Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Observation Re: Hell

People who are the first to express the opinion that a particular sort of person who is guilty of heinous activity should "got to hell" or "burn in hell" are often the same people who most adamantly deny that hell exists in the first place.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Justice Anthony Kennedy: Threat Or Menace?

It appears that Ed Feser has similar concerns with Justice Kennedy as I have expressed in the past. Only he's way funnier than I am. See his post here and the following hypothetical exchange with His Honor:


In the photo at left, Justice Anthony Kennedy presents his considered response to Plato’s Laws, Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles, Kant’s Lectures on Ethics, and his own Catholic faith. Asked to develop his argument in a little more detail, Justice Kennedy paused and then solemnly added: “I got lifetime tenure, beyotch.”

The picture and the follow-up paragraph to the above are good for grasping the whole context and make it all even funnier, so go ahead and click the link.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More Reformation Lemmings

The Presbyterian Church of the USA caved on homosexual "marriage" after having held the line on the issue a couple of years ago. In a weird bit of hair-splitting, they voted (because democracy always winds up producing the best outcome) to allow same-sex ceremonies where the state law permits it.

In a monumental move, the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination voted Thursday to change its definition of marriage and allow its pastors to officiate same-sex ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal. 

By a vote of 429-175, leaders of the 1.76 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) voted during the biennial General Assembly in Detroit to change the denomination's Book of Order to describe marriage as being between "two people." 

The decision opens a path toward gay marriage across the denomination's 10,000 churches. A majority of the church's 172 regional bodies, called Presbyteries, must now approve the decision before it's official, a process that can take up to a year. But after years of failed efforts to get the church to approve gay marriages, LGBT activists and pastors said they were optimistic. 

“This is a glorious day for the church and for LGBT people who have been seeking full inclusion here for decades,” Pittsburgh-based Rev. Randy Bush, the co-moderator of the board for pro-LGBT church group Covenant Network, said in a statement.

What Would John Calvin Do? This kind of moral decay is what the break from authority will inevitably yield, though. Too bad John, Martin, etc. couldn't see that coming.




Monday, July 21, 2014

The Reality Of Dialogue

I will leave it to the Chaldean Patriarch to express:

Contacted by AsiaNews at the See of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad, Mar Sako bitterly said that no form of dialogue is possible with the Islamists, who keep repeating, "between us there is but the sword."

The patriarch has had to "call on the bishops to urge Christians to leave". Hence, as of yesterday morning, those left began to clear out. Now only "very few people, the poorest among the Christians" are left "because they do not have the means to escape." Those fleeing Mosul "are welcome in the monasteries, in the villages."

This morning, Mar Sako added, "cars equipped with loudspeakers are driving through the city, telling Christians to flee. At checkpoints, militias are seizing cars, money and papers from Christians, before letting them go . . . with nothing."

In this tragic context, in which Christians are being expelled, it is hard to see how talks or negotiations can be undertaken.

"There is no authority to deal with, no one," the Chaldean patriarch said. "We do not know where they came from, what they really want. . . . The central government has no contact and now has started air strikes".

Speaking about the Islamists, Mar Sako said that they are "a wall" with which "any form of dialogue" is impossible. And the situation is changing quickly, by the day, and always for the worse."

Will this reality be accepted and embraced by the world or even the politically correct crowd in the Church? I doubt it. The fundamental and eternal Truth that the Church has enemies who will always seek to destroy and/or subjugate Her is and will continue to be ignored until those enemies knock on that particular ostrich's door. "Dialogue" will otherwise be the order of the day, even as it bears no fruit to speak of.

Until then, our martyred and persecuted brethren need our prayers. Please pray for them.

Doing Stupid Things

Above: Anglican prelates gather to discuss women bishops.


The Anglican Death March continues. Canterbury has been sliding for a long time now. They've had fake priests for a while. Then it was fake women priests. Now, it's going to be fake women bishops.

Per Zenit:

The Anglican Church of England will allow women bishops after an historic vote during the ecclesial community's general synod.

The Daily Telegraph reports that 81 per cent of synod members backed the change, during the sitting in the English city of York on Monday, and 75 per cent of the laity supported the move.

The result of the ballot, which will be formally passed after two further votes this afternoon have been completed, clears the way for the first female clerics to be ordained as Anglican bishops by the end of this year, if the legislation is quickly ratified by Parliament.

The vote also means that the next Archbishop of Canterbury or York – two of the most important sees in the Anglican Communion – could be a woman.

The vote comes just 20 months after the previous attempt to admit women to the episcopate failed despite overwhelming support in congregations, casting the church into its biggest crisis of authority in recent memory.

Notice how quick the change came. A similar attempt was thwarted less than two years ago. Now, it passes. Some of this is probably attributable to the fact that Archlayman Welby was all-in for women to play pretend-bishop from the beginning, as we mentioned previously, whereas Rowan would never really take a stand on anything.

Welby has really stuck his neck out on this.

Many traditionalist Anglicans are opposed to the move. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev. Justin Welby, has tried to reassure them that theological objections to women’s ministry would enjoy special provision in the ecclesial community.

