On the Retirement of Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict & Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev)

Pope Benedict & Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev)

Like most traditionalists, I was saddened to hear Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement (effective today). As to whether he did this voluntarily or whether he was pushed out, we’ll probably never know. Benedict’s witness though was an important one on many different levels. Today I will concentrate on one such level –the liturgical renewal taking place within the Catholic Church.

Most of us are unaware of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that His Holiness had to undertake in order to override the bishops, many of whom were raised on the Novus Ordo (post-Vatican II) Mass and saw nothing wrong with it. Please take the time to read this very perceptive essay on why correct, traditional liturgical worship is vital to the health of a culture, to say nothing of a person’s salvation.

If you don’t believe me, watch this video:

It may be for this reason alone that Benedict’s papacy will be viewed in a positive light.

Source: The American Conservative | By Thomas E. Woods Jr.

Klaus Gamber’s book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy was and is a publishing event, one of the most significant in the Catholic world in a generation. It sent shock waves throughout Europe when it first appeared there 16 years ago, and its appearance here during the pontificate of Benedict XVI—who as Cardinal Ratzinger provocatively endorsed it with a pointed preface to the French edition—promises to be no less eventful.

High Church politics is unfolding. The Mass is the center of Church life. Insiders expect Benedict to forcefully restore the old Latin Mass, at least as an option, thereby extending the baby steps taken by John Paul II, whose heart was clearly not in it, to atone for expunging the Latin liturgy from the life of the average Catholic after Vatican II.

This book provides, in bite-sized chapters, all the background. It is common knowledge that in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI dramatically revised the text and rubrics of the Mass. Whether the Council Fathers envisioned the radical changes that were ultimately made is a matter of dispute, but recent research by Father Brian Harrison of the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico found that most of the leading bishops as Vatican II opened favored only minor changes rather than a sweeping revision of the entire rite.

But a sweeping revision of the entire rite is exactly what we got.

Apologists for the reform tried to claim that the Mass had been changed countless times in the past and therefore that the discontent surrounding this most recent round of changes must reflect either a lack of acquaintance with the checkered history of the Mass or a reactionary attachment to older forms for their own sake. But none of the organic and virtually imperceptible changes that had been made over the centuries was anything like the reform of the 1960s, in which a committee radically overhauled the entire rite.

Motivations for changing the rite varied, ranging from the pastoral concerns of misguided men of good will all the way to the downright sinister. Some, moved either by neo-Jansenism or Enlightenment contempt for the Middle Ages, claimed they were returning the Mass to its apostolic simplicity in light of recent liturgical research. This argument has not held up over time: research more recent still has shown that as a result of misreadings of the ancient sources, major aspects of the new rite—from the Prayer of the Faithful to concelebration to the practice of Mass facing the people —are in fact modern fabrications with no ancient analogue.

Others claimed they wanted to make the Mass more understandable to the people. But if that were all they were after, there was no need to draw up a completely new rite: they could simply have translated the traditional Mass into the vernacular.

Whatever the motivations behind the changes, though, Pope Paul VI acknowledged that something of priceless worth was being given up when he introduced his new rite in 1969-70. “A new rite of Mass: a change in the venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead.”

And although some even now pretend that stripping away the Latin language was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind at the time and that the abandonment of Latin was merely the unfortunate result of a later misunderstanding of the reform, Paul VI spoke as if the loss of Latin was a clear and unavoidable aspect of the new Mass. And again, he used words upon which the most devoted Catholic traditionalist could scarcely have improved: “We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance.”

When it looked as if the traditional Mass was doomed, a group of 57 distinguished writers, scholars, artists, and historians in England—Catholic and non-Catholic alike—signed a petition urging Pope Paul to reconsider. The signatories of the appeal, who included Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, and Malcolm Muggeridge, urged that, apart from the spiritual ramifications of the abolition of the traditional Mass, the rite itself, “in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts—not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.”

The appeal continued:

One of the axioms of contemporary publicity, religious as well as secular, is that modern man in general, and intellectuals in particular, have become intolerant of all forms of tradition and are anxious to suppress them and put something else in their place. But, like many other affirmations of our publicity machines, this axiom is false. Today, as in times gone by, educated people are in the vanguard where recognition of the value of tradition is concerned, and are the first to raise the alarm when it is threatened … . In the materialistic and technocratic civilisation that is increasingly threatening the life of mind and spirit in its original creative expression—the word—it seems particularly inhuman to deprive man of word-forms in one of their most grandiose manifestations.

The Archbishop of Westminster, John Cardinal Heenan—with whom a distraught Evelyn Waugh, aghast even at the initial liturgical changes he lived to see, carried on a lengthy correspondence—brought the issue before Pope Paul VI. The pope granted an indult for England and Wales for the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass on special occasions. Apart from an additional dispensation for elderly priests, though, that was the only allowance, anywhere, for the traditional rite.

That was how things stood until Pope John Paul II, prodded by French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, broadened the indult in 1984 and again in 1988, urging the world’s bishops to be “generous” in allowing the traditional Mass for those who wanted it. The generosity the pope asked for was not forthcoming: as of 2006, only a tiny fraction of one percent of all parish Masses are offered in the traditional rite.

The progressives who revised the Mass had won in a rout.

Then, in the late 1980s, came Monsignor Klaus Gamber. He was a liturgical scholar of great renown, who headed the liturgical institute at Regensburg and had brought out nearly three dozen volumes in the Studia Patristica et Liturgica and Textus Patristici et Liturgici series. It was Gamber’s unimpeachable mainstream credentials that made his book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy all the more shocking.

The book was a blistering attack. The new Mass, said Gamber, was pastorally, theologically, and aesthetically disastrous. “The new liturgical forms,” he wrote, “well intentioned as they may have been at the beginning, did not give the people bread, but stones.” It radically unsettled and disoriented the faithful and probably sent countless numbers away for good. And it was an abuse of power to boot: Gamber suggested that whether the pope actually had the authority to revise the Mass so radically was “debatable, to say the least.”

Against those who have argued that anything promulgated by the Holy See is ipso facto traditional, Gamber absolutely insisted that the new liturgy constituted a “break with Church tradition.” He suggested that the new rite, in practice, amounted to a humanistic celebration of the assembled congregation rather than the propitiatory sacrifice of traditional Catholic theology.

We are now involved in a liturgy in which God is no longer the center of our attention. Today, the eyes of the faithful are no longer focused on God’s Son having become Man hanging before us on the cross, or on the pictures of His saints, but on the human community assembled for a commemorative meal. The assembly of people is sitting there, face to face with the ‘presider,’ expecting from him, in accordance with the ‘modern’ spirit of the Church, not so much a transfer of God’s grace, but primarily some good ideas and advice on how to deal with daily life and its challenges.

And then Gamber did the unthinkable in the ecclesial climate of his day: he called for the restoration of the traditional rite “as the primary liturgical form for the celebration of Mass. It must become once more the norm of our faith and the symbol of Catholic unity throughout the world, a rock of stability in a period of upheaval and never-ending change.”

As recently as the 1990s, it was unthinkable that someone who endorsed the conclusions of Gamber’s book could ever be elected pope. But the current pontiff, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, did just that: in his preface to the French-language edition he gave the book his hearty endorsement, including its finding that Mass with the priest facing East with the people, rather than with the priest facing away from the tabernacle and toward the people, was the ancient tradition and should be restored. Ratzinger’s endorsement of Gamber’s book made headlines across Europe.

And in his preface to Gamber’s book, speaking of the changes that were made to the Mass, Ratzinger added: “In the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it—as in a manufacturing process—with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true prophet and the courage of a true witness, opposed this falsification …”

The word out of Rome these days is that Pope Benedict XVI is considering lifting all restrictions from the traditional rite, such that any priest of the Roman Rite could offer the traditional Mass without needing the special permission from his bishop—as required under John Paul II—that has so often been denied. This is exactly what Gamber called for and what Benedict has long believed. “The old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it,” he said in 1997, while still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. “It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent.”

Over the summer, Marcia Christoff Kurapovna wrote in these pages about reconciliation efforts currently under way between Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. Resolution of the liturgical question in the West is central to any kind of reconciliation between the two. It is not simply that the traditional Mass has much more in common with the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom than does the new Mass. The point is that the Orthodox have no desire to see their own liturgies vandalized or “reformed,” and they are deeply suspicious of the modern mentality that conceives of ancient conveyors of the faith merely as texts in need of a good editor.

We live in strange times, in which nothing seems exempt from the forward march of ugliness and vulgarity. Architecture oscillates between the banal and the grotesque, the “art world” is a bad joke, and Hollywood hardly requires comment. We might have expected the Catholic Church, and Christians more generally, to remain entirely aloof from and unaffected by the spirit of vulgarization and narcissism that overtook the West in the 1960s.

But at the very time when the piety of the faithful most needed nourishment at the fount of tradition, and when the Western world needed more than ever to be reminded that tradition was more than something to be spat upon and discarded, the traditional Mass was taken away. Allen Tate, a convert to Catholicism and one of the Twelve Southerners who wrote the agrarian manifesto I’ll Take My Stand, regretted that he had converted not long before this venerable institution, which until then had successfully resisted the worst aspects of modernity, seemed to be throwing in the towel.

That is why the traditional Mass is potentially such an important pedagogical device for the Western world. I have often heard it said that in “today’s world” we need a simpler rite and one in the vernacular. But to the contrary: it is precisely in today’s world, a world in which man believes himself bound by nothing, in which the traditional Mass is so obviously necessary. What generation has needed more than the present one to be told that the world does not revolve around it? In a world that believes that nothing is immune to change, that the family itself is subject to redefinition according to human whim, the piety and reverence of the traditional Latin Mass, in its beauty and stately reserve, and in its reservation of sacred tasks to the priest alone, reminds us that some things really are not to be touched by man. Here, in a nutshell, is the conservative’s outlook on the world.

If Pope Benedict follows through on what he has said in the past about the need to make the old rite widely available again, its significance will extend well beyond just those who have formed their spiritual lives around it. One of the great treasures of Western civilization will at long last have been restored. Those who prefer the Muppets to the Moonlight Sonata—and who for over 35 years have done everything they could to deprive people of the liturgical equivalent of the Moonlight Sonata—will doubtless bellow in protest, but to the relief of a great many Catholics and their sympathizers, Monsignor Klaus Gamber will at last have been vindicated.

Thomas E. Woods Jr. is author of How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, a free chapter of which is available at ThomasEWoods.com.

About GShep


  1. While I agree in the value of tradition and believe that revisions to the liturgy are usully ill-conceived, I don’t agree with attachment to the latin language. If we as Orthodox felt obligated to use the ancient language, we would all use Greek in our liturgy. There is plenty of precedent in Orthodoxy for the liturgy to be in a language the people understand. That’s why we have church Slavonic, and that’s why we do the liturgy in English here in America.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Of course I agree with you. All rites of the Churches should be sung in the vernacular language in as dignifiied a manner as possible. What I can’t figure out is why the RC’s did away with the solemn Mass along with the vernacular.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:
      February 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

      “What would happen if the Bishop changed it [the DL]?”
      “The people would run him out of town.”

