I've been seeing this a lot what with Ferguson and all.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Can we just ditch the standard line about the Church's beliefs on the subject as "the Roman Catholic position on contraception"? Would it be possible simply to acknowledge it as "the Christian position on contraception"?
For Catholics, understand that, until the 20th century, there were probably fewer questions about prohibiting contraception than about the Divinity of Our Lord. That's how readily accepted this teaching was.
In other words, rejecting the use of contraception is a hallmark of Christianity in general. That so many have abandoned it in the last century will not and cannot change this. Allowing the exception to swallow up the rule as it pertains to labeling something like this strikes me as absurd and not something we should succumb to.
And yeah, I ended that sentence with a preposition.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Thousands of Christians have been murdered, raped, sold into slavery, tortured, and so forth by Islamist forces in the Middle East.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Recent events have prompted a discussion about what makes a Muslim a Muslim. Take, for example, Howard Dean's recent comments that the murderers in Paris are not Muslim terrorists. This line of thought usually is backed by the argument that Islam is a religion of peace, ergo engaging in violence is not authentic Islam.
In examining this argument, I want to start with a couple of background items. First, the ongoing annihilation of Christianity in the Middle East didn't just start yesterday. Second, violence has been tied to Islam since it's inception. Mohammed destroyed the pagan religions of the Arabian peninsula and his followers continued the practice of conversion by sword after that.
My main question is when did this element of Islam which was present from its initial founding stop being a part of Islam? Was the Islam that offered consistent aggression and/or invasion against the West from the 8th to the 17th centuries somehow unauthentic? Was that violence somehow just politically motivated without any reflection on converting the Christian masses to Islam or reducing them to dhimmi status?
The most common response to this will be to avoid the question altogether and assert something like "Well, violence has always been a part of Christianity as well, especially among you papists." Of course, this isn't true. Anybody want to compare the first couple of centuries of Christianity to the first couple of centuries of Islam?
Moreover, there is a weird sentiment among the masses that is willing to brand anything negative associated with the Catholic Church as a product of Catholicism, whilst anything negative associated with Islam is either "not Islam," some sort of "misunderstanding," or basically something that Christianity/The West had coming to them all along. When was the last time you heard a media source give that kind of moral leeway to Catholicism? Hell, popular opinion would have you believe that only the most tolerant of pro-abortion Catholics are remotely faithful to Christ, whereas everyone else is just a Pharisaical dogmatist. Anyways, the point is that, even when you hear accurate reports (which are rare enough) about the bad stuff in Church history, it's always directly attributed to the Church, rather than bad people carrying the Catholic label.
Yeah, I know. Islam doesn't have a single authority figure. The Church does. Under the prevailing logic, that means if the Pope was doing bad things, it was automatically Catholic. Muslims who do bad things are just misinterpreting the Koran (more on that shortly). The thing about this is that it presumes the same sort of ultramontane thinking that the Church has rejected. Nobody, even his contemporaries, thought Benedict IX was being Catholic with all his evil hijinks as pope. Nobody defends the Cadaver Synod. And so forth. Yet all such evils are considered distinctly Catholic, rather than their perpetrators being regarded as rogues committing decidedly non-Catholic actions.
Back to Islam and the actual question at hand. First, I am consistently amazed at the hubris of those who demand that the peaceful interpretation of the Koran is the correct. How do they know? Who died and made them Mohammed II?
Second, if we consider violence as opposed to Islam, we have to be able to reconcile this with Islam's historical roots. I'm open to any arguments on this point. When did this sort of stuff become unacceptable in Islam? The fall of the Ottoman Empire perhaps? Before then? I don't know. I'm not asking this as a rhetorical question. I really do want some theories about it. Again, preferably those that don't dodge the question by talking about violent Christians, Hindus, etc.
I'm also open to hearing arguments that its the Middle Eastern cultural milieu that is the source of Islam's violent DNA, rather than anything intrinsic to the religion itself. I have to credit WilfordBrimley of NDNation for first introducing me to this concept.
