Amid strikes and protests against Italy’s vaccine rules, a Catholic thinker warns of government overreach. By Andrea Gagliarducci


In October, workers in the Italian port of Trieste launched a series of strikes and demonstrations in protest at the government’s decision to make the country’s Green Pass mandatory for workers.

A Green Pass proves that the holder has been vaccinated, tested negative every 48 hours, or recently recovered from COVID-19.

The Trieste workers were not protesting against the vaccine itself. Indeed, the majority of them (about 60%) are vaccinated. Instead, they were taking a stand against the principle that to work one has to either be vaccinated or bear the costs of a test every two days. The workers argued that, in principle, it was unfair to have to pay to be able to work.

The Trieste protests were not an isolated incident. Rome and other cities have seen similar events. Some of these demonstrations, particularly in Rome and Trieste, were met with a forceful police response.

The Van Thuan Observatory for Social Doctrine has criticized the police interventions. The observatory, based in Trieste, northeastern Italy, said that the police had intervened against “peaceful demonstrators who are defending the right to work, the [Italian] constitution, democracy, the right to demonstrate, and freedom against the discriminatory and unconstitutional Green Pass, and the liberticidal measures of the current government structure.”

The observatory was named after the Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who spent 13 years in a communist prison before serving as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Rome.

The organization was founded in 2003, the year after the cardinal’s death, by Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, then secretary of the Pontifical Council. Crepaldi has served as bishop of Trieste since 2009, hence the observatory’s location in the city,

The observatory, which publishes an annual report on the social doctrine of the Church in the world, is one of the few Catholic institutes in Italy that has addressed the issue of anti-COVID measures from the thorny point of view of government overreach.

In Italy, bishops have generally limited themselves to encouraging Catholics to receive the vaccine. In very few cases have they dealt with broader issues relating to personal freedom raised by government measures. The Van Thuan Observatory is something of a voice in the desert, with a point of view based on solid academic and empirical references.

Stefano Fontana, the observatory’s director, told CNA in an email interview that he believed the measures fell within the framework of “a health dictatorship that many intellectuals, from Illich to Chesterton, from Huxley to Foucault, had foreseen.”

Referring not only to the events in Trieste, but also elsewhere in Italy, Fontana suggested that workers were being “blackmailed with the threat of losing their jobs if they do not agree to get vaccinated.”

He added that this neglected “the fact that no one is morally required to get vaccinated as long as the vaccine is experimental and as long as there is no such situation between life and death.”

Yet, Fontana said, the picture is that of a health dictatorship when it appears that “the entire public and the private persuasive system is coordinated towards the sole objective of inducing vaccination; that the system appeals to science to impose behaviors for which there is no consolidated scientific support; and that the professional orders dismiss doctors and health personnel who demand freedom of judgment if those who ask questions are condemned as subversives.”

Addressing the events in Trieste, Fontana argued that the police reaction, in an oppressive general framework, “has shown that ordinary people, simple people, workers have kept the light of reason in the face of obviously illogical and forced measures.”

He went on: “This is the universal aspect: there is a system that curls up like a hedgehog when it wants, but there are important sectors that fortunately are still exempt and give hope.”

For Fontana, “the management of the pandemic is political and not technical.”

“The proof is that governments (i.e., politics) use science and ‘experts’ according to their interests, publicly condemning those who ‘do not believe in science.’ But they are the first to use only a certain science and not Science,” he said.

“If by ‘technocracy’ we mean the government of technicians, no, this is not the case. If by technocracy we mean the politics that exploit science and technology, then, yes, this is the case.”

Fontana also suggested that amid the pandemic “politics is killing politics.”

“Ideas of new centralisms prevail, of new decision-making processes, of a permanent state of emergency, of control from above on people’s movements and ideas, of new ‘men of providence,’ of the freezing of parliaments and political opposition, of new ostracisms, and new censure of ideas that do not conform to those of the apparatus,” he said.

He added that “politics has been blocked for two years in Italy.” He described Mario Draghi, the country’s prime minister since February, as “the son of the permanent emergency,” adding that “as such [he] will probably be the future president of the Republic.”

“Politics becomes oppressive while it should be liberating,” Fontana said, “favoring the use of reason, moving people and social bodies towards the common good, which is an organic concept. Many weak subjects have been sacrificed to the fight against the pandemic, and others will follow in the future.”

The Van Thuan Observatory has long decried what it sees as a totalitarian drift around the world. Indeed, its latest report on social doctrine examines the Chinese model, a capital-socialist model of social control, and how this profoundly attracts the West.

“Let’s take a practical example,” Fontana said. “The Chinese model has implemented the one-child policy, causing a fall in births (although now it does the opposite), but Western democracies have taken the same approach through state abortion. So there are more significant links between the Chinese model and Western democracies than we think.”

Within Italy, there is little talk of government overreach. Fontana suggested that the reason is that “the Italian system has rolled up like a hedgehog,” showing “connections, silence, very close collaborations, even if manifested ‘in the Italian style,’ that is to say with an apparently good-natured attitude.”

Although the Italian Church has taken a clear position on the need to vaccinate and has not addressed the question of overreach, several voices in Italy have raised the issue.

Martina Pastorelli, a journalist and founder of Catholic Voices Italia, has collected them and, since the beginning of the debate, undertaken to present their point of view.

Speaking recently with Pastorelli, the philosopher Carlo Lottieri argued that “we are now in the sovereign state which places itself as God on earth. It is modern totalitarianism based on the control operated by the controlled themselves (this is the purpose of the Green Pass), on accusatory moralism, and on fear used as a means to domesticate.”

But there is also a Church that speaks. In a lengthy homily on Dec. 9, Bishop Corrado Sanguineti of Pavia, northern Italy, stressed that concentrating all mass media communication on “faith in science” risked simplifying reality.

This is also a danger for the Church, the bishop suggested, speaking on the solemnity of St. Syrus, patron saint of the northern Italian city.

He said: “A Church that limits itself to repeating words of wisdom, to giving advice on good social behavior, perhaps adapting, in certain fields, to a generic and ‘inclusive’ language, or simply echoing recommendations of the state and the WHO, perhaps it will be heard.”

“At least in appearance, it will enter the circle of politically correct. But in the end, it will be confused with other agencies of thought and customs and will lose its attractive force and its ability to be a creative minority.”

Andrea Gagliarducci



Cardinal Gerhard Müller Calls COVID-Related Sacrament Restrictions ‘Grave Sin’. By Edward Pentin

Some politicians, mainstream media and Big Tech have “ruthlessly exploited” COVID-19 to promote “totalitarian thinking” that has even led to division within families, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has observed.

In a Dec. 1 email interview with the Register, the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also said that the response of some bishops and priests to close churches or deny the sacraments is a “grave sin” that goes against their “God-given authority.”

A small minority of dioceses in Germany have been restricting Masses to the vaccinated or those recently recovered from the virus. Such a decision, as well as closure of some churches, was “shocking proof of how far the secularization and de-Christianization of thought has already reached the shepherds of Christ’s flock,” the German cardinal said.

The Catholic Church and governments, he added, must “work towards social cohesion” and avoid divisive rhetoric that labels some as “conspiracy theorists” or “sinners against charity.” He also said bishops and priests “must not offer themselves as courtiers to the rulers of this world and make themselves their propagandists.”

The cardinal’s comments come as various nations in Europe, along with Australia, impose strict vaccine mandates on their citizens, with the Austrian government planning to fine those who are unvaccinated $4,000 starting in February and may raise the amount to nearly $10,000. Authorities in Greece are already imposing monthly fines of 100 euros on people over 60 years-old until they take the vaccine. In the U.S. this week, judges blocked attempts by the Biden administration to enforce vaccines on American workers. The cardinal’s answers have been edited for style.


Your Eminence, what is your reaction to these increasingly severe mandates, particularly in Europe and Australia?

Only in extreme emergencies can a legitimate state authority impose a general vaccination requirement on citizens.

In such cases, 1) The common good must be the determining factor, which, under certain circumstances, can restrict, if not abolish, the freedom of the individual. 2) The production of the vaccine must be ethically sound, and 3) The medical, psychological, social consequences and side effects must be measurable and remain proportionate to the expected benefits.

