Dear Readers,

In March of 2014 I posted a summary of my posts regarding The Gabriel Project. I feel compelled to ask those of you were not reading my blog at that time to read that particular post and all of the references it contains. I also extend a plea to those who have read it and/or will now read it (including the referenced web pages), to take action within their respective Catholic dioceses with the goal of implementing The Gabriel Project or helping one that may exist to grow and flourish.

With the vast amount of attention that I have given to the issue of abortion over the past decade plus, I have never come across a ministry having anywhere near the potential of building a culture of life as does The Gabriel Project.

Fredi and precious April

Fredi & Baby April (Saved on Sidewalk 2005)

The very reason I became interested in The Gabriel Project was the fact that there was not (in my area) sufficient help for pregnant mothers. This observation goes back to Feb of 2003, when I began to reach out to pregnant mothers outside abortion facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had done research as to where I could refer them to obtain the assistance they needed. Certainly, I did find some organizations (few and far between pregnancy resource centers) that would guide them to choose birth for their child rather than abortion, and over these many years, I had attempted to refer thousands of abortion minded mothers to those organizations.

GP logo 2

Fredi and others speak on The Gabriel Project (click on image above)

But I knew with certainty that many mothers needed more help than what was available and that a Gabriel Project, which was modeled after those founded in Texas in 1990/91, could provide that necessary extended help. So I did something about it. You can too and I would be happy to assist you.

Below is a link to a document I prepared more recently as a reference for bishops and pastors. It would be a good start for those of you who would like to take my plea seriously.

The Extraordinary Gabriel Project

Summary of my posts regarding The Gabriel Project

Thank you and God bless, Fredi D’Alessio

Gabriel Project Information Center

 

I beg all members of the Catholic clergy who come across this post to please take it seriously. Follow the links included (bold text) in the comments below and then do all that you can to implement The Gabriel Project (or support one that is already established) in your diocese. Please join me in this effort to reduce the number of pregnant mothers considering abortion now and in decades to come by invigorating a culture of life within our respective parishes and neighborhoods. You will understand how this can be accomplished if you follow the links. If you have a blog, please spread the word about this extraordinary ministry. Or by any other means, please share this plea with others.

I share with you the following comments I made to a priest blogger and ask that you them personally. Thank you and God bless you.

Dear Father,

Since this is a Catholic site, I’d like to propose to our fellow Catholics that they get behind The Gabriel Project, which is a ministry that not only assists pregnant mothers, but is also an ideal ministry to promote the culture of life.

Here is a quote from a recent post on my blog (A Plea to My Readers):
“With the vast amount of attention that I have given to the issue of abortion over the past decade plus, I have never come across a ministry having anywhere near the potential of building a culture of life as does The Gabriel Project.”

Anyone reading that post will find links that will educate them about The Gabriel Project and how they can become involved. If I could accomplish what I did in the Archdiocese of San Francisco beginning in 2009, they certainly can do the same within their respective dioceses.

Here is a reference for bishops and pastors: The Extraordinary Gabriel Project

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fredi D’Alessio
Initial coordinator of The Gabriel Project of the Archdiocese of San Francisco
(recently retired, but still advocating for The Gabriel Project)

The appointment of Bishop Robert McElroy as bishop of San Diego has roused me to re-post the following article, which was first published in the Dec 1, 2006 issue of Catholic San Francisco (the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco). God bless then editor, Maurice Healy, for defending himself and me before Archbishop Levada against the wrath of Msgr. McElroy for the publication of this just exposé of despicable disregard for the unborn and the true well-beiing of peoples in developing nations.

The Millennium Development Goals and the Critical Next Step for the Catholic Church

by Fredi D’Alessio

The Millennium Campaign (MC), an initiative of the United Nations, “inspires and encourages people’s involvement and action for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

On its website, the MC claims that improving the sexual and reproductive health of men, women and young people is essential for achieving all of the MDGs and that governments should “ensure universal access to reproductive health by 2015,” as a target to measure progress towards achieving the MDGs at the national level, as well as in international and regional forums.

The MC further suggests that non-government organizations (NGOs) working in the areas of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights, environmental sustainability, gender equality, development and other issues related to the MDGs, should develop a common strategy to ensure that sexual and reproductive health is integrated into community, regional, and national-level campaigns and initiatives so as to achieve the MDGs.