Or we can just assume that there is no longer any such thing as actual Islam. The word no longer has any meaning and there are now just a bunch of folks running around with the label. The problem with this line of thought is that we'd have to stop asserting that there is a "true Islam" that is peaceful. There would just be the Islam that allows for co-existence and the kind that doesn't. That doesn't mean we can consider one to be the "real" version without sacrificing our intellectual honesty.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
We laud the Magi for presenting Our Blessed Lord with expensive gifts like gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We belittle, scorn, and excoriate churches, art, and the official trappings of Our Lord's anointed as pretentious and wasteful.
Friday, December 12, 2014
It's an amazing thing. ND promoting some kind of bizarre seminar on white privilege is big enough news to make a segment on The O'Reilly Factor and to get me a dozen emails from alumni about it. On a different note, ND's decision to cave on the HHS mandate and its embrace of faculty who promote heresy in the class and turn students against the Faith are regarded as either (a) not news at all or (b) proof of how great of an institution the school is.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Another reason to like the Fathers is that, every now and then, you see a line that is just too awesome and that makes you appreciate their humanity and ability to take anything and make a teachable moment out of it. We've discussed this previously with writers like Lactantius, for example.
This time, it's St. Augustine:
We know, too, that some men are differently constituted from others, and have some rare and remarkable faculty of doing with their body what other men can by no effort do, and, indeed, scarcely believe when they hear of others doing. There are persons who can move their ears, either one at a time, or both together. There are some who, without moving the head, can bring the hair down upon the forehead, and move the whole scalp backwards and forwards at pleasure. Some, by lightly pressing their stomach, bring up an incredible quantity and variety of things they have swallowed, and produce whatever they please, quite whole, as if out of a bag. Some so accurately mimic the voices of birds and beasts and other men, that, unless they are seen, the difference cannot be told. Some have such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at pleasure, so as to produce the effect of singing.
St. Augustine, City of God, Book XIV, Chapter 24
Is that not just a fantastic line or what?
Monday, December 1, 2014
It's a done deal. The Barque of Elizabeth has finally gone all-in for women bishops. We knew this was an inevitability, made all the moreso by Archlayman Welby's ascension to the See of Cranmer.
The Church of England overturned centuries of tradition on Monday with a final vote allowing women to become bishops, with the first appointments possible by Christmas.
Approval of the historic change, which was first agreed to in July, was announced after a largely symbolic show of hands at the General Synod, the lawmaking body of the Church of England. The British Parliament supported the measure last month.
“Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together,” the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, said after the vote.
Two decades after the first female priest was ordained, the issue of women taking senior roles in the church hierarchy remains divisive. As recently as 2012, the proposal had been defeated by six votes.
But Archbishop Welby, the spiritual leader of the church and the global Anglican Communion, who supported the vote from the start, had warned fellow church leaders this year that the public would find the exclusion of women “almost incomprehensible.”
Which public? Are you including the folks in Africa on that? I'm thinking that a behind-closed-doors confab between Archlayman Welby and Cardinal Kaspar would be a hoot.
Anyways, this is another mile marker on the path of the Anglican Death March and a significant one.
With that in mind, I direct your attention to some great articles by Philip Jenkins (who isn't Catholic in case you're looking for bias) entitled The Church Vanishes, as he focuses on the collapse of Episcopalianism in America. Part One can be found here and is noteworthy for the following comment:
In conclusion, I just offer one wholly scientific theory that I just invented: The numerical growth and success of a religious denomination is inversely proportionate to the favorable treatment it receives in major liberal media outlets (New York Times, Washington Post, Nation, New Republic). Examples? The Episcopal Church USA versus Mormons or Catholics; Episcopalians/Anglicans in North America versus Africa.
Heh. It's a pretty good observation, but plenty of people will shout about the difference between correlation and causation to ignore the obvious here. At least one of the Anglicans' own is recognizing that the road of public approval ends in self-annihilation.
The real gem from Mr. Jenkins comes in Part Two, though, in his discussion of the recent declines in Anglican faithful:
If we extrapolate that rate into the not-too-distant future, then the number of people attending Episcopal churches on a typical Sunday will be negligible by mid-century, typical of a tiny sect rather than a great church or denomination. It won’t reach zero for a while, but in effect, the church will cease to exist. We might need a new vocabulary of religious decline. How about church evaporation?
