Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fr. Mitch Pacwa Just Chimed in on the ND/Obama Deal

If you don't know Fr. Pacwa, you should. He's a great example of what all Jesuits should be. Anyways, he has a show on EWTN called Threshold of Hope. In his opening monologue this evening, he addressed the President's commencement invitation.

Fr. Pacwa felt that the invitation and its acceptance were both "dishonorable." He focused a great deal on Obama's hypocrisy in taking ND's honorary degree, likening it to his taking a break from his show to accept an award from Planned Parenthood. I hadn't seen this angle brought up yet (though I'm sure many folks have done so, but the shoe certainly seems to fit.

Not that any of us should be shocked at presidential hypocrisy.

Fired Over Her Beliefs! (gasp!)

Basically, Bishop Morlino of Madison had to take a hardline with parish employee named Ruth Kolpack because of her beliefs. The Wisconsin State Journal article poses the question:

Martyr or heretic?

Let's take a look.

The termination came after Kolpack said she refused the bishop’s request to renounce a 2003 college thesis in which she argued for more gender-inclusive language at Masses and harshly criticized the Catholic hierarchy’s doctrine of only ordaining males.


She did not think her thesis views risky at the time — Morlino had not yet arrived in Madison — although she admits now that her use of the term “religious evil” in reference to male-only ordination was “very strong.”


Kolpack had never had a conversation with Morlino prior to being called to his residence March 12. In a 10-minute meeting, she said he asked her to profess her faith, take a loyalty oath and renounce her thesis. She was willing to do only the first two.

Disobedient heretic.

Next question.

There's a debate here? Of course, the folks who want to challenge His Excellency's action do so based on secularism and emotion at the cost of their rational thought and any claim to logic. The comments under the article make this clear. I guess next the Church will have to keep people on who deny the sacraments (which she's sort of already doing) or the Divinity of Christ.

Let's pray for Bishop Morlino and those who have chosen to impugn his character and that of the Holy Father. Let's also pray for Ms. Kolpack, that she will reject her errors and embrace the Truth of Christ's Church.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bishop Olmstead Condemns Obama Invite; Seeks Late Nomination to PAE Awesomeness Awards

Bishop Olmsted hasn't gotten a lot of play here, but that's not because we don't like him. He just hasn't had any major pub to discuss.

I don't know if this counts as major pub, but I was happy to see it. He sent a letter to the President of Notre Dame that was downright scathing:

It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States. Our USCCB June 2004 Statement "Catholics in Political Life" states: "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." No one could not know of the public stands and actions of the president on key issues opposed to the most vulnderable human beings.

It's not Bishop Olmsted's jurisdiction, but I think that the fact that a bishop from Phoenix has commented emphasizes the national profile of ND and how such an act is apt to create scandal and/or be manipulated by the media to signal Church support for Obama's policies.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Great Moments in Diplomacy

I haven't seen this reported anywhere else, but I just had to throw this out there. It's a wonderful story of Secretary Hillary Clinton visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is where they keep St. Juan Diego's tilma bearing the Blessed Mother's image.

Apparently, Hillary had no freaking clue why the place was so significant. Here's the account in Spanish (not sure where there's an English translation):

De acuerdo con el rector de la Basílica, Diego Monroy, quien recibió y acompañó a Clinton, la funcionaria dijo que la Virgen le impresionó e impactó, sobre todo cuando se le explicó que quedó plasmada en el ayate de Juan Diego, a lo cual ella preguntó: ¿Y quién la pintó?, a lo que el rector respondió que Dios.

Basically, Hillary saw the image and commented on how impressive it was. She then asked who painted it. The rector replied, "God."

Not a huge story, but I laughed for a long time.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stepping Back a Bit

In the midst of all this Obama stuff, I have decided to take a page from Karl's book and discontinue my use of other internet boards for a while. I am finding that my attitude on this is slipping down a very uncharitable slope and that I need to stop. It's especially inappropriate when I am supposed to be preparing for the biggest day of the liturgical year. This will good for me anyway, as I probably spend too much time on such boards anyways.