But what exactly is meant by “sexual and reproductive health” when used in this context at the United Nations? John Mallon, contributing editor for “Inside the Vatican” magazine, sums it up this way. “The first thing that strikes an objective reader in Adding it Up: the Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care, by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), is the presupposition that ‘sexual and reproductive health’ is a good thing. Normally, any kind of health is self-evidently a good thing but, as defined by AGI and their allies at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), ‘sexual and reproductive health’ consist of pouring huge quantities of contraceptive chemicals and devices into the world along with so-called ‘safe’ abortion. ‘Health’ in this sense, consists in disabling the reproductive system rendering it, in fact, unhealthy. This is frequently done in opposition to the cultural, moral and religious values of the peoples concerned, rendering these programs not only imperialistic but in some cases tyrannical.”

The Millennium Project (MP), which was commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General and is headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, stresses that expanding access to sexual and reproductive health information and services is a “quick win,” a cost-effective action that can put countries on the road towards achieving the MDGs. The MP recommends that universal access to reproductive health services be added as one of the targets of the MDGs under Goal 5, so-called “To improve maternal health”.

At the request of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN Millennium Project identified practical strategies, which it describes in Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This document underscores the importance of sexual and reproductive health for the attainment of the Millennium Goals.

In his February 2006 forward to Public Choices, Private Decisions: Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals, Jeffery Sachs says the document takes these arguments further and presents the evidence of the relationship between sexual and reproductive health and each of the Millennium Goals. And that “it underscores the urgent need to increase investments in improving the access to SRH information and services, particularly for the poor. Otherwise, the MDGs cannot be met.” Mr. Sachs closes with: “I am grateful for their important work and recommend this report to all who are interested in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes that will make it possible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”

More evidence that Jeffery Sachs is committed to expanding access to sexual and reproductive health information and services is contained in a paper commissioned by the Population Program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2004 titled Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals: The Missing Link:
Sachs and relevant team members say that they will put the emphasis back on women and women’s reproductive rights where these are essential factors. Allan Rosenfield, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University said that he would not have joined the project under any other circumstances. “When Kofi Annan asked Jeff Sachs to put together a team project, and asked me and a couple of people here to co-chair the maternal and child health task force, we immediately said, The only condition [under which] we’ll do it is if we build reproductive health back into it,” Rosenfield said. “Jeff said, Yes, I have a commitment from the SG that we can do that.”

So what should the critical next step be for the Catholic Church? I would suggest that the Catholic Church demand the exact opposite commitment from Jeffery Sachs, the UN and all of its associated campaigns, projects and initiatives before engaging any further in a relationship with these parties.

The international arm of SIECUS (the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) has a paper on its website titled The Underlying Millennium Development Goal: Universal Access to Reproductive Health Service. This paper reports that 110 international NGOs, in an effort to explicitly incorporate SHR in official MDG processes, urged the UN Secretary-General to include specific language on the importance of SHR to the achievement of the MDGs.

Again, the Church must demand the exact opposite. She must insist that specific language be included in all documents pertaining to the achievement of the MDGs stating that there is not to be any degree of support for expanding access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, including family planning and contraceptive information and services, as an MDG goal or target, either directly or indirectly.

The Church must state her position clearly and emphatically. She must be faithful to her mandate to represent the Way, the Truth and the Life, her very Lord and Master, Christ Jesus. It is through Him that She must find ways to share the goods of creation, which He destined for the whole human race.

RELATED: Millennium Development Goals 

EXCLUSIVE: CARDINAL BURKE INTERVIEW WITH RORATE CAELI

posted with permission

Last week, Rorate Caeli interviewed Raymond Cardinal Burke via telephone on numerous topics. Nothing was off the table for this interview and His Eminence was incredibly generous with his time. He showed himself to be brilliant and yet filled with humility. And his care and concern for traditional Catholics must be acknowledged and appreciated.

In this wide-ranging interview, His Eminence talked about issues ripped from the news such as: Vatican officials threatening to sue bloggers; more priests coming under his authority; the dismantling of the Franciscans of the Immaculate; how traditional Catholics can save their souls in this modern world — and get their children the sacraments in the traditional rite in the face of dissenting bishops; priestly celibacy; daily confusion from Pope Francis; and much, much more.

All may reprint/repost this interview — but you must credit Rorate Caeli.

VATICAN OFFICIALS THREATENING TO SUE BLOGGERS

Rorate Caeli: Your Eminence, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. As the most-read international blog for traditional Catholics, we believe this will give much hope to our readership, and to traditional-minded Catholics everywhere. For our first question: The traditional world, recently, has been stunned by the news that two officials of the Vatican have threatened to sue traditional-minded Catholic bloggers and reporters. Do you agree with this approach, and do you think we should expect to see more of this in the future?

