Marrying Prodigals

Much — far too much — is being made of Pope Francis’s decision to marry 20 couples today, some of whom have been, as the old saying goes, “living in sin.” Some of them have children. The Reuters story on this “event,” as reprinted in today’s Chicago Tribune, is indicative of the media hype that often accompanies any papal action which appears to signal a “relaxation” or even “repeal” of traditional Church doctrine and praxis:

Schmitt on Cortes

For [Juan Donoso Cortes], man is a disgusting and laughable creature, completely destroyed by his own sins and prone to error. Indeed, if God had not redeemed man, the latter would have been more despicable than the reptile that one crushes underfoot. For Donoso, world history is a ship that reels forward, piloted by a crew of drunken sailors, who dance and howl until God decides to sink the ship so that silence can rule the sea once again.

– Carl Schmitt, “The Unknown Donoso Cortes,” Telos no. 125, pg. 82 (2002) (originally published 1950)

Veni, Vidi, Deus Vicit


Today, on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, we remember the 331st anniversary of the Battle of Vienna where Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland, led the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to defeat the Ottoman Empire and once again save Europe from darkness. Because Sobieski had entrusted his kingdom and troops to the Blessed Virgin, Pope Innocent IX placed the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary on the General Roman Calendar in 1684. Originally assigned to the Sunday in the Octave of the Nativity of the Mother of God, St. Pius X fittingly transferred the feast to the day the Battle of Vienna was won. During the engagement, the elite Polish troops known as the husaria sang the Bogurodzica, an ancient Polish hymn. The following is an English translation:

Virgin, Mother of God, God-famed Mary!
Ask Thy Son, our Lord, God-named Mary,
To have mercy upon us and hand it over to us!
Kyrie eleison!

Son of God, for Thy Baptist’s sake,
Hear the voices, fulfill the pleas we make!
Listen to the prayer we say,
For what we ask, give us today:
Life on earth free of vice;
After life: paradise!
Kyrie eleison!

Melkites at Vatican II

There has been a lot of renewed attention on the Second Vatican Council in recent years, prompted by both its various anniversaries (opening, sessions, closing) and Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI’s calls to interpret the Council in continuity with tradition. Liberals, conservatives, and traditionalists have all weighed-in, offering up various histories, interpretations, and speculations — some far better than others. While I am sure some will accuse me of bias, I still think, pound for pound, Roberto de Mattei’s The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story is the best of the “new” go-to texts on Vatican II. Some folks don’t like his traditionalist bent, but it’s hard to argue with his results.

With that noted, let me direct you to an older, but no less insightful, work that can contribute to our understanding of Vatican II: The Melkite Church at the Council. The full text, including PDFs of all of the chapters, is available from the Eparchy of Newton here. Originally published in French in 1967, this English-language edition, which came out in 1992, features an “Introduction” from the indefatigable controversialist Fr. Robert Taft. While he has much praise to heap on the Melkite Church for what it did (or tried to do) at the Council, Taft reveals what he wished the Council could have fully accomplished with the following: