St. Johns Seminary Scandal

August 10, 2018

Today Cardinal O’Malley announced that the rector of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton has been placed on leave due to claims by two former seminarians of inappropriate conduct there.  An investigation is now underway.

In a statement reported in the Boston Globe, Cardinal Seán O’Malley said the two former seminarians of St. John’s Seminary recently posted allegations on social media sites including the Archdiocese’s Facebook page that “they witnessed and experienced activities which are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood.”

“At this time I am not able to verify or disprove these allegations,” O’Malley said. “As Archbishop of Boston, with responsibility for the integrity of the seminary and its compliance with the Church’s Program for Priestly Formation, I am committed to immediate action to address these serious matters.”

O’Malley said he asked Msgr. James P. Moroney, rector of St. John’s, to go on sabbatical leave for the fall semester, effective immediately so “that there can be a fully independent inquiry regarding these matters.”

O’Malley said he has appointed The Rev. Stephen Salocks, professor of sacred scripture, to serve as interim rector at St. John’s.

A group that includes religious clergy, a college president, and a Boston lawyer “will oversee an inquiry into the allegations made this week, the culture of the seminary regarding the personal standards expected and required of candidates for the priesthood, and any seminary issues of sexual harassment or other forms of intimidation or discrimination,” O’Malley said.

That group includes the Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston; Assumption College President Francisco Cesareo, who also serves as president of the USCCB National Review Board, which advises the USCCB on matters of child and youth protection policies and practices; and Boston attorney Kimberly Jones.

The inquiry will be staffed by Attorney Mark Dunderdale, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Professional Standards and Oversight.

O’Malley said he has directed the group, “with due seriousness of their assignment,” to submit their findings to him “as soon as possible,” along with “recommendations to assure appropriate standards of professional behavior in compliance with Church teaching at all levels of seminary life.”

“The allegations made this week are a source of serious concern to me as Archbishop of Boston,” O’Malley said. “The ministry of the Catholic priesthood requires a foundation of trust with the people of the Church and the wider community in which our priests serve. I am determined that all our seminaries meet that standard of trust and provide the formation necessary for priests to live a demanding vocation of service in our contemporary society.”

Specifics on the allegations have not been disclosed publicly by the archdiocese, however based on the tawdry details in the Globe article (see link above), it sounds like some form of sexual harrassment that was reported to a seminary official — the vocations director — and dismissed as insignificant. The official seemingly criticized the victim for over-reacting.

We looked at the Archdiocese of Boston Facebook page and found this:

RCAB facebook

And this post links to this lengthier post from OnePeterFive, “After McCarrick: An Ex-Seminarian Comes Forward”   It’s not for the faint at heart, and if the post on the archdiocesan Facebook page is correct, this post is about St. Johns Seminary.

Hold onto your seats, and stay tuned for more as we learn more.

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Boston Pilot Promotes Child-Abuser Cardinal’s Service to Church

June 22, 2018

In the wake of Cardinal McCarrick’s being removed from public ministry over a credible claim of sexual abuse of a minor — plus reports of past sexual activity with adults and associated settlements – it’s disgraceful that the Boston Pilot promoted a puff piece today highlighting McCarrick’s service to the Catholic Church.

This morning, the Boston Pilot emailed thousands of people on their email a message with the subject, “Cardinal McCarrick’s 60 years of ministry had global impact.”  Here’s the email sent to BCI by an astute reader.

mcck

The email linked to a piece posted on the Pilot’s website and syndicated from Catholic News Service.  After someone called the Pilot and complained about how inappropriate this post was, it was promptly taken down.  Still, one wonders how something this bad got posted and broadly distributed by The Boston Pilot in the first place, and we are asking readers to contact the Pilot’s leadership to complain and ask for an explanation.

Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual abuse of a minor and sexual harrassment of adults has been broadly reported.  Here are just a few articles:

Cardinal McCarrick removed from public ministry after sex abuse allegation (CNN)

Cardinal McCarrick, former archbishop, alleged to have sexually abused minor (USA Today)

Cardinal McCarrick’s abuse has been a widely known secret for years (Lifesite News)

Beyond the horror of the abuse of an altar boy, McCarrick was well known for forcing himself on seminarians and young priests, and two settlements were reached adults.  According to Lifesite News:

The cardinal is alleged to have used his position to prey upon young men under his authority — with a penchant for inviting seminarians or young priests to sleep in the same bed with him — and no one willing to speak up, afraid of repercussions from blowing the whistle on the well-connected cardinal.