Unfortunately, many governments have lost the public’s trust through chaotic measures that have a contradictory logic.

In quite a few cases, regulations have been compromised and contaminated by the financial and political interests of ideological lobbies and pharmaceutical giants. Instead of uniting society in the fight against the pandemic, the powers that be in politics, the mainstream media and Big Tech have ruthlessly exploited the situation to promote the agenda of the “Great Reset,” i.e., totalitarian thinking. Right down to families, people are at loggerheads with each other.

But in a crisis, Church and state leaders must work toward cohesion and avoid discriminating against dissenters by calling them “conspiracy theorists,” “sinners against charity.” Otherwise, they are guilty of the very divisive misconduct of which they publicly accuse others.


Why do you think the Vatican and bishops almost without exception have tended to be publicly silent about these discriminatory and, some would say, totalitarian policies, especially when the vaccines’ efficacy in preventing transmission remains debatable (the number of COVID cases is rising in Austria, Germany and other countries despite widespread vaccination) and when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled against mandatory vaccination in December 2020?

Bishops and priests are ministers of reconciliation of people with God (2 Corinthians 5:19) and of reconciliation of people with one another (Lumen Gentium 1; 21; 28). Their mission and authority come from Jesus Christ, and they are made effective in the Holy Spirit.

Servants of Christ in the apostolic ministry must not offer themselves as courtiers to the rulers of this world and make themselves their propagandists. According to our Catholic faith, the pope, besides being the first witness of the supernatural revelation of God in Jesus Christ, is also the supreme guardian of the natural moral law. The Church’s magisterium is therefore entitled and obliged to point out the limits of temporal power, which ends at the freedom of faith and conscience.


What are your views on some dioceses, such as Berlin, which is implementing a 2G rule — that is, restricting the Mass only to the vaccinated or those recently recovered from COVID?

It is, above all, contrary to divine law if access to the means of grace of the Church, i.e., the sacraments of Christ, are impaired or even forbidden by the state authorities. That even bishops have closed their churches or denied sacraments to persons seeking help is a grave sin against their God-given authority. This is shocking proof of how far the secularization and de-Christianization of thought has already reached the shepherds of Christ’s flock.

In this situation, we bishops should remember the example of St. Charles Borromeo and, above all, be guided by the word of Jesus: “I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

For the hirelings, like lords of the manor, dispose of the grace of God as they see fit. The bishops, however, as successors of the apostles, are not rulers according to the ways of the world, but ministers of the Word and ministers of the grace of Christ. Somewhat different is the observance of the reasonable rules to prevent the transmission of the disease. But this cannot be used to justify the refusal of the sacraments on principle.

For the grace of eternal life must take precedence over temporal goods.


How do you think the Church should be responding; what should her leaders be saying?

In times of crisis, places of worship and people’s hearts must be wide open so that people may seek refuge in God, from whom all help comes. All vaccines have a limited temporal effect. No medicine or technical invention can save us from temporal and eternal death. The Bread that Jesus gives is the cure for eternal death and — without an expiration date — the food for eternal life. “Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:51). And that is why, at the beginning of the second century, the martyr-bishop Ignatius of Antioch, in his “Letter to the Church of Ephesus” (20:2), was able to call the Eucharist the “medicine of immortality.”

The task of bishops is to administer the Eucharist to the faithful, not to keep them away from it. Personal devotion at home and virtual co-celebration on screens cannot replace real and physical presence in the assembly of the faithful, for we are bodily and social beings. Therefore, the grace and truth of God is communicated to us through the Incarnation of his Son and is shared with us in the community of the Church. It is his Body. In the Eucharist, Christ is hidden but really present with his divinity and his humanity — in flesh and blood.

Edward Pentin


Holy See’s Uncritical Support for COP26 Causes Concern. By Edward Pentin

Holy See’s Uncritical Support for COP26 Causes Concern.

Catastrophic crisis or a Trojan horse to push a secular agenda?


VATICAN CITY — As the Holy See gives unreserved public backing to a major United Nations conference on climate change, concerns are growing that it is lending its weight to “climate alarmism” that is being used to usher in policies and ideologies antithetical to Church teaching.

Otherwise known as COP26, the intergovernmental summit taking place in the Scottish city of Glasgow Oct. 31-Nov. 12 is being billed as the most pivotal series of climate talks since 2015, when nations signed the so-called Paris Agreement binding them to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels.

COP26 is expected to generate even more ambitious targets on the back of peer-reviewed U.N. climate studies, increasing concern over the frequency of natural disasters, and a rise in alarmist rhetoric about the climate.

“We don’t have any more time,” President Joe Biden said in September when touring the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida. The world is on “a one-way ticket for disaster,” warned U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, two weeks before the Glasgow summit.

For his part, Pope Francis has said COP26 “represents an urgent summons” to tackle “the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations.”

The Holy Father, who was hoping to visit COP26 but decided not to go for undisclosed reasons, hosted a Vatican meeting of faith leaders and scientists in October who appealed to world leaders gathering in Glasgow to step up their action against climate change. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who will be leading the Holy See’s delegation at the summit, has also added his voice to the chorus of world leaders, telling the U.N. General Assembly in September, “It is far past time to act.” The international community, he said, is “compelled” to act after “decades of inaction.”


Ambitious Targets

COP26 is expected to lead to significant changes to people’s everyday lives, mainly by having 200 countries cut their carbon emissions by 2030 in an effort to achieve the 1.5-degree temperature-rise limit.

Within this overarching goal are other measures, including speeding up the switch to electric cars, phasing out coal power, cutting down fewer trees, and protecting nations from possible climate disasters by measures such as funding coastal-defense systems. Developed countries will also have to mobilize at least $100 billion in climate finance per year, a pledge made at the 2015 summit with an unachieved target of 2020.

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development reiterated the message of the faith leaders’ and scientists’ Oct. 4 appeal, strongly urging nations to uphold the commitments of the Paris Agreement: limiting global warming to 1.5° C, ensuring high-income nations deliver the money to the Green Climate Fund, and ending fossil fuels with a just transition. (Although the dicastery is part of the Vatican, it stressed these were not Vatican or COP26 positions).

“We have a moral obligation to recognize that the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth are the same cry, and to address this — that we need to act now,” Father Joshtrom Kureethadam, the head of the ecology and creation sector of the dicastery, told the Register.

But critics are warning that these ambitious goals are also paving the way for excessive anthropocentricism, utopian visions and ecologism — ideologies that Pope Francis denounced in his environmental encyclical Laudato Si (Care for Our Common Home) as various groups latch on to the so-called “climate crisis” to push their own agendas.

One of them is the World Economic Forum (WEF), an international NGO of political and business elites, and its controversial “Great Reset” initiative that some critics view as a blueprint for a centralized, digital technocracy leading to “a deChristianized society.” The WEF is one of COP26’s leading partners.

Other groups piggybacking radical proposals onto the climate agenda are abortion providers and other family-planning organizations, who are demanding a share of climate funds. USAID, the federal government’s agency for development, has announced it will integrate gender ideology in climate policies.


‘Clear Danger’

John Klink, who was a Holy See negotiator at the Environmental Summit in Rio in 1992 and played a key role in the Church’s pro-life battles at other major U.N. discussions in the 1990s, told the Register Oct. 25 he sees a “clear danger” that billions of dollars committed to the Green Climate Fund — a U.N. body aimed at financing developing nations to adapt to, and counter, climate change — “will be funneled to abortion providers.”

He also pointed out that the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) is linking programs to reduce the impact of climate change on Africa with universal access to abortion and contraception under the guise of “reproductive health.”

The U.N. agency says its aim is to build “climate resilience” — “the latest nomenclature to be used by an ever-voracious UNFPA and its pro-abortion allies to access international governmental and U.N. swill,” Klink said.

Stefano Gennarini, vice president for legal studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), an organization lobbying the U.N. on pro-life issues, noted “a resurgence of population control internationally in recent years,” including after the 2015 Paris Agreement. “Many Catholics, especially those who work on the development and climate policy, remain unaware or not sufficiently concerned about this,” he told the Register. “It would be helpful if the Holy See were to often repeat Pope Francis’ concern with population control in Laudato Si.”

