Hilary White, Rome Correspondent


Pope Benedict and the art of fencing

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME - Many years ago, I was having a conversation on the phone with a friend who was also an archbishop. We were differing over a political question and the discussion had become somewhat heated. It was rather fun, actually, to know that I could stand toe-to-toe with a high-ranking prelate and not back down. He enjoyed a good fight too, so a splendid time was had by all.

After we had wound down, we moved on to other topics and he asked me how things were going. We got onto sports, and I mentioned that I was going to watch a fencing match later that day. He asked, and I said that, yes, I had been very into fencing when I was younger, for several years. At that point, my friend burst out laughing and said, “Why does that not surprise me?” I said I had no idea.

Today I was thinking about it, and remembered that in fencing, one of the most important moves you learn is the In Quartata, to take whatever part of your body is the target and move it out of your opponent’s range at the same moment he is attacking. You have to learn to do this very quickly without “telegraphing” the move, without giving any sort of physical warning sign of what you are about to do. And you have to time it for the precise moment when your opponent is in the process of moving his body forward to attack so that when he expects to connect, the target is unexpectedly not there. This throws your opponent off balance, messes up his timing and plans, and gives you a chance to riposte and reposition the fight. 

These kinds of moves take years to learn and have to be done in milliseconds. Sometimes when you are just watching a fight from the sidelines between two very skilled and experienced fencers, you can entirely miss what has happened because it is so fast and the movements are so tiny. Even to watch a fencing match, to be able to understand what is happening, takes some experience with the sport. What looks to outsiders like a sudden burst of confusing, lightning-fast movement, is actually a carefully laid plan of attack and counter-attack, where each opponent is thinking six moves ahead. You can’t blink.

On an entirely unrelated note, on the burning questions surrounding Pope Benedict’s decision, I think in the last few days, those with the faith and some knowledge of what is actually happening in the world have come to the right conclusions.

I don't imagine that Benedict or anyone else expects us to ignore the open secret that there are strong forces within the Walls as well as without opposed to him and to Christ. He has certainly told us about it quite bluntly many times. There isn’t a conspiracy here. To be a conspiracy a plot has to be secret and the enemies of The Real, “the wolves” and the purveyors of “filth,” have certainly not held back in recent years.  

But just applying logically what we already know about the situation both in the Church and the world, will tell us the reasons for Benedict’s decision. Yesterday, our Managing Editor, Steve Jalsevac, wrote that his timing is significant, at the moment when the chaos in the world and within the Church are coalescing into some very dark and ominous clouds on the horizon. I have read more comments than I can count from people all over the world, both personally by email and in many other forums, saying they feel that we are moving into a very difficult period. I don’t think anyone sensible will dispute this now.

It is also been obviously true that his strength has been flagging for some time, but his mind and will are as strong as ever. His discussion, off the cuff, of the theological and ecclesiological impact of the Second Vatican Council with the parish priests of Rome yesterday was clear evidence that there is nothing wrong with his mind. 

So I think those are essentially correct who have written that Benedict has stepped aside in order that the Church might be led by a strong man capable of meeting these threats, both from within and without. And his unexpected, lightning-fast move has certainly thrown the enemy off balance.

There are many signs that he has made the decision as a deliberate act of his own, without coercion, and for the right kinds of reasons. I also do not rule out the possibility that he has had some kind of personal spiritual revelation about what he must do. The papacy is one of those places where the concrete realities of the world meet the even more unyielding Real of the supernatural. But if this is so, it will be up to Benedict himself to decide to reveal it.

Though he had given hints in the past, the indisputable fact that absolutely everyone in the Vatican machinery was shocked beyond words at the announcement makes clear that this is his own act, that he has not been in any way coerced. Which is actually a great weight off my mind.

I suppose I was worried, in the first few days, that he had been under some external compulsion, and for a time was genuinely filled with dread and foreboding. Such a thing would have been unthinkable, a true defeat. Since then, however, I've come to understand better and to trust that he is doing this from true freedom and deliberation, which means that the right person is still in control: him. 

Whatever is coming, though, we at least are not going to be wholly unprepared. We’ve been doing this work now for about 20 years and in that time have had the chance to learn at least the general parameters of what is happening. It is clear that we have not been wasting our time, since what we know, we have tried to pass along to you all. We can say that we have tried to warn the world. And whatever “it” is that’s coming next, it will not be a bolt out of the blue, but a development or an escalation of what we already know. I am confident that we have read the signs of the times correctly.

Which is good. I've recently really come to hate surprises.


For your enjoyment, watch this cool slow-mo fencing match.

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I’m not ‘parent 1,’ I’m Mamma!: Italians defy secularist and gender ideology in large ways and small

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

There’s a lot to love about Italy and the Italians. They can drive you nuts, but in so many ways, they’ve got their feet planted firmly on the ground, and can be relied upon to refuse to go along with a lot of the modern world’s wild shenanigans.