Card. Burke: Unless the blogger has committed a calumny on someone’s good name unjustly, I certainly don’t think that that’s the way we as Catholics should deal with these matters. I think contact should be made. I presume that the Catholic blogger is in good faith, and if there’s someone in the hierarchy who is upset with him, the way to deal with it would be first to approach the person directly and try to resolve the matter in that way. Our Lord in the Gospel and St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians instruct us not to take our disputes to the civil forum, that we should be able, as Catholics, to resolve these matters among ourselves. (cf. Mt. 18:15; 1 Cor. 6:1-6)

CONFUSION FROM POPE FRANCIS

Rorate Caeli: After eight years under Pope Benedict XVI, clergy, laymen, even the media became accustomed to clarity. With so much confusion stemming from the daily statements of Pope Francis, confusion from the Synod, et cetera, is it best to focus more on the local and parish level and on the Church’s tradition, rather than looking for specific guidance from Rome on issues of the day?

Card. Burke: Yes, I think that, in fact, Pope Francis himself has given that indication. For instance in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, he says that he doesn’t consider it to be a magisterial teaching. (n. 16) With someone like Pope Benedict XVI, we had a master teacher who was giving us extended catechesis on various subjects. I now say to people that, if they are experiencing some confusion from the method of teaching of Pope Francis, the important thing is to turn to the catechism and to what the Church has always taught, and to teach that, to foster it at the parish level, beginning first with the family. We can’t lose our energy being frustrated over something that we think we should be receiving and we’re not. Instead, we know for sure what the Church has always taught, and we need to rely on that and concentrate our attention on that.

COMMUNION FOR ADULTERERS & ATTACK ON DOCTRINE

Rorate Caeli: Speaking of that teaching and what we’re hearing, you’ve made news lately by saying you will resist any teaching that’s heterodox on marriage, and that Catholics should fight back, which gets to a whole other question we were asking about. What should be the response of faithful Catholics if there is a change in the discipline in regards to Holy Communion for divorced and remarried adulterers?

Card. Burke: I was answering a hypothetical question. Some people have tried to interpret it as an attack on Pope Francis, which it wasn’t at all. It was a hypothetical question posed to me, and I simply said, “No authority can command us to act against the truth, and, at the same time, when the truth is under any kind of threat, we have to fight for it.” That’s what I meant when I said that. When the hypothetical question was put to me, “What if this agenda is pushed?” I said, “Well, I simply have to resist it. That’s my duty.”

Rorate Caeli: How can a faithful Catholic fight back? Is it in his home? Is it on a blog?

Card Burke:  I think you have to keep teaching, in your home and in your own personal life, to hold to the truth of the faith as you know it, and also to speak up about it and to make known to the Holy Father your deep concern, that in fact you cannot accept a change in the Church’s discipline which would amount to a change in her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Here I think it’s very important to address a false dichotomy that’s been drawn by some who say, “Oh no, we’re just changing disciplines. We’re not touching the Church’s doctrine.” But if you change the Church’s discipline with regard to access to Holy Communion by those who are living in adultery, then surely you are changing the Church’s doctrine on adultery. You’re saying that, in some circumstances, adultery is permissible and even good, if people can live in adultery and still receive the sacraments. That is a very serious matter, and Catholics have to insist that the Church’s discipline not be changed in some way which would, in fact, weaken our teaching on one of the most fundamental truths, the truth about marriage and the family.

DISSENTING BISHOPS & SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM

Rorate Caeli: Getting to something that’s right in Your Eminence’s wheelhouse, how do we fulfill the promise and the mandate of Summorum Pontificum at this particular time in the Church, and what role does Canon Law play in making the traditional Latin Mass available in every parish?

Card. Burke: The law stands as it was given by Pope Benedict XVI, and it has not been changed. The document for its implementation was issued by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. All of that holds. All of that urges that when there is a desire for the traditional Mass among a group of the faithful, it is to be provided for them.

Rorate Caeli: Sticking to Summorum, for families whose children have never been exposed to the Novus Ordo, yet their local ordinary will not fulfill the mandates of Summorum by granting them traditional Confirmation, should those families take their children to a neighboring diocese or a personal parish like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, FSSP, in order to have them confirmed in the traditional rite?