It is disgraceful and cruel to victims of this abusive behavior that the Boston Pilot would go out of its way to promote the “global impact” of McCarrick’s 60 years of ministry.  Is no one in Braintree concerned about the emotional trauma and negative impact of his sexual abuse and harrassment on the victims McCarrick preyed on?

Someone needs to explain how a decision was made to promote this piece and who didn’t realize how disrespectful and downright stupid it was to email it out to Pilot readers and post a link to it online.  And CNS is equally disrespectful for writing it in the first place.

Take a moment to email the Boston Pilot leadership to let them know you want an explanation for why this happened and how they will ensure it never happens again.  And also, please email Catholic News Service and ask them to take down their piece.

Boston Pilot Editor, Antonio Enrique: aenrique@thebostonpilot.com
Bishop Robert Reed:  bishopreed@rcab.org
CNS Editor, Greg Erlander: cns@catholicnews.com

Keep us posted if you get a response.

 

 

 

 


This Disastrous Papacy (by Phil Lawler)

March 8, 2017

Phil Lawler over at Catholic Culture posted an interesting piece last week, entitled “This Disastrous Papacy.”  We excerpt from it below.  We agree with him, but would simply observe it seems to have taken him a while to realize and report on the extent of the problem:

Something snapped last Friday, when Pope Francis used the day’s Gospel reading as one more opportunity to promote his own view on divorce and remarriage. Condemning hypocrisy and the “logic of casuistry,” the Pontiff said that Jesus rejects the approach of legal scholars.

True enough. But in his rebuke to the Pharisees, what does Jesus say about marriage?

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

…and…

Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

Day after day, in his homilies at morning Mass in the Vatican’s St. Martha residence, Pope Francis denounces the “doctors of the law” and the “rigid” application of Catholic moral doctrine. Sometimes his interpretation of the day’s Scripture readings is forced; often his characterization of tradition-minded Catholics is insulting. But in this case, the Pope turned the Gospel reading completely upside-down. Reading the Vatican Radio account of that astonishing homily, I could no longer pretend that Pope Francis is merely offering a novel interpretation of Catholic doctrine. No; it is more than that. He is engaged in a deliberate effort to change what the Church teaches.

For over 20 years now, writing daily about the news from the Vatican, I have tried to be honest in my assessment of papal statements and gestures….But has there ever before been a Roman Pontiff who showed such disdain for what the Church has always taught and believed and practiced—on such bedrock issues as the nature of marriage and of the Eucharist?

Pope Francis has sparked controversy from the day he was elected as St. Peter’s successor. But in the past several months the controversy has become so intense, confusion among the faithful so widespread, administration at the Vatican so arbitrary—and the Pope’s diatribes against his (real or imagined) foes so manic—that today the universal Church is rushing toward a crisis.

In a large family, how should a son behave when he realizes that his father’s pathological behavior threatens the welfare of the whole household? He should certainly continue to show respect for his father, but he cannot indefinitely deny the danger. Eventually, a dysfunctional family needs an intervention.

In the worldwide family that is the Catholic Church, the best means of intervention is always prayer. Intense prayer for the Holy Father would be a particularly apt project for the season of Lent. But intervention also requires honesty: a candid recognition that we have a serious problem.

Recognizing the problem can also provide a sort of relief, a relaxation of accumulating tensions. When I tell friends that I consider this papacy a disaster, I notice that more often than not, they feel oddly reassured…

Francis is our Pope, for better or worse. And if it is for worse—as I sadly conclude it is—the Church has survived bad Popes in the past…We have grown accustomed to looking to Rome for guidance. Now we cannot.

But if we cannot count on clear directions from Rome, where can we turn? First, Catholics can rely on the constant teaching of the Church, the doctrines that are now too often called into question. If the Pope is confusing, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is not. Second, we can and should ask our own diocesan bishops to step up and shoulder their own proper responsibilities. Bishops, too, have spent years referring the tough questions to Rome. Now, of necessity, they must provide their own clear, decisive affirmations of Catholic doctrine.

…if I am right, and the current Pope’s leadership has become a danger to the faith, then other Catholics, and especially ordained Church leaders, must decide how to respond. And if I am right—as I surely am—that confusion about fundamental Church teachings has become widespread, then the bishops, as primary teachers of the faith, cannot neglect their duty to intervene.

