St Augustine teaches, “Whoever thinks he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but interprets them in a way that does not build up this two-fold Love of God and love of neighbor, does not truly understand the Scriptures. If, on the other hand, a man draws a meaning from Scriptures that builds up the two-fold Love of God and love of his neighbor, although he does not precisely understand the exact meaning of the author, his error is not pernicious, and he is wholly clear from the charge of deception.” […]
Was the Council of Trent a reactionary council? This is a common perception, that the Council of Trent initiated the Catholic Counter-Reformation to defend the Catholic Church from the influences of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther, and that the Vatican II Council was a rejection of Trent, steering the Catholic Church in a more liberal direction. Father O’Malley’s history leads to a different conclusion, that the actual Council of Trent, as opposed to the later impressions of Trent, is really a progressive council that is a precursor to Vatican II. Indeed, the documents of Vatican II and the subsequent Catholic Catechism both cite the Council of Trent extensively.
The post Reformation polemics are to blame for this misunderstanding of the nature of the Council of Trent. In Father O’Malley’s words, “When Pope Pius IV confirmed the council’s decrees, he forbade the printing of commentaries or notes on them without explicit permission of the Holy See.” The Pope really had no choice, the Catholic Church was besieged, had the Pope not restricted access to the minutes of the Council of Trent, protestants would have taken out of context and distorted the debates to discredit the Church. But this prevented balanced scholarship on Trent for four hundred years, until Pope Leo XIII opened the Vatican Archives in 1880.
Also, when he confirmed the decrees of the Council of Trent, Pope Pius IV established the Congregation of the Council that functioned for four hundred years, until the time of Vatican II, 1966. Many of these interpretations of the Council of Trent were more reactionary than the Council itself, partly in response to the polemic pressures encountered by the Catholic Church. In Father O’Malley’s words, “the Congregation’s decision promoted the impression that the council answered all possible questions, even on subjects it in fact never addressed, and that is left little room for change or further development and local adaptation. This impression became an integral element in the myths about the council.” […]
Our defense of the innocent unborn needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.”
Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty. […]
As you can tell from the length of this blog, abortion is truly a moral tar baby. If you do not touch the tar baby and only glance at its outward appearances from twenty feet away, you can yell and scream and shout and maybe even shoot at those who do the evil deed, and think you are righteous and holy condemning those who you think made a sinful decision all day long on Facebook and Twitter and on the abortion picket line.
But if you dare to get one arm, then your other arm, then one leg, then your other leg into that moral tar baby called abortion, and start moving around and educating yourself and pondering and praying about all the sticky morass of moral issues, you will never get free of this moral tar baby, you will never be able to condemn any decision anybody makes about abortion, you will only be able to feel compassion towards those unfortunate few who must decide and who must live with their decision. […]
You need a strong moral compass to do what is right. Like Trump, Mussolini did not have a strong, he did not even have a weak moral compass, his compass had no morals at all. Shortly before the start of World War II Mussolini started looking up to Hitler, Mussolini visited Berlin, Hitler visited Rome, and Mussolini started to value the values of Nazi Germany over the values of the Catholic Church.
Starting in 1938, the Fascist government under Mussolini started to implement many of the same anti-Semitic race laws that had earlier been passed in Nazi Germany. In the years before 1938 the Catholic Church prospered in its partnership with Mussolini. In the remaining years of Mussolini’s rule these relations were more and more strained. The Pope had started hearing disturbing reports from his churches in Germany and across Europe, disturbing reports on the fate of the Jews and the disabled and dissenters, priests, and believers.
Pope Pius XI started to have regrets about his compromises with Mussolini, Pope Pius XI was elderly and in poor health, Pope Pius XI started to worry about his salvation. […]
Although Mussolini’s totalitarian regime was brutal, and although Mussolini was not a practicing Catholic himself, he did cooperate with the Pope and the Catholic Church. Mussolini did not enact Nazi style anti-Semitic race laws until he fell under the spell of Hitler after 1938. Until then, the Catholics in the pews were not morally forced to choose between obeying the church and the state. […]
The cleric whose writings most influenced the decrees of Vatican II was Yves Congar, including his work on the Meaning of Tradition. He examined what the Church Fathers taught us about tradition throughout Church History, and as expected, since it was not hotly debated until the Reformation, there was a great many teachings on what tradition meant. […]
Hitler shrewdly allowed the rump Vichy regime nominal autonomy in the third of France that was unoccupied by German troops. Marshal Petain and the Vichy regime had moral legitimacy in the early years of the war. Since the church teaches that the political authorities should be respected, the regime had the support of the elderly bishops throughout the war. The British were urging the French to fight on, from North Africa if necessary, but the Church Hierarchy felt that an attitude of repentance and acceptance was more appropriate. The humiliation of the German conquest was seen as an opportunity for moral and religious transformation. […]