Card. Burke: They certainly have the right to receive the sacraments in the traditional rite, in the Extraordinary Form. If they can’t receive it in their own diocese, then certainly they could ask their parish priest to give them a note that the child is ready to be confirmed, and then have them confirmed in another place where it is permitted.

DISMANTLING THE FRANCISCAN FRIARS OF THE IMMACULATE

Rorate Caeli: You probably know, we have been covering the disheartening and frightening accounts of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate being dismantled over the last year. Does Your Eminence think that the commissioner, Father Volpi, has been fair? And what does Your Eminence think of Father Volpi’s court mediation statement regarding the founder’s family?

Card. Burke: I really don’t have the kind of direct information on which to make a judgment about the matter. I have to say that, just from an outsider’s view, Father Volpi has taken some very strong actions very quickly. Seemingly, I read the story too, he had to admit that the accusation which he made against Father Stefano Manelli, the founder of the Friars of the Immaculate, and his family members, of somehow misusing the temporal goods of the Friars of the Immaculate, was not true. That’s certainly a very serious matter. Many friars are leaving, and it would seem that there should be some way of dealing with the whole situation in which the order itself wouldn’t collapse, because they were strong, they had a lot of vocations, and they have a great number of apostolates. That’s the part that’s worrisome to me.

Rorate Caeli: There are reports, and frankly we get personal reports of this, of FFI priests saying they’re “fleeing,” they’re “in hiding,” using those words from the current FFI under Fr. Volpi. There’s also reports of bishops taking in FFI priests seeking refuge in their dioceses. Would Your Eminence encourage those other bishops to do the same?

Card. Burke: If there’s a priest who desires to leave his religious community, and this a good priest, and there isn’t anything contrary to the bishop accepting him, I think a good bishop would certainly accept such a priest and try to help him to become a priest in his diocese. There’s a process; it takes time. The priest who is wanting to leave his religious community has to have a welcoming bishop. When a bishop is able to welcome such a priest, I think the bishop should be happy to do that, because it assists a good priest to be able to continue to exercise his priestly ministry.

TRADITIONAL PRIESTS SUPPRESSED BY DISSENTING BISHOPS

Rorate Caeli: What, in Your Eminence’s opinion, are good priests supposed to do who are being suppressed by their bishops? We know of many, though we’re not going to name them publicly. Some have no mission whatsoever now, and they’re living on donations and help from family and friends. Some find it necessary to join independent groups. What is Your Eminence’s advice to those priests who simply want to live, preach and say Mass as all priests did before the Council?

Card. Burke: I would simply urge them to seek a bishop who is receptive to such priests and would try to help them, if he can, or if he can’t help them directly himself, to help them find another bishop who would permit them to lead a good priestly life. That’s all that one can do. Obviously, also, there is recourse to the Congregation for the Clergy. If the priest feels that he’s simply being treated unjustly, then he could ask the Congregation for the Clergy to intervene.

Rorate Caeli:  There are reports that in an attempt to fix the problem we just discussed, an Apostolic Administration for traditional priests and religious may be in the works, in order to solve many of these issues facing them, in terms of living out their vocations strictly according to Summorum Pontificum. Can Your Eminence comment on where in the process that may be — the future of an Apostolic Administration?https://twitter.com/roratecaeli

Card. Burke: Such a thing is possible. I’m not aware that anything is in process in that regard. Maybe it is, I just haven’t heard about it. Certainly that is a possibility and would be a way of assisting these priests and the faithful who are attached to them to remain in communion with the Church.

 

MORE PRIESTS COMING UNDER CARD. BURKE’S AUTHORITY 

Rorate Caeli: Now, Your Eminence may have a bias on this question, but would the Sovereign Military Order of Malta theoretically be able to function as an Apostolic Administration, giving faculties for traditional priests and religious?

Card. Burke: Well, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, has incardinated priests. But it did so as a sovereign military order, not as an Apostolic Administration. The Order has a Prelate, appointed by the Holy Father, who participates in the governance of the Order. He is clearly the lawful superior of any priests incardinated in the Order. Right now, we’re studying the whole situation because we have requests from additional priests who wish to be incardinated in the Order. But certainly it has happened in the past, and there’s no reason why it couldn’t continue to happen, not in virtue of the establishment of an Apostolic Administration, but in virtue of the nature of the Order.

PRIESTLY CELIBACY

Rorate Caeli: We were already planning on asking this question months ago when we first started crafting these interview questions, and then the Pope was reported to have said just yesterday the issue of married priests is “on his agenda.” Is priestly celibacy for western priests under serious threat with this pontificate?

