On the Latin Mass, Pope Francis pulls off the Band-Aid

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A traditional Latin Mass is celebrated July 1 at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

A traditional Latin Mass is celebrated July 1 at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Pope Francis is a patient pastor. Until he isn’t.

His new apostolic letter, Traditionis Custodes, in which Francis communicates “the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present [document] and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II … constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite” is the ecclesial equivalent of ripping off the Band-aid in one pull. It was also the only real option.

Four years ago, on the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter granting greater access to the Tridentine rite, I noted that it was clear the pope’s hopes had not been realized. I wrote:

There are those who have made the extraordinary form the symbol of an ecclesial agenda that certainly runs counter to much of what Vatican II achieved. If you spot a bishop who likes to don the cappa magna, or a seminarian with a biretta, you can bet that they likely are inclined toward a triumphalist view of the church and a more rigid theological stance than the council required.

I also noted that Benedict:

totally failed to perceive the potential for the development of websites with a kind of cult following, sites that are ostensibly devoted to the extraordinary form of the Mass but that also serve as a conduit for a crimped, theologically unsophisticated form of Catholicism, combined with right-wing political agitprop. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf and Church Militant and Rorate Caeli all traffic in this nasty brew.

It turns out that I was not the only one who perceived that the situation had miscarried. A priest who was close to Benedict told me that when the pope issued Summorum Pontificum, “he never intended to start a movement, still less an ideology!” But that is what happened.

Francis, in his letter accompanying the new document, issued motu proprio (on his own initiative) on July 16, notes that at the time of the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, he asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to send out a questionnaire to the world’s bishops about the implementation of the document. Having gotten the replies, the pope felt moved to make the decisive step to greatly restrict the celebration of the old rite and to again leave it to the local bishop to decide when and where it may be celebrated.

If you doubt that the pope really understands the nature of the problem, look to Article 4 of the new letter. It states: “Priests ordained after the publication of the present Motu Proprio, who wish to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962, should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.” Seminarians who are asking older priests to teach them how to say the old rite need to be more focused on improving their bedside manner for hospital visits.

Two passages in Francis’ letter to the bishops accompanying the new motu proprio stand forth. The first points to the way some exploited the pastoral solicitude of Benedict and St. Pope John Paul II:

Regrettably, the pastoral objective of my Predecessors, who had intended “to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew,” has often been seriously disregarded. An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, 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.

It is not given to any of us, including popes, to look into the future. Benedict was not wrong to hope that people would accept his gracious indult and not abuse it, but the hope proved wrong. They did abuse it.

The second passage from Francis’ letter that stands out for its doctrinal clarity is this:

In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum of 1962. Because “liturgical celebrations are not private actions, but celebrations of the Church, which is the sacrament of unity,” they must be carried out in communion with the Church. Vatican Council II, while it reaffirmed the external bonds of incorporation in the Church — the profession of faith, the sacraments, of communion — affirmed with St. Augustine that to remain in the Church not only “with the body” but also “with the heart” is a condition for salvation.

These words, it seems to me, put the pope’s theological finger on the problem exactly: Aficionados of the old rite like to talk about how that rite uniquely conveys the sense that each Mass is a part of the one eternal sacrifice of Christ, and the thanksgiving to which the Eucharist is our response, but then they insist on their right to have a private Mass.

If the Eucharist is, as Vatican II taught, the source and summit of the Catholic faith, then we know that when the celebration of the Eucharist fails to serve the unity of the church, something is wrong, and it isn’t ever the fault of him whose sacrifice we commemorate. The gifts of the Spirit, too, never fail. The failing is in us, in our lack of charity, or in our inability to perceive the moral and religious obligation to promote unity.

In the short term, I fear Francis’ decision will aggravate the divisions within the church in the United States. But the choice was forced on him by those who, as he said, exploited Summorum Pontificum. The sting that follows pulling off a Band-Aid lasts but a minute. The church’s thanksgiving for the sacrifice of Christ is eternal.

The sting will be real in certain circles and all of us should be kind to those for whom this decision will be hard to bear. Then, in service of the unity that the Eucharist both builds and celebrates, we can move forward together.

Ivana Trump’s Cause of Death Revealed

By Caden Pearson  July 16, 2022

The cause of death of Ivana Trump, the mother of three of former President Donald Trump’s adult children, has been determined by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).

The OCME on Friday said Ivana Trump died after an accidental fall that resulted in blunt impact injuries to the torso, Fox News reported.

