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Only the fully vaccinated can meet Pope Francis in Slovakia, says health minister

The flag of Slovakia, pictured in the country’s capital, Bratislava. / RossHelen via Shutterstock.

Rome Newsroom, Jul 21, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Slovakia’s health minister announced on Tuesday that only those who are fully vaccinated will be permitted to participate in events when Pope Francis visits in September.

The pope will visit four cities in Slovakia on Sept. 12-15, after traveling to Budapest in neighboring Hungary to celebrate the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress.

According to Slovakian media, health minister Vladimír Lengvarský said at a press conference on July 20 that “the condition for participation in Holy Masses and other events will be full vaccination.”

Lengvarský said that this decision was established in cooperation with the Slovakian bishops’ conference.

In his own statement to reporters, Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský of Bratislava, the president of the bishops’ conference, said that the bishops “see this decision in the context of our demand that as many people as possible should be able to participate in the meetings with the Holy Father.”

“We have been informed that, from the point of view of security and technical possibilities, this is the only realistic way not to radically limit the number of participants” at papal events, he said, according to the Slovakian bishops’ conference website.

Zvolenský added that now that the decision had been made, the Catholic Church in Slovakia could continue with preparations for Pope Francis’ visit.

The official logo of Pope Francis’ Sept. 12-15 visit to Slovakia. / Vatican Media.
The official logo of Pope Francis’ Sept. 12-15 visit to Slovakia. / Vatican Media.

“We ask everyone to take this information in good sense, as an effort of the state to allow as many participants as possible. Of course, we also ask the faithful for their prayers for the entire visit and for the health of the Holy Father, who will come to visit us in September,” he said.

The health minister said that “our common goal is to create the conditions for the Holy Father to bring back beautiful memories from Slovakia,” while also allowing “as many people -- believers and others -- to participate in public Masses.”

Slovakia’s current coronavirus restrictions dictate that no more than 1,000 people can participate in a single large event. Permitting only the vaccinated to attend will reportedly allow this cap to be raised for meetings during Pope Francis’ visit.

According to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Center, as of July 20, 34.4% of Slovakia’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Another 6.2% of the population has received a first dose.

Pope Francis will arrive in Slovakia’s capital city of Bratislava from Budapest on Sept. 12, the Vatican confirmed on July 21.

On the first day, Francis will participate in an ecumenical event with Christian leaders and meet privately with a group of Jesuits.

The pope’s second day in Bratislava will be devoted to meetings with political authorities, Catholic bishops and clergy, and the Jewish community.

Francis will then fly to the eastern part of the country. In Prešov, he will celebrate a Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine rite, and in Košice he will meet with the local Roma community. The day will finish with an encounter with young people in the Košice stadium.

His final day will include a prayer service with bishops at the national shrine of the Basilica of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Šaštín, followed by the celebration of Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The Slovakian bishops have unveiled a logo for the visit, as well as an official website. The visit’s motto will be “With Mary and Joseph on the way to Jesus.”

In June, Slovakia became the second member state of the European Union, after Hungary, to start using Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.

The country’s Prime Minister Igor Matovič resigned in March over controversy about his surprise decision to buy two million doses of the Russia-produced vaccine over the opposition of his coalition partners.

The Sputnik V anti-COVID vaccine has not yet received E.U. regulatory approval.

After interest in receiving the Sputnik vaccine waned among the public, Slovakia sold back to Russia 160,000 of 200,000 doses which had been imported in March.

Slovakia, which has a population of 5.45 million people, has seen more than 12,500 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to government data.

As of July 21, there were 392,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 49 hospitalizations.

Catholic teaching challenges award for Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s two-child limit

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle / EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2021 / 19:01 pm (CNA).

An environmental charity recently awarded Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for limiting their family to two children. 

In honor of World Population Day, British charity Population Matters presented the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a “special award” for “choosing and publicly declaring their intention to limit their family to two.” 

Among other things, the charity congratulated them for “helping to ensure a better future for their children, and providing a role model for other families.” The group called their family size limit an “enlightened decision,” and said the couple’s environmentally-friendly example showed that a “smaller family is also a happy family.” 

