Fr. Nicholas Gruner

The Real Benedict option in these desperate NOChurch times

The term "Benedict option" is normarlly used to refer to a course of action which leads people away from the midst of a messy society and into seclusion, from where they can regroup and re-introduce sanity into the society. It refers to St. Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism, who did just that and whose monastic communities would go on to save the cultural inheritance of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.

There was a book published not too long ago titled "The Benedict Option" in which an apostate - to Orthodoxy and who is said to be a self-promoter so I'll not mention his name or link to his articles- argues for much the same thing. The fact that St. Benedict strove to secure and promote the Catholic faith does not seem to faze the author, and some reviewers of the book have noted that without the authority of the Church, we would still end up with the same situation since a secluded society, even of moralists, would soon run into disputes about what was moral and what was not. Some would counter that by pointing to the fact that the Catholic Church - at least its earthly hierarchy - has been largely responsible for the destruction of morality in much of the world, a charge I do not dispute. Of course, NOChurch does by no means share the soul of the Catholic Church, but that's a topic for another day.

The biggest fallacy of the author seems to be the presupposition that a secluded society which insists on moral grounds would be left alone by the decadent world around it. There seems to be little grounds for that presupposition given that the modern state does not recognise any sphere in human affairs in which it is not entitled to not only interfere but actually dictate. In the future though, after this particularly self-destructive phase of Western civilisation (or what's left of it anyway) has crumbled, out of the ashes we might well end up having a Benedict option similar to the origial one, which rebuilds what's left of former Christendom.

However, I would like to argue that there does exist in these dark times of the Bergoglian papacy a real Benedict option which we cannot simply dismiss. It requires a re-definition of what is commonly known as the "Benedict option" and it refers rather to a pope, and not a monk, not withstanding the fact that this particular pope told us he would like the life of a monk, though he only manages to make a half-decent impression of one.

The pope in question, of course, is Pope Benedict XVI, and the real "Benedict option" is the notion that Bergoglio is not really the pope, but that Pope Benedict XVI is still the rightful pope.

This notion was popularised by Ann Barnhardt, who pursued it with the "tenacity of of a psychopath", to quote a very good moving which uses the those words to describe  a detective who pursues a very far-fetched theory in attempting to solve a murder of one of his colleagues, and manages to find the murderer in doing so,

As Bergoglio's manners have deteriorated towards total open depravity, more and more have bought into the notion that he is not pope. After all, isn't a Pope supposed to be Catholic? How can a Catholic poke fun at the Holy Trinity? How can a Catholic  insult the mother of God  - multiple times? How can a Catholic insult those who attempt to convert others to the one true faith, while praising some of the most immoral apostates in history in the process? How can a decent priest surround himself with sodomites and paedophile-enablers? How can a pope attack the sacred institution of marriage? How can a pope promote sodomy? How can an even half-decent Catholic shower praise at mass murderers and mass abortionists? How can an even moderately sub-intelligent human being advance the notion that youth unemployment is root cause of evil in the world today? How can a pope state that communists are the real Christians? I could go on and on and on, and on...

The simple answer to that is that Bergoglio is not Catholic, and more or less the only people who believe that Bergoglio is Catholic are the neo-Catholics of the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-or-pretend-it-is-good-if-the-pope-does-it Novus Ordite variety. Most traditionalists, I would argue, have realised that Bergoglio is not pope, and most non-Catholics who follow the man realise that he also is not Catholic, which is why it is popular among modernists and leftists to openly state that Bergoglio is attempting to completely revamp the Church but is being held back by conservatives and resisters (i.e., that he is not Catholic). In fact, Bergoglio has used much the same words, as have a few of his closest collaborators.

In claiming that Bergoglio is not Catholic, I am naturally counting as Catholic someone who actually believes in the Catholic faith, in Holy Mother Church as the Church divinely instituted by Christ, and one who desires to further her divinely-commissioned purpose: the salvation of souls. Strictly speaking, of course, a Catholic is anybody baptised into the Catholic Church by either baptism or blood. That allows us to use a more theological than cultural definition, while also allowing us to rule out as Catholics such as Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Arius and the like, who in a strict application of the term are simply bad Catholics and not non-Catholics.

The basic premise is this: The Church is a communion of faith, and those who deviate or reject even a portion of the faith find themselves outside this communion. Our heretic-in-chief has rejected a large chunk of the faith. Truth be told, it would be difficult to point to any aspect of the Catholic faith that he actually accepts. The only thing he seems to embrace papal authority, albeit with a totally faulty conception of it and its duties, because he really only seems to...

