PopeWatch: Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui



PopeWatch has noticed that the closer one pays attention to the day to day operations of the Vatican the more one becomes convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is the True Faith.  Why?  Well for the same reason that a Jewish merchant converted to Catholicism in the Renaissance.  He had expressed an interest in converting to a Catholic merchant friend of his.  He announced to his friend that he was going to Rome to see the operation of the curia up close.  His friend who knew the corruption at Rome was aghast and assumed that his friend would lose all interest in converting.  Instead his friend came back and announced that he was being baptized in a month.  His friend was happy, but asked him why.  “At Rome I saw how the curia operates.  If I operated that way I would be bankrupt in a week.  The Church however has been going strong in spite of this for sixteen centuries.  It must be from God!”

An example of the loopiness that one often sees in close observation of the Vatican may be summed up in Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui.

Francesca Chaougiu

The Holy See has been embarrassed by claims that Pope Francis’s new PR had accused a senior cleric of corruption and said that Pope Benedict XVI had leukaemia in tweets she made before she got the job.

The Vatican has reportedly launched an inquiry into the hiring of Francesca Chaouqui, 30, who was appointed as PR officer for a new papal committee set up to overhaul the Vatican’s financial administration in July.

Before securing the job, Chaouqui had extensively tweeted about Vatican affairs, often not mincing her words, giving rise to speculation that she had access to some degree of confidential information.

Sandro Magister at Chiesa gives us the background on this odd appointee:

The Vatican secretariat of state had accurate information about her a number of months before her appointment, last July 18, as a member of the commission for the reorganization of the financial-administrative offices of the Holy See, with the ability to access all of the most confidential documents.

But in creating this commission and in appointing its eight members, Pope Francis acted autonomously. The secretariat of state was not involved in it, and received the news only after the fact.

The secretariat of state had been put on early alert in the spring of 2012 by some articles that appeared in the most widely read progressive Italian newspaper, “La Repubblica.”

In them it was maintained that Paolo Gabriele, the butler of Benedict XVI arrested and sentenced for stealing from the pope a an enormous number of confidential documents that were later given to the press, was not the only one in the curia to have acted in that way, but like him and after him there were others still in action, including a woman.

The “revelations” relative to this affair did not give the names of the protagonists. Including the latest and most spectacular anonymous interview, published in “la Repubblica” on March 7, 2013, a few days before the conclave that elected pope Bergoglio.

The interviewee, however, was a person so talkative as to swear up and down that she was the informant for the articles in “la Repubblica”: Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, 32, of a Moroccan father and Calabrian mother, residing in Rome, married, employed in public relations from 2007 to 2009 in the international law offices of Pavia & Ansaldo, then from 2010 in the offices of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, and finally since 2013 in the offices of Ernst & Young, with a vast network of real or boasted relationships with journalists, politicians, businessmen, prelates, cardinals.

When, during those days of conclave, the identity of the anonymous informer of “la Repubblica” also came to the attention of the substitute secretary of state, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, he protested to the newspaper. Which in effect stopped publishing any more articles visibly traceable to the Chaouqui “source.”

On July 18, therefore, the news of the appointment by the pope of this young “PR” specialist to the commission for the reorganization of the Vatican administration left dumfounded those who were aware of the background.

But even for those who may have been in the dark it would have been very easy to get an idea of this character. It was enough to open her Twitter page, look at her profile, scroll through the messages.

One would have gathered from this, among other things, that Francesca Chaouqui has a direct connection with Gianluigi Nuzzi, the journalist who received and published the documents stolen from Benedict XVI by his unfaithful butler, and is an assiduous informer of the website dagospia.com, the source most widely followed in Italy for gossip and slander on the Vatican.

As a precaution, on July 23 Francesca Chaouqui removed her photo (the one reproduced above) and on August 10 deactivated her Twitter page. But too late, and in an incomplete form.

A Pope of course appoints thousands of people and it perhaps matters little that one of his appointees appears to be a self promoting leaker.  However this does indicate that Pope Francis is not a detail man and that unless he surrounds himself with men who are,  Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui may be only one of many embarrassments for his pontificate.




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  1. Who hired her to work for the Holy See or Vatican City?

    She looks like she is posing for a Macy’s ad for perfume or Pantene shampoo.

