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Pastoral writings from the perspective of Traditional Old Roman Catholicism in the Anglican Tradition by Rutherford Cardinal Johnson Count of Sainte Animie

15 June 2017

Patriarchal Address on the Feast of Corpus Christi AD 2017

Sub Tuum

The original text in Italian precedes. The English transcript follows.

PATRIARCHAL ADDRESS
ON THE FEAST OF THE
MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

2017

RVTHERFORDVS I CARD. COMES S. ANIMIAE
ARCHPRINCEPS FLORENTIAE
PATRIARCHA S. STEFANI


AI membri della Corte di S. Maria di Walsingham, grazia e pace, e la mia Benedizione Apostolica in questo Festo del Corpus Christi, anno Domini 2017. Oggi celebriamo il sanctissimo Corpo ed il sacratissimo Sangue di Nostro Signore Jesu Christo. È un gioioso festo dopo della Stagione Pasquale. Durante la Stagione Pasquale, ricordiamo le Resurrezione, l’Ascensione, e la Pentecoste – tutti molto importanti, il nucleo della Santa Fede. Subito dopo della Stagione Pasquale è il Festo della Santissima Trinità, l’unico Dio, tre Personi, ma indivisibili. In verità, è del nucleo della Fede che Jesu Christo è veramente Dio, non solo un uomo. Vero Dio chi ha venuto alla terra come un uomo, e morì per noi. Ma, il morte di Cristo non fu un evento solo! Il sacrificio viva ancora oggi, fratelli! Dunque, è giusto, dopo del Festo della Trinità, che celebriamo il Corpo ed il Sangue di Cristo. Proclamiamo che Cristus Rex vivat in saecula saeculorum. Veramente il Sacrificio sull’altare di Cristo è il stesso Sacrificio di Cristo sulla Croce. Oggi facciamo un grandissimo inchino al sanctissimo Corpo ed al sacratissimo Sangue di Nostro Signore.

Adesso devo dire ancora ed ancora che Cristo è l’unica luce del mondo, e senza di Lui, non abbiamo nessun speranza. Oggi la società scende rapidamente alle tenebre. La società dimentica la tradizione e la fede di Cristo, e senza Cristo e le sue sancte tradizioni, la società sarà caduta alle mani dei nemici della Chiesa, i nemici della bontà, i nemici della civilisazione, i nemici di Dio! Noi, fratelli, i cristifideli, noi dobbiamo combattere contra le tenebre. Non possiamo essere ratti, corriendo, scappiendo, e nascando! Certo dobbiamo avere corragio e metterci in resistanza come un esercito della Santa Croce.

Il combattimento di solito per noi, i cristifideli, è certo spirituale. Ma, siamo discenduti dei Crociati e quindi capisciamo bene che, quando siamo attaccati d’un forzo violento malevolissimo, è necessario difenderci. Non vi dimenticate mai questa cosa.

E, carissimi, come il mondo ha arrivato qui? Relativismo. Il relativismo è un forzo insidioso che poco a poco erode la fede del popolo. Senza conoscenza, dopo un tempo, il popolo si sveglia una mattina e non ha la fede di Cristo ancora. Il relativismo è la via all’infidelismo ed alla religione di statismo. Il repubblicanessimo è la manifestazione di teorie vecchie di relativismo. Gli attivisti politichi di solito non hanno nuove idee, ma solo vecchie idee inferiori. L’unica via politica è la via di Cristo. Noi, carissimi, dovremmo essere una forza non di falsa variazione, ma d’un gioioso ritorno alla tradizione. Solo in Cristo la gente può essere libero.

Ed in merito della violenza ricente negli USA, è un segno del risulto di relativismo. Un assassino ha sparato a diversi membri del Partito Republicano. Cinque sono stati feriti, comprese un membro della Camera di Rappresentivi. Questo vile e codardo atto è anarchismo, un figlio di relativismo. In un paese, i cittadini dovrebbero essere come fratelli. Disaccordo arrive, certo, ma non dovremmo sparare a coloro con chi non siamo daccordo. Coloro chi conoscono Cristo capiscono bene che dovrebbero parlare con i nostri oppositori. Questo tipo di violenza non è un diritto del popolo, e gesti come questo vile e codardo atto sono controproducente e contro di Cristo. Non possiamo dire che rispettiamo il Corpo di Cristo ed il Sangue di Cristo se fossiamo ammazzare coloro con chi non siamo daccordo!

Allora, preparatevi ricevere la benedizione di nostro Signore.

Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris +, et Filii+, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos et maneat semper. R. Amen.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

TO the members of the Court of Saint Maria of Walsingham, grace and peace, and my Apostolic blessing on this Feast of Corpus Christi, in the Year of Our Lord 2017. Today we celebrate the most holy Body and the most sacred Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a joyful celebration following Paschaltide. During the Easter season, we remember the Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost – all very important, and indeed the nucleus of the holy Faith. Immediately after Paschaltide comes the Feast of the Holy Trinity, the only God, three parts, but indivisible. Truly it is very much a part of the nucleus of the faith that Jesus Christ Himself is truly God, not just a man. True God who has come to Earth as a man, and died for us. But, the death of Christ was not a single, solitary event in history! Brethren, the Sacrifice of then still lives today! Therefore, it is meet and proper that, after the feast of the Trinity, we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ. We proclaim Cristus Rex Vivat in Saecula saeculorum – Christ the King lives forever. Truly the Sacrifice on the altar of Christ is the same Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Today we make a great bow to the most holy Body and to the most sacred Blood of our Lord.

Now I must say again and again that Christ is the only light of the world, and without him, we have no hope. Today society descends rapidly into darkness. Society forgets the tradition and faith of Christ, and without Christ and his holy traditions, society will fall to the hands of the enemies of the Church, the enemies of goodness, the enemies of civilisation, the enemies of God! We, brethren, the faithful in Christ, we must fight against the darkness. We cannot be rats, running, escaping, and hiding! Of course, we must have courage and be a force of resistance as an army of the Holy Cross.

This warfare is, for us, the faithful in Christ, certainly spiritual. But, we are descendants of the Crusaders and therefore we understand that, when we are attacked by a vile and wicked force of violence, it is necessary to defend ourselves. Never forget this.