      I was told that they would drag him down to the nearest river and throw him in.

  2. Also Anonymous says

    Effective today?

    • For once, we are ahead of the curve! 🙂

      The retirement will happen Thursday (February 28).

      • Yes, this is true- the date of Pope Benedict’s retirement (and the commencement of his usage of the title ‘Pope Emeritus of Rome’, thus he will continue to be styled in address as ‘Your Holiness’) is Thursday. February 28, at 20:00 (8pm) Vatican time.

  3. Ladder of Divine Ascent says

    The Latins could dump their Western Rite and all act like Uniates and they’d still be a slowing rotting corpse that died in 1054. If Benedict had been a traditionalist then he’d have been able to restore the traditionalist Latins to communion with him (supposedly for countries like France the percentage of traditionalists like SSPX is as high as 50% of those “Catholics” who actually practice their faith), but he wouldn’t let go of his universalism and ecumenism, allowing himself to be annointed by pagan witchdoctors, etc. All Benedict did was offer a Uniate type solution to them, we let you use the Latin mass, you implicitly accept our heresies.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Ladder of Divine Ascent writes, “The Latins could dump their Western Rite and all act like Uniates and they’d still be a slowing rotting corpse that died in 1054.”

      This unbelievably ignorant comment is the sort that prompts people to regard the Orthodox Church as a cultural backwater and a body of idiots.

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        Ladder of Divine Ascent writes, “The Latins could dump their Western Rite and all act like Uniates and they’d still be a slowing rotting corpse that died in 1054.”

        Patrick Henry Reardon says: “This unbelievably ignorant comment is the sort that prompts people to regard the Orthodox Church as a cultural backwater and a body of idiots.”

        Fine, indirectly insult me, Patrick. What part do you find ignorant? That the Latin church has been rotting ever since they broke with us, because they have no grace? You know the orthodox Orthodox position? Perhaps you are you an adherent to the heresy of “branch” theory?

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Ladder inquires, “Perhaps you are you an adherent to the heresy of “branch” theory?”

          No., and this is the kind of cheap accusation that brings considerable contempt on your deserving head.

        • Catholic Observer says

          …the Latin church has been rotting ever since they broke with us, because they have no grace….

          1.4 billion members worldwide and counting.

          That’s a funny way of “rotting.”

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Catholic Observer, responding to the unbelievable ignorance and corresponding arrogance of another contributor on this site, reflects on the Roman Catholic Church:

            1.4 billion members worldwide and counting. That’s a funny way of “rotting.”

            This obvious reflection was also going through my own head.

            One hundred years ago, the Roman Catholic Church was less than half its current size.

            Let’s think about this the next time somebody spouts off about its recent decline and impending dissolution.

            • Ah, the numbers game! If you ant to get technical most of the global population is not Christian. There is always the problem of how to report adherants. When people quote numbers in the hundreds of millions you know they are making some pretty big assumptions. You could look at the RCC and say “wow, their really big, something must be right” on the other hand you could look at how the bar has been dropped so low that a trench has to be dug to acomodate it. In that case quoting numbers is silly. I hope the RCC will rediscover itself but given that the western churches are rapidly falling further away it would seem claims of over a million adherants will become even less credible.

              I think it is important to remember that we share a period of common history with the RCC. On the other hand the subsequent innovations distort the Faith. That’s not mean spirited, self indulgent, or out of touch, but a fact that cannot be ignored or glossed over. The call to the RCC is to return to what she was. It has never been about submission to the Orthodox in the sense the Pope has demanded a submission to his authority.

              The problem of dysfunctional ecclesial behavior has nothing to do with monarchical vs conciliar, it has everything to do with human brokenness. If we expect our bishops to be saints then we have a misunderstanding of what it means to be the Body of Christ. If you don’t believe me look at St. Nilus or St. Maximus.

              • George Michalopulos says

                I suppose the same thing could be said about our numbers.

              • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                Dan exclaims, “Ah, the numbers game!”

                Well, are the numbers irrelevant to the discussion?

                Right now, for instance, when there is approximately one grandchild for every four grandparents in Orthodox Romania, how long do you think the Orthodox Church there will hang on?

                If we reflect that in Europe the two highest national abortion rates are in Orthodox Greece and Orthodox Serbia, is this reflection not germane to considerations of evangelism and fidelity to the Gospel?

                (Please, don’t bring up the recent influence of Communism on the population statistics of these countries. It won’t wash. Albania and Kosovo—with the two highest birth rates in Europe—had Communist governments just as long as these other places. Communism is not an adequate explanation for this phenomenon.)

                The outrageous expressions of Orthodox triumphalism among the correspondents on this blog site border on the unbearable. Pretensions of Orthodox superiority to Roman Catholicism require a great deal more evidence.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Pope Benedict XVI resigned because of the rot and corruption in the RCC. However, he did not give up. In Chess to win one must know when to “Give the space.” The Secularists Militant Atheists are on the rise and the attack. They are outside and within the Church.

                  We put our faith in politics when we should have put our faith in Christ and his Gospel. Both political parties in America have gone after the Spirit of this age in their support of Abortion, Homosexuality and their brazen attacks on the Church.

                  More and more the “Talking” heads are calling upon the Church to do what the GOP is doing. Abandon its core beliefs, i.e. Christ and His Gospel or risk becoming irrelevant. Really!?

                  If we listen then we fulfill II Thessalonians 2. If we do not listen then we remain faithful to Christ and His Gospel. I know what I have decided, and WHO I have chosen. Its time now for others to decide and choose. The Church will be smaller and hopefully more faithful and true as people’s faith grows cold and the attacks of the Atheists and Governments increase.

                  This will be my last posting. Not because I am mad or upset, but because things have now escalated to a point beyond blog entrees, and all of us need to prepare. I bid all of you the Peace and Mercy of Jesus Christ as we are all now going to need it, and need it quickly and in great abundance. Remember be devoted to Jesus Christ and His Holy Gospel, and always abide in His Love for Him and love your neighbor as yourself.

                  The Abomination that causes Desolation may soon enter into His Church and the great apostasy may be upon us. I pray that I am wrong, but in case I am not it is now time to prepare. I do not say this lightly, but through much prayer, sorrow and conviction of what is soon to come upon us as Christians.

                  Farewell, and may God Bless all of you.

                  Yours In Christ,

                  Peter A. Papoutsis

            • Michael Bauman says

              And the RCC counts as members anyone they ever baptized which means that all the Orthodox who used to be RC are counted and all the lapsed are counted. Shoot doing it that way, we could count them since we came first

              The fact is either they are schismatics or we are unless you deny the Creed.

              And there is no weeping and wailing here for 1054 as if it were an egalitarian dilemma. :Schism is always bad but someone left the Church. Numbers doesn’t tell us whom.

              Fundamental adherence to the Apostolic faith does. I vote for the Orthodox. The Protestants don’t even count. So choose, live with it, love each other as best we can, forgive each other as best we can. Pray for each other above all. That way, we might actually become Christian some day and be united in Christ.

              Neither of us should sacrifice principle for the sake of specious unity. It is not about compromise, it is about the truth.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says: “This unbelievably ignorant comment is the sort that prompts people to regard the Orthodox Church as a cultural backwater and a body of idiots.”

        Number me in the ranks of the “idiots.”

        • Ditto Sasha.
          Ladder’s arguments stand or fall on their merits as they may, but at least his heart is in the right place. Fr Patrick’s reaction, on the other hand, tells us so much more about the place he is in. We cradle Orthodox are so sorry to offend your superior convert sensibilities, Fr Pat. We apologise for being so repugnant to you.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            I cannot make up my mind about Ladder and those who are like him. At times I cannot believe that they can be serious. Other times, I feel that they are and that truly saddens and disappoints me. The thing is, I do not have those dreaded “convert sensibilities” for I am cradle. OTH, I will take a Father Patrick any day over 100 of cradles who are like Ladder.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Basil comments, “We cradle Orthodox are so sorry to offend your superior convert sensibilities, Fr Pat.”

            I made not the slightest reference to “cradle Orthodox.” How in the hell did this discussion get turned into a convert vs. cradle debate?

            • Come now, Fr Pat, don’t be so obtuse: “cultural backwater”…”body of idiots”. Get off your high horse before you fall, my friend.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Basil, begging your forgiveness but I’m on the same “high horse” as Fr Patrick on this one. I know all about the history of the RCC and I know all about our history too. One thing I’ve always admired about the Russian spirit is the refusal to get on the victimology bandwagon. I long for the day when we in America can break free from the chains of political correctness and start calling spades, spades.

                And yes, I pray for reconciliation between East and West.

              • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                Basil writes, “Come now, Fr Pat, don’t be so obtuse: “cultural backwater”…”body of idiots”. Get off your high horse before you fall, my friend.”

                Basil, for reasons best known to himself, decided that I was speaking about cradle Orthodox, contrasting them to those of us who joined the Orthodox Church later in life.

                When I explained to him that this was not the case, he just dug in.

                I made my original comments in response to some individual who rashly names himself “Ladder of Divine Ascent.”

                Well, now we know, from the continued thread on this theme, that “Ladder of Divine Ascent” is, in fact, a convert to the Orthodox Church.

                I wonder if Basil is yet prepared to retract.

          • lexcaritas says

            This is so sad. I couldn’t disagree with you more, Basil. The tenor of your and Sasha’s comments hardly evince hearts that are “in the right place.” I’ll stick with Fr. Patrick. Is Christ God pleased, do you think, with aspersions cast by “cradle Orthodox” at “converts”? Isn’t every Christian a convert–begotten from above by water and the Spirit? Aren’t we all called to live in a constant state of repentance and continuous conversion? How does being proud of one’s good fortune to have been “born” Orthodox differ from a Baptist’s claim of “once saved, always saved”? We had best beware, since, as St. Paul admonishes us we must work out our slavation with fear and trembling and through Proverbs Christ warns us that “Pride comethe before the fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction” and in the Gospel that a “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.” He applied it to Satan’s reign, but how would the same principle not apply to the Church as well? Should we not weep over the schism of 1054 and pray with every fibre of our being for it to be healed? Are we sure that we even have a glimmer of the damage done by it to slow the progress of the Gospel and the manifestation of the sons of God for which St. Paul reminds us all of creation groans? When James and John thought to call down fire from heave to destroy a Samaritan village, our Lord Jesus Christ cautioned them that they knew not what spirit they were of. Ought we also take care not to make the same kind of mistake.


            • lxc,
              I thought this was an Orthodox site…yet of late it seems to be a gathering place for Catholic apologists. No, not everything about the Catholic Church is to be condemned (and just who is calling down fire from heaven upon them?) but pardon me if I don’t refrain from criticising a body that claims universal jurisdiction over all Christians, infallibility, power over souls in “purgatory”, practiced conversion of the Orthodox by the sword (more accurately the gun) in modern times and continues to proselytise among the “culturally backwards” “idiot” Orthodox. I’m sorry if my Orthodox intransigence makes you “sad” – perhaps in order to understand the depths of my feeling on this subject you should do some reading in how the Roman Catholics have treated the Orthodox in history going back even to the earliest days of the church in the West.