The Holy Father warned in his 2015 environment encyclical against “blaming population growth” for environmental damage “instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some,” saying it is “one way of refusing to face the issues.”

Gennarini insisted the Holy See has not been reluctant to speak against abortion and contraception at the United Nations, but he is concerned that the U.N.’s climate policies hurt the poor through a “new top-down industrial revolution being promoted by wealthy countries.”

The Church, he added, should therefore be “very careful and avoid endorsing” such policies.


Holy See Too Uncritical?

A further problem critics cite within the climate-change debate is a weakness in the Holy See’s approach, specifically what they regard as an overly accommodating stance toward the U.N.’s worldview and allowing itself to become too embroiled in the minutiae of climate-change science at the expense of resisting false ideologies and approaches. Father Paul Haffner, author of Towards a Theology of the Environment, said he believes the Holy See should be “stating principles” rather than “giving too many details.” Climate science, he cautioned, “is not an exact science; it’s very approximate and is always evolving.”

Father Haffner, who teaches systematic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, also warned that this science has, for many, turned into a “climate religion,” a kind of “new-age religion” that is “basically cosmo-centricism, whereby the cosmos is placed at the center, the human being is a nuisance, and you want to push him or her aside.”

“Therefore,” he added, “abortion, euthanasia and depopulation, of course, are all a part of this wicked agenda, which obviously wants the person put in second and third place and the exaltation of animals, putting them on the same level of human beings.”

“Hierarchy in creation exists,” Father Haffner said, “and this is forgotten because what is being promoted is basically ecologism, as we call it — a socialistic or communistic ideology which wants to level everything out and forget there is a hierarchy in which the human person is the apex, under God, under Christ, exercising priestly stewardship over creation.”


Practical Problems

The Holy See is also facing other, more practical problems in defending the Church’s position when it comes to climate change, according to sources close to the Holy See. These include the fact that countries listen less to the Holy See than in the past; that Rome is slow in responding, having “lost the culture war in global U.N. policy”; and that developing countries have lost respect for the Holy See because it’s often seen as a “cheerleader for the European Union” — a bloc imposing ideological colonization on poor nations.

“The Holy See is a subject of international law that exercises sovereignty and engages other sovereign states and international persons,” said Jane Adolphe, a law professor at Ave Maria Law School.

Adolphe, who also worked as an expert adviser on U.N. international human-rights issues for the Vatican from 2003 to 2020, added, “Due to its spiritual and moral mission, in a certain sense, it represents the ‘soul’ of the United Nations, offering a supernatural and moral vision through the eyes of faith for all people of the world.

But Adolphe said, “Many Catholics question whether this mission has become politicized with a correlative dimming of the light.”


More Alertness

Despite these major questions and headwinds, including recent Vatican appointments that appear to fly in the face of Church teaching, hope remains that the Holy See will effectively push back on these concerns.

“The Church continues to speak on these issues,” Gennarini said. “It has never stopped. And I believe it will do so even more as the threat of population control becomes clearer to all.”

Klink said he was “very pleased” that Pope Francis again referred to abortion as “murder” recently, adding he was “confident that the Holy See will be more alert than ever to the continued attempts by the pro-abortion lobby to piggyback and link climate change to pro-abortion mandates under the guise of reproductive and sexual rights and health.”

He also valued the fact that Cardinal Parolin would be present at COP26, recalling how effectively Pope St. John Paul II made use of his chief diplomat, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, at the Rio Summit in 1992.

Klink believes the cardinal’s presence, and the Pope’s own meeting with President Joe Biden on Oct. 29, would provide an opportunity to “ensure that Pope Francis’ pro-life policies will be duly reflected in the final Glasgow document.”

But at the same time, he stressed it is “vital that the allocation of vast international funding in Glasgow not become yet another trough for feeding abortion or abortion-related programs rather than addressing actual climate-change concerns.”

“Let us pray,” Adolphe said, “that the Holy See continues to illuminate everything with the light of Christ and the grace of God, ever encouraging the good, underlining errors with truth and charity and opposing evil.”

Edward Pentin

Vatican in the pocket of the contraception industry. By Riccardo Cascioli.

The Fifth International Vatican Conference, to be held from 6 to 8 May on the theme “Exploring the Mind, Body & Soul – Unite to Prevent & Unite to Cure” has already created quite a scandal. This is particularly so because  some invited speakers are bizarre and even embarrassing. Firstly, there is Chelsea Clinton, daughter of the former American president. Then there is former model Cindy Crawford, and rock singer Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Also invited is New Age guru Deepak Chopra, conservationist Dame Jane Goodall, a fanatical supporter of birth control and population reduction (at Davos a year ago she said that the world population should be reduced to the levels of 500 years ago, between 420 and 560 million). Most notably are the greatest supporters of mass vaccination programmes: immunologist Anthony Fauci, top executives at Pfizer and Moderna, Albert Bourla and Stéphane Bancel, and the director of Google Health, David Feinberg.

What are all these people doing inside the Vatican (albeit via an online meeting due to Covid travel restrictions) talking about health as guests of the Pontifical Council for Culture headed by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi? This question is all the more urgent since these international conferences were set up in 2011 to promote research on adult stem cells, a response to the tendency of the industrial and scientific world to focus, instead, on embryonic cells. Above all, it appears inevitable that the Vatican’s enthusiasm for vaccinations (including promotion of vaccine indoctrination in the church, as we revealed yesterday) is being allied to the two pharmaceutical companies that are sharing the biggest slice of the vaccine profit pie. This is, in the very least, a very unfortunate coincidence.

Even worse is the impression created by the poster advertising the conference: a stunt worthy of Italian photographer and controversial brand developer Oliviero Toscani with its reference to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. In the graphic, we see two hands reaching out to touch one another (one black and the other white for political correctness) covered by latex gloves. Whatever was the intention of those who conceived and those who approved the publicity, it is objectively a manifestation of practical atheism: even God has to protect himself from the virus and with the means science deems necessary. This is the clearest sign of what we have been saying for a long time, namely that for many of the Church’s pastors health has taken the place of salvation as their primary concern with the vaccine, of course, being the real source of salvation.

Such deviations of the Church’s institutions should be more than enough to shock us.

However, there is another aspect, perhaps even more disturbing though less obvious. You can find out by trying to get an answer to a simple spontaneous question when observing the grandeur of the international conference: who is paying for all this? The Vatican’s conference organiser, Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, has made it clear that everything is being funded at no cost to the Holy See. The conference is being paid for by a number of organisations, foundations and industries with ties to health advocacy and medical research. Moderna is one of sponsors. This is self-explanatory. The primary sponsor, without whom this high-level conference would not even be possible, is the John Templeton Foundation, one of the 25 largest foundations in the United States.

What does the John Templeton Foundation do? Why is it so interested in the Church? Because it is heavily involved in family planning (i.e. birth control) programmes in developing countries, mainly through the involvement of so-called ‘Faith-based Organisations’, that is, religiously motivated charities. To save face and not over-offend sensibilities – given the involvement of Islamic, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish organisations – the language used to present the various projects is nuanced. The reality is that the John Templeton Foundation is one of the key players in the spread of contraceptives throughout the world. On the list of beneficiaries of the foundation’s various projects are a number of African national Caritas organisations. Although it is not clear from the project summaries to what exact degree the Catholic organisations are involved, it is nevertheless clear that the concept of voluntary planning promoted by the John Templeton Foundation and similar ones linked to the United Nations differs considerably from the concept of responsible parenthood taught by the Church.

John Templeton is also a member of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, a consortium of foundations, organisations, pharmaceutical companies and governments in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to promote the use of all modern contraceptives. It is a coalition that channels some $3 billion a year into contraceptives. Of course, it comes as no surprise to find The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among the list of partner organisations, being certainly the most generous in the world for funding the culture and practice of contraception – in addition to International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the largest multinational provider of abortion and contraceptives.

The fact that the John Templeton Foundation’s focus is enlisting religions to partner in their work of promoting contraception also makes it clear why it generously funds the Vatican Health Conference. As Monsignor Trafny candidly admits, the funder also gets to choose the speakers.

