The Vandals sack Rome….again

Is there a red hat in Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia’s future? If so, it will be as a reward for knee-capping scholars of impeccable scholarly credentials and personal probity, deeply beloved by their students.

(us.fotolia.com/TTstudio)

An exercise in raw intellectual vandalism has been underway in Rome since July 23: what was originally known as the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family has been peremptorily but systematically stripped of its most distinguished faculty, and its core courses in fundamental moral theology have been cancelled. Concurrently, academics known to be opposed to the teaching of Humanae Vitae on the appropriate means of regulating fertility and the teaching of Veritatis Splendor on intrinsically evil acts are being appointed to teach at the reconfigured Institute, which is housed at the Pontifical Lateran University – the pope’s own institution of higher learning. Sixteen hundred nine years after the first Vandal sack of Rime, they’re at it again, although this time the chief vandal wears an archbishop’s zucchetto.

There is a history here, and it’s worth revisiting in order to get the destruction underway into clearer focus.

Despite the global media addiction to the “liberal/conservative” trope for analyzing the Second Vatican Council and the debates following it, the really consequential division after the Council (which, as several conciliar theologians’ diaries attest, began to open up during the Council’s third and fourth periods) was between two groups of previously-allied reformist theologians, one group of which seemed determined to embrace intellectual modernity and its sundry skepticisms in full, while the other was committed to ballasting authentic Catholic reform by grounding theological development in the Church’s living tradition. This “War of the Conciliar Succession” (as I call it in my forthcoming book, The Irony of Modern Catholic History) was no mere donnybrook among intellectuals; it had real consequences in the life of the Catholic Church.

It led to the development of the international theological quarterly, Communio, as a counterpoint to the ultra-progressive Concilium. It led to the establishment of Ignatius Press and the great renewal of Anglophone theology influenced by Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar. It led to battles for the control of faculty slots in theology departments around the world. And, after a decade and a half of contention, it led to the election of Karol Wojtyła, who as John Paul II would appoint Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Resistance to the magisterium of John Paul II (a magisterium that was influenced, of course, by then-Cardinal Ratzinger) was deep-seated and bitter among those self-styled progressives who imagined that they had won the War of the Conciliar Succession and yet suddenly found themselves, after the second conclave of 1978, on the outs in the great game of ecclesiastical politics – even though they continued to maintain an iron grip on most theological faculty appointments and on a lot of theological publishing. John Paul II’s response to this recalcitrance and intellectual pride was not to attack it head-on, purging progressivist faculty from the Roman universities. Rather, his strategy was to encourage newer and dynamically orthodox foundations like the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (now, arguably, the most intellectually interesting of the Roman schools), and to create new institutes of higher learning in existing universities.

In both cases, the goal was to foster the genuine renewal of Catholic theology according to the mind of Vatican II – and not according to the minds of Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Karl Marx. Reversing Gresham, John Paul II was quietly confident that good coinage – good theology – would eventually drive out bad ethical coinage, for the latter was bankrupting human lives and leading people into confusion and misery

The John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family was the linchpin in this effort to create vibrant alternatives to Catholic Lite scholarship, which had become increasingly bizarre when John Paul II came to the Chair of Peter. (In the United States, for example, the prestigious Catholic Theological Society of America commissioned a mid-1970s study of human sexuality that could not quite bring itself to condemn bestiality as intrinsically evil.) And over its first decades of work, the John Paul II Institute did exactly what its papal founder wanted it to do: it helped foster a renaissance in Catholic moral theology, recovering and developing the tradition of virtue ethics, exploring with care and compassion the often-tangled issues of living chaste love in various vocations, and creating a cadre of moral theologians around the world who wanted their intellectual work to help convert the late-modern and post-modern worlds, rather than pandering to late-modernity and post-modernity as they careened into decadence and incoherence.

Thus the John Paul II Institute in Rome, as the hub of several affiliated institutes around the world, was a key instrument for deepening the entire Church’s reception of John Paul’s 1993 encyclical on the reform of the moral life, Veritatis Splendor. And this was the offense that those who, much to their surprise and anger, were losing the War of the Conciliar Succession would not and could not tolerate. Because if their project were to be revived, Veritatis Splendor and its teaching on the reality of intrinsically evil acts had to go.

So these stubborn and, it now seems, ruthless men bided their time. In recent years, they have continued to lose every serious debate on the nature of the moral life, on the morality of conjugal life, on sacramental discipline, and on the ethics of human love; and the more intelligent among them know it, or at least fear that that’s the case. So in a bizarre repetition of the anti-Modernist purge of theological faculties that followed Pius X’s 1907 encyclical Pascendi, they have now abandoned argument and resorted to thuggery and brute force in order to win what they had failed to win by scholarly debate and persuasion.

That unbecoming score-settling is why the senior faculty of the John Paul II Institute was abruptly dismissed last week, and that is why there is absolutely no guarantee that, in the immediate future, the Institute that bears his name will have any resemblance to what John Paul II intended for it. Cardinal Angelo Scola, emeritus archbishop of Milan and a former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, described what is afoot in Rome these days as “torpedoing” the John Paul II Institute through an academic “purge.” 150 students of the Institute signed a letter saying that the changes underway will destroy the institute’s identity and mission; in the present Roman circumstances, they have about as much chance of being heard as Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky had at the Moscow Purge Trials in 1937-38.