And, dearest friends, how did the world come to this situation? Relativism. Relativism is an insidious thing that little by little erodes the faith of the people. Without knowledge, after a time, the people wake up one morning to find that they do not have the faith of Christ anymore. Relativism is the way to the loss of faith, replaced with the religion of the state. Republicanism is the manifestation of old theories of relativism. Political activists usually do not have new ideas, but only old inferior ideas that do not work. The only political way is the way of Christ. We, dearest friends, should be a force not of false change, but of a joyful return to tradition. Only in Christ can people be free.

And now with regard to the recent violence in the USA, it is a sign of the very result of relativism. A murderer shot several members of the Republican Party. Five were injured, including a member of the US House of Representatives. This vile and cowardly act is nothing more than anarchism, a child of relativism. In a country, citizens should be like brothers. Disagreement certainly will happen, of course, but we should not shoot those with whom we do not agree. Those who know Christ understand very well that we should talk with our opponents. This type of violence is not a right of the people, and gestures like this vile and cowardly act are counterproductive and against Christ. We cannot say that we respect the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ if we kill those with whom we do not agree!

And now prepare yourselves to receive the blessing of our Lord.

Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super + + vos et maneat semper. R. Amen.

04 June 2017

Statement on the Recent London Terrorist Attack

Sub Tuum.

It should go without saying that we are deeply saddened by the recent cowardly terror attack in London. That there was yet one more attack in continuation of the string of attacks in recent times in Britain and Europe is, however, no surprise. It is a direct result of a refusal to acknowledge the problem and a direct result of irresponsible actions taken by governments. Praying for the victims is something that should certainly be done, but we know that our faith must be put into action. The Christian religion is not passive, for faith without action is no faith at all, just as work without faith is empty and meaningless. May God guide each of us, from world leaders to ordinary citizens, to resolve that the cowardly violence of these terrorists must be stopped here and now. 

Sometimes people get the drop on you and there is nothing you can do. However, in many terrorist and active shooter situations, there are things that can be done. The victims consider themselves victims rather than a superior force. Terrorists count on specific tactics that permit a much smaller group to gain control, even temporarily, over a larger force. Once these are understood, they can be countered -- by anyone. Society over the last decades in Europe, Britain, and the US has abandoned its roots, its culture, and raised generations of pantie-waisted pansies taught not to fight, but to give in. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. I don't mean to insult the police at all. I merely mean that they cannot always get there fast enough, and also there is much that can be done during transit time. It is time for the people of Europe, Britain, and the US to reclaim their pride, their dignity, and their strength. Technology ultimately doesn't win wars. Determination, discipline, and a refusal to yield is what wins. People can turn just about anything around them into a weapon to fight back against attackers in a rational way. That is how we save lives and begin to turn the tide of militant Islam.

20 May 2017

Across the Centuries

Sub Tuum.

Some of us know the feeling depicted in this impressive and well-portrayed scene in The Gathering Storm, a movie about Churchill. We feel our ancestors looking at us from across the centuries, saying, "This is what we have done. What will you do? We stood firm, immovable, never yielding in tame submission. Will you? We never die, for you are our voice in the realm of the living."

For context of this video clip, Churchill reflects on his ancestor, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, commander of the British forces in the War of Spanish Succession, at the Battle of Blenheim, 1704, a decisive victory of the Grand Alliance over the French under Louis XIV.



13 May 2017

The More Society Changes, the More It Stays the Same

Sub Tuum.

One of the traits of modern society, and indeed no doubt of many generations in the past, is one of hubris -- that we are so much more advanced and vastly superior than the "unenlightened" people of prior generations. The cries of "this is 2017" echo the self-same complaints I heard decades ago and those I heard when I was young. "We are born into a brave new age," we're told, "free of the chains of the past, brimming with freedom and opportunities that those poor people of the past never enjoyed." Like a broken record, it is the mantra of every new generation. 

To back up their belief comes in that old crutch, confirmation bias. If we're so superior and the past was so bad, then we must tell all that which supports that notion and suppress all that which might challenge our viewpoint. Indeed, our post-modern viewpoint cannot be challenged, because that would mean that we are not in fact special compared to the humans who went before. And, if real information to support our claims of modern superiority cannot be found, things can be made up. If a total myth is repeated enough, especially if by celebrities and teachers, then it becomes an accepted myth. Experience has shown that people cling to accepted myths like a drowning man to a life-preserver, even when the rescue line of simple truth is proffered. 

One common mantra is that medieval society was oppressive, particularly to women. There is freedom today, people say, because we live in modern, democratic societies in which we get to choose our leaders. Do we, though? Would it shatter the dream too much if it is pointed out that, to use the U.S.A. system as an example, people don't really choose their leaders so much as they vote for the people placed in front of them? The theoretical promise that anyone can be President does not in fact match reality.  And how is a system in which two political parties determine the pool from which the President shall be chosen really that much different than an hereditary monarchy? (And monarchs can and did change -- even from different families. Some were even elected.)  I could point out that the concept of democracy in its modern incarnation was born out of the Enlightenment and a direct challenge to the authority not so much of Kings, but of the Church (the Bible is replete with monarchies, but there is not one single democracy). But, that might challenge the idea (primarily promoted by Protestants) that Christianity and democracy actually go together. 

Returning to medieval society, there were probably more female rulers (and warriors) than there have been under democracy. That is not a scientific statement based on numerical analysis (which would be an interesting study itself), but simply based on my study of the middle ages. There were plenty of great female rulers and military leaders. Countess Caterina Sforza, the Lioness of Forli comes to mind. Quite deserving of her style of lioness, she held Pope Alexander VI and his son the mercenary and Cardinal Cesare Borgia at bay for quite some time.  Matilda, Margravine of Tuscany is another example. She ruled a vast swath of central Italy and personally led troops in defense of the Papacy. She was never conquered. In recognition of her service to the Church, there is a statue of her at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican in which she is holding a marshal's baton in one hand and cradling the Papal tiara and keys in the other arm. Isabella, Queen of Spain. Sybilla, Queen of Jerusalem. Matilda, Holy Roman Empress and Queen of England. Constance of Antioch. Sichelgaita, Princess of Salerno and Duchess of Calabria. Melisdende de Rethel, Queen of Jerusalem. Isabella I, Queen of Jerusalem. Anne Stafford, Countess of Huntingdon. Margaret I, Countess of Flanders.

