CatholicScout Clarifies: Traditional Baptism side-by-side with Novus Ordo Baptism

So to my knowledge, no one has yet put the two rites of Baptism side-by-side. So below (after my preliminary notes) is the Old Rite side by side with the New Rite. This is a reference free for all.

Preliminary notes

The Novus Ordo Rite of Baptism is almost impossible to place side-by-side in equivalent parts, as vast sections have simply been removed, and wholly new ones put in.

As you read through it, you will see there are areas which have been moved across to the Novus Ordo (with changes), but are usually transposed to a different part of the Rite.

Areas that have been wholly removed from the Novus Ordo:

  • Exsufflation outside of the Church
  • Imposition of hands
  • Imposition of salt
  • First exorcism before admission into the Church building
  • Second imposition of the Sign of the Cross
  • Second imposition of hands
  • Formal admission into the Church building
  • Recital of the Creed
  • Second (and Solemn) Exorcism
  • First anointing prior to the Profession of Faith and Baptism

In addition the Ephphetha in the Novus Ordo is optional.

Things added to the Novus Ordo Rite, which are absent in the Traditional:

  • Scriptural Readings and Homily
  • Intercessions (including Litany of Saints – partial or full)
  • Blessing and Invocation of God over Baptismal Water
  • Blessing to the people at the conclusion of the Rite

As you will see the Rites are almost completely different to one another. One is anthropocentric (human-centred) in it’s perspective (Novus), the other Theocentric (God-centred) – (Usus Antiquor). Please note that I am a little confused as to why in the Novus Ordo they have the “Blessing and Invocation of God over Baptismal Water” at every Baptism, since a blessed object receives nothing extra from being blessed again. I don’t think that this part of the Rite is obligatory, but I’m not sure.

Lastly, the Novus Ordo Rite of Baptism given below is as per the 1965 Roman Missal (updated), I have only taken options A, and that I think very few people would experience Baptism strictly according to the words and rubrics here presented, innovation is king.

Usus Antiquor

Novus Ordo

The Rite of Baptism

Part I

Outside the Church

The Rite of Baptism

[Options A]

Entrance to the Church

The priest (wearing a violet stole), sponsors, and the catechumen stand in the narthex of the church, symbolizing that at this point, the candidate is not a member of the Church. The celebrant greets all present, and especially the parents and godparents, reminding them briefly of the joy with which the parents welcomed this child as a gift from God, the source of life, who now wishes to bestow his own life on this little one. First the celebrant questions the parents:

The Questioning

Celebrant: What name do you give your child? (or: have you given?)
Priest: N., what do you ask of the Church of God? Parents: N.
Sponsor/Catechumen: Faith. Celebrant: What do you ask of God’s Church for N.?
Priest: What does Faith offer you? Parents: Baptism.
Sponsor/Catechumen: Life everlasting. In the second response the parents may use other words, such as, “faith,” “the grace of Christ,” “entrance into the Church,” “eternal life.”
Priest: If then you desire to enter into life, keep the commandments. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’ Celebrant speaks to the parents in these or similar words: You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?

The Exsufflation

Parents: We do.
The priest then breathes 3 times on the candidate in the form of a Cross, recalling the Spirit (breath, wind, “ruach”) of God. Celebrant turns to the godparents and addresses them in these or similar words: Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?
Priest: Go forth from him (her), unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. Godparents: We do.

The Sign of the Cross

Celebrant: N., the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. in its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross. I now trace the cross on your forehead, and invite your parents (and godparents) to do the same.
The priest now makes the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on the candidate’s forehead and breast. He signs the child on the forehead, in silence. Then he invites the parents and (if it seems appropriate) the godparents to do the same. The celebrant invites the parents, godparents, and the others to take part in the liturgy of the word. If circumstances permit, there is a procession to the place where this will be celebrated, during which a song is sung e.g., Psalm 84: 7, 8, 9ab.
Priest: Receive the Sign of the Cross both upon your forehead + and also upon your heart +; take to you the faith of the heavenly precepts; and so order your life as to be, from henceforth, the temple of God.


Priest: Let us pray: Mercifully hear our prayers, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and by Thy perpetual assistance keep this Thine elect, N, signed with the sign of the Lord’s cross, so that, preserving this first experience of the greatness of Thy glory, he (she) may deserve, by keeping Thy commandments, to attain to the glory of regeneration. Through Christ our Lord.

Scriptural Readings and Homily

Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen. One or even two of the following gospel passages are read, during which all may sit if convenient.
John 3: 1-6: The meeting with Nicodemus.
Matthew 28: 18-20: The apostles are sent to preach the gospel and to baptize.
Mark 1: 9-11: The baptism of Jesus.
Mark 10: 13-16: Let the little children come to me.

The Imposition of Hands

After the reading, the celebrant gives a short homily, explaining to those present the significance of what has been read. His purpose will be to lead them to a deeper understanding of the mystery of baptism and to encourage the parents and godparents to ready acceptance of the responsibilities which arise from the sacrament.
The priest places his hands on the candidate’s head. After the homily, or in the course of or after the litany, it is desirable to have a period of silence while all pray at the invitation of the celebrant. If convenient, a suitable song follows, such as one chosen from nos. 225-245.
Priest: Let us pray: Almighty, everlasting God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, look graciously down upon this Thy servant, N., whom Thou hast graciously called unto the beginnings of the faith; drive out from him (her) all blindness of heart; break all the toils of Satan wherewith he (she) was held: open unto him (her), O Lord, the gate of Thy loving kindness, that, being impressed with the sign of Thy wisdom, he (she) may be free from the foulness of all wicked desires, and in the sweet odor of Thy precepts may joyfully serve Thee in Thy Church, and grow in grace from day to day. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Priest: Through the same Christ our Lord. Celebrant: My dear brothers and sisters, let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to look lovingly on this child who is to be baptized, on his (her) parents and godparents, and on all the baptized.
Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen Leader: By the mystery of your death and resurrection, bathe this child in light, give him (her) the new life of baptism and welcome him (her) into your holy Church.

The Imposition of Salt

All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Now the priest puts a little blessed salt in the candidate’s mouth. Salt is the symbol of that wisdom which gives a relish for the sweetness of divine nourishment; preserves, by the teaching of the Gospel, from the corruption of sin, and prevents evil passions from growing in men’s souls. Adult catechumens might be signed on the brow, ears, eyes, nostrils, mouth, breast, and between the shoulders before the imposition of salt. If this procedure is followed, afterwards the candidate will kneel, recite the Our Father several times, and a Cross is made on his forehead, first by the sponsor and then by the priest. Leader: Through baptism and confirmation, make him (her) your faithful follower and a witness to your gospel.
Priest: N., Receive the salt of wisdom; let it be to thee a token of mercy unto everlasting life. May it make your way easy to eternal life. All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen. Leader: Lead him (her) by a holy life to the joys of God’s kingdom.
Priest: Peace be with you. All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Sponsor/Catechumen: And with your spirit. Leader: Make the lives of his (her) parents and godparents examples of faith to inspire this child.
Priest: Let us pray: O God of our fathers, O God the Author of all truth, vouchsafe, we humbly beseech Thee, to look graciously down upon this Thy servant, N., and as he (she) tastes this first nutriment of salt, suffer him (her) no longer to hunger for want of heavenly food, to the end that he (she) may be always fervent in spirit, rejoicing in hope, always serving Thy name. Lead him (her), O Lord, we beseech Thee, to the laver of the new regeneration, that, together with Thy faithful, he may deserve to attain the everlasting rewards of Thy promises. Through Christ our Lord. All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Priest: Through the same Christ our Lord. Leader: Keep his (her) family always in your love.
Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen All: Lord, hear our prayer.