That these Stalinistic acts of intellectual brigandage against the theological and pastoral heritage of Pope St. John Paul II are being carried out by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia – who came to international attention in 2017 for having commissioned a homoerotic fresco in the apse of the cathedral of Terni-Narni-Amelia – is ironic in the extreme. Paglia was simply another ambitious cleric when his work as ecclesiastical advisor to the Sant’Egidio Community drew him to John Paul’s attention. Years of sycophancy followed, during which Paglia would brag about how he had turned the pope around on the subject of murdered Salvador archbishop Oscar Romero by telling John Paul that “Romero was not the Left’s bishop, he was the Church’s bishop.” Paglia’s appointment as Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Institute – a position for which he had and has no discernible qualifications – was puzzling when it happened two years ago. But now it, too, comes into focus: he is acting precisely like those who manipulated the Synods of 2014, 2015, and 2018, i.e., another cabal of ambitious (and, frankly, not-so-bright) clerics who continually lost arguments and then tried to compensate by brutality and threats.

Is there a red hat in Archbishop Paglia’s future? If so, it will be as a reward for knee-capping scholars of impeccable scholarly credentials and personal probity, deeply beloved by their students. One wonders if the Grand-Chancellor-Become-Lord-High-Executioner of the John Paul II Institute has ever read A Man for All Seasons and Thomas More’s devastating response to his betrayal by the grasping bureaucrat, Richard Rich: “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world…but for Wales?”

Thus the Roman atmosphere of the moment: sulphurous, febrile, and extremely nasty, with more than a whiff of panic about it. This is not the way people behave who believe they are firmly in control and likely to remain that way. Do those who like to imagine that they have gained the upper hand in the War of the Conciliar Succession fear the future? They should. Because, as John Paul II knew, truth will always win out, however long it takes, because error is lifeless and stultifying.


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About George Weigel 242 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Fragility of Order: Catholic Reflections on Turbulent Times (Ignatius Press, 2018). His new book The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform was published by Basic Books on September 17.

82 Comments

      • Wow, now that’s a holy priest. And we wonder what the problem is with the Church. It most certainly isn’t the Vicar of Christ, but it sure could use a cleansing! Honestly, try a little humility, you might be surprised. Then re read the CCC, about the Pope and the Magisterium. It appears you’ve forgotten! Shame on you father, and all priests who have broken their vow of obedience.

        • Are you serious? How many time does the “Vicar” have to condemn the idea of immutable truth and advocate moral relativism before you would find it to be problematic? How about his process theology where he contends that God is still in the process of “learning” from history how to be a “better” God, an idea so stupid as to be atheistic in nature, yet the “Vicar” insists anyone who doesn’t accept this idea of an incomplete God to so wrongheaded about God that they are atheists.

  1. “So in a bizarre repetition of the anti-Modernist purge of theological faculties that followed Pius X’s 1907 encyclical Pascendi, they have now abandoned argument and resorted to thuggery and brute force in order to win what they had failed to win by scholarly debate and persuasion.”

    I think that it is doing a grave injustice to insult the people who got rid of modernists who were seeking to undermine the truth by accusing them of “thuggery and brute force.” If someone is serving poisoned food to students, it’s not thuggery to stop them. It’s only a shame the modernists weren’t gotten rid of more thoroughly.

    • Leslie, “So these stubborn and, it now seems, ruthless men bided their time. In recent years, they have continued to lose every serious debate on the nature of the moral life, on the morality of conjugal life, on sacramental discipline, and on the ethics of human love” are the ‘Modernist’ thugs now using brute force alluded to by Weigel. A “bizarre repetition, now a score settling”. G Weigel’s syntax can at times appear convoluted.

      • But he says “in a bizarre repetition of the anti-Modernist purge,” making it seem to me that he is saying that “they have now abandoned argument and resorted to thuggery and brute force in order to win what they had failed to win by scholarly debate and persuasion” is a repetition – in other words, that the anti-Modernist purge was thuggery and brute force.

        If that isn’t what Weigel meant, then it’s not convoluted syntax (I love convoluted syntax); it’s poorly stated and an error.

        • You’re English likely better than mine in my case I love calling the kettle black. Insofar as Weigel’s thought it may come down to whose side your thugs are on. Evidently only the author can resolve the mystery of the brutish thuggery.

  2. As a graduate of the JPII Institute, class of 1991 Washington D.C., I thought of returning my license with a bodily imprint that would not be out of place in Archbishop Paglia’s cathedral.

  3. This is the nasty face of the current Papacy. The heterodox seem to be in the ascendant but the Holy Spirit will have the final say….hopefully soon!

  4. Paglia should be laicized. Any man willing to paint a blasphemous pornographic mural on his Cathedral’s wall (let that sink in, in a house of God) is unfit to serve as a shepherd of the Church, let alone director of a religious institute.

  5. The march of the anti catholic war drums beat on. Where are the Word Warriors on the Right to defend their institution? TnT. Weigel. Plus a handful of others willing to accept martyrdom. Please Dear Lord, save Your Institutions.

  6. I think Leslie is on to something.

    And despite my admiration and love for JP2, he failed to protect our children by making frauds like Walter Kasper and Theodore McCarrick (and others) into Cardinals, who he had every reason to realize would most assuredly engineer the election of an apostate Pope.

    Kasper’s apostasies were published in the 1960s and 1970s.

    McCarrick’s attack on Catholic teaching authority at Catholic universities, The Land of Lakes Statement, was published in 1967. Pope John Paul went so far as writing Ex Corde Ecclesiae to try to stop McCarrick’s Land of Lakes destruction. And despite all of that most serious conflict, JP2 still promoted McCarrick to Cardinal? That is simply reckless.

    Tolerating a man to reason with him is one thing; promoting an open dissembles or apostate to a position of power (to prove what…your magnanimity?) is stark-raving recklessness.

