Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Pope of Subsidiarity

Local issues need local solutions. In other words, on a personal level, I am responsible for me, then my spouse, then my children, etc. in a kind of ripple effect. Karol Wojtyla’s thought applied the principle of subsidiarity on these personal levels, knowing that the Gospel itself spreads person to person.

The co-founder of the Acton institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, Fr. Robert Sirico calls St. John Paul II “the Pope of Subsidiarity” for a number of excellent reasons: opposition to Marxism, opposition to impersonal market economies, importance of the dignity of human work for persons, debt-forgiveness, opposition to population control, and fostering entrepreneurship. Most of these points appear in his encyclical Centesimus Annus, but also in Laborem Exercens.

JPII’s call for a year of jubilee at the second millennium was no ideological game. He truly meant for persons enslaved to debt, even nations enslaved by other nations, to be relieved of their burdens in some small way:

I don’t recall John Paul ever saying that the debts of developing nations should simply be forgiven unconditionally. He was very conscious of the Church’s teachings about commutative justice and the way that this demands that we keep our promises. He was not blind to the fact that there was a strong likelihood that outright debt cancellation would destroy many developing nations’ credit ratings which are essential to obtain foreign capital. John Paul did, however, ask lending nations to be generous in the way that they sought to lighten the debt burdens of many developing nations.[1]

That said, there was an entire movement called Jubilee Coalition leading up to the year 2000 to implement debt relief as represented by a majority of the world’s economy at the time 1998 (US, UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Russia). In response,

US Congress responded to the growing pressure to address debt relief issues in 2000 by committing $769 million to bilateral and multilateral debt relief.[2]

While subsidiarity is not all about debt relief or even solely a financial issue, it is impressive to know that JPII’s call for jubilee was carried out in a semi-effective way. I will close with 2 qoutes from Fr. Sirico similar to my opening remarks on locality, and the latter on work as defined in Laborem Exercens:

1) In a sense one might indeed refer to John Paul as the Pope of Subsidiarity. No previous pope, including Pope Pius XXI, has outlined in such depth and detail and applied it so manifestly to the modern Welfare State as John Paul did. He showed the levels of society needed to meet human needs where they actually existed: when “neighbors act as neighbors to those in need” and also identified the way in which an erroneous effort leads only to creating expensive and ineffective bureaucracies that fail to see the deepest needs of the human heart.

2) The encyclical underscores the Christian tradition that there are two dimensions to human work. The first is the objective-transitive dimension: the effect of an act of work upon the world. The second is the subjective-intransitive dimension: the effect of the same act of work upon the person who initiates it. It can either promote virtue or vice.

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[1] http://www.acton.org/global/article/john-paul-ii-wojtyla-pope-subsidiarity-interview-r

[2] E. Carrasco, C.McClellan, & J. Ro (2007), "Foreign Debt: Forgiveness and Repudiation" University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development E-Book


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) was established by St John Paul II in 1988. Unlike the SSPX, they are loyal to Rome and in line with the Papal Magisterium. Like the SSPX, they celebrate with special devotion the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite according to the liturgical books of 1962. Oftentimes, they are placed near high concentrations of the SSPX, so as to combat the schism in my understanding.

In their own words, here are some of the charisms of FSSP:

1) A deep love and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
2) Faithful following of Christ the High Priest, source of all grace, our example and our inspiration.
3) Filial love and true devotion to Mary the Mother of Priests and patroness of our seminary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
4) Loyalty and fidelity to, and dependence on, the Magisterium of the Church and the successor of Saint Peter, our Patron.

Two current publications that follow the dealings of SSPX and FSSP are the Remnant and the Wanderer, respectively. In one article from the Wanderer, which happens to be the one of the two publications loyal to Rome, Fr. John Emerson gives more background as to the establishment of FSSP:

It came into being on July 18th, 1988, at a meeting at the Cistercian Abbey of Hauterive near Fribourg, Switzerland. We met there — I wasn’t yet a member, so I wasn’t there — the Society met there, about 10 priests and a number of seminarians, all of them, except one or two, persons who had just left the Society of St. Pius X because of the schismatic consecration of four bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre.[1]

Keep in mind that FSSP says rightly: The Fraternity was founded in response to the Holy Father’s (JPII’s) call to ecclesial unity and the new evangelization.[2]

Despite the accusations of modernism and break with Tradition from the SSPX against Rome, it is clear across the board that SSPX must repent and return to the House of God and not vice versa.





