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    • Lest We Forget: Remember the Ashes of Our Martyrs February 13, 2013
      For Ash Wednesday, I reminded readers here that the season of Lent is also a “joyful” season, an aspect that should not be ignored.  We should never forget though, that it is also a solemn time, above all a time…Read more →
    • St Patrick: A Gay Role Model? March 17, 2012
      So why should we see St Paddy as a gay icon? In a notable book on Irish gay history (“Terrible Queer Creatures”) Brian Lacey presents some evidence that Patrick may have had a long term intimate relationship with a man: “St.…Read more →
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    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
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    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
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    • In the Garden of Spirituality – Richard Rohr (Part II) March 27, 2015
      “We are not on earth to guard a museum,but to cultivate a flowering garden of life.”– Pope John XXIIIThe Wild Reed’s series of reflections on religion and spirituality continues with Richard Rohr's thoughts on the mystical element of Christianity and thus the evolutionary nature of authentic religion.There were clear statements in the New Testament givi […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Australian Sojourn – March 2015 March 27, 2015
      Part 8: A Wedding in MelbourneNOTE: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.On Sunday, March 15, 2015, my family celebrated the wedding of my nephew Ryan and his partner Farah in Melbourne's beautiful Fitzroy Gardens. A reception followed at an establishment in nearby Richmond.Right: My parents Gordon and Margaret Bayly on the morning of th […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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    • Thanking You Kindly for Your Birthday Good Wishes March 31, 2015
      I want to issue a note of thanks to all of you who left birthday greetings for me here yesterday. I'm deeply grateful for your kind expressions of congratulations on my birthday, and for your support. I had a very nice birthday, part of which we spent walking in the historic cemetery in downtown Little Rock, Mount Holly, and taking photos of the spring […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • Commentary on Indiana, Religious Freedom, and Gay Rights: How Anti-Gay "Religious Liberty" Laws Differ from RFRA March 31, 2015
      It's this important. Tuesday's front page. #rfra pic.twitter.com/gVPf82J2iu— Mark Alesia (@markalesia) March 31, 2015A selection of excerpts from articles discussing Indiana's (and other states') anti-gay "religious freedom" law(s) — especially the bogus talking point now widely circulated by both conservatives and centrists tha […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
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      My current blog is called the way ahead.
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    • Gay Passion of Christ Envisioned and Attacked March 30, 2015
      Kittredge Cherry, author of the wonderful Jesus in Love Blog, has just recently published an article at Huffington Post about her remarkable book, The Passion of Christ, A Gay Vision, with paintings done by the extraordinary artist, Doug Blanchard. There is no more fitting source for inspiration during this Holy Week than the images and texts of this truly u […]
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    • The Secret Scandalous World of Gay Jesuits February 25, 2015
      I just came across this superb expose of the secret world of gay Jesuits - written by former gay Jesuit, Ben Brenkert, who at the age of 35 left both the Jesuits and the Roman Catholic Church in protest against it's treatment of LGBTQ people. This is really powerful stuff and resonates so much with my own experience in the 80's, when I was doing th […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
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    • John 12:1-11 March 31, 2015
      The reading for today - John 12:1-11 - tells of Jesus and the disciples visiting his friends Mary, Martha, and the back-from-the-dead Lazarus, where his feet are anointed by Mary.You can watch that scene in the movie The Gospel of John at YouTube ... start at 1:40:55. I liked the movie very much and wrote two posts about it - Henry Ian Cusick is Jesus and Th […]
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Pope Francis and the Dirty War: Keeping the Record Straight – Part I

Hagiographies of Jorge Mario Bergoglio may soon obliterate what was written before the media created Pope Francis Superstar. This is an effort to preserve this information along with some background as to what took place during the Argentine dictatorship and why.

Bergoglio was head of the Argentine Jesuits from 1973 to 1979. The Latin American Catholic Church was in a period of transition. A conference of bishops meeting in Medellin, Colombia, had issued a statement calling on Catholics to support the poor not just with charity but also through activism to change the underlying political, social and cultural causes of poverty. It was called “Liberation” theology based on the work of theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez.

Bergoglio opposed the priests under his authority who joined “base communities” to support the oppressed and work for their liberation. When the superior general of the worldwide Society of Jesus, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, directed the members of his order to dedicate themselves to this movement, it put Bergoglio at odds with majority of Jesuits.