BCI agrees with the assessment that this papacy is a disaster, and we agree with Phil’s assessment that we will need to put pressure on our diocesan bishops to step and shoulder their proper responsibilities to uphold the constant teachings of the Church.


Pray for John Vennari

February 23, 2017

This is republished from a Feb 22 post by Michael Matt at The Remnant. John has dedicated himself to defending the authentic, traditional teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  He is near death and needs all of our prayers.

John VennariA few moments ago I spoke via telephone with a Catholic gentleman, a beloved husband, a father and dear friend. His name is John Vennari, and he was told earlier today by his doctors that he is now in the “active stages of dying.”
John asked me to do him a favor and help him notify his many, many friends all around the world that he may not live to see his birthday on Friday. He wishes everyone to know that he’s not in pain. He wishes us all to know that, as he put it, “either we believe in Divine Providence or we don’t. I believe in it, and I know that God has known for all eternity that I would be here in this hospital today, ready to die.”
John also believes in miracles, as do I. And so anything is possible with God. But John said nothing about miracles just now. I think he wants us all to know that he’s ready, that he loves God, and that his faith is so much stronger than his body just now. He wants our prayers.

After all this man has done for us, for the Church, for the Catholic cause, I don’t think I need to beg for prayers for John Vennari. All I need to do is tell you that this beautiful soul wants us to pray for him, and I know that tens of thousands of grateful Catholics will do it.

His last words to me just now were to plead that , no matter what happens, we not give up the fight for Catholic restoration. “Please, keep it going. You must keep it going.” What does it say about the caliber of this warrior for Christ that, from what his doctors are now calling his deathbed, John Vennari’s concerns are still for the Traditional Catholic cause he defended all his life.

Thank you, John, for everything. God is with you, Mary is at your side and, all over the world, thousands of your brothers and sisters in Christ are with you right now, every step of the way, united with you in prayer. You are not alone, and your unshakable faith shines like a beacon for us all. Pray for us, John. And I know you know these are the most difficult words I’ve ever written.

God bless you, and Mary keep.

St. Philomena and Our Lady of Fatima—please pray for our brother John.


Debunking Cardinal O’Malley’s Position on Illegal Immigration

February 16, 2017

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s two recent Executive Orders to limit immigration from terror-associated countries, last week Cardinal Sean O’Malley sent a letter to parishes underscoring the church’s support for immigrants and refugees. The previous week, on Feb 2, he convened a private meeting of top politicians and Muslim lImage result for debunk
eaders
at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to express solidarity with Muslims. BCI thinks it’s high time for Cardinal O’Malley to quit making emotional arguments and accept facts and reality.

He said, “Although many Americans are frustrated by a broken immigration system and others are fearful of the threat of terrorism…I believe that most people in this country recognize that we are a nation of immigrants and that we have an established history of assimilating people of different languages, religions, ethnicities into the magnificent mosaic that is America.”

We have a history of doing this–when the people want or wanted to adopt the core values of America, which was founded as a Christian nation. What should be done for immigrants whose intentions are evil?  Cardinal O’Malley implies we should just let them all in anyway.  He needs to look at the facts.

  • According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 72 terrorists have come to the U.S. from the countries covered in the Trump travel ban since 9/11.
  • In 2016, the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest released a report on individuals convicted in terror cases since 9/11. Using open sources (because the Obama administration refused to provide government records), the report found that 380 out of 580 people convicted in terror cases since 9/11 were foreign-born
  • 2,996 Americans were killed by Radical Islamists in the 9/11 attacks.
  • Since 9/11, an additional 145 Americans have been killed in 50 separate acts of deadly Islamic terror or Islam-related honor killing in the United States.  They are described in detail in this article and inventoried in this article.  Hundreds of mass murder plots have been thwarted or botched.
  • Illegal immigrants pose a danger on the roads: About 4.5 million illegal aliens in the U.S. drive on a regular basis, many without licenses or insurance or even the ability to read road signs written in English, The New York Times reported. In Arizona, 63 percent of cited drivers have no license, no insurance, and no registration for the vehicle, and 97 percent of them are illegal aliens. According to this article, of the 188,380 deportations of illegal aliens in one recent year, 23 percent had committed criminal traffic offenses, primarily driving under the influence. Rep. Steve King of Iowa has estimated that illegal alien drunk drivers kill 13 Americans every day.
  • Many immigrants entering the country illegally have a criminal record in the U.S.: In 2010, the Border Patrol reported that 212,000 illegals were caught in the Tucson, Ariz., sector alone, and as many as 30 percent of them already had a criminal record in the U.S.
  • Many illegal alien convicts have been arrested multiple times: A Government Accountability Office study of 55,000 illegal aliens found that they were arrested at least 459,614 times, averaging about eight arrests per alien. About one-quarter of them had 11 or more arrests.
  • In this recent piece by a former Muslim refugee, “Trump’s Immigration Ban Was Clumsy But He’s Right About Radical Islam” the author cites Pew research data in support of the ban.  “In a survey of Muslims who believe Sharia law should be official national law in their country, three-quarters of Pakistanis and almost half of Bangladeshis and Iraqis think that those, like me, who leave Islam should suffer the death penalty. More than 80 percent of Muslims in Pakistan and around two-thirds of Muslims in Bangladesh and Iraq regard Sharia law as the revealed word of God. Only tiny fractions would be comfortable if their daughters married Christians. Only a minority regards honor killings of women as “never justified.” More than a quarter of Bangladeshi Muslims, 13 percent of Pakistani Muslims and 7 percent of Iraqi Muslims think suicide bombings in defense of Islam are often or sometimes justified.

    People with views such as these pose a threat to us all, not because those who hold them will all turn to terrorism. Most will not. But such attitudes imply a readiness to turn a blind eye to the use of violence and intimidation tactics against, say, apostates and dissidents — and a clear aversion to the hard-won achievements of Western feminists and campaigners for minority rights. Admitting individuals with such views is not in the American national interest.

Pewsitter has written an open letter to the USCCB on Immigration with 5 questions for bishops who support illegal immigration, including the following:

  • Does the leader of a country have the right to prudentially limit immigration to that country?
  • If so, is it not Mr. Trump’s duty as President of the U.S. to make a prudential judgment as to what is an appropriate restriction? If, as Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Gomez have specifically noted, we must “screen vigilantly for infiltrators who would do us harm”, what about his order is problematic, and upon what moral reasoning?
  • Another frequently condemned item is the building of a wall on the southern border. An explanation of why such a wall is immoral would be helpful. The doors of our churches have locks, some of them have fences around them, and even part of the Vatican has walls. Jesus spoke of thieves coming in the night, and of the owner who would have taken precautions against housebreaking. Is the building of any wall on the border of any country morally wrong, or merely prudentially ill-advised?
  • During the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, millions of immigrants came to the United States via Ellis Island. At this time, American immigration restrictions were very tight: immigrants were subjected to health inspections, questions about their beliefs, and their job prospects; some went before a board to answer more detailed questions, while others were held in detention, or quarantine. Would the bishops disagree with imposing such requirements on today’s immigrants?

Cardinal O’Malley, how would you respond to these questions and the factual data?  Just let everyone in because it feels good to be nice guys?


In defense of the Four Cardinals, by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

November 29, 2016

The following post was published at Rorate Caeli on Nov. 23, and is written by His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Permission has been given for it to be reproduced. BCI has had the opportunity to hear Bishop Schneider speak and to meet him, and we are highly supportive of him and his courage in writing this piece. Very shortly, we will give you a way to share this Cardinal O’Malley and other bishops.

“We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor. 13: 8)

A Prophetic Voice of Four Cardinals of the Holy Roman Catholic Church

Out of “deep pastoral concern,” four Cardinals of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, His Eminence Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne (Germany), His Eminence Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of  Bologna (Italy), His Eminence Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and His Eminence Walter Brandmüller, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences, have published on November 14, 2016, the text of five questions, called dubia (Latin for “doubts”), which previously on September 19, 2016, they sent to the Holy Father and to Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, along with an accompanying letter. The Cardinals ask Pope Francis to clear up “grave disorientation and great confusion” concerning the interpretation and practical application, particularly of chapter VIII, of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia and its passages relating to admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments and the Church’s moral teaching.

In their statement entitled “Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia,” the Cardinals say that to “many — bishops, priests, faithful — these paragraphs allude to or even explicitly teach a change in the discipline of the Church with respect to the divorced who are living in a new union.” Speaking so, the Cardinals have merely stated real facts in the life of the Church. These facts are demonstrated by pastoral orientations on behalf of several dioceses and by public statements of some bishops and cardinals, who affirm that in some cases divorced and remarried Catholics can be admitted to Holy Communion even though they continue to use the rights reserved by Divine law to validly married spouses.