  2. Who indeed hired this woman? Certainly, the Pope had little if any knowledge of this woman (and all her baggage) before becoming the Bishop of Rome. If and when the history is revealed, it will be discovered that she (and other appointments) was promoted from within the vast subculture commonly called the Curia. While the Curia in fact is not that large, the vast interconnecting bureaucracy and sub culture connected with it is vast. It is vast, Byzantine (almost impossible to really get to know it and how it works) and divided.

    One of the major pieces of reform and legislation of the Council of Trent was the reform of the Curia-it has been an issue for that long and longer. Of the popes of the 20th and 21st centuries, it was perhaps Pius XII who had some real control. While often seen that Vatican II was a battle between liberals and conservatives in the Church, it is more correctly understood as a battle between the Roman Curia and the international body of bishops at the Council ( both John XXIII and Paul VI led/backed the body of bishops). After the Council Pope Paul VI was both out maneuvered and crushed by the machinizations of the Curial subculture. John Paul I died within a month of a heart attack when faced with the real force in the Vatican. Pope John Paul II chose to outflank the Curia with his teaching (encyclicals, etc), pastoral creativity (World Youth Day, prep for and celebration of Millenium) and of course his pastoral missionary journeys. These were things the Curia could not do. Pope Benedict chose to continue Pope John Paul IIs trajectory, giving his own emphasis: grounding the theological interpretation of all discussion of Vatican II in the hermeneutic of continuity and reform as well as making Dei Verbum (dogmatic constitution on Divine Revelation) the true source and foundational document of all the documents of Vatican II. Pope Benedict took on single-handedly, really, the real reform needed in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the world-wide Church-a crisis completely mishandled by the Curial offices for bishops, clergy and seminaries. Pope Benedict also spent a great deal of time on choosing the major episcopal appointments (major cities throughout the world). However both age, temperament and ability prevented Benedict from dealing with the Curial crisis that began taking place toward the end of his ministry: the Curia went into a situation best described as a civil war (between themselves and against the pope) and meltdown. Pope Benedict courageously resigned that another younger man and a man chosen knowing precisely the lay of the land would be elected. Besides electing the new pipe the Conclave had the further strengthening and mission of the Church and the reform of the Curia as the key issues facing the Church.

    Pope Francis has already found some land mines. What ever forces within the Curia had as their agenda, the promotion of this young woman to the Pope’s attention is an example of the need for the reform of the Curia. The Holy Father as described himself as a bit naive in his idealism. He better get “street smart” fast in dealing with the wild forces at work in the Curia

    BTW I object to the title of a link above (pope’s sex kitten). I find it scandalous-as if the woman was an actual concubines or worse of Pope Francis

  3. Pope Leo X (1513-1521) once remarked that he hated making appointments and delegated them whenever he could. “Whenever I make an appointment,” he grumbled, “I create nine malcontents and one ingrate.”

  4. This curate does sound like a byzantine bureaucracy. It sounds frightful, in fact. It makes me wonder again why the last pope retired. To my knowledge, no one really every figured it out.

  5. Relax. The Curia has nothing much to do with Francesca’s appointment. Pope Francis was aware of everything about her even prior to her appointment. The Pope scolds gossip-mongers but does not say anything of Francesca’s nasty tweets about Cdl. Bertone and Pope Emeritus Benedict.
    She’s so cool, the Pope is not bothered at all with what she does. He’s a cool Pope who approves of everything. Who is he to judge?
    As she said, “I’m not worried because the Holy Father is not worried.”

  6. Yeah, his stance is pretty cool. I guess everyone likes that. I think she looks really Italian and pretty attractive, and that probably raises eyebrows. I’m not sure we know why Benedict left though, and it may always remain a mystery!

  7. Michael Paterson-Seymour, great quote from Pope Leo X ( not one of the papacy’s best examples himself). BTW nice to have you back

    Jon, while what I have said is accurate, I would be less than accurate or truthful to give the impression that all in the Curia have 666 on their forehead. There are some very good Curial officials who genuinely seek to serve the Church and each pope. However there are nonetheless individual Curial officials, at the higher levels, and some blocks of lower curialists which seek to maintain power and in some cases undermine popes. We all have heard of a so called ‘gay block’ but there are others. For example, at a low level under our Polish Pope but in a full blown mode under our German pope, there was a concerted effort among some Italians in the Curia to regain the papacy. That was part of the background to the Vatileaks as well as the crisis in the Vatican Bank. Only yesterday, there was a serious concern raised for the safety of Pope Francis given the reform of the Vatican Bank given how the reforms clearly disallow the Mafia from their money laundering schemes. It is this problematic (insidious?)