It is difficult to imagine a woman in such roles in modern society, yet it is the medieval period that we call backwards and oppressive. 

Now, those were powerful female rulers. What of other women in society? The following is an excerpt that discusses activity and equality in the medieval period: 

"The role of women in Medieval life and literature is a complicated one. Historical documents reflect little activity on the part of women unless they were somehow involved in religion, but literature is full of well-rounded female characters. Cook and Herzman argue, 'the frequency with which women appear in such legal documents [charters and wills] suggests that women’s activities in feudal society were more complex and public than often imagined.' In the stories of King Arthur, Lancelot and other notable romances of the time there is a shift in the roles of women; some of them are moving out of the shadows and becoming important parts of the story. In the early part of the Medieval period women’s roles were that of a supporting cast, as the Middle Ages reached its high point women began expressing their opinions and a more active and equal role in society. Some literature presented the women who were becoming more active in a less than positive light seeing them as troublesome and not knowing their place; but over all there is a positive reaction in the romance of the period." 

Anita Kay O’Pry-Reynolds. "Men and Women as Represented in Medieval Literature and Society." Saber and Scroll. Vol. 2. Iss. 2. Art. 6. Spring 2013.

Simple historical fact and open-minded, scientific analysis often forces people to step out of their comfort zone and challenge things that they have long held to be true. Understandably, confronting the historical and social myths held as fundamental truth with actual truth is almost always met with great resistance. Actual, verifiable historical fact is attacked as bogus. Logic is replaced with emotion. And it is all done in the name of defending against the cognitive dissonance that results when fiction-held-as-fact is confronted with fact.

People were oppressed during the middle ages -- but people are oppressed now in our so-called post-modern enlightened society. People have not changed as much as they think. Weapons have changed, but the heart of man is as dark as it ever was. Those who want to make an authentic positive difference on modern society would do well to abandon the idea that our modern society is inherently better than all that went before it. That is liberating and opens the mind to great possibilities to which it was previously closed through insular, small-minded hubris. 

16 April 2017

Patriarchal Address at Easter 2017 - Allocuzione Patriarcale della Santa Pasqua 2017

Sub Tuum.


The Italian version is first, followed by the English version. 


*****************************************************

Ai membri della Corte di S. Maria di Walsingham, grazia e pace, e la mia Benedizione Apostolica in questa Domenica della Santa Pasqua, anno Domini 2017. Christus resurgens est! Oggi, celebriamo la vittoria di Cristo sul sepolcro. Celebriamo la gloriosa resurrezione di nostro Signore Jesu Christo. Il Sanctum Triduum è un tempo di morte ed un tempo della vita. È un tempo delle tenebre ed un tempo della luce. Il magno mistero è che per vivere è necessa-rio morire. Dobbiamo morire al mondo e vivere solo in Cristo. Cristo fu l’agnello perfetto per pagare il grandissimo debito del mondo. Ma, non possiamo credere solamente, senza opera, senza sofferenza. In verità dobbiamo appenderci alla croce come Cristo, poichè Cristo ci ha detto che dobbiamo prendere la nostra croce e seguirlo.
Oggi il mondo cammina nelle tenebre. Nonostante, in Cristo abbi-amo la speranza della vita aeterna per tutti chi credono veramente in Lui. Chi crede veramente in Cristo è ligato altamente alla vera Chiesa di Cristo, l’unica, santa, cattolica, ed apostolica Chiesa di Cris-to. Anche chi crede veramente in Cristo vive in accordo colla veris-sima dottrina cristiana. Il cuore della dottrina viene del Santo Cuore di Cristo.
Come sempre, esiste una forza grandissima contro la Chiesa e contro il popolo cristiano. Quella forza è una forza dell'anticristo. Questa è una grandissima guerra, la guerra aeterna tra bene e male. Amici in Cristo, dobbiamo combattere come soldati della Santa Cro-ce! Ma la nostra arma la più forte non è la pistola, non è la fucile, ma è la Santa Messa. Un sacerdote celebrando la Santa Messa fa più con-tro i nemici della Chiesa e della pace di tutti gli eserciti fortissimi del mondo.

Anche, come vi ho detto l’ultima Pasqua, sempre comportarvi, in abito appropriato, con parole appropriate, come ecclesiastici e come nobili di questa corte patriarcale antica. Sacerdoti, celebrate la Santa Messa per la pace e per la vittoria. Tutti di voi, orate il sacratissimo rosario. Sempre avete corragio di dire la verità dei Santi Vangeli, an-che se significa la vostra morte o un danno a voi. Prego, nonostante, che Dio ci preserva da ogni caduta!

Per proclamare il santo Vangelo non è l’odio. La verità è l’amore. Tutto l’amore nel mondo è trovato nel santo Vangelo di Cristo. Lo proclamiamo precisamente perchè amiamo tutti!
Oggi anche sono molto contento informarvi che abbiamo adesso una missione in Africa, ed i seminaristi stano avanzandi all’ordine dei Sacerdoti. Anche l’apostolato della Guardia di Walsingham, una con-tinuazione moderna del Gran Balivato e delle due Grandi Priorie dell’Ordine Teutonico Inperiale conferite al nostro Patriarcato e liga-ta alle diversi unità del patrimonio del patriarcato, continua di pros-perare e crescere. La Dichiarazione d’Intenti della Guardia è “Ispir-ando le vite di forza, compassione, e pace.” La Guardia è veramente un ministero religioso ed una vocazione religiosa.

Allora, torniamo alla Santa Pasqua, questo tempo gioioso. Ringranziamo per nostro Signore che ha appeso sulla Croce, quello legno benedetto, e che ha vinto il sepolcro e l’inferno stesso. Allora, preparatevi ricevere la benedizione di Dio.

Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris +, et Filii+, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos et maneat semper. R. Amen.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

To the members of the Court of Saint Maria of Walsingham, grace and peace, and my Apostolic blessing on this Easter Sunday A.D. 2017. Christus resurgens est! Today, we celebrate Christ's victo-ry over the tomb. We celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Sacred Triduum is a time of death and of life. It is a time of darkness and of light. The great mystery is that in order to live you must die. We must die to the world and live only in Christ. Christ was the perfect lamb to pay the enormous debt of the world. But, we can't merely believe and stop there, without work, without suffering. Truly we must hang on the cross like Christ, because Christ told us that we must take up our cross and follow him.

Today the world walks in darkness. Despite that fact, in Christ we have the hope of everlasting life for all who truly believe in Him. Those who truly believe in Christ's will strongly align themselves with the true Church of Christ, the one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostol-ic Church of Christ. Those who believe in Christ live according to the true and authentic Christian doctrine. The heart of the doctrine is derived from and of the very essence of the Sacred Heart of Christ.
As always, there is a great force aligned against the Church and against the Christian people. That force is a force of the Antichrist. This is a great war, the eternal war between good and evil. Dear friends in Christ, we must fight as soldiers of the Cross! But our strongest weapon is not the pistol and not the rifle, but rather the Holy Mass. A priest celebrating mass does more than all strongest armies in the world put together.

Also, as I told you all last Easter, always conduct yourselves properly, in appropriate dress, with appropriate words, as clerics and nobles of the ancient and Patriarchal Court. Priests, celebrate the mass for peace and for victory. All of you, pray the Holy Rosary. Always be brave and preach the truth of the Holy Gospels, even if it means your death or harm comes to you. I pray, however, the God will preserve us from all harm!

To proclaim the holy Gospel is not hatred. The truth contained therein is love. All the love in the world is found in the Holy Gospel of Christ. We proclaim the Gospel precisely because we love all the people of the world!

Today also I am very pleased that we have now a mission in Af-rica, and seminarians are diligently progressing towards the Order of Priests. Even the apostolate of the Walsingham Guard, a modern continuation of the Grand Bailiwick and the two Grand Priories if the Imperial Teutonic Order vested in our Patriarchate, joined with the various other units that comprise part of the patrimony of the Patriarchate, continues to thrive and grow. The Mission Statement of the Guard is "Inspiring lives of strength, compassion, and peace." The Guard is truly a religious ministry and vocation.

So, returning specifically to Easter, this time of great joy, we give thanks unto the Lord that He hung on the Cross, that blessed wood, and who conquered both the grave and hell itself. Therefore, prepare yourselves to receive God's blessing.

Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris +, et Filii+, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos et maneat semper. R. Amen.

14 April 2017

Who is Responsible for the Death of Christ?

Sub Tuum. 

Who is responsible for the murder of Christ? It cannot simply be blamed on the Jews, though it was the Jewish authorities who, out of jealousy, sought the destruction of Jesus and delivered Him to the Romans. Neither can it simply be blamed on the Romans, as they were faced with a riot that they had to put down - their main concern rather than with Christ Himself. Even Pilate washed his hands of the matter. So on whom do we place the blame? All you need to do is look in the mirror. It is something for which each and every one of us is responsible. We cannot merely relegate the Passion to a time in the past, for our Lord knows neither time nor space. Was humanity fallen and in need of salvation then, but not thereafter? Certainly not. Are we all saved now because of an historical event 2000 years ago without any responsibility on our part now? Not at all. Christ came at a specific time to this world, yes - but He came to save all people across all time. Just as we have the same opportunity at salvation, we also bear the same responsibility as those who were alive at the time of Christ.

07 April 2017

American Attacks on Syria

Sub Tuum.

Statement of the Patriarch of St. Stephen:

The U.S. President's military action of today can be called nothing short of reckless, irresponsible, inappropriate, and illegitimate. The sabre-rattling of yesterday was a clear pretext to war. That military action happened so soon thereafter clearly suggests that commentary was nothing but an excuse used to justify something already planned.

One must ask that, other than cleaning up the mess of ISIS that the Americans created, what right does the United States have to conduct an act of war against a foreign power? In addition to the simple fact that military intervention of this nature in Syria is complex at best on its own, the proximity of Russian troops makes this a potential powder-keg. Hopefully this will not be the site where the fools of the twenty-first century destroy lands and people in a proxy war between two superpowers.

It is time for the United States military to cease obeying foolish and likely illegal orders. One cannot be absolved simply because one was following orders.

23 March 2017

London Terrorist Attack

Sub Tuum.

Another terrorist attack has happened - this time in London at Parliament. Apparently a single attacker wrought a considerable amount of destruction and mayhem. Since we are at an unprecedented time of peace in the western world, such an attack is all the more visible. 

Amidst all the cowardly violence, however, the light of valor managed to show through. Tobias Ellwood, a former soldier who is currently the Minister for Counter-Terrorism, rushed to the aid of a fatally-wounded police officer. 

Less nobly, the broken record continues of weak and trite responses declaring one or another emotional yet vapid comments in response to terrorist attacks. That stands in stark contrast to the bold and strong words of Sir Winston Churchill and others like him (though there truly is no one quite like Churchill). What is painfully absent is a strong sense of resolve that good and decent people of the world will fight to stop those who wish them harm and will resolve to die rather than live as slaves or live in fear. That and that alone is the only rhetoric for a free people. That is the legacy of our ancestors in the armies of the Holy Cross. That is the legacy of the pilots in the Battle of Britain and of those who crossed the Channel to Normandy and who landed on the shores of Italy to lift the shadow of bigoted oppression. 

In the past, the United Kingdom knew how to deal with terrorists when faced with regular, cowardly attacks by the IRA. Now, however, we can only hope that the British people have not forgotten that the nose of the British bulldog slopes backward so that it may breathe without letting go. The tenacity so associated with the spirit of the British Isles is the legacy brought by the Romans and by the Normans. It is their historic nature - unless they themselves choose to abdicate and abandon their birthright, and knuckle under and crawl in the face of the enemy. 

