Archive for the ‘Benedict XVI’ Category

Religious Liberty – Vatican For or Against?

May 15, 2012

The Catholic News Service reported comments of Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), one of the most prominent “traditionalist” groups. Fellay seemed to take the position that Vatican II has been widely misunderstood. On the topic of “Religious Liberty,” Fellay said that “In our talks with Rome, they clearly said, that to mean that there would be a right to error – or a right to choose each one his religion is false.” (link)

On the other hand, compare the Vatican’s statements as recently as 2 March 2011:

… there is a fear that respecting the freedom to choose and practice another religion, different from one’s own, is based on a premise that all truth is relative and that one’s religion is no longer absolutely valid. That is a misunderstanding. The right to adopt, and to change, a religion is based on respect for human dignity: the State must allow each person to freely search for the truth.


Or consider these words of Benedict XVI, reported 14 February 2012:

I ask the whole Church, through patient dialogue with Muslims, to seek juridical and practical recognition of religious freedom, so that every citizen in Africa may enjoy not only the right to choose his religion freely and to engage in worship, but also the right to freedom of conscience. Religious freedom is the road to peace


To see why this sort of thing concerns traditionalists, compare to the following from Leo XIII (20 June 1888):

19. To make this more evident, the growth of liberty ascribed to our age must be considered apart in its various details. And, first, let us examine that liberty in individuals which is so opposed to the virtue of religion, namely, the liberty of worship, as it is called. This is based on the principle that every man is free to profess as he may choose any religion or none.

20. But, assuredly, of all the duties which man has to fulfill, that, without doubt, is the chiefest and holiest which commands him to worship God with devotion and piety. This follows of necessity from the truth that we are ever in the power of God, are ever guided by His will and providence, and, having come forth from Him, must return to Him. Add to which, no true virtue can exist without religion, for moral virtue is concerned with those things which lead to God as man’s supreme and ultimate good; and therefore religion, which (as St. Thomas says) “performs those actions which are directly and immediately ordained for the divine honor”,(7) rules and tempers all virtues. And if it be asked which of the many conflicting religions it is necessary to adopt, reason and the natural law unhesitatingly tell us to practice that one which God enjoins, and which men can easily recognize by certain exterior notes, whereby Divine Providence has willed that it should be distinguished, because, in a matter of such moment, the most terrible loss would be the consequence of error. Wherefore, when a liberty such as We have described is offered to man, the power is given him to pervert or abandon with impunity the most sacred of duties, and to exchange the unchangeable good for evil; which, as We have said, is no liberty, but its degradation, and the abject submission of the soul to sin.

21. This kind of liberty, if considered in relation to the State, clearly implies that there is no reason why the State should offer any homage to God, or should desire any public recognition of Him; that no one form of worship is to be preferred to another, but that all stand on an equal footing, no account being taken of the religion of the people, even if they profess the Catholic faith. But, to justify this, it must needs be taken as true that the State has no duties toward God, or that such duties, if they exist, can be abandoned with impunity, both of which assertions are manifestly false. For it cannot be doubted but that, by the will of God, men are united in civil society; whether its component parts be considered; or its form, which implies authority; or the object of its existence; or the abundance of the vast services which it renders to man. God it is who has made man for society, and has placed him in the company of others like himself, so that what was wanting to his nature, and beyond his attainment if left to his own resources, he might obtain by association with others. Wherefore, civil society must acknowledge God as its Founder and Parent, and must obey and reverence His power and authority. Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness-namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of one religion is necessary in the State, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic States, because the marks of truth are, as it were, engravers upon it. This religion, therefore, the rulers of the State must preserve and protect, if they would provide – as they should do – with prudence and usefulness for the good of the community. For public authority exists for the welfare of those whom it governs; and, although its proximate end is to lead men to the prosperity found in this life, yet, in so doing, it ought not to diminish, but rather to increase, man’s capability of attaining to the supreme good in which his everlasting happiness consists: which never can be attained if religion be disregarded.

22. All this, however, We have explained more fully elsewhere. We now only wish to add the remark that liberty of so false a nature is greatly hurtful to the true liberty of both rulers and their subjects. Religion, of its essence, is wonderfully helpful to the State. For, since it derives the prime origin of all power directly from God Himself, with grave authority it charges rulers to be mindful of their duty, to govern without injustice or severity, to rule their people kindly and with almost paternal charity; it admonishes subjects to be obedient to lawful authority, as to the ministers of God; and it binds them to their rulers, not merely by obedience, but by reverence and affection, forbidding all seditious and venturesome enterprises calculated to disturb public order and tranquillity, and cause greater restrictions to be put upon the liberty of the people. We need not mention how greatly religion conduces to pure morals, and pure morals to liberty. Reason shows, and history confirms the fact, that the higher the morality of States; the greater are the liberty and wealth and power which they enjoy.