The award came after Prince Harry revealed that he wanted two children “maximum!” in a 2019 British Vogue interview.

“I’ve always thought: This place is borrowed,” he said. “And, surely, being as intelligent as we all are, or as evolved as we all are supposed to be, we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation.”

The royal couple have already reached their self-imposed limit with their two-year-old son Archie and one-month-old Lilabet Diana.

Catholic leaders challenge this idea, as EWTN Pro-Life Weekly reported on July 17. Pope St. John Paul II once stressed that an appreciation of the human person is necessary for interest in others – and the earth.

Catholic leaders suggest that welcoming children and embracing family contributes to the prosperity of the environment. 

“If an appreciation of the value of a human person and of human life is lacking, we will also lose interest in others and in the earth itself,” Pope St. John Paul II taught in his 1990 message celebrating the World Day of Peace.

Adding to the late pontiff’s words, EWTN Pro-Life Weekly host Catherine Hadro said, “the answer is to care for both the environment and human life.”

“We are called to respect the earth our creator made,” she explained. “But we must also respect the human life our creator makes.”

Hadro also said that she would not be alive today if her grandmother had not been open to life. Her mother, she said, was the youngest of 13 children. She said she is also married today because her mother-in-law welcomed 10 children, the youngest of whom is her husband.

“No, not every couple is called to have or will be blessed with a large family,” she said. “But to shut off God’s plan for your family is to shut up the creator Himself.”

Instead of posing a threat to the world and closing doors, children infuse the world with beauty, she said.

“The more people there are, the more love there is and the more opportunities there are for this beautiful planet of ours,” she concluded.

Fall River seminarian develops apologetics website

Fall River, Mass., Jul 20, 2021 / 18:19 pm (CNA).

A seminarian and former graphic designer has created the Auspice Maria website as an initiative of the new evangelization.

John Garabedian, a seminarian of the Diocese of Fall River, told CNA his goal is “to present old truths in new, creative, engaging ways and use my talents and professional experience of being a graphic designer for God’s glory and lead them with beauty to the Source of Beauty, God Himself.”

Auspice Maria, Latin for “under the protection of Mary”, is a digital library of videos, spiritual reflections, graphic art, and other catechetical resources.

Auspice Maria offers answers to theological questions through original content such as blogs and videos. Some videos feature Garabedian, but many of the videos feature priests in Garabedian’s diocese.

Garabedian plans to create content every couple of months in order to balance his seminary studies. His vision is to create videos mostly featuring priests, thoughrhe would like to have some lay people contribute as well.

In addition to its original content, Auspice Maria offers resources by linking to videos and articles created by EWTN, Catholic News Agency, The Thomistic Institute, Ascension Presents, Word on Fire, Carry Your Cross, and other organizations with a Catholic mission.

The site offers a blend of apologetics and evangelization targeted towards non-practicing, young adult Catholics who left the faith for a “lack of evidence.” The website is also for practicing Catholics who want to grow in their faith, Garabedian says.

Garabedian’s inspiration for the website came during a visit to Jerusalem, when he saw an “Auspice Maria” monogram on a banner at the Church of the Visitation.

With his graphic design skills, Garabedian wanted to create a logo based on the monogram, “but with a modern, athletic twist to reflect the beauty of the Catholic Church, Our Lady, and my love for sports.”

The motivation also came from Garabedian’s desire to share that belief in God and the Catholic Church is “firmly rooted in Scripture, history, and a rich intellectual tradition of philosophy, theology, and science.”

In addition to word of mouth and local parish outreach, Garabedian is spreading his initiative through its Facebook, YouTube Channel, and Instagram.

The project took Garabedian about a year to create with the help from some priests, family, and friends. Garabedian told CNA he may begin selling apparel to fundraise for evangelization efforts.

“The goal is to spread the saving love of Jesus Christ to hearts longing for love, happiness, and peace that only God can give,” he said.