            • Michael Bauman says

              A good friend of mine who has been in the Church all his life remarked the other morning. “God knew I was too stupid to find the Church unless I was born into it.”

          • Basil says:
            March 1, 2013 at 6:53 am

            We cradle Orthodox are so sorry to offend your superior convert sensibilities, Fr Pat. We apologise for being so repugnant to you.

            I’m “cradle Orthodox” and and share no such sentiment.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Hear! Hear! PdnNJ. Whenever I hear nonsense like “rotting corpse of Catholicism” I have only to read Runciman and weep as did the Exiles in Babylon.

        • lexcaritas says

          Well, then, Sasha, if you’re voluntarily among the idiots, why would we want to invest time in reading any of your future comments?


    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      I still have to say that no Pope, no matter how old or ill, just retires. Pope Benedict XVI retired for a specific reason and I cannot believe it had to do with his health. If what I believe to be true truly is true we have a very huge problem on our hands that we always knew was there, but has gotten so incredibly big even reasonable people like Pope Benedict cannot contain and/or control it.

      What is the Problem? Institutional and Moral rot that has reached into the very heart of the Vatican. Sexual infidelity of both a Hetero and Homosexual nature, although probably more Homosexual with men and underage boys, and corrupt dealings with the Vatican Bank.

      I hope I am 100% wrong, but my gut is telling me that I am not. I know not very scientific or evidentiary in nature, but I cannot shake the feeling that this is what led to Pope Benedict’s Resignation and his last hour Curia Rule Change to ensure a Catholic and NOT modernist Pope get’s elected.

      This is not sad, but scary. Very, very scary. Popes just do not do What Pope Benedict did without a good reason and health and age are NOT it.

      Peter A. Papoutsis

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Peter Papoutsis comments, “I cannot shake the feeling that this is what led to Pope Benedict’s Resignation and his last hour Curia Rule Change to ensure a Catholic and NOT modernist Pope get’s elected.”

        Peter, I believe this “feeling” of yours is past the speculation stage. The Italian and Catholic press sources seem to know of a secret report (prepared by three aged cardinals) that will be delivered—eyes only—to the new pope.

        This does not mean that the advanced age of Pope Benedict XVI is irrelevant to his resignation, however.

        I am quite prepared to believe that the Holy Father simply felt he could no longer “contain and/or control” the situation. Physical health is genuine consideration in such a case.

        I am a full decade younger than Ratzinger, but I would certainly resign if I faced a pastoral situation beyond my physical abilities.

        At last count, there is still only one Messiah.

        You may want to check out:


        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Thank you father Pat. I completely agree that issues of health are not irrelevant, but for the Pope other concerns usually trump health. As for the secret report that is new to me, and confirms my worst fears.


      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        I hope so because the modernist are having a field day right now wanting gay Pope, a Female Pope, etc. Really, what is a matter with these people? Why is it so hard for them to just follow Christ over their own beliefs? If they do not want to believe then stop trying to change something that will never conform to your delusions.


        • Michael Bauman says

          Really, what is a matter with these people? Why is it so hard for them to just follow Christ over their own beliefs? If they do not want to believe then stop trying to change something that will never conform to your delusions.

          Peter, why indeed. What is the delusion that wants to change the revelation of God to fit our own mind: “I think, therefore I am” plus the “myth of progress.” We have come to trust ourselves and exalt ourselves to the point we no longer need God.

          The I AM of God has been replaced by the i am of man’s brain and a materilist form of chiliasm has replaced the eschatology of the Church. Salvation is no longer important or necessary. We honor no one or no thing. We no longer value or long for the sacred.

          Of course, it is not just ‘these people’ We all live in a world that has given itself over to an apostate and idolatrous mind. We all imbibe. Each of us is infected.

          I have to ask myself daily: “Why is it so hard for me to follow Christ over my own beliefs/desires?” I don’t like the answer and still it is difficult to allow the love of Christ to soften my heart sufficiently to change me.

          What is the first principle of unseen warfare: “Don’t trust yourself in anything.”

        • nit picking says

          Why is it so hard for them to just follow Christ over their own beliefs?


          You and other theologians have probably read most of the works of St. Athanasius the Great. For those that haven’t, I offer the following paraphrase in response to your extremely relevant question:

          1. Because God gave us the freedom to choose.
          2. Because we choose to use that freedom wrongly.

          It’s our own dang fault. It’s pathetic. End of story.

      • Fr Hans, there will not be a modernist Pope. The vast majority of cardinals in the Roman Curia who are eligible to vote in the upcoming papal conclave are men appointed to the Curia by either the outgoing pontiff Pope Benedict, or his predecessor Pope John Paul II. Both these popes are solidly conservative in their theology, with Pope Benedict especially so in the sense that he is a proponent on a pastoral, liturgical and apostolic level of ‘Catholic orthodoxy’. It is impossible for a ‘modernizing Pope’ to be elected in this context.

        I say this as a former Roman Catholic, a convert to Orthodoxy, with a keen interest in developments in the life of the Roman Church.

        • Ryan,
          That line is often taken but it doesn’t entirely square with the reality.
          JPII made a lot of administrative mistakes, including some of his appointments to the rank of cardinal.
          I wouldn’t expect a “modernist” pope but I wouldn’t be surprised at a rather “liberal”, “reformist” one either.
          Btw, I put those terms in quotations marks because, as evidenced in the case of JPII, one man’s conservative is another’s modernist. I have traditional Catholic friends who assure me JPII was a modernist and Benedict is not far behind him. They define Modernism according to the statements on the subject of Pope Pius X. Do some research on the subject and see if they don’t have a point. These traditional Catholics imho are closer to Orthodoxy than your “average” Catholic today.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Ryan says, “The vast majority of cardinals in the Roman Curia who are eligible to vote in the upcoming papal conclave are men appointed to the Curia by either the outgoing pontiff Pope Benedict, or his predecessor Pope John Paul II.”

          Actually, Ryan, this is the case for ALL of them.

      • Catholic Observer says

        “,,,the Catholic Church may be finished….”

        Do you know how many people throughout history have predicted the imminent demise of the Catholic Church? Famous people, too. Powerful people. Time after time, century after century, they have confidently made the same prediction.

        These Prophets of Catholic Doom have long since passed on to their eternal reward. Their bodies lie a-mouldering in the grave. Yet the Catholic Church lives on. We’re the Energizer Bunny of Christendom. 😀

    • There are broken and missing rungs on this Ladder.


    • The following link is, I believe, an apt response.


    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      “Broad brush polemics of the kind you champion reduces discourse to sectarian parrying and weakens us to the assaults of the secularist juggernaut.

      “I don’t want Christendom to collapse but a descent into sectarianism is one way to ensure that it might”

      Fr. Hans, Christendom is “Eastern” Orthodoxy (not Copts or any OO), outside of Orthodoxy there is nothing but the ruins of Christendom. If the next Pope allows female ordination, openly practicing sodomite ordination, etc, etc, that would be a good thing, because more “Catholics” would go looking for the real Church and find eternal salvation with us. Your fear of the “secularist juggernaut” appears to me a lack of faith in Orthodoxy, in the One Holy Apostolic Church.

      • I have to disagree with you. It would not be a good thing because most people would be discouraged and fall away from God. Such reasoning, like “Sequestration” is a falicy.

    • Abbouna Michel says

      Once again, the neanderthals weigh in (though I realize this comment may be unfair to the real Neanderthals). This is the kind of response that demonstrates how individual Orthodox can be Orthodoxy’s worst enemy. And, in humility, it’s good for ALL of us to be aware that not all “slowing [sic] rotting corpses” are floating in the Tiber, by a long shot, and pay attention to our own houses!

      Kudos to Archpriest Reardon for his response.

  4. Michael James Kinsey says

    The ecumentical bent of the papacy, added to the claim of world religious rule over all Christian peoples. including Orthodoxy and all pagan world religions is not tempered. It looms as a stumbling block to all authentic worship of the Only Holy One, by, as St Anthony the Great stated, concerning the 1st heresy,Arianism, which denying the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and will be the last hersey. The horus/Isis/father/mother god/Savior/CoRedeemptrix temp-let is pagan and makes Christianity compatable, and the same as paganism.As in the filoque heresey, the papacy claims absolute authority to do this and uniting all the world’s religion under it’s rule.The Most Holy Theotokos is the handmaiden of the Lord, as she said. She is fully human, like us, and is our Mother. She is not of the Holy Trinity, but, is It’s perfected Handmaiden.Queen of Heaven and higher than the Angels and Archangels, but She is the perfected Image and Likeness of God as we will all become in a twinkling of an eye.A servant is not above, or equal to His Master.
    The Holy Scripture and St Cryill of Jerusalem mention a Restrainer,which will be taken away by the antichrist. The Malachy predictions about the number of popes is at it’s last pope.The discription of this pope, if viewed as masonic signal language is quite frightening. Wisdom builds her house on 7 hills, which the message says will be destroyed. He will feed his sheep, but it does not state with what. Great perscusions will arise of the Faithful, but it does not state by who. The 1st masonic,still standing, temple was in Ireland at the time of Malachy. It is feasable, the demonic gave the list to the masons, who gave it to Malachy. I do not believe the list is of divine origin. The removal of the Restrainer could be accomplished by replacing the Holy Fire, by Catholic pagan rule, in the Holy Place, the Holy Sepluchre. I expect this takeover will be done using economic’s employed by the Zionists .who rule Jerusalem in conjunction with the Catholic Church and some Orthodox See’s.The effect of this is to make desolate mankinds relationship with the Only Holy One.It is the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place, where it ought not to be, recieving Rev 13 vs 13 in it’s place. Mother of harlots makes desolate the life giving relationship of man to man, the beast, living for bread alone, makes desolate the relationship of man’s spiritual to physical nature, recieving foreign fire, tempts God. There are no other life giving relationships to destroy. If, you please, by all means, if you can, discredit this writing, as I would not, at all, mind being wrong in this.

    • Ok, that post is waaayyy over the top.

      • Michael James Kinsey says

        The 1st paragraph are my words, retyped by you and being attributed to Thomas Mertin verbatium. You say I am stealing his work. I know that I am not stealing anything, and I wrote in the space of an hour, after reading the topic.I must either be typing Mertains words verbatium or you are lying. I know, and so does Jesus Christ. You will not cheat HIM, fool.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Kinsey, you’re mistaken. Nobody attributed your words to Thomas Merton. Thomas Merton’s words FOLLOW the attribution. They are provided to give you an idea of how an intelligent adult expresses himself

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      “The ecumentical bent of the papacy, added to the claim of world religious rule over all Christian peoples. including Orthodoxy and all pagan world religions is not tempered. It looms as a stumbling block to all authentic worship of the Only Holy One, by, as St Anthony the Great stated, concerning the 1st heresy,Arianism, which denying the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and will be the last hersey. The horus/Isis/father/mother god/Savior/CoRedeemptrix temp-let is pagan and makes Christianity compatable, and the same as paganism.As in the filoque heresey, the papacy claims absolute authority to do this and uniting all the world’s religion under it’s rule.The Most Holy Theotokos is the handmaiden of the Lord, as she said. She is fully human, like us, and is our Mother. She is not of the Holy Trinity, but, is It’s perfected Handmaiden.Queen of Heaven and higher than the Angels and Archangels, but She is the perfected Image and Likeness of God as we will all become in a twinkling of an eye.A servant is not above, or equal to His Master.”