I am reminded of the famous case a few years ago when the European Court of Human Rights, in an act of supreme arrogance, issued an order to the Italian government to remove all the crucifixes in every school and public office in the country. Some one had complained, and a whole country had to toe the radical secularist line.

Italians up and down the boot responded with a magnificent two-fingers-up, with mayors and town councillors issuing decrees that any classroom or public office NOT prominently displaying a crucifix by the end of the week would be subject to heavy fines. In one small town, the mayor and the communist party official joined with the local parish church to ceremonially reinstall a large crucifix in the centre of the town’s main piazza.

Well, here we are again, with the Italians making it clear in ways big and small, that no matter how eager some of the shysters in their government may be to kow tow to the gender ideology’s zeitgeist, the actual people are having none of it.

Tempi.com, a Catholic newspaper, published a viral photo today of a very typical Italian act of public defiance. One woman in Milan, when asked to fill out a form for her children’s school, has made a little correction:

Her name is Barbara Bianchi and today the newspaper says that she did not believe that her gesture would find many supporters. A mother, just over forty eight years, with twins, posted on Facebook a photo that has been around the web. ‘I am the mother, not “parent one.” [Milan Mayor Giuliano] @Pisapia, understood?’ She wrote next to the image of her signature on the document of enrollment of children in school.

“With a stroke of the pen has deleted the words ‘parent 1’ and replaced it with the word ‘mamma.’ The image has collected many ‘likes’ and shares.

LifeSiteNews would like to salute Mrs. Bianchi, and all the Italian people who are increasingly refusing to go along with the ideological tide.

Viva Italia!

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Divorce: the proto-sin to launch a Sexual Revolution – Pope Leo XIII

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, December 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When did the Sexual Revolution start? It seems like a no-brainer doesn’t it? Most people would place it about the early to mid 1960s. The publication of that book by Germaine Greer, or the invention and marketing of The Pill, right?

Given a moment to think about it, most people would probably amend that and say it probably had its roots earlier than that. Maybe it goes back to whenever Germaine Greer and other academic feminists were in university working on their ideas and Dr. Pincus was working on his science project. Nearly everyone would agree, however, that by the time Pope Paul VI issued his famous 1968 encyclical on artificial birth control, Humanae Vitae, no one had seen that horse for a long time and the barn doors had actually fallen off.

But how did the doors get opened in the first place? How could an entire civilisation’s sexual mores be so radically altered in a single generation? Was there one, “proto-sin” that launched the whole business? What allowed these things to gain a foothold after centuries in which all the Christian world, since the fall of the Roman Empire, founded its daily life and polities on the solidity of marriage and the generation and raising of children?

Even a brief glance at history will show that the frenzy of sexual disorderliness that so characterises our times did not start in the 20th century at all. The first legal steps in creating the destruction we see today was the loosening of the divorce laws in the 19th century. Without the legal bastion of indissoluble marriage, the supports that held everything else in place with regards to the family were, one by one, eroded and finally abandoned. And the Church had been warning against it for a while.

Pope Leo XIII, one of the towering figures of Catholic history, published the encyclical “Arcanum divinae sapientia” (The Mystery of Divine Wisdom) on marriage in 1880, his fourth out of an enormous final total of 85. Popes don’t choose their encyclical topics at random, and it is clear from its early appearance in his papacy that he was seriously worried about the state of marriage, the protection and nurturing of which he linked to the inherent dignity of women.

Paragraph 29 can perhaps give us a hint about the origin of the social catastrophe we currently find ourselves in. Leo clearly equates the protection of the family with the protection both of women and children and of the state. He writes, “Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce.”

The rest of the paragraph immediately reminded me of the warnings Paul VI was to give nearly 90 years later about artificial contraception. Leo writes that divorce makes “matrimonial contracts…variable” and “mutual kindness is weakened”.

Divorce, he said, supplies “deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness” and harms the education and training of children, allows the “breaking up of homes” and sows “seeds of dissension” in families. With divorce, “the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men”.

Because “nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals,” divorce is “in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States.”

Looking at the roots of the Sexual Revolution, we find ourselves following a trail of historical breadcrumbs backwards in time. It is broadly accepted that the Revolution was triggered by a combination of factors, but most think the big one was hormonal contraceptives. The generally accepted dates for the invention of The Pill is between 1951 and 1957 by Dr. Gregory Pincus, an acquaintance of Margaret Sanger who helped him obtain research funding.

Sanger herself, the foundress of the organisation that would eventually span the globe as Planned Parenthood International and a notorious racist and eugenicist, started her work in 1916 and made no bones in her writing about it being a part of her eugenics project, (writing that later inspired Hitler and the pre-war German eugenics programme he instigated).

Going back further, we find that the Sexual Revolution, as a social and moral upheaval that eventually undermined and shredded the bastions of the traditional family, was a key goal laid out in Marxist writings as early as the work of Friedrich Engels who wrote of the evils of the “monogamous family”. His book on the subject, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State,” that is still in print and used in universities, was published in 1884.