FSSP says it is ‘deeply saddened’ by Pope Francis' Latin Mass restrictions

The prostration of the ordinands at the Fraternity of St. Peter's Roman Parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, June 27, 2013 / Alan Holdren/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jul 20, 2021 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter issued a statement on Tuesday reaffirming their fidelity to Pope Francis, and expressing their disappointment with his recent motu proprio restricting the use of traditional liturgies.

“The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter [FSSP], whose goal is the sanctification of priests through the faithful observance of the liturgical traditions prior to the reform implemented after the Second Vatican Council, has received Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes with surprise,” said the order on Tuesday. 

The July 16 motu proprio, Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the tradition”), restricts the use of the Traditional Latin Mass and prohibits it from being celebrated in “parochial churches.” It states that it is each bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the Latin Mass in his diocese according to the 1962 Roman Missal.

In its statement issued from its headquarters in Fribourg, the FSSP explained that it is a canonically-approved religious order, and “has always professed its adherence to the entire Magisterium of the Church and its fidelity to the Roman Pontiff and the successors of the Apostles, exercising its ministry under the responsibility of the diocesan bishops.”

“Today, therefore the Fraternity of St. Peter is deeply saddened by the reasons given for limiting the use of the Missal of Pope St. John XXIII, which is at the center of its charism,” said the statement.  

The order was founded by 12 priests who were formerly members of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), an order that is in a canonically irregular status with the Roman Catholic Church. The founder of the SSPX, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated prior to his death for consecrating four bishops without permission from the Holy See.

The FSSP Constitutions reference the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, they said, and the order “has always sought to be in accord with what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called in 2005: ‘the hermeneutic of reform in the continuity of the Church.’” 

Pope Francis explained his reasoning for the motu proprio in a letter to the world’s bishops, saying that the expansion of the Latin Mass after Summorum Pontificum did not result in a unified Church. Summorum Pontificum was Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter which recognized the rights of priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass, and stated they did not need the permission of their local ordinary to offer it. 

That 2007 document, Pope Francis said, “was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.”

On Monday, the FSSP stated that it “in no way recognizes itself in the criticisms made. It is surprising that no mention is made of the many fruits visible in the apostolates attached to the missal of St. John XXIII and the joy of the faithful in being able to benefit from this liturgical form.”

The statement notes that the Latin Mass has prompted “many people” to discover the Catholic faith or return to the Catholic faith. 

“How can we fail to notice, moreover, that the communities of the faithful attached to it are often young and flourishing, and that many Christian households, priests or religious vocations have come from it,” asked the FSSP. 

The FSSP said that “we wish to reaffirm our unwavering fidelity to the successor of Peter on the one hand, and on the other, our desire to remain faithful to our Constitutions and charism, continuing to serve the faithful as we have done since our foundation.” 

“We hope to be able to count on the understanding of the bishops, whose authority we have always respected, and with whom we have always collaborated loyally,” said the order. 

The FSSP is active in 39 dioceses in the United States, and has 54 apostolates. There are 112 priests of the FSSP in the United States. 

Some U.S. bishops have chosen to either restrict the Latin Mass in their diocese to parishes administered by orders like the FSSP, or have granted their priests authorization to continue saying the Traditional Mass. 

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois, in a decree on Monday, dispensed two parishes in his diocese from the motu proprio’s mandate that Traditional Masses not be offered at parochial churches.

Maronite patriarch asks St. Charbel’s intercession to save Lebanon from ‘total collapse’

Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, head of the Maronite Church. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need.

Rome Newsroom, Jul 20, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai has implored Lebanon’s patron saint to help save the country from “total collapse” amid one of the worst financial crises the world has seen in decades.

In a homily for the feast of St. Charbel, the leader of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics said that he sought the intercession of the 19th-century Lebanese saint for “the miracle of our salvation from this total collapse.”

Image from the Shrine of St. Charbel.  /  Hannah Brockhaus / CNA.
Image from the Shrine of St. Charbel. / Hannah Brockhaus / CNA.

The cardinal also decried Lebanese political leaders for their failure to fulfill the “most basic duties toward their people.”

“The political establishment gives proof after proof each day of its inability to perform its most basic duties toward their people and the country,” Rai said July 18.

