infinite majesty," and so seemed to justify idolatry. He also tried to substitute phenomenology in place of scholasticism as the philosophical foundation of morality. As a result, in his book Theology of the Body, he said that conjugal intercourse was "adultery of the heart" if communal affection or love was not a motive, and also indicated that concupiscence or sexual ardor was a corrosive element, often destructive of the communal or affectionate aspect of marriage. Of course, one cannot commit adultery of the heart toward one's own spouse, and one cannot have conjugal relations without concupiscence.
Besides intruding into the bedrooms of the world, this theological Mr. Magoo then tried to disrupt the order of the family. As Pope Pius XI said in his encyclical Casti Connubii, the order of the family "includes the primacy of the husband, with regard to the wife and children ," and that this was "established and confirmed by God ." John Paul, however, overruled this divine law.
He also attempted to change the Church's original and eternal mission from an outreach to souls to "an eschatology of the Church and the world." One of the results of this emphasis on the world is a return to paganism by the Christian West, and a de-emphasis on the salvation of souls, which Christ died on the Cross to effect.
John Paul also created the impression that the Church had changed her teaching on capital punishment, which Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger later explained was a mere prudential judgment that Catholics do not have to accept. John Paul even tampered with the Rosary, which tradition says was given to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin herself. But Pope John Paul II had to add his own fourth set of meditations.
Moreover, he did little or nothing of significance to end the blight of sexual attacks on youth by priests, nor did he take the necessary steps to end the rape of nuns by priests in Africa. Reports of over 2,000 such rapes were sent to the Vatican by a missionary medical nun during the 1990s, but apparently nothing of significance was done about it.
John Paul also appointed many homosexual bishops, including at least one whom the Vatican knew had been charged with sexually molesting seminarians. But he had time to make about 100 criticisms of, or apologies for, the sins of the Church.
And his approach to ecumenism, if effected, would have destroyed the Church. He even said that the Assisi event was a plan or model for future ecumenism. This, of course, could mean not only a pan-Christianity, but a pan-religious unity, if such was his meaning. It would legitimize pagan idolatry, which was in effect done at the Assisi event.
This new approach of the Church toward sinful man has probably been partially responsible for the paganization of the once-Christian West. This did not appear to unduly disturb the late Pope. In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he minimized the great exodus from the Church by saying, "Above all, there has been a very radical transformation of our underlying model [the Church]," and concluded, "The traditional quantitative model has been transformed into a new, more qualitative model." The Great Apostasy is sign of a more qualitative Church? The loss of faith of millions indicates a more qualitative Church?
Mario Luigi Cardinal Ciappi was a papal theologian to five successive popes. He wrote that "in the Third Secret of Fatima it is foretold among other things that the Great Apostasy in the Church will begin at the top." This has been widely interpreted to mean the bishops of the world. But they are not at the top; rather, they are next to the top. The Pope is at the top. Could this be why the exact wording of the Third Secret as given by the Blessed Virgin has not been released?
Although Pope John Paul II never proclaimed error as part of a teaching of the Magisterium, his personal writing indicates a mind that was not basically Catholic.
Andrew J. McCauley
St. Augustine, Florida
A Threat to Ministry?
I cannot help but to respond to the letter from Deacon Don Tucker titled "Nowhere to Lay My Head" (Nov. 2007). I too am a deacon whose orthodoxy and passion to serve led to rejection in all three of the parishes I have been assigned to in my 16 years of ministry.
Being naïve and full of energy to save the world upon ordination, I soon learned my real "education" didn't start until the day after my ordination, when the pastor told me I would have to practice my new vocation at another parish. I was not wanted in a parish I had been a member of for 15 years.
Eventually I came to realize that I had to find a position in which a priest was not involved. I was fortunate to find a teaching position in the religion department of a small liberal arts college.
I have had difficulty forgiving those pastors who found me to be a threat to their ministries. I was not looked upon as a helper or a servant, but as a competitor to be defeated or contained. All of the deacons I am acquainted with in my diocese have had similar types of experiences.
The most important issue involved in these unfortunate situations is the need to find a way to love these priests in order to practice to a very small degree the love exemplified by Christ's sacrificing Himself for all of us in spite of our personal sinfulness.