Engels saw marriage and the family as a tool of oppression, and his writing clearly shows the seeds of modern anti-family feminism. That academic feminism, the ideology that currently governs much of the western world, is a product of Marxism is a secret to no one except the general public. But at the same time Engels was writing, he claimed, from history, the Church was taking different lessons from the past.

Pope Leo also looked back to the ancient world in his warning about what would happen, particularly to women, should the Christian world slide back into the ways of the later Romans who allowed divorce virtually at whim. States, he said, forgot “the true notion and origin of marriage”. “Plurality of wives and husbands, as well as divorce, caused the nuptial bond to be relaxed exceedingly,” resulting in women being reduced to a “piteous” state in which they were “sunk so low as to be all but reckoned as a means for the gratification of passion, or for the production of offspring”.

The Church, Leo wrote, had restored marriage as it was originally intended by God, and defended it from the encroachments of power-hungry princes and states. But in Leo’s time the “archenemy of mankind,” the Devil, had inspired persons to “despise…or utterly ignore the restoration of marriage to its original perfection”.

There were men “in our own age,” who aimed to “pervert utterly the nature of marriage”. Such people, inspired by “the maxims of a false philosophy and corrupted in morals, judge nothing so unbearable as submission and obedience; and strive with all their might to bring about that not only individual men, but families, also -- indeed, human society itself -- may in haughty pride despise the sovereignty of God.”

Given our current struggles with hyper-secularisation, it is interesting to note also that  Leo firmly attributed the attacks on marriage as a way of asserting the ultimate authority of the secular state against that of the Church. Indeed, there are places where the encyclical’s warnings are of developments that sound depressingly familiar.

“Since the family and human society at large spring from marriage, these men will on no account allow matrimony to be the subject of the jurisdiction of the Church. Nay, they endeavor to deprive it of all holiness, and so bring it within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community.

“Now is the time, they say, for the heads of the State to vindicate their rights unflinchingly, and to do their best to settle all that relates to marriage according as to them seems good.”

Leo does not specify which states in particular, but by his time, Britain had already passed the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 that removed the competence of divorce cases from ecclesiastical to civil courts and made marriage a matter of contract law, rather than an acknowledgement by the state of a religiously-founded sacrament. In fact, it was opposed in Parliament by some MPs who feared that it was a usurpation of the rights and authority of the established Church of England.

Prior to this law, those who wanted a divorce had to prove adultery, and the divorce was only granted either as an annulment, or as a separate act of Parliament. With the passage of the 1857 act, the law was slowly amended to the point where, as of 1973, people in England and Wales can divorce on the grounds of adultery or “unreasonable behaviour” which can be anything from chronic alcoholism to having separate social lives. The Daily Mail reported in 2002 that Britain has the highest rate of divorce in the European Union. Since then, demographers have noted that the rate of divorce has slowed, but mostly because fewer people are bothering to get married in the first place.

“Not only, in strict truth, was marriage instituted for the propagation of the human race, but also that the lives of husbands and wives might be made better and happier,” Leo XIII wrote in 1880. From such unions, he said, “the State may rightly expect a race of citizens animated by a good spirit and filled with reverence and love for God, recognizing it their duty to obey those who rule justly and lawfully, to love all, and to injure no one.”

Two summers ago, “youths” rioted across Britain, trashing shops and burning homes and businesses in four major cities. This incident, which made international headlines at the time, has been strangely almost forgotten. At the time, Britain’s heavily leftist media blamed lack of social services. But one man, a social worker in Britain’s inner cities, squarely blamed the destruction of the family. The kids throwing rubbish bins through shop windows had never known a father and had been raised by the state.

It is hard to imagine a better caption to the photos of the laughing, smiling teenagers looting shops than Leo’s condemnation and warning, “Nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals” brought about by divorce.

“Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce.”




URGENT! Only hours left to get last 400 Irish signatures needed for ‘One of Us’ petition quota

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

One of Us is an international Europe-wide petition to demand that the European Union recognise the personhood of the human embryo, even at the earliest stages of developmental life. 

The proposal calls for a ban on the EU’s “financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health.” Read more about it here

In September, the international signatures had reached 1 million

Today, LifeSiteNews.com was asked to pass on the following message to our readers and friends in the Republic of Ireland. 

Dear Friends,

Ireland needs just 400 more signatures to reach our ‘One of Us’ quota!

Thank you SO MUCH for all your efforts to date.  We're almost there now, so . . .

Please ask family, friends, neighbours, and others to sign on-line TODAY at:  https://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/ECI-2012-000005/public/signup.do, and spread the word by E-mail, Mobile, Smart-phone, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Blogs, Forums, LinkedIn, and any other way you can.


As you are probably aware, the 'One Of Us' European Citizens Initiative calls for an EU-wide ban and end to funding activities that assume the destruction of human embryos, in particular with regard to research, development aid and public health, which includes abortion.

God bless!

Mary Morgan-Dupré
Secretary, Ireland United For Life
'One Of Us' European Citizens Initiative

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