If the topic of conversation turns to contraception, then one cannot fail to mention that the pharmaceutical industrial giant Pfizer is not only the producer of the most widespread Covid vaccine  (compulsory in the Vatican), but is also the ‘queen’ of long-term injectable contraceptives. Such drugs prevent a woman’s ovulation for 13 weeks, but with side effects that have proved disastrous in developing regions because of links to high mortality rates. We are referring to the infamous Depo Provera which in poor countries since the 1970s has been the mainstay of savage birth control programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America (see my book Il complotto demografico, Piemme, 1996). In 2015 another injectable contraceptive, Sayana Press, was introduced with active ingredients, administration, efficacy and side effects all very similar to those of Depo Provera. The only difference is the latter is taken through an intra-muscular injection, while Sayana Press is injected subcutaneously and can, thus, be easily self-administered.

These are, therefore, very dangerous relationships being forged by the Holy See. This makes it easier to understand why some prelates are opening up to contraception in developing countries. This is in blatant contradiction to the Church’s teachings. It is a serious danger to the freedom of the Church, a problem which previous popes were well aware of. As such, in November of 2012 Pope Benedict XVI signed a Motu Proprio clarifying what even common sense might suggest, namely that Catholic charitable organisations cannot be funded  by “groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching.”  This legally binding text entitled Intima Ecclesiae Natura was inspired by the concern that all the Church’s very own charitable activities – with Caritas Internationalis playing the lead – should be at the service of evangelisation. The intention of the Motu Proprio was, therefore, to avoid creating confusion among the faithful about what the Church teaches nor misappropriate in any way donations received from the faithful (which evidently has happened). One of the protagonists behind Intima Ecclesiae Natura was Cardinal Robert Sarah who at the time headed up the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (whose specific work has no been absorbed into the much larger Dicastery for Integral Human Development). The Motu Proprio was addressed, first and foremost, to diocesan bishops  responsible for supervising  charitable organisations in their own regions.

Now, just eight years later, it turns out that it is the Holy See itself that is in breach of its own policy, being tied hand and foot to the contraception industry.

Riccardo Cascioli


Centesimus Annus turns 30. By Stephen P. White

Every summer since 2006, I have had the privilege to spend three and a half weeks in Krakόw, Poland as part of the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society. The seminar provides participants – mostly recent university graduates from the United States, Canada, Poland, and Eastern Europe – with a deep dive into the Church’s social teaching.

The seminar first met in 1992, in a very different time and a very different world. The faculty has changed over the years, as one might expect, though George Weigel and Russ Hittinger still anchor the lineup. Changed, too, are the questions that weigh most upon the minds of the students who join us.

The challenges posed by the immediate aftermath of the fall of European Communism have given way over the decades to other pressing concerns: from growing secularism and questions about religious freedom, to the economic crisis and the resurgence of nationalism, to questions of migration, ecology, and the foundations of liberal democracy.

The seminar does continue to address, to one degree or another, the entire social doctrine of the Church from Leo XIII to Francis. Yet after all these years, the central document around which our seminar discussions revolve is still Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical, Centesimus annus. Why, thirty years after it was published, is this document still at the center?

One reason Centesimus annus retains pride of place has to do with history. Young Poles, for example, often know less about the events which led to the Revolutions of 1989 than they do about the (at least partially) failed promise of freedom that followed. Centesimus annus acts as a sort of bridge between the Church’s experience of 20th century totalitarian ideologies and today, a point underscored by studying in Krakόw.

More than an historical bridge, Pope John Paul II’s analysis of the ideologies of both socialism and liberalism connects the theological and philosophical foundations of Catholic social teaching – in Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum – to the ideological challenges of our own century.

John Paul II’s criticism of socialism is well known. His experience living under the totalitarian regime of his native Poland, his support for the Solidarity Movement – and even the failed attempt to assassinate him in 1981 – ought to dispel any notion that his was a purely academic critique.

But neither was his treatment of socialism an exercise in (to use an American idiom) spiking the football after Communism’s collapse. His concern was with how ideology distorts our grasp of the human person and, accordingly, of human society itself.

“[T]he fundamental error of socialism,” Pope John Paul II wrote, “is anthropological in nature.” By reducing the human person to a cog in a machine, a mere molecule of society, socialism obscured the person as the “subject of moral decision. . .the very subject whose decisions build the social order.”

The result of this was not only the elimination of a sense of the transcendent destiny of every person, but of the true nature of the human society itself, in all its richness and complexity – what John Paul called the “subjectivity of society.”

The chief cause of socialism’s “anthropological error,” according to the Polish pope, was atheism. An atheistic view of society – that is, a purely materialistic view – leads inexorably to an inadequate understanding of the human person, the destruction of the social sources of solidarity, and to atomization and social breakdown.

If John Paul II’s critique of the inhumanity of socialism was unsparing, those who touted the material advantages of capitalism were put on notice as well.

An affluent, consumerist society, the pope warned, will follow a similar trajectory to socialism precisely because it makes a nearly identical mistake about human nature. “[I]nsofar as [the affluent society] denies an autonomous existence and value to morality, law, culture and religion, it agrees with Marxism, in the sense that it totally reduces man to the sphere of economics and the satisfaction of material needs.” A materialistic view of society leads to defective understanding of the human person, the destruction of the social sources of solidarity, and atomization and social breakdown.

Pope John Paul’s dire warnings applied not just to the economic sphere, but to the political as well: “As history demonstrates,” he wrote, “a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

It’s worth noting that John Paul II’s critique finds echoes in Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate, which decries the reduction of society to a function of state and market forces: “The exclusively binary model of market-plus-State is corrosive of society, while economic forms based on solidarity, which find their natural home in civil society without being restricted to it, build up society.”

This connection between a materialist anthropology and social dissolution also shows up in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’: “[W]e should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests.”

Anyone interested in today’s most hotly contested debates – about the viability of liberalism (or Liberalism), the role of “woke capital,” the revival of interest in socialism especially among the young, or the rise of Integralism, and so on – will profit from a close reading (or rereading) of Centesimus annus. It has a prophetic quality that endures.

One thing Centesimus annus does not do is provide ready-made solutions to the problems of today. The work of building a society worthy of the name “free” is a moral task, not an abstract one:

The Church has no models to present; models that are real and truly effective can only arise within the framework of different historical situations, through the efforts of all those who responsibly confront concrete problems in all their social, economic, political, and cultural aspects, as these interact with one another.

In that work, the Church offers sure guidance. Centesimus annus, thirty years on, remains an invaluable guide.

[Source: The Catholic Thing]

Why workers must look to St Joseph. By Ermes Dovico

The Gospels, albeit with brief references, give us an often underestimated piece of information: a significant part of Jesus’ earthly life was spent at work. To express the amazement (mixed with scandal) before the wisdom that Jesus showed from the beginning of his public life, his fellow citizens called him “carpenter” (Mk 6:3) or “carpenter’s son” (Mt 13:55). Who taught him the trade? St Joseph, of course.

This schooling by his virginal father therefore had a notable influence on Jesus’ growth in wisdom, age and grace (which took place in general submission to his parents). Hence the salvific significance of this reality, well summed up in the apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos: “Human work, and in particular manual work, finds a special emphasis in the Gospel. Together with the humanity of the Son of God, it has been accepted in the mystery of the Incarnation, just as it has been redeemed in a special way. Thanks to the workbench where he practised his trade together with Jesus, Joseph brought human labour closer to the mystery of the Redemption” (RC, 22).

