Why the Mass Exodus
by John Vennari
This is an edited transcript of Mr. Vennari’s talk given on August 22, 2007 at the Fatima: Only Way to World Peace Conference in Botucatu, Brazil. Judging by the general and deeply felt response of the many priests at this conference, this talk was perhaps the most appreciated of the whole conference. It merits our own attentive reading and assistance in giving it the widest possible circulation.
When Pope Benedict XVI came to Brazil this past May (2007), there were headlines around the world that one of the most critical problems he hoped to address in South America was the mass exodus of Catholics into various forms of Protestantism.
At the time, the newspapers reported:
1) Protestant ministers outnumber Catholic priests 2 to 1;
2) the Church had expected 300,000 to 400,000 people to turn out for Pope Benedict’s outdoor Mass at the Shrine of Aparecida, but only about 150,000 people showed up;
3) Around the same time, Protestants held their annual “March for Jesus”, at which 1.5 million people attended.
I believe it was Cardinal Hume from the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy who said that in South America, there was a hemorrhage of Catholics into Protestantism.
What I want to do this morning is to address what I believe to be some of the reasons this mass exodus is happening. Also, with due respect, I want to give some recommendations as to what can be done about it.
As for the reasons, I will list three, but not necessarily in chronological order.
The first reason:
We have to recognize that South America had been targeted by Protestantism since the late 1950s. Father John Harden, an American Jesuit theologian, said that he attended a gathering of the World Council of Churches (WCC) around 1957 in some sort of official capacity for the Vatican. At this meeting, the leadership within the World Council of Churches urged that Protestant missionaries target South America aggressively with a campaign of proselytism in order to gain converts. The WCC was well aware that South America was overwhelmingly Catholic, and the goal of the WCC was to break the strength of the Catholic Church in Latin America.
The second reason:
Mr. Nelson Rockefeller, the multi-billionaire globalist and “humanist”, issued a report on Latin America around 1969/ 1970. Rockefeller’s report makes the claim that in Latin America, the Catholic Church is NOT an ally of the United States — and that “we” should therefore be promoting various non-Catholic Evangelical Sects in Latin America.
And believe me, Rockefeller was capable of supplying massive amount of funds to spread Protestantism in Latin America.
So, these two bits of information indicate that Latin America was targeted for an aggressive, organized and well-funded campaign of Protestant proselytism to weaken the Catholic Church; and to pull souls away from the one true Faith.
And this brings us to the third reason:
We have to recognize that this campaign could never have been successful if the Catholic Church in South America was able to resist it mightily; if Churchmen — clergy and laity — had simply unfurled the banner of the Church militant and waged a stalwart counter-reformation campaign of its own.
But something happened that caused too many of our influential Churchmen to abandon the concept of the Church militant, that made too many of our influential churchmen ashamed to engage in counter-reformation activity. And the momentous event that effectively killed true Catholic militancy, and killed counter-reformation activity, and left the Church wide open for the ravages of Protestantism, was Vatican II and the new spirit of ecumenism.
This new spirit of ecumenical collaboration with Protestantism effectively bashed down the ramparts of Catholic protection against the errors of Protestantism, and the errors of naturalism.
This new spirit also did away with the pronouncements of anathemas. We don’t want any condemnations, but, rather, we simply want to promote the positive aspects of the Faith.
Yet this is actually contrary to the spirit of Christ Himself. We know from reading the Gospel that Our Lord did not do only one or the other, He did both: He pronounced the truth and goodness of the Catholic Faith. He told His apostles: “Go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. But He also threatened anathema: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned.”
The late Dr. Romano Amerio, an expert theologian at Vatican II, who was admired by Pope Benedict XVI, said the following about the new spirit of not condemning error:
“The setting up of the principle of mercy as opposed to severity ignores the fact that in the mind of the Church, the condemnation of error is itself a work of mercy, since by pinning down error those laboring under it are corrected and others are preserved from falling into it.”
Now, the new ecumenical spirit had a deleterious effect on the Catholic catechesis. Since the time of the Council, it was considered offensive to Protestants to teach that the Catholic Church is the one true Church. As a result, one of the first things that disappeared from the training of our Catholic young, was the solid Catholic Apologetics that the Catholic Church alone is the one true Church established by Our Lord.
