Sunday, January 29, 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The latest on the Knights of Malta scandal

Pope Francis Declares All of Festing’s Recent Acts ‘Null and Void’

Pope Francis has declared that all actions taken by the head of the Order of Malta and its governing council since the dismissal of Albrecht von Boeselager last month are “null and void,” including the election of Boeselager’s replacement.

Writing on the Pope’s behalf to members of the Order’s governing council Jan. 25, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin stated that the Holy Father, “on the basis of evidence that has emerged from information he has gathered, has determined that all actions taken by the Grand Master after December 6, 2016, are null and void.”

He added: “The same is true for those of the Sovereign Council, such as the election of the Grand Chancellor ad interim.” The Council elected Fra’ John Critien as Boeselager's temporary replacement.

Cardinal Parolin began his letter by re-emphasizing that the Grand Commander, Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, is now in charge of the Order, adding that “in the renewal process which is seen as necessary,” the Pope would “appoint his personal Delegate with powers that he will define in the act of appointing him.”

Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing submitted his resignation Jan. 24, according to a Jan. 25 Vatican statement. The Vatican added in the communiqué that the next day “the Holy Father accepted his resignation.”

The Vatican also said the governance of the sovereign Order would henceforth be undertaken “ad interim by the Grand Commander pending the appointment of the Papal Delegate”.

The Pope summoned Fra’ Festing to the Vatican on Jan. 24 on the strict instruction not to let anyone know about the audience — a modus operandi that has been used frequently during this pontificate, the Register has learned. During the meeting, Francis asked Fra’ Festing to resign immediately, to which the Grand Master agreed. The Pope then ordered him to write his resignation letter on the spot, according to informed sources.

The Register has also learned that the Pope told Fra’ Festing that the reason for asking for his resignation was the Pope's conviction that he has to do a new, “complete investigation” of the Order, and that such an investigation would be “more easily conducted” if the Grand Master resigned.

The Register has been told that the Pope then had Fra’ Festing include in his letter of resignation that the Grand Master had asked for Boeselager's dismissal “under the influence” of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Order. However, as patron the cardinal has no governance in the Order and can only counsel the Grand Master, meaning the decision to dismiss the Grand Chancellor belonged solely to the Grand Master.

Asked if it could confirm this version of events surrounding Fra’ Festing's meeting with the Pope, the Vatican told the Register Jan. 26 it gives “no comment on private conversations.”

Read the rest here.

More on the Knights of Malta: Is Freemasonry invoved?

Things are starting to get a little... weird.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pope seizes power from the Knights of Malta, brutally ending 900 years of their sovereignty

Damien Thompson writes...

The Knights of Malta – an ancient Catholic order that dates back to the crusades – have enjoyed the privileges of a sovereign state for 900 years. Last night the Order of Malta was effectively stripped of its sovereignty in what appears to be a brutal power-grab by the Vatican.

Pope Francis has demanded and received the resignation of the Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, a devoutly orthodox Englishman of (even his critics agree) unimpeachable orthodoxy and personal morality. The Vatican has now taken charge of the order while the knights search for a grand master acceptable to Francis. Canon lawyer Dr Edward Condon this morning tweeted out the reaction of many Catholics:
In terms of international law, the Holy See just annexed another sovereign entity.
A source close to the order puts it more bluntly: ‘It’s like an invasion. Nine hundred years of sovereignty wiped out overnight.’

Festing’s ‘resignation’ follows a complicated row over the dismissal of the order’s Grand Chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, who was accused of permitting the distribution of condoms by the order’s international charitable arm.

Boeselager appealed to his friend, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who set up an inquiry made up of Boeselager’s allies. Festing and the leadership of the order refused to accept the authority of the inquiry, because – they argued – the Vatican had no temporal authority over a body that is independent under international law.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sources say Trump may have his Supreme Court pick

Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit is rumored to be at the top of President Trump's short list of potential replacements for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. If true, this would be a very solid and encouraging choice based on his track record.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Team Trump: Off to a rough start

Accusing the press of fabricating easily verifiable reports on something as mundane as the size of the crowds at the inauguration is probably not the best way to start your tenure in Sodom on the Potomac. But when the press then calls you on your obviously false statements, and your reply is "we have alternative facts" then all I can say is you need staff with at least one foot firmly planted in the real world. During the campaign Team Trump pretty much was playing to the far right wing of the party and his base was evidently prepared to overlook Trump's deficit in reality based communication. But he is in an altogether different league now and this kind of naked mendacity over something so trivial is going to make him and his staff look like fools.

