NEWS:  February 27, 2007

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

SQUARE DANCING AT THE VATICAN  –  A creditable voice from the Vatican was recently heard saying that the Tridentine Mass will never return. Fr. Reginald Foster, a scholar who translates documents from Latin for the Pope, told The Tablet (February 3, 2007, p. 37) that a schism could result if the Pope enables those who are “nostalgic” for the Tridentine Mass to return to it. “The whole thing is off the track. The Tridentine [Mass] is finished, gone,” he affirmed.

Vatican Latinist Fr. Foster

Vatican Latinist Fr.Foster affirms the Tridentine Mass will never return
The reason he gave was this: “It is not the Latin, it is the whole mentality. These people think things were better before the Council.” According to Fr. Foster, to allow the Tridentine Mass to be said again would threaten to divide every parish and Diocese because Catholics would judge a priest by whether he celebrated Mass in their preferred rite.

Neither Foster nor The Tablet specified whether he was giving only his personal opinion, or he reached those conclusions from reactions elsewhere. This piece of information is missing. In any case, the threat of schism in the left or among the faithful, as I commented before, could well stop the Vatican from allowing the Tridentine Mass to return to common usage.

I am afraid some conservative and traditionalist readers will be disheartened: “The Vatican seemed to be coming closer to us, but now it is moving toward the left again…”

The Vatican takes some steps to the right, and many traditionalists naively expect a return to the times of Pius XII. The Vatican takes several steps to the left, and many progressivists are cheered and hope for more radical reforms. In each of these movements, there are Bishops coming from the sidelines on the right or left to accompany the Vatican accordingly.

Where is the Vatican really going? It is simply maneuvering to maintain control over the Catholic mainstream, which seems to be moving to a more rightist and conservative position. Notwithstanding, the Vatican does not want to lose its left wing, which propels the reforms that Progressivism never ceases to demand be made in the Church. So, at times the Vatican moves to the right, and at times to the left, like in a square dance.

A “DISCOURAGING ECUMENISM” – While the question of the Tridentine Mass moves with the animation of a square dance, ecumenism plods along in very slow motion. This is not just my personal opinion. Benedict himself was obliged to admit it.

The ecumenical Benedict

"Slow ascent to unity..."
Indeed, in a speech delivered January 25 during the 2007 Week of Prayers for Christian Unity at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Benedict XVI acknowledged the sluggish pace: “Ecumenism is certainly a slow process, at times perhaps even discouraging, when one gives in to the temptation to hear [the word of God] and not to listen” (The Tablet, February 3, 2007, p. 38). He insisted that all believers should emerge from “comfortable deafness.”

Painting in favorable colors his meaningless encounter in 2006 with Anglican leader Rowan Williams at the Vatican, and the futile exchange of embraces with Schismatic patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople last November, Pope Ratzinger asked rhetorically: “Are these not perhaps instances of lofty spiritual values, moments of joy, of great significance in the slow ascent to unity?”

These are gloomy words for a Pope of transition, who was elected with the specific task to accomplish ecumenical unity as quickly as possible. Two years after his election, ecumenism remains as paralyzed as it was under JPII. Besides, Ratzinger will be 80 next April 16. One can only wonder if his resignation is not being considered in some circles to open opportunities for new talents…

MARTINI FAVORABLE TO EUTHANASIA  –  Card. Carlo Maria Martini, retired Archbishop of Milan, has called the Church to be “more attentive” to how she responds to situations involving the “end of the life of a gravelly ill person.” He argued that the “will of the patient, inasmuch as he is lucid, must not be overlooked.” These statements made to Milan newspaper Il Sole were a criticism of Card. Camillo Ruini for having forbidden a Catholic funeral for a man who had asked doctors to remove the artificial respirator that had kept him alive for the last nine years (The Tablet, January 27, 2007, p. 30).

Martini suggested that because the ill man was lucid, his request to refuse treatments was worthy of more consideration. He also argued that the patient should play a major role in judging whether the proposed treatments were effectively proportional to the result. Wisdom is needed in order to not prolong life when it is no longer to a person’s benefit, he said.

Cardinal Martini

Card. Martini opens the door to church-sanctioned euthanasia
These statements made headlines in Italy, which obliged Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, to enter the public arena to refute them. Sgreccia said that omitting treatment can constitute euthanasia since it would be an intentionally provoked death.

I, and probably my reader also, agree with Card. Ruini and Bishop Sgreccia. The particular case in question is a complicated one, and I would need to know more details before issuing a moral judgment, but in any case it should not become a precedent in the rule of the Church and open the door for the pagan practice of euthanasia. It seems that Martini took advantage of a complicated case to enunciate general principles which, if approved by the Church, would allow anyone to commit voluntary euthanasia. Doubtless those principles are in the progressivist agenda and are agreeable to Communists, Atheists and Freemasons.

The road is not long from the voluntary euthanasia desired by Martini to a euthanasia decided by the family. One need only recall Terri Schiavo. Then, how far will we be from sending unproductive elderly persons to their deaths? Not too far, it seems to me.

So, Martini, one of the most expressive still-living representatives of Progressivism, is taking the first steps to approve euthanasia.

Martini’s initiative was a serious one that, in my opinion, would demand a rigorous reprimand or at least a long period of icy silence from a good Pope. What did Benedict XVI do? He did nothing regarding this particular case.

But, when Martini’s birthday arrived less than a month later on February 15, Benedict wrote him an extremely amiable letter expressing “heartfelt gratitude for all the good you have done and that only God is capable of evaluating” (Zenit, February 22, 2007).

He also praised Card. Martini's "exemplary witness in the religious life, the service of research and teaching in the realm of biblical studies, the episcopal ministry in the Archdiocese of Milan and in the Council of the European Bishops' Conferences, the valuable collaboration in the Petrine ministry as a member of the College of Cardinals and of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia."

A few days later, on February 21, Benedict presented Martini as a model of perseverance (ibid). That is to say, he took the first opportunity to express his strong solidarity with Martini.

Does this mean that Benedict XVI approves euthanasia? I don’t know for sure. What I know is that, judging from both the media splash regarding Martini’s statements and these eulogies, it seems that Benedict does not care that much about euthanasia, to say the least.


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