Leader: Renew the grace of our baptism in each one of us.

The Exorcism

All: Lord, hear our prayer.
The priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the
candidate three times and says:
The celebrant next invites all present to invoke the saints:
Priest: I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N. For He commands Thee, accursed one, Who walked upon the sea, and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honor to the living and true God: give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N. because God and our Lord Jesus Christ hath vouchsafed to call him (her) to His holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism. Holy Mary, Mother of God. All: Pray for us.

The Sign of the Cross

Saint John the Baptist. All: Pray for us.
The priest again makes the Sign of the Cross on the candidate’s forehead Saint Joseph. All: Pray for us.
Priest: And this sign of the holy Cross, which we make upon his (her) forehead, do thou, accursed devil, never dare to violate. Saint Peter and Saint Paul. All: Pray for us.
Priest: Through the same Christ our Lord. The names of other saints may be added, especially the patrons of the child to be baptized, and of the church or locality. The litany concludes:
Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen All holy men and women. All: Pray for us.

The Imposition of Hands

Prayer of Exorcism and Anointing Before Baptism

For the final time, the priest lays his hand on the candidate’s head Celebrant: Almighty and ever-living God, you sent your only Son into the world to cast out the power of Satan, spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness, and bring him into the splendor of your kingdom of light. We pray for this child: set him (her) free from original sin, make him (her) a temple of your glory, and send your Holy Spirit to dwell with him (her). We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Priest: Let us pray: O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, Author of light and truth, I implore Thine everlasting and most just goodness upon this Thy servant N., that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to enlighten him (her) with the light of Thy wisdom: cleanse him (her) and sanctify him (her), give unto him (her) true knowledge; that, being made worthy of the grace of Thy Baptism, he (she) may hold firm hope, right counsel and holy doctrine. All: Amen.
Priest:Through Christ our Lord.

The Anointing

Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen. Celebrant: We anoint you with the oil of salvation in the name of Christ our Savior; may he strengthen you with his power, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Admission into the Church Building

All: Amen.
The priest lays the end of his stole on the candidate as a symbol of his priestly authority, and admits him into the church building, which is the symbol of the Church of Christ. If the catechumen is an adult and was annointed in Part I above, he may be asked to lie prostrate before the Altar in adoration of Christ before this next step. He anoints the child on the breast with the oil of catechumens. Then they go to the baptistry, or to the sanctuary when baptism is celebrated there on occasion.
Priest: N., enter thou into the temple of God, that thou mayest have part with Christ unto life everlasting.


Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen. Celebrant: My dear brothers and sisters, we now ask God to give this child new life in abundance through water and the Holy Spirit.

The Credo and Pater

Blessing and Invocation of God over Baptismal Water

Sponsor/Catechumen: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into Hell. On the third day, He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence shall He come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. Then, turning to the font, he says the following blessing (outside the Easter season).
Sponsor/Catechumen: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. Amen. Celebrant: Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs, which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power. In baptism we use your gift of water, which you have made a rich symbol of the grace you give us in this sacrament. At the very dawn of creation your Spirit breathed on the waters, making them the wellspring of all holiness. The waters of the great flood you made a sign of the waters of baptism, that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness. Through the waters of the Red Sea you led ?Israel out of slavery, to be an image of God’s holy people, set free from sin by baptism. In the waters of the Jordan your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Spirit. Your Son willed that water and blood should flow from his side as he hung upon the cross. After his resurrection he told his disciples: “Go out and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Father, look now with love upon your Church, and unseal for her the fountain of baptism. By the power of the Spirit give to the water of this font the grace of your Son. You created man in your own likeness: cleanse him from sin in a new birth to innocence by water and the Spirit.



The celebrant touches the water with his right hand and continues: We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the water of this font. May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

The Solemn Exorcism

All: Amen.
Priest: I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of God the Father + Almighty, in the name of Jesus + Christ, His Son, our Lord and Judge, and in the power of the Holy + Spirit, that thou be depart from this creature of God N, which our Lord hath deigned to call unto His holy temple, that it may be made the temple of the living God, and that the Holy Spirit may dwell therein. Through the same Christ our Lord, who shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire

Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith

The Ephpheta

Celebrant speaks to the parents and godparents in these words: Dear parents and godparents: You have come here to present this child for baptism. By water and the Holy Spirit he (she) is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love.  On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him (her) is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his (her) heart.  If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is about to be baptized.
The priest takes a little spittle and touches the ears and nostrils of the candidate with it. For health reasons, the use of spittle may be omitted. This rite comes from Mark 7:33-35, when Jesus healed the deaf-mute: “And taking him from the multitude apart, he put his fingers into his ears: and spitting, he touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he groaned and said to him: Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened. And immediately his ears were opened and the string of his tongue was loosed and he spoke right.”. Celebrant: Do you reject Satan?
Priest: Ephpheta, that is to say, Be opened, for an odour of sweetness. Be thou, devil, begone; for the judgement of God shall draw near. Parents and Godparents: I do.

The Renunciation of Satan

Celebrant: And all his works?
Priest: N., do you renounce Satan? Parents and Godparents: I do.
Sponsor/Catechumen: I do renounce him. Celebrant: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
Priest: And all of his works? Parents and Godparents: I do.
Sponsor/Catechumen: I do renounce him. Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Priest: And all his pomps? Parents and Godparents: I do.
Sponsor/Catechumen: I do renounce him. Celebrant: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

The Anointing

Parents and Godparents: I do.
The priest annoints the candidate with the oil of catechumens on the heart and between the shoulders in the form of a Cross, saying: The celebrant and the congregation give their assent to this profession of faith:
Priest: I annoint you + with the oil of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord, that you may have everlasting life. Celebrant: This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen. All: Amen.




The priest removes his violet stole and puts on a white one. Celebrant: Is it your will that N. should be baptized in the faith of the Church, which we have all professed with you?

The Profession of Faith

Parents and Godparents: It is.
Priest: N., do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth? He baptizes the child, saying: N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, He immerses the child or pours water upon it. and of the Son, He immerses the child or pours water upon it a second time. and of the Holy Spirit. He immerses the child or pours water upon it a third time. After the child is baptized, it is appropriate for the people to sing a short acclamation.
Sponsor/Catechumen: I do believe.