Deacon Ned Ostendorf
The Russian Orthodox Church: Jealous & Domineering
Joseph P. Bonchonsky's guest column "With God in Russia" (Nov. 2007) unfortunately misses the point on several issues. For Catholics who have only minimal knowledge of the Eastern Rite Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as well as Catholic-Orthodox relations, Bonchonsky's column may seem accurate. Unfortunately, for anyone with more significant knowledge of the issue, his column is very inaccurate. The primary reason it is deficient is because the Russian Orthodox Church is by far the greatest enemy of establishing friendly relations and cooperation between Catholics and the Orthodox, and Catholics should not support it.
First, historically the Russian Orthodox Church has had the same dilemma that most non-Catholic churches have had throughout the past centuries: They were too closely tied to secular rulers. The head of the Orthodox Church in Russia was the Tsar of Russia, not the Patriarch of Moscow. This led to many persecutions of Catholics, especially Eastern Rite Catholics, within the lands ruled by the Tsar. One example is that of the Martyrs of Pratulin in 1874 in the Polish region of Podlasie (under Russian occupation). First, the Russian Orthodox clergy successfully petitioned the Tsar to remove the Byzantine Rite bishops and priests from the region. They then wanted to physically take over these Catholic churches. In several instances, the lay Catholic faithful decided to defend their churches from these seizures by Orthodox clergy. Knowing they faced death, Bl. Vincent Leoniuk and his 12 lay companions (all beatified in 1996) kneeled down in front of the entrance to their Byzantine Catholic Church in Pratulin and prayed while Russian soldiers sent to confiscate the church for the Russian Orthodox Church massacred these great defenders of the Faith.
When the Communists took over in 1917, the Orthodox Church did not know what to do, since they were always under the jurisdiction of the Russian government. Eventually they pledged allegiance to the Soviet state, which caused the Russian diaspora in the West to break with the Russian Orthodox Church and form their own Church (which only reunited with Moscow in 2007). The greatest persecution was not of the Orthodox, but of the Catholics, especially Roman Catholics of Polish descent and Greek Catholics or "Uniates" -- i.e., members of the Ukrainian, Byzantine, and other Eastern Rite Catholic Churches in union with Rome. The Orthodox Church was limited by the Soviets, but was able to function in Russia, Ukraine, and the Soviet satellites, while the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches were officially banned and could only function underground. Case in point is that of Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and other Orthodox clergy who were able to be educated in seminaries and freely ordained. Patriarch Alexei had no problems graduating from the Orthodox seminary of Leningrad and being ordained in Stalinist Russia in the early 1950s. Meanwhile, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz (the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Moscow until 2007, when he was transferred to Minsk) underwent seminary training and ordination clandestinely, continuing to work as an engineer, and was only able to come out into the open in 1988.
Bonchonsky fails to explain that the reason Blessed Bishops Romzha, Hopko, and Gojdich of the Byzantine Catholic Rusyn Church were murdered was not simply because they were Christians, but because they failed to renounce allegiance to the Vatican and join a church loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church. Many priests were similarly killed or sent to the Siberian gulags from Ukraine and other Communist countries simply because they would not become Russian Orthodox priests. This is not such distant history, as the current leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow, is well known, according to numerous sources (including former KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin and Russian researchers Gleb Yakunin and Yevgenia Albats), to have been a paid agent of the KGB who even received an honorary citation from the KGB in 1988 (two years before he was elected Patriarch). He was there to make sure that the Russian Orthodox Church continued to serve the interests of the Soviet and later Russian governments.
As far as the present is concerned, the Russian Orthodox Church is the most vehement enemy of the Catholic Church among all the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Pope John Paul II was able to establish friendly relations with the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, and others, but not with Russia. Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Churches, has established wonderful relations with the Vatican, but his efforts have been curtailed by two entities. One is the Muslim Turkish government, which has limited the ability of the Constantinople Patriarchate to effectively function as the traditional leader of the Orthodox by limiting its clergy to only Turkish citizens. The other is the Russian Orthodox Church, which is jealous of Constantinople and wants to be regarded as the true leader of the Orthodox communities throughout the world. The Russians dismissed, for example, the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey and Constantinople (Istanbul) as insignificant because they believe that Patriarch Bartholomew I represented only himself, not any other Orthodox Church.