The Redeemer, by approaching work, has therefore purified and sanctified it, as Father Tarcisio Stramare, a Josephologist who collaborated on the RC, also recalled. “Human activity was not excluded by Him from salvation, because His solidarity with man was total: in everything similar to us except in sin”. And on the role of the head of the Holy Family, he added: “Well, no one among men, after Mary, has been as close to the hands, mind, will, and heart of Jesus as St Joseph. Proposing the example of Saint Joseph to the workers, Pius XII stressed that he was the saint in whose life the spirit of the Gospel had penetrated the most”.[1]

It was because of this closeness to Jesus that Pope Pacelli decided to institute the liturgical feast of “Saint Joseph the Craftsman” (today the memorial of “Saint Joseph the Worker”), announcing it in his speech on 1 May 1955. The historical context in which this took place was negatively influenced by Marxist ideology, which looked at workers (especially manual workers) through the lens of class struggle, according to an atheistic perspective that excluded any reference to the heavenly Father. It therefore played into the hands of the devil, who “sows discord” and “does everything possible to spread false ideas about man and the world, about history, about the structure of society and the economy”. It is true that Marxism, in the meantime, has become more fluid, but ideologies continue to proliferate. And work is still, together with the family, one of the domains most under attack.

Yesterday as today, the solution is – as Pius XII himself pointed out – to recognise Christ’s kingship over history and to open to Him “the social realities”, the only way to true peace and justice. In order to avoid the contamination of error among the weakest links of the chain, the Pontiff pointed out this precise urgency: “The religious formation of the Christian, and especially of the worker, is one of the principal tasks of modern pastoral action”. Such formation cannot be limited, in Pacelli’s intentions, to satisfying religious obligations, but must lead the worker to deepen his knowledge of the doctrine of the faith and to understand the divinely established moral order of the world. And that must be recognised first and foremost by rulers and employers.

Pius XII urged the recovery of the Christian meaning of work, which must be oriented towards “extending the kingdom of God”. And what better protector could there be than Saint Joseph, who by his work and his whole life, worked solely for this end?

Work, understood in the Christian sense, in fact makes man a participant in God’s creative work. Recalling the biblical account of the days of Creation, St John Paul II wrote that the first “Gospel of work” can be found in Genesis. That description (which tells us that God at the end of each day saw the goodness of His work) demonstrates the dignity of work and “teaches that man in working must imitate God, his Creator, because he bears within himself – he alone – the unique element of likeness to Him. Man must imitate God both in working and in resting, since God himself has willed to present his work to him in the form of work and rest” (Laborem Exercens, 25). The worker is therefore called to observe Sunday rest, which not only concerns the physical aspect but involves his entire interior dimension. It is a question of rest in God, which man must seek on the “seventh day” but also on each working day, finding time to devote to prayer.

In this, too, St Joseph is a master, for the carpenter from Nazareth not only used his work to feed and serve Jesus and Mary, but found the greatest joys of the day in adoring the divine Son and giving praise to the Father. The glorious patriarch thus perfectly embodied the principle of ora et labora and, for this reason, contemplatives also have a model in him.

From what has been said, it is evident that work – whether manual or intellectual (see the praise of the scribe who makes himself a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven, in Mt 13:52) – must be carried out in accordance with God’s will and help man to gain eternal joy. This also reminds us that one of its essential dimensions, as Wojtyla pointed out, is fatigue, which admirably links it to redemptive work. “In human work the Christian finds a small part of Christ’s cross and accepts it in the same spirit of redemption in which Christ accepted his cross for us. In work, thanks to the light that penetrates us from Christ’s resurrection, we always find a glimmer of the new life…” (Lev, 27). How does the perspective of our days change if we look at work – with all its hardships and perhaps little daily annoyances – in this way? Then it truly becomes an expression of love, as it was for Joseph, and a means to Paradise.


[1] San Giuseppe. Dignità. Privilegi. Devozioni, Father Tarcisio Stramare, Shalom, 2008, p. 121

Despite Flagrant Dissent of Father Hans Küng, Some Church Leaders Pay Glowing Tribute. By Edward Pentin

ROME — Despite his profoundly dissenting views that included questioning the divinity of Christ, rejecting papal infallibility and undermining doctrines on the Virgin Mary, warm tributes were paid yesterday by some prominent Church leaders to Swiss theologian Father Hans Küng, who died Tuesday at age 93.

Father Küng never repented of his positions, which caused him to be formally censured more than 40 years ago by the Vatican as an individual whose views are so contrary to key Church teachings that it was impermissible for him to be considered as a Catholic theologian at all.

Father Küng was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 and came into international prominence at the Second Vatican Council, where he served as a theological adviser, but immediately afterward he began to clash openly with Rome over a range of central issues.

“In the early days of John Paul II’s papacy the tensions culminated in a 1979 declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that Küng had ‘departed from the integral truth of Catholic faith, and therefore he can no longer be considered a Catholic theologian nor function as such in a teaching role,’” Catholic News Agency noted Tuesday. “The Congregation cited his opinions on the doctrine of infallibility, expressed in his 1971 book Infallible? An Inquiry, as one of the reasons for the move.”


Cardinal Kasper

Despite this strong official censure of Father Küng’s thought, yesterday’s tributes included respectful comments from Cardinal Walter Kasper that appeared on the front page of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

“My relationship with him was good,” Cardinal Kasper said, adding that it was always one of “mutual respect” and that they “regularly exchanged greetings and good wishes” — despite the fact that they had drifted apart over the doctrine of papal infallibility, which Father Küng rejected and that led to the revoking of his teaching license in 1979.

In his L’Osservatore Romano tribute, Cardinal Kasper stressed that the theologian “was not only a critic of the Church or a rebel” but also “a person who wanted to bring about a renewal in the Church and implement its reform.” At the same time, the German cardinal conceded that Father Küng went “beyond Catholic orthodoxy and therefore did not remain tied to a theology based on Church doctrine, but ‘invented’ his own theology.” He quoted the Second Vatican Council theologian Yves Congar, who described Father Küng as Catholic, “but in his own way.”

Cardinal Kasper, who first met Father Küng as a graduate student at the University of Tübingen in the 1960s, assessed Küng’s ecclesiology as “too liberal,” and said that he departed from the position of “his great teacher,” the Protestant Swiss theologian Karl Barth.

But the cardinal, who served as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 2001-2010, said that even though he and Father Küng differed on the doctrine of justification and ministries in the Church, they mostly agreed on the issue of “ecumenical dialogue.”

“He was a combative man,” Cardinal Kasper said, someone who “criticized in his own way, harshly, and sometimes unjustly,” but on the other hand, “used a language everyone could understand,” especially those “who were far, or had drifted away, from the faith and the Church.”

The German cardinal praised his work on interreligious dialogue, and his creation of a foundation to promote global ethics through the recognition of common values between religions.

Cardinal Kasper also noted that Father Küng’s legacy includes “ideas that have become current in Germany,” even though he said he personally has “doubts about these reforms” as they include women’s ordination to the priesthood and the abolition of priestly celibacy. (Cardinal Kasper also noted differences he had with Father Küng over Humanae Vitae in another April 7 interview, with Corriere della Sera.)

He stressed that Father Küng “never even thought of wanting to leave the Church,” and recalled that Pope Francis conveyed his greetings and blessings to him “in the Christian community” when the aging priest was close to death last summer. Indeed there was a “certain consensus” on the part of Father Küng with the papal magisterium under Pope Francis, the cardinal said, adding that Father Küng was “eager for reconciliation” and wanted to die in peace with the Church.

Referring to the frosty theological relationship Father Küng had with his former colleague at the University of Tübingen, Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Kasper said they “esteemed and respected each other but were not in agreement.”

“I must say that Küng had spoken ill of Ratzinger in the past, and this for me was unacceptable,” Cardinal Kasper said. “However, I believe that Ratzinger’s esteem has remained even in the last months [and] I know that Benedict XVI prayed for him; the personal relationship between the two was not interrupted.”


Less Measured Tributes

Cardinal Kasper’s tribute was relatively measured compared to the tributes from some other significant Church voices, including from the Pontifical Academy for Life, headed by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

“Disappears a great figure in the theology of the last century whose ideas and analyses must always make us reflect on the Catholic Church, the Churches, the society, the culture,” the academy eulogized in a tweet.

Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, also a former student at Tübingen, described Father Küng as “a great impetus for the Church,” someone who “in his own way he loved her very much” and whose “prickly spirit was motivated by the desire to create that Church that the Council had desired.”

Asked by La Stampa to explain further, Archbishop Forte, who was a special secretary to the 2014 Synod on the Family, said the Church is neither a spectator nor an opponent of humanity, but is “leaven in the mass of humanity” and “participates in the lives of people by encouraging justice and peace.”

