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 The Roman Forum

Contact: Dr. John Rao

11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C

New York, New York 10014
Released September, 2012

 Dear Friends:

Bella gerant alii; tu, felix Austria, nube. “Let others make war; you, happy Austria, marry.”

This famous reworking of a line from the Roman poet Ovid lauds the late fifteenth century successes of the Hapsburg Family in strengthening its domains through carefully arranged marriage alliances rather than ill-considered and therefore generally appallingly self-defeating military action. But Ovid’s words, in the much broader significance given to them by the Hapsburgs nearly fifteen hundred years later, can also be appropriated to describe the vision and strategy of the Roman Forum today.

Simply put, what the Roman Forum seeks to do is two-fold.

On the one hand, its project is to free Catholics from an embrace of the thoughtless, rancorous, and self-defeating political and polemical conflict that characterizes the global pluralist regime; to liberate them from infatuation with an intellectual “dialogue” which amounts to nothing more than endless, instantaneous, and ultimately meaningless commentary on the latest battles on the blogosphere.

On the other, the Roman Forum works to direct Catholics down the only valid path to solid, long-term success in each and every realm of life, the political realm included. And this entails cultivating a romance and marriage alliance with Christ, gaining a full recognition of what that union really entails, and obtaining the incomparably happy fruits that its transforming experience yields.

A mammoth spiritual and intellectual culture war with terrible practical consequences is indeed being fought in our time. Unfortunately, most believers are fighting that war by arming themselves with concepts of freedom, the individual, and society that are naturalist in character and destroy the last remnants of Catholic Christendom. The Roman Forum urges a retreat from this suicidal endeavor for the purpose of providing a “basic training” that emerges from a more solid marriage with Christ. Such training arms potential crusaders with spiritual and intellectual weapons that will not explode in their faces when they renew battle with their foes. It is a training that the Roman Forum undertakes on both the international and national level. But how? 

1) Through the Summer Symposium on Lake Garda, Italy.

For twenty years, 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 (Roman Forum), 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) and Gregor Hochreiter (Oekonomika Institute, Vienna) 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.

My new book, Black Legends and the Light of the World: The War of Words with the Incarnate Word (Remnant Press) describes what we have learned regarding Catholic Christendom and its proper defense in the first twenty years of the Gardone program.

This year’s Summer Symposium, with fifty-five participants, was especially lively. We are grateful to Michael Voris and his associates on The Vortex ( for having produced an excellent documentary that well captures the spirit of the program. Gardone, 2012 ended with a public ceremony marking our twentieth anniversary in the village. It was held in the splendid villa housing the local municipal government---henceforth to be used as the site of our daily lectures.

Next year’s Summer Symposium---entitled “Divine Comedy? Or Theater of the Absurd?”---will take place between July 1 and July 13, 2013 (twelve nights). It will discuss the nature and history of Catholic Christendom as a social “stage” wherein “the drama of truth” is performed by distinct individuals utilizing innumerable natural and supernatural tools---all designed to help gain them eternal life with God. The Catholic stage will be vividly contrasted with the impoverished “stage of life” provided by modernity. For modernity cheapens and ultimately annihilates the drama of life by placing a variety of crippling and arbitrary limitations on the number of intellectual and social aids made available to the individual---on what amounts to his naturalist journey to nowhere. Full details will be available in November.

Catholicism and Catholic culture are international in character. Developing an international Catholic camaraderie in encouraging the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in these difficult days of global secularist parochialism immeasurably strengthens our vision and effectiveness. We can see the ever-growing value of this annual cultivation of an international dialogue, camaraderie, and concern for beauty in our “Catholic village” for the animation of our life back in our various homes during the rest of the year.

2) Through the New York City Church History Lectures

For the last twenty-one 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 2012-2013 series---entitled The Tyranny of Words? Or the Triumph of the Word?---deals with the decades between Martin Luther’s emergence as a public figure in 1517 and the closure of the Council of Trent in 1563. Details and the schedule of Sunday lectures are enclosed.