Even the Greek Orthodox Church, with its usually suspicious attitude toward Rome, has sought closer relations with the Pope, as seen by the visit of the Patriarch of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to the Vatican in December 2006. The Russian Orthodox Church has vetoed any papal visit to Russia, despite several invitations to the Pope from Presidents Yeltsin and Putin (the Pope will not visit a country if its spiritual leaders are opposed to it).
According to a Reader's Digest survey in 2005, over 87 percent of Russians believe in God, a statistic in Europe surpassed only by Poland and Portugal. The Orthodox Church does not have enough manpower to evangelize all of these people who most likely only have a rudimentary belief in God, but it has preferred to tolerate Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and evangelical sects in Russia, while actively and successfully seeking the removal of Catholic clergy from Russia, including Bishop Jerzy Mazur who was deported from his Siberian diocese in 2002 (Pope John Paul II later named him Bishop of Elk, Poland).
The Russian Orthodox Church is closely tied to the interests of the Russian state, which wants to dominate its neighbors. A great example of this is Ukraine. When Communism fell in Ukraine and it announced its independence, the head of the Orthodox Church in Kiev was Patriarch Filaret, then in union with Moscow. When Patriarch Filaret decided that an independent Ukraine deserved an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church allied with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Russian Orthodox Church aggressively moved against him and a split occurred in the country between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate under Filaret and the pro-Russian Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate. Then in 2004, during the presidential elections in Ukraine and the Orange Revolution, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate openly supported the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich, while the Kiev Patriarchate under Filaret, the small Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Catholic Church under Lubomyr Cardinal Husar, and the Roman Catholic Church in the country stood behind the pro-independence-minded Viktor Yushchenko, who eventually won. The stubbornness of the Russian Orthodox Church in trying to bring Ukraine back under Russian hegemony has led to an amazing development: Cardinal Husar has moved the seat of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to the Orthodox-dominated Ukrainian capital of Kiev (from the Catholic-dominated western Ukrainian city of Lviv) and is actively holding talks with the two independent Ukrainian Orthodox Churches on re-establishing a united Kiev Patriarchate under his leadership and therefore in union with Rome! We should all pray for his success in this endeavor.
If some believe that this animosity ended when the Polish Pope John Paul II passed away (since the Russian Orthodox hierarchy has always tried to label the Catholic Church in Russia as the "Polish Church"), think again. In October 2007 an important theological meeting took place in Ravenna, Italy, to which representatives from the Catholic Church and many Orthodox Churches were invited. It was expected to bridge the gap between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Unfortunately, the Russian Orthodox Church delegation walked out of the meeting due to the presence of members of the tiny Estonian Orthodox Church, which was in union with the Patriarch of Constantinople and was not recognized by the Russians. Therefore, they ostentatiously destroyed a great opportunity for closer cooperation between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in a secularized and immoral Europe.
As Catholics, we should pray for the conversion of the schismatic Russian Orthodox Church, but we should spiritually and financially assist only those churches in Russia and Eastern Europe that are already in union with the Holy Father in Rome.
Thomas Zabiega, M.D.
Sodmites in Prison
I am a traditional Catholic who is trying to live a good Christian life in prison, but I have been having trouble with the very active sodomites. If I show them any Christian love, they try to turn it into sexual love. I have now become angry at all the sodomites because of chronic problems with them. This is causing problems, because they have the power to file complaints against anybody who objects to their disgusting behavior. I have learned that just by saying "no" to their advances, they do not get the point. So when a sodomite offered to perform a sex act on me, I strongly said no, and told him to stay away from me. Several minutes later, a Corrections Officer (CO) brought to my attention that said sodomite filed a complaint against me for this, and that I should do all I can to settle the problem. I replied to the CO that I refuse to have sex with him, and that this is the only way to settle this.