The unique and special patrimony of the Patriarchate of St. Stephen includes both Anglican and Roman - both English and Italian. The Patriarchal household of the See of St. Stephen is centered in Florence, but called the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham. The ties between Italy and England, however, are neither new nor unusual. It is an old relationship. Saint Augustine of Canterbury, founder of the Catholic Anglican Church, was himself an Italian. Saint Anselmo, an important Archbishop of Canterbury, was born in the Italian lands of Aosta, then in the Kingdom of Arles, which at one time ruled both Tuscany and the entire Kingdom of Italy in the Holy Roman Empire. The list continues. Our Patriarchate is forever linked not only to the holy land of Italy, but to the British Isles. We therefore feel this attack no differently than if it were done to us directly. Let us pray that the people of Britain will remember their true heritage of faith and strength and that the government will act appropriately. Those who refuse to fight when the battle is easy to win and victory may even be possible without bloodshed will so often find themselves in a bloody conflict of great difficulty and uncertainty. It is a lesson that history teaches, but one that many refuse to learn.

05 February 2017

Unity and Polarization

Sub Tuum.

Amidst the transition to the new President of the United States, calls for unity as Americans are contrasted with diametrically-opposed criticisms of and apologetics for Trump. This is not a situation unique to the United States, but ongoing evens there make it a timely example. Those who say that the elected President is the President, some will like him and some will not, and all people should come together in unity as Americans for the common good are indeed perplexed by the polarization. Those who support Trump cannot understand why some are opposed to Trump. Those who oppose Trump cannot understand why some support him. Neither side wants to budge. 

President Ronald Reagan (left) greets future President
Donald Trump (right) at a White House function.
Reagan was President during a time of greater national
unity, while Trump leads the U.S. government
during a highly polarized time.
In standing back and watching the unfolding situation, it occurs to me that there can be no true unity in anything when there is such polarization. It is a fundamental impossibility. There will always be some degree of disagreement - even some who strongly disagree. But, when it is widespread and strong, it is difficult to ignore. 

Those who support Mr. Trump have their set of reasons. Those who oppose Mr. Trump have their set of reasons as well. The President's opponents do not feel they should ignore issues about which they are passionate simply for unity. If they believe something is wrong, then they will continue to stand up to it. Whether one agrees with their logic or not, one cannot dispute that they truly believe what they believe, provided that they are being honest. I use simply the title of President here intentionally. Consider that if Mrs. Clinton had been elected, those of us who oppose the wholesale murder of millions of children each year, most of them from minority backgrounds, would surely right now continue to oppose the Presidents support thereof and would not back down simply in the name of national unity. Note however, despite my use of the abortion example, I am otherwise not making any comparisons or judgments in this writing on any specific aspect of the Trump Administration's policy or what would likely have been the Clinton Administration's policy. 

So, there it is. Two sides with vastly opposing views that simply cannot be reconciled. If we give the benefit of the doubt to at least the majority of citizens on either side, then we have two groups standing up for what they believe. That is not likely to change - at least not any time soon. And so perhaps the United States is in a period of divergence within the population. I could make arguments for that being a positive thing. For example, to use abortion once again, if we have "two Americas," one that supports abortion and one that does not, then I cannot say that such deviance within the population is at all bad, for the defense of life cannot yield. Similarly, if we have "two Americas," one that is of the Catholic faith and one that is decidedly anti-Catholic, as much of the United States has historically been and is to this day, I cannot say that such divergence is bad, for we must stand for the faith of Christ. On the other hand, I can argue for national unity, provided it does not reach the point of nationalism. It is not a good thing to have people tearing themselves apart and doing harm of any kind to others simply because they have differing political views or disagree regarding something that is going on in Washington. How does that benefit anyone? How does it solve any problem? 

I do not have a solution for this problem. Sometimes situations in human dynamics possess a certain momentum and will run their course on their own unless they are acted upon by some greater force. (Wars have done just that on more than one occasion.) What I can advise, as trite as it may sound, is to have respect for others of differing viewpoints. The more divergent their viewpoint is from yours, the more difficult that will be. The more divergent their viewpoint is from yours, the more you must listen. You don't have to agree with them. You can certainly stand up for your own principles, even if that means standing against them. I absolutely advocate standing up for right. However, we ought not let a disagreement of ideas between us and our neighbor end in doing harm to each other. 

History is full of scenarios like this. While national brotherhood in its authentic and beneficial form may be a laudable ideal, it is presently elusive. Rather than becoming frustrated, why not do something to put your principles into positive action and help others? 

30 January 2017

Close the Borders? Law - History - Ethics.

Sub Tuum.

I have seen few things in recent times cause such divisive shock waves around the world as the recent decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to impose a temporary ban on visas for persons from seven Islamic countries. The internet and the airwaves have exploded with heated, vitriolic debate. No doubt similar in-person debates are taking place at this time. Some laud this action as long overdue. Others condemn it as inhumane. Today I used the most powerful weapon that I have, the most powerful weapon on earth, the Holy Mass, to seek the help of God that those who are in turmoil and fighting each other over this recent order by the U.S. President will stop the fighting, stop the acrimony, stop the ad hominem attacks, listen to each other, and come together. Open your hearts and listen to God. Do not create more division while claiming that we are all one. Do not demonstrate hatred to try to prove a point about love. 

First, before continuing, it is important to understand the perspective from which I write this. (How much better communication would be and how fewer misunderstandings would happen if people understood the perspective of others.) Although I am a citizen of the United States by virtue of having been born there and have continued to maintain that citizenship all my life to this day, in my ecclesiastical office I cannot help but consider my primary citizenship to be with Christ's Holy Church and with the Patriarchate that I shepherd. To do otherwise would be to place a worldly state above the ecclesiastical government. Indeed, the spiritual home of the Patriarchate is not in the United States, but in Italy. Its Patrimony is located primarily in Europe. Its scope is international, bringing the love of Christ to all people. 

Also, though I have never been a refugee, I have nevertheless personally suffered travel delays and other problems, even that threatened being separated from my family due to politically-motivated visa issues. I was also subjected to multiple rounds of additional scrutiny by the Chinese communist government over my being a cleric and wearing clerical dress in my passport photo (as I am required to do by protocol) before they would issue me a tourist visa. They insisted that I promise not to engage in religious activities while in China and demanded that I tell them everywhere I was going to be at every moment, as well as where I would be staying - for every day during a three week trip. Although this surely does not rise to the level of impoverished refugees fleeing war-torn areas, I still wondered where the outrage was over that sort of treatment. It was entirely absent. To add insult to injury, I was effectively told it was all my fault for being a clergyman and wearing the attire I am bound to wear as a cleric. 