That mid-century date is really not far off. In fact, the baby baptized at my church last Sunday will by that point only be a young adult in her 30s.
Non-attending notional members will persist for a few years longer, but by the end of the century, we should be talking total disappearance.
In that scenario, America’s last Episcopalian walks among us today.
Holy smokes. I wonder if anybody has done the math on the rest of the mainline Reformed groups. I doubt they're in much better shape.
We need a History Channel production starring Katharine Schori as The Last Episcopalian On Earth, wherein she wanders around a landscape of Anglicanorum Coetibus converts, calling them freaks, and trying to burn their churches down.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
This post from Rorate is worth reading in order to get some perspective on the recent events surrounding Pope Francis's visit to Turkey. Mark well the quotes from Bartholomew I, as well as those we have previously mentioned from Metropolitan Hilarion from Russia.
First off, the Orthodox have enough disagreements among themselves that we shouldn't treat of them like a monolithic body.
Second, these comments should spur us to further prayer for a miracle that will bring them back into the fold.
Third, we should appreciate their frankness regarding the distance between us, as well as their posture that Truth matters. Would that Catholic ecumenists be so honest, rather than engaging in endless glad-handing with poor unfortunates outside of the Church (to use St. John XXIII's term) and repetitive self-congratulatory drivel over yet another worthless document that either does nothing but create the illusion that we really have agreement or encourages the heretic/schismatic in their errors by making them think the differences don't actually matter.
As an aside, if you want to see people stop being nice and start being real about this topic, check out what I'm sure will be some epic responses over the anniversary celebrations for the liberation of the Ukrainian Church (which is being attended by Cardinal Schonborn of all people).
Monday, November 24, 2014
No, not the network with Flash and Arrow. The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
My wife and I welcomed our newest addition this morning. She is beautiful, healthy, and already such a blessing. Mom is doing well. Everything is great.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
We mention him every now and again here because of that simple fact. Whether it's defending the Church's teaching on marriage and the family or nuggets like the one below, he has shown himself to be a loyal shepherd and one worthy of our prayers.
“(So) charity today is not only to act for social work, for material assistance, but really to bring the Gospel to the people.”
In other words:
How timely this message is, given the prevailing attitude that charity is essentially passing on stuff for temporal well-being, while souls are neglected. What does it profit a man that he has food for a few days (or the rest of his life) if he winds up in hell?
Social justice has long been the smokescreen of the heterodox *cough*nunsonthebus*cough*, Words like Cardinal Sarah's are a big deal because they correct against heretics co-opting the Church's message. It also helps that he's the head of Cor Unum so, you know, it's his job to lead charitable relief efforts.
Friday, November 14, 2014
The Eye of the Tiber does an excellent job with its latest effort:
Pope Francis Not Sure How To Make Sense Of What He Just Said
“I said what?” Francis asked those gathered. “There’s no way I just said that. OK, that’s just weird. Seriously, what the heck is it with me? Am I trying to change doctrine or something? How am I gonna explain this to my secular friends? Oh boy, I can see their faces now. I bet they’re just itching to ask when I’m gonna start allowing divorced gay Catholics to receive communion. This is great…just great. I’m so freaking pissed right now I think I’m gonna go blog about it.”
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Just a quick thought. We live in an odd world wherein one group calling for the Pope to defend the Church in order to resolve the faithful's confusion are considered slanderers on the verge of schism while another group who are overjoyed at the thought of the Pope agreeing with them as an outright heretic are somehow looked on as protecting his reputation.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
I was trying to cipher the numbers on something.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Monday, November 3, 2014
In the course of the Synod's proceedings, we heard a lot about folks trying to warp the notion of certain settled Church teachings, particularly on things like homosexuality and the indissolubility of marriage.
While we continue to hear a lot about the importance of ecumenism, the scandal being given to those of other faiths due to the Synodal proceedings is being ignored. You can do a few internet searches to see what I mean. Generally speaking, there are two groups involved.