Rome’s singing a different tune today, because Rome is finding itself without the political power to which it had become accustomed. But what is curious is that the SSPX folks, or at least their superior general, seems to have received the impression that Rome agrees with SSPX that there is no right of religious liberty – no right of men to freely choose their own religion.

– TurretinFan

How Much More Could Mary be Venerated?

May 14, 2012

Vatican Information Service (VIS reports, 13 May 2012, Benedict XVI as follows:

“As Mother of the Church, Our Lady always wants to comfort her children at the time of their greatest difficulty and suffering”, said the Pope today … .

Mary is not our mother. Scripture describes the heavenly Jerusalem as our mother:
Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

We Christians have one Lord, Jesus Christ. His bride is the Church, not his mother according to the flesh. He is our Lord, and we collectively are his Lady. We do not have a pair of sovereigns, one Lord and one Lady, we are the Lord’s Lady. He is our groom, we are his bride. Mary, as a believer, is part of the Church, but the head of the Church is her husband, Christ.

Scripture never refers to Mary by the title, “Lady,” and certainly not, “Our Lady.”

As for the pope reading Mary’s mind, where does he get this idea that she wants the comfort of “her children”? She hasn’t led any of the popes to declare Purgatory empty – she hasn’t protected the martyrs from martyrdom. What is the basis for his presumption to declare what is on Mary’s mind?

Benedict XVI continued:

“Through Mary, we invoke moral consolation from God, so that this community and the whole of Italy may resist the temptation to become discouraged and, strengthened by their great humanist tradition, may set out again on the road to spiritual and moral renewal which is the only thing that can bring authentic improvement in social and civil life”.

Notice that Benedict XVI is not shy to acknowledge that this is not a prayer through Jesus, but through Mary. Thus, Benedict XVI makes Mary a mediatrix. He’s not seeking to invoke consolation from Mary ipsa but through Mary as mediatrix. This is not an example of pray to Mary or prayer for Mary but the equally problematic case of prayer through Mary.

VIS further reports:

After praying the Regina Coeli, Benedict XVI made a private visit to the cathedral of San Donato where he paused before the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Comfort to adore the Blessed Sacrament and venerate the image of the Virgin.

Regina Coeli is Latin for “Queen of Heaven,” which is a title found in Scripture but always associated with a false goddess. It’s the name of prayer in which the person prays to Mary and asks her to pray for them, followed by a prayer to God through Christ that makes a request that the joys of eternal life be received through Mary.

Notice as well that VIS is not ashamed to report that Benedict XVI both worships the elements and Mary as well, though the two kinds of worship are distinguished by words (“adore” vs. “venerate”). The Roman worship of the sacrament is as absurd as a Jew worshiping the paschal sacrament – and the worship of Mary far exceeds that foolishness, since it is acknowledged that Mary is not God.


Benedict XVI and the Word of God

April 20, 2012

On April 20, 2012, Vatican Information Services reported a message from Benedict XVI to Cardinal Levada (the head of the CDF). Among the points found in the message were the following (as reported by VIS):

“Thanks to the charisma of inspiration”, the Benedict XVI goes on, “the books of Sacred Scripture have a direct and tangible appeal. Yet the Word of God is not confined to writing, for although the Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, the revealed Word has continued to be announced and interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church. Thus the Word of God, fixed in the holy texts, is not an inert matter at the heart of the Church but the supreme rule of her faith and her life force. The Tradition she draws from the Apostles advances with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and grows through reflection and study on the part of believers, through the individual experience of spiritual life and the preaching of bishops”.

Hence the need for deeper study on the theme of inspiration and truth in the Bible, because it is “fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that Sacred Scripture be interpreted according to its nature; and inspiration and truth are constituent characteristics of that nature”.

First, note the denial that the Word of God has been confined to writing while acknowledging that Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. Hopefully you’ve seen this Roman claim elsewhere. But where else is the Word of God to be found?

Benedict XVI refers to the “Tradition she draws from the Apostles,” but the only tradition that is traceable to the apostles is Scripture. There is not a body of extra-scriptural tradition that can be reliably alleged to be apostolic. I do not mean to suggest that only us Christians lack that tradition. Even within the Vatican there is no access to earlier tradition. The Vatican Secret Archives don’t contain notes from the Apostle Paul that are not in Scripture. The cardinals don’t get together every year and hand on oral tradition from mouth to ear to the next generation of cardinals. In general, they have what we have.