At the same time, extremely brutal military dictatorships – with the collaboration of the U.S., Popes Paul VI and John Paul II and their hierarchs – tortured and killed thousands upon thousands of those thought to be an opponent under the pretext of “anti-communism.” By granting Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, a member of the Argentine junta (1976-1983), an honorary doctorate from a Jesuit university, Bergoglio was signaling where he stood politically. After he was dismissed by Arrupe, for the next dozen years Bergoglio was assigned to low level positions within the Argentine Jesuits.

Although Jesuits vow to “never strive or ambition, not even indirectly, to be chosen or promoted to any prelacy or dignity in or outside the Society,” Bergoglio was chosen by John Paul II to be the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and elevated to cardinal.

In 2012, a former leader of the junta, General Jorge Videla, made a statement in front of a video camera acknowledging the active collaboration of the Argentine hierarchy in the Dirty War. The Argentine bishops, headed by their cardinal primate Bergoglio, responded by denying the truth of Videla’s declaration and equating the barbarity of the dictatorship, responsible for the torture and deaths of an estimated 30,000 Argentines, with the leftist guerrilla opposition.

Part II is here. Continue reading

Pope Francis and the Dirty War: Keeping the Record Straight – Part II

Hagiographies of Jorge Mario Bergoglio may soon obliterate what was written before the media created Pope Francis Superstar. This is an effort to preserve this information along with some background as to what took place during the Argentine dictatorship.

While Bergoglio was head of the Argentine Jesuits (1973-1979) two of his priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, were working in a Buenos Aires shantytown, Bajo Flores. They were captured, tortured and released by the military in 1976. The daughter of a lay Catholic leader, Emilio Mignone, who had been working alongside Yorio and Jalics, was kidnapped a week earlier along with seven other catechists. None were ever seen again. After a ten year investigation into his daughter’s disappearance, Mignone wrote a book, Church and Dictatorship: The Role of the Church in Light of Its Relations with the Military, naming members of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference engaged in a “sinister complicity” with the junta.

According to Mignone, Yorio, Jalics, the priests’ friends and siblings and the court testimony of a Bajo Flores co-worker taken along with Yorio and Jalics and also released, Bergoglio had made it known that the workers in the shantytown no longer had the church’s protection thereby enabling the two raids. Mignone wrote that “because of various expressions heard by Yorio in captivity, it was clear to him that the Navy interpreted some criticism from his provincial, Jorge Bergoglio, as an authorization to take action against him.” Mignone thought Bergoglio’s criticism of their work “served as part of the basis for the arrest, imprisonment and torture of the Jesuit priests.” At least three secular academics familiar with this historical period accept this narration. Of all the people present at the time these events took place, only a friend of Bergoglio’s, Alicia Oliveira, disagreed with this description.

After Bergoglio was elected pope, numerous articles discussed the new pontiff’s role during the Dirty War. The Vatican dismissed them all as coming from “anti-clerical, left-wing elements.”

The pope’s apologists established “straw men” by claiming that Bergoglio’s critics accuse him of active collaboration in the junta similar to the hierarchs named by Mignone and General Jorge Videla and that he actually reported Yorio and Jalics to the authorities. Yorio, who left the Jesuits, died in 2000. Jalics, who remained a Jesuit, made a terse statement: “Before, I was inclined to believe that we are victims of a denouncement. But in the late 90s I realized after numerous discussions that this assumption was unfounded. It is therefore wrong to assert that our capture was done on the initiative of Father Bergoglio.” Jalics did not address the issue of whether their capture was facilitated by Bergoglio giving the impression they were “fair game.”

Pope Francis has made numerous appointments, beatifications and canonizations which honor those who support right-wing dictatorships. A month after his election, the pontiff named Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga as head of his group of closest advisers. Rodríguez Maradiaga supported the right-wing coup which overthrew the democratically-elected, progressive President Manuel Zelaya. Pope Francis also picked Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa for this select group. Errazuriz was a vociferous defender of the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and praised his regime. The pope chose Archbishop Pietro Parolin as his secretary of state. Parolin is often described as being close to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, John Paul II’s secretary of state who helped direct church resources in support of military dictators and promote Latin American clerics like Bergoglio.

Pope Francis canonized John Paul II as a saint and beatified Paul VI whose ambassador to Argentina, Archbishop Pio Laghi, kept the lists of those murdered during the Dirty War.