“This group is incapable of solving simple daily problems such as waste, electricity, food, medicine, and fuels, incapable of combating corruption, facilitating the work of the judiciary ... and incapable of settling issues such as resolutions and measures to address major reforms,” he added.

The cardinal’s comments came days after Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri resigned after failing to form a government over the last nine months.

“It is a time to assume responsibilities, not a time to retreat,” Rai said. “The country is not facing an ordinary governmental crisis, but rather a comprehensive national crisis that calls for concerted efforts by all.”

The cardinal urged that the “selfishness, interests and narrow electoral calculations that unfortunately dominate the minds of most political forces, at the expense of the higher national interest, must be transcended.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on July 15 that Lebanon’s “political class has squandered the last nine months.”

“The Lebanese economy is in free-fall, and the current government is not providing basic services in a reliable fashion. Leaders in Beirut must urgently put aside partisan differences and form a government that serves the Lebanese people. That is what the people of Lebanon desperately need,” he said.

Lebanon’s currency has plummeted in 2021. By June, the Lebanese pound had lost 90% of its value since October 2019.

The World Bank has described the current financial situation in Lebanon as among the “most severe crisis episodes globally since the mid-19th century.”

It estimates that Lebanon’s real GDP contracted by more than 20% in 2020, with surging inflation, high unemployment, and more than half of the population below the national poverty line.

The country’s leaders have failed to form a government to implement reforms after the devastating explosion in Beirut’s port on Aug. 4. The blast killed nearly 200 people, injured 600 others, and caused more than $4 billion in damage.

Lebanon also hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, according to the U.N. The country took in 1.5 million Syrians, nearly half of which are not registered with legal status.

Some of the already vulnerable refugee population were hit so hard by the inflation caused by Lebanon’s severe economic depression that they now live in an abandoned mall on the outskirts of Beirut.

Pope Francis met with Hariri in April and expressed his closeness to the Lebanese people as they live “a time of great difficulty and uncertainty.”

The pope also hosted a day of prayer for Lebanon on July 1 that brought Catholic and Orthodox leaders to the Vatican to discuss the crisis facing the country.

Vatican officials have repeatedly stated that the pope intends to visit Lebanon when the country forms a government.

The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States confirmed on July 7 that the pope has “made a commitment to visit Lebanon.”

“He has also said that he will visit Lebanon when there is a government. So that’s a great stimulus to form a government,” Archbishop Paul Gallagher said.

“We’re trying to do small steps, move forward, see what the reaction is. But we are appealing at the same time to the international community to do everything in its power to help Lebanon at this critical time,” he said.

Cardinal Parolin: Monaco shows positive Church-state relationship can exist

Cardinal Pietro Parolin in St. Peter's Basilica April 27, 2017. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Monaco, Jul 20, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).

Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on Sunday that the tiny Mediterranean principality of Monaco shows that “a positive relationship can exist between the Church and the state.”

The Vatican Secretary of State made the remark during a July 18 meeting with clergy in the world’s second-smallest sovereign state after Vatican City.

In his address, Parolin noted that Catholicism is Monaco’s official state religion, a special status that he said was now “unique” in Europe.

“A certain kind of secularism has undoubtedly strengthened in Europe since the French Revolution, which has favored the development of a social confrontation,” he said at the meeting in Monaco Cathedral.

“Indeed, secularism claims to exclude religion from the domain of civil life, relegating it to a mere personal fact. However, where the religious factor is denied a place in society, certain points of reference, which allow for harmonious social development, disappear.”

“The Monégasque model, on the other hand, highlights the fact that a positive relationship can exist between the Church and the state, and more generally between the civil authorities and the religious authorities.”

The Secretary of State was visiting Monaco, which has a population of almost 39,000 people, to mark the 40th anniversary of the elevation of the Diocese of Monaco, which is directly subject to the Holy See, to the rank of an archdiocese.

The trip was the latest in a series of European journeys undertaken by Parolin. At the end of June, he traveled to Germany to mark the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the country and the Holy See, followed by a trip to Strasbourg, France.