Benedict XVI went on to claim that the apostolic tradition, “advances with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and grows through reflection and study on the part of believers, through the individual experience of spiritual life and the preaching of bishops.” This is clearly wrong. What the Holy Spirit does is to preserve Revelation and to open the eyes of men to it. The Revelation is itself a fixed quantum. It does not grow, even if believers’ understanding of it grows. The Holy Spirit has given believers great understanding over the ages, but that understanding is not itself Revelation, or a growth or advancement of the Revelation.

It is interesting to see Benedict XVI claim that “the Word of God, fixed in the holy texts, is not an inert matter at the heart of the Church but the supreme rule of her faith and her life force.” That is true of Christians, where “the Word of God” refers to the Scriptures. It’s not really true that the Word of God is the supreme rule of faith for those in the Roman communion, however.

For those in the Roman communion, the magisterium’s dogmatic proclamations are the supreme rule of faith. If one finds any discrepancy between the dogmatic proclamations of Rome and the Scriptures, one is to simply accept what Rome has dogmatically proclaimed. But Rome’s dogmatic proclamations are not the Word of God. Therefore, it follows that Rome’s supreme rule of faith is not the Word of God, but the word of the magisterium.

Benedict XVI goes on to say that it is “fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that Sacred Scripture be interpreted according to its nature … .” But isn’t it remarkable that Rome has found so few occasions for exercising its alleged gift of infallible interpretation of Scripture. How many verses have been infallibly interpreted? People have attempted to make lists, but the lists all tend to show the same result: not many. No whole chapters, and obviously no whole books.

Moreover, the few verses that have been interpreted in connection with allegedly infallible papal decrees have been wrongly interpreted (Genesis 3:15 is the most obvious example), so that defenders of papal infallibility have been forced to qualify the alleged gift to simply limit it to the definition of dogma itself, without regard to the interpretation on which it was actually founded.


Interesting Observations from Benedict XVI

April 11, 2012

I am no fan of Benedict XVI. I pray for his salvation, but I fully agree with the Westminster divines about the nature of his office. That said, he made an interesting observation, according to the Vatican Information Service, in his remarks on April 11, 2012, during the morning general audience.

VIS reports:

Benedict XVI explained how on the evening of the day of the Resurrection the disciples were at home behind locked doors, full of fear and doubt at the recollection of the passion of their Lord. “This situation of anguish changed radically when Jesus arrived. He entered through the closed doors, was among them and brought them peace”, peace which “for the community became source of joy, certainty of victory, trusting reliance on God”.

Slightly later on comes the interesting twist:

“Today too the Risen One enters our homes and hearts, although sometimes the doors are closed”, the Pope said, “He enters bringing joy and peace, life and hope, gifts we need for our human and spiritual rebirth”. Only He can put an end to division, enmity, rancour, envy, mistrust and indifference. Only He can give meaning to the lives of those who are weary, sad and without hope.

Here’s the good point, intentional or not. Sometimes – no always – the doors of men’s hearts are closed to the gospel. By nature, we are all children of wrath and haters of God. Yet God is not blocked by closed doors. If He wishes, he can pass through the doors, bringing regeneration.
VIS also describes Benedict XVI as saying:

However, the Lord knew that His followers were still afraid. “For this reason He breathed upon them and regenerated them in His Spirit. This gesture was the sign of the new creation. With the gift of the Holy Spirit which came from the Risen Christ, a new world began”.

There is no indication in the report that Benedict XVI put together the pieces in this way, but it is interesting how the observations he provided so fittingly describe a monergistic description of conversion.

Also interesting are his comments about regeneration occurring in the breathing upon them. One should be careful about reading too much into the English language report of a general audience comment that likely is original in another language, but it is interesting nonetheless. Were the disciples not previously regenerated by baptism? Was their original baptism not sacramental? If not, why not?

The teachings of Benedict XVI during these general audience are “official” teachings in some sense, and are even characterized as “catechesis.” But Roman theology does not – to my knowledge – consider them “infallible” teachings.


