Democrat Fingers in the Vatican Pie: Did Obama Force Benedict’s Abdication?

Alessandro Rico8/11/2017

On May 17, I published an article in the Italian newspaper La Verità about pope Benedict’s abdication. A few days before, in a renowned Italian geopolitical magazine called Limes, Professor Germano Dottori had argued that Joseph Ratzinger’s 2013 abdication, and the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation in 2011, after a financial storm sold to public opinion as a “public debt” crisis, were the result of pressures on the part of Obama administration in the United States.

According to Dottori, Obama was eager to dethrone Benedict XVI for two reasons. On the one hand, his presidency was close to fundamentalist Islam (de facto fostered by regime change in Libya and Egypt and civil war in Syria, provoked by U.S. former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy design), whereas Ratzinger, ever since his famous Regensburg lecture, had been identified internationally as a strong opponent of Islamism. On the other hand, Obama was worried about the Church’s reconciliatory efforts toward Moscow’s Orthodox patriarch, within the scope – Dottori wrote – “of a geopolitical project aimed at European-Russian integration, actively supported by Germany and Italy.”

The Obama administration may have resorted to two instruments: fostering scandals within the Church and the Italian government and threatening to drain away Italian and Vatican financial resources. Italy was at risk of being excluded from international financial markets. The menace against the Vatican was to bar the IOR (Istituto per le Opere di Religione, the Vatican bank) from the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network. Taking as an excuse the fact that the IOR did not abide by international rules of transparency, Deutsche Bank (which runs point-of-sale payment systems in the Vatican and was suspected by Bankitalia of hosting an IOR account where all money earned within the Vatican converged) had been induced to block all ATMs in Vatican City, a service curiously reactivated, Dottori noticed, right after Pope Benedict’s abdication.

With regard to this story, it is useful to spend a few more words on an important figure: former president of the IOR Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. Chosen by Pope Benedict in 2009 to reform the IOR and bring it back to international standards of transparency, in 2010, Tedeschi was the subject of a money-laundering investigation.

Notice how suspicious the events look: two years after the beginning of the inquiry, in 2012, Tedeschi was fired from his office; in 2014, after Pope Benedict’s resignation, Rome’s judge dismissed the inquiry and all allegations against Tedeschi; in 2015, in an interview with The Catholic Herald, Tedeschi declared that he had been kicked out by the IOR’s board of directors because of his intention to make radical reforms. And in a 2012 interview released to the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, Tedeschi had already revealed that in those months, he was so scared of being assassinated that he had written down a secret report on the IOR. (According to my sources, he had written his will as well.) The secret report had been entrusted to two of Tedeschi’s close friends as a sort of insurance policy on his own life. Tedeschi stated that he had discovered “something scary” and had engaged a struggle against the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was resolutely opposing any disclosure of the IOR’s secret archives to Italian authorities.

If you connect Tedeschi’s story to Dottori’s claim regarding financial blackmail enacted against the Vatican Bank in order to pressure Pope Benedict, you might suspect that Tedeschi was well aware that obscure forces, from within and without the Vatican, were swarming, and that his opposition to those influences was probably the cause of his misfortunes.

Dottori’s considerations should be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, his interpretation of Berlusconi’s government crisis in 2011 is slightly in contrast with the prevailing reading, which assigns responsibility to German chancellor Angela Merkel and French former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Moreover, it has to be noticed that the Obama administration’s main concern was unlikely to be Ratzinger’s ideological opposition to radical Islam. It is probably more useful to focus on the Russian question.

On the one hand, the perspective of a tighter political integration between Europe and Russia, supported by the Catholic Church for the sake of the construction of a sort of religious “conservative front,” was a cause of anxiety for Obama and Clinton. The role of the pope could be that of a trait d’union (literally, a hyphen) between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin – as a German, and as a moral leader, Benedict XVI could mediate to ease friction between two politicians joined by a love-hate relationship, but whose intentions, beyond all, were to deepen the ties between their countries. That the United States backed Ukraine’s revolt against the pro-Russian government there and supported civil war in Donbas region (the Obama administration’s involvement was denounced by Foreign Affairs in 2014), and that they sabotaged the project for the South Stream pipeline (with the help of Senator John McCain, who literally threatened Bulgaria’s prime minister and obtained his withdrawal from the project), is proof that Democrats were willing to do anything they could to prevent a closer political and economic partnership between Europe and Russia. In this sense, Berlusconi, Putin’s (and Libyan dictator Gaddafi’s) personal friend, was a troublesome individual.