I'll still post around here, but the argumentation over this recent news has touched too many nerves for me to continue debating it without my bad inclinations taking over.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Digesting D'Arcy's Response

Looks like His Excellency will be skipping the graduation ceremonies. CNA has the text of his statement. Looking at the high points:

President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.

This is a very profound observation that is, I think, lost on many. Obama's actions in this arena really have put us into some uncharted territory when it comes to governmental involvement in killing children.

I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith "in season and out of season," and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.

Non-attendance is certainly a good start.

I have in mind also the statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2004. "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.

Interesting, especially in light of the rampant sophistry I've been seeing utilized to somehow make this statement inapplicable to the Obama invite. One can only take rationalization so far before treading the ground of dishonesty or insanity. Many Obama-supporters apparently do not care.

Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.


It's more than I expected but not as much as I had hoped for. My hopes were for a high-level sanction, such as an interdict, but it seems that such things are no longer possible under the new Code of Canon Law. Ed Peters spells it out here. We'll just have to see how it goes from this point onward.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Will Be Rambling and Incoherent. Sorry About That.

I've been mulling over this Obama thing quite a bit. It has been very difficult for me to stomach. I grew up in a very small, rural Catholic community surrounded by an ocean of Protestants. My impression was that we were the only Catholics in the whole world, with two exceptions. One was the Pope. The other was Notre Dame. Naturally, I loved them both for that reason.

I was fortunate enough to be accepted to ND, despite lacking much in the way of high school accolades or even a decent resume for application. Make no mistake, my time there was a phenomenal four years (except for Bob Davie's presence). However, I had several illusions shattered along the way.

For example, while there is a strong and vibrant core of Catholic students, many don't really care. Sure, they'll sign up for a service project with Habitat for Humanity, but at the same time, they will ignore Penance and Eucharistic Adoration. You will hear much outrage over the scourge of world poverty, but then the same person will give you a lecture about the need to provide marriage rights to homosexuals. Vagina Monologues? Should be on campus. Liturgical abuses? Sure, bring them on. It can be a very odd place.

Then you get to find out about the great Fr. Ted Hesburgh's selling out at the Land O' Lakes Conference. Or Richard McBrien's presence on the theology faculty. If you're lucky like me, you can get a professor whose expressed interest was in showing why Catholic dogmas are ridiculous.

And now, we get this Obama business.

The issue is clear. Lots of folks are going to try to fuzzy this up, but the mental gymnastice required to do so are well-nigh embarassing. Notre Dame is a university whose primary obligation is to God. This has been made clear by the Holy Father. ND has been in open defiance of the Holy See for almost twenty years by not accepting the Pope's laws for governing Catholic universities. Now, we have an active proponent of abortion, who doesn't even appear to care whether he is sanctioning the deaths of millions, given a public forum and a public honor by a school bearing all these characteristics and consecrated to the Mother of God. Of course, all the while ignoring its higher responsibilities and the statement below by the USCCB.

And why? To cater to the whims of men, rather than the will of God.

As all of you probably know, Notre Dame bears the mascot of the Fighting Irish. "Fighting" denotes conflict and active confrontation. For example, when the Klan tried to establish a public forum in South Bend, Notre Dame sent them on their way. During any ND football game, you'll see commercials that talk about "Fighting Injustice," "Fighting Disease," etc. These commericials are nausea-inducing in light of this whole Obama thing. It's clear that ND will fight for a lot of stuff, just not for the unborn. You don't fight for such things by heaping praise and honor upon the instruments promoting such horrors.

Notre Dame will receive no more money from me, and my children will not attend there. Anyone reading this, please write and protest this event. Write to ND and to Bishop D'Arcy. The information is below. Personally, I am going to ask for Fr. Jenkins to be terminated. He taught me Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. I had very high hopes for him as university president. Instead, he has chosen to diminish everything ND should stand for.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us and your university.