In publishing a plea for clarity in a matter that touches the truth and the sanctity simultaneously of the three sacraments of Marriage, Penance, and the Eucharist, the Four Cardinals only did their basic duty as bishops and cardinals, which consists in actively contributing so that the revelation transmitted through the Apostles might be guarded sacredly and might be faithfully interpreted. It was especially the Second Vatican Council that reminded all the members of the college of bishops as legitimate successors of the Apostles of their obligation, according to which “by Christ’s institution and command they have to be solicitous for the whole Church, and that this solicitude, though it is not exercised by an act of jurisdiction, contributes greatly to the advantage of the universal Church. For it is the duty of all bishops to promote and to safeguard the unity of faith and the discipline common to the whole Church” (Lumen gentium, 23; cf. also Christus Dominus, 5-6).

In making a public appeal to the Pope, bishops and cardinals should be moved by genuine collegial affection for the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Christ on earth, following the teaching of Vatican Council II (cf. Lumen gentium, 22); in so doing they render “service to the primatial ministry” of the Pope (cf. Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 13).

The entire Church in our days has to reflect upon the fact that the Holy Spirit has not in vain inspired Saint Paul to write in the Letter to the Galatians about the incident of his public correction of Peter. One has to trust that Pope Francis will accept this public appeal of the Four Cardinals in the spirit of the Apostle Peter, when St Paul offered him a fraternal correction for the good of the whole Church. May the words of that great Doctor of the Church, St Thomas Aquinas, illuminate and comfort us all: “When there is a danger for the faith, subjects are required to reprove their prelates, even publicly. Since Paul, who was subject to Peter, out of the danger of scandal, publicly reproved him. And Augustine comments: “Peter himself gave an example to superiors by not disdaining to be corrected by his subjects when it occurred to them that he had departed from the right path” (Summa theol., II-II, 33, 4c).

Pope Francis often calls for an outspoken and fearless dialogue between all members of the Church in matters concerning the spiritual good of souls. In the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, the Pope speaks of a need for “open discussion of a number of doctrinal, moral, spiritual, and pastoral questions. The thinking of pastors and theologians, if faithful to the Church, honest, realistic and creative, will help us to achieve greater clarity” (n. 2). Furthermore, relationships at all levels within the Church must be free from a climate of fear and intimidation, as Pope Francis has requested in his various pronouncements.

In light of these pronouncements of Pope Francis and the principle of dialogue and acceptance of legitimate plurality of opinions, which was fostered by the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the unusually violent and intolerant reactions on behalf of some bishops and cardinals against the calm and circumspect plea of the Four Cardinals cause great astonishment. Among such intolerant reactions one could read affirmations such as, for instance: the four Cardinals are witless, naive, schismatic, heretical, and even comparable to the Arian heretics.

Such apodictic merciless judgments reveal not only intolerance, refusal of dialogue, and irrational rage, but demonstrate also a surrender to the impossibility of speaking the truth, a surrender to relativism in doctrine and practice, in faith and life. The above-mentioned clerical reaction against the prophetic voice of the Four Cardinals parades ultimately powerlessness before the eyes of the truth. Such a violent reaction has only one aim: to silence the voice of the truth, which is disturbing and annoying the apparently peaceful nebulous ambiguity of these clerical critics.

The negative reactions to the public statement of the Four Cardinals resemble the general doctrinal confusion of the Arian crisis in the fourth century. It is helpful to all to quote in the situation of the doctrinal confusion in our days some affirmations of Saint Hilary of Poitiers, the “Athanasius of the West”.

“You [the bishops of Gaul] who still remain with me faithful in Christ did not give way when threatened with the onset of heresy, and now by meeting that onset you have broken all its violence. Yes, brethren, you have conquered, to the abundant joy of those who share your faith: and your unimpaired constancy gained the double glory of keeping a pure conscience and giving an authoritative example” (Hil. De Syn., 3).

“Your [the bishops of Gaul] invincible faith keeps the honourable distinction of conscious worth and, content with repudiating crafty, vague, or hesitating action, safely abides in Christ, preserving the profession of its liberty. For since we all suffered deep and grievous pain at the actions of the wicked against God, within our boundaries alone is communion in Christ to be found from the time that the Church began to be harried by disturbances such as the expatriation of bishops, the deposition of priests, the intimidation of the people, the threatening of the faith, and the determination of the meaning of Christ’s doctrine by human will and power. Your resolute faith does not pretend to be ignorant of these facts or profess that it can tolerate them, perceiving that by the act of hypocritical assent it would bring itself before the bar of conscience” (Hil. De Syn., 4).

