Roman Forum Update
Catholic Action at Home and Abroad

John C. Rao, Chairman, D. Phil. Oxford

Assoc. Prof. of History, St. John's University


                                                                                      September, 2008

Dear Friends:

Twenty years have now passed since John Paul II's publication of Ecclesia Dei adflicta, with its call for a wide and generous response to requests from the faithful for access to the Traditional Liturgy. A joy-filled sense of gratitude for just how far we have come since 1988 contributed mightily to the great success of the Roman Forum's 2008 Summer Symposium on Lake Garda entitled These Ruins Are Inhabited: Catholic Emergence from the Rubble of Two Iron Ages (The Tenth and Twentieth Centuries).

This year's program more than justified the hopes that we placed in a major expansion of the conference into the first of what we would like to become an annual “traditionalist parliament” of truly international Catholic character. Forty-nine full participants, as well as many day visitors, heard a prestigious faculty from a wide variety of countries speak on the various intellectual, spiritual, and socio-political trials faced by Catholics, as well as strategies, both historical and innovative, for overcoming them.

In addition to Roman Forum regulars, that faculty included Dr. Miguel Ayuso-Torres, Professor of Law from the University of Madrid; Dr. David Berlinski, mathematician and writer, well known to Catholics from Ben Stein's recent film, Expelled, an exposé of the anti-religious agenda of the modern scientific community; James Bogle, Esq., one of the most prominent Catholic activists in the United Kingdom; Dr. Danilo Castellano, Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Udine in Italy; the director of the American Catholic Lawyers Association, Christopher Ferrara. Esq.; that prolific writer and defender of the Catholic Faith, Fr. Brian Harrison; Remnant editor Michael Matt; and, last but definitely not least, Taivo Niitvägi and Varro Vooglaid, organizers of the Trialogos conference, an impressive celebration of Catholic thought and culture which takes place each September in Estonia.

Our “Long March” to the complete liberation of the Traditional Roman Liturgy seems to be nearly over, but, as we noted last year, this merely signals the start of a new stage in the battle for the victory of the Catholic vision. We need to press the advantage won in the liturgical realm in order to stimulate many more Catholics to study the fullness of the Catholic doctrinal, spiritual, political, social, and cultural tradition; to understand more completely what is theologically and historically understood by the “restoration of all things in Christ.” That is the special apostolate of the Roman Forum, but we cannot continue to dedicate ourselves to it without your increased support. Allow me, therefore, to take a moment of your time briefly to outline what we do and why we need your financial help to do it.

1) New York City Lectures in Church History: For the last seventeen years, the Roman Forum has been the only organization in New York City and the surrounding area offering people not enrolled in an academic program a continuous and systematic, university-level course in the history of the Catholic Church and Catholic culture. The 2008-2009 series, When Values Descended Upon the Earth (1153-1268), takes its name from a phrase by the French medievalist, Jacques Le Goff, describing the practical rooting of the exalted Catholic vision in the socio-political life of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Its subtitle, Transformation in Christ and the Birth of the Lay Spirit, calls clear attention to the fact that the period in discussion is also the one where militant Catholicism began seriously to be contested by a “modern” secularist view of life. Lectures take place on Sundays at the spiritual center for the Catholic Chaplaincy of New York University: St. Joseph Church, 371 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, between Washington and Waverly Place. They include opportunity for questions and discussions with refreshments. Details and the schedule of lectures are enclosed separately.

2) Roman Forum Modern Image and Catholic Truth Series: Special programs dealing with the self-defeating character of the dominant naturalist worldview and the contrasting richness of the Catholic vision will take place on two weekends in the 2008-2009 season. The first of these, on December 6-7, 2008, offered in conjunction with the Forum's annual commemoration of Blessed Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors (1864), will be dedicated to the memory of the late author of The Gulag Archipelago. Entitled From the Syllabus to Solzhenitsyn, it will explore the reasons why the work of both are valuable for understanding the ideological problems of Left and Right, as well as the related errors of Liberalism and Conservatism, Communism and Capitalism. The second session, The Age of Dostoyevsky, on April 18-19, 2009---the weekend when the Forum celebrates the Birthday of Rome (April 21, 753 B.C.)---will feature Dr. David Allen White, among others, in a set of talks discussing nineteenth century literature, music, art and the problem of modernity. Future mailings will offer details regarding time, place, and registration.