      Thomas Merton, The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals

      April 25, 1957
      Macarius Bulgakov and Nicolas Berdyayev are writers of great attention. They are great men who will not admit the defeat of Christ who has conquered by His Resurrection. In their pages, for all the scandals one may fear to encounter, shines the light of the Resurrection, and theirs is a theology of triumph.

      One wonders if our theological cautiousness is not after all the sign of a fatal coldness of heart, an awful sterility born of fear or of despair. These two men have dared to make mistakes and were to be condemned by every church in order to say something great and worthy of God in the midst of all their wrong statements.
      They have dared to accept the challenge of the sapiential books, the challenge of the image of Proverbs where Wisdom is “playing in the world” before the face of the Creator. The Church herself says this. Sophia was somehow, mysteriously, to be revealed and “fulfilled” in the Mother of God and in the Church.

      Most important of all–man’s creative vocation to prepare, consciously, the ultimate triumph of Divine Wisdom. Man, the microcosm, the heart of the universe, is the one who is called to bring about the fusion of cosmic and historic process in the final invocation of God’s wisdom and love. In the name of Christ and by His power man has a work to accomplish: to offer the cosmos to the Father, by the power of the Spirit, in the Glory of the Word. Our life is a powerful Pentecost in which the Holy Spirit, ever active in us, seeks to reach through our inspired hands and tongues into the very heart of the material world created to be spiritualized through the work of the Church, the Mystical Body of the Incarnate Word of God.

      April 28, 1957

      If I can unite in myself, in my own spiritual life, the thought of the East and the West, of the Greek and Latin Fathers, I will create in myself a reunion of the divided Church [Ladder: heresy, the Church is one], and from that unity in myself can come the exterior and visible unity of the Church. For, if we want to bring together East and West, we cannot do it by imposing one upon the other. We must contain both in ourselves and transcend them both in Christ. [Ladder: Orthodoxy, already contains all the thought of East and West, of the Greek and Latin Fathers.]

      February 28, 1958

      Yesterday turned into a day of frustrations–minor ones, anyway.
      But, after all these things, I had a dream. It may have had no connection with them whatever.
      On the porch at Douglaston I am embraced with determined and virginal passion by a young Jewish girl. She clings to me and will not let go, and I get to like the idea. I see that she is a nice kid in a plain, sincere sort of way. I reflect, “She belongs to the same race as St. Anne.” I ask her her name and she says her name is Proverb. I tell her that is a beautiful and significant name, but she does not appear to like it–perhaps the others have mocked her for it.
      When I am awake, I rationalize it complacently. “I loved Wisdom and sought to make her my wife”–Sophia (it is the sofa on the back porch… etc., etc.). No need to explain. It was a charming dream.

      March 4, 1958

      Dear Proverb,
      For several days I have intended to write you this letter, to tell you that I have not forgotten you. Perhaps now too much time has gone by and I no longer exactly know what I wanted to tell you–except that, though there is a great difference in our ages and many other differences between us, you know even better than I that these differences do not matter at all. Indeed, it is from you that I have learned, to my surprise, that it is as if they never existed.
      How grateful I am to you for loving in me something that I had thought I had entirely lost and someone who, I thought, I had long ago ceased to be. In you, dear, though some might be tempted to say you do not even exist, there is a reality as real and as wonderful and as precious as life itself. I must be careful what I say, for words cannot explain my love for you. I do not wish by my words to harm that which in you is more real and morepure than in anyone else in the world–your lovely spontaneity, your simplicity, the generosity of your love.
      I think what I most want to say is that I treasure in you the revelation of your virginal solitude. In your marvelous, innocent love you are utterly along: yet you have given your love to me, why I cannot imagine. And with it you have given me yourself and all the innocent wonder of your solitude. Dear, should I ask myself seriously if I will ever be worthy of such a gift? No, I am not–not because I could never probably be worthy, but because of my own love for you. And so, I give you everything.
      Dearest Proverb, I love your name, its mystery, its simplicity, and its secret, which even you yourself seem not to appreciate.

      May 3, 1959. Day of Recollection

      The thing is, when people come to see me, they are not really edified. I have to face this fact–it is disturbing. It is that I am not really a monk and a Christian. It is all very well to cast off invalid exterior forms. But is there anything on the inside? I think perhaps not.

      Really need prayer in sorrow of heart.

      And more humble thought of how to go about saying and doing what I say and do. I try to act as if I were wise, and I do not have the fear of God, without which there is no beginning of wisdom. I pray for mercy, but coldly. What will become of me? Mother of Mercy and of Wisdom [Ladder: which Mary are you praying to Merton?], take pity on me, a sinner.

      May 28, 1959. Corpus Christi

      A quiet morning reading in the woodshed (for the first time in seventeen years had nothing to do with the decorations.) A clear, cool morning–got hot later. Reading Berdyayev’s Destiny of Man, which is, I think, his best book.

      December 26, 1959. St. Stephen’s Day
      I had been fearing that this Christmas would be a terrible one like the last one, but it has been quiet and neutral. Interiorly I have been aloof and resigned in all the the community nonsense but also more united with the brethren on a simple human level without nonsense. In other words, the pretense kills me. When I can avoid the official myths and pretenses, everything is relatively sane.

      On the 22nd–the only sunny day for a long time–I went to Lexington to get Victor’s crucifix and came back with two of them.
      Coming back, suddenly decided to go to Shakertown.
      Mr. R. dug out an untidy, rolltop desk copy of the Sacred Roll, the Shaker bible, full of inspirations, which I borrowed and brought home but have only glanced at.
      The empty fields, the big trees–how I would love to explore those houses and listen to that silence. In spite of the general decay and despair, there is joy and simplicity there still.
      The Shakers fascinate me. Mother Ann Lee thought she was Sophia. The role of the sexes in their mysticism. The pure, entranced, immaculate dancing, shaking the sex out of their hands. The whirling. God, at least they had the sense to dance! I want to study them.
      When I got home at night and went to bed, I thought I would have prophetic dreams. Dreamt only of a colored boy [Ladder: unclean spirit?] who had come from very far away to be my friend. Whatever else I dreamed I have forgotten.

      July 2, 1960. Feast of the Visitation. St. Anthony’s Hospital

      At 5:30, as I was dreaming in a very quiet hospital, the soft voice of the nurse awoke me gently from my dream–it was like awakening for the first time from all the dreams of my life–as if the Blessed Virgin herself, as if Wisdom had awakened me. [Ladder: Virgin Mary as Wisdom/Holy Spirit, incarnate member of the Holy Trinity, out of the Russian Sophiologists: Bulgakov, Berdyaev, etc.] We do not hear the soft voice, the gentle voice, the feminine voice, the voice of the Mother: yet she speaks everywhere and in everything. Wisdom cries out in the marketplace–“if anyone is little let him come to me.” Who is more little than the helpless man, asleep in bed, having entrusted himself gladly to sleep and to night? Him the gentle voice will awaken, all that is sweet in woman will awaken him.

      July 10, 1964

      And I suppose I am looking for a Savior or an Earth Mother. I still believe in the idea of the dark Ecuadorian Virgin I got Jaime Andrade to carve in wood for the noitiate. She is there, I do not talk to her, nobody prays to her, but such a presence nonetheless! (Dom Gabriel did not like her.)

      Some conclusions: literature, contemplation, solitude, Latin America–Asia, Zen, Islam, etc. All these things combine in my life. It would be madness to make a “monasticism” by simply excluding them. I would be less a monk. Others have their own, I have mine.

      April 25, 1966. Feast of St. Mark

      Now I see more and more that there is only one realistic answer: Love. I have got to dare to love, to bear the anxiety of self-questioning that love arouses in me, until “perfect love casts out fear.”
      Same with M. (but with no nonsense!). The basic fact is that she does love me. She does need from me a certain kind of love that will support her and help her believe in herself and get free from some destrustive patterns and attachments that are likely to wreck her. Her love arouses in me at once an overwhelming gratitude and the impulse to fling my whole self into her arms, and also panic, doubt, fear of being deceived and hurt (as I aly awake half the night tormeneted by the thought of the guy she is probably sleeping with!).
      After several days of this conflict and anxiety, last night I took a sleeping pill and Brother Camillus, the infirmarian, gave me some old bourbon that had been tucked away in a closet since Dom Edmund’s days (marvelous too!). I slept nearly 9 hours (sweated up and changed 3 times) and awoke with the deep realization that my response of love to M. was right. It might have nothing to do with the rule books or with any other system, it might be open to all kinds of delusions and error, but in fact so far, by and large, I have been acting right. I have been in the Truth, not through any virtue of my own, nor through any superior intution, but because I have let love take hold of me in spite of all my fear. I have obeyed love. I have honestly tried to see her truly as she is and love her exactly as she is, to value her uniquely and share with her this deep faith in her. I know that the result has been a deep, clear, strong, indubitable resonance between us. Our hearts really are in tune. Our depths really communicate. This is all.

      June 9, 1966. Corpuse Christi

      Concelebration early. I stood there among all the others, soberly aware of myself as a priest who has a woman. True, we have done nothing drastically wrong–though in the eyes of many our lovemaking is still wrong even though it stops short of complete sex. Before God I think we have been conscientious and have kept our love good.

      September 10, 1966

      I forgot to ask the exact date of her birthday. (She was born just about two months before I came through Cincinnati on my way to Gethsemani! I had walked through Cincinnati station with the words of Proverbs 8 in my mind: “And my delights were to be with the children of men!”–I have never forgotten this, it struck me forcibly then! Strange connection in my deepest heart–between M. and the “Wisdom” figure–and Mary [Ladder: Again, Virgin Mary as incarnate Wisdom/Holy Spirit, out of Merton’s reading of heretical “Orthodox” writers: Bulgakov, Berdyaev, etc.]–and the Feminine in the Bible–Eve, etc.–Paradise–wisdom. Most mysterious, haunting, deep, lovely, moving, transforming!)
      At the beginning of the call she changed to the other phone (bedroom, I guess), where she could talk more openly. We talked of our love being deep and the same–of our “radar.” I said, “Yes, but there is no consolation,” and she said, “This is consolation.”

      • “If I can unite in myself, in my own spiritual life, the thought of the East and the West, of the Greek and Latin Fathers, I will create in myself a reunion of the divided Church ” – прелесть!