Third Marian Strike for Benedict XVI

March 30, 2012

Proceeding backward in time (from part 1 and part 2), we come now to a third instance of Mariolatry in Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba.  According to the Vatican Information System, in an address on March 26, 2012, Benedict XVI stated:

… since the beginning she has been very much present in the personal lives of Cubans as well as in the great events of the nation … for she is honoured by all as the true mother of the Cuban people.  Devotion to the “Virgen Mambisa” has sustained the faith and inspired the defence and promotion of all that gives dignity to the human condition and fundamental rights, and it continues to do so today with ever greater strength, giving visible witness to the fruitfulness of the preaching of the Gospel in these lands, and to the profound Christian roots which shape the deepest identity of the Cuban soul. Following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims down the centuries, I too wish to go to El Cobre to kneel at the feet of the Mother of God, to thank her for her concern for all her Cuban children, and to ask her to guide the future of this beloved nation in the ways of justice, peace, freedom and reconciliation …

Note that Benedict XVI confesses to the desire not only to go to the idol at El Cobre, but also to assume a posture of worship, namely that of kneeling.  He advocates religious devotion to the idol.  Moreover, he also, again, confesses to a desire to attempt to communicate with her including not just a request for guidance, but also thanks – something that cannot reasonably be interpreted as a request for her to pray.

– TurretinFan

More Marian Madness from Benedict XVI

March 30, 2012

Again, according to the Vatican Information Service (VIS), on March 27, 2012, Benedict XVI gave an address at the “Shrine of ‘Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre’,” (Our Lady of Charity of Cobre) (the idol I mentioned in my previous post).  In that address he stated:

Let all those you meet know, whether near or far, that I have entrusted to the Mother of God the future of your country, advancing along the ways of renewal and hope, for the greater good of all Cubans. I have also prayed to the Virgin for the needs of those who suffer, of those who are deprived of freedom, those who are separated from their loved ones or who are undergoing times of difficulty. I have placed in her Immaculate Heart young people, that they may be authentic friends of Christ and that they may not succumb to things which bring sadness in their wake.

Notice that Benedict expressess faith in Mary (“I have entrusted to the Mother of God the future of your country”) and admits to praying to her (” I have also prayed to the Virgin for …”). 

VIS also reports:

The Holy Father paused in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament then before the image of the Virgin. He lit a candle and recited the prayer of the Virgin of Charity, the Jubilee Year ritual by which pilgrims may obtain plenary indulgence.

Notice not only the idoltry in terms of worshiping the physical elements as though they were God, but as well the idolatry in terms of Mariolatry.  There is a direct parallel there.  First, he pauses to pray before what he imagines to be God and then he pauses to pray before the image of Mary.  Moreover, he recited the “prayer of the Virgin of Charity,” which is often referred to as the Prayer to Our Lady of Charity (here is a copy).

Highlights from the prayer:

Most Holy Mother of Charity, who came to us as a messenger of peace across the sea, you are the Mother of all.

To your motherly heart we entrust our desires and hopes, our work and our prayers.

We place ourselves under your mantle of protection!

Notice that this prayer seems to be both the basis for Benedict XVI’s “entrust” comments above as well as his “mantle of protection” claim and his “presence” claim we mentioned in the previous post.  But where is the truth? This is nothing other than idolatry, even if he claims (as he does) that devotion to Mary should lead one to devotion to Jesus, and even if he acknowledges Jesus to be the Rock (“I encourage all the sons and daughters of this dear country to continue to build their lives on the firm rock which is Jesus Christ …”).  I would encourage them to do that too, but not by reference to the lying idol of Cobre in a shrine in Cuba, but in reference to the inspired Word of God found in the Bible.


(Real ?) Presence of Mary – So Saith Benedict XVI

March 29, 2012

As reported by the Vatican Information Service, on March 28, 2012, in a farewell address in Cuba, Benedict XVI stated:

As I bid you a heartfelt adios, I ask our Lady of Charity of El Cobre to protect all Cubans under her mantle, to sustain them in the midst of their trials and to obtain from Almighty God the grace that they most desire. Hasta siempre, Cuba, a land made beautiful by the maternal presence of Mary. 

This is not simply a request for Mary to pray for the people of Cuba.  It is specifically asking Mary to

  • protect the Cubans under her mantle, 
  • sustain them in the midst of their trials, and
  • obtain from Almighty God the grace that they most desire.

Perhaps the third item could be viewed simply as asking Mary to pray, but the other two are asking for Mary to provide sustainance and the specific protection of Mary.  But how can Mary protect?

Here we have the most interesting part of Benedict XVI’s comment.  He alleges that Mary’s “maternal presence” is in Cuba, and that this “maternal presence” makes Cuba beautiful.

But where is the historical Mary?  Her body is an unknown grave and her soul is in heaven.  She is not present, body or soul, in Cuba.