Part I is here. Continue reading

Pope Refused Meeting with Dalai Lama, Rebuffed Tutu to Increase Vatican Influence in Asia

Pope Frances refused the Dalai Lama’s request for a meeting on December 11, 2014, because “the Holy See’s relationship with the Chinese government is currently going through a very delicate – a crucial in fact – phase. In recent weeks China appeared to be reaching out to the Vatican, signaling a willingness for dialogue.”

“I am deeply saddened and distressed that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, should give in to these pressures and decline to meet the Dalai Lama,’” South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a statement.

China has been waging a “calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of Tibet‘s national and cultural identities,” often personified by their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The pope’s choice was a victory for China. “[T]he attention of public opinion in the West to the Dalai Lama is going down by the day,” a Chinese official said on December 19, 2014. “The Dalai Lama also has no good ideas. All he can do is use his religious title to write about the continuation or not of the Dalai Lama to get eyeballs overseas,” he added.

The pope is trying to increase his influence in Asia and China is key to his success. Continue reading

Archbishop Chaput Wins the 2014 Coughlin Award!

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

 photo franksgraphic_zpsbe286320.jpgIt’s time again for the presentation of the annual Coughlin Award. This year’s award goes to the cultural warrior’s cultural warrior, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.

The Coughlin Award — affectionately known as “The Coughie” — recognizes the person who has best exemplified an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith in the preceding year. The award is named for Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today’s Religious Right radio and television evangelists, and other conservative media personalities.

Best known for his diatribes against FDR, Judaism and open sympathy with the racist policies of Adolph Hitler, Coughlin’s advocacy was clearly antithetical to the very definition of the word “catholic,” which, according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary means:

Catholic Cath”o*lic\ (k[a^]th”[-o]*[i^]k), a. [L. catholicus, Gr. kaqoliko`s, universal, general; kata` down, wholly + “o`los whole, probably akin to E. solid: cf. F. catholique.]

1. Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.

Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war. –Southey.

Note: This epithet, which is applicable to the whole Christian church, or its faith, is claimed by Roman Catholics to belong especially to their church, and in popular usage is so limited.

*Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.

*Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.

In order to win a Coughie, a candidate must complete three qualifying tasks: 1) Make the faith decisively less inclusive 2) Engage in incendiary behavior and 3) Ultimately embarrass the Church. This year’s winner — as usual — has risen to the challenge.

Chaput did not earn the 2014 “Coughie” because of any one specific action; instead, he earned his award through the sheer cumulative force his divisive career in the Church and in movement conservative politics. He is a role model for contemporary Coughlinesque Church leaders.

Archbishop Chaput has not only met requirements — he epitomizes them. So much so, that he is often able to meet more than one of the criteria in a single episode, and this year’s Coughie is in many ways a lifetime achievement award.

First; His career has been marked by stern pronouncements that meet the first Award requirement of making Catholicism less inclusive. From his time as the Archbishop of Denver when he uttered a harsh declaration of support for a Boulder, Colorado Catholic school’s denying re-enrollment of a lesbian couple’s two children; to his call for denying pro-choice Catholics Holy Communion; and finally to his open displeasure with Pope Francis’s most recent overtures to divorced and gay Catholics, Archbishop Chaput has made it clear that in his vision of the Church there is no room for greater tolerance, understanding, and dialog.

Second; Over the years he has engaged in incendiary behavior. For example, during the 2004 presidential election Archbishop Chaput declared that it was a sin for American Catholics to vote for the Democratic Party nominee John Kerry (Kerry is pro-choice and supports embryonic stem cell research). While serving as the archbishop of Denver, Colorado he opposed legislation that would expand the statute of limitations for prosecuting child abusers. He gives the appearance of one who is more interested in preserving the financial assets of the Church as an institution, and the privileges of an old boys club, than in securing the safety of the children in his care and holding to account people who abused their position to exploit the vulnerable.

Last Fall, he said: “I was very disturbed by what happened” at a Vatican sponsored Synod on the Family, where some 190 cardinals and bishops discussed such matters as how to treat LGBT people and divorced Catholics. “I think confusion is of the devil,” he declared, “and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.”

To suggest that a conversation convened by the Pope is ultimately “of the devil” is about as incendiary as it gets in Catholicism. But Chaput was not finished. He went so far as to suggest that in the wake of the court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in most states, Catholic bishops might consider engaging in what he called “principled resistance” by opting out of certifying civil marriages.