      • Catholic Observer says

        OK, so Thomas Merton, a very troubled man, wrote some weird stuff. This matters, how?

        Ever hear of the Magisterium? That’s what we Catholics look to for defined doctrine…not to Thomas Merton.

        LOL. So much FAIL here, so little time….

        • This matters…because the fact that Merton’s writings were so popular in the post-conciliar RC church, CO, tells us something about the spiritual state of RCism in that period. That’s all – make of it what you will.

          • Catholic Observer says

            Popular? The only Merton work most lay Catholics typically read was Seven-Storey Mountain, which was perfectly orthodox. It’s far and away Merton’s most accessible (and therefore his most popular) book.

            There have been many wolves among the sheep in the past 40 years, most of them far more pernicious than Merton. Merton played a relatively insignificant role — I know Catholics who have never even heard of him. I mean, seriously!

            I’m sure the Orthodox have had their own share of wolves among the sheep. Things are tough all over.

    • Christ Himself tells us that no man knows the hour when the world will end. It is known only by the Father. While we should be vigilant and look for certain signs that indicate the approach of the anti-Christ, there are dangers in trying to divine synchronicities and the mystical portent of certain events. What we do know is what we can do as believers — praying, fasting, attending services, etc. If we grow closer to God through the Church, in some cases it seems like God reveals the “spirit of things” to our noetic faculty. Maybe that’s all we can hope for. There are questions regarding the authenticity of the Malachy prophecies but, as you point out, secret societies do employ techniques that are meant to create the impression of synchronicity — referred to as “twilight language” and “predictive programming” by Michael A. Hoffman. At the end of the day, things will unfold according to the will of God — regardless of what ever occult or esoteric activities various groups engage in. In this regard, it’s important to remember that they are not all-powerful — God is and He will determine the time and season for all things. We know the Church will stand until the end of time. That’s heartening. Of course, where the Church will be and what it will be like is a matter of speculation. St. Ignaty Briachaninov claimed it would be like a ship blown up at sea — all that may be left will be individual planks we’ll have to grab onto rather than a whole ship. There’s also a tradition with the Russian Church that St. Seraphim of Sarov will return and preach and that a true Tsar will arise again and restore the Church for a period of three years. None of this is part of the teaching of the Fathers and it’s not clear what is symbolic, what is literal. So, how will it profit one’s growing closer to Christ?

    • Catholic Observer says

      Yikes. Someone has been reading Jack Chick tracts. This sounds like something straight out of the most rabid overheated fundamentalist polemics. LOL, as Dan says, it’s way over the top, but IMHO that actually makes it kind of funny. As a Bible Belt resident, I’ve heard this sort of stuff before…but no, not usually from Orthodox, thank God.

      FYI, the Vatican is NOT built on one of the Seven Hills of Rome. It’s built on an eighth hill, not one of the famous Seven. LOL, details, details.

    • Michael James Kinsey says

      I have never read Thomas Merton, does it really contain the same explanation I have stated for the abomination of desolation? I am not inclined to read his writings, nor are most other people. I guess I will have to take your word for it. Or your just a troll, attempting to confuse. I do not know. NONE WILL ESCAPE DEATH, OR DIVINE jUSTICE, THIS I KNOW, INCLUDING MYSELF.

  5. The usual narrative we are told is that the Catholic Church is papal and authoritarian while the Orthodox Church is much more conciliar in its decision making and outlook. However an entire young Orthodox generation under 40 has only known two popes. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. These two popes are certainly not the monarch-like popes of the past. John Paul II’s theology of the body was a true gift to the world while Benedict’s reflections on the Church Fathers are a gift to any thinking Orthodox Christian.

    Now a Conclave approaches to elect a new pope and more and more the old stereotypes crumble. Catholic hierarchs from around the world can gather as a body under short notice to address the needs of the Church while the Orthodox who pride themselves on being the true “Conciliar” Church seem totally incapable of convening of functioning in a conciliar manner even on the smallest scale. Meanwhile we see government subsidized Patriarchs, Metropolitans and Bishops who function in an manner that very much resembles the excesses of the papacy and its abuse of authority.

    For those of us who are Orthodox and under 40 the word papal is not a dirty word. I would love a more “papal” Orthodox Church if it means raising up leaders like John Paul II and Benedict XVI in our ranks.

    Meanwhile, we Orthodox will talk about conciliarity and cooperation but the truth is we are incapable in this age of technology to meet in Council and our bishops have become so disconnected from being shepherds that they are doing great harm to the faith of their flocks.

    How can we expect for the Orthodox Church to be healthy if the instruments of governance and the people who govern the Church are broken?

    How is that our hierarchs lack the basic humility and leadership to simply get on a plane and meet with one another at the same place and time?

    Really, Come on

    • You are looking for perfection among men. You won’t find it but within Orthodoxy you will find the Truth. Instead of a badge of shame it is a hallmark of strength that despite the scandals in the Church (you should read Runcimen’s “The Great Church in Captivity” if you want to read about scandals) the Faith endures.

      All this talk of transparency and “healthy Church governance” is baloney. If we look at the examples of the Saints, they were essentially martyrs and often times as a result of a corrupt hierarch.

      BTW I’m under 40 and I disagree with your premise.

      • I am amazed that there are folks who are more than willing to accept corrupt hierarchs and unhealthy church governance as the norm for Orthodoxy. Don’t we have an obligation to fix what is broken and does harm to people?

        I guess corruption is just a normal part of Orthodox Tradition for some folks.

        The fact that we are so far gone that people accept this as the new normal is scary indeed.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Recognizing the inevitablity of corruption and malfeasence is not the same as accepting it when it occurs. What should be avoided is a utopian mindset that posits being able to create good governance through human norms and procedures.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Because there is no emperor and functional Orthodox eccelsiology was long ago tied to the state and never freed. The Pope simply took over the state.

    • Michael Bauman says

      The Church is fully God and fully man, like Jesus Christ whose body we are. However, unlike Christ, we are full of sin and we should expect to be.

      Remember it is the maimed, the halt and the lame who were called to the banquet–that’s us.

      The Church has never been governed well, expecting her to be is a bit like accepting Mussolini (at first) because he caused the trains to run on time.

      Worldly order is not what we strive for. We strive for submission to the love of Christ from which heavenly order flows. Freedom is messy.

  6. I wonder how much of the revernce we see in the Russian Orthodox video is due to the years of Communist oppresssion? And how much of the apparent irreverence among Catholics is due to an over familiarity with the parts of the Mass because they have not had a similar recent experience of oppression?

    Just a thought.

  7. Fr John W Fenton says


    The video clip provided is comparable to the polemics rightly castigated already. It compares the absolute best of Orthodox liturgy (which no parish can imitate) with the absolute worst of Catholic liturgy (which most serious Catholics would abhor).

    Fr John W Fenton

    • I wouldn’t say no parish can imitate the Moscow service — take in a service at the Holy Virgin Cathedral of All Who Sorrow in San Francisco or the All Russian Saints parish in Burlingame. The extent to which a parish “imitates” the Moscow service may also depend on how serious and prayerful a parish is. There are little Orthodox churches throughout the US where there is a real thirst and desire for Orthodoxy and the services are prayerful. That makes them just as grand as the one in Moscow in my book. There are, of course, majestic Catholic services as well but I’m not sure that’s really the issue. As Orthodox, it seems to me we should be focused on what we’ve been given and what we know — we confess that we are the True Faith and the True Church. The status of Catholics is not our worry until such time as a council meets to discuss union with them. We’re a long way from that. While it’s admirable that Orthodox not sound arrogant and pharisaical, treating Orthodoxy like some exclusive club, we shouldn’t engage in false humility either and refrain from confessing Orthodoxy as the True Church. I admire the piety of many of my Catholic friends but, as I’ve told them when they ask why I don’t participate in some of their lay groups, Catholicism has nothing to add to the fullness of Orthodoxy. I haven’t read Benedict’s reflections on the Fathers but I’ve read von Balthasar and Daneliou. They’re interesting in a scholarly sort of way but they don’t add anything to Orthodoxy and, at least for me, they don’t get to the spiritual core of what the Faith is really about: theosis.

      In this regard, the difference between Catholicism and Orthodoxy goes back to the controversy between St. Gregory Palamas and Barlaam: the Orthodox have a doctrine of the Energies and, as near as I can tell, the Catholics really don’t. As a result, it’s an incomplete confession of the fullness of the Faith. So, what is there for Catholicism to add to Orthodoxy?

      • How about a functioning organization for one. Governance is a very serious problem for Orthodoxy. I simply cannot believe God wants the chaos, confusion, wasted resources and talents, and lack of action exhibited in the Orthodox world. If you leave aside theology for a moment, Catholicism is a far more plausible candidate to be what you claim to be.

        And then how about the philosophical works of John Paul II and a coherent approach to sex and marriage. Maybe these gifts are latent in Orthodoxy too, but it is Catholicism that has actually put them forward for the benefit of the whole world.

        Now if you turn the question around and ask what Orthodoxy has to offer to Catholicism, I’m not sure a doctrine of the Energies makes your case. How about something simpler, like not adding to the things a believer must believe over one thousand years after the Divine Revelation is claimed to have been complete. I would say the use of the vernacular, but Rome seems to have picked up on this one recently. The value of conciliarity is a double-edged sword, because Orthodoxy has shown the value of this approach with respect to dogma, but not governance.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Um, you gravely understate the soteriological difference involved in what is being here called the doctrine of the energies. It is not small and aside from the authority (or lack thereof) of the Pope and the filioque is one of the major differences between us, IMO. Although Fr. Stephen Freeman on his blog Glory to God for All Things discusses the existential difference quite a bit when articulating the difference between what he calls a one storey and a two storey understanding of creation.

          But this is not the place to get into that other than to recognize our differences without minimizing them. IMO, you minimize them.

          I’ll tell you why I never even considered becoming a Catholic: I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood and had numerous Catholic friends. It wasn’t until I was an adult, long Orthodox, that I met a Catholic lay person who knew more about the content and nature of their faith than I did or cared to know. My formerly Catholic friend is now Orthodox. She came to understand that what she believed about the faith had been fundamentally Orthodox all along.

          On top of that, the Catholic friends that I had were all quite bitter toward the RCC and many of them had been quite mistreated (these were folks who remained active BTW). It took me a long time to forgive the harm that was done to several of my closest friends.

          I’ve never been in a Catholic church where I felt connected (have in several Protestant churches over the years). Such connection, awe and wonder was instantaneous for me in the first Orthodox Church I entered.

          In my entire life with a plethora of Catholic friends and acquaintences I’ve never heard any excitement about being Catholic at best being Catholic is a duty to be fulfilled. That duty gives a certain shape and form to their lives which can be admirable, but there is no joy. The single exception to this was a RCC priest I met in Fargo, N.D. in 1974. He had been a priest for 50 years at that point and had retired to serve a convent just across the border in Minnesota. He glowed with joy peace and mercy.

          That experience has been the norm in the Orthodox Church rather than the exception.