WooHoo! You mean it? Really? I'm sure the Global South parishes are totally stoked about this now and wondering why they didn't opt for this sooner now that they are assured of a "special provision."

Fr. Longenecker has provided a decent analysis of the situation here.

The fact of the matter is that in deciding to have first women priests and now women bishops, the Anglican Church has also decided what kind of church she is. She is a Progressive Protestant Church along with the modern day Lutherans and Methodists. There is no reason, therefore, why they should not have women ministers. This article discusses this point in more detail. While this article explains why women cannot be ordained as Catholic priests. The Anglican decision to have women priests and bishops has been a genuine blow to the cause of church unity. It is a blow that, in human terms, cannot be overcome. However, it has clarified the identity of the Anglican Church and in the process, clarified matters for many of us who have decided that the Church of England, now self identified as a Progressive Protestant Church is not the Church we wish to belong to.

The solution to all this is pretty obvious. You can mark it down, though. We will continue to see ridiculous amounts of time and resources devoted to "dialogue" with the Anglican whatever-the-hell-it-is-now. ARCIC isn't going anywhere, and we'll continue to see all the bells and whistles that go with it, despite Pope Francis's call for aid to the poor or other stuff. When these events occur, you can also mark it down that Catholicism will continue to be accused of, and greatfully accept, the bulk of the blame for the ongoing schism. Our prelates will continue to scrape and apologize, while Anglicanism cloaks its ecclesial degeneracy in enlightened rhetoric and faux outrage.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today's Readings

So reflective of our own time:

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Matthew 13:24-30

This is the dilemma of every bishop in the world, including the Holy Father. The tares are so bound up with the wheat that the destruction of the former will inevitably harm the latter. Yet it is evident that allowing the tares to remain does harm to the whole crop. Where, then, is the line to be drawn? Where is the threshold where the harm to the whole crop outweighs the damage done by uprooting the tares?

We've seen this before. Arians, Pelagians, Monophysites, Protestants, etc. It's all the same calculus. Modernism, though, takes it all to a whole new level. Recall what St. Pius X wrote in Pascendi:

Though they express astonishment themselves, no one can justly be surprised that We number such men among the enemies of the Church, if, leaving out of consideration the internal disposition of soul, of which God alone is the judge, he is acquainted with their tenets, their manner of speech, their conduct. Nor indeed will he err in accounting them the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For as We have said, they put their designs for her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain, the more intimate is their knowledge of her. Moreover they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fires. And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt.

It is a difficult thing. Pray for your Pope and the bishops that they may have the prudence, wisdom, and strength to deal with these things as God would have them.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mosul: Peace In Our Time

Thanks to the world's orchestrations, we now have peace in our time in Mosul. The last Christian presence there has been eradicated. They are all gone. I'm sure the world cannot understand why, when given the choice of apostasy, death, or dhimmitude, these poor people chose exile instead.


Listen to the Archbishop's words, per Zenit:

Archbishop Nona knows what the people are going through. He has become a refugee himself. When the jihadist terrorists of ISIS took over Mosul weeks ago he and about 5,000 Christians fled from Iraq's second largest town. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have also attempted to find protection from the cruel holy warriors. Their number is estimated at about 450,000. Most of them have found refuge in the autonomous Kurdish areas.

"My diocese no longer exists. ISIS have taken it from me," the archbishop says. At the present time, according to the prelate, three quarters of the approximately 10,000 members of his diocese are on the run. "I don't know whether they will ever be able to return to Mosul."

The mood of the people is correspondingly sombre. "There is no room for us Christians in the Middle East," one woman says. She also fled from Mosul. She has four children. "Where are they supposed to go now? There's nothing keeping us in Iraq any more. First the 2003 war. Then the subsequent confusion when we Christians became the target of fanatics. And now this. We want to get to the west as soon as possible." But she has no illusions. "I know from relatives that it isn't easy to start a new life there. But at least it's safe. I don't want my children to grow up in fear."

And so it goes. Syria, while some seek optimism, will inevitably fall since the global sentiment is so hell-bent on Assad's removal.

As we've state before, though, this will be over eventually, and the UN will praise the world's achievement of a united Middle East, free from the pesky presence of Christians that has always been such a point of friction.

Friday, July 18, 2014

FSSP To LA

Rorate Caeli is reporting that the FSSP will be setting up shop in Los Angeles. Awesome news and major league kudos and Deo Gratiases for Archbishop Gomez's decision in allowing this to happen.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Captain America And Catholicism

Shout to to Haskovec for letting us know about this article: The Catholicity of Captain America. While I never thought of Captain America as Catholic (he is American, after all), the article makes some great points for consideration.

As Christians, we can look deeper to what these heroes stand for and draw truths from their stories. Surely we can learn selflessness from the example of Superman, discipline and sacrifice from Batman, or even the value of anger-management from Wolverine (well…maybe not). It was Fr. Mike Schmitz, however, who pointed out to me the “Catholicity” of Captain America (a character I never really appreciated before the films) above all the other heroes. Fr. Mike’s three major points regarding the Captain followed as such: (1) integration of virtue, (2) lack of a double-identity, and (3) willingness to sacrifice his own life. After pouring over the facts and spending much time in prayer, I find myself compelled to agree that Captain America could be argued to be the “most Catholic” of all the superheroes.