Card. Burke: That would be a very serious matter because it has to do with the example of Christ Himself, and the Church has always treasured in her priests the following of Christ’s example, also in His celibacy. I’ve heard this reported, but I haven’t been able to verify it, but that would be, obviously, a very serious matter. The matter was taken up already by a world synod of bishops in the late ’60s, and at that synod there was a very solid reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching on clerical celibacy. I don’t refer to it just as a discipline because it has to do with what from the earliest centuries the Church understood as being most fitting for her priests. It’s something more than a discipline, and therefore I would think it’s very difficult to conceive that there would be a change on this.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TRADITIONAL CATHOLICS

Rorate Caeli: What words of encouragement can Your Eminence give to traditional Catholics who are struggling to save their souls and the souls of their children in this modern world, and without, it sometimes seems, any help from Rome?

Card. Burke: I frequently say to those who are writing to me and are expressing such discouragement, or are asking for direction in what seems to be a very troubled situation, that when, in times like this, there seems to be some confusion in the governance of the Church, then we have, more than ever, to steep ourselves in the Church’s constant teaching and to hand that on to our children and to strengthen the understanding of that teaching in our local parishes and our families. And our Lord has assured us — He didn’t tell us that there wouldn’t be attacks on the Church, even from within, but He has assured us that the gates of Hell will never prevail over the Church. In other words, Satan, with his deceptions, will never finally prevail in the Church. We have to have that confidence about us and go about it with great joy and great determination, in teaching the faith, or in giving witness with apologetics to souls who don’t understand the faith or who have not yet become members of the Church. We know that the gates of Hell will not prevail, but in the meantime, our way is the Way of the Cross. And when we have to suffer for the sake of what we believe, what we know to be true, we can embrace that suffering with the knowledge of the final outcome: that is, that Christ is the Victor. He is the one that ultimately overcomes all the forces of evil in the world and restores us and our world to the Father. That is the way in which I try to encourage faithful Catholics. I think it’s important, too, that devout traditional Catholics get to know one another and support one another, to bear one another’s burdens, as the Scripture says. We ought to be prepared to do that and be sensitive to families that might be suffering some particular difficulty in this regard, and try to be as close to one another as possible.

THIRD VATICAN COUNCIL?

Rorate Caeli: Thank you. We only have a few questions left. There are some very loose reports, but from credible sources, of Francis considering calling a Third Vatican Council. Has Your Eminence heard anything about this at all?

Card. Burke:    No, not at all.

PROCESS FOR CHOOSING BISHOPS

Rorate Caeli: Episcopal appointments in the United States were, on average, conservative-leaning under Benedict XVI. That was not the case everywhere. From this arises what is a clear gap with the priests and actual churchgoing faithful of the new generation that are widely conservative, attached to the true catechism, to Catholic moral law, to a reverent Sacred Liturgy. Is Your Eminence in favor of a new orientation in the naming of bishops in the United States and elsewhere? Is the current method for the selection of bishops a good one, in your view?

Card. Burke: I think it is. It involves the consultation not only of other bishops and priests in the diocese, but also the lay faithful. And there is always the possibility for individual members of the laity or groups of lay faithful to make known their concerns to the Congregation for Bishops or the Nuncio. I think that the most important thing is to let the Apostolic Nuncio know, when there’s an appointment of a bishop being considered for a diocese, that there are very many faithful Catholics who  have particular needs and to express those needs.

CURRENT ROLE IN THE CHURCH

Rorate Caeli: What’s Your Eminence’s main focus on work these days?

Card. Burke: My main focus is on the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, helping the Grand Master with the governance of the Order, especially in the spiritual dimension. The Order has a twofold purpose: the defense of the faith, and the care of the poor. The two things honestly go very much together. I’m helping him with questions about the structure of the Order itself in order to fulfill more effectively those two purposes, but also to deal with questions that inevitably come up in any Catholic organization with regard to doctrine and with regard to morals. That’s my main focus. I am also spending time studying and writing on important questions in the Church today.

TRADITIONALISTS RESTORING THE CHURCH

Rorate Caeli: Do you see traditional Catholics taking more of a leading role, in the future, in the restoration of the Church?

Card. Burke: I think so. I find more and more very strong Catholic families who are devoted to the traditional Mass, and I think that those families will have more and more influence in the time to come. If those families influence other families, then obviously there’s a momentum that grows.

Rorate Caeli: Is there anything else that we haven’t touched upon that Your Eminence would like to add?