First, you've got the folks who are looking for something to show that Catholicism's claims are false. After all, if the Church ever shows it was wrong about something, then the rightness of anything else is open for debate. This category is inhabited by lots of different groups ranging from militant atheists to virulently anti-Catholic Protestants.
Second, you've got fellow travelers in other faiths, from Protestantism to Islam, who have a certain amount of respect for Catholicism as the global standard bearer for morality on a global scale. These people hear what Cardinal Kaspar or Archbishop Forte are saying and are confused. Why is Catholicism folding in the culture war? What are these bishops/the Pope/the Synod doing? This has the additional effect of confirming to such people that Catholicism is "just another religion" and/or turning them away from the prospect of conversion altogether.
We've talked a lot about liturgical abuse (or just the existence of the Pauline Mass itself) as an ecumenical stumbling block for the Orthodox. Sure, you might have some of them that go with "three strikes and you're out divorce," but they are going to draw the line on homosexuality. Likewise, the Protestant churches that most would call "evangelical" are becoming less and less accepting of divorce (in my admittedly anecdotal experience) and are definitely going to hold anything looking like approval of homosexuality with disdain. And rightfully so.
My point in all this comes from multiple conversations I've had in the last week where I've had to deal with these new issues arising from people who otherwise might be accepting of the Church. Unfortunately, the modern notion of ecumenism, which is largely (and coincidentally?) embodied in the works of Cardinal Kaspar, is only interested in action that results in an abandonment or compromise of Catholicism and not in the salvation of souls. Until the latter becomes the focus, real ecumenism will be ignored, and a false message of irenicism will result in the abandonment of many who crave the clear message of Truth.
If you have a moment, send a word of thanks to Cardinal Dolan. Then pray for the inhabitants of New York for a resurgence of the faith that will allow for some of the parishes that are being shuttered to be re-opened or saved.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014
Thursday, October 30, 2014
I'm a little late coming with this, but it's probably a good thing because there has been more of a chance for the information to sink in, and I haven't really had the time to throw anything up on the subject anyway.
By now, pretty much everybody knows that this whole thing followed the Vatican II playbook. Tight media control. A warping of perception. Sly maneuvering of document drafts. All this was set up for the final declaration of victory and return home to re-interpret sacramental dogma to fit the whims of the Prince of This World.
Then reality hit. Bishops began complaining about the media spin. Cardinal Erdo disavowed the interim relatio. The dominoes fell from there. Cardinal Kaspar lost his mind and basically said that the African and Asian churches had to be limited in the whole synodal discussion (that's my charitable way to put it), then lied about saying it, then apologized when caught in his lie. Cardinal Pell's demanded publication of the "small group reports" was the biggest deal, and I encourage everyone to read the efforts from Cardinal Burke's group, as well as that of Cardinal Sarah (a huge thank you to Stomachosus for the translation) who I gain more and more respect for daily.
Since that time, we've had much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how this is a set-back for the "updating" of the Church," albeit only a temporary one. With that summary, I give you my thoughts on the biggest things to come out of this.
1. First, for all the hand-wringing about the final votes on some of the more controversial language, keep in mind that this was a cherry-picked crowd. If ever there was a field ripe for the planting of this crap crop, it was there at the Synod. And it still didn't work.
2. Cardinal Dolan came back with strength. Whether or not he might "go wobbly" under the glare of spotlights again is up for debate, but his comments this time around were a far cry from his applause of Michael Sam or his posture on the St. Patrick's Parade.
3. I am in wholesale agreement with fellow blogger Boniface at Unam Sanctam re: his point #7 on Cardinal Kaspar. Is he racist? I doubt it. This is the same type of attitude he's always had with people who have dared to disagree with him. Is he a jerk? I think so. But now, he can go back to the hole Pope Benedict had buried him in. His entire reputation has been blown to hell right where his theology belongs.
4. Given that Cardinal Kaspar spent this whole time talking about how tight he is with Pope Francis and how any disagreement with him is an attack on the Pope, I figure Pope Francis has some fences to mend with those same African and Asian churches that were smeared.