    Marietta, you say that the Curia has nothing much to do with the appointment of this young woman. I would really love to know your sources. For the moment I think we will just agree to disagree

  8. Botolph, what you say about the bureacracy has been a part of the Protestant critique for centuries. If the Roman apparatus is that intricate and that fraught with corruption, and if power plays that kind of a role in it, then it is a church in need of reform. And reform in this sense involves reducing its complexity among otehr things. Church polity should be a simple matter. I very much sense things are amiss within the Vatican. I do think people harbor wrong motives there. I think there is a sinister ring to it all. But the Roman Catholic stance has always been that it is wrong for groups to break away and start over. That is seen as unecessarily schismatic. Yet it is a Protestant maxim that the church must reform itself through whatever means necessary, while of course avoiding schism whenever possible. Luther and Calvin left Rome wthi gravity and serious disappointment. They did not ignore centuries of Christianity. They simply did what they felt was required of them.

  9. Marietta, that blog I checked out that you linked to was obnoxious. Fr. Z – a demonic infiltrator – only a complete crackpot would write that. Condemning NFP? Dale Price nailed it when he referred to people like this – tradholes.

  10. Jon,

    What Donald says of the two Reformers is sad but true. While I have more “love” for Luther than Calvin, by 1520 or so the Augustinian Friar interested in and calling for a true renewal of the Catholic Church, had changed totally, throwing the baby out with the bath water, calling the pope in Rome the Antichrist. This was even more ironic because the new pope was Dutch, a real reformer who was met with opposition from forces within the Curia as well as the gang of Reformers now rallying to Martin Luther’s side

    To your point, the Church is always in need of being reformed. While at her core she is holy, the result of her intimate spousal communion with Christ in the Spirirt and manifested bt the Most Blessedvand Immaculate Virgin Mary and all the saints, She nonetheless is made up totally of sinners who are somewhere in the process of being sanctified. Each of us are at a different level, some moving toward while others sadly moving away from Christ and the core of the Church.

    The fundamental and Christ- given form and structure of the Church: Peter and the college of Apostles, proclaiming (word) and celebrating ( sacraments) and interpreting (magisterium) the Word of God remains. It is manifest in the continued college of bishops in communion with and under the leadership of the pope. The threefold (bishop, priest, deacon) hierarchical nature of the Church remains solid, as does the order of laity an consecrated religious. The reform of such non essential structures as the Curia will always be part of our task at hand. Are things worse now than at other times in history? Today cannot hold a candle to some of the nonsense an sin in “Rome” in mid 1400’s to the early 1500’s. But as bad as they were they do not hold a candle to the bad popes of the 900’s.

    As to the tyre reform of the Church it cannot be done without genuine, deep and life long conversion. Only one who recognizes and grieves over one’s own sin; only one who recognizes within oneself at least potential, the capacity for the same weaknesses, failures, sins and betrayals of Christ that we so readily recognize in others. Only one who really loves the Church cavn even begin to really seek to renew and reform the Church, Christ’s Bride, our Mother. See we really are family. Bthese are brothers and sisters botching things; just as we, perhaps differently, continue to botch things up.

  11. “Yet it is a Protestant maxim that the church must reform itself through whatever means necessary, while of course avoiding schism whenever possible. Luther and Calvin left Rome wthi gravity and serious disappointment.”

    Untrue. Luther was almost hysterical in his writings of his hatred of Rome, when he wasn’t ranting against peasants or Jews, and Calvin was more than happy to think up a new religion that had only a passing resemblance to any Christianity that had come before John Calvin explained it all.

  12. Donald, I think you overestimate the break not only in reality but in the minds of Luther and Calvin. Even Roman Catholic apologists have come round to the assertion that the two reformers were catholic and sought continuity. Their schism, they felt, was greatly unfortunate but entirely necessary by that time.

