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The Roman Forum

11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C

New York, New York 10014

Author POSTED: Tuesday, March 03, 2009

September, 2011


Dear Friends:


The Sack of Rome! Most people think of this in conjunction with barbarian invasions, although the worst assault on the Eternal City actually took place in the Sixteenth Century, when commanders of a “Christian” army justified their soldiers murdering, burning, and plundering the capital of Christendom as divine chastisement for the sins of the Papacy. Despite this horror, it still required a number of years, many more setbacks, and the election of another successor to St. Peter, Paul III, before the Church awoke from her “dogmatic slumbers” to pursue the magnificent work of the Tridentine Reform in earnest. She did this not by choosing “Pope Luther”, as the troops punishing Clement VII in 1527 demanded, but by going back to the sources of the Faith. In returning to Tradition, she also created something new as well: Baroque Civilization.


The Sack of the final remnants of Christian Civilization in all its forms! That is what we are witnessing in our own time. Although we already have a Pontiff eager to stem such destruction, there are many obstacles, inside and outside the Church, making any progress in doing so ephemeral. Why? One major reason is because we believers are not yet plumbing the fullness of the Catholic Tradition for the answers to dilemmas that could lead to the creation of a fresh Christian Culture. Instead, we continue to listen to liberal, conservative, neo-conservative, and libertarian teachers, providing them soldiers for the Sack of Christian Civilization in the process. The Roman Forum’s mission is that of urging Catholics to flee ideology and open their minds to a return to the complete Christian Tradition; a Tradition that also provides a reliable road map through new, unchartered territory; a road map “back to the future”. How does it fulfill this task?


1) First of all, through our New York City Church History Lectures. For the last nineteen years, the Roman Forum has been the only organization in the country offering men and women not enrolled in an academic program a systematic, university-level course in the history of the Catholic Church and Catholic Culture. The 2011-2012 series, Fervent Catholics on a Ship of Fools, deals with the extraordinary paradoxes of the decades between 1453 and 1517. On the one hand, these were years when the accumulated problems of centuries appeared to have reached an insoluble impasse, encouraging apocalyptic and millenarian visions. On the other, dedicated believers were working in a myriad of admirable ways to resolve those woes, making the Protestant Revolution that was to begin immediately thereafter all the more unexpected. Indeed, the progress of piety and learning on the one hand, and the discovery of a New World on the other, made a number of influential men--like Erasmus of Rotterdam--believe that a modern “age of gold” was dawning. Lectures take place on Sundays at the spiritual center of the Catholic Chaplaincy of New York University: St. Joseph Church, 371 Sixth Avenue, in Manhattan. Details and the schedule of lectures are enclosed. The October 16th lecture also includes a talk by Professor John Médaille on the current economic crisis.


2) Through our Modern Image and Catholic Truth Series. These are special luncheon conferences that deal with the self-defeating character of the dominant naturalist world-view and the contrasting richness of the Catholic vision. One of these will take place on December 4th, 2011, in the context of our annual commemoration of Blessed Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (1864). Another will be scheduled for April 22nd, 2012, when the Forum celebrates the Birthday of Rome (the Parilia). Details of the Syllabus of Errors program are enclosed.


3) Through our Summer Symposium on Lake Garda, Italy. For two weeks in the summer, a small Italian resort, Gardone Riviera, on Lake Garda, the largest and most beautiful lake in Italy, is literally transformed into an international Catholic village, with daily traditional masses, lectures, camaraderie, superb food and wine, and day trips to surrounding sites, such as Venice and Trent. 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 fully came to flower. The Summer Symposium hosts a large international faculty, which has included Dale Ahlquist (G.K. Chesterton Society of America), Patrick Brennan (U. of Villanova), Christopher Ferrara (American Catholic Lawyers Association), Fr. Brian Harrison (Catholic U. of Puerto Rico, Emeritus), James Kalb (author of The Tyranny of Liberalism), Michael Matt (editor of The Remnant), Brian McCall (U. of Oklahoma), John Médaille (U. of Dallas), Fr. Richard Munkelt (Fairfield U.), Fr. Gregory Prendergraft (FSSP), Duncan Stroik (Notre Dame U.), Alice von Hildebrand (Hunter College, Emeritus), David White (US Naval Academy, Emeritus), and myself from the United States; Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula (Human Life International, Rome) and Danilo Castellano (U. of Udine) from Italy; James Bogle (Catholic lawyer, activist, and writer) from the United Kingdom; Miguel Ayuso-Torres (U. of Madrid) from Spain; Thomas Stark (Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, St. Pölten), from Austria; David Berlinski (Discovery Institute) and Bernard Dumont (editor of Catholica) from France; and Taivo Niitvaagi (Hereditas Foundation) from Estonia. The late, prolific, traditionalist author Michael Davies, from the UK, and my predecessor as chairman of the Roman Forum, the late William Marra (Fordham U.), were honored speakers for many years.  Faculty and students are served spiritually by a large number of secular and religious clergy.