This is the perspective from which I write here. 

Now, to address the issue as to whether this action of the American President is legal, it would appear that U.S. federal law permits the President to do precisely what he did. It will be up to the government of the U.S. if they wish to change that legal authority. At this point it appears quite legal. 

What must also be said is that the borders of the United States and Europe are, from what I can tell, a complete mess. Something must be done. A nation must secure its borders appropriately for the benefit of both its citizenry and of its visitors - including refugees. 

While there is an humanitarian imperative to help refugees as much as one is realistically able to do, a nation must ensure to the best of that nation's abilities that they are in fact authentic refugees and not abusing the system. While Mr. Trump is receiving criticism over his decision, William Clinton said in a State of the Union address that the nation must be vigilant against those who abuse the visa system. Also, during the Hostage Crisis, U.S. President James Carter ordered visas for Iranians invalidated and placed a ban on issue of new visas for a time except for medical or significant humanitarian purpsoes; and he further ordered Iranian students report to an immigration office for an interview or face deportation. While some may wish to debate whether the actions of Mr. Carter are the same as those of Mr. Trump, it is effectively irrelevant. Of course they are different historical events. The point is that this is not the first time a visa ban has been ordered by a U.S. President over Islamic terrorism.

Just as it is difficult to repair a pipe while it has water flowing through it, it is admittedly difficult to evaluate existing systems and put in new systems that can properly vet refugees and visitors without shutting off the influx of immigrants and visitors temporarily. Was Mr. Trump's approach the best way to handle the situation? Time will tell. In any case, the border situation needs to be resolved appropriately. 

Another troubling issue is that, while mostly-Muslim refugees were allowed into the United States, it appears that countless Christian refugees were left to be slaughtered and persecuted as America turned its back on them. Indeed, they would not have been in that situation if the United States had not mishandled the Iraq War and left a power vacuum that allowed ISIS to reach the level of activity and control that it has. While some have raised concerns that this recent order by the U.S. President targets a specific religious group, the same accusation can be leveled at the American government for having apparently ignored Christians in desperate need due to a problem that it created and forced upon them. 

Yet another point to consider is that there is an ongoing war. Whether one agrees that there should be a war or not is another matter. There is nevertheless a war underway, and it is against militant Islam. For historical perspective, consider World War II. Few Nazi attacks actually took place on U.S. soil. Yet I doubt that the U.S. government was all that free with issuing entry visas to Germans or to those affiliated with the Nazis. (German-Americans were in fact highly watched and often confined to their neighborhoods, and Japense-Americans were widely interned in camps.) There is certainly historical precedent for denial of visas, though the present war is quite different in many respects than the Second World War. 

From the time of the Islamic conquest of Christian lands to the Crusader period to the Barbary Pirates to the present day, Islam and the West have always had an uneasy relationship. Peace has been attained from time to time, but it has been neither stable nor lasting. This is another historical fact to keep in mind.

One final point to bear in mind is that it is a commonly-held misconception that the United States is a nation of immigrants. That is patently false. There were the people of the First Nations (American Indians). Then  there were Europeans who came to the American colonies of Spain, France, Great Britain, and Holland. They were not immigrants, but simply people who moved from one territory of their own nation's territory to another. Immigrant status applies only to those who moved from one country to another, and although there were indeed a few who went from their home country to the colony of another country at that time, "immigrant" applies on the large scale only to those who came to the United States after the time that the United States actually existed. And, the people who came to the Colonies and even the immigrants who came later did so for many reasons. They were not all "fleeing persecution" as the commonly-held myth says. So, yes, the United States has had and continues to have many immigrants - just like any other country. Many of those immigrants have contributed greatly in many ways and make up the fabric of American society. Yet countries with more immigration per capita are not called "nations of immigrants." To call the United States a "nation of immigrants" as its founding impetus is patently non-factual. Historical immigration is simply not a valid argument in this matter. 

A full analysis of this situation would be much more complex. Most people do not have all the facts. I have sought to touch on some main points that I hope will be helpful. Whether this recent executive order by Mr. Trump will prove itself to be a painful medicine leading to a positive outcome for all or be a short-sighted humanitarian disaster will be seen in time. Until then, let us not tear each other apart while simultaneously proclaiming respect for our fellow man. Let us breathe and relax and offer all this suffering up to the poor souls in purgatory. Above all, let us pray. 

26 January 2017

All We Need is One Million Dollars...

Sub Tuum. 

Consider the following statement: "What a great idea we have! All we need to make it a reality is one million dollars! Well, we don't have that money, and I don't know how to get it, so we can't put our goals into action." Maybe on the surface it sounds like a statement of reality, but it is, in reality, a statement of lethargy! Of course most things take money; even the work of the Church. However, things also start somewhere. If a goal put into action will take one million dollars (or some specific amount) to do fully, that money is not going to fall off a tree or out of the sky. Even with limited resources, ideas can be put into action. Donors are far more likely to donate to a project about which its members are passionate than one that is merely an untried idea on paper by people who are sitting around passively for someone to give them cash. If you won't get to work doing something you care about simply because there are limited resources, why should anyone believe that you will do something when there are more resources and be a faithful steward of those resources?  Remember the parable of the five talents: "His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25.23)  If you want to put worthy goals into action with vast resources, demonstrate your dedication when there are limited resources. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish with limited funds, limited numbers of people, and limited facilities. There really and truly is no excuse whatsoever for not getting moving. Don't wait for things to be perfect - or at least what you think is perfect. We are called by God to action here and now! Step forward in faith, good and faithful servant.

21 January 2017

The Epidemic of Claims of Illegitimacy

Sub Tuum. 

America is faced with an epidemic. It is an epidemic that pertains to the hearts of the people. It is an epidemic that causes division, acrimony, and disharmony where such things need not exist. Let us begin with an example. 