Make sure you read the whole thing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

LeBron Returns To Cleveland!

We should be utterly humiliated as a society that this is apparently the biggest news story in the country.

Does Thinking This Make Me A Bad Person?

I look at the stories of the ongoing genocide of Christians in the Middle East buried beneath mountains of stories about alleged papal interest in the World Cup, Lebron James's endorsement deals/free agent status, Rosie O'Donnell's return to television, etc., and I frequently think, "At least there are still some Jews in Europe, despite the world's horrendous delay in responding to the slaughter there. Middle East Christians won't even get the benefit of a delayed response."


I've been told this makes me a bad person because it "minimizes the Holocaust" or some such, but I can't understand how. Isn't an uninterrupted, successful genocide worse than one that is interrupted and thwarted?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Eleven

If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us. To give but one example, in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality. 

But what if their ideas on these subjects is completely wrong? Are we to assume that a certain idea is right just because it is promoted by someone else?

247. We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). 

I’m not sure what is meant here. There is no more covenant with the Jews. The kingdom was taken away from them (Matthew 21:43). Suffice to say, the old covenant wasn't revoked. It was fulfilled. It certainly has no further salvific value.

As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.

Jews are definitely not pagans, and it would be incorrect to view them as such. I’m not sure what is meant by “we accept his revealed word.” Jews don’t. Even if we limit this to the Old Testament, Christians view it as a piece of salvation history directed solely at the coming of Christ and His kingdom. Jews reject all this. It’s like asking two people to look at a traffic light and describe what it means. One might say it’s a variety of colors that tell cars when to stop and go. The other might say that it’s a variety of colors that tell pedestrians when to skip or walk backwards. The fact that they both acknowledge that it’s a variety of colors isn’t really mutual acceptance, in my opinion. 

While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word.

And isn’t that a tragedy? From all that was said in the prior sections, shouldn’t this mean that we should make it a priority to evangelize Jewish people? St. John XXIII saw fit to declare St. Lawrence of Brindisi as a Doctor of the Church, whose primary mission in life was the conversion of Jews. Shouldn't we make similar efforts?

A facile syncretism would ultimately be a totalitarian gesture on the part of those who would ignore greater values of which they are not the masters. True openness involves remaining steadfast in one’s deepest convictions, clear and joyful in one’s own identity, while at the same time being “open to understanding those of the other party” and “knowing that dialogue can enrich each side”.[196] What is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says “yes” to everything in order to avoid problems, for this would be a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others. 

There’s also the desire to save souls. Why isn’t that ever mentioned anymore?
252. Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. 

Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God. 

I’m sure the Aztecs thought the same thing whilst they were busy cutting out people’s hearts. Is sincerity a difference-maker in this area? I’m not sure that it is.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Ten

For this reason, I exhort all countries to a generous openness which, rather than fearing the loss of local identity, will prove capable of creating new forms of cultural synthesis. How beautiful are those cities which overcome paralysing mistrust, integrate those who are different and make this very integration a new factor of development! How attractive are those cities which, even in their architectural design, are full of spaces which connect, relate and favour the recognition of others!

Where are these places?

213. Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”.[176]

I’m guessing Planned Parenthood didn’t send Pope Francis a “thank you” for this part of the message.

At this point, the Holy Father begins a mammoth section connecting justice and peace. 

221. Progress in building a people in peace, justice and fraternity depends on four principles related to constant tensions present in every social reality. These derive from the pillars of the Church’s social doctrine, which serve as “primary and fundamental parameters of reference for interpreting and evaluating social phenomena”.[181] In their light I would now like to set forth these four specific principles which can guide the development of life in society and the building of a people where differences are harmonized within a shared pursuit. I do so out of the conviction that their application can be a genuine path to peace within each nation and in the entire world.

Those principles are:
Time is greater than space
Unity prevails over conflict
Realities are more important than ideas
The whole is greater than the part

The language His Holiness uses here is very amorphous and confusing, so I will refrain from an analysis as I am not comfortable doing so. However, I will offer two items. First, this again calls in to question how such language contributes to the clarity and simplicity of message that the Pope says he is looking for elsewhere. Second, it seems like it’s been a very, very long time since we heard a pope talk about the Social Kingship of Christ. This would have been a good place for it. After all, as Pius XI said, it’s “the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ.”

239. The Church proclaims “the Gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) and she wishes to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding this immense universal good. By preaching Jesus Christ, who is himself peace (cf. Eph 2:14), the new evangelization calls on every baptized person to be a peacemaker and a credible witness to a reconciled life.[187] In a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter, it is time to devise a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society. The principal author, the historic subject of this process, is the people as a whole and their culture, and not a single class, minority, group or elite. We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone. It is about agreeing to live together, a social and cultural pact.

Isn’t the principal author God? If not, shouldn’t it be? Are we somehow guaranteed that the goals will be right or that the means to achieving them will be sound just because it is drawn up by a universal committee of the population?