On the other hand, the Obama administration was likely to be frightened by Pope Benedict’s conservative stance on the liturgy, morals, and politics. A conservative pope, in a moment when the Church’s aid was no more required to fight communism in the Soviet Union – and Russia was becoming a conservative nation – could mean an undesired, and politically dangerous, rightist breakthrough for American Catholics and an unseen convergence between religious conservatives in the U.S. and Russia.

That Obama’s fear was well informed is apparent, since Donald Trump won the Catholic vote in the 2016 election in spite of a progressive pope who almost openly endorsed Hillary Clinton, and despite Catholics’ leftward turn in the two previous elections of 2008 and 2012.

In this light, one may also interpret the recent article in La Civiltà Cattolica (a journal whose content has to be supervised by the papacy for publication) that attacked the allegiance between Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States. The message from the Vatican is clear: according to Pope Francis, good American Catholics should vote for Democrats again. Why is the new papacy so worried that conservative Catholics and Protestants might join forces in politics when it favors “inter-religious dialogue” whenever it amounts to unconditional veneration of Lutheranism?

That the Catholic vote was at stake in the Obama administration’s conspiracy against Benedict XVI is also proved by WikiLeaks’ revelations on Hillary Clinton’s right-hand man, John Podesta. His leaked emails showed that he was planning to foster a “Catholic spring,” a revolution intended to supplant conservative sections of the Church and make progressives take over.

Now, try to read against this background the new papacy’s stances on moral and political issues. The Church is almost silent on abortion, the redefinition of marriage, and euthanasia. And it is astonishing that on the question of migrants, Pope Francis is embracing George Soros’s agenda. Do not forget that Soros is one of Clinton’s most generous financiers, with a $11-million donation for her electoral campaign and a $6-million donation from the Soros Foundation to the Clinton Foundation. Soros came up nearly 60 times in John Podesta’s leaked emails. One may admit that such a triangulation among a leftist presidential candidate, a liberal billionaire accused of several political conspiracies in different nations, undesired by the government of his country, and by Israel as well in spite of his Jewish birth, and the Catholic Church’s pope is, to put it lightly, bizarre.

Now, even if Italian journalist Sandro Magister, on August 3, published for L’Espresso an article where he declares that in fact, Pope Francis is still pursuing friendly relations with Russian Orthodoxy – thereby upsetting Catholics in Poland and Ukraine, who would rather look to NATO countries, especially now that the U.S. is governed by Trump – there seems to be a substantial difference between the Russian policies of Popes Benedict and Francis. The former could at least have been a moral mediator between Europe and Russia for political and economic integration, and he was keen to converge with Russian conservatives as regards religion in society and other moral priorities. Francis, for his part, seems to be moved by concerns for the condition of Christians in Syria, where only Russia has a clear long-term strategy. But apart from formal appreciation from liberal anti-Trump leaders like Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau, or complete outsiders like Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, Pope Francis is internationally isolated, especially after his ill advised support of Hillary Clinton.

Other commentators have thrown shadows over the Church’s ambiguous connections with American Democrats. On July 4, Piero Laporta published in La Verità an article about Libero Milone, a 67-year-old manager who had been appointed by pope Francis as supervisor of the Vatican’s finances in 2015. His mandate was supposed to last for five years, but in June 2017, he decided to resign after complaining of having his office violated and his computer hacked. However, the true story behind this unexpected resignation might be different. According to Laporta, Milone was nosing around in the ambiguous maneuvers alleged to have brought about an approximately $1-million donation to Hillary Clinton’s electoral campaign, taken from Peter’s Pence. Rumors about it were already circulating in February 2016, when Laporta gathered leaks by a secret source, ironically called “Pretino” (“Little Priest”), who declared that the Vatican was providing Clinton with financial aid but that Trump would win the election thanks to an FBI investigation against Clinton. According to Laporta, it is not by chance that at the same time as Milone resigned, Cardinal George Pell was being investigated on allegations of sexual abuse for events that had occurred forty years ago. Someone was trying to divert attention from the Peter’s Pence story, and at the same time was indirectly reassuring all subjects potentially involved in the scandal that silence would be maintained.