Today the United States inaugurated its new President. The festivities of that occasion are juxtaposed with the violent riots taking place in Washington, D.C., in opposition to Donald Trump's Presidency. While many sing the praises of the new President, many others call him illegitimate. In fact, the past four Presidents, including Mr. Trump, have been called illegitimate by large portions of the American citizenry. Messrs. Obama, Bush (the younger), and Clinton were all called illegitimate. Mr. Clinton was even impeached, though not successfully convicted in the subsequent trial in the U.S. Senate. The Clinton Presidency was during the 1990s. This trend of calling Presidents with whom one disagrees illegitimate (that is, "not the real President") is now almost three decades. The Millennial generations knows nothing different. Now, there is nothing wrong with having standards or standing on principle. However, the mere fact of disagreement - even serious disagreement - does not by itself make someone else illegitimate. In fact, even believing a President is illegitimate does not by itself render that President illegitimate. And so the United States becomes polarized - more and more polarized. 

A further and even more serious problem with this is that it is not limited to the Presidency or even political figures. It should be no surprise that this trend has pervaded society in general as the practice of calling others with whom we disagree "illegitimate" becomes engrained in our psyches. It also compartmentalizes the population, for it is a logical sequitur that not only those with differing points of view will be deemed illegitimate, but those who support the so-called "illegitimate" person. Now instead of respecting those who support the President (choose any of the last four), one begins to view them as supporters of an official one has deemed "illegitimate." But again, this is not limited to Presidents or politicians. No one is immune. Everyone is a potential target of the limitless fury of the small-minded and angry who build themselves up by tearing down others. 

This is a sickness. It has reached epidemic proportions, and it is dangerous if a society is to be free. There are always absolutes or semi-absolutes in any society. The Church has dogma and doctrine. Nations have laws. Even clubs have rules. Beyond such infrastructural matters, if a society is to be free, then people may have divergent viewpoints and even mutually-exclusive viewpoints. One need not associate with those with whom one disagrees if that is one's choice. Yet, to call them "illegitimate," particularly with the acrimony seen in past decades, is to challenge the very nature of free thought. It is to admit a great weakness in which one can only hold a certain point of view by destroying all other points of view. That belies either a significant tenuousness of opinion or a haughty arrogance that forces all others to think in accord. 

The fact is that one can indeed remain strong in one's opinions while permitting even those with divergent opinions to think as they choose. It may not be easy, but it is possible. Again, their are certainly absolutes that exist, which are either universal (e.g., matters of faith) or that apply in specific settings and circumstances (e.g., military doctrine). So, where there is room for opinion, which includes the very serious and relevant issue of the type of society in which we wish to live, and which also includes many more mundane matters, disagreement is not only possible, it is likely. Those who hold divergent opinions in such matters are not by that very fact "illegitimate." 

The fundamental cause is likely a lack of respect in society for others. It started small and has grown over the years as those on different sides of issues have traded blows back and forth. The key is to maintain an open mind. One does not have to abandon one's most sacred beliefs to have an open mind. One does not even have to give up one's opinions to have an open mind. What is necessary, though, is to try to see the point of view of others through their lens rather than the lens that we use to see the world. To do that, one must first determine just what one's own lens is. This is not easy. It is in fact far easier to call others illegitimate because one disagrees with them. The easy path leads to ever-increasing tension and distress. The path to healing and brotherhood and unity requires hard work and dedication. It is ultimately the best path - but I won't call you illegitimate if you disagree with me on that. 

15 January 2017

The Temporal Duties of the Church

Sub Tuum.

Absalon, Archbishop of Lund
A warrior bishop and statesman.
That there are segments of the Church hierarchy devoted to the temporal authority of the Church Militant here on earth is nothing new* and indeed is an essential element of the very fact that the Church, while not of this world, is nevertheless in this world. To shun that aspect of the Church in favor of spiritual piety only is to deny the fundamental nature of Christ's Church on earth. As Christ on earth had a dual nature - wholly God and wholly man - so, too does His Holy Church have the same dual nature. There is spiritual authority, and there is temporal authority. The latter flows from the the former. Both carry out the essential function of our Lord on earth. Even in today's world, where secular governments have experienced significant change in their form from earlier times in history, this dual nature of the Church is as relevant as ever, if not more so. If we claim it is irrelevant because at present we no longer rule territory (or much territory), we are guilty of ceding the legacy of the Church of establishing Christ among all men to the governments that are merely of this world. That which one has as a right given by God can not be taken away, but can only be given away. We must not and will not give away that which is our sacred right and our sacred duty to maintain. There is much to be done outside of the parish walls. It is by those to whom the legacy of the temporal authority of the Church has fallen that must provide the leadership for such work out in the world, even if that leadership is only provided by example. We can always hope for better times, but then no time in history is ever perfect. We live in this time period. We do not live in the past or in the future. We draw strength and guidance from the past. If we want a brighter future, then we must make it ourselves with the help of God. That is the duty of the temporal defenders of the faith. It always has been and always will be. Deus vult.

+Rutherford, Cardinal Count of Sainte Animie

* "One need not assume that on joining the church hierarchy young noblemen lost any of their military ambition or their taste for the knightly life. These were merely now channelled into the service of a church only too happy to make use of such qualities. Not surprisingly, these churchmen tended to show less concern for piety. Rising perhaps to become bishops and archbishops of the Empire, these noblemen more often administered the power than the sacraments of the church. In contrast to the communal living practiced by their brothers in the monasteries, many enjoyed themselves in their favourite estates or town houses. It is said that by the thirteenth century only lavish feasts and special delicacies could interest noble-born members of the Cologne church chapters in attending religious observances. Indications are, however, that for many men of the church active participation in military conflicts required considerably less incentive. A church hierarchy dominated by the offspring of the rural aristocracy, frequently practicing the quarrelsome lifestyle of their feudal relatives, undoubtedly succeeded in earning the mistrust of the urban bourgeoisie. Even an archbishop of Cologne was bound to be viewed not simply as a man of the church, but also a representative of a class whose values and interests frequently clashed with those of the new urban elite."
From "The Battle of Worringen, 1288: The History and Mythology of a notable Event" Thesis at the University of Alberta by Jan Mähler

10 January 2017

Married Clergy, Priests, and Bishops

Sub Tuum.

As if there are not enough real problems in the world today - as in any era - that should unite Christians together in commonality of purpose, Christians sadly find reasons to nitpick and poke at each other. Such scenarios are frequently used as justification for lack of charity and refusal to collaborate for the common good. One thing about the Patriarchate of St. Stephen of which I have always been proud is that, under the guiding principle of cooperation without compromise, we have always worked with other jurisdictions for the preservation of the Christian faith and for the good of humanity. We seek to find common ground to work together rather than focusing on differences to justify lack of Christian brotherhood. 