Parolin told Vatican News: “In fact, the visits I make are above all an encouragement to continue on the path of the Gospel, despite the difficulties. These are challenges I think the Church in Monaco also experiences.”

“Even though there is a special relationship with the state, it is true that society is tending more and more to become de-Christianized, to move away from the principles of faith.”

“So being here, on behalf of the pope, is a way of saying go forward and try to fulfill your mission, in a reality that is different from others, perhaps richer and more affluent in ways, but that, precisely for this reason, needs the values of the Gospel.”

In his speech to clergy, Parolin underlined that Monaco’s law guarantees religious freedom.

“It is a positive synergy between the state and the Church which is born of history and which, at the same time, becomes a guarantee for religious freedom of everyone, in a modern context dictated by an ever more marked religious and cultural pluralism,” he commented.

“It is clear, therefore, that in Monaco it is clearly stated that the contribution of religion to the development of society is useful, even necessary, well beyond the religion that each person professes.”

He concluded: “At the same time, it is worth noting that in light of Article 9 of the 1962 Constitution (‘The Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion is the religion of the State,’) the Church does not seek privileges.”

“On the contrary, she sees in it the possibility of fulfilling her evangelizing mission in the best possible way, which, as Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized, echoing Benedict XVI, is not proselytizing.”

Request for opening of beatification cause of Neocatechumenal Way co-founder Carmen Hernández

Carmen Hernandez speaks at World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. / Bernabé V. via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

Rome Newsroom, Jul 20, 2021 / 04:40 am (CNA).

A request has been made to open the beatification cause of Carmen Hernández, co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, who died five years ago at the age of 85.

On July 19, the anniversary of the Spanish woman’s death, Cardinal Carlos Osoro, the archbishop of Madrid, offered Mass in the Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena.

At the Mass, Osoro was presented with the “Supplex Libellus,” a collection of documents requesting that the diocesan phase of Hernández’s cause for beatification be officially opened.

“Carmen wanted in her life to be a spokesperson for Jesus Christ,” Osoro said in his homily. “How many times do we hear from her own lips that what man needs most is to love with the love of Christ himself and to experience the love of the Lord?”

Hernández, who died in 2016, founded the Neocatechumenal Way together with Kiko Argüello in Spain in 1964.

The ecclesial movement draws its inspiration from the practices of the early Catholic Church, providing “post-baptismal” Christian formation in some 40,000 small, parish-based communities.

The movement is present all over the world, and says it has an estimated membership of more than a million people.

According to Vida Nueva magazine, the postulator for Hernández’s cause has begun investigations into the co-founder’s life and has already collected more than 16,000 pages. The next step, if the request to open the cause is granted, will be recording statements from witnesses, historians, and theologians.

Speaking to Vatican News ahead of the July 19 Mass at the Madrid cathedral, the postulator said: “There are many who want to come and say even just a ‘thank you’ to Carmen for what, directly or indirectly, she has done for their life.”

Hernández was born in Ólvega, Spain, but mostly grew up in Tudela. She studied chemistry in Madrid, and afterward joined the Institute of Missionaries of Christ Jesus. After graduating with a degree in theology, she started the Neocatechumenal Way with Argüello.

In the interview with Vatican News, postulator Carlos Metola said that Hernández was a prolific writer and notetaker.

“Carmen wrote every day and every night, after having lived a tiring day or even traveling for hours; already at dawn, she woke up and wrote about what had happened to her,” he said.

“She also surprised us by the quantity of her studies and her research: many drafts, annotations on the Fathers of the Church or on the origins of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the roots of the Jewish Passover,” he continued. “She was a true researcher, she tried to prepare well before any speech or catechesis.”

“Kiko talked more, Carmen wrote a lot. In many of the books in her library (about 5,000 volumes) there is often a ‘K’ marked in red. They were the books she wanted to pass on to Kiko for him to read and study.”

Cardinal Müller critiques Pope Francis' 'harsh' response to extraordinary form, compared to German Synodal Way

Gerhard Cardinal Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at a penance service in St. Peter's Basilica, March 29, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome, Italy, Jul 19, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has critiqued Pope Francis’ recent restrictions on extraordinary form Masses as “harsh” compared to his modest response to the “massive attacks on the unity of the Church” posed by the Synodal Way in Germany.