Anointing with Chrism

Priest: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, Who was born and Who suffered? Celebrant: God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.
Sponsor/Catechumen: I do believe. All: Amen.
Priest: Do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting? Then the celebrant anoints the child on the crown of the head with the sacred chrism, in silence.
Sponsor/Catechumen: I do believe.

Clothing with the White Garment

Baptism (Matter and Form of the Sacrament)

Celebrant: N., you have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.
If the one to be baptized is a baby, the godparents take him to the font (the godmother holds him in her arms, the godfather touches the baby’s shoulder with his right hand); if he is an adult, the sponsor puts his right hand on the shoulder of the one to be baptized. All: Amen.
Priest: N., will you be baptized? The white garment is put on the child. A different color is not permitted unless demanded by local custom. It is desirable that the family provide the garment.
Sponsor/Catechumen: I will.

Lighted Candle

The priest pours water over the head of the candidate three times, once after each mention of the Divine Persons. The water he uses will have been consecrated during the Easter Vigil or on the Eve of the Pentecost. As he pours the water, the priest says these words (or the words of a conditional Baptism): Celebrant takes the Easter candle and says: Receive the light of Christ.
Priest: I baptize you in the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy + Spirit. Someone from the family (such as the father or godfather) lights the child’s candle from the Easter candle.

The Anointing with Chrism

Celebrant then says: Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
Priest: May the Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath regenerated thee by water and the Holy Spirit, and who hath given thee the remission of all thy sins, may He Himself + anoint thee with the Chrism of Salvation, in the same Christ Jesus our Lord, unto life eternal.

Ephphetha or Prayer over Ears and Mouth

Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen. If the conference of bishops decides to preserve the practice, the rite of Ephphetha follows. [in the United States it may be performed at the discretion of the minister.] The celebrant touches the ears and mouth of the child with his thumb, saying:
Priest: Peace be with you. The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.
Sponsor/Catechumen: And with your spirit. All: Amen.

The White Linen Cloth


This priest takes a white linen cloth — symbolizing the purity of a soul cleansed from all sin, and a relic of the days when the newly baptised wore white albs for 8 days — and places it on the head of the candidate. Next there is a procession to the altar, unless the baptism was performed in the sanctuary. The lighted candle is carried for the child. A baptismal song is appropriate at this time, e.g.: You have put on Christ, in him you have been baptised. Alleluia, alleluia.
Priest: Receive this white garment, which mayest thou carry without stain before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have life everlasting.

Lord’s Prayer

The Lighted Candle

The celebrant stands in front of the altar and addresses the parents, godparents, and the whole assembly in these or similar words:
The priest gives the candidate or the sponsor a lighted candle. Dearly beloved, this child has been reborn in baptism. He (she) is now called the child of God, for so indeed he (she) is. In confirmation he (she) will receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. In holy communion he (she) will share the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice, calling God his (her) Father in the midst of the Church. In the name of this child, in the Spirit of our common sonship, let us pray together in the words our Lord has given us:
Priest: Receive this burning light, and keep thy Baptism so as to be without blame: keep the commandments of God, that when the Lord shall come to the nuptials, thou mayest meet Him together with all the Saints in the heavenly court, and mayest have eternal life and live for ever and ever. All present join the celebrant in singing or saying:

Last Words of Good Will

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Priest: N., go in peace and the Lord be with you. Amen.


Sponsor/Catechumen: Amen. The celebrant first blesses the mother, who holds the child in her arms, then the father, and lastly the entire assembly:
Celebrant: God the Father, through his Son, the Virgin Mary’s child, has brought joy to all Christian mothers, as they see the hope of eternal life shine on their children. May he bless the mother of this child. She now thanks God for the gift of her child. May she be one with him (her) in thanking him for ever in heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
All: Amen.
Celebrant: God is the giver of all life, human and divine. May he bless the father of this child. He and his wife will be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. May they be also the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
All: Amen.
Celebrant: By God’s gift, through water and the Holy Spirit, we are reborn to everlasting life. In his goodness, may he continue to pour out his blessings upon these sons and daughters of his. May he make them always, wherever they may be, faithful members of his holy people. May he send his peace upon all who are gathered here, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
All: Amen.
Celebrant: May almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit, bless you.
All: Amen.
After the blessing, all may sing a hymn which suitably expresses thanksgiving and Easter joy, or they may sing the song of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Magnificat. Where there is the practice of bringing the baptised child to the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this custom is observed if appropriate.

Well, what do you think. Leave a comment


CatholicScout Comments: Divide and Conquer

CatholicScout Comments: How to oppose the Dark Lord

Continuing the theme of my last two posts commenting on the truth spoken by J R R Tolkien through the lips of Haldir in the book, the Fellowship of the Ring:

“In nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.”

Stained Glass style depiction of the Lord of the Rings

I introduced the importance for a Catholic Scout (and Catholics as a whole), to understand the Principles of War. I then went on to describe the method of the Dark Lords attack; subversion, and how modern tactics have attempted to tackle that problem.

This post is about How to oppose the Dark Lord. I am not expecting to set this all out in one go. There is some fundamental groundwork that needs to be prepared first;

Firstly, before undertaking the task of opposing the Dark Lord, his legions of hell and his agents on earth, it is very important to understand the enemy.

“The dumbest devil is more intelligent than all mankind together”

(FrECM quoting St Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica 1054)

Firstly, from this fact, it is important to realise that any human effort to construct a strategy against the Dark Lord, is futile, because of the vast intellect and power that incorporeality and immortality grants the Dark Lord and his Legions of Hell.

Secondly, our Catholic Faith has condemned the concept that a human is able to strategise against the Dark Lord without the aid of Sanctifying Grace (Pelagianism).

So if it futile for you or me to strategise, because the Dark Lord is able to witness our strategies and neuter them in ways we could not even imagine. And even the belief that a human could strategise against the Dark Lord (without the aid of Sanctifying Grace), is condemned by the Catholic Church. Just how, then, can one oppose the Dark Lord?

Well, the answer is actually quite easy, the key is Sanctifying Grace.

There is One who has a Greater Intellect than the Dark Lord and all his Legions of Hell put together. He has strategies. Like a good Commander He does not reveal the full battle plan to the soldiers, rather He gives them specific orders, He does not explain why (nor is He required to).

The soldiers are us. The issue is that we must put ourselves into a position by which we can receive those orders and do them. That calls for Sanctifying Grace, for Our Catholic Faith, teaches us that we cannot do anything good without Grace (cf Council of Carthage 419 – Canon 113). And remember that while we can do nothing good without Grace, Grace does not make us infallible if we revert to trying to work things out on our own power.

What I am therefore saying is; God has a plan. He has specific actions for an individual soul to take. He can, and will, communicate those actions to that individual soul, if (and usually only if) a soul is in the state of Sanctifying Grace. By those plans alone is there hope that the Dark Lord will be defeated (and it is the only way that he will be defeated – and he most certainly will be defeated by these means). Of course this requires cleaning out everything that stands in the way of Grace, then after doing that, listening to what the Lord desires us to do and doing it! But what I have said here is nothing different than what Our Lord said in the Gospels (just said differently).

