I hope that the war will end.”Daria Khafizov, the daughter of a friend of mine, Dmitry Khafizov, who died last year in Kazan, Russia. I wrote a reflection on him in my Letter of April 23, 2021 (link). She came across my letter several months ago while making an internet search for news of her father. She was deeply moved at the time, and thought of writing to me to thank me for my words about her father, but only wrote to me today, the Feast of Our Lady of Kazan. The icon of Our Lady of Kazan was the object of her father’s many years of research. Daria’s letter came into my email as I was writing today’s letter, which had to do with other matters — the Church’s liturgy, the German synodal process, divisions in the Church. Then her letter unexpectedly arrived. She ends it by saying: “I think your letter will stay in my mind for the rest of my life”

    Here is a link to the original letter I wrote about Dmitry’s life, and death. You may find it of interest…. —RM

    ***

    Note: If anyone would like to contribute to support this free Letter, please consider making even a small gift… Many of my readers are sending $10 or more and some are making their gift each month. Your help would assist me greatly. Thank you.—Robert

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    Letter #90, 2022, Thursday, July 21: Unity

    Today, July 21, is the Feast Day, in the Orthodox East, of Our Lady of Kazan.

    And, just as I was writing this email, I heard a “ping” and I received an email.

    It was from Daria Khafizov, the daughter of a friend of mine in Russia, Dmitry Khafizov, who died last year.

    She was writing from her home in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, 600 miles east of Moscow, on the Volga River…

    I had visited Kazan a number of times, in summer and in frigid winter, when the temperature dropped to 20 or 30 degrees below zero, coming to know the big, joyful bear of a man, Dmitry, a student of the history of the icon of Kazan, popularly known in the country as “the protection of Russia.” (One night in Kazan in February, 2001, when the temperature was minus 20 Fahrenheit, after staying up talking until 1 a.m., I walked alone in my snow parka and knit cap back toward the hotel where I was staying. The snow was falling, and the city was completely still. I said to myself, “I am so very tired, perhaps I could just stop for a moment and lie down to rest on the snow bank.” But then another voice spoke to me, “Do not lie down. If you fall asleep, you will not wake up.” And a shiver of horror passed through me. So I resolved to obey that voice, and not to lie down, on that mile walk to my room, down the main street of Kazan, in the falling snow.)

    Years later, in 2013, my two sons, Chris and Luke, visited Kazan in the summer of 2013, before coming to Rome, and I was always grateful to Dmitry for taking care of the boys for a couple of days as they made their way across Asia on the Trans-Siberian railroad.

    ***

    So, in a sense, as I conceived of my mission, I was traveling to Kazan to try to find the long-lost “protection of Russia,” the precious icon which had originally been discovered in the burnt-out ashes of a church in Kazan in 1579, after a battle between Russians and Tatars.

    I was, to my astonishment, able to find it in what seemed to me a most unlikely place… in the library of Pope John Paul II in the Papal Palace, where the lost icon was kept from 1992 until 2004, when it was returned to Russia, not by Pope John Paul, who was very weak by then, but by Cardinal Walter Kasper and another cardinal. It is now in a new cathedral, built to house it, in the center of the city of Kazan.

    So it is meaningful to me that on this day, on the day when I was thinking only of writing about Church division, and the need for unity, this email should arrive in my email, recalling to me those old times, which so seem like legendary times, so far have they receded into the past, and so much things in the world have changed…

    ***

    Here is Daria’s email to me:    

    Dear Robert,

    Several months ago I have accidently found in Internet your letter to my father… It was like a poem and so realistic, that it made me hard to write you a letter at that time.

    One month later I met my old school friend, she is working as music therapist and we haven’t seen each other for a long time. Alina was telling a story about two musicians traveling to Russia many years ago. She showed me several photos and I was really suprised to see your sons from father’s emails, that I had found while searching for your contact. 

    Amazing, how our world is connected. 

    Today is Feast Day of “Our Lady of Kazan”, it was a very important day for my father. I remembered all your words again and decided to send you this email. 

    I hope that the war will end and I wish you and your family all the best!

    Thank you so much, I think your letter will stay in my mind for the rest of my life.

    Kind Regards,

    Daria Khafizova

    ***

    Unity and division

    A centrifuge spins, separating a substance into heavier and lighter parts, until what was once a united substance is divided.

    A centrifuge breaks things apart.

    We now face a centrifugal process in the Church.