And as a result, we now have two full generations of Catholics who — in the mainstream — have not been taught this truth. And I dare say: we now have two full generations of seminarians who have not been taught this truth.
And, with your permission, I speak from experience. I was born in 1958. I attended 13 years of Catholic school — that is: kindergarten, grammar school and high school. I was in school throughout Vatican II and the subsequent reforms. And I never heard of Catholic Apologetics until I was 22 years old.
I never received any teaching in school that the Catholic Church is the one and only true Church of Jesus Christ.
And I regret to say, that if I had to rely on what I was taught in 13 years of Catholic school, I would have lost my faith a long time ago. We were given more of a social gospel; a soft, effeminate gospel that had no teeth and no backbone.
I learned my faith primarily from old books my parents had around the house, and then from subsequent intense research and study.
So with the new ecumenical spirit that was launched by the Council, too many Churchmen no longer opposed Protestantism, no longer taught that the Catholic Church is the one and only true Church established by Our Lord. And let’s face it, without this firm education and training, the laity were left without the defenses they need to resist the aggressive advancements of Protestantism.
A Vibrant Counter-Reformation Campaign
Now, as for recommendations of what can be done, I believe something we desperately need is a strong campaign of Catholic teaching to the laity that reiterates the truth, in an uncompromising manner, that the Catholic Church is the one and only true Church established by Christ, and that a Catholic who leaves the Catholic Faith and joins up with a Protestant sect will not save his soul. The Catholic who abandons Catholicism for Protestantism cannot help — in the objective order — to fall under the solemn anathemas of the Council of Trent.
To adhere to Protestantism is to abandon the Sacrament of Confession.
The Council of Trent teaches infallibly: “If any one saith, that in the Catholic Church Penance is not truly and properly a Sacrament, instituted by Christ Our Lord for reconciling the faithful unto God, as often as they fall into sin after baptism, let him be anathema.”
To adhere to Protestantism is to abandon belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Council of Trent teaches infallibly: “If any one denieth that in the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.”
To adhere to Protestantism is to abandon belief in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Council of Trent teaches infallibly: “If any one saith, that the Sacrifice of the Mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema.
As I said, the Catholic who abandons Catholicism for Protestantism cannot help — in the objective order — to fall under the solemn anathemas of the Council of Trent. He will not save his soul.
This is the reality of our Catholic Faith that must be taught, not in a harsh or belligerent manner, but taught firmly and lovingly — always showing to our people the great love of God in His suffering and dying on the Cross for us; and His love in establishing a Church and His love giving us the seven sacraments. The operation of grace does not change, and the tried and true Catholic Apologetics can still work miracles for the salvation of souls.
So, I want to review a few basic points of standard Catholic Apologetics. The considerations I give here you may find helpful for your people.
I want to make it clear that in these Apologetics, we are talking about positions, not persons. We are looking at the Catholic position versus the Protestant position. I’m sure we all know Protestants who are models of natural virtue, and I’m sure we all know Catholics who do not live up to the standards of goodness and justice that the Faith demands. But persons don’t count in Apologetics, only positions.
And we’ll start by taking a look at the foundational Protestant principle of the “Bible Alone”.
Bible: The Sole Rule of Faith?
The Protestant believes himself to be on solid ground, because he says he believes and accepts the Bible and only the Bible, as the sole rule of Faith.
This is the central Protestant tenet of Sola Scriptura — the Bible alone is the sole rule of Faith. It is the Bible and only the Bible that is the pillar and mainstay of truth.
So the first question we have to ask is: how tenable is this Protestant tenet in the first place? Is the Protestant really on solid ground when he says that the Bible alone is the sole rule of Faith?
There is a well-known convert to Catholicism in the United States named Scott Hahn — a Protestant minister who became Catholic. Part of his conversion story gives helpful answers to this question (I personally wish Dr. Hahn would have become more traditional after his conversion, but that does not diminish the strength of the story).