Lady of Charity of El Cobre is an idol, it’s not the historical Mary.  That idol has no power to bring the spirit of Mary down from heaven.  In fact, it has no power of its own at all.  It had to be rescued from the waters of Nipe Bay in 1606 by three fishermen.  It is the Cubans who are the hope of the idol (if it even had a spirit to hope!), not the idol that is the hope of the Cubans.  They rescued it, but it can never rescue them.

And neither is Mary, either real or imagined, a hope for the Cubans.  She is a spirit who has entered into glory, awaiting the resurrection of the body.  She does not have a mantle of protection to offer.  The only hope for the Cubans – as for all mankind – is the son of the real Mary, namely Jesus Christ the righteous.  He alone is the rock of our salvation, for he is not merely man but Emmanuel, God with us.

Cuba is a land made beautiful by God’s mercy and kindness.  It is wrong for Benedict XVI to attribute this to Mary or her imagined presence.


Benedict XVI on the "Chair of Peter" (vs. Steve Ray)

March 1, 2012

As reported by the Vatican Information System, February 20, 2012:

The great bronze throne encloses a wooden chair from the ninth century, which was long thought to be St. Peter’s own chair and was placed above this monumental altar because of its great symbolic value. It expresses the permanent presence of the Apostle in the Magisterium of his successors. St. Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission.

(extract from homily of 19 February 2012)

Steve Ray: “The ceremonial Chair of Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica. It is said that acacia wood of Peter’s 1st century chair is encased in this bronze memorial.” (I previously addressed the arguments in Steve’s pdf.)

– TurretinFan

Is Charity a Means to Salvation?

February 10, 2012

Does the Pope teach works salvation?  The Vatican Information Service capsulized one of his recent talks under the heading, “POPE’S LENTEN MESSAGE: CHARITY AS A MEANS TO SALVATION,” but perhaps more significantly consider his own words, as provided by VIS:

All of us have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God’s plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation.

(Benedict XVI via Vatican Information Service, 7 February 2012)

By contrast, we believe that salvation is entirely of the Lord.  We teach that it is all of God.  God is both the author and finisher of our salvation. 

Hebrews 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Christ is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end:

Revelation 1:8  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Don’t get me wrong. Good works are important, as the pope quoted, the Scriptures say:

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Yet it is not by those works that we are saved. As it is written:

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Amen, and praise the Lord for his mercy and grace, which endure forever.


How Many Mediators?

February 4, 2012

The Vatican Information Service reports (3 February 2012), referring to Benedict XVI:

In conclusion he quoted some words of Blessed John Paul II, calling on the Virgin Mary to intercede with the Lord, so that “all who have received the gift of following Him in consecrated life may be enabled to bear witness to that gift by their transfigured lives, as they joyfully make their way with all their brothers and sisters towards our heavenly homeland and the light which will never grow dim”.

In response to our criticism that Rome makes Mary another mediator and encourages her people to pray not only to God but also to Mary, we are frequently told that those in the Roman communion are just taught to ask Mary to pray for them.

Leaving aside the absurdity of asking a foreigner who doesn’t speak your language and whose ears have long ago returned to dust for anything, we can still see that Marian devotion as advocated by the current and immediately previous popes is not just asking Mary to pray, like we might ask our friends.

Instead, Mary is being asked to intercede on behalf of a class of people.  It is true that this particular request is actually a request for Mary to pray for that class of people.  Thus, it bears some parallels to the description we are given.

The prayer is described as particularly intercessory.  The reason, implied but not stated, for the request is the presumed great power of Mary to obtain those things for which she intercedes.  Yet Scripture suggests that Mary is not especially important in the kingdom of God.  In fact, in response to:

Luke 11:27  And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.

Jesus said:

Luke 11:28  But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

And in response to Mary trying to get an audience with Jesus in this case:

Mark 3:32  And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

Jesus said:

Mark 3:33-35 
And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

So why, dear reader, would you follow the example and teachings of the most recent two popes and seek out Mary’s intercession, despite Jesus’ teachings?

1 Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

So, if you must pray for those in “consecrated life” then why not pray directly to the Father by the intercession of the Son?  Surely you do not think that Mary is a better intercessor than the Son.


P.S. Perhaps it will occur to someone, “But then why ask our brethren here on Earth to pray for us?”  One reason we do that here on Earth is that we have a reciprocal duty to bear one another’s burdens.  We can’t bear Mary’s burdens, because she doesn’t have any.  Moreover, no matter how Rome’s apologists may try to dress it up, we all know she’s not being asked as just another sister in Christ, but as a perceived woman of great power and influence.

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