    This process threatens to spin the Church into pieces, into various elements, along various fault lines.

    And this process ought to be met by a centripetal process, which unites things, holding them together based on a fundamental unity.

    And, in the case of the Church, that unity is the person of Christ Himself, and the teaching, the doctrine, that he expressed, and was heard and recorded by his followers, in the Gospels, and taught over the decades and centuries by word of mouth, and affirmed solemnly in various Councils, where a number of contested or not fully understood truths were defined.

    This is our heritage.

    The danger we face is that, if the Church officially splits — and there are many who already say, “we are de facto already divided” — it will not stop with just two groups of Catholic, one “progressive” and one “traditional.”

    No — the fissures will multiply, as at the time of the Reformation, and we will end up with 22 Catholic Churches, or 222, one here, one there, all with differing names, procedures, theologies, liturgies, hierarchies.

    This will — should it occur — be a tragedy.

    Our consequent disunity with be a scandal to many simple faithful, a cause of mockery and laughter for some of the powerful in this world, and it will be, for the world as a whole, for humanity’s future, individually and collectively, a source and cause of great sorrow, for the unified Church, with all her flaws, has been an impediment, though often less staunch and intransigent than it could or should have been, to many evils.

    The Church rejoices, or should rejoice, in her unity: “We believe… we all believe, as Catholic believers…”

    And the Church weeps, we should weep, when disunity divides us, weakens us, impedes us from doing what we are called to do in proclaiming Christ to a fallen world, a fallen world which risks falling into yet graver miseries in the months and years ahead than we have seen up until now.

    This is why I believe we should do all we can to preserve our unity, our “one” Church — “one, holy, catholic [meaning universal, everywhere, worldwide, not just in Germany, for example], apostolic [that is, holding to what was handed down by the Church Fathers, who received the faith from the Apostles themselves, mediated by the Holy Spirit].”

    This does not mean to suggest that clarity on doctrine, or practice, should be muddled. We need clarity, as we do in setting out on any journey: where are we going, and how will we get there…

    But it does mean to suggest that there is a need for a renewed focus on what possible way can we find to keep us united, and to prevent the centrifugal forces from shattering our unity.

    In this regard, there are two matters of concern today.

    ***

    Two sources of disunity

    A grave problem we face in the Catholic Church today is a growing tension between the “progressive” and the “traditional” elements in the Church. threatening the unity of the Church.

    And this tension is presently evident in two principal matters:

    1) the Church’s liturgy and

    2) the Church’s teaching and pastoral practice concerning sexual morality, seen most strikingly in proposals being set forth now in Germany.    

    The “old” and “new” liturgy

    The struggle over the liturgy, especially the struggle over whether the embrace of the new Mass produced after the Second Vatican Council has been harmful for the Church, and individual souls, has grown dangerously bitter.

    In two recent letters, Pope Francis has written that the old liturgy should be strongly circumscribed, even suppressed entirely: first in his letter of July 16, 2021 (Traditionis custodes) and then, very recently, in his letter of June 29, 2022 (Desiderio desideravi).

    The Pope has said the “old” liturgy has become a type of “symbol” or “rallying cry” for opposition to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and, therefore, he concludes, the old liturgy — in a way that was not envisioned by Pope Benedict XVI — should be diminished, not celebrated, not taught to priests, not offered to parishioners even on only rare occasions. Essentially, the old liturgy should disappear for the purpose of… increasing Church unity.

    ***

    Pope Benedict understood these tensions.

    He had wrestled with the issue of the liturgy for 50 years, or more: how to make the liturgy available and understandable to the ordinary faithful (rather than a mysterious rite in a mostly incomprehensible language) yet still keep that “link,” that “continuity,” which would acknowledge that what was being reformed was nevertheless a venerable, profound, holy rite, which had nourished the faith of untold generations, including G. K. Chesterton, John Henry Newman, Bishop John Fisher, Fr. Edmund Campion, and Thomas More.

    And that is why he authored Summorum Pontificum, published on July 7, 2007, proposing the coexistence of the two liturgies, old and new.

    To respect the old, to accept the new, to allow for the mutual enrichment of the two forms.

    That compromise is what Pope Francis (on the advice of some of his advisors, I believe) has now rejected.

    ***     

    A modest proposal

    The old Latin Mass could be celebrated in the vernacular, of course.

    I mean, celebrate that Mass, not in Latin, but in English.

    Just translate it.