Now, while Laporta claims to be “90% sure” of this report, it is much harder to ascertain whether, or to what degree, Pope Francis was aware of a financial and political operation that, nonetheless, was likely to have been buttressed by the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, and to have required the American Apostolic Nunciature’s mediation. Laporta hypothesizes that during his visit to Rome, in June 2017, President Donald Trump might have had an animated discussion with Pope Francis, as he asked for elucidations on the Church’s aid to Clinton. According to him, the pope’s waxen and scrawny expression in the photographs taken next to the American president was due precisely to their quarrel and to Francis’s embarrassment.

Elucidations are precisely what we need. In the spirit of the letter addressed by The Remnant to Donald Trump, American Catholics should ask their new president to investigate the Obama administration’s involvement in the events that led to Pope Benedict’s abdication. Clarifications would be welcome also on the ambiguous maneuvers between the Holy See and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. These seem to be much more urgent questions than Russophobic hysteria over Trump’s alleged plot with Vladimir Putin.

Anyway, in this troubled time, we should also be confident that the Church has a certain strength its enemies lack: it is bound to survive in spite of herself.

This article has been updated.

Al Gore says that Pope Francis could cause him to become Catholic

I don’t know where, exactly, I saw this, but Al Gore says he might become Catholic because of Pope Francis…

My comment-Whether you are in love with Pope Francis or hate Pope Francis, or any other pope, or person on earth, there is only one reason to become Catholic.  That reason is because you know that Jesus is really present in the Catholic Church, living in all the tabernacles and monstrances in the world.  He’s really there.  That’s why I became Catholic, and that’s why I will stay Catholic.  And while I’m not particularly fond of Pope Francis because of his stance on several topics, marriage and the climate among them, one person could not get me to quit my Catholic faith.  I hope God will give me the grace to be Catholic, even if all the Catholics in the world fall away.

This point was brought home to me Sunday-the feast of the Transfiguration.  The priest presiding at Mass told me that the altar is also a place of Transfiguration, as was the mountaintop where Peter, James and John witnessed Christ as God.  Peter said, in all three Gospel accounts “It is good for us to be here.”  It is true at Mass too.  It is good for us to be there.  And if Christ could hide His divinity in a human form 2000 years ago, why could he not hide His divinity in the Eucharist as well.  The fact is, he promised he would, and the fact is, he does.  It is about time for us to realize it.

Over the last month or so, the Gospels have been about the seeds being sewn.  Christ here tells us that only about 25% of the wheat grows into 30, 60, hundred fold.  Only 25% falls on really fertile ground.  As I greet my confirmation students in a month or so, I will be asking them which category they will fall into…The truth is that, at any one time we all fall into one of those four categories, or some combination of them.  At times our hearts are hard as the ground, at others, something softens us and we listen only to fall away.  At others, outside influences, like TV, sports, the sexual nature of television these days, the internet, or something leads us astray.  Please pray that we can spend more time than not, as the fertile ground accepting the seed and growing to our full potential.  Strive always to be the best-version-of-yourself.

Catholic Parenting and the Protestant Reformation

Amid the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I like to remind myself of the stream of evangelicals flowing into the Tiber, blessing not only the Church, but ecumenical dialogue, for Catholics and Protestants alike, on the nature of tradition, the role of Mary, and the need for an objective apostolically derived authority.

We should add to that mix parenting. In converting from Calvinism to Catholicism, I discerned a remarkable divergence in the catechetical lessons I give my children, a distinction so important that it can make the difference between having little Christs or little pagans running around.

It starts with baptism. Many evangelicals – thank God – still practice infant baptism. Although most do not teach baptismal regeneration, they still baptize legitimately with water and the formula “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Whether they realize it or not, their children have received the Holy Spirit, inherited the theological gifts of faith, hope, and love, and been incorporated into the body of Christ.

Unfortunately, many others Protestants delay baptism until the children reach the “age of reason” and decide for themselves whether to receive the sacrament. Children in many Protestant families may thus never do. For families who neglect to communicate the Christ-derived rite, their children effectively remain pagans.