Cardinal René de Birague, Chancellor of France
whose wife, Valentine Balbiani, was the inspiration
for the sculpture "The Cardinal's Wife."
One issue that causes infighting and separation is, ironically something that is inherently about union, and that is marriage of clergy, priests, and bishops within Catholic jurisdictions. Although this might be something thought to be limited to traditionalist circles, it is not. There are plenty in the Novus Ordo that simply cannot comprehend the notion of a married Catholic clergyman. That is even more baffling considering that there are quite a number of married Catholic priests within the Roman Communion, not to mention the even larger number of married Catholic deacons. And remember that Catholic deacons are ordained clerics in major Holy Orders, not "laymen at the altar," as so many Catholics today erroneously believe. So why all the commotion?

Now it is time for a bit of history. The discipline of celibacy (which refers to being unmarried) in the Christian Church only dates back to the eleventh century as mandatory (with some exceptions). It was primarily a means to prevent legitimate heirs to clerics so that lands and titles belonging to (or desired by) the Church could not be inherited - at least not without permission of the Church. Of course, both celibacy and marriage were legitimate and accepted options for clergy before that. (For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. - Matthew 9.12)  Eastern clergy continued to be able to be drawn from among married men. There is indeed quite a long list of married clerics, married priests, and yes, even Bishops - including the first Pope, Blessed Peter the Apostle. Saint Paul in his first Epistle to Timothy refers to the Bishop as being the husband of one wife. (A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. - I Timothy 3.2)  Plenty of other Scriptural evidence exists for both married and celibate clergy. And, one should guard against the quite Protestant approach of prooftexting. The overarching point is that whether a specific clergyman can marry or be married is a matter of canonical discipline and, within the bounds of that discipline, a matter of personal choice of conscience. Good married men of faith have served as clerics over the past two thousand years of the Christian Church. 

Mgr. Salamão Barbarosa Ferraz
Roman Catholic Bishop who was
married with children.
Perhaps I am biased in this matter since I myself am married. For me, the Countess makes my ministry, not to mention my life in general, more effective, more enjoyable, and more meaningful. And, my marriage is in accordance with the particular canons of the Patriarchate, with special dispensations from any irregularity granted by proper authority. The same applies to all married clergy of the Patriarchate - and at the time of this writing, all priests and seminarians happen to be married. Under present law, we cannot remarry after ordination to the Sub-Diaconate.

Then again, I am not the only married Cardinal in history. Cardinal René de Birague, Chancellor of France (though born in Italy), was married to Valentina Balbiani, who was "immortalized in art" in a sculpture known as "The Cardinal's Wife" by Germain Pilon. Cardinal Birague, to be fair, did not take Holy Orders until after his wife died, but such were the specific rules that applied to him at the time. Even when not permitted to contract sacramental marriage, plenty of churchmen from at least the latter portion of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and even into the modern period have had mistresses who were effectively common-law wives. Indeed, for quite a long period of the Church's history, it seems high-ranking Church officials were practically expected to have a mistress, or even several mistresses, just like their secular counterparts. Pope Julius II had a mistress (common-law wife) by whom he had a daughter that bore the surname of his own noble family, Felicia della Rovere. She was a prominent Italian noblewoman of the day and wielded great influence. The children of Pope Alexander VI are well known and include Cesare Borgia and Lucrezia Borgia. Alexander's mistress was given a funeral equivalent of that of a queen by Pope Leo X, effectively recognizing her status. Pope Paul III's son was given the title of Duke of Parma and started the great line of dukes of the House of Farnese. Cardinal David Beaton (de Bethune), Archbishop of Saint Andrews in Scotland, had a mistress and is even an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II. The list goes on and on. At least those who were able to marry their lady consorts sacramentally have been able to "make an honest women of them." The issue of inheritance of land and titles simply does not apply under the circumstances of the world in which we live today.

And then there was Mgr. Salamão Barbarosa Ferraz, Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janiero. He was consecrated in the Duarte-Costa line of Apostolic Succession. (Mgr. Duarte-Costa had a persisting conflict with Rome over the alleged support of Pius XII for Hitler during World War II, an accusation that we now know was false, but which one could be forgiven for thinking that at the time). Mgr. Ferraz was married with several children. He was received (without further ordination, even sub-conditione) into the Roman Communion by Pope John XXIII, while still married with children. At the invitation of Pope Paul VI, he participated in a committee of the Second Vatican Council, again while his wife was still very much alive and while still very much married with children. It is clearly canonically possible, even if rare. But rare does not mean wrong, and rare does not mean bad or inferior.

More modernly, there are two Ordinaries of the Anglican Ordinariate, founded by Pope Benedict XVI, who were former Episcopalian bishops. They were ordained de novo as Roman priests and then given ordinary authority. They were/are (one has retired) effectively bishops, even though not ordained as such - and there was even talk that one or both could be made a Cardinal. One frequently heard "Monsignor and Mrs." in reference to them and their wives. There would have been nothing stopping Benedict XVI from ordaining the two Ordinaries in question as Bishops. It is my opinion that the political and social construct within the present Roman Communion simply did not allow it, though I will not presume to state what was in the heart and mind of the Holy Father. 

Indeed, plenty of Ordinariate clergy are married and are just as effective than their unmarried counterparts. However, it seems the days of married clergy as the norm within the Ordinariate are numbered, as there has already been much criticism of their presence. Quite sad, really. The accomplishments of one that comes to mind include building a most impressive parish and Catholic school that serves as a shining example of Catholic education and tradition amidst the modern darkness. 

Certainly the norm in the Church is for celibate (unmarried) clergy. Yet, there have been plenty of married clergy, priests, and bishops who have served faithfully. There have been even more clerics who have had common-law wives, often producing children that were recognized and which became highly placed in society, benefiting the Holy Church and leaving their mark on history. Being in the minority does not mean one is inferior or an abberration. It is time that we bury this ridiculous and divisive argument and not let it be yet another rationale for brother fighting brother.