240. It is the responsibility of the State to safeguard and promote the common good of society.[188] Based on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, and fully committed to political dialogue and consensus building, it plays a fundamental role, one which cannot be delegated, in working for the integral development of all. This role, at present, calls for profound social humility.

Hey, subsidiarity! And not a single sentence to try and explain it. 

242. Dialogue between science and faith also belongs to the work of evangelization at the service of peace.[189]Whereas positivism and scientism “refuse to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences”,[190] the Church proposes another path, which calls for a synthesis between the responsible use of methods proper to the empirical sciences and other areas of knowledge such as philosophy, theology, as well as faith itself, which elevates us to the mystery transcending nature and human intelligence. Faith is not fearful of reason; on the contrary, it seeks and trusts reason, since “the light of reason and the light of faith both come from God”[191]and cannot contradict each other. Evangelization is attentive to scientific advances and wishes to shed on them the light of faith and the natural law so that they will remain respectful of the centrality and supreme value of the human person at every stage of life. All of society can be enriched thanks to this dialogue, which opens up new horizons for thought and expands the possibilities of reason. This too is a path of harmony and peace.

I’m not sure how this is a path of harmony and peace. People making these claims are enemies of the Church. They are not interested in or willing to engage in dialogue. Ironically, in fact, they have shelved their use of reason altogether in favor of materialist idolatry. What to do with such people? More on that later.

243. The Church has no wish to hold back the marvellous progress of science. On the contrary, she rejoices and even delights in acknowledging the enormous potential that God has given to the human mind. Whenever the sciences – rigorously focused on their specific field of inquiry – arrive at a conclusion which reason cannot refute, faith does not contradict it. Neither can believers claim that a scientific opinion which is attractive but not sufficiently verified has the same weight as a dogma of faith. At times some scientists have exceeded the limits of their scientific competence by making certain statements or claims. But here the problem is not with reason itself, but with the promotion of a particular ideology which blocks the path to authentic, serene and productive dialogue.

Except that such scientists will be happy to tell you that they are the only non-ideological parties in the debate.

Which begins the section of the document on ecumenism:

246. Given the seriousness of the counter-witness of division among Christians, particularly in Asia and Africa, the search for paths to unity becomes all the more urgent.

Unity, what does it mean? Is it the “convergence” idea promoted by Fr. Richard McBrien? Or is it what the Church has always meant: conversion to the Divine Truth of God’s Church? Unity already exists. It is here in the Church. 

Consequently, commitment to a unity which helps them to accept Jesus Christ can no longer be a matter of mere diplomacy or forced compliance, but rather an indispensable path to evangelization. 

Evangelization, which should necessarily entail conversion or else the word loses all meaning.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Nine

183. Consequently, no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society. 

Somebody get Biden, Pelosi, Cuomo, et al on the phone! 

Who would claim to lock up in a church and silence the message of Saint Francis of Assisi or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta? 

Probably about half the Catholic Church these days. 

An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it. 

Yet we see the calls from a chorus of voices, including those in the Church, to have the world change the Faith. Hell, that was pretty much the whole gist of the talk Cardinal Kasper recently gave.

Furthermore, neither the Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the interpretation of social realities or the proposal of solutions to contemporary problems. Here I can repeat the insightful observation of Pope Paul VI: “In the face of such widely varying situations, it is difficult for us to utter a unified message and to put forward a solution which has universal validity. This is not our ambition, nor is it our mission. It is up to the Christian communities to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country”.[152]

People should memorize this part for a couple of reasons. First, it indicates the limits that the Magisterium operates under when dealing with these kinds of questions. Second, it follows in the footsteps of prior popes who dealt with social issues. When ostensibly Catholic folk promote nothing more than a glorified welfare state as “social justice,” they should be reminded that there isn’t just one path for this and that there can be legitimate disagreements about these things. Unlike, say, abortion and contraception, over which there can be no such debate.

188. The Church has realized that the need to heed this plea is itself born of the liberating action of grace within each of us, and thus it is not a question of a mission reserved only to a few: “The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might”.[153] In this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: “You yourselves give them something to eat!” (Mk 6:37): it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter. The word “solidarity” is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.

This is part of a very, very long section about how we are obligated to help the poor. Don’t take this as a criticism of the text, but one of the more annoying things about the current pontificate is the zeal with which the media promotes the idea that this is the first time a pope has talked about helping poor people. Or that the Church has never seen this as part of Her mission in the past.

Solidarity is a big part of this section and gets a huge amount of play throughout the document as a whole, in surprisingly Thomist terms. Subsidiarity, once a jewel in the Church’s social justice teaching crown, continues to be relegated to the status of inferiority, with only one mention almost at the very end. It’s like trying to find Waldo.

194. This message is so clear and direct, so simple and eloquent, that no ecclesial interpretation has the right to relativize it. The Church’s reflection on these texts ought not to obscure or weaken their force, but urge us to accept their exhortations with courage and zeal. Why complicate something so simple? 

Again, I have to chuckle at this. We have a document of thousands of thousands of thousands of words here and yet it asks why things of this sort must be so complicated.