That is only the first failure in many Protestant households. Most evangelicals, and certainly my own previous Calvinist tradition, eschew images, icons, and catechetical tools historically appropriated by Christian families for teaching the ways of God. Students of history will remember that the Reformation stripped the altars, threw down the statues of saints, and removed Christ from the cross. Rosaries were destroyed, relics discarded, and pilgrimages abandoned.

In the rush to purify Christian faith and practice, the Reformed seemed to neglect an essential question: how do you communicate the fundamentals of the Christian faith to a two- or three-year-old?

For evangelicals still in touch with some form or fashion within the Reformed anti-Catholic tradition, what remains is a shell, a practical poverty of catechesis. You can still pray with a little child, read religious books or sing songs about God to him. These are all objectively good and beautiful practices, which my family embraces. But they are all cerebral in nature.

Any parent knows that cerebral is not a good pathway to toddlers or little children. Reformation Christianity in this respect manifests a certain Gnosticism, emphasizing a hidden, abstract knowledge at the cost of one of the most beautiful and essential aspects of our faith: its incarnation.

These Protestant tendencies show an incomplete comprehension of what John the Evangelist meant when he said of Christ “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) Or again, “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1)

Catholicism, by contrast, is thoroughly sensory: crucifixes, holy water, signs of the cross, saints cards, images, rosaries, and – ultimately – the Eucharist. Jesus inhabited a body, and his miracles occurred not just through His words, but his actions, through spit and mud, and pieces of clothing.

Devotional practices that recognize this enable even the youngest children to enter into the Christian faith. Jesus may have had that in mind when he exhorted the disciples to “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

I don’t think He had in mind giving kids an expository sermon on a Biblical text. Indeed, Jesus places his hands upon them! (Matthew 19:14-15) Think what it must have been like to be a child whose body was touched by our Lord!

When my family invites evangelical friends over for dinner, it’s always an amusing experience when our eldest daughter hasn’t yet gone to bed. Like any four-year-old, she loves visitors and loves sharing everything about her life: ballerina outfits, random toys, and the nightly bedtime routine.

Bedtime in our home involves cleaning your room, getting into pajamas, and brushing teeth. But it also involves explicit Catholic practices: kneeling and praying before a crucifix, singing Catholic songs out of the beat-up hymnal, and reading a book, which often, by my daughter’s own choice, is thoroughly Catholic.

I haven’t asked my Evangelical friends what they are thinking when my daughter talks to Jesus on the crucifix as if He were alive, requests a “Mary song” from the hymnal, or pulls TAN Books’ Saints for Girls down from her little bookshelf.

But I know how vibrant her devotion truly is. She carries prayer cards around with her constantly; blesses herself with holy water at church – not once, not twice, but probably a dozen times; places little cups of water with flowers before our small household altar as her own special gifts to Jesus.

I’m reminded of the young Cordelia in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, who in her youthful innocence and zeal, donates money to help the missionaries teaching children in Africa, and rejoicing that they will be baptized with her own name.

Evangelical readers, please understand: this isn’t sentimental Catholic claptrap, smells and bells with no theological substance. Living in Thailand, we have a Philippine babysitter, a Pentecostal very outspoken about her evangelical faith. She has repeatedly confessed her amazement that our eldest daughter knows so much about Jesus and the Bible.

More, she thinks, than children at her church. I surmise that’s because all the sensory parts of Catholicism make the stories of Scripture — which we routinely read her — come alive in her still developing understanding.

If I had stayed Calvinist, I would have tried to introduce my children to Christian faith and practice as early as possible. My many evangelical friends do exactly this, which obviously has potent effects.

Parents in the typical evangelical or Calvinist family have to work with one hand tied behind their backs – leaving their children unable to contemplate a religion that should engage not only their minds but their young bodies and whole being.

 

Small ‘c’ catholic

Our Lord concludes His parables of the Kingdom with that of the dragnet: “The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” (Mt 13:47) This serves as a kind of bookend to the first parable of the Kingdom – the weeds among the wheat. Like the first, this last parable teaches that the imperfections of the Kingdom on earth will be sorted out (literally) at the end of the world.

But on its way to that lesson, the parable teaches us something else about the Kingdom and therefore about the Church. The net cast into the sea collects “fish of every kind.” Yes, this means good and bad, as we learn – but good and bad from fish of every kind. Which indicates the catholic character of the Kingdom, and of the Church.