          I realize that is just my experience and I’m sure it is not entirely normative, but not totally an outlier either. I’m also sure it would not be hard to find some Catholics with similar stories about Orthodox.

          Howver, the three people I know who have studied the teachings of the RCC most deeply and reverently are now Orthodox (one a well known translator and scholar who early in his life was a Jeusit priest) the other a former priest who has a masters in Church history as well as my lay friend.

          The former priest with the masters has always been attracted to Orthodoxy but choose Catholicism because of the goverance issue. Over the years he came to realize that Holy Tradition was a more potent and effective method of guarding the truth than the Magesterium. The final straw for him was the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the Papal throne.

          So, governence is not the problem you think it is and the manner in which you approach the problem is indicative of your RCC bias. Well, governance is a problem everywhere, it just manifests differently. Sin abounds everywhere and simple utility and efficency (as you seem to suggest) is not the best criteria for determine good goverance, IMO.

          Good church governance is all about obedience to one’s local bishop to the teachings of the Church and participating in the life of the Church. If one has a bad bishop: well, as the saying goes: bishops die. We still have the other two to rely on.

          The four fundamental spiritual practices of Christian life do not involve organizational efficency: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving (giving mercy and comfort as well as money); Worship, and Repentance.

          If we would practice these with the same intensity and focus as we tend to bring to matters of goverance, we’d have fewer problems.

        • The organizational chaos you mention is a valid concern and you’re right not to minimize it. However, for all it’s problems, God has preserved the Orthodox Church. Why? I believe it’s because it is His True Church so no matter what kind of earthly chaos envelopes it, it will prevail. The organizational strength of the Latin church seems to me to fit right in with Dostoyevsky’s criticisms of Rome in the “Brothers Karamazov”: in Ivan’s “Grand Inquisitor,” the Catholic church has become a “this worldly” institution centered around man-made prerogatives that are no longer complimentary with Christ’s original mission. As a result, when Christ returns, the Grand Inquisitor sees Him as an inconvenience that interferes with the power and earthly interests of the Catholic church. While one can argue it’s a bit heavy-handed on Dostoyevsky’s part, I think there’s something to it. This doesn’t mean there aren’t good, pious Catholics — there are. But, what Orthodoxy has that Rome doesn’t is the fullness of the Faith.

          The Orthodox have always used the notion of economia in regard to certain pastoral matters that touch upon sex and marriage — some might say too much economia. Rome, which to my way of thinking, is more legalistic. Perhaps this is due in part to its Scholastic heritage or the degree to which Reason, for Catholicism (per Aquinas), is not fallen. Here, Orthodoxy certainly has teachings regarding things like sex and marriage but, as I understand it, the Church recognizes the need for exercising judgment when it comes to how believers are to be healed or instructed when dealing with sex and marriage. This doesn’t collapse into relativism — far from it; rather, the role of the spiritual father or father confessor must not be ignored in how one is brought into conformity with Church tradition and teaching on these topics. I think this is a strength of Orthodoxy — it’s a hospital, curing those of us sick with sin. I don’t see Catholicism as this. I see Catholicism as a more of an HMO — policies, procedures, and forms to fill out.

    • Two words:

      1) Polka Mass
      2) Guitar Mass
      3) Liturgical Dancers

      Sadly there are plenty of examples out there so it’s not the case of extreme comparisons. Although I agree that some of the polemical responses are off the deep end. What I wonder is what is stopping the Pope, who seems to favor the traditional Mass, from lifting it’s restriction.

      • Benedict XVI did — with Summorum Pontificum. Now, Latin bishops have to respect priests and parishioners who use the older form of the Roman rite.

        • Catholic Traditionalist says

          “Now, Latin bishops have to respect priests and parishioners who use the older form of the Roman rite.”

          If only you knew… the fact of the matter is that Summorum Pontificum is more honored in the breach than in the observance.

          • Catholic Observer says

            Nonsense. Move down here to my diocese. I don’t know where you are located, but I doubt that it is representative.

            • Catholic Traditionalist says

              Catholic Observer:

              Here is a directory of the Extraordinary Form Masses in the USA:


              Admittedly it is an impressive list, but the USA has about 18,000 Catholic parishes mostly with mutiple Masses on a Sunday. The number of Extraordinary Form Masses remains very small by comparison — and the USA is the country where Summorum Pontificum has had its greatest success. If you doubt me try looking for “Wikkimissa”. Some American dioceses or states have more Extraordinary Form masses than entire Catholic countries.

              If you actually read Traditionalist Catholic blogs you will know that the past 6 years has seen an awful amount of obstructionism versus Summorum Pontificum by the bishops. Denying this is an insult to many Traditionalist Catholics who have continued to suffer ostracism and condemnation at the hands of their own clergy.

              As a Traditionalist Catholic I value the criticism (as long as it is constructive and does not degenerate into real anti-Catholic bashing) that many Orthodox direct at the Catholic liturgical deformation. A good example is Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s criticism of the 2008 change to the Good Friday prayer in the 1962 Missal that was ordered by Pope Benedict XVI.

              • Catholic Observer says

                Well, traditionalist Catholic blogs make my skin crawl, so thanks, but no thanks. 😉 (I’m talking about the ultra-trad ones…I consider myself a traditionalist, too, but not an ultra-trad. Too much nastiness and negativity!)

                Look. I live in a very conservative Southern diocese. We have a growing number of MEFs. We could easily have more, because our young priests (we have a bumper crop!) are all solidly orthodox and traditional. But they are stretched ultra-thin, and they do not have time or energy for additional Masses.

                I know my own pastor would love to have a Latin Mass. He is young, rock-solid, and very traditional. But he serves two parishes (actually a parish and a mission) 30 minutes apart. The parish is in the inner city; the mission (where I’m a member) is in the country. He celebrates an English Mass and a bilingual Mass for each community every Sunday, in addition to his various services and activities during the week. When would he fit in a Latin Mass? As you know, Canon Law forbids priests to celebrate more than three (I think it’s three) Masses per day.

                I would suggest that for many dioceses the problems are more logistical than otherwise. It’s not so much obstructionist bishops as overburdened priests who make the spread of the MEF difficult. And yet it is spreading, as you yourself concede. So…why the long face? 😉

                Meanwhile, our pastor reverently celebrates the Novus Ordo in its revised translation, and I for one love it. The bottom line is that it’s how we receive Jesus. All other variables pale in comparison to that.

                • Catholic Traditionalist says

                  “Well, traditionalist Catholic blogs make my skin crawl, so thanks, but no thanks. 😉 (I’m talking about the ultra-trad ones…I consider myself a traditionalist, too, but not an ultra-trad. Too much nastiness and negativity!)”

                  Much of the “nastiness” and “negativity” comes from the fact that the average Traditionalist is still treated with scorn and contempt by the average parish priest, by liberals and even more by conservatives who equate Sacred Tradition with The Latest Craze in Rome. Many of the same conservatives hailing the Extraordinary Form today were the same people who were calling it illegal, outdated and schismatic only 6 years ago, and I have no doubt that they will as speedily remove the Roman chasubles, chant and crucifixes from their altar the moment the next Pope returns to the “John Paul II aesthetic”. Furthermore, we Trads ask inconvenient questions that Catholics of the Catholic Answers Forum variety find too hard to answer. I guess that accounts for your own contemptuous answer for anything that is not “conservative Novus Ordo Catholicism”.

                  “Meanwhile, our pastor reverently celebrates the Novus Ordo in its revised translation, and I for one love it. The bottom line is that it’s how we receive Jesus. All other variables pale in comparison to that.”

                  Very Protestant, I might say. “The rite doesn’t really matter, but the fact that we receive Jesus”. That is precisely the attitude that has resulted in the destruction of the Catholic liturgy over the last 60 years.

            • In my city, there are more options for Catholic mass in Latin on a typical Sunday than there are options for OCA liturgies. If the Latin mass was a denomination, it would be more similar in size to the GOA. From what I have observed, it might have been charitable for the pope to allow the use of Latin again, but there are real risks. The vernacular might never be as sexy as a dead language, but it is more intellectually meaningful and less romanticized.

              • Catholic Observer says

                Thanks, Um! I made a similar point elsewhere here, but not as succinctly, clearly, and elegantly as you have.

      • Catholic Observer says

        When was the last time you attended a Polka Mass? I’ve been a Catholic most of my life, and I’ve never even heard of such a thing.

        Good grief. What do you folks do? Relentlessly scour the globe (and the Internet) until you come up with ONE example of egregious liturgical abuse, which you can then use as a cudgel to bash us Catholics with?

        BTW, we have traditional chant and incense at my parish. And it is far from an isolated case; indeed, judging from all the young priests and seminarians I know, it’s the wave of the future.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Fr, I meant no disrespect in posting that video. It is however a reality. Lord knows, we Orthodox have our own clowns. The purpose of this video was that even though a lot of Orthodox services may not rise to the level of precision shown in it, the fact remains that we wouldn’t descend to the level of “creativity” that Vatican II unwittingly allowed to happen.

      The thrust of my post was the editiorial itself. It said what I believe to be right about liturgy properly done. And of course that Pope Benedict correctly (and thankfully) created the edifice in which its beaty could be recaptured.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Yes, the effort compared the best of our with the worst of theirs. Not exactly fair.

      Still, if an Orthodox Christian visits an average Roman Catholic parish in this country, the experience can be mighty depressing.

      • Catholic Observer says

        It depends entirely on where the parish is, Father. 🙂

        But let’s face it, it’s pretty dang hard to find a Clown Mass or a Polka Mass, no matter where you are in America. Even before our seminaries started trending orthodox / traditional, you would be hard pressed to find a Clown Mass anywhere. A guitar Mass, sure, but a Clown Mass? I don’t doubt that they have occurred, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that they have been exceedingly rare. The only place I have ever encountered such a thing, personally, is on the Internet. Never in Real Life.

        OK, here’s another thing that often gets lost in these Catholic-Liturgy-Bashing discussions: It’s really easy to be pure, aesthetically and otherwise, when you’re teeny. Some Orthodox dioceses could fit inside a typical Catholic cathedral. (OK, slight hyperbole, but you get my gist.)

        If you counted all the Catholic parishes nationwide wherein the Mass is celebrated beautifully and reverently, the number would probably be about equal to that of all the Orthodox parishes nationwide wherein the liturgy is celebrated beautifully and reverently.

        We have a lot more parishes; there is bound to be a pretty fair number of good ‘uns!

        BTW, thanks so much for your irenic and reasonable comments.

        • Catholic Traditionalist says

          Catholic Observer:

          It is not only whether the Roman Catholic liturgy is celebrated reverently. It is also whether the liturgy, as it stands, even when celebrated reverently, is “worthy of the Church” to use a phrase from Louis Bouyer. Anglicans and Lutherans also have reverent worship (even with incense and chant and heavenly sacred music) but that doesn’t prevent their worship from being essentially Protestant.