Dr. Hahn had been a Presbyterian minister who, in his seminary days, was vehemently anti-Catholic. Subsequently, as a minister, he did a tremendous amount of Scripture study, because he wanted his sermons to be permeated in Scripture.
But the more he studied Scripture, the more he came to see that the truths that the Catholic believes, particularly manifested in the teachings of the early Church Fathers — Saint Jerome, Saint Basil, Saint Augustine — are firmly rooted in Sacred Scripture. These Church Fathers were Catholics. Every one of them was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
I’m not going to go through his whole story, but I want to spotlight a crucial event that clinched his conversion. It was something that took place while he was teaching class.
There he was, a Presbyterian Minister — a Presbyterian Professor —teaching young adults.
And one of the brighter students in the class asked him, “Dr. Hahn, you know the way we Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the sole rule of Christian faith, and we follow the Bible and only the Bible — not the Bible and Tradition?”
Hahn said “yes”.
The student said, “Well, where in the Bible does it say that?”
Hahn responded, “What a stupid question!”
As soon as Hahn said that, he said to himself, “You have never said that to a student before. You have never answered a student by insulting him.”
But the reason Hahn responded the way he did was because he knew he really didn’t have an answer.
Hahn said, “Well, there’s II Timothy, 3:16.”
But the student retorted, “No! II Timothy 3:16 says ‘All Scripture, inspired by God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, instruct in justice.’ It says Scripture is profitable! It doesn’t say we must believe in the Bible alone!”
So Hahn then said, “Well, look at what Our Lord says about Tradition in Matthew 15.”
Again, the student responded, “Well, no! Our Lord was not condemning all Tradition, but He was condemning the corrupt tradition of the Pharisees.”
So after a few more failed attempts at Scripture citations, Hahn announced that the class was out of time and they can pick up on this next week.
Now, Dr. Hahn knew that he had not answered the student’s question. And the student knew that he had not had his question answered.
So Hahn drove home that night in a cold sweat thinking, “What is the answer to that question?”
When he got home, he telephoned whom he said to be the top Protestant Scripture scholars in the United States. And he asked them, “Maybe I slept through this part of my seminary training, but you know the way we Protestants believe in the Bible alone and only the Bible, and not in Scripture and Tradition — where in the Bible does it say that?”
And to a man, each one of these Protestant scholars said, “What a stupid question!”
Then each of these professors invoked the same verse that Hahn had invoked: “Well, there’s II Timothy 3:16.” And Hahn responded as the student did, “No, this verse only says that Scripture is profitable, not that it must be the sole rule of Faith.”
Each of the professors also said, “Well, there’s Our Lord’s words in Matthew 15.”
And Hahn retorted, “No, Our Lord was not condemning all Tradition, but only the corrupt tradition of the Pharisees.” And further, Hahn said, Saint Paul instructs us in II Thessalonians 2:14 to stand fast and “hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.”
And these tip-top scholars, these most eminent of Protestant theologians, had no answer.
It was then that Scott Hahn came to realize that the central, foundational principle of Protestantism — the Bible alone and only the Bible — is not Biblical!
This is a tremendous contradiction, it’s one of the reasons why I could never be a Protestant. Protestantism claims to base its entire belief system in the Bible alone, but the principle of “The Bible alone” is a non-Biblical principle; it is a principle that is nowhere found in the Bible.
No Basis in History
Secondly, the principle of “the Bible alone as the sole rule of Faith”, cannot be a true principle of Christianity because it has no basis in the history of Christianity.
How did the early Christians learn their Faith?
How was the Faith communicated to them?
How did Our Lord tell the Apostles to communicate the Faith, the truths which must be believed for salvation?
He commanded them, “go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”. He said to Peter, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church.” (Matt 16:18) And Saint Paul taught clearly that it is the Church that is the pillar and mainstay of truth. (I Tim. 3:16)
Our Lord gave to Peter authority, and He commissioned the Apostles to preach in His name. “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)
Our Lord wrote no books. Nor did He say to His Apostles: “Sit down and write Bibles and scatter them over the earth, and let every man read his Bible and judge for himself”, which is the essence of Protestantism — each individual reads the Bible and decides for himself what are the truths of Christianity. No! As I said, Our Lord established a Church to teach in His Name: “He that heareth you heareth Me, he that despiseth you, despiseth Me.” (Luke 10:16) “And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.” (Matt. 18:17)
The Church and the Faith existed before the New Testament. Only five out of the twelve Apostles wrote anything down at all! The Church was teaching and administering the Sacraments, the Apostles were forgiving sins, the Church was making martyrs for seven to ten years before one jot of the New Testament was set down on parchment.