So, the key to us mortals is just how do we obtain Grace by which we can then do effective battle with the Dark Lord (and win)? Well that’s content for my next post. But as a sneak peak it involves: Surrender, repentance, confession and penance, followed by receiving guidance, and taking action.


CatholicScout Comments: Divide and Conquer
CatholicScout Comments: Haldir Quote

CatholicScout Comments: Divide and Conquer

Continuing the theme of my last post commenting on the truth spoken by J R R Tolkien through the lips of Haldir in the book, the Fellowship of the Ring:

“In nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.”

I introduced the importance for a Catholic Scout (and Catholics as a whole), to understand the Principles of War.

J R R Tolkien states something vitally important about the enemy. Divide et impera, divide and conquer. The Church Militant is constantly, and will constantly be attacked by divisive tactics. Why? Well, apart from the fact that Diabolos comes from the Greek verb “to divide”, because as military doctrine points out, it is both highly efficient and effective.

There are three important tactics in divide et impera;

  • the effort to defeat an enemy by destroying small portions of its armies instead of engaging its entire strength (defeat in detail)
  • the effort to prevent smaller power groups from linking up (interdiction)
  • the effort to cause infighting (subversion)

The most valuable of these tactics is the last. Subversion. There is a minimal “cost” to the aggressor, and very high “cost” to the defender. In researching this article I came across a very interesting (if not now quite antiquated) article on RAND on Countering Covert Aggression, which a Catholic should be able to “translate” using their imagination. I understand subversion, and I see the effects of subversion on the Church.

The question is just how does one counter subversion in the Church?
The RAND article offers some insightful conclusions, it proposes

  • direct action against the sources of covert aggression
  • a more professional military
  • wider education of the danger of subversion
  • wider intelligence activities

Interesting. But these throw up some interesting questions;

What are the sources of covert aggression?  We all know who the Dark Lord is, we all know that the source of covert aggression starts with the Legions of Hell. But what are their agents upon earth? Well, there is no easy answer to that, anyone who loves sin is an agent. But there are organisations that are intent upon destroying the Church [epic fail – they just don’t get it do they], such as Freemasons, Communists, Satanists, militant homogenos erotomaniacs (and their sympathisers), militant pro-death lobbyists, Mohammedans, Idolators, Heretics, Schismatics and the likes.

Now you might say “that is a bit rich”, but before I get burned at the stake, let me point out; anyone who loves sin is an agent of the Legions of Hell.

What constitutes “direct action”? NOT VIOLENCE AND ENMITY!!! Direct action consists of taking Christ-like actions towards the source. Not concealing the Truth, but correcting error. And dying for it if necessary.

What does “a more professional military” mean in terms of the Church? Well, this could be on all levels. We all are Church Militant, so more professionalism across the board, better catechetical formation, regimentation, drilling and exercise. Better weapons training: Prayer, Alms and Fasting, Rhetoric training, Apologetics training, growth in personal holiness. Better defensive training: Sacramentals, life of prayer, frequentation of Sacraments.
But in addition to this, it calls for more professional Officers Training (meaning Priests). The Church could also be seen in terms of an army. Your laity are privates, you’ll have some NCO’s in there too. Your Commissioned Officers are Priests, Bishops and the Pope (men only, sorry ladies). They need to understand that there is a war going on, and that they are Officers called to lead, not to worldly arms, but to spiritual ones. For worldly arms, violence and enmity were completely rejected by Christ.


CatholicScout Comments: Haldir Quote

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 1

FAST FOOD: First Helping

“I don’t condemn violence. Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have a right to resist annihilation.”
-Arundhati Roy, Indian political activist
The Guardian, June 2011

Ninety-eight per cent of the Christians in the world—conservative and liberal— believe exactly as Arundhati Roy believes. They believe nonviolence is just an impotent theatrical tactic, and that they have a right to resist, with whatever violence necessary, annihilation.

Their Lord, God and Savior the Jesus of the Gospels is nonviolent and teaches a Way of Nonviolence Love of friends and enemies unto death by His words and by His deeds, by His life and His death. I think it would overtax logic and sap sanity to maintain that His death on the cross, in the Spirit of Nonviolent Love towards His murderers, was but a piece of theatre.

 But, did Jesus give up his power and right to resist annihilation by His choice of Nonviolent Love of friends and even lethal enemies?

Pope Benedict XVI’s Last Word to the Church – Guest Article

by Rev Fr Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Sixty years ago this year I was confirmed by His Excellency, Archbishop Richard J. Cushing of Boston. After the Confirmation Liturgy, seventy or so people, myself included, went to the priests’ parking area behind the rectory to see the Archbishop’s Cadillac. Most of the folks in my parish, including me, had never seen a Cadillac up close. When I got home to the little Confirmation party my Irish relatives were having for me, I asked an aunt -loudly enough so that most of the people could hear me- whether Archbishop Cushing should have a Cadillac, since he was supposed to be the top Catholic in Boston representing Jesus and Jesus was poor? Another Irish aunt who overheard my question responded to me: “And if the Archbishop rode around in a Ford, what respect would the Protestants have for him?”

I did not answer her because I knew she was right. The important and powerful people of this world rode in a Cadillac; the unimportant people rode in a Ford. If the Archbishop was an important person, who he clearly was in my mind, then he was supposed to have a Cadillac, and if he did not ride in a Cadillac, people -most especially non-Catholics- would have a much lower opinion of him. The logic of my aunt’s position, i.e., that the Archbishop of Boston needed a Cadillac, was to me self-evident, airtight, and unassailable.

Number “1”

Needless to say, the Episcopal Cadillac is a non-essential of the Episcopal ministry. But in 1952, in my Catholic community, both the Cadillac per se and the Episcopal Cadillac were symbols that contained implicit and explicit layers of mythology about reality, the Christian life, and the Church. This mythological conception of the Gospel, the self, and the Church was by no means merely an abstract notion, something people thought: Rather, it was lived illusion, lived by everyone from the Archbishop and his advisors right down to my aunt and me. Parenthetically, this particular mythological understanding of God, of self, and of the Church—so acceptable to all that only an uninformed boy of twelve could even conceive of questioning its Christian validity—was not limited to my Irish-Italian Catholic ghetto outside Boston. In Chicago, the Cardinal Archbishop flexed his political muscles and the Illinois legislature passed a law that gave his Cadillac the license plate number “1,” a number that hitherto had belonged exclusively to the Governor of Illinois.

I mention these little pieces of U.S. Catholic history in order to illustrate and illuminate a solemn and sombre issue lurking behind Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation from the Papacy. I personally experienced the resignation of Benedict as a melancholy moment. It should not have happened or, more accurately, it should not have been necessary. A Successor of Peter, capable of authoring the “trilogy” on Jesus of Nazareth published during his Papacy, as well as composing the lectures and weekly reflections on the Christian spiritual life that he delivered right up to the end of February 2013, should not have to be leaving the Chair of Peter, even if frail.