And seriously, who cares about the size of the crowds? This was a Republican inauguration being held near the middle of one of the most heavily Democratic population centers in the country. He wasn't going to get Obama's crowds because a large percentage of attendees at these things are locals, here blacks and Democrats, but I repeat myself. It's also expensive for out of town people to travel to an inauguration and more than a bit of a hassle with the security bubble. All things considered I thought the crowds were quite respectable.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Theophany in Russia

Our annual video of Russians taking the traditional ice water plunge for Theophany.

Patriarch Ilia of Georgia becomes Godfather to 800 children

The feast of Theophany is one of the twelve great feasts of the Orthodox liturgical year, celebrated with great fervency and pious traditions throughout the Orthodox world. In recent years the ancient Orthodox nation of Georgia has added its own unique celebration.

It first took place on January 19, 2008, and again this year in Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Sameba Cathedral a mass Baptism was celebrated, with Patriarch-Catholicos Ilia II becoming the Godfather of around 800 newly-baptized children, reports Sputnik-Georgia, with a video of the event.
“I congratulate all on this sacred feast and may the grace of this bright day come down upon all people. Our whole family is very happy and joyous that our third child has become a Godchild of the patriarch of all Georgia himself and I would like to thank him for it,” said Mariam Lomsadze, the mother of one of the children newly-entered into the Orthodox ranks.

Patriarch Ilia had pledged to baptize the third and later children of parents who have been married in the Church, in a bid to improve the nation’s poor demographic situation. The number of abortions in Georgia was cut in half from 2005 to 2010, with the birth rate rising by 25%. This was the forty-seventh such mass Baptism, the patriarch’s Godchildren now numbering more than 32,000.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Divinity Schools: Use Gender-Neutral Language to Refer to God

The divinity schools at Duke and Vanderbilt Universities have instructed their professors to start using more “inclusive” language when referring to God because the masculine pronouns “have served as a cornerstone of the patriarchy.”

For example: This year’s divinity course catalogue at Vanderbilt tells professors to give “consistent attention to the use of inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine,” because the school “commits continuously and explicitly to include gender as an analyzed category and to mitigate sexism.”

“It is up to the individual professor’s interpretation for their classes and is suggestive rather than mandatory,” the associate dean for academic affairs at Vanderbilt’s divinity school, Melissa Snarr, said in an e-mail to Heat Street.

Now, that may sound fair, but in many cases, it’s really not up to the professor. For example, if we are talking about the Christian God, every single reference to Him in the Bible uses a masculine pronoun . . . which kind of gives you the vibe that Christians have decided that their god is a dude. The fact is, teaching anything else would be giving inaccurate information — which is what makes Duke’s particular guidelines even more absurd.

According to Heat Street, Duke’s particular divinity school is “geared toward people already working in the Methodist church, taking supplemental weekend or summer classes.” Yes, “Methodist,” as in the Christian religion that has already completely, officially, 100 percent decided that their God is a man. And yet, Duke’s guidelines suggest avoiding gender specific pronouns when discussing Him and suggest using “God” and “Godself” instead.

Read the rest here.

Vatican to issue stamp featuring Martin Luther

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — If you happen to receive a piece of mail from the Vatican this year, don’t be surprised to see the face of Martin Luther.

The Vatican office charged with issuing stamps, known as the Philatelic and Numismatic Office, confirmed Tuesday to LifeSiteNews that Luther, who broke away from the Catholic Church in a schism 500 years ago, will be celebrated with a postage stamp in 2017. The office is in charge of the annual commission of stamps, coins, and other commemorative medals.

The Vatican regularly issues such memorabilia for special events, including papal trips and holy years. Honoring Luther and the Protestant Reformation is an unlikely choice, trumping other significant events in the Catholic Church such as the 100-year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and the 300-year anniversary of our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil.

Major events such as Christmas, Easter, the Holy Year of Mercy, and the World Meeting of Families have also merited a commemorative stamp. In the time before a Papal election, when the seat of Peter is vacant, the Philatelic and Numismatic office issues a “Sede Vacante” stamp.

Usually if individuals are commemorated on stamps they are saints, such as Teresa of Calcutta, John Paul II, and Pope John XXIII, who most recently were honored with stamps.