3) Through the Modern Image and Catholic Truth Series

These special luncheon/dinner conferences deal with the self-defeating character of the dominant naturalist world-view and the contrasting richness of the Catholic vision. One dinner conference will take place on December 9th, 2012, in the context of our annual commemoration of Blessed Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (1864). Another will be scheduled for April 20th, 2013, when the Forum celebrates the Birthday of Rome (the Parilia).

4) Through Lecture Downloads

2010-2012 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 We are working hard to bring the lectures available through Keep the Faith up to the present.

5) Future Projects—International and National

The success of the Summer Symposium and the interest of the local community in helping to expand it has made us realize that Gardone Riviera provides a valuable venue not only for our annual international congress of Catholic scholars and students, but also for more specific courses in Catholic history and culture. We are exploring the development of a Gardone program for the month of August that would help to satisfy home schooling high school students’ college entry requirements in history, literature, language, and other disciplines. The Roman Forum is also studying the opening of an Online Academy. This would not duplicate the work of already existing sites, but offer specialized courses of interest to adults as well as home schoolers who cannot attend our sessions either in New York City or in Italy

Please consult our website ( and that of The Remnant Newspaper for more complete information on these projects, as well as the 2013 Summer Symposium, Modern Image and Catholic Truth gatherings, and other events, such as our annual New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance (details on back of this letter).

Appeal for Funds

In order to undertake current projects properly, the Roman Forum requires an annual budget of $60,000. It is for this reason that we urgently need your help in the form of a tax-deductible donation. Where do these funds go?

Mailings, advertising, books, storage space for them, and use of conference halls alone now cost us at least $20,000 per year. A much greater sum is needed to support the Summer Symposium. Our international roster of scholars, clergy, and musicians grows larger every year. Although none of these men and women receives any compensation for their work here, their travel as well as their daily food and lodging expenses must be covered. Moreover, almost all college students, seminarians, and young priests hoping to attend the Summer Symposium require at least some financial assistance. Aiding both speakers and the young participants whose presence is so crucial to the future of the traditionalist cause takes up almost all of the rest of our annual budget. As a not-for-profit registered charity this budget is, of course, open for public inspection.

The crisis of Catholic Christendom is a global spiritual and intellectual crisis. It can only be addressed by redirecting men and women back to faith in Christ; back to serious and complete Catholic teachings on the individual, society, and the proper meaning of freedom; back to a politics that has substance to it and is not a criminally expensive fraud. It is this work of redirection back to Christ---with the help of an infinitesimal percentage of the funds wasted in but one modern political campaign--- that the Roman Forum seeks to accomplish on both a national and an international level.


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

2012-2013 New York City Program


The Tyranny of Words--Or the Triumph of the Word?

Two Conflicting Visions of the Meaning of the Incarnation (1517-1563)


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

Associate Professor of History, St. John's University





      September 9:   The Desperate Plight of a Vibrant Christendom

    September 23: Luther, Zwingli, and the Evangelical Revolution: Part One

    October 7:       Luther, Zwingli, and the Evangelical Revolution: Part Two

    October 14:     Politique D’Abord and Catholic Collapse

    November 4:   The Anglican Revolt: Part One

    November 18: Jean Calvin and the Geneva System

    December 2:   Sinners, a Divine Surprise, and Serious Catholic Revival

    December 16: St. Ignatius Loyola and Companions

    January 13:     The Council of Trent: Act One

    January 27:     Dubious Victory and Further Evangelical Growth

    February 10:   The Anglican Revolt: Part Two

    February 24:   The Council of Trent: Act Two

    March 10:       Politique D’Abord and the Peace of Augsburg

    March 24:       Genevan Academy and the Calvinist International

    April 7:           The Council of Trent: Act Three

    April 21:         The Vibrant Catholicism of a Desperate Christendom

    May   5:          Globalism “Catholic Style”

    May 12:           Black Holes, East and West



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


The Roman Forum

St. Sylvester--New Year’s Eve Party

December 31, 2012—January 1, 2013

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 own wine, beer & liquor. Alcoholic beverages must be provided by attendees.

Checks made out to the Roman Forum

R.S.V.P. By December 15th, 2012

The Roman Forum

11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C

New York, New York 10014

For questions, e-mail:


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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