The Supreme Law of the Church

The telling issue that Pope Benedict’s resignation rationally raises is the need for an earnest assessment of the modus operandi of the Petrine Ministry. Benedict’s renunciation of the Petrine office and ministry is sober evidence that the structures, policies, procedures, and protocols presently governing its operation need serious evaluation, specifically in terms of their capacity to effectively translate into reality the “supreme law of the Church, which is the salvation of souls” (CODE OF CANON LAW #1747). Concomitant with this need is the equally important discernment as to whether the present operating structure of this ministry is a substantial help or a serious hindrance for any Pope “keeping before his eyes” (CODE OF CANON LAW #1747), as his highest priority, “the supreme law of the Church.” What I am suggesting here is not meant to question, in any way, the Vatican I declaration on Papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction. It is meant to question, because reason demands it under the circumstances, whether the present organization and processes of the Petrine Ministry are serving Jesus and His people as well as they should be.

Except for a few elements, the structures, policies, procedures, and protocols of the contemporary Papacy are entirely man-made and not demanded by the Gospel. The power that erected these structures, enunciated these policies, put these procedures in place, and choreographed these protocols could alter them or remove them tomorrow if it chose to do so. To use a metaphor, the Petrine Ministry could decide to dispense with its Cadillac at any time.

The office of the Papacy has inherited a myriad of structures, policies, procedures, and protocols, from which the Church and its Popes in different eras have selected various pieces they thought suitable for executing the Petrine Ministry in their particular time. Whether these are efficacious today—or even at the time selected—as means for achieving the end for which the Petrine Ministry exists (Canon #1747) is a matter of evaluation and judgement But, no one should think—simply because some pieces survive—that these non-essential surviving components of the Petrine Ministry are any longer proficient pastoral means for realizing the end which the Petrine Ministry is meant to serve.

A Surprise?

Pope Benedict’s “surprise” decision was, as indicated in his resignation “letter,” a necessary rational step given the circumstances: “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine Ministry… In order to govern the Bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary. I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.

Surprise? Perhaps to the press and to the world it was a surprise. But a man of Benedict’s rational competence, theological acumen, and concern for the Church would never make a decision like this without extensive reflection, consultation, and prayer. His decision should not, however, have been such a surprise, at least to the press, after April 29, 2009, when he visited the Abruzzi region of Italy after an earthquake in the L’Aquila province killed 294 people. On this journey, Pope Benedict stopped at the Church of Santa Maria di Collemaggio and prayed at the glass coffin in which the bodily remains of Pope St. Celestine V (1219-1296) have been placed. After praying there, he made a striking gesture. He removed his Papal pallium, which he had first worn on the day of his inauguration as Pope. He placed it on the coffin, then left. Later that year he declared August 28, 2009 to August 29, 2010 the Year of Celestine V. On July 4, 2010, Pope Benedict again went to Pope St. Celestine V’s place of bodily internment to pray. Celestine V was the last Pope to resign for personal reasons.

Unable to Rule

Pope St. Celestine renounced the Papacy after five months in office because he felt he was incapable, under the circumstances, of properly executing the duties it prescribed that he undertake. Celestine was a 76-year-old hermit before becoming Pope, renowned for his holiness and Christ-likeness. The ordinary people of Rome cheered his election as Pope. He was well prepared to carry out the essential obligations as the Successor of Peter. But, he was utterly incapable of carrying out all the non-essential obligations that had become attached to the Papacy Encyclopaedias, Catholic and secular, record that he resigned because he recognized his political and administrative incompetence. This is correct. But, no one suggests that he resigned because, as the Successor of Peter, he was unable to faithfully proclaim the Gospel by his words and his deeds. Celestine freely renounced the Chair of Peter, not because he was unable to authentically announce the Good News or unable to be the rock that confirmed and upheld people’s faith in Jesus Christ and His Way. Rather, it was because, to use the word from Celestine’s resignation declaration, he was unable to “rule.” However, as the renowned Catholic Biblical scholar, John L. McKenzie, S.J., stated and in his book AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH (Imprimatur, 1966): “The vocabulary of both Greek and Aramaic is ample enough to permit Jesus, if He had wished, to say that those in authority in the Church should rule with justice and kindness; there are dozens of ways in which this could have been said. But such words as “rule” are exactly the words which He did not use.”

The Non-essentials

Pope St. Celestine V laying aside his Papal Tiara.

A Successor of Peter can be as helpless and as weak as a man being crucified upside down and still be completely fulfilling the Petrine Ministry. The essential nature of the Petrine Ministry can be carried out completely by silent prayer in the “closet of infirmity” and/or by suffering love lived in anonymity. However, to have to daily walk-through the physical and moral gauntlet of non-essentials that have become de rigueur for the person serving in that Ministry, can undermine attention to and execution of the primary service to which Jesus commissioned Peter and his Successors. Such non-essentials include, but are not limited to, being head of state, head of government, head of a bank, head of a militia; having to meet, daily and perfunctorily, with other heads of states, heads of governments, ambassadors, diplomats, and celebrities; having to personally appoint every Catholic bishop in the world; having to oversee the vast bureaucracy created to supposedly assist in managing the superfluity of the non-essentials; having constantly to preside at Pontifical High Liturgies that last hours, et al.

I submit that Pope Benedict’s decision to resign, like Pope Celestine’s decision to resign, was made rationally necessary, not by the essential and intrinsic responsibilities that the Successor of Peter is called upon by Jesus to fulfil, but rather because of the plethora of non-essential trimmings and trappings that have been added over the centuries and that today encrust the Petrine Ministry. To return to our metaphor, spending a large part of everyday attending to the Papal Cadillac is not an inherent, essential, or necessary element of the Petrine Ministry. Indeed, it can easily become a major impediment to wholeheartedly concentrating on the Petrine Ministry’s raison d’être.

The Essentials

The Petrine Ministry exists to be the rock of faith in Jesus upon which “I will build My Church” (MT 16:18), and to “Feed My lambs” (JN 21:15). But to feed what to His lambs? The Petrine Ministry exists to feed the members of Jesus’ flock with the Bread of Life, by teaching them by word and deed to become what they receive in the Eucharist—the Lamb of God—and to receive in the Eucharist what they are, the Lamb of God. The flock of Jesus learns what it means to become the Lamb of God, whom they receive in the Eucharist, and to receive the Lamb of God, which they are by Baptism, when Peter and his successors faithfully follow the Commission explicitly given to them by Jesus immediately before His Ascension: “Baptizing them…and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (MT 28:19-20).

Jesus, the Word (Logos) of God Incarnate (JN 1:1FF) is the Bread of Life (JN 6:35, 51, 58) Therefore, what He teaches by word and deed and offers to humanity in the Eucharist is the life-giving nourishment. Every human being ultimately hungers for this nourishment, namely, the Way and the Truth unto Eternal Life with God forever—the Way to eternal salvation. The commission to Peter is to give people that nourishment which is needed for “the salvation of souls.”