    And now, because of the recklessness of JP2, and the wayward pontiff resulting from that recklessness, we have the disaster of which Mr. Wiegel complains.

    Mr. Wiegel can sit satisfied in his comfortable accommodations assuring us that all will be well…someday. Forgive me if I object that the price paid for “Mr. Wiegel’s way” is the defrauding of our children’s heritage, and the possible loss of their faith, at the hands of “the brigands” that Pope John Paul promoted to power.

    • You keep up this false attack on JP II. The fact of the matter is, no one knew or believed anything about McCarrick before the revelations of last summer. Things were reported to the bureaucracy, but apparently they were hidden there, or were deemed to be unreliable. Nobody said boo about McCarrick until last summer. Give it up, you are on the wrong track.

      • Look, I can go a long way with agreeing with you, but you can’t just take the position that since some people “attack” JPII you’re just going to defend wholesale against any and all criticism. There are plenty of serious problems that happened under JPII’s watch that can’t be brushed off by claiming he must not have known. There are plenty of problems that if he didn’t know he should have.

      • Samton –

        You of all people ought to know the facts, since you are so assertive about what they are.

        Therefore you can tell the readers what Pope John Paul and everyone paying attention knew, and what you and I later learned, whenever it was we started paying attention:

        A – in 1967 Rev. McCarrick joined other dissident and/or apostate Catholic University Presidents in publishing the Land of Lakes Statement, breaking away from Catholic teaching authority; and

        B – in response, years later, when Pope, JP2 wrote Ex Corde Ecclesiae to try to combat the Land of Lakes Statement, and direct Catholic universities to submit to Catholic teaching in Theology;

        C – yet despite this most serious conflict, recognized by the Pope himself, JP2 made McCarrick a Cardinal.

        That act by JP2 does not compute.

        And demanding people pretend it wasn’t wrong because “no one knew” is by the evidence of JP2’s own hand, patent nonsense.

        In closing – respect and love for a leader doesn’t demand hagiography.

        JP2 made some big mistakes, and making McCarrick and Mahony and Danneels to be “Cardinals” are 3 of his big mistakes.

        Prominent orthodox churchman like Cardinal Dulles have alluded to the problem of JP2’s judge of character(s).

      • Samton –

        As an additional rebuttal to your perception that “no one said boo about McCarrick until last year,” long-time subscribers of First Things know that the late Fr. Neuhaus openly published an expose on the Canon 915 deception in 2004, calling McCarrick a liar.

        And people who are labelled by Mr. Wiegel as “on the fringe” and “click-bait” had been publicly posting reports of McCarrick’s homosexual predation of seminarians at least 20 years ago, if not earlier.

        Your are mistaken in your estimate of knowledge about McCarrick.

  7. The ruthless and deliberate sack of the papacy went into full frontal assault on 13 March 2013. We have a “situation” – to be kind — on our hands that we never believed possible. It is here. It is operative. It need be dealt with for what it is. Ecclesiastical protocols are insufficient to take this conundrum in hand. It must be confronted, they must be named.
    Souls are at stake.

  8. Of St. John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger’s works on MORAL THEOLOGY, Weigel writes that “the goal was to foster the genuine renewal of Catholic Theology according to the mind of Vatican II – and not according to the minds of Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Karl Marx.”

    And, to understand the zombie return of Karl Marx, and to understand the meaning of Cardinal Paglia’s curiously-undefined framework for the future of the family—“ANTHROPOLOGICAL-CULTURAL CHANGE”—we might at least guess, by turning to Marx’s writing partner, Friedrich Engels.
    Engels’ sociology outlines the evolutionary origin of marriage through five primitive/ anthropological (!) stages from indiscriminate group marriage finally to pairings, and then:

    “…With the disappearance of the economic considerations which compelled women to tolerate the customary infidelity of the men—the anxiety about their own livelihood and even more about the future of their children—the equality of woman thus achieved will, judging from all previous experience, result far more effectively in the men becoming really monogamous than in the woman becoming polyandrous. What will most definitely disappear from monogamy, however, is all the characteristics stamped on it IN CONSEQUENCE OF ITS HAVING ARISEN OUT OF PROPERTY RELATIONSHIPS” (“The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State [Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1884/n.d.], p. 133).

    Now, blessed with the infallible lens of sociologists, and looking FORWARD—(also the task of the now-with-it John Paul II Institute…)—Lenin writes:

    “What will most definitely disappear from monogamy, however, is all the characteristics stamped on it in consequence of its having arisen out of property relationships. These are, first, the DOMINANCE of the man, and secondly, the INDISOLUBILITY of marriage” (133). AND THEN this: “Should the monogamian family in the distant future fail to answer the REQUIREMENTS OF SOCIETY it is impossible to predict the nature of its successor” (136).

    Now, connecting some SYNODAL DOTS, and the future of the John Paul II Institute (?): (1) the “equality” of a female diaconate? (2) a more congregational model of church itself with the Eucharist for the divorced and civilly remarried and others in “irregular” situations? (3) And as for Lenin’s “impossible to predict:” civil mainstreaming of gay “marriage” plus silent ecclesial capitulation for ordained “consenting adults”?

    But surely only a bad dream!

    None of this could possibly happen since the INCARNATION is ever more than a flat-earth sociological event… And, surely, the Scandal of the Cross will never be politely/unwittingly accepted by the Church as a crossed HAMMER AND SICKLE. Anthropologically, the replacement of written language by primitive symbolism.