People typically think of the word “Catholic” (capital “C”) as part of a brand name: the Catholic Church. So we might overlook the significance of the small-“c” catholic. The word “catholic” means universal. It indicates something whole and entire, bringing various parts into unity. We can understand the catholic nature of the Church by way of her threefold mission: to rule, to teach, and to sanctify.

First, the Church is catholic – universal – in the most common sense of that word: she is meant for all people. Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson observes that as our Lord attracted every sort of person – ignorant shepherds and wise men, poor and rich, sinners and saints, Jews and gentiles – so also does His Body, the Church.

The society that is the Church embraces people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Rev 7:9) She excludes no people and no kind of people. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)

In this sense, the Church is the most democratic institution in the world. She leaves no one outside her maternal solicitude and pastoral care. She has no class or caste system, no screening process or entrance exam. She requires (as her Lord did) only repentance and faith. At the same time, we cannot reduce her universal mission to something so trivial as “all are welcome in this place.” Which brings us to the second aspect of “catholic.”

The catholic mark of the Church does not mean merely that she welcomes all peoples. After all, Hell does the same. No, the Church not only welcomes all peoples but also brings them into unity. She unites all the disparate people of the earth in the truth. All become one because all profess the same faith. And without this principle of unity, the gathering of all people would be hellish indeed.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church by Giuseppi Rollini, c.1887 [Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio, Rome]

So we can also understand the Church as catholic because she possesses all truth. (By which is meant, of course, the truths about God, man, and salvation. The Church makes no claim to have the all the truths of science, politics, etc.)

Now, every religion possesses some aspect of the truth. They all see the truth somewhat, with varying degrees of clarity. But only the Church possesses and proclaims the fullness of the truth, of God’s revelation. This is a consequence of her being the Body, the continuing presence, of Him Who is the truth. (see Jn 14:6)

To be catholic, then, means to accept all the Church’s teachings, not just those we prefer. Likewise, it requires that we make known these truths “in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2), not just when convenient. The Church’s members have always encountered the temptation to restrict their acceptance or proclamation of the truth.

Some choose the merciful, gentle teachings, others the harsh and rigorous. If we do not allow the truth to shape us, then the faith inevitably becomes just an expression of our personality, temperament, or mood. Catholic truth should expand our hearts and minds, not be constricted by them.

Finally, the Church is catholic in that she bears within herself every grace necessary for sanctification and salvation. She has the power to forgive all sins and to sanctify all sinners: “[T]he ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father.” (CCC 1476) This treasury of the Church is necessary for her mission. All are called to be saints. So the Church must have the power to sanctify all.

All are called to be saints – which means no one is off the hook . . . or beyond reach. Here again, her children experience the temptation to restrict what Mother Church provides. In this case, it would be to say that either the demands of holiness or the power of grace do not apply to this group or that, to this person or that . . . or to me.

The rigorists of the ancient world would have restricted certain sinners from the Church’s power to forgive. Today, the restriction of grace takes a different form – in the thought that certain Gospel demands (usually of the sexual variety) are beyond people’s ability to live or do not apply to certain groups. Which means that certain groups are beyond the power of grace to redeem and sanctify.

Thus not everyone is called to holiness, or the Church lacks the grace to sanctify. Either way, God’s arm is shortened.

Every Catholic must be catholic. This means, first of all, to desire that all people come into the Church. All people, not just the ones we like, admire, or get along with.

It means also to receive the Church’s teachings as catholic – whole and entire – not picking and choosing what we like and leaving the rest. It means to strive for holiness, confident that Mother Church holds the graces needed for our forgiveness and sanctification.

 

Rediscovering the Ideal Healthcare Plan

Many people do not realize that the hospital as it is known today was an invention of the Middle Ages. They were established from the desire to extend Christian charity to the poor and needy.

 

nunhealthThere is a prevailing idea that healthcare plans are necessarily complex and expensive schemes.  There was, however, an ideal healthcare plan in the distant past that was amazingly simple.  The plan did not list its benefits, clinical metrics or financial data.  The main emphasis of this plan was not so much on a plan but care and the health of both body and soul.

Faith Wallis describes this plan in her book called Medieval Medicine: A Reader.  Looking at this “medieval healthcare plan” is a refreshing glimpse at the kind of care that is sadly lacking today.