His Excellency, Bishop John M. D’Arcy
Fort Wayne Chancery
1103 S. Calhoun Street
P.O. Box 390
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46801
(260) 422-4611

The President of the University of Notre Dame:
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
400 Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Phone: 574.631.3903
Email: president@nd.edu

To contact the USCCB:
Phone: (202) 541-3000
email: catholiceducation@usccb.org

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Will the USCCB Object to Obama's Presence at ND?

Let's see what their policy is:

The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

Catholics in Political Life, 2004

While I would love an outcry from Bishop D'Arcy and the rest of the nation's shepherds, I won't hold my breath.

More to come...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maybe he can attend the Vagina Monologues

Kathryn Lopez reports that my alma mater (Notre Dame) has secured Barack Obama as its commencement speaker this May.

Will anyone point out that he has been the most active proponent of the culture of death ever to sit in the Oval Office?

Anyone want to go protest?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St. Joseph

I'm a dad. I have to be a big fan of St. Joseph. Occasionally, I actually have the audacity to think that my job is tough. Not that it's easy or anything, but Joseph had a pretty long row to hoe. Imagine God showing up one day and saying, "Look, what I really need for you to do is to take care of the two most important people that will ever exist in the history of the universe. These are my greatest treasures, and I'm delivering them into your keeping. Think you can handle that?"

Then you find out that one is God Incarnate and the other is immaculately conceived and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. And folks are going to try to kill all of you.

I have a hard enough time worrying about how I'm doing with my own wife and kids. I'd probably lose my ever-loving mind if I had to face the added pressure of being the caretaker of God and His Mother.

If you check the Scriptures, you don't get much on Joseph. I doubt that he minds. He knows where the focus should be. It's kind of infuriating when you hear folks who just want to harp on the relative silence of the Bible about him. The silence itself is instructive, I think. And let's face it, God isn't just going to choose any random guy to fill this role.

Should somebody be interested in a more robust portrayal of Joseph, you might want to check out the Protovengelium of James. It's not inspired or anything, but it does give an interesting account of Mary and Joseph's early days. My favorite part is probably where he's trying to deal with Mary's pregnancy.

And Joseph was greatly afraid, and retired from her, and considered what he should do in regard to her. And Joseph said: If I conceal her sin, I find myself fighting against the law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the sons of Israel, I am afraid lest that which is in her be from an angel, and I shall be found giving up innocent blood to the doom of death. What then shall I do with her? I will put her away from me secretly. And night came upon him; and, behold, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, saying: Be not afraid for this maiden, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she will bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. And Joseph arose from sleep, and glorified the God of Israel, who had given him this grace; and he kept her.

Oh, and as a side note, for anyone who tries to attack the Blessed Mother's virginity based on that whole "brothers of Lord" bit in Scripture, the PoJ explains all that as well.

St. Joseph, pray for us!

Liturgical Baptists?

What is the world coming to?

Fr. Longenecker discusses the phenomenon. I'll admit that I have seen some of the signs he's talking about.

In fact many Evangelical churches are beginning to go 'high church'. The preachers sometimes wear robes, maybe they chant the odd psalm, have some candles here and there and they pick and choose other liturgical stuff they like and put together their own mish mash of a 'liturgical' service.

It's not exactly liturgical, but I'll throw in the fact that they have started manufacturing "bishops" as another sort of innovation in the "high church" direction.

The more intriguing item in all this is something that we tend to make a big deal of around here, namely, the bankruptcy of modern Protestant theology.

What interests me more is how American Protestant denominationalism is disintegrating. Can anybody really tell the difference anymore between a Baptist or a Methodist or a Presbyterian or an Episcopalian? What is happening is that all the mainstream Protestant denominations are being 'Anglicanized.' In other words, the same range of opinion and practice that used to be the 'big tent' hallmark of Anglicanism is now commonplace in all denominations.

I suspect what is true of their practice is true of their beliefs as well. Do you have to be a Calvinist anymore to be a Presbyterian? I doubt it. Do you have to believe in consubstantiation if you want to join a low Lutheran Church. Probably not. If you are a Baptist do you still have to deny infant baptism? Probably not always.