    • Terrific analysis Peter. At the least the Church should have a pope who would voice your analysis himself. Instead we have a fool. Our two prior popes understood the junk sociology of Marxism, but were too weak to confront the idiots within the Church who exposed it other than in ways so abstract as to be meaningless for impacting world opinion. The crucifixion of Our Lord included His suffering for the future elevation of a moral degenerate who aided and abetted the mass murder of the unborn, Carlo Maria Martini. Francis is a fool. What was the excuse of JPII and Benedict?

  9. What’s tragic is these aren’t “vandals” in the sense that they are an outside invading force, the people doing this are high ranking members of the hierarchy of the Church who are empowered by Francis himself.

    It begs the question, what does it mean to be “in full communion” anymore? We now live in a Church where open dissenters are rewarded and empowered by the Pope himself. They hide behind the canonical designation of being in “good standing” while they teach error all with the applause of bishops, cardinals and the pope. Meanwhile, groups who teach no heresy or error are lambasted and suppressed. Surely, being “in communion” must have a deeper meaning than mere canonical status. I’m not a trad, but I’m finding the reasons not to go to an SSPX chapel becoming increasingly few. At the very least I’ve started attending a local Eastern Rite parish, but there might come a point where I personally don’t want to be in communion with these people (Francis and his allies). The abuse crisis has definitely brought this to the fore. As a non-Catholic relative asked to me: “why do you let these people (bishops and priests) into your life?” It’s a good and honest question. How can I maintain communion with a hierarchy that disdains me because I simply want to follow the teachings of the Church? How can I maintain communion with a hierarchy that wants to destroy our institutions and cover up heinous abuse? Communion, like any relationship, is built on trust and love. I don’t trust or love the hierarchy. In fact, there are days when I genuinely hate them (something I do confess in confession). I’m almost done with them. We shall see how the Amazonian synod goes.

    • Stay away from the SSPX. The seeds of heresy are planted there. You maintain communion with the real church, not the fake church of Francis and his thugs. You have faith that Christ will overcome all this, no matter what happens.

      • Samton909: If it’s not the SSPX and it’s not in union with the present Pontiff, please tell me where is the “real Church”. I think I’ve found safe harbour for now with the Eastern Catholics. What do you suggest?

        PS: I think you’re far too hard on the SSPX…they are generally good people trying to do their best in hard times.

    • live by the Jesuits die by the Jesuits

      JPII did nothing about Carlo Maria Martini now the chickens have come home to roost

      Could either of them take the oath against modernism or not violate The Syllabus of Errors

    • Keep you eyes on the good bishops and priests who are speaking out. Stand firm with them. Support and pray for them. Look to them for guidance.

      • It’s much like tending a garden: we must both nurture the good plants AND pull the weeds. If we do only the first, the weeds will win out because they’re usually tougher and nastier. If we do only the second, we may conquer the weeds but have no flowers to show for it. Weed ‘n’ feed.

  10. And how many children will suffer the loss of their souls due to this lifeless network of vipers? Lord, please, please, help us, Your Church.

  11. Perhaps one of the lessons to be learned from all this is that St. JPII’s “response to this recalcitrance and intellectual pride was not to attack it head-on, purging progressivist faculty from the Roman universities” but to plant good seeds elsewhere in the hope that they would grow into trees which would shade out and eventually convert the rebels. Pope Benedict seems to have had a similar strategy at times. However well-intentioned that strategy was, however, it seems clear now that such matters would have been more successfully dealt with head on, and with the ferocity that is now aimed instead at the orthodox. No one would take the mild approach to a cobra which is found in his home, letting it endure in corners, hoping it would eventually become tame.

    • This is easy to say years later, when the oddity of Pope Francis and his bizarre counter revolution was introduced. But at the time of JP II and Benedict, everything seemed to be succeeding quite well. If not for the election of a screwball named Francis, no one would question them. Recently, I went back and looked, and all the cardinals believed in 2013 they were electing a guy very much like JP II and Benedict, who would focus on administration of the curia and reform of the curia. For some reason. Francis was able to hide his liberal tendencies until he was Pope.

      • You are wrong. The bitter true is that Second Vaticana was a disaster followed by really bad decades. After the fall of communism, the crisis accelerated even more. It is a continuation of persecution of Christians under communism.

        So, how can you describe the era of John Paul’s papacy – era of lonely pope surrounded by dissenting religious orders and congregations, dissenting theologians, confused or even paganized laity (think of divorce, contraception, confession), Catholic Church in U.S. shifting into “American Church” – how can you describe it as “at the time of JP II and Benedict, everything seemed to be succeeding quite well”?

        In fact, this is the biggest Church crisis ever. No “quite well” can be observed.

  12. Kudos to Mr. Weigel for finally taking off his usual kid gloves, and coming out swinging with both fists against the blatant desecration going on by wolves in sheep’s clothing, who now go all the way up to the top of the Vatican!
    Keep up the heat, George!

  13. Estimado Sr. G. Weigel: felicito y adhiero a su artículo sobre lo que está sucediendo en Roma con el Instituto Juan Pablo II, del cual soy parte del primer grupo de estudiantes en octubre de 1981. Es reconfortante que una voz como la suya se escuche y se alce para rendir homenaje a la Verdad. Un cordial saludo fraterno en Cristo.

  14. Reminds me of when the liberal cabal of Jesuits at the University of San Francisco killed the St. Ignatius Institute.

  15. A great line that rings completely true deserving kudos. The immoral intellectual vandals are the seed planted during the night by the Devil. The disciples asked Christ why he doesn’t uproot them his answer that the good [those who naively think prelates of the highest order cannot be evil and spread evil] might be uprooted with the weeds. Next Our Lord makes a terrifying forecast that those malevolent weeds leading many to apostasy will be burned in everlasting fire wailing and gnashing their teeth. An infinitely good God, pure love by nature of his essence must sadly in all Justice invoke the divine wrath. He suffered his passion that they might be saved. We mustn’t gloat rather we please Our Lord by offering our intercession for them as did Abraham over Sodom and Moses over the Golden Calf.