Archbishop Chaput will be the host of the long planned World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next September. Pope Francis will be the featured speaker (replacing Pope Benedict who retired before he could make his planned appearance.) The Vatican Synod on the Family, which Chaput found to be “of the devil”, was a forerunner event to the World Meeting. So if past is prologue, Philadelphia may be shaping up as a showdown between the two leaders.

Third; All of this is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.

So, for all that and so much more, Archbishop Chaput come on down and claim your 2014 Coughlin Award!.

Note to Bookmakers: It sure looks like Chaput is positioning himself to be an early front runner for the 2015 Coughie.

And Yet Finn Remains Bishop

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

It has been well over two years since Bishop Robert Finn and was convicted by a Missouri criminal court for failing to report child abuse by Fr. Shawn Ratigan, one of his parish priests. Within that same period of time Ratigan pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and is now serving a 50-year sentence in prison. Finn was warned about Ratigan’s behavior but inexplicably waited six months before notifying authorities.

Enter Pope Francis. On a myriad of issues the new pontiff has been a breath of fresh air. But when it comes to removing Bishop Finn as head of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Missouri the air has gotten quite stale. Finn has yet to be removed.

Just last month Cardinal Sean O’Malley was interviewed by the CBS program 60 Minutes. O’Malley is not just any Cardinal but named by his close friend Pope Francis to lead the Vatican’s new sexual abuse commission aimed at strengthening rules to protect children. When the conversation turned to Bishop Finn, Cardinal O’Malley did not mince his words:

Norah O’Donnell: I want to ask you about Robert Finn, who is the bishop of Kansas City/St. Joseph and, as you know, he pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for not reporting one of his priests to authorities. Bishop Finn wouldn’t be able to teach Sunday school in Boston.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: That’s right.
Norah O’Donnell: How is that zero tolerance…
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: Well…
Norah O’Donnell: …that he’s still in place? What does it say to Catholics?
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: Well, it’s a question that the Holy See needs to address urgently.
Norah O’Donnell: And there’s a recognition?
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: There’s a recognition of that.
Norah O’Donnell: From Pope Francis?
Cardinal Seán O’Malley: From Pope Francis.
If anything sounded as if Bishop Finn I was on his way out the door, it was that exchange. The 60 Minutes statement struck me as two minute warning that Finn would be sacked within the week. But it was not to be.

It has now been more than a month since that interview. Bishop Finn still remains in charge of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Why is he still there?

Bishop Robert Finn is very antithesis Pope Francis. Where the Pontiff is tolerate and more open-minded, Finn is a shrill cultural warrior. More importantly, Finn – a member of Opus Dei – apparently sees the Catholic Church in terms of being an institution whereas Pope Francis – a Jesuit – often talks about the Church and its relationship with helping the marginalized, such as the poor. The differences in styles and agendas could fill the Grand Canyon. This only makes the Pope’s inaction even more puzzling.

But more than anything else, inaction in this matter only hurts Pope Francis. It undermines his credibility by casting him as a leader who says the right thing but does nothing. As long as Finn remains a bishop in control of a diocese there is a black stain on this papacy.

In stating the obvious, it is time to remove this stain in Missouri.

The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

 photo loathinglincoln.jpgOne under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for the Confederacy Michael Peroutka, who was elected to Maryland’s Anne Arundel County Council; and Joni Ernst, a proponent of nullification and secession, who was elected to the United States Senate from Iowa. It has also resulted in divisions on the Christian Right as well as in the wider Republican Party.

Thus is seems like a good time to ask John McKee Barr, the author of one of this year’s most informative books, Loathing Lincoln: An American Tradition from the Civil War to the Present for some insight into what is going on. As Barr told me before our interview, it is within the Neo-Confederate movement where the hatred of Abraham Lincoln and all he stood for meets the Religious Right.  

John Barr is currently a professor of history at Lone Star College-Kingwood [Texas], having joined their faculty in 2008. There he teaches a variety of courses including the survey of U.S. History, “Political Novels”, “The Emancipators: Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and the Making of the Modern World,” and “Revolution and Counterrevolution.” His website can be found right here.

Loathing Lincoln is his first book and an important first effort. The tome not only provides the reader with excellent insight into the to peculiar tradition of Lincoln hatred, but by extension, a more complete understanding of many of the beliefs that underlie the current nullification and secession movements.

I began our conversation by asking Barr to explain Lincoln’s religious philosophy. Was it unchanging or did it evolve over time?