    I actually have proposed this on a number of occasions in Rome, to men as various as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in private conversations. All seemed to find it unobjectionable on theological grounds, yet so simple in practical terms they could not imagine that it could be the solution.

    Or perhaps, celebrate most of the old Mass in English (or any other vernacular language), but leave the Kyrie eleison in Greek (which draws us back in close proximity to the early Greek-speaking Christians in the catacombs of Rome ) and then some other key prayers, perhaps the Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus and the Agnus dei, in the original Latin.

    Such a solution would have been, in many ways, in full accord with the request of the Second Vatican Council: that the Mass be “updated” to make it more accessible to ordinary people.

    Translating the old liturgy into English — or any other modern language — would have accomplished the goal of greater understanding, and thus of more conscious, active participation, for those many who do not know or speak Latin.

    Some will consider this proposal inadequate or objectionable for one reason or another, but it has to its credit one basic fact: it would be the same Mass, only more understandable. And on solemn occasions, the entire old Mass could be celebrated in the ancient Latin language.

    That was, and is, my own modest proposal.    

    ***

    What happened instead

    But what happened instead was that the group of liturgists who decided to reform the old Mass in the years after the Council, in order to “update” the old Mass, decided not simply to translate it into the vernacular, but, to change the prayers.

    This is a profound difference.

    Obviously, if someone is used to saying a prayer, it becomes a part of him or her — it takes on a certain personal resonance, a type of sacrality; one becomes “invested” in the long-used prayers… one “knows” them, intellectually and spiritually.

    In addition, we often say “lex orandi, lex credendi” — “the law of praying is the law of believing” or perhaps better “the way we pray determines what and how we believe.”

    So, to translate a prayer does change the language used, and does change the sound of the prayer, and may even be an impoverishment if the translation is poor (“to translate is to betray”), but still, essentially, the purpose is to give the same meaning in a new language, not to change the meaning.

    To alter the prayer, on the other hand — that changes not only the sound, and also the meaning.

    And this is what the liturgists did, painstakingly, in the three years after the Second Vatican Council — they changed the prayers, eliminating some, adding others, and this became the new Mass.

    ***

    The second example is the struggle over sexual morality, initiated as far back as the debate over the use of artificial means of contraception (Humanae vitae, issued by Paul VI on July 25, 1968, so its 54th anniversary is coming up in just four days), but also over divorce, remarriage and the reception of holy communion (see the debate over Pope Francis‘ post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, published on March 19, 2016, which was the 3rd anniversary of the inauguration of Pope Francis‘ pontificate on March 19, 2013) and over homosexuality (see the current debate over the blessings of homosexual unions taking place in Germany, and other places, on which the Vatican press office today released a statement saying none of the decisions of the German synodal process can be implemented or binding in Germany, or anywhere, until the universal Church examines the matter at the bishops’ synod on synodality next year in Rome). Note: The Vatican Press Office today issued a note that no decision of the German Synodal process could be implemented until after the discussion at the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023. That is, that no one nation can implement changes in pastoral practice with doctrinal implications without the approval of the entire Church…

    Behind this struggle in Germany, on a deeper level, lie differing views of the nature of man and of the purpose of the lives of men and women, and of the nature of the universe itself, whether it is eternal, or created in time, and whether there is a creator who is in relationship with men, or merely impersonal forces which have produced the universe, and men, and which must be mastered by men (by science, by knowledge).

    ***

    Father John Zuhlsdorf on July 14, without revealing where this would occur or what it was, warned that a bitter “persecution” was about to be launched against a traditional Catholic group from within the Catholic Church itself. (link)

The next day, Fr. Zuhlsdorf updated the post to confirm that the request related specifically to Cardinal Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, and his apparent plans to shut down the Institute of Christ the King’s Chicago apostolate at the end of July. The Institute of Christ the King is a group of priests who all celebrate the old rite of the liturgy, and have up until now been granted the Church’s approval to do so. This is what Cardinal Cupich seems set on revoking.

    Cardinal Cupich was made a cardinal by Pope Francis and named to be the archbishopric of Chicago by Pope Francis (over the objections of then-papal nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò). Note: It is well known, of course, that the Roman Curia makes recommendations to the Pope on whom to choose as cardinals and bishops.

    (Viganò once confided in me that he did not place Cupich on the “terna,” or list of three recommended names, as one of his choices for the appointment to Chicago. He alludes to this fact in the letter published below.)