We should not be concerned simply about falling into doctrinal error, but about remaining faithful to this light-filled path of life and wisdom. For “defenders of orthodoxy are sometimes accused of passivity, indulgence, or culpable complicity regarding the intolerable situations of injustice and the political regimes which prolong them”.[161]

Mark this well. The Pope obviously feels that falling into error is a problem. It just isn’t the only problem. Moreover, he quotes from then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s censuring of liberation theology from 1984 here and afterwards as well.

200. Since this Exhortation is addressed to members of the Catholic Church, I want to say, with regret, that the worst discrimination which the poor suffer is the lack of spiritual care. The great majority of the poor have a special openness to the faith; they need God and we must not fail to offer them his friendship, his blessing, his word, the celebration of the sacraments and a journey of growth and maturity in the faith. Our preferential option for the poor must mainly translate into a privileged and preferential religious care.

This will be pretty shocking to many social justice types. It is a sad thing to encounter those who are perfectly happy setting up a food pantry or a coat drive but who are horrified by the idea of access to catechesis, RCIA, or the sacraments in general.

On a side note, I do not understand much of this section in that it seems to assume that poverty = virtuous, which is obviously false. There are plenty of bad people who happen to be poor. Moreover, we have made cultivating envy such an art in this country that we've largely destroyed much of what nourished virtue among the poor.

As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.

Sin, whether actual or original, is the root of all social ills. Inequality is not necessarily sinful of itself. We know this because God Himself has shown that He is ok with unequal systems (eg- monarchy, priesthood, etc.).

203. The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. 

These shouldn’t be treated as separate issues.

204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. 

Did we ever? 

Also, there is some debate about this section in the comments at Fr. Zuhlsdorf's post here.

Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.

The problem is that when Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi read this that they absolutely look at it in terms of a “simple welfare mentality” because it is a lever of control.

206. Economy, as the very word indicates, should be the art of achieving a fitting management of our common home, which is the world as a whole. Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find local solutions for enormous global problems which overwhelm local politics with difficulties to resolve. 

Why is this? Because subsidiarity has been forgotten. Unfortunately, the topic is left unexplored.

Remarkable Things

Whether you think certain rights are applicable to corporations or not, it is a bizarre thing to see the eruption of whackjobbery due to the Hobby Lobby ruling. At least freedom of religion is related in some way to actual language in the Constitution. Whither the right to contraceptive and abortifacient drugs? Can someone direct me to the correct penumbra on that one?


Also, it is staggering how certain individuals, including some ostensibly Catholic folk, can be so hateful towards those who simply did not wish to be forced accessories to immorality. Apparently, my wife and I know nothing about miscarriages (we've had 3), difficult pregnancies (all of them), fertility problems (been told multiple times we'd never have kids again), and so forth. If we did, naturally, we'd understand that the Supreme Court is evil and so is Catholicism. The former for this ruling and the latter because obviously the ruling was made because these judges were Catholic and the decision had nothing to do with the law. And don't mention natural fertility awareness and methodology with such people. All that proves is that you are a simple-minded slave to papery.

Oh yeah, and all non-Catholic pro-life people are evil too because they oppose fertility treatments and contraceptives as well. Such comments are proof that these folks have moved beyond the capacity for rational thought and have instead opted for lunacy.

I've actually seen the word "revolution" getting thrown around related to this topic. Nobody revolted over tens of millions of babies being murdered but plenty of people want to go to the barricades over having to pay a few bucks for a packet of pills.

The world has gone insane.

Monday, June 30, 2014

So I've Looked Through The Hobby Lobby Opinion

It gives protection to for-profit Catholic businesses. The non-profit issue remains open, and it's difficult to discern what this opinion means for Catholic religious orders, hospitals, etc. Unfortunately, it is probably going to come down to what Justice Kennedy thinks. His concurrence is weird on a couple of levels. Or maybe not and I am just reading it wrong. 


I often think of His Honor as being in the "Threat or Menace?" category. Who knows what he is likely to do when this issue next comes before the Court?

Right now, it is amusing to hear the shrieks of ungodly rage that suggest that this decision is a crime against humanity since it doesn't force employers to subsidize sterilization and abortion. All the hysteria would make Justice Blackmun proud.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Eight

164. In catechesis too, we have rediscovered the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma, which needs to be the centre of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal. 

We “rediscovered” it? Was it lost? If so, how and why and by whom?

165. We must not think that in catechesis the kerygma gives way to a supposedly more “solid” formation. Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation. All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma, which is reflected in and constantly illumines, the work of catechesis, thereby enabling us to understand more fully the significance of every subject which the latter treats. It is the message capable of responding to the desire for the infinite which abides in every human heart. The centrality of the kerygma calls for stressing those elements which are most needed today: it has to express God’s saving love which precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part; it should not impose the truth but appeal to freedom; it should be marked by joy, encouragement, liveliness and a harmonious balance which will not reduce preaching to a few doctrines which are at times more philosophical than evangelical. All this demands on the part of the evangelizer certain attitudes which foster openness to the message: approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome which is non-judgmental.