    • Yes that’s true. We must also cling to Mary Mother of the Church it is a war between the children of Mary and the children of the devil. I for one want to be a child of Mary and bring as many as I can on Her side because you can’t go wrong with Her.

  16. How long, Oh Lord? How long?? How long must we go through this confusion and uncertainty in your Church; and worse… ideological manipulation, deception, lies and subtle and underhanded tyranny? How long, Oh Lord??? St. John Paul II, pray for us!!!

  17. Mr Weigel does not speak the “s” word but this is surely what we are witnessing. Francis himself prophesied that he would be known as the pope who created a schism, and he is now shifting into high gear. Weigel is mistaken in suggesting that these actions bespeak weakness in those who ‘do not feel firmly in control’; indeed, Francis and his hit squads hold all the political cards; they have no need to dominate the discussion since the dominate the actions—notice how 99% of bishops are completely silent; they are frozen like all those poor seminarians with whom McCarrick had his way. The friends of Bergoglio drove Benedict from office and installed Francis. Francis need not preach a word or make a coherent argument; his lieutenants will be his voice and his arm, and will rid him of those meddlesome priests. In the meantime, the truth will win out, yes of course, but I recall that Constantinople has been under Muslim occupation for 700 years. You can have all the arguments on your side, and yet be run out of town on a rail.

  18. While this news is distressing, it is not a cause for alarm. JPII was absolutely correct to choose planting good seeds over uprooting all bad influences by decree. Pius X failed completely by using the levers of power: how else can you explain the flowering of Modernism with Vatican II? Be Not Afraid: the Good Seed has spread all over the world. The aged, panicked Left is finished. This is just another desperate political act. God doesn’t act this way. This is not of God.

  19. Let’s remember this so that when the situation is reversed we can purge them from all academic institutions. When they complain, and they will, we can point out that we are simply doing what they did. Sauce for the goose…

  20. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Pope Francis seems to support Archbishop Paglia’s putsch over the JPII Institute. This leaves its supporters and alumns little option but to flee and instead erect parallel institutions beyond Paglia’s reach, I’m afraid.

    Treat the legacy institutions as empty bearskins.

  21. “Because, as John Paul II knew, truth will always win out, however long it takes, because error is lifeless and stultifying.”

    I need to discover that neurocircuitry/reflex whereby George Weigel can dress up the most banal street sense as profound wisdom? Oh yes, it’s the “John Paul II reflex”…you just say “John Paul II” and everything that follows is profound (in his mind).

    What John Paul II didn’t get (or refused to get) was this: there’s no true lasting clarity in going on and on about the intrinsic qualities of moral actions if you’ve also softened your views on the effects of original sin. And John Paul II did this in theory and practice…need examples? Just review. And yes, look at his “strategies” and appointments…and his non-doings.

    • “Examples? Just review.” St. John Paul II took down the atheist Soviet Union, at least to some large degree. So soon do we forget. He also noticed that the Vatican was more of a cesspool than others might have thought at the time, and apparently decided on an end-run, by himself, to directly evangelizing the world. Personal visits to 105 countries. (And he kissed the ground, rather than their soles.) This only a century after the papacy had been reduced to the prisoner of the Vatican in 1870.

      And yet, there are also those things left undone (“his non-doings”). Noting, however, that one conventional way of dealing with termite bishops has been to promote them into meaningless Vatican positions where they can be watched closely and, perhaps, might eventually fade into the wall paper. A gamble (“strategy”) that didn’t work–the particular problem with “Kasper the (un)friendly ghost” is that after he was clearly brain dead as a theologian, he has still found some way to flap his gums in front of podiums and stage lights.

      Still, with two wins out of three, maybe St. John Paul II gets a batting average of 667, not bad at all for the Big League.

      And then there are his writings, planted like a delayed stun grenade in the faculty lounge. Those writings, and Pope Benedict’s, will outlive the current crop of bottom-feeder clerics. As Gilson reminds us, “Philosophy always buries its undertakers.”

  22. I struggle with the fact that most of these horrible bishops were elevated to the episcopate under JP 2. Either JP 2 was fooled by these devious men OR JP2 was a horrible judge of character OR JP 2 (and Benedict) looked past their heterodoxy in order to maintain appearances/the “boys club”. It would seem though that God and the faithful are the last consideration when it comes to papal appointments. Paglia was made bishop by JP 2 and archbishop by Benedict.

  23. There is the scene at the temple when our Lord was 12 y.o ; His teachers are said to have become furious about His wisdom , when His Parents came to take Him away from that scene just in time .
    God uses not the highly educated in our times , persons such as St.Faustina , Bl.Emmerich , to help bring His truth to the light . Would it be that , in these days of internet access to so much good info, the Holy Father , may be even unintentionally , is telling families to seek out the truth , not just through those who have the assigned teaching /leadership roles but through other means as well .
    St.John Paul 11 also , having come from lands afflicted by the lies and propaganda of communism also had likely foreseen these days and times , to thus help prepare The Church too, when Govts are passing laws right and left , that are in line with the Kingdom of evil , that families need to be ever vigilant , in all such areas .
    St.Joseph , head of the Holy Family , lead us all, through the deserts of dangers and evils , to ever grow in holiness .

  24. If Kierkegaard were alive in these times would he say that there are not any Catholics in the Vatican? Poor souls, they have replaced Christianity with Hegel, Feuerbach, and Marx with the sexual nonsense of Reich.