Barr: Lincoln’s religion has been a topic of unending fascination, both for his admirers and his critics. For me, the best book on this subject is Allen Guelzo’s Abraham Lincoln:Redeemer President. In broad terms, I think we can say that Lincoln grew up in a deeply religious world of Protestant Christianity. As Guelzo puts it, “Intellectually, he was stamped from his earliest days by the Calvinism of his parents.”  In addition, Lincoln certainly had what many have called a melancholic streak in his personality (Lincoln’s “melancholy dripped from him as he walked” his law partner William Herndon said), and that too, at least in my view, shaped his religious beliefs. One of his favorite poems was by William Knox, one entitled “Mortality.” A close look at that poem I think verifies the future president’s dark outlook. Still, Lincoln did go through a phase of being what Guelzo calls a “religious skeptic.” He never joined a church, and one political opponent, Peter Cartwright, accused Lincoln of what was called then “infidelity” in a congressional campaign. You can see Lincoln’s response to that charge here. Personally, it seems to me that Lincoln would just rather avoid the whole subject and he does not really answer the charge, thus lending some credence to the idea that Cartwright’s allegations were true.

Now, when Lincoln is campaigning against the extension of slavery into the territories in the 1850s he frequently attacks, or mocks, the idea that slavery is a divine institution and good for the slave (e.g. pro-slavery theology). I especially like the sentence in the preceding link where he says that “Certainly there is no contending against the Will of God; but still there is some difficulty in ascertaining, and applying it, to particular cases.” Thus, he condemns slavery’s defenders for using God to mask their own self-interest.

During the Civil War, I think Lincoln’s language becomes much more suffused, if you will, with religious imagery. In a sense, how could it be otherwise? Hundreds of thousands of Americans are dying (this would be millions, proportionally speaking, today) and he had to make sense of all this suffering and communicate it to the American public in religious language. The culmination of this is his Second Inaugural Address, which some historians believe is truly his greatest speech. Notice Lincoln’s sense that the war is God’s just punishment for the sin of American rather than southern slavery. It is a remarkable address, yet one without rancor and closing with perhaps the finest peroration in the English language.

Once the war concluded and Lincoln had been assassinated, then the issue of his religious beliefs became of profound importance for Americans. This is something that I explore in great detail in the second and fourth chapters of my book, Loathing Lincoln: An American Tradition from the Civil War to the Present. Lincoln’s opponents accused him of being an “infidel,” or unbeliever (this was true not only in the South, I might add), while some of his defenders claimed him as the quintessential Christian. Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, tried to set the record straight in the aftermath of his friend’s death, but in claiming Lincoln was not a Christian he made many people quite angry. Nowadays Lincoln’s religious beliefs are interesting to Americans, of course, but I’m not sure they are as important to people (we are a much more religiously pluralistic country today, including those Americans who like Lincoln affiliate themselves with no church at all) as they were in the latter part of the nineteenth-century, or the early twentieth century. Still, I would agree with Christopher Hitchens that Lincoln cannot be enlisted in the atheist cause. He is instead a political figure who challenged those who claimed religious certitude, those who used religion to justify what was in their own self-interest, yet drew on religious tradition/language in attempt to ascertain the meaning of the Civil War for all Americans.

Cocozzelli: Why would conservative Christian libertarians despise Lincoln?

Barr: I think that it is because Lincoln and the Republicans used public power to intervene into a private arrangement – slavery. And, it seems to me anyway, that today many Christians are deeply suspicious of any government that might do something similar. Think gay marriage, for example. Also, I don’t know that all, or even most, Christian libertarians despise Lincoln. To be sure, some do and they are influential, but I don’t know if they are a majority.

Cocozzelli: What about Lincoln’s legacy teaches us how to effectively answer the Christian libertarian right?

Barr: Consider these words from Lincoln: “Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. Public opinion, or [on] any subject, always has a “central idea,” from which all its minor thoughts radiate.”

Why Pope Francis Is Seeking Reconciliation with European Fascists

The head of the notorious Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, met with Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on Sept. 23, 2014, “with a view to the envisioned full reconciliation” with the Catholic Church. Known by its acronym, SSPX, the society “does not have a canonical status in the church [and] its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the church.” Nevertheless, a French SSPX priest was allowed to say mass in St. Peter’s Basilica a month earlier.

The Vatican initiated “non-official” contact with the SSPX leading to an “informal meeting” between Fellay and church officials on Dec. 13, 2013, despite SSPX offering to hold the funeral Mass of a convicted Nazi war criminal the previous October and disrupting a November ceremony in Buenos Aires marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust. Continue reading

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