The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Extra, Extra! News and views for January 18, 2023

Here are some articles, essays, and editorials that caught our attention this past week or so.*

Detail from "Newspaper" (1934) by Cassandre. (

Incoherent Documents – “Shortly before he died on Tuesday, Cardinal George Pell wrote the following article for The Spectator in which he denounced the Vatican’s plans for its forthcoming ‘Synod on Synodality’ as a ‘toxic nightmare’.” The Catholic Church must free itself from this ‘toxic nightmare’ (The Spectator)

The Sequel – “It’s been a long time coming, but I’m hearing Mel Gibson will finally be shooting “The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection” in a few monthsA late Spring production is currently being eyed with Jim Caviezel set to return in the role of Jesus.” Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ: Resurrection’ Shooting in Mid-2023 (World of Reel)

Openness and Progress – “What does it mean to defend freedom, truth, virtue, and the sacred in the age of modern democratic man? And what does democracy itself even mean now? A Politics Worthy of Man (National Review)

Following the Science – “Please pause and consider this: last year the FDA put over 700 clinical trials for experimental drugs on hold. Doesn’t that seem like an amazingly high number?” Have This Mind Among Yourselves (Marcus Grodi)

Faithful Christian Intelligence – “Archbishop Charles Chaput has a view on some central issues in the life of the Church.” Chaput: ‘Speaking the truth is polarizing’ (The Pillar)

A Combative Journalist – “The world is not a fair place. This was the first lesson that Paul Johnson learnt at school when a bully came up to him and told him he was going to beat him up for having red hair.” Paul Johnson, polemicist who turned against the left, dies at 94 (The Times)

Fading American Dream – “The beacon of hope that used to be California is now a fading memory.” California Dreaming (IM 1776)

Benedict’s Comforting Faith – “All Christians should seek to faithfully persevere in the faith. That simple perseverance and commitment will certainly be part of the lasting legacy of Pope Benedict XVI” Pope Benedict’s Unexpected Legacy for Protestants (Juicy Ecumenism)

Light of the World – “Viewing and pondering sacred art offers the faithful a great way to meditate more deeply on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.”  The Art of the Luminous Mysteries: The Marriage at Cana (Catholic Exchange)

A Work of Art – The Department of Catholic Studies in collaboration with the G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture proudly present ‘Caravaggio: A Radical Approach to the Truth,’ a lecture by David López Ribes. Caravaggio: A Radical Approach to the Truth (Seton Hall University) 

Land of Coexistence – “The Virgin Mary has a uniquely exalted place within Islam – an overlooked and sometimes simplified commonality between Islam and Christianity, particularly Catholicism.” Virgin Mary, Sufism and flamenco: Lost Muslim influences in Spain (Middle East Eye)

Love and Justice – “‘I don’t know what to do with Gaudium et Spes,’ I exclaimed, sinking into a chair in my professor’s office during graduate school.” ‘Gaudium et Spes’ offers wisdom for a divided church (U.S. Catholic)

Embedded in the Churches –  “It was in Latin that prayers were made, and the Mass was celebrated in all areas where the Church grew—in small village chapels, upon hidden Mass rocks, and in the great Cathedrals soon built in each county and townland.” Love Letters to the Latin Mass 1: In the Beginning (Catholic Stand)

(*The posting of any particular news item or essay is not an endorsement of the content and perspective of said news item or essay.)

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  1. Love and Justice: “The Holy Father’s homily concluded, ‘All of us are children of God . . . all of us making up the Church, all of us. We are his sheep, his flock, and we can only be so together and as one. Let us overcome all polarization and preserve our communion.’”

    Also a reference to “synodality” with its diminished role for the shepherds (now “facilitators” among the sheep), so not much clarity on how to also preserve the “hierarchical communion” (now a polarization?) articulated in Lumen Gentium (Chapter 3, and the Explanatory Note).