By proposing a medieval healthcare plan as an ideal, it does not mean to say that medieval medicine, primitive as it was, is the ideal formula for the present.  Medieval medicine was advanced for its time but certainly not for today.  However, the spirit with which people were treated does present an ideal that can and should be imitated.

Hospitals Return to Roots

Many people do not realize that the hospital as it is known today was an invention of the Middle Ages.  They were established from the desire to extend Christian charity to the poor and needy.  In the early Middle Ages, hospitals first became attached to monasteries where monks would minister to the sick and dying.  No other civilization was able to develop anything remotely comparable.

Medieval hospitals provided free care to the poor and needy.  They were usually under the supervision of a religious order that had members with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  They dedicated their lives to God and the cheerful service of all that sought their care — including non-Christians.

Not content with those who came to their doors, hospital attendants were obliged regularly to go out into the streets and bring in all those found in need of treatment.

Reception of Patients

The reception of patients was extremely touching in the broad charity extended to them.

Every possible effort was made to take care of their spiritual needs.  Upon entering the hospital, the patient, when a Catholic, went to confession and received Holy Communion, as the first steps in the healing process.  This provided spiritual peace of mind that often had its repercussion in the physical health of the body.

Once admitted, the patient was seen as another Christ.  Each was treated as the master of the house, for so each was, according to the hospital’s bylaws.  Every need was taken care of as if Christ himself were being served.

During a visit to the 2,000-bed Jerusalem Hospital of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, one cleric noted“It has happened on a number of occasions that when the space … proves insufficient for the multitude of the suffering, the dormitory of the brethren is taken over by the sick and the brethren themselves sleep on the floor.”

Those who attended the care of the sick did not see their role as just a job to be performed.  They did not think about their pleasure or profit.  They saw their service as something that gave meaning and purpose to their lives.  Caring for others was an important means to secure their salvation.

Excellent Care

Thus, the care was as excellent as it could be for the times.  Specialists were brought in to take care of extraordinary cases.  Doctors made the rounds daily to check on the progress of those in their care.  Regulations required that patients should never be left without an attendant and that nurses be on duty at all times both day and night.

The environment was clean and refreshing. In fact, major works of art were often painted on the hospital walls and ceilings to delight and edify the patients, using the same artistic skills that were employed to adorn churches.

The environment was clean and refreshing.  In fact, major works of art were often painted on the hospital walls and ceilings to delight and edify the patients, using the same artistic skills that were employed to adorn churches.  Such masterpieces can still be seen today in the buildings that survive.

Special attention was paid to cleanliness, ventilation and comfort.  Patients were supplied with clean mattresses, white linen sheets and “fleecy blankets.”  Care was so excellent that the cleric at the Jerusalem Hospital reported that there were “wealthy people who pretended to be poor to stay in the hospital.”

Solicitude for the sick was not limited to the doctors and attendants.  Likewise, all Christians saw the sick in a similar Christ-like manner.  Patients in ordinary hospitals were often heartened by the visits of persons of high or noble rank and charitable disposition.  Visitors might include even personages like Catherine of Sweden, Margaret, Queen of Scotland, or King Saint Louis IX of France.

A Touching Reciprocity

However, the sick were not just the recipients of charity.  They also had their duties inside the hospital whereby they extended charity to those around them.

Mindful of how God especially hears the prayers of the suffering, the patients, when Christian, were enjoined to intercede for their benefactors, the authorities and all in distress.  To the extent that they could, theirs was the duty of prayer, Mass attendance and reception of the sacraments.  At night-fall, the wards might end the day with litanies where the “sick lords” of the house would pray for those in need of prayers.  In this way, the sick gave their best to reciprocate for the enormous charity extended to them.  Above all, this offering gave meaning and purpose to their suffering.

Hospitals Flourish

As a result of practices like these, the hospitals of the Middle Ages flourished.  Every diocese and monastery was encouraged to have hospitals attached to them.  The Benedictine order alone is credited with founding 2,000 hospitals.  Imbued with this spirit of Christian charity, individuals, guilds, brotherhoods, and municipalities also established and generously endowed hospitals of their own.  The result was an extensive system of healthcare that provided for the care of body and soul on a scale never seen before in history.

