Monthly Archives: January 2009

Happy Birthday Sentire Cum Ecclesia

At the end of January each year, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI remembers the feast of the Inauguration of Sentire Cum Ecclesia, and extends his blessings to this blog and all its readers.

Ta, Your Holiness. Your blessing is bearing fruit – January 2009 saw more than 7000 visits to this site. (Thanks to all our readers, and enjoy our feast day!)


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Kevin Takes His Cue from Washington on OS Abortion Aid

Such an inspiring photo, nicht wahr?

Remember all those criticisms of (ex-)PM John Howard in the media for being in “lockstep” with (ex-)President George W. Bush? Remember the way in which Howard was criticised for following the American President’s lead and taking Australia into a war in which thousands of innocents perished?

Well, read this (“Bid to end abortion aid ban”, The Age, Jan 29) and this (“Decision soon on lifting ban on foreign aid for abortions”, The Age, Jan 31)and weep. We’re not talking about “thousands of innocents” in THIS war.

Update: A bit behind the times, I am reading yesterday’s edition of The Age this afternoon. Here are the opening lines of their Pontificating Decree (sorry, I mean, editorial):

Australia must lift its ban on abortion aid

AUSTRALIA stands isolated now that President Barack Obama, acting with admirable swiftness, has scrapped the US ban on funding abortion advice or services from foreign-aid money. It is a pity the Rudd Government, which has more than enough time to overturn Australia’s even more restrictive policy, has not been more immediately decisive. After all, the ban, imposed by the Howard government to appease an independent senator, Brian Harradine, was always seen as contentious and politically opportunistic, as well as hampering Australia’s international health-aid schemes. Now that America has reconsidered, how long will it be before Kevin Rudd does the same?

Note the logic: President Obama has done X, therefore PM Rudd is morally obliged to do X.

And this comes from the same editors who railed against John Howard taking his orders from George Bush.


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Captain’s log, star date…

No, it isn’t the Captain’s seat on the Starship Enterprise. It’s the cathedra in Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. For more, see here.


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Quoting in Context

I recently heard someone say that whenever someone quotes a proof-text at you, you should ask them to quote the four verses before the text and the four verses after it, just so that it is put in context.

A case of this appears to be in the following picture:

In his letter of 22nd of December to St Mary’s pastor, Archbishop Bathersby put this quotation in its broader context:

4. Possibly to indicate that South Brisbane was on side with the Pope, St Mary’s filtered words from his address to the French Bishops on 14 September and printed them on a banner in front of the Church. It stated: “Everyone has a place in the Church. Every person without exception should be able to feel at home and never rejected.”

These words of the Pope were taken selectively out of context. Delivered to the French Bishops at Lourdes the Pope’s statement largely promoted harmony between Catholics seeking the vernacular Mass and others seeking the Latin Mass. St Mary’s would hardly applaud the latter.

In a paragraph adjacent to the words selected by South Brisbane the Pope stated: “It can never be said often enough that the priesthood is indispensable to the Church, for it is at the service of the laity. Priests are a gift from God for the Church. Where their specific missions are concerned, priests cannot delegate their functions to the faithful.” Those words are reinforced by the Catechism of the Catholic Church that states in no.1142 “The members of the Church do not all have the same function”. Certain members are called by God in and through the Church to a special service of the community. Those servants are chosen and consecrated by the sacraments of Holy Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in the person of Christ the Head, for the service of all members of the Church.” Again such words would hardly be accepted by South Brisbane.

In the paragraph immediately following, the Pope writes, “The Church, which cannot oppose the will of Christ, firmly maintains the principle of the indissolubility of marriage while surrounding with the greatest affection those men and women who, for a variety of reasons, fail to respect it. Hence initiatives aimed at blessing irregular unions cannot be admitted.” Again, such statements would hardly be approved by South Brisbane and yet words of the Pope are selectively chosen from the very same statement for the benefit of South Brisbane.

Among the more serious abuses that the Archbishop asked St Mary’s to correct was the use of invalid baptismal formulas. This too is relevant to the Archbishop’s point regarding the misuse of John Paul II’s words:

Despite St Mary’s boast that it welcomes all, its misuse of the baptismal formula has significant ecumenical implications.

The fact is that in the Catholic Church all ARE welcome – but please use the front door rather than the back door. The front door is entered (as the holy water stoop reminds us) through repentance and conversion, baptism and confirmation, faithfulness to the Church, and the call to discipleship. To all who enter by this door, we say: “You are welcome” to eat and drink at the table of the Lord with us.


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Anglican reunion with Rome?

It was in The Age this morning, but I had already determined that I would believe the rumour of the imminent acceptance of the TAC (Traditional Anglican Communion) as a Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church when I read about it on

Well, it’s there now – but it cites as the source of the rumour the same source that I read yesterday afternoon (and the same source Barney uses in The Age): the Perth Diocese’s “The Record” in an article called “Healing the Reformation’s Fault Lines”. I sent it to Marco yesterday for comment (since he is local Catholic expert on these things) and all I find on his blog this morning was a reprinting of an excerpt from the article in The Record.

Now it is no surprise that if news were to break of an imminent acceptance of the TAC back into the Fold, news would break first here in Australia, mainly because the world-wide primate of the TAC (Archbishop John Hepworth) lives here in Australia, in Adelaide.

But the fact is that the Record article cites no evidence other than the talks in the Vatican last October. I guess if you add those talks to the fact that the TAC is certainly going to be received into communion at some stage in the not too distant future, and add that to the fact that this is a really interesting story for those who haven’t been following it, but my question is:

Is it news?

[P.S. The interesting thing if the rumour is true is that it seems to imply that the Holy See will accept Hepworth and the other 59 TAC bishops into communion despite the fact that most of them are married…]

Update 30th Jan: Not only has picked this “story” up, but now First Things is running it on their blog (having picked it up from “The New Liturgical Movement” who picked it up from…The Record!)


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A cool widget to help you follow Sentire Cum Ecclesia

I found this cool widget on Dan Woodring’s anti-abortion blog from Feedburner, which allows you to subscribe to all the posts on this blog via your email address. Just fill in the box in the right hand column under my family shield and Bob’s your Uncle!


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Pope Speaks about Excommunications – Reuter’s Tom Heneghan doubts sincerity of SSPX – and BXVI!

Tom Heneghan at Reuter’s Faith World Blog has opined that the SSPX bishops are not serious about the dialogue with Rome for full communion. He has the evidence that shows that at least Williamson may not be on the same page as his Superior, Bernard Fellay.

But meanwhile, Benedict himself has spoken on the issue at his general audience yesterday, pointing out (exactly as I and others have been saying) that the reason for lifting the excommunications was so that the process of dialogue might begin which will lead to the Society being restored to full communion with the Church. This is what the Pope said (with my emphasis):

In the homily delivered on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of my pontificate, I said that the “call to unity” is an “explicit” duty of the pastor and I commented on the Gospel passages about the miraculous catch of fish, saying: “Though there were so many fish, the net did not break.” I continued after these Gospel words: “Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn!” And I continued, “But no — we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised. … Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!”

Precisely in fulfilling this service to unity, which determines in a specific way my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I decided some days ago to concede the remission of the excommunication incurred by four bishops ordained without pontifical mandate in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre. I have carried out this act of paternal mercy because repeatedly these prelates have manifested their sharp suffering in the situation in which they found themselves. I trust that following from this gesture of mine will be the prompt effort on their part to complete final necessary steps to arrive to full communion with the Church, thus giving testimony of true fidelity and true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope and the Second Vatican Council.

Tom Heneghan asks the question at the end of his coverage of this issue:

Will Benedict stand up for Vatican II? Or is he using this as another way to re-interpret it in a more conservative way?

The answer to these questions is “Yes, absolutely” and “Yes, quite probably”.

There is absolutely no way that the Lefebvrists will be able to be received back into full communion without accepting “all that the Catholic church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God” – that INCLUDES the all the decrees and constitutions of the Second Vatican Council. This will be, of course, a huge hurdle for them to jump.

In all ecumenical dialogue, the magisterial documents of the Church are discussed and their proper interpretation is considered. Is it possible that in the discussions with the SSPX, interpretations of the Second Vatican Council will be proposed that are more conservative than has been the case in the past? Undoubtedly. And undoubtedly, the Holy Father would not see this as a bad thing. I would be surprised if his proposed “hermeneutic of continuity” did not get a real test out in these dialogues. If he can make it work for the SSPX, he can make it work for anyone.

Make no mistake. Pope Benedict is not going to admit any bishop into the fellowship of the Church who has reservations about the authority of the Second Vatican Council. But just as certainly, he will be more than happy to take this as an opportunity to rule out interpretations of that Council that are contrary to the tradition and faith of the Church.

And that ought to be good news to all faithful Catholics.

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Leaders of Society of St Pius X apologise for scandal and take action against Anti-Semitism in their Society

The situation arising from the lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops of the Society of St Pius X at the same time as one of the bishops made remarks that amount to holocaust denial continues to cause confusion and scandal for the Catholic Church. On Tuesday, both the current Superior General and the past Superior (now District Superior in Germany) issued apologies and repudiations of the ideas proposed by Bishop Williamson.

The two letters are given in full below. (Thanks to Andrew Rabel for these texts).

Two observations:

First, it is appropriate that the leadership of the Society, rather than authorities within the Catholic Church, deal with this issue, as the Society has not yet been received back into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Second, this vindicates Pope Benedict’s act of lifting of the excommunications in order that dialogue aimed at the restoration of full communion may be commenced. The leaders of the Society have understood that the process of reconciliation with the Catholic Church will be jeopardised if the anti-Semitic opinions of some of its leaders and members (see here for more history from John Allen at NCR) are allowed to continue without condemnation.

Communiqué of the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X,
Bishop Bernard Fellay

It has come to our attention that Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Society, granted an interview to a Swedish network. In this interview, he also commented on historical issues, especially on the genocide of Jews by the National-Socialist regime. It is obvious that a bishop speaks with religious authority solely on matters of faith and morals. Our Society claims no authority over historical or other secular matters.

The mission of the Society is the offering and restoration of authentic Catholic teaching, as handed down in the dogmas. We are known, accepted, and appreciated worldwide for this.

We view this matter with great concern, as this exorbitance has caused severe damage to our religious mission. We apologize to the Holy Father and to all people of good will for the trouble it has caused.

It must remain clear that those comments do not reflect in any way the attitude of our community. That is why I have forbidden Bishop Williamson to issue any public opinion on any political or historical matter until further notice.

The constant accusations against the Society have also apparently served the purpose of discrediting our mission. We will not allow this, but will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to offer the Sacraments in the ancient rite.

Menzingen, January 27, 2009

+ Bishop Bernard Fellay
Superior General


As District Superior of the Society [of Saint Pius X] in Germany, I am very troubled by the words pronounced by Bishop Williamson here in this country.

The banalization of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazi regime and of its horror are unacceptable for us.

The persecution and murder of an incalculable number of Jews under the Third Reich touches us painfully and they also violate the Christian commandment of love for neighbor which does not distinguish ethnicities.

I must apologize for this behavior and dissociate myself from such a view.

Such dissociation is also necessary for us because the father of Archbishop Lefebvre died in a KZ [concentration camp] and because numerous Catholic priests lost their lives in Hitler’s concentration camps.

Stuttgart, January 27, 2009

Father Franz Schmidberger
District Superior of the Society [of Saint Pius X] in Germany
(Previous Superior General of the Society)


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New "Year of Grace" entry

Every now and again, Anonymous leaves a comment on my “Year of Grace” retro-conversion blog to the following effect:

Well??? When are you going to finish the story?

We are almost there now, and one step closer tonight as I have just posted another installment.

If you haven’t read my conversion diary before, you can find it here. Although now more than eight years old, it was a diary I kept of my day to day experiences while in the process of converting from Lutheranism to the Catholic Church – covering roughly from Easter 2000 to Easter 2001.

If you want to get it in the right order, you have to start reading at “Sunday 23rd April, 2000 – Easter Day”. You will find the link to the archives in the left hand column.

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It’s hot, damn hot…

There aren’t even any mad dogs or Englishmen outside at the moment.

It is currently 41.9 degrees Celsius out there, down a tad from a maximum half an hour ago of 42.9 degrees.

That would be all okay, but they are suggesting that we might have another two or three days of this weather coming up…


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