The influence of Romano Guardini on Laudato Si

First Things Magazine’s deputy editor Matthew Schmitz over at the Washington Post  and Fr. Robert Barron at Catholic World Report both explore the influence German theologian and philosopher Romano Guardini on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si.  Here are some excerpts, first from Fr. Barron:

It is only against this Guardinian background that we can properly read the Pope’s latest encyclical. Whatever his views on global warming, they are situated within the far greater context of a theology of nature that stands athwart the typically modern point of view. That the earth has become “piled with filth,” that pollution adversely affects the health of millions of the poor, that we live in a “throwaway” culture, that the unborn are treated with indifference, that huge populations have little access to clean drinking water, that thousands of animal species are permitted to fall into extinction, and yes even that we live in housing that bears no organic relation to the natural environment – all of it flows from the alienated Cartesian subject going about his work of mastering nature.

In the spirit of the author of the book of Genesis, the Biblical prophets, Irenaeus, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi – indeed of any great pre-modern figure – Pope Francis wants to recover a properly cosmological sensibility, whereby the human being and her projects are in vibrant, integrated relation with the world that surrounds her.

And from Matthew Schmitz:

Given how much Francis draws on Guardini, it is worth noting their disagreements. Whereas Francis is optimistic about the possibility of erecting a global bureaucracy to battle our current crisis, Guardini recoils at the idea of “universal planning.” What actually motivates calls for managing resources according to “statistics” and “theory” is not a practical concern for the best outcome so much as a spiritual desire to impose one’s will on others.

The two men also envision different roles for the church. Whereas Francis believes that the church can express universal desires and lead all men of goodwill in healing the planet, Guardini predicts that Christianity “will be forced to distinguish itself more sharply from a dominantly non-Christian Ethos.” Francis expects cooperation; Guardini, conflict.

Lying behind these political and ecclesial differences is a philosophical one. Guardini believes that our future will be an illiberal one — either humanely under a Christian consensus or inhumanely under a technocratic one.

As for me, I am sorry the encyclical’s mention of global warming and negative view of markets have dominated news coverage and reaction.  I think there is so much interesting, though-provoking and convicting (in a good way) about Laudato Si that will be ignored because of this.

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Cardinal Kasper and German idealism

This is an interesting and informative philosophical look at the underpinnings of Cardinal Kasper’s theology by Prof. Thomas Heinrich Stark over at Catholic World Report, now a daily stop for me.

Since the middle of last century, we have encountered in certain currents within the theology of the Western industrialized countries, however, a decidedly optimistic attitude with respect to the world or—we can formulate it more accurately—with respect to the form that the world has assumed in modern times. One of the characteristics of this form of the world is modernity’s optimistic assessment of its own future prospects. Although in recent decades, a change in mentality with respect to history has taken place in secular culture, leading to a sharp decline in world-affirming optimism, nevertheless within the Church theological movements are again prominent which remain trapped in the optimistic paradigms of the middle of the last century.

The recent Synod of Bishops, which was concerned with Catholic teaching on marriage and the family, and therefore also with sexual morality, provides a striking example of this fact. One of the key opinion leaders in this Synod was Walter Cardinal Kasper, one of the most influential theologians of the second half of the last century. In order to understand and evaluate the positions taken by Kasper at the Synod and also in the run-up to the Synod, it is necessary to familiarize oneself with the basic themes of his theology and the principles and axioms on which his theology is based. This presentation will try to contribute to an understanding of Kasper’s principles from a philosophical point of view.


And, if you did not catch Raymond Arroyo’s excellent interview with Cardinal Kasper on The World Over on EWTN last week, do listen to it.  In it, Cardinal Kasper backtracks considerably from the position he had taken previously that Pope Francis supports his proposal.

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Cardinal Burke in Ottawa

Here’s a link to my article about Cardinal Raymond Burke’s  visit to Ottawa last week.

Cardinal Raymond Burke visited Ottawa June 2 to speak at the June 4 20th anniversary gala of NET Canada (National Evangelization Teams).

On June 3, the Cardinal Patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and until late last year the highest-ranking American cardinal in the Roman Curia, attended Question Period. When House Speaker Andrew Scheer acknowledged the cardinal’s presence in the gallery, Members of Parliament on both sides of the House rose to give him a standing ovation.

Later that day, however, NDP MP Pierre Dionne LaBelle, from Quebec, the Official Opposition National Revenue critic, protested to the Speaker, saying the cardinal “is known for spreading homophobia and for his anti-gay campaigns.”

The visit was also protested by Father Andre Samson, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who said as a gay man and Ottawa priest he was upset by the visit.

Cardinal Burke has often been criticized for his liturgical dress because from time to time he celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, wearing traditional vestments which sometimes have lace, and wearing the cappa magna. This is the metres-long red cape meant to signify the willingness of a cardinal to shed his blood for Christ and His Church.