“I have spoken what I myself believed, conscious that I owed it as my soldier’s service to the Church to send to you in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel by these letters the voice of the office which I hold in Christ. It is yours to discuss, to provide and to act, that the inviolable fidelity in which you stand you may still keep with conscientious hearts, and that you may continue to hold what you hold now” (Hil. De Syn., 92).

The following words of Saint Basil the Great, addressed to the Latin Bishops, can be in some aspects applied to the situation of those who in our days ask for doctrinal clarity, including our Four Cardinals: “The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers. We are not being attacked for the sake of riches, or glory, or any temporal advantages. We stand in the arena to fight for our common heritage, for the treasure of the sound faith, derived from our Fathers. Grieve with us, all you who love the brethren, at the shutting of the mouths of our men of true religion, and at the opening of the bold and blasphemous lips of all that utter unrighteousness against God. The pillars and foundation of the truth are scattered abroad. We, whose insignificance has allowed of our being overlooked, are deprived of our right of free speech” (Ep. 243, 2.4).

Today those bishops and cardinals, who ask for clarity and who try to fulfill their duty in guarding sacredly and faithfully interpreting the transmitted Divine Revelation concerning the Sacraments of Marriage and the Eucharist, are no longer exiled as it was with the Nicene bishops during the Arian crisis. Contrary to the time of the Arian crisis, today, as wrote Rudolf Graber, the bishop of Ratisbone, in 1973, exile of the bishops is replaced by hush-up strategies and by slander campaigns (cf. Athanasius und die Kirche unserer Zeit, Abensberg 1973, p. 23).

Another champion of the Catholic faith during the Arian crisis was Saint Gregory Nazianzen. He wrote the following striking characterization of the behavior of the majority of the shepherds of the Church in those times. This voice of the great Doctor of the Church should be a salutary warning for the bishops of all times: “Surely the pastors have done foolishly; for, excepting a very few, who either on account of their insignificance were passed over, or who by reason of their virtue resisted, and who were to be left as a seed and root for the springing up again and revival of Israel by the influences of the Spirit, all temporized, only differing from each other in this, that some succumbed earlier, and others later; some were foremost champions and leaders in the impiety, and others joined the second rank of the battle, being overcome by fear, or by interest, or by flattery, or, what was the most excusable, by their own ignorance” (Orat. 21, 24).

When Pope Liberius in 357 signed one of the so called formulas of Sirmium, in which he deliberately discarded the dogmatically defined expression “homo-ousios” and excommunicated Saint Athanasius in order to have peace and harmony with the Arian and Semi-Arian bishops of the East, faithful Catholics and some few bishops, especially Saint Hilary of Poitiers, were deeply shocked. Saint Hilary transmitted the letter that Pope Liberius wrote to the Oriental bishops, announcing the acceptance of the formula of Sirmium and the excommunication of Saint Athanasius. In his deep pain and dismay, Saint Hilary added to the letter in a kind of desperation the phrase: “Anathema tibi a me dictum, praevaricator Liberi” (I say to you anathema, prevaricator Liberius), cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, n. 141. Pope Liberius wanted to have peace and harmony at any price, even at the expense of the Divine truth. In his letter to the heterodox Latin bishops Ursace, Valence, and Germinius announcing to them the above-mentioned decisions, he wrote that he preferred peace and harmony to martyrdom (cf. cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, n. 142).

“In what a dramatic contrast stood the behavior of Pope Liberius to the following conviction of Saint Hilary of Poitiers: “We don’t make peace at the expense of the truth by making concessions in order to acquire the reputation of tolerance. We make peace by fighting legitimately according to the rules of the Holy Spirit. There is a danger to ally surreptitiously with unbelief under the beautiful name of peace.” (Hil. Ad Const., 2, 6, 2).

Blessed John Henry Newman commented on these unusual sad facts with the following wise and equilibrated affirmation: “While it is historically true, it is in no sense doctrinally false, that a Pope, as a private doctor, and much more Bishops, when not teaching formally, may err, as we find they did err in the fourth century. Pope Liberius might sign a Eusebian formula at Sirmium, and the mass of Bishops at Ariminum or elsewhere, and yet they might, in spite of this error, be infallible in their ex cathedra decisions” (The Arians of the Fourth Century, London, 1876, p. 465).