He added, “Sometimes there were harsh tones, but they were part of the post-conciliar troubles, perhaps necessary to shake up the process.” He said Father Küng, who was a peritus (theological expert) at the Second Vatican Council, “exasperated some people with his interventions” but added that his “profound intent was constructive.”

Regarding relativism, Archbishop Forte said Father Küng saw truth not as “something one possesses and therefore can dispose of at will” but rather “someone who comes to us, who transforms us. In this sense it has a dynamic aspect, which was what Küng insisted on.”

In another tribute, Lucetta Scaraffia, a former editor of L’Osservatore Romano’s women’s supplement, wrote in a commentary for La Stampa that while Father Küng’s hope for a world of unified religions had failed due to Islamic fundamentalism, “his other proposals have been tacitly affirmed, also within the Catholic world, where there is no longer any talk of the need to convert.”

Meanwhile, the head of the German bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, said in a statement that Father Küng was a “recognized and controversial researcher” who was committed to “living ecumenism” and interreligious dialogue. Despite his conflicts with the Church, Bishop Bätzing thanked him for his “many years of commitment as a Catholic theologian in communicating the Gospel,” and said Küng left behind “a rich theological legacy.”

Jesuit Father James Martin called Father Küng a “towering Catholic theologian,” while his fellow contributor to America Magazine, Jesuit Father Roger Haight, wrote that Father Küng had an “amazingly productive career as theologian, ecumenist, religionist and finally a moral leader of humanity” and that the “Catholic Church, Christianity, other religions and all humanity in a recognizable way are his beneficiaries.”


Critical Perspective

Counterbalancing yesterday’s tributes is the perspective of Professor Stefano Fontana, director of the Cardinal Van Thuân Observatory on the Social Doctrine of the Church.

Writing April 7 for the Catholic website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Fontana noted that Father Küng’s theological life was the “exact opposite” of that prescribed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its 1990 Instruction on the vocation of the theologian Donum Veritatis — namely prudence, avoidance of the media, and not to flaunt theological positions contrary to the magisterium.

Not following these prescriptions leads a theologian to think “the future of the Church depends on him, or at least above all on him,” Fontana wrote, which in turn leads to an “historicist and progressive theology.”

Father Küng, like the German Jesuit Karl Rahner, was such a theologian, he said, adding that he was above all Hegelian — the adherer of a philosophical view that the Church was “continually becoming,” guided by the future, not the past, so that only new theological notions are valid. It is what the 20th-century French Dominican theologian Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange feared about Nouvelle Théologie, Fontana said, and of which Father Küng was “basically a child” and “even more reckless than others.”

Furthermore, he said it is a philosophy followed by Bishop Bätzing.

“Küng,” he said, “was Swiss by nationality, but German by theology,” someone “tuned into a Vatican III and eager to meet a John XXIV.” He believed the Church was “established from below and also renewed from below,” and that this “new Church from below” had already begun.

He noted how Father Küng promoted not only contraception and women’s ordination, but also “Eucharistic hospitality” (something also pushed by Church leaders in Germany) and Father Küng “considered it untenable for the Catholic Church to have only one legitimate religion.” The Church, he believed, “had to accept the challenge of other religions’ claim to truth,” Fontana wrote.

Internally, this meant making local Churches autonomous to honor the “richness of variety,” to be against “dogmatic arrogance,” “dogmatic rigidity” and “moralistic censorship.” The Church, he believed, had to live a “communitarian relationship” and abandon a Church “from above, obstinate, reassuring, bureaucratized.” And just as the Soviet Union rehabilitated its dissidents, so he was of the conviction that the Church “should rehabilitate her own, from [liberation theologians] Hélder Câmara to Leonardo Boff.”

“He saw the future of the Church not only in ecumenism, but also in pacifism and a new ecologism,” Fontana said.

He concluded by asserting that Küng’s legacy lives on, most notably in today’s German Church and its synodal path. Some of his ideas are said “with greater grace,” Fontana observed, “but we find them all,” and also in the universal Church where Leonardo Boff helps write papal encyclicals (he’s contributed to Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si) and in the cause for Hélder Câmara’s canonization which is now being promoted.

“Many think that we are already in Vatican III and that a John XXIV has already arrived, Luther and Calvin have been welcomed back into the fold, Eucharistic hospitality is the norm, and women are approaching the altar,” Fontana wrote. “While the media covered his outbursts, Hans Küng was busy sowing the seeds.”


Cardinal Burke floats ‘excommunication’ for Biden over his ‘aggressive’ abortion promotion. By Pete Baklinski

(LifeSiteNews) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke said that pro-abortion Catholics in public life such as President Joe Biden, who “obstinately and publicly” deny truths of the faith and act against them, must not only be denied Holy Communion but must now face the charge of the “crime of apostasy” where the “canonical penalty” for the guilty is “excommunication.”

“Such a person who claims to be a Catholic and yet promotes in such an open, obdurate, and aggressive way a crime like procured abortion is in the state, at least, of apostasy,” the cardinal said in an interview this week with Thomas McKenna of Catholic Action for Faith and Family.

“In other words, to do this is to draw away from Christ and to draw away from the Catholic faith. And so the second action, which needs to be considered, is a canonical penalty, a sanction, for the crime of apostasy, which would be excommunication,” the cardinal added.

Cardinal Burke, one of the world’s foremost canon lawyers who was formerly the prefect of the Church’s highest court, made the above comment while responding to McKenna’s question about “what can be done now … what is the next step” for Catholic leadership to take in response to President Biden professing to be a practicing Catholic who takes his faith seriously while signing executive orders that directly promote abortion.

Biden has identified himself as a devout Catholic despite working to expand abortion, an act that the Catholic Church condemns as a “moral evil” that is “gravely contrary to the moral law.” In his first two weeks in office, Biden pledged to make abortion available to “everyone” by “codifying” the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which imposed abortion on all 50 states. During that same time, he also revoked by executive order the Mexico City policy that blocks federal funds from going to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide or promote abortions overseas.

Democrats have pledged to eliminate the pro-life Hyde Amendment that prohibits federal funds from going to pay for abortions in programs like Medicaid. In February, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a COVID-19 relief bill which, among other things, will use taxpayer money to fund abortions and the abortion industry across a host of federal programs under the guise of coronavirus relief.

The Catholic Church teaches that excommunication, incurred by “certain particularly grave sins,” is the “most severe ecclesiastical penalty.”

It “impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Excommunication is intended to bring the sinner to repentance for his sins and back into full communion with the Church.

Cardinal Burke, in his interview this week, began his answer to McKenna’s question about what can be done by noting that there are “two things that should be done immediately.”

The first action is that it must be communicated to Biden that he may not present himself for Holy Communion while championing abortion.

“A person who obstinately and publicly denies truths of the faith and actually acts against the truths of the faith or of the moral law, may not present himself or herself to receive Holy Communion,” said Burke.

“And, at the same time, the minister of Holy Communion, usually the priest, is not to give them Holy Communion, should they present themselves. Now, normally speaking, people should understand that the crime of procured abortion is a grievous violation against the first precept of the moral law, namely the safeguarding and promoting of human life. But the priest should warn such a person that he should not present himself to receive Holy Communion,” he added.

Burke said that should such a person after receiving such a warning still present himself to receive Communion, that person “should be denied” the sacrament.

The cardinal said there are two truths at work that must be upheld in this kind of situation that pertain to the reality of the Eucharist and to its worthy reception.

“One [truth] is the holiness of the Holy Eucharist. It is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And to receive the body of Christ knowingly and willingly in the state of sin is a sacrilege. It’s one of the worst sins. And Saint Paul said it already in the first letter to the Corinthians in Chapter 11, ‘He who eats the body and blood of Christ without recognizing it, eats his own condemnation.’ And so, in order to prevent a commission of a sacrilege, we have to insist that such people not approach to receive Holy Communion,” he said.