Card. Burke: Just to encourage everyone to be devoted to the Sacred Liturgy, which is the highest expression of our Catholic faith, the highest expression of our life in God, and to be very devoted to the study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and to the teaching of the faith in our homes and in our local communities. The Church has suffered terribly from decades of poor catechesis, such that the faithful, children and young people, even adults, don’t know their faith, and we need to address that because the two things go together. When we know our faith well, then we have a strong desire to worship in accordance with our faith, and at the same time our worship makes us desire more to know our faith. And then, obviously, all of that gets expressed in action by the charity of our lives, especially on behalf of those who are in most need.

Rorate Caeli: That leads to one last question. Your Eminence has mentioned the family in the home many times. Was John Paul II prophetic when he spoke about the Domestic Church?

Card. Burke: Oh, yes. He said that the Church comes to us by way of the family, and that’s true. Christ Himself comes by way of the family. He was prophetic in the sense that he pronounced again what the Church has understood from the very beginning. That term, Domestic Church, is very ancient, and it was repeated at the Second Vatican Council. It’s a very ancient terminology for the family. In that he was prophetic, in the sense that he set forth what God Himself teaches us about the family.

Rorate Caeli: That’s all we have for Your Eminence. Thank you very much for your time today and for your incredible service to Holy Mother Church.

Excerpts from from “The Next Synod is a Battle between Christ and the Antichrist: – On whose side will you stand?” at ROATE CAELI (emphasis in bold is mine)

Alessandro Gnocchi continues to be one of best commentators on the present state of the Church.  The following excerpt from his column in La Riscossa Cristiana is an example of his determination to see things as they are. Gnocchi uses strong words that provoke thought:

:::

Pilate, who prefers to remain a friend of Caesar, never stops looking for fellow travelers.

:::

But now allow me to offer some considerations on the subject of one of the little jingle tunes that are often whistled by those Catholics who say that they want to oppose the drift to liberalism and in reality do nothing except to chase after it and are always being a step behind. I will limit myself to speaking of this one jingle, which is the following:  “it is always better to do something even if it is not perfect than to do nothing.” These Catholics, who perhaps should be more accurately called Catholics-lite [cattolichetti] because of the tune they are always whistling, have lost sight of the posture that the Catholic should always assume in confrontations with the world. In this way, by persisting in colluding and cooperating with the world, they have dulled their spiritual sense to the point where they are not able to comprehend the gravity of the times in which we live.

They take delight in idealistic political plans of action, while what is really going on is a war between Christ and the Antichrist on a scale never seen before, where the survival of the Catholic faith is at stake. I repeat: we are in a battle to preserve the Catholic faith, and all the battles being fought on various fronts, even those that are so important like moral truth, are only the terrain of confrontation in a war that is much deeper, involving metaphysics and religion.  The most important thing in play is faith.  But faith is preserved whole and intact or it is lost.  You cannot preserve just parts of it according to taste or expediency.

The choices that are made regarding crucial elements of moral teaching, which touch upon human nature itself, are the sign that will show whether faith will resist or yield.  Because whatever accommodation, even one that is conceived as done for the good or perhaps using the moth-eaten concept of the “less bad”, represents an accommodation of the faith: a betrayal of Christ in favor of the Antichrist.  The world of today does not need a law that is a little less bad than another because, as the lite Catholics say, “it is better to do something, even if it is not perfect, than to do nothing”.  We are not fighting a battle to give something less bad to the world, but to remain faithful to Christ and his teaching, and only He can save the world.

This is what has made the Synod on the Family recently concluded so dramatic an event and will make the next one even more so.  What happened and will happen, will be not only a face-off between two different schools of thought, but the face-off between those who intend to preserve the Catholic faith as a whole and those who want to change it.

:::

Four doctors have signed a declaration stating Jahi McMath is not brain dead. The family attorney Chris Dolan says he will petition the California Secretary of State to rescind the death certificate. From the N.J.com:

“Dolan provided NJ Advance Media with signed declarations from four doctors, including Charles J. Prestigiacomo, director of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery at University Hospital in Newark and chair of the neurological surgery department at Rutgers, stating that McMath isn’t brain dead.” Please click here to read the N.J.com story and view an interview between Dave Hutchinson and Jahi’s family attorney.