This is not the only time something like this has happened. I had to file a sexual-harassment complaint against a CO, and the reply I received was that if I complain again about a CO sexually harassing me, I will go to the hole (solitary confinement) for sexual harassment!
Now the prison has hired a sodomite as a barber, and if we refuse to use him when getting our haircuts, we will go to the hole. Haircuts are not optional.
I am going out of my mind with this. I want to be a good Christian and treat everybody as my brother, but it doesn't work in this environment. The only way to prevent the sodomites from causing trouble is to show them hate, which is un-Christian. Please advise me on how to handle this as a Christian.
Ed. Note: Would any of our readers care to offer some advice to this poor soul?
Thanks for having the courage to print what everyone thinks but is afraid to say. Enclosed is my donation for your fundraising effort in response to the higher postal rates.
Los Angeles, California
Bye-bye Crisis magazine. The NOR speaks the truth. Stand alone, you'll be fine. God always provides. Here's a donation for the rising postage rates.
St. Augustine, Florida
I would like to address the letter from Dan Mattimore (Nov. 2007), who compared the penitential rites of the Anglican Use and New Order Masses in an attempt to make a point about a need for simplicity in liturgy. Any good act of contrition should include four main parts: (1) An acknowledgment of having sinned; (2) sorrow and regret for having committed the sin; (3) sorrow that not only did your sins put you in eternal peril, but also that they offended God; (4) a true intention to reform your life.
Comparing the two forms mentioned by Mattimore, one finds that both forms lack all four criteria. The Anglican Use version includes the first two, and hints slightly at the third while the New Order version only addresses the first item.
Since Mattimore's main point is to consider a superior liturgical form, I will also include the Tridentine version:
"I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, father, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore, I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, father, to pray to the Lord our God for me."
Here we see that, like the Anglican Use version, the Tridentine version addresses the first two items, not just one. It becomes obvious that the New Order version is sorely lacking compared to the other two.
The point is, as many have noted in the past, the New Order Mass is so watered down that many parts are incomplete, rendering them almost meaningless. What purpose could it really serve to point out that one is a sinner without expressing sorrow or regret? It is the rejection of sin, and atonement for having sinned, that makes all the difference, allowing us to be cleansed of our sins and making us more worthy of receiving our Lord in Holy Communion. One of the many reasons a variety of inappropriate and inferior changes were accepted into the New Order Mass is the failure of many to see the meaning and purpose of the old Tridentine form.
Keeping a prayer plain and simple does not make it correct. The genius of a simple prayer is the ability to say something in a concise manner, but it loses its genius if an important element is missing.
How Many Times Did Jesus Rise?
Perhaps one of your readers can clear up an issue that has perplexed me. Why does the word "again" appear in the Creed (both the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds), in the phrase, "On the third day He arose again "? As far as I know, our Lord only rose from the dead once.
I have asked this question of several priests and none has been able to give me an answer. One priest did try to research it, but he could only conclude that it was a mistranslation because the original Jewish and German translations of the Creed do not contain the word "again." If this is so, why doesn't the Church correct it?
San Marino, California
Raise Your Rates
Increasing your subscription rates from $19 to $25 a year will raise the money you need to meet the rising postal costs. Twenty-five dollars a year is still a bargain. You have a great publication; you won't lose many subscribers over a measly six dollars a year. If you raise your rates, then I will send a donation.
St. Louis, Missouri
Where Are Our Priorities?
Although I rejoiced regarding the action taken by Pope Benedict XVI to liberate the Tridentine Latin Mass, I was dismayed by the burden being placed upon your distribution costs by the increase in postal rates (Editorial, Oct. 2007).
Think about what we pay for secular entertainment on television: Rates vary from $25 to $100 a month. And what do we get? Slanted news, bawdy commercials, and situation ethics. On the other hand, the NOR presents the voice of true Catholicism, despite recriminations and persecution. Isnt the NOR worth more than one months worth of television? Where are our priorities?
Honest controversy helps honest convictions. Will we pony up to the required subscription costs for the NOR, should rates be raised? If the NOR were to go down, it would certainly be a very sad day for Catholic truth. Its time for spiritual and financial action. Please, pray for and support the NOR!
Arthur D. Crawford