    Botolph, I don’t think the Roman machinery works. I certainly believe in the church, but our definitions differ. I’m also at odds with the Roman Catholic position towards Mary. I sense she has assumed a central place in their worship, which I find terribly worrisome. I think it arose early on in history though that doesn’t legitamize it for me. All sorts of new elements crept up early on, even while St. Paul was a missionary. It just strikes me as odd that people adore her. When I see her with a crown upon her head and hear her hailed as the Queen of Heaven, I think to myself that she has undergone a total transformation in the Christian imagination. I would never arrive at a conception like that based upon Scripture. Scripture doesn’t yield that picture. All we see there is the obedient servant, the peasant Jewish girl, who loved God and followed him closely: a chosen vessel for the Incarnation. I’ve said this before and I still feel the same way about it. C. S. Lewis commented insightfully on this. He said that to a Protestant it seems idolatrous to venerate Mary, while to Catholics it seems irreverent not to. But besides the fact that it doesn’t resonate with me, I find it difficult to reconcile veneration of a human being with Scripture. Anyway, veneration and worship really aren’t distinct in my mind. And it is not that Scripture is all we have to go on in life, but that all things must come under its authority. If conflict exists, we must choose the Bible. I try to do this.

  13. “Even Roman Catholic apologists have come round to the assertion that the two reformers were catholic and sought continuity. Their schism, they felt, was greatly unfortunate but entirely necessary by that time.”

    Name them. If Roman Catholic apologists have written such tripe they gravely misunderstand the history of that period.

    One among endless examples that I could cite:

    “On the other hand, where the Gospel is not declared, heard, and received, there we do not acknowledge the form of the Church. Hence the churches governed by the ordinances of the pope are rather synagogues of the devil than Christian churches.”

    John Calvin, from Article 18 of The Geneva Confession

  14. Jon,

    You are correct that the veneration of Mary began early in the Church. In Luke 1, we find her being referred to as “blessed” four times. There she, the Virgin of Nazareth, is called by a new name “Kecharitomene”. This is not simply a nice greeting but a new God-given name through the greeting of the Archangel Gabriel. Catholics have traditionally translated this Greek new name as “full of Grace”. Now perhaps you do not like the translation, ok, but the word is still her new name just as Sarai became Sarah.

    More to the point however remember the great difference in how Catholics (and Orthodox) worship. We Worship by way of Sacrifice. Sacrifice can never, and has never been offered to Mary, but only to the Most Blessed Trinity. There is a vast gulf between worship and veneration for Catholics. We only worship God; we only venerate the saints

    This was a bit off topic but I really wanted to respond to you, Jon. Hope it was of some assistance

  15. One of the things John Calvin did — and indeed had to do–was to define the church. He had a problem with the existing structure and had to formulate an apology. He explained what he was doing. The true chruch, he said, had certain marks. So Calvin explained that wherever Scriptrue is faithfully taught, the sacraments are rightly administered, and church discipline is enforced, there you have the church.

    The Roman apologists I had in mind appeared on EWTN. I used to watch Mother Angelica and the gang and I would especially listen to Marcus Grodi and the Home to Rome series (or somethin like that). It seemed to be the consensus throughout the network, among laity and persons religious who were interviewed, that the Protestant break was not a huge rupture, and that early reformers were catholic and similar to Rome in certain respects when compared with later Protestants and sects. Of course the network hoped Protestants would get back to Luther and Calvin and thereby grow a little closer to Rome, ultimately arriving there. But their point was well-taken. Calvin was modified and misunderstood, too, to the point where Puritanism really changed what it meant to be Reformed. Calvin only reformed what he thought necessary. Of course he found more necessary things to reform than Luther. Neither had the kind of a-historical stance that more recent Protestants have possessed.

  16. Thanks for that, Boltolph. But I still fail to see the distinction you assume between veneration and worship. In my mind one either worships or one doesn’t. We are worshipping beings — homo liturgicus. We are first and foremost created by God for himself, as Augustine states. So who or what we worship is more important than anything else. Idolatry is our worse problem. I really don’t know what the statues, the hymns, and the general cult that surrounds her amounts to. Perhaps I don’t totally udnertand it. I can’t say I feel drawn to it. Can you describe for me what it means to pray to her and to sing her praises and to bow before her statues? The language attached to the veneration seems more appropriate for worship. I’m thinking the line is crossed in practice regardless of the church’s position.