During last October’s extraordinary synod on the family, Cardinal Burke emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the synod’s midterm relatio, an interim report on the discussion, that news media painted as a pastoral “earthquake” because of its welcoming language towards homosexuals and homosexual unions.

Though the cardinal did not give interviews while in Ottawa, he has said of the midterm relatio: “That was not a relatio; it was a manifesto.”

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Corpus Christi Procession in Ottawa with St. George’s

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More Cardinal Burke in Ottawa

Alas, I only had my phone for pictures so some of these are blurry.   Fr. Vincent gave Cardinal Burke a gift of an Inuit carving.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke is in Ottawa

Cardinal Raymond Burke is in Ottawa for a couple of days. He visited the House of Commons today and watched Question Period from the Speaker’s Gallery.  At the end of QP, the Speaker of the House recognized the cardinal’s presence, and all the MPs stood up and applauded.

Tonight he celebrated Mass at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus parish.  The pastor, Fr. Vincent Perreira studied under then Msgr. Burke when he was working on a doctorate in Rome in canon law.


Fr. Vincent Pereira and his canon law mentor Cardinal Raymond Burke after the Mass

Fr. Vincent Pereira and his canon law mentor Cardinal Raymond Burke after the Mass

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What does it mean that “All are welcome!” in the Catholic Church

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a great piece in Patheos today about what a liberal progressive Catholic means when he or she says “All are welcome!” in the Catholic Church

Here’s an excerpt, but do go  on over and read the whole thing:

Are people welcome to the Catholic Church? What kind of Catholic Church? Why should anyone want to join the Catholic Church anyway? What would a liberal Catholic answer? Is it for their soul’s salvation? Is it to escape the fires of hell? Is it to worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe? Is it to learn how to love God and his Son Jesus Christ, to venerate and love his Blessed Mother and worship in the communion of all the saints and angels?

It’s funny, but I don’t hear that sort of thing coming from this sort of Catholic.

Instead all we hear is the mantra, “All Are Welcome”.

See, without a full blooded, historic Catholic faith which preaches the need for repentance and seeking the face of the Lord for eternal salvation what are you welcoming people to? A luncheon club where they sing hymns and carry banners with trite slogans? A soup kitchen and shower facility where they hold Bible studies? A rehab center where they find their inner goddess? People aren’t dumb. They’ll soon ask, “Why bother with all that religious-spiritual stuff? We can do soup kitchens, rehab centers and shower facilities without all those dreary hymns, bad Christian pop music and dull homilies delivered by a fat, middle class half educated minister.

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Pentecost at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

What a glorious celebration of Pentecost today at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa, where Fr. Doug Hayman welcomed three new adult members into the Catholic Church—Jonathan, Nancy and Daniel—and two children, Noa and Michael received their First Holy Communion.

Our tiny church was packed with visitors and well-wishers this morning, many from the Augustine College community, a good representation from Communion and Liberation as well, from the Eastern Catholic Church, from the Anglican Network in Canada.

Zachary our thurifer chanted the lesson for the first time and did a wonderful job.  Father Kipling Cooper delivered the homily, which was simple and beautiful.

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Ouch! George Weigel, why don’t you tell the German bishops what you really think?

Over at First Things, George Weigel diagnoses the problems facing the German episcopate and he doesn’t mince words.


When one tries to discuss this catastrophe with senior German churchmen, one rarely finds, these days, a sobered openness, born of the recognition that something has gone terribly wrong and that another approach to evangelization and catechesis must be found—an “All-In Catholicism” rooted in the joy of the Gospel preached and lived in its full integrity. Rather, what you often find is a stubborn doubling-down. “You don’t understand our situation” is the antiphon, typically spoken with some vehemence.

It gets better.  Or worse, depending on whether you want the German model to prevail at the synod next October.

To make a very long story short, they had often been speaking-about-speaking-about-God: that is, they’d been chasing their tails in trying to respond to the crisis of belief in late modernity. And in doing so, they’d gotten stuck inside what Polish philosopher Wojciech Chudy, an intellectual great-grandson of John Paul II, called the post-Kantian “trap of reflection:” thinking-about-thinking-about-thinking, rather than thinking about reality—in this case, the Gospel and its truths. Less elegantly, I’d describe Chudy’s “trap of reflection” as the quicksand pit of a subjectivism become self-absorption, from which it’s hard to extract oneself and answer the Master’s call, “Come, follow me.”

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Should we bring back the doors?

In all the debate about whether divorced and remarried Catholics and others in irregular unions should be allowed to receive the Eucharist, I have been pondering how routine it is for people who are for a range of reasons improperly disposed to receive Holy Communion line up because everyone else does as if the Blessed Sacrament is a token of belonging and not the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have been slowly making my way through a book by Cardinal Jean Danielou on The Bible and the Liturgy where he explores what the early Church Fathers said about the sacraments.   Baptism, for example, was not merely a brief ceremony but a process that began with an examination by the bishop of a catechumen’s readiness, and a solemn writing of the candidate’s name in the register, akin to writing that person’s name in the Book of Life.   (When I read that I thought, wow, too bad that sense of why Catholics are such sticklers for records has been lost!).   Then there was a period of intense catechesis during Lent to prepare candidates to receive the Holy Mysteries.

In the early Church,  there was a lot of hostility and misunderstanding of Christianity so the Holy Mysteries were kept behind closed doors.  There was a process of initiation after people were evangelized before they could go behind those doors, fully prepared.

Now, however, after centuries of Christendom, those Holy Mysteries are right out in the open and everyone just seems to help themselves whether they truly believe the Catholic faith or not.  The forms of initiation still take place, but how deeply do they penetrate the souls of those who go through them?  If retention rates of Catholicism in the West are any indication, not very deeply, it would seem.

The other thing I have thought about is how God used a wonderful seeker-friendly Baptist Church to wean me from Gnosticism and a bizarre kind of cafeteria Christianity.  From there I went to the Traditional Anglican Communion’s  Anglican Catholic Church of Canada because I was hungry for Church history, and liturgy and intuitively attracted to Real Presence.   We had open Communion then, though with strong Scriptural exhortations.   I have often thought that had I been blocked from receiving Communion I would not have stuck around.   And how impoverished I would have been as a result!

Now, of course, Holy Communion is restricted to Catholics in good standing now that we are part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Which brings me to the doors.  How can Catholic Churches reach people like I was—people who are seeking, who have had an initial encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, but believe a lot of lies from the world and who do not understand sacraments?

Should we not start thinking about protecting believers from sacrilege and protecting the Holy Mysteries from being desecrated?  Should we not act as if there is something exceedingly precious that one must prepare one’s soul diligently to receive rather than hand it out like a token to everyone who comes forward?

Thus I found this beautifully written address by Martin Mosebach published at Rorate-Caeli intersting and thought provoking.  An excerpt:

When it became apparent in the early 1950s that television sets would soon be in many households, German bishops deliberated about whether it would be wise to allow or even promote television broadcasts of the Holy Mass. Indeed, people thought about such questions sixty years ago and they asked the great philosopher Josef Pieper for an expert opinion. In his opinion, Pieper rejected such television broadcasts on principle, saying they were irreconcilable with the nature of the Holy Mass. In its origins, the Holy Mass is a discipline of the arcane, a sacred celebration of mysteries by the christened. He mentioned the lowest level in the order of priests – done away with following the Second Vatican Council – the ostiary, or doorkeeper, who once had to ensure that the non-baptized and those temporarily excluded leave the church and move to the narthex following the liturgy of the Word. The Orthodox still do so in some places; the call of the deacon, “Guard the doors” is heard in every Orthodox liturgy before the Eucharist. While in Georgia I once experienced this demand, often merely a ceremony of a recollected past, being taken literally. A monk approached me, fell to his knees and apologetically asked me to leave the church since I, as a Roman Catholic, was not in full agreement with the Orthodox Church. I gladly acquiesced as I think not everyone has to be permitted everywhere all the time. Sacred places and holy acts are first declared quite plainly by the drawing of boundaries and such boundaries must somehow be visible and palpable.

Now that society is increasingly hostile to Christianity,and even many Catholics need to be re-evangelized, is it time to rethink the kind of openness to the world that was possible when societies were steeped in Christianity and the faith was communicated by osmosis?

Is it time for parishes to think about having prayer meetings and other outreaches for the newly evangelized that do not always and routinely offer the Eucharist for those who are not prepared?

Your thoughts?

Also, from Mosebach’s address, this beautiful, beautiful passage:

He Himself taught them to associate the Last Supper, which already stood in ritual context to the Passover meal, with His bloody sacrificial death the next day. The biblical words spoken by Moses to establish the offering on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and the words of the Eucharist, which proclaim the surrogate sacrifice of Christ’s blood, are nearly identical. Exodus 24:8 says, “Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.’” In Mark 14:23, Jesus “took a cup […] and said to them ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’”
This is the clue to the correct understanding of the events: the foundation of a sacrificial ceremony devised for repetition. A rite is an ever-renewed repetition of an act prescribed by an outside will. But the framework within which this foundation should be seen was also clear to the disciples. Paul articulated it when he called Christ the High Priest who, however, no longer absolves the people with the blood of a calf, but with his own blood.
This is a most incredible reinterpretation. For the apostles, however, it was purely an awareness of reality: the slave’s death as an outcast becomes the free sacrificial act of a High Priest. The passio of death on the cross becomes actio – and truly the part of the mass in which the sacrifice of Christ is visualized is called “actio” –, the suffering becomes a deed. The deed of a High Priest: with Christ we have a new way to see reality. Christ brings about knowledge of this reality by thinking in terms of opposites that will not be resolved until the end of human history. It is true that Jesus, bathed in sweat and blood, gasped out his life on the cross. It is just as true that He was the High Priest who sprinkled the world in his blood and with freely raised arms, “took everything on Himself.”
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