As a result, what identity do any of the denominations have? They are increasingly defined not by their historical theological or liturgical or ecclesiological views, but by their stance on moral and theological debating points. So Presbyterian Church USA is liberal and Presbyterian Church of America is conservative. Consequently each has more in common with other denominations (either liberal or conservative) than they do with each other as fellow Presbyterians.

Note how this dovetails with the points made by Michael Spencer in his discussion of the approaching evangelical collapse. I don't think that most of them see it coming, though. I had a Protestant minister once tell me that "Protestant theology is dead." This was a positive development in his eyes, as it allegedly allowed people to "focus more on Jesus."

Of course, this is a ridiculous idea. How can you love one who you do not know? What if you think that Jesus is just another guy? Or that He's really St. Michael? Or a servant of Xenu? Would you really say that I love Jesus? Or that I love a fabrication that I have named as Jesus?

Not having such erroneous ideas is what theology is all about. It's precisely good theology that allows us to focus on Jesus as we won't have our brains addled by heretical garbage.

Now, excuse me, as I have to forward this article to all my Southern Baptist friends (all quite strict), and wait for the deluge of horrified emails denouncing these pseudo-liturgical practices.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Us Poor Dumb Catholics

All this time, we have been stupid enough to think that St. Patrick was actually Catholic.

Clearly, he was a Baptist.

Or, if you ask Ian Paisley, I guess he was a Presbyterian. Hey, if Ian Paisley said it, it must be true.

Whatever, St. Patrick was, we can be supremely confident that he wasn't Catholic. Glad we could clear that up.

The Coming Evangelical Collapse

That's the title of this wonderful ditty from Michael Spencer in the Christian Science Monitor. Basically, he's saying that the 21st century is going to see a major meltdown in the evangelical movement. I personally believe him because a huge chunk of what he sees going down is exactly what happened to us Catholics in the last 50 years. Let's take a look at his reasons:

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

Ok, so this one doesn't apply to us so much. So many Catholics don't believe in any causes, much less the faith, that this one doesn't count. However, as the orthodox Catholic has no choice but to participate in the culture war, Spencer's predictions here regarding evangelicals are already coming true to a large extent. Note the recent crap in Connecticut and the gay marriage stuff from California. Not to mention some of the statements made about, say Catholic judges.

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

Amen. Catholics, for some insane reason, thought that bringing in secular influences and turning the Mass into a rock concert was good for the youth and good for the Church. Instead, what you had was a bunch of feel-good nonsense and made the most awesome act in the world into something just like everything else kids do. Meanwhile, they don't even know how to say a Rosary.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

I think he's right here as well, but these labels don't really fit us so well. For us, you basically have four types, I think: dying churches, heretical churches, faithful churches, and status quo churches that are maintaining their numbers but not doing much else.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

Catechetics sucks. We haven't even been talking to ourselves. The doctrinal content of most programs has been completely gutted since folks stopped using the Baltimore Catechism.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.

We have been seeing this for some time. Folks have been pushing "social justice" as their prime concern, rather than preaching the Faith and saving souls. Liberation theology was a symptom of this disease to some extent. Also recall the idiotic comment from the BC student at the close of this post.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

7. The money will dry up.

These are more like consequences of the other items, rather than causes of their own.

Spencer goes on to give what he thinks will be the downstream effects of all this, and then poses the question of whether or not this is really such a bad thing. I'd say not at all, especially if this predection comes to pass:

Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the "conversion" of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

Let's hope and pray that Marcus Grodi will be a busy man in the years to come.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick, Defender of the Trinity

We've all heard of St. Patrick. Like the icon says, he's the Enlightener of Ireland. Got rid of all the snakes. Was a big fan of shamrocks. Most folks even know why he was a fan of shamrocks. He used it to explain the Trinity to the Irish pagans. It gave them a visual representation of the whole three Persons-one God idea. I'm thinking we need to start going door to door with shamrocks these days.

Here's the deal. The Trinity is the central and fundamental Truth of the Christian faith. Everything else flows from that. Ditch the Trinity, and the rest collapses. That's exactly what's going on.