The Four Cardinals with their prophetic voice demanding doctrinal and pastoral clarity have a great merit before their own conscience, before history, and before the innumerable simple faithful Catholics of our days, who are driven to the ecclesiastical periphery, because of their fidelity to Christ’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. But above all, the Four Cardinals have a great merit in the eyes of Christ. Because of their courageous voice, their names will shine brightly at the Last Judgment. For they obeyed the voice of their conscience remembering the words of Saint Paul: “We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor 13: 8). Surely, at the Last Judgment the above-mentioned mostly clerical critics of the Four Cardinals will not have an easy answer for their violent attack on such a just, worthy, and meritorious act of these Four Members of the Sacred College of Cardinals.

The following words inspired by the Holy Spirit retain their prophetic value especially in view of the spreading doctrinal and practical confusion regarding the Sacrament of Marriage in our days: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4: 3-5).

May all, who in our days still take seriously their baptismal vows and their priestly and episcopal promises, receive the strength and the grace of God so that they may reiterate together with Saint Hilary the words: “May I always be in exile, if only the truth begins to be preached again!” (De Syn., 78). This strength and grace we wish wholeheartedly to our Four Cardinals and as well as to those who criticize them.


Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations: 1789-1815

November 24, 2016

BCI posted this on Thanksgiving Day in 2011 and is republishing it today. Amidst the turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, family gatherings and football games today, it occurs to BCI that some people may have never seen or may not remember Thanksgiving Day proclamations by the early U.S. presidents that reflect the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. Note the references to God, which are nowhere to be found in the presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamation by Obama this year or in any recent years. This post is rather long, so you may just want to skim, read a few sections, or grab a hot beverage to enjoy while reading.  The information was too rich with meaning for BCI to edit.  Enjoy!

Origin of Thanksgiving Day

The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World. Although filled with uncertainty and peril, it offered both civil and religious liberty.

For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm-tossed sea. Finally, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, the cry of “Land!” was heard.

Arriving in Massachusetts in late November, the Pilgrims sought a suitable landing place. On December 11, just before disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the “Mayflower Compact”—America’s first document of civil government and the first to introduce self-government.

Pumpkins. Photo copyrighted.After a prayer service, the Pilgrims began building hasty shelters. However, unprepared for the starvation and sickness of a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.

The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends. While this was not the first Thanksgiving in America — thanksgiving services were held in Virginia as early as 1607 — it was America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.

Artist's depiction of the first Thanksgiving. Courtesy of Films for Christ.Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in these words:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”

George Washington, first President of the United States. Photo courtesy of Films for Christ.

In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution.

George Washington, John Adams, James Madison

THANKSGIVING DAY 1789
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
GEORGE WASHINGTON.

THANKSGIVING DAY 1795
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – A PROCLAMATION
When we review the calamities which afflict so many other nations, the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction. Our exemption hitherto from foreign war, an increasing prospect of the continuance of that exception, the great degree of internal tranquillity we have enjoyed, the recent confirmation of that tranquillity by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it, the happy course of our public affairs in general, the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens, are circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence toward us. In such a state of things it is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience.
Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation, particularly for the possession of constitutions of government which united and by their union establish liberty with order; for the preservation of our peace, foreign and domestic; for the seasonable control which has been given to a spirit of disorder in the suppression of the late insurrection, and generally for the prosperous course of our affairs, public and private; and at the same time humbly and fervently to beseech the kind Author of these blessings graciously to prolong them to us; to imprint on our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to Him for them; to teach us rightly to estimate their immense value; to preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity, and from hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits; to dispose us to merit the continuance of His favors by not abusing them; by our gratitude for them, and by a correspondent conduct as citizens and men; to render this country more and more a safe and propitious asylum for the unfortunate of other countries; to extend among us true and useful knowledge; to diffuse and establish habits of sobriety, order, morality, and piety, and finally, to impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand.
Done at the city of Philadelphia, the 1st day of January, 1795, and of the Independence of the United States of America the nineteenth.
By the President : GEORGE WASHINGTON.

A DAY OF FASTING & HUMILIATION (NOT THANKSGIVING!) 1798
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – A PROCLAMATION
As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.
I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.
And finally, I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower of Every Good Gift, not only for His having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation.
Given under my hand the seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, this 23d day of March, A.D. 1798, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.
By the President : JOHN ADAMS.