While the Vatican has in the past collaborated with other national post offices to create stamps that are not of explicitly religious content, such as Charlie Chaplain or the fall of the Berlin wall, the Luther stamp has an undeniable religious connotation linked with much hostility to the Catholic Church.

In 1517, Martin Luther published his 95 theses against the Catholic Church and began what thereafter has been known as the Reformation, leading to a schism in the Church. This was followed by the formation of Protestant denominations that later spilled into other countries, fueled by others such as John Calvin and Jan Hus. The confessional war that followed, the “Thirty Years’ War,” with its 10 million deaths was known to be the bloodiest war in Europe until World War I.

Luther, an Augustinian monk, was excommunicated in 1521 by Pope Leo X with the papal bull, Decet Romanum Pontificem. At age 41, he married Katharina von Bora, a run-away Cistercian nun of 26 years.

Pope Francis was criticized in the fall for his trip to Lund, Sweden for a commemoration of the Reformation's 500th anniversary. He held an ecumenical event with Lutherans in the Vatican on October 13 with a statue of Martin Luther displayed. He has also suggested an openness to some Lutherans receiving the Eucharist. A Vatican office under his direction recently referred to Luther as a "witness to the Gospel."


I checked and it is not April 1st on any calendar I could find.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Damian Thompson's latest on the Pope

It's not very nice. I am starting to see a trend out there. Trad Catholics, at least many of them, had this Pope's number from the moment he was announced after the white smoke went up. For the most part your more mainstream conservative, small 'o' orthodox Catholics snorted and rolled their eyes at the dire warnings coming from the traddies.

Not anymore.

More and more of them are coming round to the "there is something seriously wrong with this one" line of thinking. And if most of them have not yet reached the point where they are willing to use the "H" word in connection with the Supreme Pontiff, increasingly they are openly calling into question his temperament, judgement and prudence.

Anyways that's a start.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Does anyone know what the story is with the Midwest Conservative Journal? It went silent back in mid December and I noticed yesterday that the site is now down. It was one of my favorite blogs.

Britain: On the death of the Labour Party

LONDON — The British Labour Party is in meltdown. After reviving the center-left in the 1990s, and then dominating British politics until 2010, Labour now faces the gravest challenge in its 116-year history. One of the oldest social-democratic parties in the world is fighting to survive; there is no guarantee it will.

Labour’s crisis is a microcosm of the test that confronts social democracy at large. In polling, Labour has fallen to its lowest level in generations. Shortly before Christmas, the party’s support dropped to 24 percent, which if repeated in a national election would mark its lowest share of the vote since 1918. Forecasts suggest that the number of Labour seats in Parliament could slip from the 232 the party won in 2015 to 190 in 2020, its poorest showing since 1935.

The bad news does not end there. In a recent election to fill a vacant parliamentary seat, Labour suffered the humiliation of failing to reach even 5 percent of the vote. In Scotland, where Labour lost all but one of its seats in 2015, leaked internal polling not only put the party a distant third behind the Scottish nationalists and the Conservatives, but also offered this ominous warning: “There is no such thing as a core Labour vote anymore.”

This week, a report from the center-left Fabian Society suggested that the Labour vote could fall in the 2020 general election to as low as 20 percent because in previous elections it has underperformed its midterm polling by an average of 8 points. This would leave the main opposition party with only 140 to 150 seats in Parliament. The report spoke “of insignificance, even of looming death.”

Many blame Labour’s radical left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for this decline. Since being elected in 2015, and then re-elected last summer after nearly 200 of the party’s members of Parliament staged an unsuccessful coup, Mr. Corbyn seems destined to lead Labour into oblivion. While his supporters point to an influx of new members, mainly middle-class, college-educated people in Southeast England, they ignore an exodus of support in “Middle England” and Labour’s industrial heartlands.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Scottish Episcopal Church Reads from the Quran at Epiphany

Christians are familiar with the Bible texts that detail the conception and birth of Jesus to His mother, the Virgin Mary.

But they are not so used to hearing the Muslim version of the story read out in church. And especially not on Epiphany, which celebrates the incarnation of God as His son Jesus - a doctrine denied by Muslims.

Michael Nazir-Ali, a leading evangelical Christian in Britain, has now condemned the reading on a service at the Scottish Episcopal Church's Glasgow Cathedral last Friday.

The congregation at St Mary's cathedral heard the Muslim version of the Virgin Mary's conception of Jesus, from the Koran's Sura 19, sung by Madinah Javed. The passage explains how Mary gave birth after an angel told her God would give her a child.

Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, and that He was a precursor to Mohammed rather than the Son of God.

Sura 19 states that Mary was "ashamed" after she gave birth, and that the infant Jesus miraculously spoke to her from his crib and claimed he was "a servant of God".

It denies Jesus was the Son of God.

A post on the cathedral's Facebook page describes the service as a "wonderful event".

Read the rest here.

HT: A Blog reader.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Patriarch Kirill's Christmas Message

 On this holy night I extend my heartfelt greetings to you all and from the depths of my soul I congratulate you on the great feast of the Nativity of Christ: the feast of the fulfillment of the promises of old for the salvation of the human race, the feast of the ineffable love of the Maker towards his creation, the feast of the coming into the world of the Son of God who is the Messiah.

The Fathers have spoken much over the centuries on the mystery of the Incarnation of God. And now we, as the Fathers before us, hearken to the words of the Church’s prayers and hymns, with reverence listen to Scripture which tells us of this glorious event, and cease not to be amazed at this wondrous miracle.

In his reflections on Christ’s Nativity, St. Symeon the New Theologian writes the following: “God, as he came into the world … united the divine nature with human nature, so that the human person could become god, and that the Most Holy Trinity may mysteriously abide in this person who has become god by grace” (10th Homily). And St. Ephraim the Syrian speaks of the Incarnation of God thus: “Today the Godhead sealed itself upon humanity, that so with the Godhead’s seal humanity might be adorned” (Hymns for the Nativity of Christ).

In attending to these wise words, we ask ourselves: in what manner may we be adorned with this divine seal? How can we attain the likeness of God, to which all people have been called since the creation of the world? How are we to live so that “Christ be formed in us” (Gal 4:19)? The answer is simple: let us observe the commandments of the Saviour. Together with the apostle Paul I address you all, my beloved: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Cover all things with love and you will find peace and tranquility of soul. Be of generous spirit when forgiving all – and in your hearts there will reign the joy which “no man taketh from you” (Jn 16:22). “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Lk 21:19) – and you will inherit life everlasting.

How important it is that we Christians not only call upon others to follow lofty moral ideals, but endeavour to embody these very same ideals in our everyday lives and in the first instance in ministering to our neighbours. And then by God’s grace we may obtain within ourselves the true fruits of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5:22-23).

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb 10:24). When we overcome conflict and division, we speak convincingly to the world of the Saviour who is born and in our deeds we testify to the unusual beauty and spiritual power of the Orthodox faith.

We have embarked upon the year 2017. Exactly one hundred years separates us from events which radically transformed the life of Russia – a great multinational country, and plunged her into the madness of civil war, when children rose up against their parents and brother against brother. The subsequent losses and afflictions which our people endured were in many ways determined by the destruction of our thousand year-old statehood and the struggle against the peoples’ religious faith, generating a profound division within society.

With awe and reverence we recall the great endeavours of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Church of Russia, through whose prayers, we believe, the Lord never abandoned our people and granted to it the strength to accomplish many great feats of labour and military feats leading us to victory in the most terrible of all wars, to restoring the country, to achievements which evoke admiration.

We give thanks to God for the miracle he has revealed to the world – the resurrection of faith and piety within our people, for the restoration of holy sites once destroyed, for new churches and monasteries, the construction of which is a visible sign of the profound changes that have taken place in peoples’ hearts.

Over recent decades there have been and there remain today many difficulties and hardships. But they are all transient, and that is why we are not afraid of them. The experience of the past century has taught us many things and is to serve as a warning against many things.

Let us fearlessly tread the paths of salvation, “for God is with us.” Let us be stronger in our faith, “for God is with us.” Let hope assert itself within us, “for God is with us.” Let us grow in love and accomplish good, “for God is with us.”

Let us place all our hope in the Lord, for he is “everlasting strength” (Is 26:4) and, as the apostle Peter testifies, “there is no salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). May the light of Christ illumine all our earthly path, and may this path lead us to the kingdom of heaven, which the Lord has prepared for those who love him.

As I spiritually rejoice today together with all of you who live in various countries, cities and villages, yet making up the one Church of Christ, my prayerful wish is that each of you shall enjoy health of soul and body, peace in your families and success in your labours. And may the Lord and Saviour who was born in Bethlehem grant to each of us the opportunity with renewed strength and with all our heart to feel his presence in our lives.