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[1] Fr. John Emerson. The Wanderer. St. Paul, MN: 1990 http://realromancatholic.com/2013/07/14/fr-john-emerson-fssp-speaks-on-the-original-sspx-break-with-rome/

[2] https://fssp.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2nd Family Synod in 30 years: Familiaris Consortio!

USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz reminds us that the 2014 Synod on the Family is not the only one to have taken place in history. In fact, he makes reference to a Synod during the pontificate of JPII:

the principle of gradualness, which might be very helpful to the evangelizer in the process of accompanying individuals. The pastoral principle of gradualness and what it means and does not mean is actually found in St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, which was issued as the fruit of the last synod on the family over 30 years ago.[1]

He goes on to explain the law,

In considering the role of the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, the Synod delegates ask what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage; how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church? The theological notion of the law of gradualness and its authentic implementation in the Catholic tradition must be carefully understood in order to answer these questions[…]The “law of gradualness” cannot be interpreted as “gradualness of the law” which implies that the law is “merely an ideal to be achieved in the future” (FC 34). Any suggestion that would cause the law of gradualness to be equated or even related to relativism or proportionalism must be avoided, since both relativism and proportionalism are foreign to magisterial teaching (Veritatis Splendor 65ff, esp. 75). Along these lines, and as noted in the Vademecum for Confessors (1997), “the pastoral ‘law of gradualness’ must not be confused with ‘gradualness of the law’ which would tend to diminish the demands it places on us” (VC 3.9). The law of gradualness, “consists of requiring a decisive break with sin together with a progressive path towards total union with the will of God and with his loving demands” (VC 3.9, emphasis in original). Therefore, the willingness to abide by Jesus’ teaching on such matters, including a decisive break from sin, should be regarded as an essential starting point for gradual growth in holiness.[2]

In essence, a call to repentance and conformity to the life of Christ is at hand. I count two total documents authored by St. John Paul II in Archbishop Kurtz’s references (Familiaris Constortio and Veritatis Splendor)!



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[1] Joseph E. Kurtz. Archbishop Archives: October, Archdiocese of Louisville. www.archlou.org

[2] Ibid

Arzobispo Bergoglio y San Juan Pablo

I think it necessary to reference Bergoglio's earlier works as proof of his single-hearted devotion to Christ and as a means of edifying his reputation in the face of much confusion (both deserved and undeserved). The example I will use also references St. John Paul II, and is largely an inspiration for Archbishop Bergoglio at the time:

Juan Pablo se comunicó con su pueblo, con la coherencia de un hombre de Dios, con la coherencia de aquél que todas las mañanas pasaba largas horas en adoración, y porque adoraba se dejaba armonizar por la fuerza de Dios. La coherencia no se compra, la coherencia no se estudia en ninguna carrera. La coherencia se va labrando en el corazón con la adoración, con la unción al servicio de los demás y con la rectitud de conducta. Sin mentiras, sin engaños, sin doblez. Jesús dijo de Natanael una vez cuando venía caminando: "Aquí tienen a un israelita derecho, sin doblez". Creo que lo podemos decir de Juan Pablo, el coherente. Pero era coherente porque se dejó cincelar por la voluntad de Dios. Se dejó humillar por la voluntad de Dios. Dejó que creciera en su alma esa actitud obediencial que tuvo nuestro padre Abraham y desde allí todos los que lo siguieron.[1]

Translated, the above passage essentially says, “John Paul communicated with his people as a coherent man of God, as one who coherently spent many mornings in adoration and loved with the strength of God on account of his adoration. His coherence did not compromise, nor did it pursue careerism. His coherence grew in his heart with adoration, with anointed service and upright conduct. Furthermore, there was no duplicity in him. Jesus said of Nathanial once when he walked up to him: “Here we have a true Israelite, without duplicity”. I believe that we can say the same of John Paul. His life was coherent because he did the will of God. He humbled himself and did the will of God. He cultivated in his soul an attitude of obedience just as our father in faith Abraham did by following after God’s call.” {my translation}