    • Under my pseudonyme, I am a Danish convert from the evangelical-Lutheran Church to the Roman-catholic Church. Of course, the Roman papacy is of great concern to me. It seems to me that any pope is better than no pope, as the Church’s catholicity necessitates its contact with the world, for better or for worse. Probably, even saint Peter was not the best of preachers, but the gospel according to Mark is said to be the infallible, short story version of Peter’s sermons to the Romans. Still, the Romans were better served with Peter alive than with that written gospel. Unfortunately, with the papacy, the Antichrist will seek power in the Church, to undermine the Christian gospel of reason, morals, faith – and of humankinds vocation to the parousia, as children of the Holy Ghost, by adoption in baptism, representatives for all creation to be restored in Jesus Christ – but this possibility of bad bishops and false theologians was well understood by our Lord who even picked the traitor Judas Iskariotes for one of his twelve apostles. However weak the papacy can be against liberation theology which seeks to contradict our belief in Christ crucified for the glory of a world yet to come rather than of the political-economical world, the pope is still the successor of Peter. Many concerns of the Latin-American pope Francis are quite legitimate. The same is not true of those who simply promotes the sexual revolution and its idolatry of mammon, instead of seeing the poor as our future. While the traitor bishops and theologians like power, Rome is not theirs. The city of Rome, as saint Augustine remarked, exists only for religion.

  25. Weigel is shocked, shocked he tells you! Those of us who are not shocked are those who knew he would never see it coming. Nothing to see here. All is well. For how many decades? Whilst the enemy undermined, their greatest ally was the “conservative” Weigels of the world who unwittingly ran cover for them like dupes, insisting that all was headed for “springtime,” including his hero for 28 years. The only thing any “conservative” in any realm, political or ecclesial, has ever conserved is his own delusion and inability to face reality and summon the courage to deal with it.

    • Except he never says he’s shocked. And I’m quite sure he knows what’s been going on. A nasty, small-minded comment.

      • I respect Weigel, and I’ve read all of his books. But he has been infuriating slow regarding Francis. The current crisis is all about moral foolishness right at the top. Francis has not been receptive to Kasper’s process theology by accident, a theology where God can be viewed as flawed and incomplete, still in the process of learning how to be perfect.
        Atheism is not a function of how one answers the abstract question do you believe in God, and it is a question of degree, not strictly either/or. It is a matter of what one believes about the nature of truth. If you essentially believe truth is immutable, you do believe in God. If you believe truth changes, you do not believe in God, even if you think you do, because truth is the reflection of the perfect, unchanging mind of God.
        Francis has been clear enough that he does not accept immutable truth. Such a mind is prone to leftist progressivism because it is essentially relativist and atheistic, and atheists believe evil in the human condition is less personal but more a collective structural matter that can be eradicated once the right intellectuals with the right ideology are allowed to control the human condition once and for all, leading to its imagined utopia.
        Francis is disposed to discontentment towards most things historically Catholic for which he is inclined to dismiss and trivialize as “museum pieces” not relevant to this age, which now needs “new truths” previously inaccessible to the peoples of the past who were deprived of these truths because even the God of history did not know enough about the trajectory of history to provide these insights to His creation.
        Christianity should have been scandalized by World War II, but it wasn’t. Instead Western Civilization, like an unrepentant individual, adopted denial processes and spurned numerous ideologies of moral exoneration that found their way into the Church. They ceased upon the natural inclination to doubt objective moral truth because in some individual cases of transgression, culpability is compromised and individuals can suffer underserved excessive guilt. But the potential clarifications of honest teaching were usurped with cynical sophistries.
        Arriving at a point in ecclesial history after decades of sin denial and its effects of sin-of-pride intellectual apostasy has created a culture where a prelate possessing a very secular mind can be elected to the Chair of Peter, a mind shallow enough that it can talk about mercy purely in terms of alleviating guilt while remaining oblivious and merciless towards the victims of personal sin.
        Until otherwise fine, prominent intellectuals like Weigel and others understand the real source of the problem and stop calling those who are legitimately very worried about Francis “crazy,” as he has, there is little hope. I suspect if his close friend Father Neuhaus were still alive, there might have been a strain in their friendship.

  26. The slam against Pius X’s 1907 encyclical Pascendi is a typical example of Weigelian incoherence. If purging faculties of their modernists was “thuggery,” why does Weigel object to the actions of the “nouveau” modernists today? I guess we should have left them all in place, so a Bergoglian revolution could have occurred much sooner?

  27. “John Paul II’s response to this recalcitrance and intellectual pride was not to attack it head-on, purging progressivist faculty from the Roman universities. Rather, his strategy was to encourage newer and dynamically orthodox foundations like the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (now, arguably, the most intellectually interesting of the Roman schools), and to create new institutes of higher learning in existing universities.”

    As much as I love Saint John Paul II, I think this was a mistake. The solution was probably both/and. He not only should have created new institutes of higher learning but also rooted out those who were teaching Modernist rot at the time. I think that was a great disservice to those who were learning and being formed under them at the time and we are now reaping the rot that has and is being sown. Why is there always so much fear and cowardice among the hierarchy of the Church when it comes to standing up for the truth? The “thugs” have no such fear of bullying and pushing out those who teach the truth. Perhaps we could learn something from their tactics. There is such a thing as righteous anger and fighting for what is good, true and beautiful.