These paragraphs seem to have, at their core, a concern that those currently charged with teaching the Faith are overly focused to doctrinal minutiae and theological nitpickery. Where is this a problem? Does this actually happen? 

Catechesis is a proclamation of the word and is always centred on that word, yet it also demands a suitable environment and an attractive presentation, the use of eloquent symbols, insertion into a broader growth process and the integration of every dimension of the person within a communal journey of hearing and response.

This will be the new excuse for disco liturgy. 

167. Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to the “way of beauty” (via pulchritudinis).[129] Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. This has nothing to do with fostering an aesthetic relativism [130] which would downplay the inseparable bond between truth, goodness and beauty, but rather a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ to radiate within it. If, as Saint Augustine says, we love only that which is beautiful,[131] the incarnate Son, as the revelation of infinite beauty, is supremely lovable and draws us to himself with bonds of love. So a formation in the via pulchritudinis ought to be part of our effort to pass on the faith. Each particular Church should encourage the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new “language of parables”.[132]

Now this part, I definitely get, and anyone who has been in a wreckovated parish or seen some of the monstrous structures that pass for churches these days knows what His Holiness is talking about. If you somehow don’t know, read Michael Rose’s book Ugly As Sin for a few concrete (literally) examples.

We must be bold enough to discover new signs and new symbols, new flesh to embody and communicate the word, and different forms of beauty which are valued in different cultural settings, including those unconventional modes of beauty which may mean little to the evangelizers, yet prove particularly attractive for others.

Unfortunately, these lines will be used to justify the destruction of beautiful churches in order to sate the banal cultural whims of the masses. After all, if a stripped down, minimalist barren building "speaks to" a group, shouldn't we accommodate that? Or a goth parish, where everything is draped in black. It's unconventional, but maybe it will attract goth parishioners. 

170. Although it sounds obvious, spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some people think they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain existentially orphaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere. To accompany them would be counterproductive if it became a sort of therapy supporting their self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father.

I immediately thought of Walker Percy in reading this section. This is something like what the riposte to Lancelot must have sounded like.

172. One who accompanies others has to realize that each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions (cf. Mt 18:15), but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability (cf. Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37). 

This is excellent for rebutting some of the “Who am I to judge?” and “The Pope has abolished sin” insanity that has swept over so many. Being able to point out a person’s evil actions naturally means being able to categorize such actions as evil. This doesn’t mean offering an opinion on the person’s final destination. 

At this point, the Pope begins a new chapter meant to focus on his “concerns about the social dimension of evangelization.”

To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds: “The Holy Spirit can be said to possess an infinite creativity, proper to the divine mind, which knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, even the most complex and inscrutable”.[143] 

The Holy Spirit is at work in everyone? Is this true? I get it in the context of, say, Divine Providence. That doesn’t sound like what the Holy Father is talking about though.

Evangelization is meant to cooperate with this liberating work of the Spirit. The very mystery of the Trinity reminds us that we have been created in the image of that divine communion, and so we cannot achieve fulfilment or salvation purely by our own efforts. 

Heh. The Pope makes this observation a lot. We can’t save ourselves. Which makes me wonder how people would answer the question “How am I to be saved?” Being nice? God just does it for me? But again, the critical question is still hanging out there. Salvation from what? Saved from what?

180. Reading the Scriptures also makes it clear that the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God. 

What? You mean it’s not just “Jesus and me”?

Nor should our loving response to God be seen simply as an accumulation of small personal gestures to individuals in need, a kind of “charity à la carte”, or a series of acts aimed solely at easing our conscience. The Gospel is about the kingdom of God (cf. Lk 4:43); it is about loving God who reigns in our world. 

Which people will not recognize without doctrinal formation.

181. The kingdom, already present and growing in our midst, engages us at every level of our being and reminds us of the principle of discernment which Pope Paul VI applied to true development: it must be directed to “all men and the whole man”.[145] We know that “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man’s concrete life, both personal and social”.[146] This is the principle of universality intrinsic to the Gospel, for the Father desires the salvation of every man and woman, and his saving plan consists in “gathering up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10). Our mandate is to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15), for “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19). Here, “the creation” refers to every aspect of human life; consequently, “the mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ has a universal destination. Its mandate of charity encompasses all dimensions of existence, all individuals, all areas of community life, and all peoples. Nothing human can be alien to it”.[147] True Christian hope, which seeks the eschatological kingdom, always generates history.

I’m not sure at all what this section means. It seems to be all over the place.

It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven.

This is an admirable statement, which cannot be repeated enough. Although, I’m not sure if anyone is saying that the Church only exists to prepare souls for heaven. Is someone making that claim?

We know that God wants his children to be happy in this world too, even though they are called to fulfilment in eternity, for he has created all things “for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17), the enjoyment of everyone. It follows that Christian conversion demands reviewing especially those areas and aspects of life “related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good”.[149]

This is unfortunately ambiguous, and you can bet will be used as fodder by prosperity gospel types. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Behold This Heart


Which has loved men so much, that It has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify to them Its love; and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt which they show Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat Me thus...


Freemasons Gone Wild!



The Grand Orient Lodge of Italy has decided to go on record with its own take regarding Vatican II. Rorate has the story.

We didn't comment on it at the time because we had sincerely hoped that there would be some comment or statement from the Vatican on the issue, even if it was something weak just re-affirming that Catholics can't be Masons and that it's inappropriate for Freemasons to take it upon themselves to interpret the events or the mind of the Church.

No statement was forthcoming. We bring it up now because we've had at least one email, and there was a need to reiterate unless anyone else was wondering.

No, Catholics can't be Masons. Pope Leo XIII gave the most comprehensive treatment of the subject in Humanum Genus. Cardinal Ratzinger re-affirmed this in 1983.

Stay away from the Lodge. Period.

Our Lord And King

It Is The Feast Of The Sacred Heart



Take the time to perform some small (or large) act of reparation today out of love for our Blessed Lord. Do not listen to those who would say that this devotion is outmoded or simple-minded. Listen instead to the words of the Vicar of Christ.

The Church, the teacher of men, has therefore always been convinced from the time she first published official documents concerning the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that its essential elements, namely, acts of love and reparation by which God's infinite love for the human race is honored, are in no sense tinged with so-called "materialism" or tainted with the poison of superstition. Rather, this devotion is a form of piety that fully corresponds to the true spiritual worship which the Savior Himself foretold when speaking to the woman of Samaria: "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore Him. God is a spirit; and they that adore Him must adore Him in spirit and in truth."

Venerable Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas


May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, glorified, loved, and preserved throughout the world, now and forever.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Seven

135. Let us now look at preaching within the liturgy, which calls for serious consideration by pastors. I will dwell in particular, and even somewhat meticulously, on the homily and its preparation, since so many concerns have been expressed about this important ministry, and we cannot simply ignore them. The homily is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people. We know that the faithful attach great importance to it, and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them! It is sad that this is the case. The homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth.

Well, it’s true. And a lot of the major reform movements in Church history, including the Counter-Reformation, had an emphasis on preaching. 

138. The homily cannot be a form of entertainment like those presented by the media, yet it does need to give life and meaning to the celebration. 

So we can dispense with the clown Mass, the Halloween Mass, the disco Mass, etc now!

Maybe?

It is a distinctive genre, since it is preaching situated within the framework of a liturgical celebration; hence it should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture. A preacher may be able to hold the attention of his listeners for a whole hour, but in this case his words become more important than the celebration of faith. If the homily goes on too long, it will affect two characteristic elements of the liturgical celebration: its balance and its rhythm. When preaching takes place within the context of the liturgy, it is part of the offering made to the Father and a mediation of the grace which Christ pours out during the celebration. This context demands that preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist. This means that the words of the preacher must be measured, so that the Lord, more than his minister, will be the centre of attention.

Offering the Mass ad orientem would fix a lot of this. But heck yes, anything that reminds the priest that the Mass isn’t about him and his ability to entertain the public is a welcome thing. 

142. Dialogue is much more than the communication of a truth. It arises from the enjoyment of speaking and it enriches those who express their love for one another through the medium of words. This is an enrichment which does not consist in objects but in persons who share themselves in dialogue. A preaching which would be purely moralistic or doctrinaire, or one which turns into a lecture on biblical exegesis, detracts from this heart-to-heart communication which takes place in the homily and possesses a quasi-sacramental character: “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom 10:17). In the homily, truth goes hand in hand with beauty and goodness. Far from dealing with abstract truths or cold syllogisms, it communicates the beauty of the images used by the Lord to encourage the practise of good. The memory of the faithful, like that of Mary, should overflow with the wondrous things done by God. Their hearts, growing in hope from the joyful and practical exercise of the love which they have received, will sense that each word of Scripture is a gift before it is a demand.

I don’t pretend to understand a lot of the Pope’s comments on this subject. The homily isn’t a dialogue by definition. The homilist might get some feedback later that is valuable and the people might offer up their prayers and sacrifices in the Mass in response to what is preached, but that doesn’t seem to be what is envisioned here. Moreover, I simply have no idea as to what His Holiness is looking for in terms of content here. 

143. The challenge of an inculturated preaching consists in proclaiming a synthesis, not ideas or detached values. Where your synthesis is, there lies your heart. 

No clue.

In the course of the homily, the hearts of believers keep silence and allow God to speak. The Lord and his people speak to one another in a thousand ways directly, without intermediaries. But in the homily they want someone to serve as an instrument and to express their feelings in such a way that afterwards, each one may chose how he or she will continue the conversation. The word is essentially a mediator and requires not just the two who dialogue but also an intermediary who presents it for what it is, out of the conviction that “what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4:5).

This mix of people keeping silent vs. people in dialogue is just confusing. 

What follows is a very lengthy section on the preparation and delivery of a good homily. Most of this is very practical and good stuff for a priest or deacon to consider (eg- recommending lectio divina). However, there are a couple of things to mention.

There was no suggestion about consulting the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. People today have very little concept of their Faith’s lineage and the great minds who helped nourish the Church’s survival throughout the centuries. 