Gerhard Cardinal Müller authored an analysis July 19 of Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis’ July 16 motu proprio on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970.

Pope Francis explained his decision in an accompanying letter to bishops, in which he wrote: “In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors.” The pope said he was saddened that the celebration of the extraordinary form was now characterized by a rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical reforms.

Cardinal Muller responded: “One may measure Pope Francis’ will to return to unity the deplored so-called ‘traditionalists’ … against the degree of his determination to put an end to the innumerable ‘progressivist’ abuses of the liturgy … that are tantamount to blasphemy.”

"The paganization of the Catholic liturgy – which is in its essence nothing other than the worship of the One and Triune God – through the mythologization of nature, the idolatry of environment and climate, as well as the Pachamama spectacle, were rather counterproductive for the restoration and renewal of a dignified and orthodox liturgy reflective of the fulness of the Catholic faith."

The German cardinal highlighted that many teachings of the Second Vatican Council are “being heretically denied in open contradiction to Vatican II by a majority of German bishops and lay functionaries (even if disguised under pastoral phrases).”

“Here we have a threat to the unity of the Church in revealed faith, reminiscent of the size of the Protestant secession from Rome in the sixteenth century,” he said.

“Given the disproportion between the relatively modest response to the massive attacks on the unity of the church in the German ‘Synodal Way’ (as well as in other pseudo-reforms) and the harsh disciplining of the old ritual minority, the image of the misguided fire brigade comes to mind, which – instead of saving the blazing house – instead first saves the small barn next to it.”

In the critique published in English by The Catholic Thing, the cardinal said that the motu proprio’s “clear intent is to condemn the Extraordinary Form to extinction in the long run.”

“Without the slightest empathy, one ignores the religious feelings of the (often young) participants in the Masses according to the Missal John XXIII (1962). Instead of appreciating the smell of the sheep, the shepherd here hits them hard with his crook,” he said.

Much of the cardinal’s analysis focuses on unity in the Church, which he says is “rooted in unity in God through faith, hope, and love” and does not require “sterile uniformity in the external liturgical form, as if the Church were like one of the international hotel chains with their homogenous design.”

“Pope Francis tries to explain the motives that have caused him, as the bearer of the supreme authority of the Church, to limit the liturgy in the extraordinary form. Beyond the presentation of his subjective reactions, however, a stringent and logically comprehensible theological argumentation would also have been appropriate,” Muller said.

“For papal authority does not consist in superficially demanding from the faithful mere obedience, i.e., a formal submission of the will, but, much more essentially, in enabling the faithful also to be convinced with consent of the mind.”

The German cardinal underlined that Pope Francis “rightly insists on the unconditional recognition of Vatican II.”

“Nobody can call himself a Catholic who either wants to go back behind Vatican II (or any other council recognized by the pope) as the time of the ‘true’ Church or wants to leave that Church behind as an intermediate step towards a ‘new Church,’” he said.

Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith from 2012 to 2017, also said that the Church must not “pass on its responsibility for unity in cult to the Bishops’ Conferences ... Presumptions that one may “improve” the verba domini (e.g. pro multis – 'for many' – at the consecration, the et ne nos inducas in tentationem – 'and lead us not into temptation' – in the Our Father), contradict the truth of the faith and the unity of the Church much more than celebrating Mass according to the Missal of John XXIII."

The cardinal’s statement comes at a time when many bishops in Europe have yet to respond publicly to the motu proprio on the extraordinary form. 

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising told CNA Deutsch that it is “currently examining the relevant implementation / regulation.”  The Archdiocese of Berlin said when the motu proprio would be implemented cannot be foreseen there in the middle of the summer holidays.

The motu proprio stated that it is a diocesan bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese.

“A little more knowledge of Catholic dogmatics and the history of the liturgy could counteract the unfortunate formation of opposing parties and also save the bishops from the temptation to act in an authoritarian, loveless, and narrow-minded manner against the supporters of the ‘old’ Mass,” Cardinal Müller said.

