The morality of tyrannicide is not much discussed in today’s kinder, gentler Catholic Church. Yet that difficult subject once engaged some of Catholicism’s finest minds, including Thomas Aquinas and Francisco Suárez, and it was passionately debated during the Second World War by German officers – many of them devout Christians – who were pondering the assassination of Adolf Hitler.
The slogan “Nothing about us without us” was used by Solidarity in the 1980s in Poland, borrowing a royal motto from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-second millennium. Then, it was expressed in Latin: Nihil de nobis sine nobis.
The Vatican is a hotbed of rumor, gossip and speculation at the best of times — and these times are not those times. The Roman atmosphere at the beginning of 2019 is typically fetid and sometimes poisonous, with a lot of misinformation and disinformation floating around. That smog of fallacy and fiction could damage February’s global gathering of bishops, called by the pope to address the abuse crisis that is impeding the Church’s evangelical mission virtually everywhere.
To be a pilgrim is to be going somewhere. That somewhere is the Kingdom come among us at Christmas, and coming again in power and glory. The St. Patrick’s Advent Mission procession invited an aggressively secular and sometimes sordid part of London to join that journey to beatitude.
Take a stand against the electronification of everything – give (real) books this Christmas. Some recommendations:
TWENTY YEARS AGO this month, I found myself seriously double-booked, so to speak.
“Father, We Thank Thee, Who Hast Planted” has long been one of my favorite hymns. Its tune, taken from the 16th century Genevan Psalter, is eminently singable. The hymn text – when not corrupted by that politically correct scoundrel, “alt.,” – is even better. For Francis Bland Tucker’s lyrics put 21st-century congregations in touch with the second generation of Christians, and perhaps even the first, by combining various phrases from an ancient Christian prayer book and catechism, the Didache.
As the U.S. bishops gathered in Baltimore on the weekend of Nov. 10-11, it seemed certain that, after a day of prayer, penance and reflection on the Church’s sexual abuse crisis, they would take two important steps toward reform. An episcopal code of conduct, holding bishops accountable to the standards applied to priests in the 2002 Dallas Charter, would be adopted. And the bishops would authorize a lay-led mechanism to receive complaints about episcopal misbehavior, malfeasance, or corruption; allegations found credible would be sent to the appropriate authorities, including those in Rome.
I’m just old enough to remember when my elders still called Nov.11 “Armistice Day:” the armistice in question that which stopped the shooting in the Great War. As a military matter, World War I may have ended a century ago, on November 11, 1918, allowing my Grandfather Weigel and millions of other doughboys to be demobilized. The devastating cultural effects of the Great War are still being felt today, though.
After a month out of the country, working in Rome at Synod-2018 and helping mark the 40th anniversary of John Paul II’s election at events in Brussels and Warsaw, I came home to find Catholic anger over the latest phase of the abuse crisis unabated and intensified in some quarters. That this crisis is not acknowledged for what it is by the highest authorities in Rome is a subject for another reflection at another time. The question today is: What are the roots of today’s Catholic anger and disgust?