It is easy to mistranslate Bergoglio, and I believe the media does it often. Nevertheless, the message he wrote about John Paul II in 2005 is clear: obedience to the will of God in single-hearted devotion. To accuse him, or JPII, of anything besides that is unfounded. The above passage was not written by a man with a liberal or conservative agenda. It was not written by a man who practices liberation theology or any other unorthodox strain of modernism. It was written by a man who adores God whole-heartedly and recognizes such in others…



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[1] Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio. “Misa en memoria de S.S. Juan Pablo II”. April 4th, 2005. http://www.arzbaires.org.ar/inicio/homiliasbergoglio.html

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko

*10/20/2014 Update: I will say now through interactions with them that the Knights of Columbus are, in some cases, a Catholic influence on trade unions in America!

The rise of trade unions in Poland took on a very different identity than those in America. “Solidarity”, the movement of manual laborers in Poland, all drew their strength and inspiration from Catholicism. It was no coincidence that the Pope at the time was the first Slav to be in the chair of St. Peter, Karol Wojtyla. On the ground in Poland, simultaneous to his pontificate, were numerous Polish priests and Bishops who encouraged the solidarity movement. Among them was Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, an invalid with a particular calling to preach and minister to the laborers forming “solidarity”. But again, what differentiated this movement from that in America? It seems to me that the main difference was communism in Poland vs. greedy tycoons in the USA. Communism proved to be a much greater threat worldwide and Poland rallied around the Church for help. Though numerous American immigrants attempted to do the same, the threat of greed from individuals had less of an enduring effect on the origins of unions. So, in America, unions have fallen into the hands of lobbyists and masons. In Poland, especially with the martyrdom of Fr. Jerzy at the hands of secret police, “solidarity” remains connected to the Church.



Ignatius Press made an excellent film on the life of Fr. Jerzy, called “Popieluszko”. Old footage of Wojtyla is shown throughout the film, corresponding with St. John Paul II’s visits to his country in 1979-80s, the heart of the years in which Fr. Jerzy ministered until his martyrdom in 1984. A few speeches that are shown to the characters of the movie on television are:

To Poland the Church brought Christ, the key to understanding that great and fundamental reality that is man. For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.[1]

And again at Mass the following day:

Is it not Christ's will, is it not what the Holy Spirit disposes, that this Pope, in whose heart is deeply engraved the history of his own nation from its very beginning and also the history of the brother peoples and the neighbouring peoples, should in a special way manifest and confirm in our age the presence of these peoples in the Church and their specific contribution to the history of Christianity?..Is it not the design of Providence that he should reveal the developments that have taken place here in this part of Europe in the rich architecture of the temple of the Holy Spirit?..Is it not Christ's will, is it not what the Holy Spirit disposes, that this Polish Pope, this Slav Pope, should at this precise moment manifest the spiritual unity of Christian Europe?[2]

Alongside Wojtyla, many priests and bishops of Poland knew that God’s will was intent on breaking the communist will, but through peace, work, and insistence on human dignity and conscience. Fr. Jerzy preaches homily after homily on the conscience of man in the face of oppressive government, imprisonment, martial law, etc. He informs leaders of the “solidarity” movement, including one scene in a Church with Lech Walesa, of their rights before false accusations of the government.

Some men in my family have worked for trade unions for their entire careers. Compared with Polish laborers, they have little to no understanding of their dignity in Christ, their identity as rooted in baptism (non-Catholics), or the fact that their unions are run by powers that have learned little to nothing from “solidarity”. They do not see the radical turn that their historically immigrant-based political party has taken toward socialism, as though trade unions were somehow always headed toward that end. On the contrary, in Poland they grew up in opposition to that conclusion: Trade unions are the polar opposite of socialism! Sadly, unions in America are strictly secular entities. In Poland, they engage the common man in a deep legacy of holiness, martyrdom and sainthood. Fr. Jerzy is a witness to such an identity, and may his beatification process continue with ever greater miracles in our day!





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[1] Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, Victory Square, Warsaw, 2 June 1979—Apostolic Journey to Poland

[2] Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, Cathedral of Gniezno, 3 June 1979—Apostolic Journey to Poland