The Church was spread throughout the entire Roman Empire before a single word of the New Testament was written. We had Catholic saints and martyrs before we had Gospels and Epistles.
The first Gospel was written by Saint Matthew, about 7 years after Our Lord left the earth. The next was the Gospel of Mark, written 10 years after Christ ascended into Heaven. The Gospel of Saint Luke was written 25 years after Our Lord’s Ascension, and the Gospel of John was written 63 years after Our Lord left the earth. The Apocalypse was written a good 65 years after the Ascension of Our Lord. And all of this was written, as Pope Leo XIII reiterates, under Divine inspiration.
So then, how did the early Christians become Christians and save their souls? By reading the Bible? No, because there was no New Testament.
We saw that the New Testament was not even completed until 65 years after Our Lord ascended into Heaven.
But this is not all.
For over three hundred years, the Church did not have all the books of the Bible compiled into one book.
And this brings us right to the question of Authority.
Because if you give me a book — call it The Bible — and you tell me that everything in that book is the infallible word of God, the first thing I’m going to ask is, “Who says?”
Books don’t write themselves. Books by multiple authors don’t just compile themselves into one big book, and then proclaim itself to be the written word of God.
No! Someone, or some social unit, which God Himself gave the authority to teach: to teach in His Name, to teach infallibly, must tell me this. Only an authority like that can tell me that this book is the written, infallible word of God.
And it was the Catholic Church, at the Council of Carthage in 397 A.D., through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, that settled once and for all what was the Canon of the New Testament; that decided which books were divinely inspired and which were not.
You remember there were a number of other “Gospels” and “Epistles” circulating; some written by good and holy men but were not the inspired word of God (for example, the Epistles of St. Clement). Others were just plain fabrications, such as the so-called Gospel of Pilate or the Gospel of Nicodemus.
And it was the Catholic Church that decided which books were divinely inspired and which were not. It was the Catholic Church that put the New Testament together, joined it to the Old Testament, and gave the Bible to the world. It was the Catholic Church that produced the Bible, it was not the Bible that produced the Church.
Thus, as I said, the Protestant principle of the “Bible Alone” has no basis in history. The Catholic religion is the only religion that can answer the question: “Who Says?” — that is, “who says the Bible is the written word of God?”
Let there be Gutenberg!
But the problems don’t stop there. Because if it is necessary to read the Bible for me to be saved, if faith cometh only by reading the Bible, then faith cometh only by the invention of the printing press, which was not invented until the middle of the 15th Century by Johannes Gutenberg.
Before that, all books were hand-copied. It was a laborious, time-consuming and expensive venture. It was not possible to get a copy of the Bible into the hands of every Catholic, or even one to every Catholic family.
We’ve only had Bibles widely distributed for a little more than 400 years. So what about the millions of Christians who lived before that, who would go through their entire lives and never even see a Bible or a printed text of the New Testament?
Now, the theory of “The Bible Alone” — that is, following the Bible alone as the path to salvation — presupposes that the Bible should have been available to all men from the foundation of Christianity. Well, we already saw that this is not the case. We saw that the books of the New Testament were not written until 65 years after Our Lord left the earth. And we saw that the Christian World did not even have a complete, compiled Bible until the year 397 A.D.; and were not even available for mass distribution until the middle of the 15th Century. So the principle of the “Bible Alone” has no basis in history.
Conflicts with Reason
Finally, the principle of the “Bible Alone” is contrary to reason. Because if you give me a book, and you tell me that everything in that book is the written Word of God, and that I have to read it and believe the Bible Alone for salvation, then the first thing I say to you is, “Fine, then you leave me alone. You just give me that Bible, and I’ll decide what is the true meaning of Scriptures.”