It is not without eternal significance that Peter is to prove his love of Jesus—not his faith—by fidelity to the commission given him by Jesus: “Feed My lambs.” Peter proves his faith when he confesses Jesus to be “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God” after which he is made the “rock” upon which Jesus will build His Church (MT 16:13-19). But authentic faith in Christ must be manifested, incarnated, by every Christian in acts of Christ-like love. It cannot be otherwise for the legitimate Successors of Peter. “Feed My lambs” is the imperative equivalent of “Attend to the supreme law of the Church. Attend to the salvation of souls by being and doing what I commission you to do and be. And by this you will show that you love Me.”


The question must be asked: Is being the head of state, head of government, etc., intrinsically required to fulfil the command, to “Feed My lambs”? Or, are they contemporary attempts to irrationally cling to non-essential structures, policies, procedures, and protocols from another age, that are today only minimally viable, if that, as supportive of the dual commission given to Peter and His Successors by Jesus: Be the “rock” “upon which I will build My Church” and “Feed My lambs”?

A Pope who enters into the worlds of “heads of states, heads of governments, heads of banks, etc.,” can be assured of being a newsmaker. He will, no doubt, “make news” and “make the news.” But will “My lambs” be fed the Bread of life in this way? Will the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Will of the Father as revealed by Jesus, genuinely enter into the minds and hearts of the people of the world via a Petrine Ministry operating through the appurtenances and frills, cymbals and gongs that are the bread and butter of heads of states, heads of governments, heads of banks and heads of news corporations who decide what news is fit to print, to hear and to see?

The Temptation

Just prior to his election as the Successor of St. Peter, Benedict published a book, ON THE WAY TO JESUS, in which he wrote:

Let us return to the temptation [of Jesus in the desert when He is offered by Satan power over the kingdoms of the world]. Its real contents become apparent when we realize that over the course of history it keeps taking on new forms. The Christian emperors after Constantine immediately tried to make the faith a political factor that would be conducive to the unity of the empire. The Kingdom of Christ was now expected to assume the form of a political kingdom with its splendour. The importance of the faith, the earthly powerlessness of Jesus Christ, was supposedly compensated for by political and military might. In every century, in many forms, this temptation to secure the faith with power has arisen again and again, and over and over the faith has come close to being suffocated in the embrace of power. For the price to be paid for fusing faith and political power, in the final analysis, always consist of placing faith at the service of power and bending it to political standards.

On April 22, 2011, six years into his reign, Pope Benedict proclaimed:

It could be expected that, when God came to earth, he would be a man of great power, destroying the opposing forces; that he would be a man of powerful violence as an instrument of peace. Not at all! He came in weakness. He came with only the strength of love, totally without violence, even to the point of going to the cross. This is what shows us the true face of God: that violence never comes from God, never helps bring anything good, but is a destructive means and not the path to escape difficulties. He is thus a strong voice against every type of violence. He strongly invites all sides to renounce violence, even if they feel they are right…This is Jesus’ true message: seek peace with the means of peace and leave violence aside.

Ends and Means and Illusion

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that a means that cannot achieve its end is an illusion. To live in and by an illusion, a non-reality, is ipso facto to live untruth and meaninglessness as a way of life and as a way to eternal life. This is what is at stake when Pope Benedict speaks about the perennial post-Constantinian temptation of the Church to seek secular power in order to carry out the mission of Jesus and His Church: “The Kingdom of Christ was now expected to assume the form of a political kingdom with its splendour. The importance of the faith, the earthly powerlessness of Jesus Christ, was supposedly compensated for by political and military might.”

Any group of people who wishes to accomplish anything as a group must organize itself teleologically, according to the ends it desires to achieve. It must choose means that can accomplish those ends. If the end desired is to build cars, a group does not set up an assembly line operation that makes and bakes bread. The means have to be capable of achieving the ends desired. The end determines the means that the group must choose.

The end for which the Church exists is the same end for which God became Incarnate in Jesus, namely, the eternal salvation of all people. The Church, which is to be “an extension of Christ in time and space,” therefore must structure itself in accordance with this end. It must select means that will in fact accomplish this end.

The end for which the state exists is its own temporary physical survival, and possibly the temporary physical survival of those who populate it, or at least some of those who populate it. If this end cannot be achieved, no other goals are achievable for the state. The group of people called the state therefore must organize itself according to this end, which requires selecting means that will accomplish it.

The power of violence is the means the state resorts to when it thinks it is a necessary means to accomplish its ends, or even just the most expeditious or expedient means by which to achieve its ends. But, violence, as Benedict XVI has taught, is rejected by Jesus as His Way to achieve the end He desires,—eternal salvation for one and for all. Love, a Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as He taught it by word and deed, is His means. No state need survive for anyone to employ the means of Jesus for the ends of Jesus. There is a self-evident abyss between the means and ends of the state and the means and ends of Jesus. To choose one is to instantly abdicate the other.

A Real Danger

Is there any Church ministry that over the last 1700 years has been placed more at the service of political power and relied more on the means of political power than the Petrine Ministry? The aforementioned Biblical theologian, John L. McKenzie, S. J., can say with scholarly certainty in his work, AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH “The greatest danger pointed out by Jesus to inhibiting the incalculable resources of the Spirit in the Church is the creeping secularization of authority.” But, for Benedict and Celestine, because they were serving the Church in the Petrine Ministry, this Gospel truth was an immediate, urgent, everyday spiritual and moral issue with eternal salvation of self and all at stake.

When the world saw the content of the so-called ‘Vati-Leaks’ documents, did the world in general and Catholics in particular not see up-close the traditional and inevitable results when a secular modus operandi is adopted as the means to fulfil the Supreme Law of the Church? Is this not faith and love being suffocated in the service of power? Is this not the very same situation with which St. Celestine V was confronted seven hundred years earlier? (See THE STORY OF A HUMBLE CHRISTIAN: POPE CELESTINE V, by Ignazio Silone.)

A Flight of Fantasy

Any thought that secular power, secular ways of doing business or secular mass media could be an effective means for reaching humanity with the Gospel truth stated by Pope Benedict that Jesus “came in weakness; came with only the strength of love; came totally without violence [because] violence never comes from God,” is a flight of fantasy. The General Electric Corporation owns NBC Universal with 14 television centres, nine of which are in top ten markets, and 14 Spanish language television stations, eight of which are in top ten markets. General Electric also owns CNBC, MSNBC, the Sci-Fi Channel, USA Network, Universal Pictures and Universal Studios. Is it reasonable to think that General Electric’s communications empire is going to spread this message of Jesus and His understanding of God, reality and morality, when the General Electric Corporation has been for decades one of the top five most profitable military contractors in the U.S. with sale running into the billions of dollars per year?