  17. Jon,

    I had been working on a long response but somehow deleted it on my iPad. lol perhaps the Lord was telling me to keep it shorter and simplernlol

    Ok I would agree that there was a Catholic period, in the early years of Martin Luther. It is in those early years that I sense that the Church failed in their response to Luther. However, by 1519-1520 he had begun to reject whole aspects of fundamental Catholic teaching (seven sacraments, Eucharist as sacrifice and with it the ministerial priesthood, separating faith both from reason and from morality- in his faith alone. He rejected the hierarchical nature of the Church and it’s authority in his Scripture alone. He had become a radical Reformer, not a reformer of the Church. John Calvin began where Luther stopped. I cannot find a Catholic Calvin in his writings ( although he of course did begin life as a Catholic). Perhaps neither of the Reformers went so far as two other Catholic priests turned radical Reformers as Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland and John Knox in Scotland. They continue to blow my mind, frankly

    I can never imagine a real Catholic apologist or theologian stating that while sad, the Reformation was necessary. The Reformation tore apart the Catholic Church in western Europe. It separated millions of the baptized down these almost five hundred years from full communion with the Church and from the Eucharist. The Reformation led to the persecution of Catholics in Protestant countries and persecution of Protestants in Catholic countries or regimes such as the time of Mary Tudor in Englanf ( to be honest I think all the Tudors were a plague in one form or another for the Church: Henry, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth). These religious persecutions and wars led to the rapid breakdown of the Christian culture in Europe- which we are now reaping in its harvest.

    It is true, Jon, no side in this division is free from culpability, we all have dirty (bloody) hands. At this point in time when we are all under such pressure to give up our common Christian witness, Catholics and Protestant Christians need to build on what we indeed hold on common- there are foundational common beliefs- and work to be open to the Spirit of the One Who prayed on the night before He died for us, ” Father, that all may be one, even as You and I are one”. Nonetheless, I could never say, that the Protestant Reformation was necessary for the Church

  18. Well, a Protestant would say the seven sacraments were a development. We don’t have Scriptural precedent for all seven. We find two sacraments in the New Testament: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The term priest is not an accurate translation but a role foound in the O. T. The N. T. speaks of presbyteros: the bishop/elder/pastor. It was a plurality of presbyters that led the assembly, and these presbyters or elders or shepherds also existed above them ruling in districts. So we a presbyterian form of government at work there. It’s not episcopacy as you have in Rome. The sacrifice from a Pauline perspective was a once-for-all event, and we see that reiterated throughout the book of Hebrews. So we coouldn’t have a sacrifice in any sense now except for this: the sacrifice of worship and service through the priesthood of all believers. That is our spiritual offering in these times. Christ already died and rose again, and so we commemorate that. We don’t separte faith from reason and morality. It is by faith alone that we are justified, through faith in Jesus Christ. We are brought into relationship wtih God through Christ in order that the Holy Spirit might fulfill the law within us. It is what we call sanctification and it is to some extent the inevitable outworking of salvation. It is somewhat automatic in the sense that it is not a grudging duty but a spontaneous response as God works within us. Faith without works is dead and we are justified by a faith that works. If it is faith at all that we are justified by, it will work. James teaches that. We are not saved by works but by a faith that is necessarily accompanied by works. Likewise, we do not divorce faith from reason. We are not fideistic in the extreme sense. We simply recognize that faith always seeks understanding. Understanding comes to us through Scripture as we are guided by the Holy Spirit. There are still times when we fail to comprehend things and faith has to take the upper hand. It is not a simple syntheses of the two, but an uneasy relation that negotiates itself through time. The church really isn’t hierarchical. It should be elder-led, with the congregation serving according to their various gifts through the Spirit. Mutual submission is emphasized in the letters of Paul. Obviously from this standpoint, the Roman church experienced some pretty radical transformations over time. Catholics consider that OK–they cite the role of tradition. Protestants maintain we are obligated to continue in the traditions of the early chruch witnessed by Scripture while resisting serious innovation. It is difficult to see one side of the debate from the position of the other. But the Reformers felt they needed to bring the church under the authority of Scripture so that no conflict remained. Calvin and Luther differed in terms of how they went about that. As far as Eurpe goes, the ideal of a unified Christendom was shattered with the onset of the Reformation. But Protestants through the years have felt rather uninvested in the Constantinian state. In fact, many have seen it as a liability and indeed a large part of the problem. It is true that both sides persecuted the other, bloody wars ensued, and people burned ‘heretics’ at the stake. Such was the nature of the sixteenth century, a time when the best minds focused upon relgiion and interpeted all other things through a theological lens, including politics. Modernity and the enlgihtenemnt arose to coutneract that, and tried to stake out a neutral territory whcih may or may not have worked for the last few centruies. I think of Niebur’s Christ and Culture and wonder about the different viewpoints he explained. I dont’ knwo that an ultimate answer exists to that, and for a Protestant I guess one doesn’t, or at least doesn’t have to. We feel a paradox always exists, that we struggle to some degree or another as we recognize God’s kingdom is not of this world. We are a pilgrim people marching to Zion. But we worship and serve our Lord in our context and we struggle for appropriate ways to do that. Opinions differ but basic convictions are shared. The church is the visible expression that God’s kingdom has arrived. We worship God and proclaim the gospel of that kingdom, seeking to love and serve one another and the broader world around us. We endeavor to do that with creativity, but nevertheless within the parameters set by the scriptural narrative. And if we accomplish this, we live out our calling as God’s people.