“It’s not only for their own salvation, certainly, but also then to avoid the scandal given to others who see someone who’s publicly promoting grievously immoral acts and yet presents himself to receive Holy Communion. And so that is the first thing and that has nothing to do with a penalty. And people say, ‘You’re punishing.’ No, it has to do with a worthy reception of the sacrament. It’s simply the discipline that is necessary because of the reality of the Holy Eucharist,” he added.

At this point, the cardinal pointed out that the second action that could be taken against Biden is excommunication.

The cardinal pointed out that even those who do not agree with the Church’s teaching on abortion know that it’s wrong for a Catholic to claim to practice the faith and to be receiving Communion while at the same time being a public promoter of abortion.

“They might not even agree with the Church’s teaching on procured abortion, but they know what it is, and they say to themselves, ‘How can the Church that teaches that procured abortion is intrinsically evil, that it can never be right, how does that same Church give the Holy Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist to a public promoter of this evil?’”

“It’s not only a sin against faith, which certainly it is, but even against reason,” he said.

Burke said that any action taken against Catholics in public life who merit such penalties is not for the sake of wishing such a person “harm,” but for the sake of “wishing his ultimate good.”

“Sometimes it is said that if the Church denies Holy Communion to these politicians, that it’s making the sacrament into a political weapon. But that’s not the case at all. The Church is safeguarding its most sacred realities and safeguarding the souls of the faithful,” he said.

“In my judgment, it’s these politicians who are using the sacrament for a political end, in other words, pretending to be devout Catholics and to give this impression so as to gain the support of Catholics when, in fact, they’re not at all devout Catholics,” he added.

Cardinal Burke joins Archbishop Joseph Naumann, head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life office, in calling out Biden for calling himself Catholic while publicly promoting abortion. Naumann has stated that the U.S. bishops need to “correct” Biden for “acting contrary” to the Catholic faith.

The cardinal said that Archbishop Naumann is “giving wonderful leadership.”

“Let’s hope we hear a whole chorus of bishops who are giving the same message to their faithful.”


Pete Baklinski

So many lies about Covid and Africa. By Anna Bono


“To date Africa has reported more than four million Covid-19 cases and over 100,000 related deaths. Still many regions of the continent have not received a single dose of vaccine while richer countries are on the verge of vaccinating their entire populations,” stated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a meeting with representatives of African countries on 25 March.

Any initial reaction to the Secretary General’s words involves asking many questions. For example, where and from whom does he get his information? How is it possible that a man in his position can appear at an international meeting without having first done his own research? And how does he always allow himself to be so blatantly full of impartiality and hostility towards some member countries of the organization he heads? 

 Guterres certainly didn’t consult the one source that the whole world uses to track the pandemic’s progress: the World Health Organisation (WHO), a UN agency. On 25 March, the WHO reported that there were at least 3,036,768 official cases in Africa and “no more than 4,000,000.” It also reported 76,912 deaths (a maximum of 100,000) and that the “richest countries” were on the verge of vaccinating their entire populations, which is far from the truth. “We see many examples of nationalism and hoarding of vaccines in the wealthiest countries,” Guterres added, “as well as ongoing parallel agreements with manufacturers that compromise access for all.”

But, as any sensible and well-informed person knows, universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, as far as Africa is concerned, is compromised not by the availability of sufficient doses (right now 1.27 billion doses are already destined for the continent, 600 million being provided by COVAX, a programme ensuring vaccines for everyone via donated doses and funds from rich countries). It is compromised rather by the poor possibility of administering vaccines. This is due to the inability of health systems (Liberia has four doctors for every 100. 000 inhabitants, Zimbabwe 19!) and the unviability of entire regions that are at war or under control of armed militias. As Guterres himself admits, by 21 March  a total of 26 African nations had already received more than 15 million doses because of COVAX. However, according to the WHO Regional Office for  Africa, only 736,000 doses had been administered.

African governments may find it politically expedient to accuse rich countries of selfishness, to call for fairness and global solidarity, but they are well aware that this is not the reality. Above all, they know (even if they won’t admit it, the facts speak for themselves) that Covid-19 is an emergency but not one that is devastating an entire continent. It should, therefore, be dealt with by taking a realistic account of the means available and assessing whether and where it deserves priority over other health emergencies, despite the apocalyptic forecasts of millions of Covid deaths and unsustainable humanitarian crises.

Many have praised and held up African governments as models for fighting the spread of Covid-19, despite having such inadequate health systems. If they deserve credit, it is for making risky decisions and taking responsibility for them. The first coronavirus wave in Africa was much less severe than in the rest of the world. The second wave, which started in autumn 2020, was more aggressive. However, African governments continued to take much less stringent quarantine and social distancing measures than elsewhere, and even relaxed them at times, without this leading to a noticeable increase in contagion.

In other words, they put into practice what the late Tanzanian President John Magufuli had said at the beginning of the pandemic to justify his decision to adopt only extremely mild containment measures: “We have had a number of viral diseases, including Aids and measles. Our economy must come first. It must not sleep… Life must go on.”

Magufuli was right. Last year, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo had to fight four other epidemics in addition to the coronavirus: measles, cholera, Ebola and malaria.

A total of 70% of people living with HIV-AIDS and 25% with tuberculosis are African. Tuberculosis affected a total of 2.5 million people in 2016 and resulted in 417,000 deaths. In 2019, 94% of cases (230 million) and deaths (over 400,000) of malaria were reported in Africa and its spread seems uncontainable. In 2019, 1.5 million cases were reported in Congo, 1.4 million in Uganda, 10.7 million in Kenya. The most dramatic situation is in Burundi where there are 5.7 million cases, representing more than half of its estimated 10.7 population.

The deaths are numerous and the cost in economic and social terms is truly frightening. One can understand why the Burundian government has declared that it is “not ready” for Covid-19 vaccines and, like Tanzania and other African countries, it has not yet prepared a vaccination plan. Burundi’s Minister of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Thadee Ndikumana, announced this on 23 March, saying that his government preferred to wait until the real effectiveness of vaccines was known. We are not against vaccines,” he explained, “but considering the percentage of people who are cured [with therapeutics], which is 96%, we have decided to wait.” As of 27 March, official figures reveal only 2,657 Covid infections and six deaths, or just 0.5 deaths per million inhabitants. Although these figures might be a little underestimated, they still prove that Minister Ndikumana is right.

Anna Bono

Statement on the Reception of Holy Communion by Those Who Persist in Public Grave Sin. By R. L. Cardinal Burke

Many Catholics and also non-Catholics who, while they do not embrace the Catholic faith, respect the Catholic Church for her teaching regarding faith and morals, have asked me how it is possible for Catholics to receive Holy Communion, while at the same time they publicly and obstinately promote programs, policies and legislation in direct violation of the moral law. In particular, they ask how Catholic politicians and civil officials who publicly and obstinately defend and promote the practice of abortion on demand can approach to receive Holy Communion. Their question clearly applies as well to those Catholics who publicly promote policies and laws in violation of the dignity of human life of those burdened by serious illness, special needs or advanced years, and in violation of the integrity of human sexuality, marriage and the family, and in violation of the free practice of religion.

The question merits a response, especially as it touches on the very foundations of the Church’s teaching regarding faith and morals. Most of all, it touches upon the Holy Eucharist, “[t]he sacrament of charity, … the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman…. Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us ‘to the end,’ even to offering us his body and blood.”[1]

It is my hope that the following points of the Church’s teaching will be helpful to those who are rightly confused and indeed frequently scandalized by the all too common public betrayal of the Church’s teaching on faith and morals by those who profess to be Catholic. I will address myself to the question of procured abortion, but the same points apply to other violations of the moral law.

1. Regarding the Holy Eucharist, the Church has always believed and taught that the Sacred Host is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, God-the-Son Incarnate. The faith of the Church is thus expressed by the Council of Trent: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread [cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19f; 1 Cor 11:24-26], it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy council now again declares, that, by the consecration of the bread and wine, there takes place a change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of his blood” (Session 13, Chapter 4).[2] Therefore, as Saint Paul teaches clearly in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11, 27).