Note in this previous post what the fastest growing religions are. Two of the top four (Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses) explicitly reject the Trinity. I'm not sure how it has escaped notice, but Oneness Pentecostals (modern day modalists) are growing like weeds around here. Most Charismatic churches that label themselves non-denominational seem to be slipping down the same slope. For Catholics, most of us don't seem to have a clue what the Trinity is, much less its importance. We make the Sign of the Cross and recite the Creed, but we don't give much thought to what we are saying. The crisis in the faith has finally reached down to tear the entire basis of Christianity up by the roots.

I partially take that back. Latin rite Catholics have this problem. Easterners don't, probably because their liturgy is loaded with Trinitarian teachings.

Anyways, I think of this not just because it St. Patrick's Day, but also because this problem is getting so bad that congregations are actually being put in a position where they have to market the fact that they hold Trinitarian beliefs. "Pentecostal in Experience, Trinity in Doctrine" is becoming a tagline for these groups. What has the world come to where you stand out for believing in such a bedrock Christian principle?

If the issue of the Trinity ever comes up, recall St. Patrick's own words:

I arise today Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

Don't let people challenge this with impugnity. To deny the Trinity is seems tantamount to blasphemy, so treat it that way.

St. Patrick, pray for us!

Catholic Chapels and Mohammed's Birthday

Some folks seem to be embracing the possibility of dhimmitude with open arms, all the way up to desecrating sacred spaces with the celebrations of false religions.

Damian Thompson reports on the chapel at Newman University College in Birmingham (England) being scheduled to host a birthday party for Mohammed.

Is anybody minding the store at these places? St. Ambrose almost got himself killed by telling the Emperor's army to go jump in the lake when they tried to take over his church for use by Arians. In just 1700 years or so, we are now inviting similar-minded shmoes to come in and have their way with the place.

Here's an idea. Get out of the Holy Spirit's way and try some "dialogue" aimed at bringing these poor people out of their spiritual darkness.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Living Liturgically: A Practical Guide

Todd, in the comments down below, asks me for suggestions about how to live more liturgically. Well, that's a request begging for a long, well-thought out response. You'll have to make due with this.

The first point, which I've come to believe is essential, is not to try to do too much. This might seem paradoxical, since I complain that we don't live liturgically enough, but there is a danger: By trying to do too much, one fails, and then loses heart. Take me, for example: I love the liturgy of the Byzantine Church, and have attempted to pray the hours in the Byzantine way. This is doomed to failure, since to pray the Byzantine hours takes a significant percentage of the total hours of the day. If you sing them, it might take more than 24 hours to do it.

Pick something you can do, and stick to it. Here is where it is good to get a spiritual director, one who is intelligent and faithful, with experience. How do you find one? Darned if I know. Ask around. Do you know anyone who prays, and who possesses a good deal of practical wisdom? This might be your man (or woman). When the spiritual director tells you to do something, do it. There is virtue in both the act and the obedience.

You might want to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or perhaps just one of the hours each day. You can find it online, and even on the Iphone (IBreviary). The Roman version is quite manageable. A Rosary could be a good place to start, or some time reflecting on Scripture, or a holy hour at a church. Note, that "holy hour" is an expression: it could be a holy five minutes. A small thing faithfully done is better than a great thing not done.

Consider also changing the way you think about the calendar. Instead of the 14th day of March, think of it in terms of the liturgical season, the saints of the day, or the gospel readings.

That should suffice for now.

The Pope's Letter

Let's talk about this. If you want to read it, check out Rorate Caeli, which also has some good commentary on it.

The bunch that he's mostly addressing this to:

Some groups, on the other hand, openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed, whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment.


I therefore feel obliged to offer you, dear Brothers, a word of clarification, which ought to help you understand the concerns which led me and the competent offices of the Holy See to take this step. In this way I hope to contribute to peace in the Church.

Ok. Simple enough. What was the main problem?

An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately suddenly appeared as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the Council had laid down in this regard to guide the Church’s path.

Here's where it starts to really get interesting and we see the true focus of the letter starting to materialize.

I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility.