    Yesterday, July 21, Viganò wrote his own “Declaration” on the decision of Cardinal Cupich to restrict the use of the old Mass in the archdiocese of Chicago.

    Here is that text below.

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    Depriving the faithful of Chicago of their right is a very grave abuse.—Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in the July 21 letter published here below

    Cupich knows… how immediately that Mass is understandable to anyone for its supernatural sense of the sacred and divine – the mysterium tremendum of Moses before the burning bush – and how that Mass opens the eyes of the faithful, warms their hearts, and enlightens their minds.” —Archbishop Viganò, in the same July 21 letter

    ***

    Cardinal Cupich Cracks Down on the ICK in Chicago, VIGANÒ RESPONDS (link or link)    

    DECLARATION
on the suspension of the liturgical celebrations
of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
in the Archdiocese of Chicago

By Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

    Cardinal Blase Cupich, with the bureaucratic authoritarianism that distinguishes the officials of the Bergoglian church, has ordered the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest who carry out their ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago to suspend all public functions in the ancient rite beginning at the end of the month of July, revoking the faculties granted to them in accordance with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

    It is obvious to anyone that this decision is intended to prevent the exercise of a right that no ecclesiastical authority can deny, a fortiori conditioning it on the acceptance of doctrinal and liturgical principles that are in blatant conflict with the immutable Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

    Indeed, every baptized person has the right to attend Holy Mass and to be administered the Sacraments in the form that Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum acknowledged may never be abrogated.

    Depriving the faithful of Chicago of their right is a very grave abuse, and the fact that Cupich’s decision is tacitly approved by the Roman Sanhedrin adds to the embezzlements of the Ordinary the confirmation of a broader plan intended to cancel throughout the entire Catholic world the sign of contradiction that is the Apostolic Mass. A sign of contradiction because its very existence is a silent condemnation of decades of doctrinal, moral, and disciplinary deviations.

    It is no secret that Bergoglio has a hatred of Tradition, and that he does not miss any occasion to deride and discredit those who want to remain Catholic and are not willing to apostatize from the Faith. Just as well known are his predilections for his collaborators and confidants: they are all united by sodomy, lust for power, and corruption in financial matters.

    It should therefore be no surprise that one of his pupils – an intrinsic friend of the serial molester McCarrick along with other no less controversial Prelates like Donald Wuerl and Joseph Tobin – returned the favor of his undeserved promotion to the See of Chicago by showing himself to be a loyal executor of his benefactor’s orders.

    A promotion that – permit me to remind you – I strenuously opposed when I was serving the Holy See as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and that today appears even more scandalous after the disturbing revelations made by Church Militant (here and here) regarding Cupich’s involvement in the cover up of evidence related to the sexual crimes of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

    In 2019, Cupich was investigated by federal authorities and by the attorney general of Illinois for not having turned over incriminating documentation on Archbishop Bernardin and his accomplices that was in the possession of the Archdiocese of Chicago. And we have also learned that, while Cupich would like to see Bernardin the champion of progressivism canonized (here), there are actually very serious accusations hanging over Bernardin made by one of his abuse victims, accusations which the Congregation of Bishops, the Secretariat of State, and the Archdiocese of Chicago have never followed up on, despite the fact that these accusations mention the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament during a Satanic ritual with minors carried out in 1957 by the young priest Father Joseph Bernardin and his brother priest Father John J. Russell, who was later consecrated as a Bishop and is now deceased.

    It is truly difficult, if not completely impossible, to find any justification for the decision of Cupich, who considers the celebration of the Mass of all time to be a sin of injuring the Council, but who strangely enough knows how to be indulgent and understanding towards sodomites, child molesters, abortionists, and profaners of the Eucharistic Species. Cupich pro domo sua.

    It is Cupich, of course, who, when he was instructed by Bergoglio to preside over the Commission on Sexual Crimes of the American Clergy and was asked about the Memorandum I issued in August 2018, commented with scandalous impudence:

    The Pope has a bigger agenda: he’s got to get on with other things, talking about the environment and protecting migrants, and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this. . . . Years ago, if a Cardinal had allowed himself to respond like this, the whole world would have come down; but today obviously times have changed. . . . Here we can also allow ourselves a bit of insolence. So much is known that the media will not tear their garments for so little.” (here and here).

    You read that correctly: “For so little.