3) Summer Symposium on Lake Garda, Italy: For nearly two weeks during the summer, a small Italian resort on Lake Garda, the largest and most beautiful lake in Italy, is literally transformed into an international Catholic village, with daily traditional masses, lectures, Catholic camaraderie, superb food and wine, and day trips to surrounding sites, such as Venice. For participants, many of whom come back year after year and feel like family, it is a rare and wonderful opportunity to experience Catholic life on the continent where Catholic culture first came to flower. This past year, Matins, Lauds, Vespers, and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom were chanted by the Ensemble Linna Muusikud from Estonia, which also provided a special concert of medieval Baltic spiritual music. The Traditional Roman Liturgy was beautifully chanted by Donald Cherry, James Bogle, and David Hughes. Mr. Hughes was able to display his magnificent talents as an organist in St. Nicolò, the recently restored seventeenth century parish church of Gardone.  A concert of haunting mountain music by Italian Alpini troops, and a ball on the main piazza rounded out the program. Gardone, 2009 (July 2-July 13, 2009), Binding the Rhinoceros: Medieval Catholic Reform and the Taming of Nature, takes its name from an 11th century description of clerical and lay efforts to harness the flawed powers of the natural world to the plan of Christ.

4) Lecture Downloads: Lectures by Michael Davies, William Marra, David White, myself, and many more, along with almost all of the talks given through our History of Christianity program from 1993-2006, are available to download to your computer. 2007 and 2008 lectures are soon to come. All these talks can be obtained for only one dollar per lecture by download at, spreading the impact of our conferences literally everywhere around the globe at minimal cost. Audiotapes are also available.

Please consult the Roman Forum website ( special sections on the Theology of the Mystical Body and Letter From the Romans seek to educate Catholics on the full meaning of the concept of “transformation in Christ”---for further information on the NYC Church History Lectures, the Modern Image and Catholic Truth series, the Summer Symposium, Lecture Downloads, and details concerning certain social events, such as our annual New Year's Eve celebration in Manhattan.

In order to undertake our Catholic cultural projects properly, the Roman Forum needs an annual budget of $80,000. What does this sum reflect? Books, storage space, and conference halls alone now amount to $15,000 per year, with costs continually rising. Almost all of the remaining money is spent to make certain that what we do is as widely accessible and as academically rigorous as possible. Students, seminarians, and priests eager for the training that they can receive at our programs usually cannot take part in them unless some or all of their costs are covered by scholarship. Lectures may be downloaded for only one dollar, but that price in no way reflects the time and effort involved in researching and preparing them. Hence, the need not only to pay the expenses of our lecturers and authors, but also to give them some support for their invaluable preparatory labors---even though this is never more than a mere fraction of the funds that anti-Catholic forces are willing to spend on scholarship aimed at the destruction of our Faith and our Church.

Why should a portion of that budget be spent for the expanded Gardone symposium? A recent article of mine for The Remnant, entitled Are Beauty, Camaraderie, and Talk Really Expendable? (, explains in some detail the importance of commitment to and expansion of that program. Dr. Ayuso-Torres from Madrid perhaps best summarized the chief reason for it in his lecture at the Symposium this past summer. In times of general crisis like our own, he noted, believers the world over can be all too easily tempted to grasp onto whatever small and differing parts of our exalted heritage are of the most immediate local significance to them. Unfortunately, this leads to the ultimate neglect not only of the universal Catholic “whole”, but also to the distortion, misperception, and destruction of the cherished pieces of that whole as well. Traditionalists, more than anyone else, should cherish being members of an extraordinarily rich, international Christian society, both supernatural and natural in character. They, more than anyone else, should be awakened to the need to fight for the victory of the fullness of our tradition---through which alone our particular national and local contributions may be nurtured and perfected.

We at the Roman Forum feel a special sense of pride in the fact that American traditionalists are performing a truly unique service for the worldwide community of the faithful by teaching what it means to live as Catholics and fight for the victory of our rich, international heritage at our annual Gardone symposium. These yearly sessions in Italy remind our Old World participants of the glory of their past achievement and encourage them to redouble their own efforts on behalf of our common cause. The rekindling of their spirit then works to make us want to do still more to press Catholics everywhere to burn with love for the civilization that their Faith has produced; a civilization that aids the struggle for salvation rather than putting obstacles in its path.

The Roman Forum may not be able to promise immediate benefits---like a tax cut---through your financial assistance. Nor can it provide the psychological satisfaction that comes from access to a blog and the chance to say one's piece at will. We work, as Thucydides wrote in his great masterpiece, The Peloponnesian War, with the conviction that what we are doing is being done for eternity. It may take a great deal of time and humble effort to yield its fruits.