  2. @Incoherent Documents
    Must be providential. Days before he left this world Card Pell wrote in the Spectator that the Synod on Synodality is a ‘Toxic Nightmare’, “Not only is it couched in neo-Marxist jargon, but it is hostile to the apostolic tradition”?
    A point of interest central to Pope Francis’ rationale of moving the Church from a legalistic posture to become less doctrinal, more welcoming and pastoral is access to the Holy Eucharist.
    Discussed recently was my response to Francis’ admonition that ‘The only requisite for receiving Our Lord in communion is the garment of faith’. A compelling addition in support was a past observation made by, I believe it was Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ editor of journal La Civiltà Cattolica and confidant of Pope Francis. What was said is, ‘They refuse them what they need the most’ [the Holy Eucharist]. Them, those living in irregular unions. As such relative to anyone not practicing the faith as required by Apostolic tradition.
    This complaint has substance if there is intent, at least some desire to make reparation for acknowledged transgression, some anticipated effort to express thankful love to Christ for his passion and death – by reform. If this is absent, receiving the Eucharist is an act of self affirmation. On precisely this issue Card Pell admonishes those concerned in his refutation of Synod Relator Card Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ who publicly rejects the teachings of the Church on sexuality. ‘What they need the most’ in actual context means support of a chosen, illicit lifestyle, not a remedy for the repentant sinner.
    Soft spoken Pell’s last testament to the Church he loves is one of unusual fury. Righteous fury, not physically violent but morally so as that of John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Jesus’ anger at the Pharisees in today’s Gospel for their obstinacy in refusal of the truth. A lesson to the Church, an admonition from a virtuous humble man for us to express moral outrage at this distortion of the truth of our faith, outrage at the multitude of souls led to the eternal precipice.

  3. The article “Fading American Dream” is a classic and clear example of an illogical presentation. The writer takes his very narrow personal perspective about his perception of the decline of California as being the totality of the reality of the state as getting lost and as the “fading American dream.” This reflections which is just a grievance and hate therapy exemplifies the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness.

  4. A Work of Art
    It’s impossible to guess what Ribes meant by Caravaggio a Radical Approach to Truth when nothing is quoted, except a quote from Chesterton on mind to mind creativity. If that means what the painter wished to convey. Although, that’s the intent of all visual art.
    Caravaggio’s innovative tenebrism, as this writer perceives and as some others also is the dramatic use of dark juxtaposed to stark light that draws the viewer into the reality of what’s seen. As to religious painting his scenes of the crucifixion place us in the moment, the sense of anguish, pain that the persons depicted must have experienced. Making his passion scenes the best that I have seen.

  5. The interview with Archbishop Chaput somehow shows his grievance and resentment at Pope Francis because he was not made to extend more years in his office as Archbishop and not elevated a Cardinal. Careerist clericalism coupled with anti-Pope Francism on display here. By CWR’s inclusion of this article here despite its disclaimer as not an endorsement just shows its latent anti-Pope Francism.

    • “….because he was not made to extend more years in his office as Archbishop and not elevated a Cardinal. Careerist clericalism …”

      Evidence for your assertion? Or are you merely making judgments without evidence, as do so many who attack anyone who dares raise questions or concerns about various actions and statements from Pope Francis?

      • “Are you disappointed that you’re not a cardinal?”

        “No, and I sleep a lot better for it.”

        I met the man once, and I would tend to take him at his word. I think Philadelphians and Archb Chaput’s fan club were more disappointed than anyone.

        I was struck by this:

        “No one in current Church leadership has the capacity to replace them. That will happen in time, but the talent bench at the moment seems pretty thin.”

        Too many bishops later in this interview, and we have a few thousand bishops and we’re thin in talent? That’s about the only bitterness I see in this interview. If I were the interviewer I would’ve pounced on that and suggest he name the almost-talent among his brother bishops today.

  6. I will be following Cynthia Millen’s 12-part essay at CATHOLIC STAND, re Latin Mass “love letters”, see above last entry, Embedded.

    Briefly, Traditionis Custodes is a wrong “directive”/direction, in that it does not set up and bless the impulse and idea of getting to know Tradition and growing in appreciation of it. The Latin Mass “issue” could have served -and should have served- as the first channel and “type of experience” for renewal of this area (Tradition) of the faith.

    Asserting instead that “tradition must grow OR OTHERWISE it is dead and backwardist” is not the way that anyone deepens in his “heritage” or encounters it; nor is it a way of growing into the new; nor is it the way the heritage -Tradition- is sustained in what it always will be.

    Allow me to share that as I write this I see words and sentences that I encountered in a dream 3 nights ago.

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