Some thoughts on the 100-year anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima

This is a huge day in the life of the Church. The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima is the greatest and most widely witnessed divine intervention since the Resurrection of Christ.

It is such a big day in fact that I feel somewhat forced to have some sort of commentary on the day itself, untrue to form. There are many much-better informed followers of Fatima, so I'll try and keep my statements brief.

The eminent historian Roberto di Mattei wrote a splendid piece which was published on Rorate Caeli. In it he writes a bit of what happened on that day, but much of his text has to do with how the 9 popes since the apparition have failed to honour the Virgin's request to have Russia consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.

There are some who feel that the consecration of Russia has been carried out and that the positive changes we see in Russia have occured as a result of that consecration. There were positive developments when Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to the Blessed Virgin, a fact Sister Lucia was keen to point out, but she was keen to point out that the consecration had not heeded our Blessed Mother's wishes. The Second World War did indeed end and we did indeed have a period of peace, but the world was soon plunged into the chaos of the Cold War, and the errors of Russia continued to spread. Indeed, Roberto di Mattei catalogues this.

Now some will say that Russia has changed and this and that.; facts hardly open to dispute. Anybody who argues that Russia is still communist is as ignorant as he is stupid, I would argue. Well, either that or you are accusing the Russian leadership of complete ignorance of what communism is. After all, communists specialise in destroying churches, not in building and re-building them. If you don't believe me, just as the Chinese and the Soviets!

One would think that people as wise as those in charge of Russia - people, it has to be admitted, who manage to outmanoeuvre the combined intellect of the entire Western world combined seemingly without even trying - would be in the know as to the basic tenets of communism, if that was the ideology that they secrectly espoused. The charge of the Russian leadership being crypto-communists really does not stand up even to the slightest bit of scrutiny.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has built over 10,000 churches, many if not most with government money, I would assume, since there is simply no way that the Orthodox Church in Russia, persecuted and infiltrated by communists for so long, with barely any Mass attendees, would be able to afford such an undertaking. Some reports I have seen have claimed as much as 28,000 churches have been built in Russia since the fall of communism, a figure that seems rather fanciful to me, but which I would happily accept if it were proved to be true.

The president, Vladimir Putin, routinely attends church services, as does prime minister  Medvedev and defence minister Shoigu. These, I would argue, are the 3 most important public figures in Russia and they are doing everything they can do to prop up the Russian Orthodox Church. Although there is much to go before Russia can be called a Christian nation - the abolition of abortion being the foremost - there is not much more that the current leadership of Russia could have done to help Christianity regain its place at the centre of Russian life.

That it is the Russian Orthodox Church being propped up and not the Catholic Church will offend some, but it does not offend me. To any impartial observer, the Russian Orthodox Church certainly appears more Christian than the Catholic Church. Only the learned will bother to find out that the claims of the Russian Orthodox Church are bogus, but few ever go that far. Externals matter and the fact of the matter is that the primate of Russia behaves in a much more Christian way than does our pope, or whatever Bergoglio is.

Furthermore, it has always been the role of the Russian leadership to support Russian Orthodoxy and I am at a loss to understand how these people think that the Russian leadership can impose the Catholic faith on people who have been hostile to the Catholic Church for centuries. These rifts have nothing to do with Vladimir Putin or even the communists, and they cannot be healed by political figures, although I grant that political figures can do much to push the re-unification. The fact of the matter is that the Blessed Virgin Mary provided us with a roadmap of how to convert Russia back to Catholicism, and that is through the consecration of Russia.

Rumour has it that Putin even asked the pope to consecrate Russia; so much for the politicians being communists. That the popes have failed to do this is to their eternal condemnation. It would be one thing if they did not believe in the Fatima message, but pope after pope has paid homage to the apparitions at Fatima so it beggars belief that they will not do what they were asked to do.

Back to the topic of the consecration and the accompanying warnings...

Whereas Russia can be said in many ways to have rejected the errors of Russia, these errors are all-pervasive in the West. Whether it is the attack on the Christian faith, the destruction of the family, the promotion of sodomy, fornication homosexuality and feminism, the attack on human nature through transgenderism and materialism, the attack on the sacredness of human life through euthanasia and abortion, the promotion of Islam, witchcraft, scientism and atheism, the errors of Russia have spread into the West like wild-fire and there seems to be no stopping them.

I repeat that I am no expert of Fatima but it is my understanding that...


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