On a separate issue, it is remarkable that Pope Francis will ask for brief, clear-speaking, simple homilies when it seems that neither he, nor his immediate predecessors, nor many other bishops, refuse to do so in the most basic of circumstances. We’ve discussed many times how the Pope’s words have been twisted lately. Some of that is inevitable. Taking care to minimize it should be a priority. Moreover, how many people are actually going to read documents that are 50,000 words long and full of convoluted language? I’m guessing not that many.

160. The Lord’s missionary mandate includes a call to growth in faith: “Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20). Hence it is clear that that the first proclamation also calls for ongoing formation and maturation. Evangelization aims at a process of growth which entails taking seriously each person and God’s plan for his or her life. All of us need to grow in Christ. Evangelization should stimulate a desire for this growth, so that each of us can say wholeheartedly: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

161. It would not be right to see this call to growth exclusively or primarily in terms of doctrinal formation. It has to do with “observing” all that the Lord has shown us as the way of responding to his love. 

I don’t know if this is the case anymore. You have to give people a reason for why they should believe anything about God, including whether or not He loves them. Going further, you have to convince people why they should love other people at all, including and especially bad people. You should do this because God wants you to, but it’s tough to get that across when you don’t have proper doctrinal formation. 

To put it another way, even the LCWR might try to feed poor people in between events promoting abortion.

The AP Admits Falsehoods Re: Irish "Infant Mass Grave" Story

Weird. I got this emailed to me, but I haven't heard it from any of the major outlets that were trumpeting the initial horror story. Basically, the story about all the babies being starved to death and dumped into a septic tank for burial was a huge load of crap. The AP has now issued a correction.

Isn't that nice of them?

Too bad few, if any, of the slanderers who followed suit seem to be bothering to do so.

You can read about the correction here. A few highlights:

Revelations this month that nuns had buried nearly 800 infants and young children in unmarked graves at an Irish orphanage during the last century caused stark headlines and stirred strong emotions and calls for investigation. Since then, however, a more sober picture has emerged that exposes how many of those headlines were wrong...

The religious orders' use of unmarked graves reflected the crippling poverty of the time, the infancy of most of the victims, and the lack of plots in cemeteries corresponding to the children's fractured families...

Her list of the dead shows that nearly 80 percent were younger than 1; two died within 10 minutes of birth and never received first names. Ninety-one died in the 1920s, 247 in the 1930s, 388 in the 1940s, 70 in the 1950s, and one more child in 1960. The most common causes were flu, measles, pneumonia, tuberculosis and whooping cough. Contrary to the allegations of widespread starvation highlighted in some reports, only 18 children were recorded as suffering from severe malnutrition...

When Corless published her findings on a Facebook campaign page, and Irish media noticed, she speculated to reporters that the resting place of most, if not all, could be inside a disused septic tank on the site. By the time Irish and British tabloids went to print in early June, that speculation had become a certainty, the word "disused" had disappeared, and U.S. newspapers picked up the report, inserting more errors, including one that claimed the researcher had found all 796 remains in a septic tank.

The Associated Press was among the media organizations that covered Corless and her findings, repeating incorrect Irish news reports that suggested the babies who died had never been baptized and that Catholic Church teaching guided priests not to baptize the babies of unwed mothers or give to them Christian burials.

The reports of denial of baptism later were contradicted by the Tuam Archdiocese, which found a registry showing that the home had baptized more than 2,000 babies. The AP issued a corrective story on Friday after discovering its errors...

But the newspaper spotted discrepancies in Corless' maps, and found records showing that the actual septic tank remained in use until the late 1930s, which meant it could not have been used as a burial spot. Other analysts pointed out that the decommissioned septic tank would be too small to hold many bodies. And the two men who had reported seeing skeletons in 1975 said, on reflection, that they doubted more than 20 were inside the concreted hole.

Remember this story, everyone. In twenty years, you'll be talking about the Faith with someone or refuting some other Black Legend-ish garbage, and someone will bring up all the babies that were murdered and dumped in the septic tank. Such is the nature of the world and its relationship to the Church.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Weirdness Of Reform

It was pretty much universally agreed that the most recent conclave was about reform of the Curia and other administrative organs of the Church. To date, we've seen nothing of substance in this direction, just a few moves that actually seem at odds with reform. For example.

We've made prior comparisons between the ongoing situations with the Legionaries of Christ and the Franciscans Friars of the Immaculate. The situations continue to get weirder and more divergent.

For the FFI, they get a meeting with the Pope wherein the censures against them are basically confirmed but with still no explanations as to why. Recall that things were so bad that the FFI founder (Fr. Manelli) wasn't allowed to go pray at his parents' grave. With the LOC, we get yet another person appointed to help and oversee their "reforms."

Which party is the bigger problem? Which party is the more immediate concern?

Items like this really call into question who is advising the Pope on such matters.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FIFA Vs. Salvation

I don't get the World Cup, so don't take this as some kind of anti-soccer prejudice. I've made the point elsewhere regarding other sports. But here's the thing.

Imagine if the population of the world was even half as concerned with the fate of our souls and our relationship with God Almighty as said population is with a bunch of guys kicking a ball around a field.

What a sad world we have when the latter is our priority and the former is largely considered inconsequential.