A DAY OF FASTING & HUMILIATION (NOT THANKSGIVING!) 1799
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION
As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributer of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the well-being of communities; as it is also most reasonable in itself that men who are made capable of social acts and relations, who owe their improvements to the social state, and who derive their enjoyments from it, should, as a society, make their acknowledgments of dependence and obligation to Him who hath endowed them with these capacities and elevated them in the scale of existence by these distinctions; as it is likewise a plain dictate of duty and a strong sentiment of nature that in circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent danger earnest and particular supplications should be made to Him who is able to defend or to destroy; as, moreover, the most precious interests of the people of the United States are still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and insidious acts of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among them of those principles, subversive of the foundations of all religious, moral, and social obligations, that have produced incalculable mischief and misery in other countries; and as, in fine, the observance of special seasons for public religious solemnities is happily calculated to aver the evils which we ought to deprecate and to excite to the performance of the duties which we ought to discharge by calling and fixing the attention of the people at large to the momentous truths already recited, by affording opportunity to teach and inculcate them by animating devotion and giving to it the character of a national act :
For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”; that He would turn us from our transgressions and turn His displeasure from us; that He would withhold us from unreasonable discontent, from disunion, faction, sedition, and insurrection; that He would preserve our country from the desolating sword; that He would save our cities and towns from a repetition of those awful pestilential visitations under which they have lately suffered so severely, and that the health of our inhabitants generally may be precious in His sight; that He would favor us with fruitful seasons and so bless the labors of the husbandman as that there may be food in abundance for man and beast; that He would prosper our commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, and give success to the people in all their lawful industry and enterprise; that He would smile on our colleges, academies, schools, and seminaries of learning, and make them nurseries of sound science, morals, and religion; that He would bless all magistrates, from the highest to the lowest, give them the true spirit of their station, make them a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that do well; that He would preside over the councils of the nation at this critical period, enlighten them to a just discernment of the public interest, and save them from mistake, division, and discord; that He would make succeed our preparations for defense and bless our armaments by land and by sea; that He would put an end to the effusion of human blood and the accumulation of human misery among the contending nations of the earth by disposing them to justice, to equity, to benevolence, and to peace; and that he would extend the blessings of knowledge, of true liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion throughout the world.
And I do also recommend that with these acts of humiliation, penitence, and prayer, fervent thanksgiving to the Author of All Good be united for the countless favors which He is still continuing to the people of the United States, and which render their condition as a nation eminently happy when compared with the lot of others.
Given, etc.
JOHN ADAMS

THANKSGIVING DAY 1814
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION
The two Houses of the National Legislature having by a joint resolution expressed their desire that in the present time of public calamity and war a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States as a day of public humiliation and fasting and of prayer to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessing on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace, I have deemed it proper by this proclamation to recommend that Thursday, the 12th of January next, be set apart as a day on which all may have an opportunity of voluntarily offering at the same time in their respective religious assemblies their humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance and amendment. They will be invited by the same solemn occasion to call to mind the distinguished favors conferred on the American people in the general health which has been enjoyed, in the abundant fruits of the season, in the progress of the arts instrumental to their comfort, their prosperity, and their security, and in the victories which have so powerfully contributed to the defense and protection of our country, a devout thankfulness for all which ought to be mingled with their supplications to the Beneficent Parent of the Human Race that He would be graciously pleased to pardon all their offenses against Him; to support and animate them in the discharge of their respective duties; to continue to them the precious advantages flowing from political institutions so auspicious to their safety against dangers from abroad, to their tranquillity at home, and to their liberties, civil and religious; and that He would in a special manner preside over the nation in its public councils and constituted authorities, giving wisdom to its measures and success to its arms in maintaining its rights and in overcoming all hostile designs and attempts against it; and, finally, that by inspiring the enemy with dispositions favorable to a just and reasonable peace its blessings may be speedily and happily restores.
Given at the city of Washington, the 16th day of November, 1814, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-eighth.
JAMES MADISON

THANKSGIVING DAY 1815
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

The senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.
No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. In the arduous struggle by which it was attained they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of His benign interposition. During the interval which succeeded He reared them into the strength and endowed them with the resources which have enabled them to assert their national rights, and to enhance their national character in another arduous conflict, which is now so happily terminated by a peace and reconciliation with those who have been our enemies. And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.
It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assembles unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.
Given at the city of Washington on the 4th day of March, A.D. 1815, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-ninth.
JAMES MADISON


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