  19. Jon,

    I had sensed that you were a Proestant brother in Christ from one of your first posts. First let me say that you are very welcome to join in our discussions ( I am not trying to overstep into Donald’s territory here lol) I wanted to respond to you becausevI genuinely thought-and still do- that you had some real questions and were not trying to turn our conversations into debates or diatribes. This has occasionally happened and not from Protestants, which might surprise toy 🙂

    At the same time, we are discussing Catholic things, things associated with the Vatican etc. if you have a question about something I or somebody else has said, that is great. However, if you want to get into a full blown catechesis or apologetics of Catholic teaching etc this might not be the best setting- it breaks the flow of the conversation

    As to the Reformers and the Reformation, I came to a realization on this while speaking with a Lutheran pastor, who told me that the fundamental difference between Luther and the Catholic Church was that Catholics believe that the Church (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) is visible- in the Catholic Church down through the ages, while Luther believed that the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was invisible. In the Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Church, while answering the question on the use of holy images (icons and statues and paintings) the fundamental question was on sacramentality. Does the visible reveal and convey the invisible? Does the Incarnation of the Son of God continue in His Body, the Church? Do the saving actions of the Incarnate Son continue in the Church today? if so how? ( the sacraments) is the sacrifice of the Cross, an event which happened once for all in any way connected with the Eucharist? Does Christ continue His bridegroom-spousal (Ephesians 5) presence in the Church today? These are just some of the substantial questions raised concerning ” sacramentality”. . The Councils since the Seventh Ecumenical Council began to unpack this profound mystery: in the Middle Ages on the sacraments but especially on the Eucharist, and, in response to the are formation, the Council of Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II

    Just something to consider, ponder and pray over. Hope it helps

  20. If men worship Mary, Mary, ever faithful, brings our worship to God, through her Son Jesus. Mary points to Jesus. Can anyone fully comprehend the love of Mary for the Son of God? No one has the grace.