How much ink and bile was spilled on this issue? A freaking ton. And mostly because of (a) media-types who have asinine ideas about what an excommunication is and (b) Catholics who are so terrified of the Faith's traditions that they are willing to destroy the Vicar of Christ's reputation to put tradition in a bad light, in this case, the light of alleged anti-Semitism.

Pope Benedict then goes on to clear up any other "misunderstandings" on the whole excomming issue.

The remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church.

This is a big deal and merits a lot more attention than I think it's getting. We are not going to get past the current issues in the Church unless the doctrinal ambiguities that have been exploited post-VII are cleared up. That this is being acknowledged is a great and wonderful thing. It's not just about the liturgy.Folks actually seemed to think that once the TLM was "freed" (or whatever) that this whole thing would go away. It's not that simple. What with it being doctrinal and all, the Pope mentioned that he's moving the whole discussion to the CDF now.

And then, he unleashes the awesomeness:

The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

You got that, McBrien? Kaspar? Apparently 90% of the Society of Jesus? This cannot be repeated enough, and I very much hope that His Holiness will continue to pound on this issue. Quite frankly, the SSPX should pound on it just as much.

And for those who don't seem to know what the mission of the Successor of Peter is, there are some words for you as well.

The first priority for the Successor of Peter was laid down by the Lord in the Upper Room in the clearest of terms: "You… strengthen your brothers" (Lk 22:32). Peter himself formulated this priority anew in his first Letter: "Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15).

It's not enough to unified in the name of nothing. Only for God. And, I love this bit, not just any god. THE God.

In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses "to the end" (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.

I hate to say this, but it's almost nice to hear a pope being pessimistic again. As much as I may have like JPII, it drove me crazy sometimes to hear him talk about how great everything was, when it really seemed like things were going to crap at epic speeds.

The Pope then shifts to this point and does so for a very specific purpose, I think. All you folks out there who go into ecstasy at the thought of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, take note.

Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God.

Unity is with Peter, of course, which is the way God wanted it to be.

So if the arduous task of working for faith, hope and love in the world is presently (and, in various ways, always) the Church’s real priority, then part of this is also made up of acts of reconciliation, small and not so small. That the quiet gesture of extending a hand gave rise to a huge uproar, and thus became exactly the opposite of a gesture of reconciliation, is a fact which we must accept. But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who "has something against you" (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation?. . . .

Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful?

From ecumenism to this. Maybe it's just me, but I think the Pope is wanted all the ecumenical grandstanders out there to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves just what they are working for. How does one go so overboard to hold hands and "celebrate" and "dialogue" with those who aren't even Catholic, yet react with such viciousness when attempts are made to mend fences within the Church Herself? This is hypocrisy of the worst kind, I think. I wonder if Cardinal Kaspar will pay attention to this part.

I think this interpretation is well-founded by the closing remarks.

At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.

In other words, folks are always there who will say- step outside the agenda, and we'll bury you. But that's ok. It's what the Successor of Peter does. It's who he is. Suffering this kind of stuff goes with the territory, and Pope Benedict seems to embrace it.


I was surprised at the directness with which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: "Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." I am always tempted to see these words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in Saint Paul. To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this "biting and devouring" also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians?

Biting and devouring. Not a very pleasant image, yet precisely what we have seen lately as folks have been stepping all over themselves to criticize the Holy Father. I think that the George Weigel summary that Todd gives in the comments below sums it up rather well.

Viva il papa!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Did I Mention I Went to My First High Mass on Sunday?

Awesome, awesome stuff. Many thanks to Bishop Provost of Lake Charles for allowing this. Many thanks as well to Fr. Rommel Tolentino who did a phenomenal job. It was also the first High Mass for my family and some other folks from our parish.

You can find the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and other info on the Lake Charles Latin Mass Society at their blog.

More Jesuit Madness

CatholicCulture brings us the charming story of a Jesuit priest, Father Aloysius Howe, who denounces St. Paul and thinks the Church is misogynist. Did I mention that he's a visiting fellow at Georgetown?