“Having released this determination, OCME will not comment further on the investigation,” an OCME spokesperson said in a statement obtained by the outlet.

Authorities said that police in New York City responded to a call of a person in cardiac arrest on East 64th Street on the Upper East Side at 12:40 p.m. ET. According to ABC7, the person was identified as Ivana Trump.

Ivana Trump, 73, who died Thursday, was remembered by the Trump family as “an incredible woman—a force in business, a world-class athlete, a radiant beauty, and caring mother and friend.”

“Ivana Trump was a survivor. She fled from communism and embraced this country,” the Trump family statement continued.

Ivana Trump was born in the former Czechoslovakia, a Warsaw Pact country that was controlled by the Soviet Union until its dissolution in the early 1990s.

She was the mother to Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. Donald Trump has two other children—Barron and Tiffany Trump.

Epoch Times Photo
Billionaire Donald Trump and his wife Ivana arrive 04 December 1989 at a social engagement in New York. (SWERZEY/AFP/Getty Images)

Ivana Trump “taught her children about grit and toughness, compassion and determination,” the Trump family added. “She will be dearly missed by her mother, her three children, and ten grandchildren.”

On Truth Social, the former commander-in-chief praised Ivana as a “wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman who led a great and inspirational life … rest in peace, Ivana!”

“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City,” former President Trump also wrote.

After leaving Czechoslovakia, she married Donald Trump in 1977. The pair got divorced in 1992.

Following their divorce, Ivana Trump developed her own lines of clothing, jewelry, and other products. She also authored several books, including one called “Raising Trump,” as well as an advice column.

Her most recent ex-husband, Rossano Rubicondi, died in 2021. She later confirmed to People magazine at the time that she was “devastated” by his passing.

New Records Reveal FBI Inquiry of Wuhan Grant

Anthony Fauci - Family, Awards & Facts - Biography

What did Anthony Fauci know, and when did he know it? That perennial question in Washington easily applies to federal health bureaucrats, who have tried to keep us from learning about their dealings with China and coronavirus research.

But we persist. We received 1651 pages of records from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealing an FBI “inquiry” into the NIH’s controversial bat coronavirus grant tied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The records show National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officials were concerned about “gain-of-function” research in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2016. The Fauci agency was also concerned about EcoHealth Alliance’s lack of compliance with reporting rules and use of gain-of-function research in the NIH-funded research involving bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.

The records also show EcoHealth Alliance’s legal team suggesting that a records request for data on their bat coronavirus research in Wuhan be denied because of the January 6 disturbance.

“Gain-of-function” research can lead to organisms that are “more transmissible or more virulent than the original organism or those that evade current detection methods and available treatments.” Little wonder then that Anthony Fauci, head of the NIAID, has not been forthcoming about his agency’s funding of this kind of research.

We obtained the records through a FOIA lawsuit for records of communications, contracts and agreements with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-00696)).

Here are the details we uncovered.

In an email dated May 22, 2020, with the subject line, “Grant Questions – FBI Inquiry – 1-R01A1I110964-01 – 2-R01AI110964-06,” Ashley Sanders, a senior investigations officer in the NIH Division of Program Integrity, within NIH’s Office of Management Assessment, emails David A. Miller, an agent at the FBI’s Newark Field Office to inform Miller, “In preparation for our call on Tuesday, Erik [Stemmy] (cc’d) has provided responses to your initial questions below (also attached).” Also copied on Sanders’ email is Mike Shannon, whose email address indicates he works in the NIH Office of the Director. The responses are completely redacted but are labeled “SF [Standard Form] 424 AI110964-06 (received date 11/05/2018),” which refers to NIH grant award R01AI110964, “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”

The records reveal several indications of gain-of-function research, as well as failures to comply with reporting regulations, including a May 9, 2016, email marked “High” importance, in which NIH official Carine Normil notes Peter Daszak’s failure to file a progress report on EcoHealth’s bat coronavirus research:

This is the second communication from NIAID requesting that you file the progress report for the above-referenced grant [5R01AI110964] that was due no later than April 15, 2016. Please submit the delinquent report by May 12, 2016…. [P]lease be advised that continued late submission of your non-competing grant progress report and any subsequently requested documentation will result in a reduction of time and/or funds for this grant.

NIAID official Erik Stemmy, who is copied on her email, replies to Normil noting, “They have proposed work for the next year of the award that may be subject to the gain-of-function funding pause.”