This essentially is the Protestant system. If you go to a Lutheran congregation, you are only buying into Martin Luther’s private interpretation of the Bible.
And if you go to a Methodist congregation, you are only subscribing to another man’s private interpretation of the Bible — a character named John Wesley.
And if you go to a Presbyterian congregation, you’ve only bought into the private interpretation of John Knox, the founder of that group.
And if you are a member of a Protestant denomination, there is no reason why you could not stand up and say to the preacher: “Brother, I believeth you walketh not in truth. Your interpretation is wrong! I have found the correct meaning.”
And if you are zealous enough, and eloquent enough, and determined enough, you could start to preach, and you could start your own Protestant congregation — because that is how they all started.
And we see that this is the consequence of private interpretation of the Bible. Because, according to the Protestant system — every man reading the Bible and coming to his own interpretation — the logical conclusion of this is that there could be as many Protestant religions as there are individuals. There is no church for them established by Christ to teach in His name! There is no authority established by God to tell me that I might have made a mistake!
So this is one of the many reasons I could never be a Protestant. We see that the “Bible Alone” principle is contrary to Scripture, the “Bible Alone” principle is not supported by history, and the “Bible Alone” principle is contrary to reason; for it ends up in thousands of conflicting interpretations of Scripture, and is contrary to what Our Lord established His Church to be.
The Bible Made a Catholic Out of Me!
One of the many Protestants who finally discovered this truth was a man named Paul Whitcomb.
Paul Whitcomb was a Protestant minister whose intense study of Sacred Scripture led him to accept the Catholic Church as the only true Church established in the Bible. This is all laid out in an out-of-print booklet The Bible Made a Catholic Out of Me.
Mr. Whitcomb studied Scripture through the “interpretation by correlation” method.
Here’s how the method works: He would focus on a given phrase in Scripture, such as “Son of God”, and he would search throughout the Scriptures and find every instance where that phrase was used, in order to come to the Biblical truth about what a given phrase means.
When Mr. Whitcomb used this interpretation by correlation method for the word “Church”, it led him to a discovery he did not expect (summarized here in four points).
1) His first discovery, he said, was that the “Church” defined in the Bible was to be “one body” — and not only a human body, but a Divine Body — the Mystical Body of Christ Himself.
“Again, He is the head of His body, the Church.” (Colossians 1:18)
“Now you are the body of Christ, member for member.” (I Corinthians 12:27)
“We are members of His body, made from His flesh and His bones.” (Ephesians 5:30)
2) Mr. Whitcomb also discovered that this Church was not to be a disjointed body, but a unified body.
“There shall be one fold and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
“And the glory that thou, Father, hast given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one.” (John 17:22).
“You were called in one body ... one spirit ... one hope ... One Lord, one faith, one Baptism.” (Ephesians 4:4-5)
Mr. Whitcomb saw clearly that this body — the Church — was to be constituted as one: one in membership, one in belief, one in worship, one in government.
3) Next, he saw that this Church is to be a teaching Church. And not only that, but an infallible teaching Church:
“All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:18-20)
4) He saw that Our Lord pledged a divine protection to that teaching authority:
“These things I have spoken to you while yet dwelling with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you. When the Advocate has come, whom I will send you from the Father, He will bear witness concerning Me, because from the beginning you are with Me.” (John 14:25-26 and 15:26-27)
He read further in I Timothy 3:15:
“I write these things to thee ... that thou mayest know how to conduct thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and mainstay of truth.”
Now after reading all this, he noted, “I was disturbed by the discovery of this Biblical truth ... because [as a Protestant] I was not a member of a teaching Church, much less an infallible teaching Church.”
This is because no such “church” even exists in the Protestant system.
Mr. Whitcomb continues:
“The church I was a member of, like all other Protestant churches, held instead that the Bible is the only divinely authorized dispenser and guarantor of truth, that if anyone would be saved he must learn from the Bible what is required of him to be saved.
“The sole responsibility of the Church, according to Protestant belief, is to make known and to provide the ‘saved’, those who profess Christ as Lord and Savior, with a place they can join together in the ‘fellowship of prayer’.