          No matter how “reverent” the Mass is with incense and chant, if it is celebrated facing the people, on an altar table in contrast to the old high altar, with the priest’s back to the tabernacle, with female altar servers (who are present in EVERY American diocese except Lincoln in Nebraska) shorn of most of the acts of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament that can be found in the classical Roman Rite, with female lectors reading the Scriptures from inside the sanctuary, and with the people receiving the Body of the Lord and taking the chalice of His Blood with their bare hands (which is the most common form of receiving the Lord in all but the most rarefied “Reform of the Reform” and All-Extraordinary Form parish) then the Mass is still deeply infected by the spirit of Protestantism and Rationalism. Trying to hide all of this for the sake of converting the Orthodox is offensive to the truth.

          It is not simply a question of “Polka Masses” or “Clown Masses” or Masses like those in the RE Congress in LA. It is a question whether the average, liturgical-abuse-free Mass conforms to the authentic traditions of the Roman Rite before the deformations of the post-Vatican II era. When it comes to the RE Congress in LA, the liturgies there are sponsored by the largest Catholic Archdiocese in North America with the participation and approval of its hierarchy meaning that these are by no means “marginal”.

          You’re Internet-savvy enough to have found this forum. I won’t spoonfeed to you the numerous learned Catholic blogs and websites where the liturgical reforms in Catholicism for the past 60 years have been thoroughly discussed and critiqued, all in a spirit of loyalty to the Holy See.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Catholic Observer remarks, “If you counted all the Catholic parishes nationwide wherein the Mass is celebrated beautifully and reverently, the number would probably be about equal to that of all the Orthodox parishes nationwide wherein the liturgy is celebrated beautifully and reverently.”

          I fear I have inadvertently given offense.

          Let me explain, if I may. What I wrote was this: “Still, if an Orthodox Christian visits an average Roman Catholic parish in this country, the experience can be mighty depressing.”

          Please, notice the subject of the hypothetical clause—“an Orthodox Christian.” He is the one who will feel depressed.

          That is to say, the “depression” to which I referred is specific to an Orthodox Christian who visits an average Roman Catholic parish.

          I was not referring to the piety or reverence of the Roman Catholic celebrant or his congregation. I had in mind certain specific things in current Roman Catholic practice that are . . . . well, distressing.

          Let me rehearse some of them for you:

          I find it distressing beyond words to worship at an altar where the priest stands on the other side and looks out at the congregation during the Anaphora. I must close my eyes in order to endure it.

          It is a heavy burden to my soul to open my eyes and behold female acolytes serving at the altar.

          It absolutely crushes my spirit when a nun comes up from the congregation at reception time and takes a ciborium from the Tabernacle and—notwithstanding the presence of a dozen priests in the sanctuary—begins to distribute Holy Communion to the faithful. (This happened, most notably, when I attended Holy Mass at St. Michael’s in Munich. I appreciated the Palestrina pieces by the choir, but that nun simply ruined it for me.)

          Anyway, I know that Romans Catholics may think me eccentric is my response to these things.

          It has to do with cultural expectations, and my own expectations are those of an Eastern Orthodox Christian.

          If I have continued to give offense by these remarks, I do beg forgiveness.

          I am not one of those embarrassing Orthodox who mindlessly pretend—in spite of massive evidence to the contrary—that the Roman Catholic Church is devoid of grace.

          • Joseph A. says

            And moreover . . .

            * The terrible, terrible music that the 1960s-1990s American “hymnographers” foisted upon the long suffering people in the pews. The music reminds me of Benji soundtracks. Awful and unworthy of the mass, indeed! John Foley, S.J., a pox be upon him!

            * Not once, not twice, but dozens of times have I had to listen to revamped Simon and Garfunkel pop songs, pieces by Beethoven, and even Broadway tunes as the melodies for saccharine “religious” lyrics at masss. And not just in the U.S. but also in France and the U.K.

            * The “Hosanna” chorus from Jesus Christ Superstar sung as the introit on Palm Sunday. Seriously.

            * At a Christmas Eve mass once, I saw a “Eucharistic minister” woman (wearing too tight frumpy mom pants, but I digress) *kick* a fallen wafer to the side of the aisle after she dropped it during Communion. A deacon eventually came over to pick it up and eat it. Shameful.

            I can go on and on and on. Egregious abuses are not hard to find; they are woefully normal. I wish the poor folks in the new liturgical movement all the best; they need it.

          • Catholic Traditionalist says

            “Anyway, I know that Romans Catholics may think me eccentric is my response to these things.

            It has to do with cultural expectations, and my own expectations are those of an Eastern Orthodox Christian.”

            Fr. Patrick,

            Thank you for your words. Your expectations are not just those of an Orthodox Christian, but those of a Traditionalist Catholic, those among us who know or who remember how the Catholic liturgy all over the world was like only 50 years ago.

          • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

            Patrick Henry Reardon:

            “It has to do with cultural expectations, and my own expectations are those of an Eastern Orthodox Christian.

            “I am not one of those embarrassing Orthodox who mindlessly pretend—in spite of massive evidence to the contrary—that the Roman Catholic Church is devoid of grace.”

            Then I’m afraid you’re a heretic in the truest sense of the word, and not just a watered down Heterodox who has inherited a flawed tradition but is making the best of it. Fine, you consider me an embarrassment, I consider you one and worse. I’ll continue trying to save the souls of Roman Catholics, including those of my parents. You go on enjoying the culture of Orthodoxy and letting the Heterodox know of your “cultural expectations” while assuring them they have grace.

            On my part, I know I have nothing to lose if Rome has grace, because after all Benedict/Ratzinger has spent half a century assuring the world that even the pagans will be saved. The Orthodox and the Roman Catholics and the Muslims and the pagans are just going to have a big laugh and group hug in Heaven soon. And the Pope can’t be wrong, not over such a basic and important point of theology, that would be like saying that the entire development of Latinism since 1054 has being devoid of grace.

  8. Bruce Wm. Trakas says

    I’m not all that well read on the subject, but I blame Pope Paul IV for allowing the “reforms” of the Tridentine Mass, as he did. The II Vatican Council issued a short narrative to authorize use of vernacular languages in the celebration of the Mass, and opening up the service to encouraging lay responses and singing. How it is that the authorized commissions watered down the Mass as it did, I do not understand. The simplification of the clergy’s vestments also occurred as well as the sterilization of the appearance of the parishes, interior and exterior, when the Roman Catholic Church had such beautiful precedents to follow. There are 1970’s era Catholic Churches in my area that look like barns on the outside. The local Diocesan Cathedral had a beautifully appointed interior that was sterilized in the ’70’s into possibly passing for a Protestant Church. Such a shame the loss of their traditions, although some of the Vatican II reforms brought the church closer to Orthodoxy, i.e. vernacular in the services; distribution of both elements of Holy Communion–although receipt of the Blood is optional; administration of Holy Unction as a sacrament of healing instead of the innovative “Extreme Unction,” for those departing from this life; detaching the Holy Table (Altar) from the wall of the Sanctuary, though having the celebrant facing the congregation and not leading them in prayer is bizarre–this is what prompted maintaining the Tabernacle on the side of the church, which is also bizarre. I also find it offensive to see laity, the so called “Eucharistic Ministers,” especially women, prancing around the Altar Table, without robes to separate their human iniquity from the sanctity of the Sanctuary, and then distributing Holy Communion. Good for Popes John Paul and Benedict that they somewhat restored some of their church’s traditions.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Bruce remarks, “I’m not all that well read on the subject, but I blame Pope Paul IV for allowing the “reforms” of the Tridentine Mass, as he did.”

      Pope Paul IV was a narrow-minded man and often vindictive. He made many enemies, and I have never thought much of him. I would stop short, however, of blaming him for liturgical innovations.

      One suspects, on the other hand, that Bruce means Pope Paul VI,

      • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

        Yes, correct Patrick, I meant Pope Paul VI. I blamed him for the simplification of the Mass because I assume he had to ultimately approve the Mass.

        My guess is that neither Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI would have approved such a simplification of the Tridentine Mass. Just a supposition.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I am of the same opinion as you Bruce. My head spins as to why Paul VI felt he had to go to such ridiculous extremes. It kind of makes me wonder if those sedevacantist websites are right, that is, was he a secret Rosicrucian or Freemason?

          As for Paul IV, he was the first pope to be vested completely in white, because he was a Dominican monk before his election. He also instructed all of Europe to pray the Rosary for the entire month of May so that the Christian navies would defeat the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. Which —mirabile dictu!–they did.

  9. I suspect that the apostasy and insanity in the West are temporary. I sent the following to a friend last week who is in the seminary to become a Roman priest:

    I was surprised by the pope’s retirement, and I am somewhat worried about his replacement. I don’t know if we ever had a discussion about the infallibility of the Church (either from the Roman or Orthodox perspective). I think that it works organically. Your body is not immune from illness, but if you are healthy, your body’s defenses will eventually overcome the sickness. You will be restored to health. The Body of Christ is obviously a healthy body, though its members do unfortunately succumb to disease. It may take time to recover from such infections. If you look at Church history, there are many dark periods where wickedness, confusion, or heresy seemed to have triumphed for a spell. Eventually, though, light returns. Consider iconoclasm in the East. I think of it when I consider your Church’s turbulent infatuation with and accommodation of modernity for the last few generations. In time, health will be restored. However, a bad pope would delay that recovery. Let’s hope that you get a good captain.

    We should pray for the Latins — for their sake and for the sake of Christendom and of the whole world.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Absolutely. The Roman Church has been the bulwark against evil in the world. We Orthodox are (or should be) the bulwark for Rome. I don’t think we Orthodox realize how much our Latin brothers look to us for steadiness. Our liturgical integrity is a big part that.

  10. Francis Frost says

    Dear Mr. Michalopulos:

    I am reminded of something my teacher told me years ago, quoting the late Archbishop John of Chicago:

    “Why is it that every time the Pope sneezes, the Orthodox catch cold.? ”

    I know nothing about the old or the new Latin mass. Why should I care? Our Orthodox church has enough crises and trials of its own. When we are able to pull the moral log out of our own eyes, then we might be of help to the Roman church.

    Repentance, like charity, needs to start at home.

    As for the “abomination of desolation” Mr. Kinsey complains of, we do not need metaphors, we saw it with our own eyes in Nikozi on August 8, 2008 when missiles “blessed” by Russian bishops were used to attack the ancient Ghvrtaeba Cathedral and the Russian soldiers and their Ossetian allies looted, desecrated and burned that holy place of God. Where is Mr. Kinsey’s outrage at that abomination?

    • ProPravoslavie says

      Where is the outrage? Why don’t you first ask the Patriarch of Georgia that question? He has not had any problems with remaining friendly with Moscow from 2008 to the present, to the point of frequently visiting it and concelebrating with Patriarch Kirill and the Russian hierarchy and supporting Moscow’s stance over the “Great and Holy Council” versus Constantinople. Perhaps he knows something that you don’t?

  11. cynthia curran says

    Because there is no emperor and functional Orthodox eccelsiology was long ago tied to the state and never freed. The Pope simply took over the state.

    Secular governments in the West didn’t always take the pope’s view on things.