EcoHealth Alliance Chief of Staff Alexa Chmura separately responds to Normil writing, “We received a warning that one of the publications [redacted] listed from the past year is non-compliant.”

In a letter dated May 28, 2016, from NIH official Jenny Greer and NIH Program Manager Erik Stemmy, the officials advise Chmura that the NIH grant for the Wuhan bat project, “may include Gain of Function (GoF) research that is subject to the U.S. Government funding pause … issued on October 17, 2014.” They add that this pause was based on the following line in the grant application: “Aim 3: Testing predictions of CoV inter-species transmission.”

In an email dated June 15, 2016, from Stemmy to Grant Operations, Stemmy notes that the EcoHealth bat research at WIV may include gain-of-function research: “The Daszak award may have GoF [gain-of-function] and I’ve been in touch with the GMS [Grants Management Specialist] for a while now.”

In an email dated August 3, 2021, EcoHealth Alliance Chief of Staff Aleksei Chmura sends an email to NIH officials with the subject line “5 ROl AI110964 (Interim Report),” which is the grant number for the “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence” program. The report, which seems to detail gain-of-function research, is attached:

To analyze which viruses were a potential public health risk, we managed to cultivate three strains of SARSr-CoVs from bat feces… We used the genetic codes of some of the other viruses we found in bats and inserted spike protein genes of those viruses (the proteins that attach to cells) into the cultured viruses. By doing this experiment we showed that other viruses may also be able to infect human cells, and were able to do this safely without the need to culture large amounts of virus…. This work proves that there is a clear and present danger for future emergence of novel SARS-like viruses in people.

The August 2021 report also details that $66,500 of the award was budgeted for China in the grant period June 1, 2014, to May 31, 2019.

Records in 2020 include an April 21 NIH email thread regarding “additional subawardees,” referring to NIH grant award R01AI110964 “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.” Ten facilities are listed including:

Wuhan Institute of Virology, China;
Institute of Pathogen Biology, China;
Duke-NUS, Singapore;
San Pya Clinic, Burma;
Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Cambodia;
Primate Research Center at Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia;
Conservation Medicine, Ltd, Malaysia;
King Chulagongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thailand;
Hanoi Agricultural University, Vietnam;National Animal Health Laboratory, Laos;
East China Normal University, China, is listed as a “consultant.”

Also in this thread, on April 21, 2020, senior NIH official Matthew Fenton advises his NIH colleagues that in the EcoHealth Wuhan bat project’s grant, the WIV received $76,301 one year, the Institute of Pathogen Biology in Beijing received $75,600 and the East China Normal University in Shanghai received $49,750.

In an October 23, 2020, letter NIH Deputy Director Michael Lauer notes to Daszak that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had not satisfied safety requirements that applied to subawards with EcoHealth:

[W]e have concerns that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which previously served as a subrecipient of the Project, had not satisfied safety requirements that applied to its subawards with EcoHealth, and that EcoHealth had not satisfied its obligations to monitor the activities of its subrecipient to ensure compliance.”

Lauer then enumerated all the funds WIV had received in the first five years of the grant through EcoHealth, including $133,595, $139,015, $159,122, $159,122 and $159,122.

In an email dated April 11, 2021, and flagged as “High” importance, Daszak acknowledges that he knows FOIA requests would be inevitable for information on EcoHealth’s work.

I’ve tried to stick to a logical argument, but I’m also mindful of the dozens of FoIA requests targeting EHA [EcoHealth Alliance] and myself and that previous letters have been leaked to the press, so have made sure all details are laid out. I do not aim to make this letter public, of course and am sending this to you confidentially.

In an email and letter both dated April 11, 2021, Daszak informs Lauer that it would be difficult to get the information Lauer requested about the Wuhan bat project because of the termination of EcoHealth’s funding:

This termination of a funded relationship with the [Wuhan Institute of Virology] makes it extraordinarily difficult and more likely impossible to provide the information requested about an autonomous foreign organization – as would also be the case for a domestic one – that our organization neither works with currently, nor has control over.

Daszak further states that NIH’s FOIA officer, Gorka Garcia-Malene, had informed Daszak that “any indication from my program [NIH FOIA Office] that there is an ongoing investigation into WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology] can now be disregarded, as we recently confirmed there are no pending investigations into that organization.” [Emphasis in original]

NIH asks EcoHealth to “Provide [a sample] of the actual SARS-CoV-2 virus that WIV used to determine the viral sequence.” Daszak responds that it would be “effectively impossible” to request such a sample.