This impressive system was largely destroyed by the upheavals of the sixteenth century when the Church and her hospitals were despoiled and plundered.  The infamous suppression of the monasteries by England’s Henry VIII in 1540 also suppressed the English healthcare system, leaving the poor in misery and putting an end to hospital building in that country for some 200 years.

In modern times, religious orders that once cared for the sick in this manner now face dwindling membership since they adhered to more “up-to-date” theological currents that focus more on quixotic and “liberating” social justice than concrete medical Christ-like care.

A Lost Ideal Never to Return?

With all the talk about rising premiums and healthcare costs, perhaps it is time to rediscover the ideal medieval healthcare system.  The dedicated spirit of this care is so needed in face of today’s ever-expanding medical bureaucracies.  Perhaps the massive number of complex government regulations and mandates might be better replaced by the selfless work of dedicated men and women who simply treat the sick as if each one is the Person of Christ Himself.

As a result of practices like these, the hospitals of the Middle Ages flourished. Every diocese and monastery was encouraged to have hospitals attached to them.

Someone might object that such an ideal system is impossible in today’s secular and hedonistic age.  People simply will not dedicate themselves to the service of the sick and needy.  The ideal medieval healthcare plan is a dream that will never again reappear.

This is not true.  Religious congregations like the Little Sisters of the Poor are flooded with youthful and cheerful young women who minister to the elderly poor in the medieval tradition.  Ironically, these same sisters are being prosecuted by the government for failure to comply with government healthcare mandates that would make them complicit in distributing abortion-causing drugs to their employees.

The problem is not the lack of people or even money, but a failure to present the ideal.  The ideal healthcare plan will be rediscovered when the Christian Faith is revived in society.  Until that return to order comes, there will always be the seeds of this plan inside the Christian souls that await that blessed day.

Source: Rediscovering the Ideal Healthcare Plan

Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors!

I will admit to you, straight up, that I had not followed the NBA, other than watching some of the playoffs, since the 2015 season.  Mostly because, for the most part, they’re all so self-serving, selfish and only in it for themselves.  Look at Lebron James.  While he is a very, very talented player, he served himself in order to win a championship in Miami, then came back to Cleveland when he was powerful enough to dictate to the team as to who his coaches would be and who his teammates would be.  Fair enough.  But especially when it comes to ‘on the court demeanor’, I see Mr. James as an animal.  For the most part, everyone else is dogmeat on the court.  Off court, maybe different, though I don’t follow anyone off-court enough to know.

However, I do follow the Warriors, mostly because they have proved their humility and giving nature on the court, they are worthy to watch off-court.  Last year, when the Cavs won the Championship in unprecedented fashion, after the game they made a pit-stop in Las Vegas to party all night at a club where they had lots of demands (couched as requests) and spent a boat-load of cash.

Now, the Warriors have won the championship, and if you noticed, there was a lot of family and camaraderie. I am sure they will have a well-deserved party somewhere, maybe even in Las Vegas.  But what I noticed most was how each one pointed to the others, rather than taking credit for themselves.

And that, in sports, is very rare.  The San Francisco Giants are that way (though their season, thus far, is nothing to cheer about), the Warriors are like that, and not many other I can name.

Thank you, Warriors, stay humble.  Be humble.  Work hard, play hard, give the glory to God.

 

I’m BAAAACK!!!!!

And very excited to be back.  It’s been a couple years.  I’ve been wandering around the wilderness called Earth, dealing with issues such as unemployment, discouragement, and several health issues which continue now.

I just got back into the mood to write, to share articles and such from various sources.

I’ve been faithful to my Catholicism (though sometimes I have a hard time dealing with Pope Francis-at least, what the media says he said!), and have graduated two confirmation classes.

I’ve been around the world, too-to the Philippines with my spouse, to Mallorca and Northern Spain, again with her, and soon we’re going to the Dominican Republic.

I’ve changed jobs, and am proud to say I work for all our military cemeteries.

It’s been a little bit of a tough road, but God has given me the strength to persevere.  It can be really hard when you find out you have cancer, or a kidney malfunction (both of which I’m dealing with as we speak).  But the world is beautiful, even amidst the ugliness of ISIS invading our space.

I hope you read my previous post, by Monsignor Charles Pope.

I will try to be on about once a week.