But, General Electric’s media operation will miss no opportunity to publicize ad nauseam Christians, Christian leaders and Christian Churches that have acted contrary to the teachings of Jesus. It will also hype far and wide Christians, Christian leaders and Christian institution, e.g., universities, that adopt and thereby religiously validate General Electric’s value system. The notion of secular mass media as a means to “Feed My lambs” the Bread of life is farfetched. So also is this the case with any person or institution that operates through structures that require activities that are in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus.

He, Who Lives by the Media, Dies by the Media

What the secular media builds up, when it serves its purposes, the media can tear down when it ceases to serve its purposes. He, who lives by the media, dies by the media. A non-pacific ocean of unpleasant, indeed cruel, words concerning Pope Benedict XVI’s moral rectitude have been published because of the manner in which he handled the long standing Church problem of sexual child abuse by priests, that came to light during his tenure as head of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith and as Pope. So much of what at first glance were very reasonable critiques of his response to the problem—critiques with which I often agreed—eventually turned into demeaning ad hominem castigations of him as a person.

The child abuse of war, Iraq, 2005

Yet Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, is, as are we all, a sinful, struggling human being. With his one and only life he laboured long and hard as a Christian and as a theological scholar in the service of Jesus Christ. A person can disagree with his theology on this or that—even publicly—as did Cardinal Walter Kasper, and as I myself have done. A person can believe that in the execution of his various ministries in the Church some of the decisions he made were acutely wrong—as I and others do. But, the efforts in print and in electronic media, even by some Catholics, to vilify him as if he were a moral degenerate are humanly reprehensible, and for a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, they are unconscionable.

After all, it was not Pope Benedict XVI who placed an embargo on Iraq that resulted in 500,000 children under twelve years old being destroyed. He did not send troops and drones into Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, killing hundreds of thousands of human beings and maiming millions more, half of whom were children under fifteen years of age.

These are escapades of child abuse in the extreme; war is well documented as always being an event that throws the doors wide open to child abuse on a grand scale. But, immediately prior to the invasion of Iraq then Cardinal Ratzinger said publicly in answer to a reporter’s question as to whether the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. would be a just war: “Well, just look in the catechism where it teaches about just war and if you can say it is a just war then you really don’t know the Catechism…There’s no such thing in Catholic teaching as a pre-emptive war that could ever be justified…There are not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq.”

Does this public stand morally count for nothing? Is this the activity of a moral reprobate? Secular news reports and commentaries on Benedict’s resignation evidently think so. They all but ignore it, focusing myopically on his handling of the sexual abuse of children by priests, while simultaneously lionizing those who unleashed and those who continue to unleash the dogs of war on the children of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Of course very few in the U.S. media had the courage in 2003 to publicly take the moral position on the invasion of Iraq that Benedict publicly took in early 2003.

The same journalistic double standard holds true in terms of Benedict’s unequivocal insistence that the innocent child in the womb has an inalienable moral right to life. He is cleverly, and often brutishly, disparaged for speaking out unambiguously on this critical moral matter. But, those who promote and profit handsomely—politically, financially, or otherwise—from supporting the pre-emptive violent invasion of the womb in order to destroy innocent human life there, are treated in the media as celebrity moral heroes. And of course, there is no child abuse problem to see here, even if the child is partially born.

The Nonviolent Jesus

To my mind, however, the most important and most ignored spiritual, theological, and moral contribution that Pope Benedict XVI has made to the wellbeing of the Church and the world is that he has had the moral integrity and courage to state many times over in many settings and in many ways that Jesus, the Word (Logos) of God Incarnate is, was, and forever will be Nonviolent. Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, broached the subject with declarations such as the following: “Violence is not the Christian Way. Violence is not the Catholic Way. Violence is not the Way of Jesus.” But Pope Benedict XVI, as the Successor of Peter, embraced it and announced it as the unequivocal truth of Jesus. Consider the following statements by this Pope:

The truth is that it is impossible to interpret Jesus as violent. Violence is contrary to the Kingdom of God. It is an instrument of the Antichrist” (3/11/12).

Jesus—the King of the universe—did not come to bring peace to the world with an army, but through refusing violence. This way is the one followed not only by the disciples of Christ, but by many men and women of good will, courageous witnesses of non-violence” (3/29/09).

What Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, he now does [in His Passion]: he does not offer violence against violence, as he might have done, but puts an end to violence by transforming it into love. Violence is defeated by love. This is the fundamental transformation upon which all the rest is based. It is the true transformation which the world needs and which alone can redeem the world.”

‘Love your enemies’ (LUKE 6:27; MT 5:44) was something of a “manifesto” presented to everyone, which Christ asked his disciples to accept, thus proposing to them in radical terms a model for their lives. But what is the meaning of his teaching? Why does Jesus ask us to love our very enemies, that is, ask a love that exceeds human capacities? What is certain is that Christ’s proposal is realistic…This page of the Gospel is rightly considered the “magna carta” of Christian nonviolence; it does not consist in surrendering to evil—as claims a false interpretation of “turn the other cheek” (Luke 6:29)—but in responding to evil with good (ROMANS 12:17-21), and thus breaking the chain of injustice. It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God’s love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Loving the enemy is the nucleus of the “Christian revolution,” a revolution not based on strategies of economic, political or media power. God does not oppose violence with a stronger violence. He opposes violence precisely with the contrary: with love to the end, his cross. This is a way of conquering that seems very slow to us, but it is the true way of overcoming evil, of overcoming violence, and we must trust this divine way of overcoming” (2/18/07).

The “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” Phenomena

I would submit without fear of contradiction that Saint Peter, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Dorothy Day, four pretty good sinners in their own right, that the culture and press at the moment hold in almost reverential esteem, could have spoken these words—and did speak this truth. I present the issue in this fashion not as an apologia for Benedict XVI. I present it as an example of the difficulty, which approaches an impossibility, of convincingly teaching people that smoking cigarettes is lethally dangerous while simultaneously personally smoking and enjoying two packs a day in public.

Photomontage of heads of state, including Pope Leo XIII, 1889. Yohannes IV (Emperor of Ethiopia), Tewfik Pasha (Khedive of Egypt), Abdülhamit II (Sultan of the Ottoman Empire), Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (Shah of Persia), Christian IX (King of Denmark), Dom Luís I (King of Portugal), Willem III (King of the Netherlands), Dom Pedro II (Emperor of Brazil), Milan I (King of Serbia), Leopold II (King of the Belgians), Aleksandr III (Emperor of Russia), Wilhelm I (German Emperor & King of Prussia), Franz Joseph I (Emperor of Austria & King of Hungary), Victoria (Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland & Empress of India), Jules Grévy (President of France), Leo XIII (Pope), Meiji (Emperor of Japan), Guangxu (Emperor of China), Umberto I (King of Italy), Don Alfonso XII (King of Spain), Oscar II (King of Sweden and Norway) and Chester A. Arthur (President of the United States)

If the Pope were simply a spiritual leader in the model of Jesus or Peter, he could reject war, reject abortion, reject capital punishment and proclaim by word and deed that Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is the Way of Jesus and the Will of the Father of all. His communication of the truth could be accepted or rejected exclusively on the evaluation of the validity of what he is saying.

