Monthly Archives: November 2014

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The Piper at Work: August 2014

Felix from Alma College

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Mr. Noah, Father Van Hove and Mr. Victor: Deer Hunting Season in Mid-Forest Lodge, Michigan

Congratulations to Mr. Victor for the “eight point victory”.

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Benedict Kiely on “The Pope’s Unforced Error” [National Review Online]

NOVEMBER 12, 2014
The Pope’s Unforced Error 
His demotion of Cardinal Burke, a loyal but eloquent critic, could turn out to be his greatest mistake. 

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke
The titular appointment of Burke to an apparently irrelevant ancient chivalric order looks like an effort to sideline him, but it might turn out to be the Argentinian pope’s greatest mistake. Burke himself, unlike many, is a true man of the Church, and he is unshakably loyal to the successor of Saint Peter. There is, in fact, no “opposition,” in the political sense, to Pope Francis; he is the validly elected pope and, as long as he does not lead the Church astray, must be respected and obeyed. However, in a tradition stretching back to Saint Paul and later to Saint Catherine of Siena, and to countless others, it is not disloyal to fraternally correct or question certain actions or statements of the pope. To paraphrase Chesterton, it is the difference between being a courtier and a patriot. A “patriot,” Chesterton said, “meant a discontented man. It was opposed to the word ‘courtier,’ which meant an upholder of present conditions.”
In today’s Vatican, the courtiers have the upper hand. It is as a patriot, a man discontented with yet loving his Church, that Burke in his new position will enjoy a freedom that until now he did not have. He will be able to travel and to celebrate the ancient Mass all over the world. He can lecture, preach, and write. And the Knights of Malta are not, as left-leaning devotees of liberation theology might believe, relics from a Dan Brown novel. Not only are their ranks filled with members of the aristocracy from every nation on earth but, far more significantly, the newer members are often wealthy and influential figures in industry, politics, and the media. The Knights — and Dames — of Malta run hospitals and charitable organizations throughout the world. Their annual pilgrimage with the sick and handicapped to Lourdes is one of the largest the shrine sees. The men and women admitted to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a state that issues passports, are devout Catholics, who both love their faith and act with generosity and commitment. It is this highly influential arm of the Church that Cardinal Burke has been “demoted” to lead.

What does this apparently inter-ecclesiastical dispute matter to the wider world? In the first place, it shows how the only large global institution that represents what might be called the traditional view of the family and society is divided, and that division is clearly bad for those who care about the future of the family and civil society. On a more positive note: This could mark the last rally of a certain Sixties mentality in rapid decline. Unless they are weathervanes tilting with the wind of ambition, the priests and bishops ordained since Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict have nothing in common with the bell-bottomed theology that, at least for a season, has been revived in Rome.

There is one possible final irony. Some have speculated that Pope Francis, who turns 78 next month, will follow the example of his predecessor and eventually step down from the Petrine office, perhaps at age 80. In any case, Raymond Burke will likely be a significant figure at the conclave to elect his successor, and already some observers are predicting that the courtiers’ foe will end up as the next king.

— Father Benedict Kiely is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Stowe, Vt., and director of continuing education for clergy in the Diocese of Burlington. He is the founder of Nasarean

from The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 29 October 2014, review of James Hitchcock’s “History of the Catholic Church”

History of the Catholic Church: From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium

James F. Hitchcock (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2012), 584 pages.

The publication of Dr. Hitchcock’s one-volume history fills a longstanding need for an introduction to Catholic Church history in English. Students need a place to begin in which they are neither overwhelmed nor disappointed. We have a plethora of specialized studies, such as John W. O’Malley’s What Happened at Vatican II; Roberto De Mattei’s Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta; and Matthew Levering and Matthew Lamb’s Vatican II. But, the beginner needs a survey or “view of the historical landscape from a helicopter.”

Before the Second Vatican Council, students, principally seminarians, could read Philip Hughes’ A Popular History of the Catholic Church, which informed them up to the limited threshold of the subject in 1946. (Evidence comes from Hughes himself, who wrote that the conclave of 1939, electing Pope Pius XII, had occurred just seven years before.)

Besides Hughes, students may have read Catholic-convert Carlton Joseph Huntley Hayes, or translations from the French of Henri Daniel-Rops. After 1960, a few students might have seen Hubert Jedin’s Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: An Historical Outline, which he wrote specifically for German seminarians anticipating the first session of Vatican II. Also in 1960, Philip Hughes wrote The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils.

The unabridged three-volume version of Hughes ends with Luther. His fourth unabridged volume only appeared after his death in 1967. Hughes’ Popular History was reprinted for a fourth time in 1970. Eight years later, and well after Vatican II, Thomas S. Bokenkotter produced A Concise History of the Catholic Church (1978). It is criticized for what was regarded as a naive bias, supporting the “hermeneutic of rupture” or progressivism of the 1970s. The 32 years between 1946 and 1978 were, indeed, critical for the Catholic Church.

Perhaps Alan Schreck’s The Compact History of the Catholic Church (2009) tried to correct this situation, but his history is just “too compact” for the college classroom. As with Warren Carroll’s fine works, The Catholic Church Through the Ages: A History Paperback, by John Vidmar, OP (2005), ought to have been more widely advertised. Vidmar proposes to use the metahistorical outlook of Christopher Dawson, who died in 1970. Dawson enjoys a modest revival from time to time. H.W. Crocker III’s Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church—A 2,000-Year History (2001), reads more like upbeat apologetics than history. Various authors have produced CDs and DVDs on aspects of Church history, but audio books have less appeal to readers and students who just want a book.

At last, James F. Hitchcock has come to the rescue. Our wait was worth it: the fruit of his effort reads more like a story than a textbook. Dr. Hitchcock’s formal area of specialization is Renaissance-Reformation history. He commented that scholars gave input for improvements in each chapter, and there are neither footnotes nor endnotes, though at times, these might have helped to verify precise details. The narrative is breezy and flows like the Mississippi River along which banks Dr. Hitchcock lives and worked. (He retired from teaching in May 2013.) This latest book may be his most successful. It surely will endure as an introduction to general ecclesiastical history. Unlike his earlier writings on the problems of the contemporary Church—such as The Recovery of the Sacred (1974), and Years of Crisis: Collected Essays, 1970-1983 (1985)—History of the Catholic Church begins with the apostolic age and takes the reader up to the third millennium.

There are typographical errors which may be the fault of the printer and not Dr. Hitchcock. Such errors merit correction in the second edition. Examples include page 135, where we see the same sentence needlessly repeated in the section on Private Masses. There is a redundancy on pages 160 and 281 regarding the Inquisition’s protocols, especially on the point of the accused being allowed to submit a list of enemies. On page 532, we read “Roscasalvo,” instead of “Roccasalvo,” for Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo.

Philip Hughes ends his Popular History in 1946, and Thomas Bokenkotter’s Concise History is rigidly locked into The Spirit of the ’70s. Other authors remain less well-known and, sadly, in the shadows. James Hitchcock is all we have for a good introduction to Catholic Church history in English. His work should be used in every seminary in America! We eagerly await the second edition.

-Fr. Brian Van Hove, SJ
Alma, Michigan