    In the secular world, if a manager prevented his subordinates from doing their job and encouraged dishonest and corrupt employees by promoting them and covering up their crimes, he would be fired on the spot and asked to pay millions in compensation for the damage caused to the company’s image. Instead, on the multicolored bandwagon of the lavender mafia protected by Bergoglio, these forms of sordid complicity with evil and ferocious aversion to the Good have become the norm, confirming that moral corruption is the necessary corollary of doctrinal deviation and liturgical license. The crisis of ecclesiastical Authority – beginning from the very top – is undeniable, as confirmed by the creation of Cupich as Cardinal as well as the names of those to be given the red hat at the upcoming Consistory.

    If in temporal matters civic rulers who are obedient to the deep state make use of corrupt officials to carry out the silent coup of the “Great Reset,” at the same time on the ecclesial front we see that cardinals and prelates who are no less corrupt and who are obedient to the deep church. With Bergoglio’s placet they are bringing the subversive plan of Vatican II to completion, which is destined to lead to the Religion of Humanity yearned for by Freemasonry.

    But if on the one hand it is a duty to denounce and condemn the intolerable abuses of these renegades who have as their goal the destruction of the Church of Christ and the cancellation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, on the other hand it seems to me that it is necessary to reconsider how certain forms of carefree acceptance of Vatican II on the part of the Institute of Christ the King may have wrongly allowed its members to believe that Rome would have looked the other way regarding buckles and capes as long as they did not criticize the Council or the Novus Ordo.

    This shows us that – beyond the impromptu ceremonial connotations that are bit too ancien régime (which however are very moderate in Chicago and in general throughout the United States) – it is the Tridentine Mass in itself that is a formidable profession of Faith and an unflinching refutation of the patched-together reformed liturgy, whether it is celebrated by an old parish pastor or a newly ordained priest, regardless of whether he wears a Roman fiddleback or a medieval chasuble. It is that Mass, and the Mass par excellence, celebrated in the one Rite that is truly extraordinary, not because it is occasional but because it is incomparably superior to the Protestantized imitation that is the Montinian rite, which a Curé of Ars would have looked upon with horror.

    This Mass, the Mass of the Holy Church, the Mass of the Apostles and Martyrs of all times, our Mass – this is the Mass that truly causes them scandal. It is not Roman birettas and bows that scandalize them; it is not the mozzettas and rochets that scandalize them. The real thing that scandalizes them is the Catholic Mass, and this is what they rail against, with the rage of heretics – the same people who preach “welcoming” and “inclusivity,” which applies to everyone without condition except for good priests and faithful laity. In reality, this ought to be enough to convince us to totally ignore the last dying wheezes of a Hierarchy that is blinded in both intellect and will because it is alien to Grace.

    This umpteenth show of strength by Cupich, who is cynical and ruthless towards the faithful even before the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King, can constitute a healthy moment of reflection on the many omissions and equivocations that need to be clarified, especially in the matter of acceptance of the Conciliar mens and the Bergoglian “magisterium.”

    I trust that the Canons of Christ the King and all of the Ecclesia Dei institutes will be able to see in these days of trial a precious opportunity for purification, courageously witnessing to the necessary coherence between the profession of Faith and its cultic expression in the Mass, and the consequent irreconcilability between these and the doctrinal and liturgical deviations of Vatican II. Because it is not possible to celebrate the Mass of Saint Pius V and at the same time to accept the errors of its enemies.

    Cupich knows this very well, and this is why he wants to prevent the celebration of that Mass. He knows how much that Mass is a very powerful exorcism against the servants of the devil, both those who wear miters and those who do not. He knows how immediately that Mass is understandable to anyone for its supernatural sense of the sacred and divine – the mysterium tremendum of Moses before the burning bush – and how that Mass opens the eyes of the faithful, warms their hearts, and enlightens their minds. After decades of unspeakable torments, the faithful are finally able to approach the Majesty of God, to be converted, to change their lives, to educate their children in holiness, and to spread the Faith by their example. What could be more desirable for a Bishop who is truly a Shepherd of the Sheep entrusted to him by the Lord? And what could be more detestable for those who want to see the Sheep be torn to pieces by wolves or fall into the abyss?

    The lay faithful, priests, and Bishops have the sacred and urgent duty to rise up against the decisions of these completely discredited characters and to demand, without yielding an inch, that the venerable Tridentine Liturgy remain an inviolable bulwark of doctrine, morality, and spirituality. We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), especially when these men have demonstrated by their reprehensible conduct, that they do not love either God or their brothers in the Faith.

    + Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop

    July 20, 2022

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