5. Given Point #4, I think the ripples from this are going to last all the way to the next conclave. No way are the Africans going to throw their votes to anyone who is going to put them in this kind of position again. Ditto for the Asians. These are prelates who have spent a lot of time and energy to combating the regularization of homosexuality and the difficulty of the Church's teaching on marriage. They aren't going to let the Catholic Church go the way of the Anglican Communion. They will be looking for someone speaking with clarity and prudence on these matters.
6. We've seen the Pope come out with some pretty strong verbiage in the last few days. I assume some of this is in response to the backlash from the Synod.
7. While much attention has been given to Cardinal Muller's role in all this, I am much more fascinated by what Cardinal Erdo was doing. In a lot of ways, it was his action with the relatio that definitively proved that there was funny business going on with the drafting. I wouldn't say it forced the other bishops' hand to rise up, but it was a big step in clearing the way for them. We'll probably know more depending on what happens to His Eminence going forward. If he's tagged as Cardinal Burke's roommate in Malta, that will be a clear sign. Regardless, I think Cardinal Erdo is important. If he can be a European counter-weight to guys like Cardinals Marx and Schonborn, that would be a huge deal.
8. Speaking of Cardinal Burke, I'm not sure people are really appreciating what has happened to him. The level of his proposed demotion is ridiculous. Really, that is probably an understatement. Consider every prelate you know who has been implicated in sexual abuse and cover-up. None of them got a gut-punch like this one.
9. As we alluded to in another post, the notion that any substantive reform of the Curia is actually happening or going to happen is a pipe dream. If anything, the wolves are going to dig themselves in deeper and continue their war against the orthodox. Malta is going to get awful crowded before this is all over. The bottom line, though is that it's pretty difficult to see guys like Cardinal Danneels and Sodano getting special treatment or an institution like the German church being so influential in promoting heresy just to secure its cash flow, while guys like Cardinal Burke or the FFI or whoever are essentially cast into exile. Sure, we might get some reforms of the Vatican Bank, but this is all window dressing while the rot spreads.
So that's the way I see it for now. Pray for our bishops. Fast. Do penance. The recipe hasn't changed.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014
We all know that Pope Paul VI is to be beatified at the close of the Synod.
I'm making a prediction now. Write it down. Remember where you heard it first.
After Pope Paul is beatified, new evidence will be "discovered" or old evidence will "resurface" to resurrect the rumors alleging that he was a homosexual.
I hope I'm wrong.
First, it's become obvious that the Synod wasn't some kind of modernist carnival with non-stop heretical hijinks. There were good things being said. They were just all being ignored in favor of giving free rein to The Adversary.
Hey, it happens.
Before we get into the more explosive events of recent days, I offer a few tidbits from the lead-up, per Zenit.
Humanae Vitae got great affirmation from some of the married couples asked to speak. Consider the testimony of Olivier and Xristilla Roussy from France:
When we were engaged, we chose to conform to the natural regulation of births. After the arrival of our third child, Xristilla was exhausted. We could no longer live peacefully our conjugal unions. So we decided that Xristilla should take a contraceptive pill for some months. The choice of contraception was supposed to calm us down; it had the opposite effect. We lived that period very badly. Xristilla was often in a bad mood, desire was absent and joy disappeared. In truth, we had the impression of no longer being ourselves. We were not united. We understood that we had closed a door to the Lord in our conjugal life. So we decided to take up again a natural regulation of births. It was seemingly a more difficult way that invited us to be continent during fertile periods at the same time that we desired more strongly to unite ourselves. It is often hard to accept and to choose it each time. However, we live it together. It is a joint adventure that pushes us to want the happiness of the other. Much more than a method, this way of life enables us to receive one another each day, to communicate, to know one another, to await one another, to have confidence, to be delicate. We chose this way, we do not suffer it, and we are profoundly happy despite the efforts it requires.