    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

  12. cynthia curran says

    Abomination of Desolation is Antiochus IV Epiphanes or Titus not the Roman Catholic church.

  13. The Latest Goof Ball Post By Babs aka Stan Drezlo

    It’s all over the internet… Metropolitan Iosif Bosakov is leaving New York for Bulgaria. I read the news last night. Does oca.org mention it at all? OF COURSE, NOT! Why, if that did that, it’d mean that they were attending to their duties (for a change). American church news is part of their “beat”, yet they act as though it didn’t happen. I think that all items posted have to pass censorship from Lyonyo, Jillions, and Dahulich. Ergo, news doesn’t get up in a timely fashion, making the oca.org lot look incompetent and clueless (is Lil’ Mizz Ginny Nieuwsma still there? Perspirin’ minds wanna know). Things are getting worse, not better. Shall we have to drain the cup to the bitter dregs? I bloody well hope not…

    Gosh, I wonder why the OCA didn’t post this? BECAUSE IT IS NOT OCA NEWS. Did the Greeks post it? The ROCOR? Did the ACROD? No. Why? Because it isn’t their news.

    • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

      Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh (GOAA) posted the news item of Metropolitan Joseph’s exit from the U.S. on his “facebook” page.

  14. Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Joseph, of the US, Canada and Australia, resigns

    Posted Feb 26 2013 by Clive Leviev-Sawyer in Bulgaria, News
    P10307841 E1361901519766

    The Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of the United States, Canada and Australia, Joseph, has submitted his resignation to the Holy Synod, Bulgarian-language religious news website Dveri said on February 26 2013.

    Joseph’s resignation comes two days after the election of Neofit of Rousse as the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s new Patriarch. Joseph, who was in Bulgaria for some time as the spokesman for the church on the Patriarchal election process, said that he wanted to return to Bulgaria.

    Joseph has offered his resignation before, in 2008 in connection with having been an agent for Bulgaria’s communist-era secret service State Security. While most of the Holy Synod were officially identified as having been State Security agents, Joseph is the only one not only to apologise but also to offer to resign.

    If Joseph’s resignation is accepted this time, it will mean that there are not one but two vacancies in the Holy Synod, because a Metropolitan will have to be appointed to succeed Neofit in Rousse. This will open a contest over the balance of power in the church’s governing body.

    In January 2013, The Sofia Globe published an interview with Metropolitan Joseph, which can be found at http://sofiaglobe.com/2013/01/11/of-archons-dossiers-forgiveness-and-the-future-patriarch-an-interview-with-bulgarian-orthodox-church-metropolitan-joseph/ .

    Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of the US, Canada and Australia Joseph was born as Ivan Blagoev Bosakov on December 6 1942 in the village of Slavovitsa in the Pazardzhik region. In 1961, he graduated from the Sofia Seminary, and in 1970 from the St Kliment Ohridski Theological Academy in Sofia. He became a monk the name of Joseph on April 12 1970 at Troyan Monastery in the diocese of the then Lovech Metropolitan Maxim. On May 3, 1970, he was ordained a deacon, and on December 27 1970 as hieromonk and was appointed coadjutor bishop of Lovech. After Lovech Metropolitan Maxim was chosen as Bulgarian Patriarch and Sofia Metropolitan in July 1971, he became coadjutor bishop of Sofia. From October 10 1971, Hieromonk Joseph’s conducted specialist theological studies at Moscow Theological Academy, where on July 21 1973, he was ordained archimandrite by Russian Patriarch Pimen. After returning to Bulgaria, he resumed his duties as coadjutor bishop of Sofia, which function to perform in December 1980 On December 7 1980, in the St. Alexander Nevsky Patriarchal Cathedral, he became hirotonisan bishop with the title Velichko and was appointed second vicar of the Metropolitan of Sofia. He was briefly Abbot of the Troyan Monastery, but from June 1 1982 he became the first vicar of the Metropolitan of Sofia, which he remained until the end of March 1983. From 1 April 1983, Bishop Joseph headed the Bulgarian Diocese of Akron in the US, and on April 17 1986 he was elected Bishop of Akron. After the December 18 1989 decision by the Holy Synod to restore the unified Bulgarian American and Australian diocese that had existed until 1969, on December 19 he was elected Metropolitan of the US and Australia. By the decision of the Fifth Assembly of the Church and Laity, held in Sofia on December 17 2001, he was named Metropolitan of the US, Canada and Australia. On November 27 2012, the Holy Synod designated Joseph as the spokesman on the Patriarchal church council election.

  15. macedonianreader says

    I think that it was interesting that one of the final statements Pope Benedict gave us was,

    Whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs forever and totally to everyone, to the whole Church … My decision to renounce the active practice of my ministry does not change this. I am not returning to a private life – a life of trips, meetings, receptions and conferences. I am not abandoning the cross but I am remaining in a new way next to the Crucified Lord. I no longer have the power of the office of the government of the Church but I will remain in service of prayer within, as it were, the enclosure of St Peter’s.

    To me this says he is seeking a sincere monastic life where he is focusing on quiet prayer, as non-Orthodox as it may be, or may not be. This is something I don’t often hear from Roman circles. The problem to me that exists in the Roman Church right now isn’t that they’re going to lack a heavy weight as pope, this in fact may be a good thing. Rather, the problem the way I see it is that they cannot identify, as a Church, what Benedict just said. He was alluding to the need for the mind-heart prayer and perhaps that this was lacking in their community, and that this was the key in “getting through” the sickness that has plagued the Roman Church for so many years. Not the need for the “heavy authority” (and not that authority is unimportant.)

    In listening to a local Roman Catholic Radio show yesterday, the speakers just didn’t get this, at least not entirely. They were too focused on the “Office of the Pope” and who would fill the shoes of Benedict, and that they no longer had such “theological heavy weights” as Benedict to replace him. This may be true, but is it really that important? As one of them did concede that perhaps they do not need the heavy weight any longer, just a man who will not get in trouble, be prayerful, and shoot out encyclicals.

    What was painful for me, however, was the lack of understanding of the prayer – ascetic – rule and the need to have monastic, especially good ‘heavy weighted” one ones, in the background praying for the Church. I’m not roman catholic by any means, but I do feel a bit ‘safer’ knowing that the Bishop of Rome, Benedict will now be praying for humanity on a different level than pontiff.

    Just a thought.

  16. Report: Mahony’s Pretty Much Got This Pope Thing In The Bag

    Here is the link to the above, hope that it is wrong:


    and to why I hope that it is wrong:


    • Benedictine says

      Ummmm, that’s a satire blog.

      • Rdr. James says

        Getting back to ‘Rome bashing’ i think y’all were doing a pretty good job until someone mentioned the Bulgarians! What has amazed me since Vatican II was that it was the experienced, ‘mature’ Monsignori in
        the USA and elsewhere who threw out the statues, dumped the relics of the saints in dumpsters, pried the consecrated altars from the floor etc etc, Like they were trying to ‘make a statement’ or some such about the very Church that had nourished them and eventually promoted them. Mahoney is perhaps one of the best examples of this. Having grown up alongside a pretty nice Catholic parish in my childhood, and even attending Benediction there in the early ’50s, and seen the consecration of their nice big church after they moved out of the school gym, it rather appalled me to see what happened later on (even though I was not a Catholic then or later). Hard to understand why it was the priests who were so diligent in pooping on their own ‘patrimony’. I saw this desecration first hand in Los Angeles back in the ’70s and beyond.
        Perhaps Traditionalist or Observer can explain this to me.

  17. Issue one. Benedict’s resignation is an unmitigated DISASTER for the Catholic Church. It desacralizes and trivializes the office of the bishop. Not that Rome has any reason to pay attention to Syosset, but it could have learned a lesson or two from the recent experience of the OCA. When hierarchs resign – for whatever reason-, or are forced to resign, the inevitable consequence is that the politics that properly takes place behind the veil enters the public view. Factions are emboldened. (“It’s MY church!”; “No, it’s MY church!”; witness the destructive, inane, and shrill discussion on this blog and other websites). Preachers of heresy are unashamed (“There is no ‘litmus test’…”!). Church governance becomes a matter of propaganda. If hierarchical resignation is tolerated, or encouraged, or (God forbid) “theologized” as a real good for the Church, it leads to Mob Rule.

    Issue two. Benedict’s rather limited encouragement of pre-Vatican II Catholic ritual has not eradicated the secular mindset from the Catholic Church. Neither has Orthodox conservatism with respect to the liturgy prevented the secular mindset from entering the Orthodox church.

  18. In a comment above it was stated “I’ve never been in a Catholic church where I felt connected…” Well, I have. Some years ago, in a difficult period of my life, between jobs and rather frantic about it, I happened into the oldest church in Santa Fe, San Miguel Mission Church, to be greeted by a Christian Brothers monk I knew slightly from my last job in a greenhouse. He somehow knew I was in distress and immediately offered me a job – the ancient church needed someone to sit by the door to welcome tourists, and that is what I did then for seven months. There was a taped historical message I soon learned not to hear, and I sat in that church and watched the light move forward through till Christmas and play on an icon of the Theotokos left front, and the paintings on the altar screen, as I read the story of the Indian uprising, greeted the people entering.

    That church was the first one built in Santa Fe back in the early 17th century, and its history is remarkable. When the natives revolted the people had come in for safety and the huge beams were set afire so the ceiling came crashing down. Later excavations found the charred beams below the reconstructed floor. Not only that but the priest was buried in his ceremonial robes to one side of the altar, while in the middle of the altar space, a native boy who served with him was found buried.

    Then one day a young man brought his family in, and proudly said to me that his I-don’t-know-how-many “greats” grandfather had hauled the beams for the reconstructed ceiling of the church. Services are still held there and I was so privileged to have been able to sit there those many months. I felt connected. I am Orthodox, but I felt connected.

  19. Alexander says

    Message of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI 1.03.2013 · Inter-Christian relations, New documents, Patriarchal Ministry

    On 1 March 2013, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia sent a message to His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pontifex Emeritus:


    Your Holiness,

    On these days so special for you, I would like to express to you my feelings of fraternal love in Christ and respect.

    The decision you declared with such simplicity and humbleness on February 11 has found a lively response in the hearts of many Catholics.

    We have always held dear your consistent position characterized by uncompromising stand in the questions of faith and commitment to the living church tradition. In an age when the ideology of all-permissiveness and moral relativism tries to force moral values out of people’s life, you boldly raised your voice in the defense of the Gospel’s ideal, the lofty dignity of human beings and their calling to freedom from sin.

    It is with warmth that I remember our meetings before your election to the chair of Rome. In the years of your pontificate, a good development was given to relations between our Churches who bear a great responsibility for common witness to Crucified and Risen Christ in the modern world. I sincerely hope that good and confidential relations established with your active participation will develop under your successor.

    Kindly accept my heartfelt wishes of good health, many years of life and God’s help in your life devoted to prayer and in your theological work.

    “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace” (Rom. 15:13).

    With love in the Lord,

    + KIRILL,