RELATED: *Brain Death

By: Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

Recent and persistent attacks by radical Muslims, especially the most recent beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians, have many asking what can or should be done to end such atrocities. Military actions by numerous countries, including our own, are already underway. Most feel quite justified in these actions and many are calling for more concerted efforts to eliminate ISIS and related zealots who seem to know no pity, no reason, and no limits. I do not write here to opine on the need for or limits on military action. I only point to the “just war” teaching of the Church as a guide for such actions. Obviously, there is a clear and present threat that needs to be repulsed, even with force.

But perhaps, too, given our present experiences, we should not be so quick to condemn the similar outrage and calls for action that came from Christians of the Middle Ages, who also suffered widespread atrocities. The Crusades were a reaction to something very awful and threatening, something that needed to be forcefully repulsed. Many if not most of the great saints from that period called for Crusades, preaching them and supporting them. This includes the likes of St. Bernard, St. Catherine of Sienna, and St. Francis of Assisi.

Seldom are historical events identical to present realities. But our current experiences give us a small taste of what Christians, from the 8th century through the Middle Ages, experienced. Their response need not be seen as sinless or wholly proper. Armed conflict seldom ends without atrocities, a good reason to set it as the very last recourse. Most popular presentations of the Crusades are arguably more influenced by anti-Catholic bigotry than historical fact.

With all this in mind, I’d like to look at the Crusades using excerpts from an article by Paul Crawford, published a few years back at First Principles, entitled, Four Myths About the Crusades. In the excerpts that follow, his text is in bold, black italics, while my comments are in plain red text. The full text of his excellent, though lengthy article can be read by clicking the link above.

For a longer treatment of this subject, please see Steve Weidenkopf’s book  The Glory of the Crusades, recently published at Catholic Answers.

For now, let’s examine Crawford’s article and detail four myths of the Crusades:

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and even a cursory chronological review makes that clear. In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula. Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? … The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory. … Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. … Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus … toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. … [A]ttacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them. … The Byzantines took a long time to gain the strength to fight back. By the mid-ninth century, they mounted a counterattack. … Sharp Muslim counterattacks followed …

In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and mounted major persecutions of Christians and Jews. … Pilgrimages became increasingly difficult and dangerous, and western pilgrims began banding together and carrying weapons to protect themselves as they tried to make their way to Christianity’s holiest sites in Palestine.

Desperate, the Byzantines sent appeals for help westward, directing these appeals primarily at the person they saw as the chief western authority: the pope, who, as we have seen, had already been directing Christian resistance to Muslim attacks. … finally, in 1095, Pope Urban II realized Pope Gregory VII’s desire, in what turned into the First Crusade.

Far from being unprovoked, then, the crusades actually represent the first great western Christian counterattack against Muslim attacks which had taken place continually from the inception of Islam until the eleventh century, and which continued on thereafter, mostly unabated. Three of Christianity’s five primary episcopal sees (Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) had been captured in the seventh century; both of the others (Rome and Constantinople) had been attacked in the centuries before the crusades. The latter would be captured in 1453, leaving only one of the five (Rome) in Christian hands by 1500. Rome was again threatened in the sixteenth century. This is not the absence of provocation; rather, it is a deadly and persistent threat, and one which had to be answered by forceful defense if Christendom were to survive.

It is difficult to underestimate the losses suffered by the Church in the waves of Muslim conquest. All of North Africa, once teeming with Christians, was conquered. There were once 500 bishops in North Africa. Today, the Christian Church there exists only in ruins buried beneath the sand and with titular but non-residential bishops. All of Asia Minor, so lovingly evangelized by St. Paul, was lost. Much of Southern Europe was almost lost as well. It is hard to imagine any alternative to decisive military action in order to turn back waves of Muslim attack and conquest.

Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.

Again, not true. Few crusaders had sufficient cash both to pay their obligations at home and to support themselves decently on a crusade. From the very beginning, financial considerations played a major role in crusade planning. The early crusaders sold off so many of their possessions to finance their expeditions that they caused widespread inflation. Although later crusaders took this into account and began saving money long before they set out, the expense was still nearly prohibitive.

One of the chief reasons for the foundering of the Fourth Crusade, and its diversion to Constantinople, was the fact that it ran out of money before it had gotten properly started, and was so indebted to the Venetians that it found itself unable to keep control of its own destiny. Louis IX’s Seventh Crusade in the mid-thirteenth century cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown.

The popes resorted to ever more desperate ploys to raise money to finance crusades, from instituting the first income tax in the early thirteenth century to making a series of adjustments in the way that indulgences were handled that eventually led to the abuses condemned by Martin Luther.