As I have written in the past, we consider every tax-deductible donation we receive to place upon us a serious responsibility to use our resources well and wisely. To show you our appreciation, we have arranged that the intentions of our benefactors be remembered once a month at a traditional Mass offered in Rome by our chaplain, Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula. With the acknowledgment of your donation, of any size, you will receive a note confirming that you have been enrolled in these Masses. I thank you in advance for your generosity. 

                                                Sincerely yours in Christ,


                                                John C. Rao, Chairman, D. Phil. Oxford

                                                Assoc. Prof. of History, St. John's University


Make all your tax-deductible donations payable to The Roman Forum

“Even if the wounds of this shattered world enmesh you, and the sea in turmoil bears you along in but one surviving ship, it would still befit you to maintain your enthusiasm for studies unimpaired. Why should lasting values tremble if transient things fall?” (Prosper of Aquitaine)

The Roman Forum Lectures in Church History

2008-2009 New York City Program


“When Values Descended Upon the Earth”

Transformation in Christ and the Birth of the Lay Spirit


Lecturer: John C. Rao, D. Phil., Oxford

Associate Professor of History, St. John's University


September 14: A Tour of Late Twelfth Century Christendom

September 21:  Transformation in Christ & the Papal Court

October 12: The Birth of the Lay Spirit: Part One

October 26:  The Birth of the Lay Spirit: Part Two

November 9: Barbarossa and the Battle of Church & Empire

November 23: The Papacy, Il Regno, the Angevins & the Capetians

December 14:  Disasters in the Holy Land & the Third Crusade

January 11: Innocent III and Militant Christendom

January 25: Innocent, the University, the Mendicants, & the State

February 15: Lateran IV & the Fiber of Catholic Society

February 22: The Albigensian Crusade

March 8:    Philosophical Mind Games

March 22:  Aquinas, Bonaventure, & the Union of Faith & Reason

April 5:   Fourth Crusade, Latin Empire, & Church, East & West

April 26:  The Emperor Frederick II: Stupor Mundi

May 3: Hohenstaufen “Crusades”& Politicization of the Papacy

May 17:  St. Louis IX & the Problematic French Icon



All sessions will meet on Sundays, at 2:30 pm.

Wine & Cheese Reception. Entrance Fee at door of $10.00


 University Parish Church of St. Joseph/371 Sixth Avenue

Church Hall Entrance on Washington Place, south of Waverly Place

A, B, C, D, E, F, V trains to West 4th Street Station

Wheelchair Accessible

Two Roman Forum and Una Voce New York Events



Commemorating Twenty Years of the Traditional Mass in NYC

At Roman Forum Church History Series---September 21, 2008

Cocktail Party Following 2:30 P.M. Lecture

 $10 entrance Fee at Door



“Quo Vadis, Benedicte?”

October 19, 2008: 1:30—6:00 P.M.

Since the Catholic revival of the nineteenth century, the Papacy has found itself facing dangers on all fronts in its efforts to transform the world in Christ. On the one hand, this work has involved a need for protecting and deepening knowledge of the Deposit of Faith. On the other, it has entailed developing strategies for dealing with a globe filled with hostile visions of life that have nevertheless proven seductive to many Catholics. John Rao, Associate Professor of History at St. John’s University, discusses the historical development of the problem from the reign of Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878) until the near present; Christopher Ferrara, President of the American Catholic Lawyers Association, treats of it with respect to the specific difficulties of Pope Benedict XVI.




Luncheon: 1:30---2:45 P.M.


John C. Rao, D.Phil.: 2:45—3:45

Dangers on All Fronts:

The Modern Papacy, the Deposit of Faith, and a Hostile World


Christopher A. Ferrara, Esq.: 4:00—5:00 P.M.

Pope Benedict’s Dilemma:

Diagnosing the Disease of Modernity, Yet Unable to Prescribe the Cure


Question Period: 5:00---6:00 P.M.


Reserve by October 12th:  $40 for entrance and lunch

Pay at the door:  $15 for entrance alone

Make checks payable to the Roman Forum

11 Carmine Street, 2C, New York, NY 10014


University Parish Church of St. Joseph/371 Sixth Avenue

Church Hall Entrance on Washington Place—Wheelchair Accessible

A, B, C, D, E, F, V trains to West 4th Street Station