    • Excellent observation. I could not help thinking the same thing after I read Mr. Weigel’s words which you quote above. A reform that only adds the good without removing the bad is only half a reform. I do agree however with Mr. Weigel on his point about the unrelenting nature of progressives. Even at the parish level theological liberals are astonishingly patient. It is as if they go into a state of cryofreeze until a heterodox priest comes along at which time they thaw and reemerge on the scene. I honestly think it is because unlike the orthodox who are attracted to the light, the heterodox do well adapting their work in the shadows. The shadow is a great place to prepare for that eventual reemergence, as Tolkien was so apt to point out with his evil characters. I think that we need more orthodox guardians who can track evil activity and keep at bay those who move in the shadows – wasn’t that the role of Aragorn and his Dunedain? Tolkien wasn’t busy doing fantasy literature, but deep, practical theology.

  28. The great great JPII in his innocence trusted the Jesuits but I am afraid they let him down
    His good friend Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini comes to mind God rest his soul

  29. The destruction of the John Paul II Institute in Rome is deeply saddening. The responses from Sequeri and Paglia indicate total disdain for the students. They have refused to answer the students’ demands in any way whatsoever.

    It does seem that the Institute in Washington DC has kept its faculty and will continue it’s good work for the Church. We should hope and pray that the DC Institute is protected from this insanity.

  30. JPII in all do respect was an actor who cared more about image then substance .He tried to have his cake and eat too .
    Pancake size Eucharist, folk festival mass ,was a shallow attempt to evangelize youth.
    All built on emotions and loop holes like theology of the body that tried make sex a mystical experience
    We all needed a true Father what we ended up with was good time uncle who thought the great jubilee year 2000 would usher in new Pentecost.
    He must of read the third secret? A secret and message that allowed two visionaries who were children to die horrible death
    Hell is real and no game and not warn that the gate is narrow to heaven and wide to hell
    The religion he profess was not the same as in Portugal in 1917
    The Athanasian Creed

    Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.
    For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever.
    This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.
    Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance.
    For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit.
    But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory, and coeternal majesty.
    What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is.
    The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
    The Father is boundless, the Son is boundless, and the Holy Spirit is boundless.
    The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal.
    Nevertheless, there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being.
    So there are not three uncreated beings, nor three boundless beings, but one uncreated being and one boundless being.
    Likewise, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent.
    Yet there are not three omnipotent beings, but one omnipotent being.

    Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
    However, there are not three gods, but one God.
    The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord.
    However, there as not three lords, but one Lord.
    For as we are obliged by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person singly to be God and Lord, so too are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords.
    The Father was not made, nor created, nor generated by anyone.
    The Son is not made, nor created, but begotten by the Father alone.
    The Holy Spirit is not made, nor created, nor generated, but proceeds from the Father and the Son.

    There is, then, one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.
    In this Trinity, there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less. The entire three Persons are coeternal and coequal with one another.
    So that in all things, as is has been said above, the Unity is to be worshipped in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity.
    He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity.

    It is also necessary for eternal salvation that he believes steadfastly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Thus the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man.

    As God, He was begotten of the substance of the Father before time; as man, He was born in time of the substance of His Mother.
    He is perfect God; and He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh.
    He is equal to the Father in His divinity, but inferior to the Father in His humanity.
    Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ.
    And He is one, not because His divinity was changed into flesh, but because His humanity was assumed unto God.
    He is one, not by a mingling of substances, but by unity of person.
    As a rational soul and flesh are one man: so God and man are one Christ.
    He died for our salvation, descended into hell, and rose from the dead on the third day.
    He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
    At His coming, all men are to arise with their own bodies; and they are to give an account of their own deeds.
    Those who have done good deeds will go into eternal life; those who have done evil will go into the everlasting fire.
    This is the Catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly; otherwise He cannot be saved.

  31. The WORLD ACCORDING TO WEIGEL, as an imagined book, should be translated into Latin and Ancient Greek; transported in a time machine to St. Augustine; and then forwarded to Socrates. Both would have had a heyday with its self-evident pandering to a breathless audience. Sic transit gloria mundi.

  32. Mr. Weigel shows himself to be not such a great historian here. The John Paul II Institute is being reformed according to the expresse wishes of Pope Francis, in accordance with the synodal reflections of the Church, and in accordance with the fruits of the synodal path which were collected in Amoris Laetitia. This is a significant and deepgoing process.

    The assumption that this process is directed AGAINST the doctrinal inheritance of John Paul II (as in Veritatis Splendor) does not stand up to scrutiny, in spite of all Mr. Weigel’s insistence.

    The fact that an institute such as the John Paul II wishes to review the cadre of its professors with regard to such a process of reform is not strange (especially in the age of the virulent, divisive anti-Francis faction).

    These protests are not about preserving the inheritance of the Pontificate of St. John Paul II, but about nullifying and destroying the inheritance that Pope Francis is giving the Church, especially the DOCTRINAL inheritance. The doctrine of Pope Francis is clear enough, but there is a whole group of personages who reject it. There lies the problem.

    But George Weigel wants to compare the Institutes interest in its cadre of professors with Stalin’s purges, comparing Francis with Joseph Stalin. A truly perverse comparison!

    Does a cleric have, perchance, an inalienable right to teach at such an institute? I thought priests were supposed to be spiritually simple and docile before the dictates of obedience in the Holy Church. Sentire cum ecclesia?

    Mr. Weigel the affirms that Msgr. Paglia is the one infected by ambition and sycophancy. His sycophancy is supposed to be illustrated by the fact that he claims to have defended the integrally ecclesial spirit of St. Oscar Romero to John Paul II who (at first) thought of Romero as representing the leftist element in the Church. But I don’t get it. How does disagreeing with the Pope about something illustrate one’s sycophancy?