Bishops are appointed as “shepherds by the Holy Spirit,” he explained, not “merely representatives of a central office – with opportunities for advancement.”

“The good shepherd can be recognized by the fact that he worries more about the salvation of souls than recommending himself to a higher authority by subservient ‘good behavior.’ If the law of non-contradiction still applies, one cannot logically castigate careerism in the Church and at the same time promote careerists,” he added.

“Let us hope that the Congregations for Religious and for Divine Worship, with their new authority, do not become inebriated by power and think they have to wage a campaign of destruction against the communities of the old rite – in the foolish belief that by doing so they are rendering a service to the Church and promoting Vatican II.”

Pope Francis to visit Slovakia during important anniversary year for Ruthenian Catholics

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Prešov, mother church of the Slovakian Archdiocese of Prešov. Credit: Szeder László via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Presov, Slovakia, Jul 19, 2021 / 12:15 pm (CNA).

When Pope Francis travels to Slovakia in September, one of his stops will be Prešov. Located in the east, the city was part of the Kingdom of Hungary until the mid-20th century, and is home to many of the country’s more than 200,000 Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics.

While the official schedule of the visit has not yet been published, according to one source Pope Francis may on Sept. 14 celebrate a Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine rite while he is in Prešov.

The Ruthenian Catholic Church is one of 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Holy See. 

In April, Byzantine Catholics in Slovakia and around the world celebrated the 375th anniversary of the Union of Uzhhorod, an agreement which brought the Ruthenian Orthodox Church into communion with the pope after nearly six centuries of schism.

In 1996, St. John Paul II wrote a letter for the 350th anniversary of the Union of Uzhhorod.

He said the union “constitutes an important moment in the history of a Church which by that act re-established full union with the Bishop of Rome. It is therefore very understandable that I too join in the thanksgiving to God of all those who rejoice in the memory of that significant event.”

“The facts themselves are well known,” he said: “on 24 April 1646, in the church of the Castle of Uzhorod, 63 Byzantine-rite priests of the Eparchy of Mukacheve, led by the Basilian monk Parthenius Petrovyc and in the presence of the Bishop of Eger, George Jakusics, were received into full communion with the See of Peter.”

Daniel Černý, a Slovak historian and Byzantine rite Catholic, spoke to CNA about the significance of the Union of Uzhhorod, which was signed by 63 Ruthenian clergy in 1646.

“We have to locate this union also in the general picture of the time: this is the mid-17th century, when there was a lot of turmoil in the history of this region,” he said, explaining that there were civil wars, feudal uprisings, and clashes between Protestants and Catholics, as represented by the Habsburgs.

Landlords were putting “huge pressure” on Eastern Orthodox Christians to convert to Protestantism, especially Calvinism, Černý said.

He said the Union of Brest, in 1596, showed Ruthenian Orthodox Christians it was possible to “preserve your rites, your traditions and still be part of the Catholic Church,” which was then supported by the government, protected from oppression, and gave equal social status to clergy. The Union of Brest united Orthodox Christians in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the Holy See, leading to what is now the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

The Union of Uzhhorod therefore “contributed to an overall improvement not only of the Church structure but also of the quality of religious life” for Eastern rite Catholics in the area, Černý stated.

St. John Paul II said: “The joyful commemoration of the Union of Uzhorod provides a favourable opportunity for giving thanks to the Lord who has dried the tears of his children at the end of a tragic period of severe persecution.”

The Lord “has sustained them in such a difficult period of their history, enabling them to preserve the wealth of their Eastern tradition and to remain at the same time in full communion with the Bishop of Rome,” he continued.

“They thus bear witness to that universality which makes the Church a diverse reality able to embrace, under the charism of Peter, that legitimate variety of traditions and rites which, far from harming her unity, shows forth all her richness and splendour.”

During the anniversary of the union in April, celebrations took place at the Ruthenian Eparchy of Mukachevo, which was formed following the Union of Uzhhorod, and is located in what is now western Ukraine.