2. The reception of Holy Communion by those who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law in its most fundamental precepts is a particularly grave form of sacrilege. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us” (no. 2120). It not only merits eternal punishment for the one who receives unworthily but constitutes a most serious scandal for others, that is, it leads them into the false belief that one can publicly and obstinately violate the moral law in a grave matter and still receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. A thoughtful person, before such a situation, must conclude that either the Sacred Host is not the Body of Christ or that the promotion of procured abortion, for instance, is not a grave sin.

3. Can. 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which repeats the perennial and unchanging teaching of the Church, provides: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”[3] The denial of Holy Communion is not an ecclesiastical penalty but the recognition of the objectively unworthy state of a person to approach to receive Holy Communion. The discipline contained in can. 915 safeguards the sanctity of the most sacred reality in the Church, the Holy Eucharist, keeps the person who obstinately perseveres in grave sin from committing the additional most grievous sin of sacrilege by profaning the Body of Christ, and prevents the inevitable scandal which results from the unworthy reception of Holy Communion.

4. It is the duty of priests and Bishops to instruct and admonish the faithful who are in the condition described by can. 915, lest they approach to receive Holy Communion and thus commit a most grave sacrilege, redounding to their own eternal harm and, likewise, leading others into error and even sin in such a serious matter. If a person has been admonished and still perseveres in grave public sin, he or she may not be admitted to receive Holy Communion.

5. Clearly, no priest or Bishop can grant permission to a person who is in public and obstinate grave sin to receive Holy Communion. Neither is it a question of a discussion between the priest or Bishop and the one who is committing the sin, but a matter of admonition regarding truths of faith and morals, on the part of the priest or Bishop, and a matter of reform of an erroneous conscience, on the part of the sinner.

6. Pope Saint John Paul II presented the Church’s constant teaching regarding procured abortion in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae. Referring to the consultation of the Bishops of the universal Church in the matter by his letter of Pentecost of 1991, he declared: “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops – who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine – I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.”[4] He made clear that his teaching “is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”[5]

7. It is sometimes argued that a Catholic politician can personally believe in the immorality of abortion, while favoring a public policy which provides for so-called “legalized” abortion. Such was the case, for instance, in the United States of America at the summit of certain Catholic moral theologians who espoused the erroneous moral theory of proportionalism or consequentialism, and Catholic politicians, held at the compound of the Kennedy Family in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1964.[6] Pope Saint John Paul II responds clearly to such erroneous moral thinking in Evangelium Vitae: “No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”[7] In his Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, Pope Saint John Paul II corrects the fundamental error of proportionalism and consequentialism.[8]

8. It is sometimes said that the denial of Holy Communion to politicians who obstinately persevere in grave sin is the use of Holy Communion by the Church for political purposes. On the contrary, it is the Church’s solemn responsibility to safeguard the holiness of the Holy Eucharist, to prevent the faithful from committing sacrilege, and to prevent scandal among the faithful and other persons of good will.

9. It is rather the Catholic politician, who publicly and obstinately promotes what is contrary to the moral law and yet dares to receive sacrilegiously Holy Communion, who uses the Holy Eucharist for political purposes. In other words, the politician presents himself or herself as a devout Catholic, while the truth is completely otherwise.

10. Apart from the denial of Holy Communion to persons who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law, there is also the question of the imposition or declaration of a just ecclesiastical penalty for the sake of calling the person to conversion and of repairing the scandal which his or her actions cause.

11. Those who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law are, at least, in a state of apostasy, that is, they have effectively abandoned the faith by the obstinate refusal, in practice, to live in accord with fundamental truths of faith and morals (cf. can. 751). An apostate from the faith incurs automatically the penalty of excommunication (cf. can. 1364). The Bishop of such a person must verify the conditions for the declaration of the penalty of excommunication, which has been automatically incurred.

12. They may also be in heresy, if they obstinately deny or doubt the truth about the intrinsic evil of abortion as it “is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (can. 751).[9] Heresy, like apostasy, incurs automatically the penalty of excommunication (cf. can. 1364). Also, in the case of heresy, the Bishop must verify the conditions for the declaration of the penalty of excommunication, which has been automatically incurred.

In conclusion, Church discipline, beginning with the Apostle Paul, has consistently taught the necessary disposition of conscience for the reception of Holy Communion. The failure to follow the discipline results in the desecration of the most sacred reality in the Church – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ – , constitutes the most grave sin of sacrilege, and causes most serious scandal by the failure to witness to the truth of Holy Communion and the moral truth, for example, the inviolable dignity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the family, and the freedom to worship God “in spirit and truth.”[10]

The answer to the question so frequently posed to me is clear: a Catholic who publicly and obstinately opposes the truth regarding faith and morals may not present himself or herself to receive Holy Communion and neither may the minister of Holy Communion give him or her the Sacrament.

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Rome, 7 April 2021


[1] “[s]acramentum caritatis, … donum est Iesu Christi se ipsum tradentis, qui Dei infinitum nobis patefacit in singulos homines amorem… Eodem quidem modo in eucharistico Sacramento Iesus «in finem», usque scilicet ad corpus sanguinemque tradendum, diligere nos pergit.” Benedictus PP. XVI, Adhortatio Apostolica Postsynodalis Sacramentum caritatis, De Eucharistia vitae missionisque Ecclesiae fonte et culmine, 22 Februarii 2007, Acta Apostoliae Sedis 99 (2007) 105, n. 1. English translation: Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, February 22, 2007 (Vatican City State: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2007), p. 3, no. 1.

[2] “Quoniam autem Christus redemptor noster corpus suum id, quod sub specie panis offerebat [cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mc 14:22-25; Lc 22:19s; 1 Cor 11:24-26], vere esse dixit, ideo persuasum semper in Ecclesia Dei fuit, idque nunc denuo sancta haec Synodus declarat: per consecrationem panis et vini conversionem fieri totius substantiae panis in substantiam corporis Christi Domini nostri, et totius substantiae vini in substantiam sanguinis eius.” Heinrich Denzinger, Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals, ed. Peter Hünermann, tr. Robert Fastiggi and Anne Englund Nash, 43rd ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), p. 394, no. 1642.

[3] “Can. 915 Ad sacram communionem ne admittantur excommunicati et interdicti post irrogationem vel declarationem poenae aliique in manifesto gravi peccato obstinate perseverantes.” Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition, tr. Canon Law Society of America (Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America, 1998), p. 298.

[4] “Auctoritate proinde utentes Nos a Christo Beato Petro eiusque Successoribus collata, consentientes cum Episcopis qui abortum crebrius respuerunt quique in superius memorata interrogatione licet per orbem disseminati una mente tamen de hac ipsa concinuerunt doctrina – declaramus abortum recta via procuratum, sive uti finem intentum seu ut instrumentum, semper gravem prae se ferre ordinis moralis turbationem, quippe qui deliberata exsistat innocentis hominis occisio.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litterae Encyclicae Evangelium vitae, “De vitae humanae inviolabili bono,” 25 Martii 1995, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 87 (1995) 472, n. 62. English translation: John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, March 25, 1995 (Vatican City State: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995), p. 112, no. 62.

[5] “… naturali innititur lege Deique scripto Verbo, transmittitur Ecclesiae Traditione atque ab ordinario et universali Magisterio exponitur.” Evangelium vitae, 472, n. 62. English translation: p. 112, no. 62.

[6] Cf. Albert R. Jonsen, The Birth of Bioethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 290-291.

[7] “Nequit exinde ulla condicio, ulla finis, ulla lex in terris umquam licitum reddere actum suapte natura illicitum, cum Dei Legi adversetur in cuiusque hominis insculptae animo, ab Eccesia praedicatae, quae potest etiam ratione agnosci.” Evangelium vitae, 472, n. 62. English translation: p. 113, no. 62.

[8] Cf. Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litterae Encyclicae Veritatis splendor, De quibusdam quaestionibus fundamentalibus doctrinae moralis Ecclesiae, 6 Augusti 1993, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 85 (1993) 1192-1197, nn. 74-78. English translation: John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth, Veritatis Splendor, Encyclical Letter, August 6, 1993 (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1993), pp. 112-121, nos. 74-78.

[9] “Can 751 … fide divina et catholica credendae.” English translation: Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition, p. 247.

[10] Jn 4, 23-24.