    Then there are the supercilious remarks about Paglias supposed lack of intellectual virtue and substance–when compared to those superior types in whose company Mr. Weigel wans himself to belong. But maybe Paglia like Francis, has spent some “disproportionate” time studying the Gospel, for instance, where it says:

    “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, Thou shalt do no murder; if a man commits murder, he must answer for it before the court of justice. But I tell you that any man who is angry with his brother must answer for it before the court of justice, and any man who says Raca to his brother must answer for it before the Council; and any man who says to his brother, Thou fool, must answer for it in hell fire.”

  33. What, pray tell, will it take for Mr Weigel to publicly recognize that the source of the ongoing debacle in Rome is Francis and not his minions. Obviously Francis has surrounded himself with moral midgets – he is more at home with them and are easy to dominate. Bishops, even priests, can criticize the Pope only with great difficulty. This is not true with journalists. We need clarity and courage from the intellectual leaders of the Catholic laity. Mr. Weigel is one of the leaders – pray he shows the courage (once shown by Martin Luther) to state that Francis is the worst Pope since the Renaissance and threatens to demolish the great works of JPII and Benedict. Pray for the Church.

  34. “What John Paul II didn’t get (or refused to get) was this: there’s no true lasting clarity in going on and on about the intrinsic qualities of moral actions if you’ve also softened your views on the effects of original sin. And John Paul II did this in theory and practice…need examples?”

    Let’s not reference the collapse of the Soviet Union (or the Berlin wall) but how many Assisi’s, how many declarations expressing “esteem” for how many other religions WITHOUT truly calling anyone to find Faith in Christ…and yes, blurring the distinction between justification and salvation…

    So, what you do is maintain a view of original sin (deprived of sanctifying grace in the front office but somewhat murky sense of effects, will’s inclinations, “revelation of man” and “human dignity” always “intact” somehow) where “in mysterious way” (yet somehow presumed ways?) people who do NOT believe in Christ and adamantly reject Christ…

    Where and with whom did this get really highlighted, photographed, filmed…”esteemed?”

    • What can we do, besides pray and wait and keep searching for and sharing the truth? I’d love to know.
      Pope Francis really has a hard time getting out of his own way. The synods in the Amazon and Germany are about to get underway, he reads the laboris for each and says, “Focus on evangelism.” Well, that’s great, but how about clarifying Amoris Laetitiae (sp?) by answering the dubia that was put forth in a reasonable tone and well supported and maybe those in charge of both synods wouldn’t feel so empowered to change Church doctrine? When his appointment has further down the path of undoing the good work of the St. JP Institute, I’m sure he’ll have some sort of solution that won’t involve sacking this new chancellor.

  35. I apologize for the language, not native.I think the prejudice against the Pope is related to a similar one existing between South and North America. What origins from the South is seen with great diffidence, inflated of a strong populism, progressivism. Globalization has been connected with a sort of Church’fear. The Church hoped that communism default signified, would have brought a Western’s religious opening mind. On the contrary, she found a new edonistic, libertine, consumeristic society, ever less interested in the trascendent legacy of religion. This aroused a clerical closure, a clericalism. A defense of the remaining zones. Just the contrary of Pope’s mission, a Church at the frontier, not something that is enclosed.”Razing the Bastions” would say von Balthasar. Two visions of the Church. But the Pope is not a dangerous progressist who undersold the Tradition. What a strange Vico’s “Scienza Nuova” heterogony of ends!

  36. Recently, another commenter on another website hailed pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae with the words: Long live Humanae Vitae: the last dike standing against the tidal wave on the dignity of human life. (Quoted from memory.) The human being was created as a sexually monogamous creature, capable of love of God and love of neigbour. While the other great apes practice violence and sex for social peace, they are not capable of transcendent faith and morals. The socalled missing link, the extinct Australopithecus, was probably almost sexually monogamous, like the human being, and its morals were perhaps those of the fourth through the eight of the ten commandments. In an obscure passage, the prophet Isaiah (Is 34:14) seems to refer to sexual demons doomed for Limbo, the pleasant and boring edge of Sheol. This passage seems to refer to heterosexual male and female demons, homosexual demons, and autosexual demons, which perhaps correspond to contraception, prostitution, and abortion, respectively homosexual practice, respectively masturbation. Of these, abortion is in fact not even practiced by the great apes. However, statistics says that more than half of adults – catholics and noncatholics alike – practice contraception, and many other practice homosexuality or masturbation. Because, according to the Church fathers, the loss of control of our sexual organs was the immediate consequence of original sin. The human being is capable of God’s grace with peace, immortality, and eternal life. When this grace was lost, we fell to become like great apes. It is only with the Christian gospel that Humanae Vitae makes sense, and very good sense. Christians who do not, at least in principle, obey Church teaching on human life, dignity, and sexuality, should not go to communion, as this is only a pawn for monotheistic resurrection. Christians who give themselves to the sexual demons of Is 34:14 must of course not be excommunicated or otherwise excluded from the Church, especially since they (we) are the majority, and this disease in the human soul is the deepest and most original to be cured. Of course, Jesus Christ died for sinners. He also rose to wake everybody to life.

  37. Put briefly, the strictly monogamous, open to God’s grace, human sexuality doctrine in Humanae Vitae is fundamental to the Christian gospel of monotheistic faith in resurrection and friendship, and to contrast the Humanae Vitae against evangelization is false.

  38. Nothing transcendent about K Marx. Would imagine the new JPII will disintegrate entropically into muck & mire, unless their scientific social analyses demonstrate anti-Christian trends of a fallen world, from which one can learn to build up the Body of Christ. Lamentably it will close eventually, as things of such matter never last forever.

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