In response to NIH’s requirement to provide copies of all WIV biosafety reports from June 1, 2014, through May 31, 2019, Daszak writes, “Given the intense geopolitical pressure around the accusations that WIV intentionally or accidentally released SARS-CoV-2 (something which the WHO mission deemed ‘extremely unlikely’), obtaining such information is not a plausible option at present.” Daszak includes email correspondence between the law firm representing EcoHealth and NIH’s FOIA office on January 25, 2021. When NIH sought assistance from EcoHealth in processing a FOIA request, the law firm’s representative said the FOIA request should be denied because of the January 6 disturbance: “[A]s demonstrated by the recent attack on the US Capitol fueled by disinformation and conspiracy theories, the need to protect the privacy of EcoHealth Alliance’s employees and affiliates is more important than ever.”

In a letter dated April 13, 2021, Lauer indicates that Daszak has failed to provide all reports and documents that NIH had previously asked him to produce regarding NIH grant R01AI100964. Lauer also cites the contract language requiring Daszak to provide these documents.

In a letter dated July 23, 2021, from Lauer to Daszak and Chmura, Lauer requires EcoHealth to produce detailed records relating to three of their NIH awards including the Wuhan Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence project as well as grant U01A/151797, titled Understanding Risk of Zoonotic Virus Emergence in EID Hotspots of Southeast Asia involving Chulalongkorn Hospital and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, Duke-National Singapore University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and grant U01A/153420 involving the International Center for Diarrhoearal Disease Research of Bangladesh, Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research of Bangladesh. Lauer writes:

For us to continue our analyses, we will need to receive and review WIV’s [Wuhan Institute of Virology] records validating expenditures specific to R01AI100964 … that WIV submitted to you. As a reminder, subawardees are required to have a financial management system that includes records that identify adequately the source and application of funds for federally-funded activities.
We will also need to see subaward agreements, subawardee audit reports, subawardee safety monitoring documents, subawardee progress reports submitted to you, and subawardee financial and accounting records for two other NIH EcoHealth Alliance grants.

Lauer informs Daszak that the NIH had determined EcoHealth to be out of compliance:

We are also writing to notify you that a review of our records for R01AI100964 [the Wuhan bat project] indicates that EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. is out of compliance with requirements to submit the following reports that are outlined in the NIHGPS [National Institutes of Health Grants Policy Statement]: the Federal Financial Report … and the Interim Research Performance Progress Report …

Lauer adds that the grant was issued under a “Streamlined Noncompeting Award Process (SNAP)” and that EcoHealth Alliance had not submitted a required report that was due months earlier. Lauer warns Daszak, “[A] history of non-compliance related to R01AI100964, including reporting non-compliance, may impact other projects where EcoHealth serves as the primary grant recipient.”

(The NIH in April 2020 suspended funding to EcoHealth Alliance that “had previously established a partnership with a virology laboratory in Wuhan, China,” but in August 2021 provided a grant of $7.5 million that would reportedly “focus on Southeast Asia and the emergence of coronaviruses; filoviruses, the family responsible for Ebola; and paramyxoviruses, a family of viruses that includes measles and mumps.”)

The incredible disclosure of an FBI inquiry shows that Fauci and others involved in this scandal were being dishonest in dismissing the seriousness of questions about their cover-up of their funding of dangerous gain-of-function research in China. Any FBI inquiry would be appropriate as these documents, which we extracted after years of their stonewalling, also show that Fauci’s agency knew and should have known, going back to 2016, that it funded dangerous and prohibited gain-of-function research in China.

On The Marble

“I soon realized that poets do not compose their poems with knowledge, but by some inborn talent and by inspiration, like seers and prophets who also say many fine things without any understanding of what they say.”

INEC officers lodged in same hotel as APC Campaign Council on election eve

SENIOR staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were lodged in the same hotel as the APC party chieftains on the eve of the election slated for Saturday, June 16,  The ICIR investigation reveals.

On Friday, July 15, The ICIR and City Voice reporters sighted Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, both members of the APC National  Campaign Council for the Osun State Governorship Election,  at Aenon Suites & Hotel located at Femi Adefila Crescent GRA, Osogbo, the state capital.

Fayemi is also chairman of Governor’s forum.

In the same hotel were Kunle Ajayi, the INEC national commissioner for Ogun, Ondo and Osun states; Bala Bila Chairman, Electoral Committee for Osun State election and several other INEC officials.

One of the INEC officials at the hotel.