But, the Pope is not a spiritual leader in the model of the “earthly powerlessness of Jesus Christ,” or in the model of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels, “who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone.” The Pope, within the Petrine Ministry as it now is constructed and operates, is literally a sovereign controlling great earthly wealth and political power, as well as, possessing all the perks, trappings and trimmings that attend to such a status.

The Medium Is the Message

When Saint Peter, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dorothy Day say the equivalent of Pope Benedict’s statement, “It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God’s love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone,” it is heard by most people differently than when stated by the Pope. The same words are spoken, but to call upon what has become in the last sixty years a truism of communications theory, “The medium is the message.”

Cesar Chavez, Coretta Scott King, Dorothy Day

The communicator of a message, whether human or non-human, becomes part of the message. The medium of a message affects the reception of the content of a message, the evaluation of the content of a message, the persuasiveness or dissuasiveness of a message, the acceptance or rejection of a message. Peter, Gandhi, King and Day, each of whom rejected unto death violence as an option, saying, “The Christian revolution is not based on strategies of economic, political or media power. God does not oppose violence with a stronger violence. He opposes violence precisely with the contrary: with love to the end.” are heard differently than the head of a state, a militia, a bank, etc. speaking the same words. Why? Because, all their organizations have violence as an available means to be accessed as a key component of their tactical operations. One cannot effectively teach that Cadillacs are not of God if one is continually choosing to purchase them as his or her means of getting around the world.

The Celestine V Symbol

Pope Benedict XVI—hardly a man of whimsy—places his original Papal pallium on the glass coffin of Pope St. Celestine V; later he declares August 28, 2009 to August 29, 2010 the Year of Celestine V; then he makes a second pilgrimage on July 4, 2010, to the Church where Celestine’s earthly remains lay and where Celestine was crowned Pope. How can these acts be understood except as signs and communications that Benedict XVI was experiencing an intense unity and empathy with Celestine and with Celestine’s spiritual and moral ordeal as Pope? How can they not be interpreted as gestures by a human being in need of a “friend” in the Communion of Saints who truly grasped why he has to do the unthinkable—resign as the Successor of Peter? How can these chosen Celestine-oriented public activities not be seen as Benedict purposely leaving a collage of specific signs and symbols to the Church for the good of the Church and humanity?

And, what message does this series of Benedict-Celestine signs and symbols present to the contemporary Church? I do not think their message is abstruse or complicated. Someone once said, and I paraphrase, “The difference between a good symbol and the perfect symbol is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning!” What Benedict XVI is communicating symbolically, with Celestine V always visible in the background, is straightforward and in thoroughgoing conformity with the centrality of truth in his life. It is lightning:

Peter was not Caiaphas, is not Caiaphas, and must not be Caiaphas. The Church is in urgent need of new forms and new structures for an entirely new operating model for the Petrine Ministry. The new forms and new structures called for must be in maximal conformity with the end for which the Petrine exists—the eternal salvation of all people. They must be in maximal conformity with the only means, power and ‘modus operandi’ the Petrine Ministry has to participate in the achievement of that end, namely, Christlike love, fidelity to Jesus and His ‘new commandment’ to ‘love one another as I have loved you.‘

Pope Benedict places Papal Pallium on coffin of Pope St. Celestine V.

Lest it be thought, that I am manufacturing ex nihilo an interpretation of the Benedict-Celestine symbolic symbiosis, consider these strong words of Pope Benedict from his book, Call to Communion, published before beginning his time as the Successor of Peter:

The more administrative machinery we construct, be it the most modern, the less place there is for the Spirit, the less place there is for the Lord, and the less freedom there is…We ought to begin an unsparing examination of conscience on this point at all levels of the Church.” In a later collection of essays titled, Images of Hope, he observes, “the saints were all people of imagination, not functionaries of apparatuses.

Before accepting the Petrine Ministry on April 19, 2005, Benedict is cognitively well aware of the thorny dilemma posed by the questionable acceptability of the present forms and structures of the Petrine Ministry. After April 19, 2005 that dilemma becomes his spiritual and moral crown of thorns. Benedict’s intentional integration of his Papacy with the Papacy of Pope Celestine V is not merely an act of personal piety. It is equally a public symbolic act communicating that something is seriously wrong and what that something is. It is a Biblically prophetic act consistent with the central place that truth holds in his theology. It is an act consonant with the Episcopal motto he chose from 3 John 8 when he was consecrated a Bishop in 1977: cooperatores veritatis, “co-workers of the truth.”

Perhaps by the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Love and Truth—Pope Benedict XVI’s last message to the Church, his last call to conversion to the Church, his most important service to the Church and his ultimate witness to the truth of Jesus and His Way for the good of the Church and all humanity will be his resignation from the Petrine Ministry. Perhaps, it is for this genuinely needed prophetic communication and warning that he and Celestine V were chosen—albeit seven hundred years apart—by the Holy Spirit to be Successors of Peter.


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The wrongs of malicious Catholicism

“Why call you me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say?” – God (Luke 6:46)

I was going to title this post “The wrongs of militant Catholicism” but I think that was too close to the bone. The tradition of the Church has always viewed the Church as three fold, Church Militant, Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant. But the sense of “Militant” is  as the Apostle to the Gentiles said “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Eph 6:12).

Here is a very important point, the strife we as Catholics have to fight, is not a physical one (flesh and blood), it is a spiritual strife (principalities and powers). Our enemy is not our fellow man, it is against “the spirits of wickedness in the high places” who are “the rulers of the world of this darkness”.

Malicious Catholicism takes the evil that our neighbour does, and labels the doer as “the enemy”. In this sense, malicious Catholicism would take evil of persistence in error of an Muhammadan and label the person “the enemy”. “Enemies”, in malicious Catholicism, are to be treated as enemies of the state, if they don’t change… well, I think you get the idea.

Thus to malicious Catholicism, a Muhammadan is “the enemy of the Church”, a Communist is “the enemy of the Church”, someone who is same-sex attracted is “the enemy of the Church”, and on ad infinitum. These “enemies”, malicious Catholicism intimates, need to “be dealt with” by conversion or the sword.

But here are some questions to the adherent of malicious Catholicism:

  1. Do you profess Jesus Christ to be the Only Begotten Son of God?
  2. Did Our Lord and Saviour say “Love your enemies, do good to those that hate you”(Mt 5:44)?
  3. “Why call you [Him], Lord, Lord; and do not the things which [He] say[s]?” (Lk 6:46)

The evils of the sins are what we have to fight against; the spirit of paganism, of indifference, of sodomy. These are evils, in the absolute. Hate the sin, wage war against the sin, but not war as we know it, with guns, blades, words and enmity,  it is a spiritual war. And only doing as Our Lord and Saviour instructs will victory be assured.

The Catholic Scout whose objective is the Kingdom of Heaven needs to be careful not to fall into the deadly trap of malicious Catholicism, because “from the beginning it was not so”.

Leave a comment, let me know your responses to the questions.