“This despite the fact that for the first four hundred years there was no published Christian Bible;
“This despite the fact that for the next one thousand years until the invention of the printing press, there were scant few Bibles;
“This despite the fact that those who have made the Bible their sole rule of Faith have come up with hundreds of conflicting rules of faith;
“This despite the fact that the Bible itself states that many who interpret it privately (II Peter 3:16) will interpret it wrongly.”
To make a long story short, Mr. Whitcomb explained that the only “Church” that fit the description of “Church” found in the Bible was the Catholic Church. (He also noted that the Bible does not say it all, since John 21:25 tells us, “there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.”)
It was the Catholic Church, vested with the infallible authority given it by Our Lord that gave us the Bible, and it is only through the authority of the Catholic Church that we know for certain that the Bible is truly the word of God. This is why the great Saint Augustine, in the Fourth Century, said: “I would not believe the Gospel itself, if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.”
Now I am just scratching the surface of these topics. I did not have the time to develop for you the biblical basis for praying to angels and saints, for devotion to Our Blessed Mother, and for other points of Catholic doctrine.
But I wish to reiterate that solid, Catholic counter-reformation apologetics are more important than ever.
Do Not Imitate Protestants!
I also think it necessary that in order to stop the flow of Catholics into Protestantism, it is important that in our efforts, we do so not by imitating Protestantism or Protestant mannerisms, but, rather, by imitating the saints.
And the saint I am thinking of in particular is a saint who spent time in Latin America, Saint Anthony Mary Claret, the former Archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, who is renowned for his gifts of miracles and of reading souls.
I want to relate to you a little lesson he gave to a priest, which took place in Madrid, Spain, before the saint came to Cuba.
A priest named Don Hermenegildo (in Spain) was known for his eloquent preaching, and one day he preached a brilliant and animated sermon. Saint Anthony Mary Claret assisted at the function.
Don Hermenegildo received many congratulations for his sermon, but Archbishop Claret did not compliment him, but quietly retired.
This greatly disturbed Don Hermenegildo, so early the next morning, he visited Saint Anthony Mary Claret.
Dom Hermenegildo said to Archbishop Claret, “Pardon me, Your Excellency, for troubling you with this inopportune visit. I need to unburden my heart to you. I have not been able to sleep all night. Tell me, Archbishop, did my sermon not please you yesterday? Your silence has been a warning and a reproof for me!”
Anthony Mary Claret, having the charity of a saint, wanted to console and encourage him, but also wanted to give him important advice.
The Saint responded, “Tell me, Don Hermenegildo, have you ever preached on the salvation of the soul or on the terrible misfortune of the damned?”
“No, Your Excellency, I have not yet preached on those subjects.”
“Have you preached on death, on judgment, on hell, on the necessity of conversion, on avoiding sin and doing penance?”
“I have not preached directly on these subjects either.”
“Well then, my friend, I am going to speak to you with all sincerity, since you have asked me to do so. Your sermon did not please me, nor can I approve the procedure of those who in their sermons omit these great truths of Christianity and only touch upon such subjects as serve but little to convert souls. I do not think that such sermons are either agreeable to or shall be approved by Our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Don Hermenegildo listened and was silent, and it wasn’t long before the people of Madrid saw a radical change in this famous preacher. Formerly, the people would applaud Dom Hermenegildo’s eloquence, but now his sermons caused them to weep in pious contrition.
As for Saint Anthony Mary Claret, he came to Cuba in 1850 and was there for only six years. In that short time, he restored, both materially and spiritually, the languishing Archdiocese of Santiago. He more than doubled the number of parishes; he re-established the diocesan seminary from which no priest had been ordained in 30 years; he lifted the morale and zeal of the clergy and had obtained an increase in their salaries; he also helped establish a number of religious communities, where formerly they had been suppressed and prohibited by law.
I’m sure there is much we could learn from a careful study of his life to apply to our present situation.
In closing, I believe that solid Catholic counter-reformation apologetics, fidelity to the Message of Our Lady of Fatima, and an application of the approach, piety and missionary zeal of the saints — such as Saint Anthony Mary Claret — will go a long way in evangelizing people and in reclaiming Catholic Latin America to the Catholic Faith.
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