In short: very few people became rich by crusading, and their numbers were dwarfed by those who were bankrupted. Most medieval people were quite well aware of this, and did not consider crusading a way to improve their financial situations.

Crawford states elsewhere that plunder was often allowed or overlooked when Christian armies conquered, in order that some bills could be paid. Sadly, plunder was commonly permitted in ancient times, but it was not unique to Christians. Here again, we may wish that Christian sentiments would have meant no plunder at all, but war is seldom orderly, and the motives of every individual solider cannot be perfectly controlled.

The bottom line remains that conducting a crusade was a lousy way to get rich or to raise any money at all.

Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.

This has been a very popular argument, at least from Voltaire on. It seems credible and even compelling to modern people, steeped as they are in materialist worldviews. And certainly there were cynics and hypocrites in the Middle Ages—medieval people were just as human as we are, and subject to the same failings.

However, like the first two myths, this statement is generally untrue, and demonstrably so. For one thing, the casualty rates on the crusades were usually very high, and many if not most crusaders left expecting not to return. At least one military historian has estimated the casualty rate for the First Crusade at an appalling 75 percent, for example.

But this assertion is also revealed to be false when we consider the way in which the crusades were preached. Crusaders were not drafted. Participation was voluntary, and participants had to be persuaded to go. The primary means of persuasion was the crusade sermon. Crusade sermons were replete with warnings that crusading brought deprivation, suffering, and often death … would disrupt their lives, possibly impoverish and even kill or maim them, and inconvenience their families.

So why did the preaching work? It worked because crusading was appealing precisely because it was a known and significant hardship, and because undertaking a crusade with the right motives was understood as an acceptable penance for sin … valuable for one’s soul. The willing acceptance of difficulty and suffering was viewed as a useful way to purify one’s soul.

Related to the concept of penance is the concept of crusading as an act of selfless love, of “laying down one’s life for one’s friends.”

As difficult as it may be for modern people to believe, the evidence strongly suggests that most crusaders were motivated by a desire to please God, expiate their sins, and put their lives at the service of their “neighbors,” understood in the Christian sense.

Yes, such concepts ARE difficult for modern Westerners to believe. Since we are so secular and cynical, the thought of spiritual motives strikes us as implausible. But a great Cartesian divide, with its materialist reductionism, separates the Modern West from the Middle Ages and Christian antiquity.  Those were days when life in this world was brutal and short. Life here was “a valley of tears” to be endured as a time of purification preparing us to meet God. Spiritual principles held much more sway than they do today.

Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Muslims had been attacking Christians for more than 450 years before Pope Urban declared the First Crusade. They needed no incentive to continue doing so. But there is a more complicated answer here, as well.

The first Muslim crusade history did not [even] appear until 1899. By that time, the Muslim world was rediscovering the crusades—but it was rediscovering them with a twist learned from Westerners. In the modern period, there were two main European schools of thought about the crusades. One school, epitomized by people like Voltaire, Gibbon, and Sir Walter Scott, and in the twentieth century Sir Steven Runciman, saw the crusaders as crude, greedy, aggressive barbarians who attacked civilized, peace-loving Muslims to improve their own lot. The other school, more romantic, saw the crusades as a glorious episode in a long-standing struggle in which Christian chivalry had driven back Muslim hordes.

So it was not the crusades that taught Islam to attack and hate Christians. … Rather, it was the West which taught Islam to hate the crusades.

Yes, this is the strange, self-loathing tendency of the dying West to supply our detractors and would-be destroyers with ample reason to detest us.

I am interested in your thoughts. I don’t think it is necessary to defend the Church’s and the Christian West’s series of Crusades vehemently. There are many regrettable things that accompany any war. But fair is fair; there is more to the picture than many, with anti-Church agendas of their own, wish to admit.

And to those secularists and atheists who love to point out “how many have died as a result of religious wars and violence,” I say, “Recall how many died in the 20th century for secular ideological reasons.” English historian Paul Johnson, in his book Modern Times, places the number at 1oo million.

Does this excuse even one person dying as the result of religious war? No. But violence, war, conquest,  and territorial disputes are human problems not necessarily or only religious ones. Our current sufferings at the hands of radical Muslims show the problem with simply doing nothing. Life is complex; not all decisions are perfect or precisely carried out. Lord, help us, and by miracle convert our enemies.

Painting above: The Preaching of the Crusades from Wikipedia Commons

This video shows some of the Christian ruins in North Africa, including the See of St Cyprian of Carthage: