NEWS:  March 15, 2002

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

TWO SLAPS IN THE FACE – It is well known that John Paul II wants to hand over the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Schismatic Church of Russia. In the 70s’ the International Blue Army, a wealthy organization, purchased the icon of Our Lady of Kazan, patroness of Russia that had been smuggled to the West to escape the Communist persecution. The principal aim of this organization was to spread devotion to and the message of Our Lady of Fatima. The purchase was made for a very noble purpose: when Russia would convert, as Our Lady foretold at Fatima, the Blue Army would return the Sacred Icon to that country. It would be a first gesture to signify the establishment of the reign of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also prophesized also by Our Lady in 1917.

I consider that the Russian Schismatic Church continues to profess its old errors. That is to say, it continues to deny the Filioque in the Trinitarian procession, the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, the Pontifical Monarchy, and Papal Infallibility. The denial of any one of these dogmas is sufficient in itself to transform the schism to heresy. Therefore, in no way can one speak seriously of the conversion of the Russian Schismatics. John Paul II, on the contrary, considers that the Schismatics have already converted and for this reason, he wants to hand over the icon of Kazan to them. It is truly shameful and absurd that a Pope would leave aside Catholic dogma and want to carry out such an act.

The irony of the question is that the more John Paul II insists upon handing over the icon, the more the Schismatics want to avoid meeting with him to receive it. In fact, he suggested that this delivery be made during his recent trip to the Ukraine. The only condition set was that Alexis II should go to the Ukraine to meet John Paul II, or send a delegate to whom the icon most probably would have been delivered. The head of the Russian Schismatic Church spurned these invitations.

Recently a visit of Cardinal Walter Kasper to Moscow was announced. The visit of the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was planned from February 21-22. The purpose of the visit was to arrange the details for an eventual visit of John Paul II to Moscow and, as part of the bargain, he would deliver the icon of Kazan to the Schismatics (Zenit, February 1, 2002).

On the vespers of Kasper’s visit, the Vatican received two slaps in the face from the Russian Schismatic Church.

The first: On February 17, ultra-nationalists joined forces with the Russian “Orthodox” Church to criticize the Catholic Church for its “proselytism” in this country.. Parliament’s lower chamber, the Duma, decided that its Committee on Religious Associations and Organizations should study “the situation created by the active proselytism of the Catholic Church in traditionally Orthodox territories,” Itar-Tass reported. The decision came at the request of Duma’s vice president, ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zirinovski. Among other things, Zirinovski requested that entry visas not be issued to representatives of the Vatican and the four Catholic Dioceses established in Russia. The “Orthodox” patriarchate strongly criticized the decision of John Paul II to set up the Dioceses. The Duma will question the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about any possible offenses against the freedom of conscience committed by the Catholic Church in former Soviet republics (Zenit, February 17, 2002). It doesn’t take much intelligence to realize that this action was an anticipative response to Kaspar’s visit.

The second: On February 20, a Russian Schismatic leader asked the Interpol, International policy agency, to seize the icon of Kazan from the papal apartments. Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk charged that the icon of Our Lady of Kazan had been “stolen” from the Russian Church. He asked the Interpol to recover it “by whatever means are necessary” (Catholic World News, February 20, 2002). Who can doubt that this accusation is a strong negative reaction to the announced desire of John Paul II for reconciliation with the Russian Schismatic Church?

TWO METAPHORS – John Allen, Jr., Rome correspondent of the Catholic National Reporter, employed a curious metaphor in reference to the Vatican and the recent accord made with the traditionalists of Campos, Brazil. I reproduce his words: “A bit of wisdom has it, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ … The tactic comes highly recommended by Don Vito Corleone in Godfather. Does it apply to the Catholic Church?” The conclusion he reaches: Yes. It applies. The film Godfather makes an attempt to reproduce the ambience of the Mafia in the United States. It is quite curious to note that a journalist like John Allen, who has an inside knowledge of the Holy See, thought it appropriate to compare the present day Vatican with the Mafia. He must have reason enough for this.

I am less radical. A friend asked me what I thought about this same accord made between the Society of St. John Baptist Vianney of Campos and the Vatican. I think that it is an agreement between the chicken and the fox. However sincere the chicken might be, it is not difficult to imagine the end destined for it…

MORATORIUM ON CANONIZATIONS – Fr. Richard McBrien, a well-known exponent of progressivism in the United States, recently published a book about the saints that called for a moratorium on canonizations until a process could be devised to identify models of holiness more relevant to the lives of most Catholics. “Put a halt on canonizations except for those who have universal appeal,” the University of Notre Dame theology professor told reporters in Rome January 11 (National Catholic Reporter, January 25, 2002). McBrien’s idea of a moratorium on canonizations brought to my mind another expression employed by the deceased Cardinal Silvio Oddi. Referring to the excessive number of saints and blessed declared by John Paul II, he said that the Vatican had been transformed into a “saint factory.” In fact, the inflationary spiral in the number of saints has surpassed all reasonable limits.. In the future, when the restoration of the Church will take place, probably all these processes will have to be reviewed. In addition to the disproportionate number, some are being beatified and canonized only to pay tribute to the modernist or progressivist ideas that they defended. John XXIII is the most blaring example in this regard. The ones who lose with this policy are the true saints who find themselves in bad company.




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