Many of the staff donned INEC branded jackets. Professor Ajayi and a few senior INEC officials wore red INEC jackets.

An INEC official in red jacket at the hotel.
An INEC official in red jacket at the hotel.

The ICIR learnt that INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu also lodged at Aenon hotel on Wednesday when he came to sign the Peace Accord with the 15 political parties registered for the Osun Election.

The INEC chairman left the hotel on Thursday.

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The ICIR  requested the list of the guests at the hotel for further clarification, but the staff declined.

More Secret Than Service

Secret Service Agents outside the White House.

The motto of the U.S. Secret Service is “Worthy of trust and confidence,” but recently the agency has put that to the test.

This week, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Secret Service, informed Congress that the agency had deleted text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021—the day before and day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that sought to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election—even though the inspector general’s office had requested that they be preserved as part of an investigation. (The IG is an in-house watchdog, whose powers are furnished by Congress.) The agency claimed that the messages were lost because of a “device-replacement program,” according to the inspector general’s letter, which was first reported by The Intercept.

A spokesperson angrily contested “the insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request,” claiming it had independently begun resetting devices in January 2021 and saying that no texts were actually lost. (In a dark twist, the inspector general’s office is itself under investigation for undisclosed alleged misconduct.) The chair of the House committee investigating Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election said his panel would try to reconstruct the messages.

We’ll see where this story leads, but the Secret Service has long since forfeited the benefit of the doubt. Agencies try to flout their watchdogs all the time, and their excuses are frequently flimsy. But deleting records like this is pretty brazen, and if you’re willing to take the Secret Service’s excuse at face value, I’ve got some counterfeit $20 bills very real legal tender I’d like to offer you at a very reasonable price.

The disappearance of the texts fits with the agency’s recent pattern of behavior. As the Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, the foremost chronicler of the contemporary Secret Service, has written, “The Secret Service’s claim of being politically independent … was tested by Trump’s tenure in the White House.” In one major example, a high-ranking Secret Service official, Tony Ornato, made a deeply unusual move from a civil-service job to being deputy White House chief of staff. New agents were assigned to Biden’s protective detail when he took office, reportedly because of concerns that the old agents were too politically close to Trump.

Mystery shrouds the agency’s work on January 6—especially with records missing. During his speech at the infamous rally on January 6, Trump told attendees to march on the Capitol, and reportedly wanted to go himself. Secret Service agents refused to allow him, citing security concerns. The former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House committee investigating January 6 that Ornato recounted to her what happened next: Trump supposedly lunged at the steering wheel of a presidential SUV and tried to force an agent to drive him to the Capitol. Through a spokesperson, the Secret Service denied the story, and neither Ornato nor the agent have spoken about it publicly. But CNN reports that similar stories were circulating within the Secret Service for months, and a D.C. police officer reportedly corroborated the account as well.

Agents were involved in another strange episode a little later on January 6. As the Trump-incited mob breached the Capitol, Vice President Mike Pence was whisked to safety, and his security detail reportedly sought to get him into his armored limousine. But Pence refused, reportedly fearing that the agents would remove him from the building, which might have further disrupted the certification of Biden’s win.

The agency’s independence isn’t the only thing that looks shaky: so does the other pillar of its reputation, competence. This week, an employee staffing Biden’s trip to Israel was sent home after a reported physical altercation with a woman there. (This isn’t the first time an employee has been shipped back to the States for bad behavior.) In April, the FBI alleged that two men impersonating federal agents had fooled the Secret Service. And earlier this month, Biden announced that the agency’s chief was leaving to join the social-media company Snap (where at least he won’t have to worry about preserving his messages).

These incidents are just part of a string of snafus dating back more than a decade. During the Obama administration, the Secret Service allowed people to fire shots at the White House, permitted an armed guard to ride an elevator with the president, got into trouble overseas, and had car accidents after drinking. Officials were repeatedly sacked—including one who was investigating agents visiting sex workers overseas, until he himself was arrested in a prositution investigation.

This sort of haplessness is entertaining when it’s the Keystone Kops doing it on celluloid. But when the issues involved are as serious as the life of the president or attempts to subvert an election, laughter doesn’t come so easily.

Covid: Doctors and nurses, ‘angels’ at the side of the helpless

The Pandemic and the Magisterium of Francis: a series of videos in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Vatican’s Covid-19 Commission re-propose the Pope’s teachings on the global health crisis, reaffirming that one does not come out of the crisis the same, but either better or worse. And “one does not come out alone” but “taking the other by the hand”.