  21. Thanks, Botolph. Luther retained a rather sacramental udnerstanding of Christianity. The Church of England retained a sacramentalist form. I’m guessing Eastern Orthodoxy is in this general category. Obviously the Incarnation is the greatest example of how much God values his creation. We are anything but gnostic. We value the visible world and know that God redeems it. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, as we say. What we do now matters very much — this world is important. I guess it is appropriate to say we are sacramental since we are Christian. Honestly, I have to say I don’t espouse sacramentalism though. I think the ism is for me a great difference. It implies something about the church’s sacraments that I don’t believe. It also implies something about the clergy’s role in worship that i don’t consider true. Finally, it suggests what I think is a world picture that goes beyond a proper value of matter to attribute to it a potency and signification that is not always inherent in it. Having said that, I have no problem with liturgy and a certain amount of ritual. I think that was a part of Judaism and was probably present in some aspects of early Christianity. All worship, in a sense, is liturgical, and liturgy is something very different. But again, sacramentalism as a philosophy or theological understanding would not be something I would agree with. If gnosticism negated the physical world, paganism embraced it in the wrong spirit. You might say the old pagans worshipped matter — they idolized creation. Christianity is really something quite different from both. Christians worship God and join in his creative and redemptive work, even as we are created and redeemed by him. I appreciate your amicable stance toward Protestants. You seem to harbor no ill-will, neither do you seem to have a bone to pick. I am happy to engage in discussion with you and hope that what I say makes sense. I have argued in the past that Lutherans are systematically sacramental to the point of embracing sacramentalism. I feel it is wrong for Lutheran pastors to adopt a role that dispenses spiritual benefits, whether its the ‘food and drink’ of the sacrament or some kind of rite. I always found that queer. I used to put it down to their ethnic heritage. Now I know it is deeply ingrained in Lutheran theology. It is about more than the old country. Anglicanism never bothered me because I don’t think anyone there ever took the sacramental backdrop that seriously, including the priest. It’s pageantry. I suspect the only ones who were thoroughly sacramental were the nose-bleed high worshippers that sprinlkled the population of the laity. As for Eastern Orthodoxy, I know very little. As I said, Christianity embraces creation. It is life-affirming just as Judaism was before it. But the imagery and iconocraphy within Orthodoxy strikes me as something more than that. I consider that it goes beyond the point. It stresses representation in a way I find troubling. As they so often express, we are each an image of the divine and I feel that ought to be enough. We see Christ in each person among us. God’s creation bespeaks his glory. I think that is sufficient for me. God thought it meaningful to provide us with the sacraments. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper remain. Baptism signifies our entry into the Christian life, while we remember Christ and his meaning for us in the Lord’s Supper.

  22. Penguins Fan says: “Marietta, that blog I checked out that you linked to was obnoxious…”
    It’s obnoxious, is it? And Francesca is so immacolata that her after-sex photo should never have appeared on the internet, unless she herself posted it somewhere.
    Pope Francis and Francesca deserve each other.

  23. Marietta, the blog you referred to is garbage. The blog owner is a lunatic. Is this where you get your Catholic information? Pope Francis is not my idea of an ideal pope, but he’s no Borgia either.

  24. Jon,

    The Byzantine Catholic Churches (Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Melkite) worship the same as the Eastern Orthodox. Iconography is a major part of their worship and prayer lives. Protestants, who use the Martin Luther invented – and thus man made – notion of sola scriptura – are put off by religious art and iconography. On the other hand, the Eastern Christians see Protestantism as a form of heresy against Rome. Honestly, so do I.

    As a result of Vatican II, Bugnini cut and pasted together a new liturgy for the Western Church – one he thought would be palatable to Protestants. It has been a disaster.

    Excuse me while I take my sinful self to the Tridentine Mass – where I know I worship as my Catholic ancestors did.

  25. Sola Scriptura is something I continue to believe. All it means is that Scripture is our final authority. I don’t know much about the Eastern Christians. While I have no problem with Christian art, I don’t think it’s needed as an aid to worship. I do not see Protestantism as a heresy. I think heresy is judged on terms other than schism or apostolic succession. I think it’s judged in terms of whether we conflict with Scripture in our beliefs. But I also think the church is marked by diversity and will always reflect that. We do not need to squelch that diversity in order to attain to unity. So I don’t see all this as heretical schism. Some of it is, honestly. But I think each group has to be judged against Scripture. Of course I define the church in terms different from some other Christians. I am not looking for visible continuity. I’m looking for spiritual continiutiy. I ask the question: are we doing our part now?

  26. Jon wrote, “I am not looking for visible continuity. I’m looking for spiritual continiutiy.” The problem with judging the church by its teaching or Christians by their tenets is that it can easily lead to a vicious circle – “The true church is that which teaches the true faith” and “The true faith is what the true church teaches.”

    But, as Mgr Ronald Knox points out, ” if you ask a Catholic “What is the Catholic Faith? ” and are told it is that held by the Catholic Church; if you persevere, and ask what is the Catholic Church, you are no longer met with the irritatingly circular definition “the Church which holds the Catholic Faith “; you are told it is the Church which is in communion with the Bishop of Rome. This, at least, is a test and not a tautology.

  27. I think tautology is in the nature of fatih. Jesus and the N. T. writers speak like that. Look, for example, at the first epistle of John or the words of Jesus in the gospel of John. Who we are as Christians and how we come to discern that is tautological. I think Jesus’ words ofen frustrated people for that reason.

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