And then here from the Zamberlines, a Brazilian couple and the supporting comments from Cardinal Vingt-Trois:
At a Thursday morning session on the “Pastoral Challenges Concerning an Openness to Life,” Brazilians, Arturo and Hermelinda Zamberline gave a testimony on contraception. They concluded by calling on the Holy Father and the synod to help Catholics understand and obey Humanae Vitae, Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical that affirmed Church teaching against birth control, reported CNS.
The couple, who have been married 41 years with three children, are also country leaders of “Teams of Our Lady,” an international Catholic movement.
Saying that "often, contradictory advice only aggravates their confusion," they noted: "If couples, as well as clergy, could at least find illumination and support, that would already be a great encouragement."
"We ask, may the magisterium hasten to give priests and faithful the major lines of a pastoral teaching programme to help people adopt and observe the principles laid out in ‘Humanae Vitae,’” the Zamberlines said.
Then there was some great commentary about the connection between family life and vocations and the threat of secularism to both.
Africa, of course, looms large. Let's take a look at some of the initial comments. There are those here:
From various quarters there emerged the tendency of several states and organisations based in the Western world to present, especially in the context of Africa, various concepts (including abortion and homosexual unions) as "human rights", linked to economic aid and strong pressure campaigns for the promotion of such concepts. In this respect, it was highlighted that the expression "rights to sexual and reproductive health" does not have a precise definition in international law and ends up encompassing mutually contradictory principles such as the condemnation of forced abortion and the promotion of safe abortion, or the protection of maternity and the promotion of contraception.
Numerous interventions, especially in relation to Africa, drew attention to the many challenges the family must face in this continent: polygamy, levirate marriage, sects, war, poverty, the painful crisis of migration, international pressure for birth control, and so on. These are problems that undermine family stability, placing it in crisis. In the face of such challenges, it is necessary to respond with in-depth evangelisation, able to promote the values of peace, justice and love, an adequate promotion of the role of women in society, thorough education of children and the protection of rights for all victims of violence.
More on Africa in a later post, thanks to Cardinal Kaspar.
This didn't keep there from being a certain amount of mushiness in how the proceedings were reported and summarized. Keep in mind that the individual interventions have been basically censured. We know very little about the specifics. Consider this particular item from the 7th General Congregation:
Firstly, it re-emphasised the indissoluble nature of marriage, without compromise, based on the fact that the sacramental bond is an objective reality, the work of Christ in the Church. Such a value must be defended and cared for through adequate pre-matrimonial catechesis, so that engaged couples are fully aware of the sacramental character of the bond and its vocational nature. Pastoral accompaniment for couples following marriage would also be useful.
At the same time, it was said that it is necessary to look at individual cases and real-life situations, even those involving great suffering, distinguishing for example between those who abandon their spouse and those who are abandoned. The problem exists – this was repeated several times in the Assembly – and the Church does not neglect it. Pastoral care must not be exclusive, of an “all or nothing” type but must instead be merciful, as the mystery of the Church is a mystery of consolation...
Similarly, while emphasising the impossibility of recognising same sex marriage, the need for a respectful and non-discriminatory approach with regard to homosexuals was in any case underlined.
Who is doing all this emphasizing and underlining? How much of it is there in each case? For example, Fr. Lombardi, at one point, went on record saying that out of around 265 interventions that had been given that he remembered one that mentioned homosexuality.
Likewise with this language from the 6th Congregation:
It was remarked that it is important to carefully avoid moral judgement or speaking of a “permanent state of sin”, seeking instead to enable understanding that not being admitted to the sacrament of the Eucharist does not entirely eliminate the possibility of grace in Christ and is due rather to the objective situation of remaining bound by a previous and indissoluble sacramental bond.
How absurd is it for the Church, Mother and Teacher on all things relating to faith and morals, to avoid making moral judgments?
By now, I'm sure most readers have heard the controversy over the Relatio that was circulated at the mid-point of the proceedings. It's a remarkable document that with all the theological promise of a Charles Nelson Reilly performance. If you are overly masochistic, the parts with the most disturbing language are #50 et seq,
Just keep those in mind for now. I will post on the more explosive events later. It is worthwhile to have in mind the above, though, to understand why things have happened how they have happened.