Since the Union of Uzhhorod, eparchies have been created to shepherd Ruthenian Catholics wherever they live, including the Metropolitan Eparchy of Pittsburgh and its three suffragan eparchies in the United States, and the Metropolitan Eparchy of Prešov in Slovakia with its suffragans, as well as a Slovakian eparchy in Canada.

“These are all the spiritual daughters of the Eparchy of Mukachevo, and all of the faithful and the clergy of these ecclesiastical structures derive, or are really the heirs, of what was then the Union of Uzhhorod,” the historian said.

He said Pope Francis’ trip will be a good opportunity for him to visit the eastern, and poorer, part of Slovakia.

Černý said like many places in the world, the coronavirus pandemic has isolated people and exposed deeper divisions in society, but the pope’s visit is widely looked forward to.

“It seems like all Slovakia is looking forward to this visit,” he said. 

Most of Slovakia’s population is Catholic, but the country’s ruling political party leans liberal, Černý explained. Yet, enthusiasm about the pope’s visit seems to unite both the practicing Catholics and those who are not churchgoers.

“I really hope that [Pope Francis] will bring the calmness, the peace to the faithful,” he said. 

“This time reveals how deep the divisions between people get. Especially during the pandemic situation when many people lost their social contact and became much more secluded…”

He said there is a painful division showing up in Slovak society. “And really what we need to focus on is bringing back the peace.”

“Of course peace can be achieved only by Christ. So that’s probably what the people are expecting from the visit of the pope – [for him] to be the messenger of hope and peace,” Černý stated.

Archdiocese of Budapest denounces false statement attributed to Cardinal Erdö opposing Pope Francis

Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary. / Thaler Tamás (CC BY 3.0).

Budapest, Hungary, Jul 19, 2021 / 10:05 am (CNA).

A statement opposing Pope Francis' recent restriction on the Traditional Latin Mass attributed to Cardinal Péter Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and primate of Hungary, which was circulating widely on social media, is false, according to a statement released by the archdiocese.

The full statement says: "The English language statement on the new motu proprio issued by the supreme pontiff on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform of 1970 and attributed to Cardinal Péter Erdö that has been widely diffused on social media outlets earlier today is entirely false." 

"Cardinal Erdö has not issued any statement on this topic whatsoever. The Archdiocese will act according to the specific indications laid out in the papal document. Therefore, we consider the above alleged statement to be fake news and an ill-willed attempt to sow confusion among the faithful." 

Early on Monday, July 19, a fake "decretum" from Cardinal Péter Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and primate of Hungary, started to circulate on social media. But, the Hungarian cardinal has not published a statement nor a "decretum" opposing Pope Francis' motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.

According to the document, the Cardinal essentially declared the Catholic Church in Hungary in de facto rebellion of Pope Francis' motu proprio Traditionis Custodes by keeping the norms of the Traditional Mass established by Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum. 

The now-deleted message allegedly originated in the Reddit social network. It was then retweeted massively, even among prominent Catholic Twitter users, and attributed the following statement to the Hungarian Primate:

"The Primate of Hungary has right by a letter of privilege from the Apostolic See in 1347, which has never been abrogated. It states that the Primate is free to decide on liturgical matters within the territory of all of Hungary and over all Hungarians. The motu proprio of 16 July 2021 does not mention any limitation of the aforementioned privilege. This gives me the right, according to the general norms of the Code of Canon Law, to regulate the question of the “forma extraordinaria" of the Holy Mass, by my own discretion. By this present decretum, I declare that, by virtue of the privilege given to my office, I will continue regulate the celebration of the Tridentine Liturgy on the basis of the practice as it has been (since 2007), which is the same as that provided for in the Motu [sic] proprio Summorum Pontificum."

Eduard Habsburg, Ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See and a Catholic close to Cardinal Erdö, tweeted a clarification: “The text circulating on the internet by ‘Cardinal Erdö’ on a ‘liturgy privilege of 1347’ is  100% fake! Don't trust texts that originate on Reddit!"

Since Habsburg’s tweet, several Twitter users deleted the false statement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the Archdiocese of Budapest's statement.