Next year’s Summer Symposium will be a particularly splendid one, marking our twentieth anniversary in Gardone Riviera. Having completed our cycle of historical studies, we will begin our activities in mid-June with a Tour of Greece, the main secular font of Western Civilization. We will then sail to Venice. After several days in Venice, we will move to Gardone at the end of June and early July for our eleven-day academic program. Gardone, 2012, entitled Either Catholic Political and Social Doctrine---Or the Sack of All Civilized Order, obviously takes its theme from the situation discussed at the beginning of this letter. Please consult our website ( and that of The Remnant Newspaper ( for more complete information on the Greece and Venice Tour, the 2012 Summer Symposium, as well as other future events, like our annual New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance (details on back of this letter).


4) Through our Lecture Downloads. 2010-2011 Summer Symposium Lectures are available through The Remnant Newspaper. Almost all of the lectures of our History of Christianity program from 1993-2010 can be downloaded to your computer for only one dollar per lecture or purchased on audiotape at


In order to undertake these projects properly, the Roman Forum needs an annual budget of $50,000. Where do these funds go? Mailings, advertising, books, storage space for them, and use of conference halls alone now cost us at least $15,000 per year. More importantly, most college students, priests, and seminarians hoping to attend the Summer Symposium cannot be present without some financial assistance. Although no one on the teaching faculty receives any compensation for his work there, the daily expenses of all those delivering papers in Gardone must also be covered. Aiding both speakers and participants therefore takes up almost all of the rest of our annual budget.          


But why should we place such an emphasis upon this Summer Symposium? Dr. Ayuso-Torres summarized the chief reason in a lecture in Gardone in 2008: “Unless we traditionalists learn to appreciate the universal nature of the Catholic vision and fight for its general recognition and victory, we will all rest contented with our own little parochial piece of that heritage, and destroy the entirety in the process”. My Remnant article on this subject, entitled Are Beauty, Camaraderie, and Talk Really Expendable? (see underlines the same point. Providing scholarships for such a program to priests, professors, and students can be expensive---but its incalculable fruits will be more and more seen in preaching, teaching, and writing in the years to come.


The Roman Forum may not be able to promise immediate political benefits, but we work with the conviction that what we are doing is being done to good long-term and lasting spiritual and educational effect. 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, 11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C, NY, NY 10014



“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

2011-2012 New York City Program


Fervent Catholics on a Ship of Fools

From the Fall of Constantinople to the Reuchlinstreit (1453-1517)


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

Associate Professor of History, St. John's University





September 18:   City-States, “New Monarchies”, and Popes: Part One

October 2:         An Unending Ottoman Advance

October 16:       Eastern Christianity and the Rise of Muscovy

October 30:       Western Christendom: A Multiplicity in Unity

November 13:   Preaching, Printing, and the Thirst for Sanctity

November 20:   Humanist Progress and Erasmus’ “Age of Gold”

December 4:     Modern Image--Catholic Truth Series (reverse side)

December 18:   Cajetan and the Revival of the Scholastic Endeavor

January 22:       City-States, “New Monarchies”, and Popes: Part Two

February 5:       A Politicized Papacy?

February 19:     A Rut Triumphant?

March 4:          A Neo-Platonic and Neo-Aristotelian Christianity?

March 18:         A Neo-Pagan Culture?

April 1:             France, the Borgias, and the Bonfire of the Vanities

April 15:          France, Julius II, and the Fifth Lateran Council

April 29:           New Worlds, Padroado, and Patronato

May 13:            Utraquists, Heretics, and Millenarians

May 20:             The Reform of the Empire, the Erasmian Golden Age, and the Reuchlinstreit



All Sessions Meet on Sundays, at 2:30 P.M.

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



Annual Commemoration of Blessed Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors

(December 8, 1864)


Modern Liberty and Tyranny:

Now and Forever---One and Inseparable


Sunday, December 4th, 2011


2:00—6:00 P.M.


Guest of Honor

Christopher A. Ferrara, Esq.

President of the American Catholic Lawyers Association


2:00 P.M.


Cold Buffet Luncheon with Open Bar, from 2:00—6:00 P.M.


3:00  P.M.


Opening Comments by Dr. John C. Rao

The War of the Words and the Word


3:30 P.M.


Main Lecture by Christopher A. Ferrara

Liberty: The God that Failed


Concluding Reading of the Syllabus of Errors



$50 per person, reservation by November 28th, 2010

 Checks payable to The Roman Forum and sent to

11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C, NY, NY 10014



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

The Roman Forum


St. Sylvester---New Year’s Eve Party

December 31, 2011—January 1, 2012

8:00 P.M.—1:00 A.M.


Dance in the New Year

Eat, Drink, and Make Merry with Fellow Catholics


The Best Swing, Waltz, and Other Ballroom Music Ever Recorded




$25 per person—all 18 years or younger come for free.

All ages, including infants, are welcome.

Parents, come and enjoy yourselves!


 Price includes the hall rental, the music, set-ups for drinks, place settings, and magnificent breads, biscuits, cold meats, pâtés, cheeses & pastries. Bring anything else you wish, but especially your ownwine, beer & liquor. Alcoholic beverages must be provided by attendees.


Checks made out to the Roman Forum

R.S.V.P. By December 15th, 2011


The Roman Forum

11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C

New York, New York 10014


For questions, e-mail: [email protected]


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

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