The Pauline analogy of husbands mirroring Christ and wives mirroring the church has within it the seeds of much in theology and church discipline that is sexist and misogynist. The attitudes that men have towards women are formed very early in their development. We are socialized within our families, in our church communities, in our schools. If Catholics are told that only men can be, for sacramental purposes, in persona Christi, standing in the place of Christ at the Eucharist, are we seriously meant to believe that this does not lay down the germ of an idea, namely that women are inferior to men, even in the order of God's grace? If all the discernment and decisions that affect women in the Church are made only by celibate men, are we to conclude that this has no effect at all on the attitudes of Catholic men towards women?

What's really amazing isn't that this guy said this. Sadly, this is almost expected from the Society. The really amazing thing is how many people think that there's nothing wrong with the order and are content in just whistling past the graveyard here. If they truly loved the Sons of Ignatius, they would be appalled and work for some sort of reform. Doesn't happen, though. They just keep their fingers firmly plugged in their ears and continue on their merry way.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bobby Jindal and Exorcisms

We gave Sarah Palin some scrutiny during the campaign because of her Assemblies of God background. The point was that she would be political toast if anybody saw a video of her speaking in tongues.

Bobby Jindal might have some similar baggage. If you're from Louisiana, you probably already know this story. Basically, Jindal submitted a piece to the New Oxford Review back in 1994 that recalls his participation in an exorcism. Charles Blow has resurrected this item in this blog piece. His conclusion is that this whole exorcism bit could actually be in Jindal's favor, should he attempt a run at the White House.

I'm not buying it. You can't even count on this helping him among Catholics, much less the rest of the nation. Hell, in this day and age, it might even hurt him. I wonder how many Catholics think that we did away with exorcisms at Vatican II. Does anyone think that Joe and Nancy would accept this story at face value? Exactly my point.

Liturgy and the Moral Teaching of the Church

I don't participate in internet fora very much anymore, and it's not because I am lazy. I am _lazy_, but I have other reasons: I don't think arguments convince very many people, and certainly not the sort of arguments that happen in the anonymous agora of the internet.

Finally, I don't think arguments about right and wrong have much chance of success in a world that doesn't understand the liturgical life. By "liturgical life," I mean a life that is centered on the holy, on the manifestation of God in the world. This needn't be mysticism, but can be a very practical sacramental life, marking the hours, days, and weeks by their relation to the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I mean by the liturgical life thinking more about whether it's the third week of Lent than whether March Madness is approaching.

The typical way of life of Christians consists in a normal secular life punctuated by a weekly hour spent discharging a religious duty. After the church service, life goes back to normal. This is particularly true of Catholics, who vote, buy, and live nearly exactly like eneryone else.

Any argument about the moral life is therefore attempting to convince someone to make a commitment to a more Godly life, when God only occupies an hour out of every week. How could it make any impact? I remember yearly arguments in one forum about Lenten fasting regulations, and How dare the Church tell me I can't eat meat? One despairs of making any headway.

So I don't, and generally put my energies into the liturgical life at my parish, doing my best to make it as full and beautiful as it can be. We will live better when we pray better.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yes, I Know About Pope Benedict's Letter

I don't want to talk about it until some sort of official text is posted. For those who don't know, His Holiness basically blasts the world-wide coalition of doofuses who have attacked him over lifting the SSPX excoms.

We'll address it in due time.

Connecticut Attempts to Suppress the Church

I'm sure most of you have heard about this by now, but a couple of radically stupid congress-folk from Connecticut declared war on the Church this week.

Senator Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor introduced a bill that would require that parishes to adopt a lay board of administrators to govern certain aspects of the parish. Here's Archbishop Mansell's letter about it. At least the sponsors here weren't trying to hide their intentions. The bill targeted the Catholic Church and only the Catholic Church. The Enemy has become quite bold.

Luckily, there were enough outraged Catholics in Connecticut to swamp the legislative phonelines and have this piece of hell-spawned trash withdrawn from consideration. This article is pretty informative.

Just so McDonald and Lawlor know, I hereby name them for what they are- Forerunners of the AntiChrist. And dumb ones at that. I don't think even Ginsburg could come up with sufficiently busted logic that could get this to pass Constitutional muster.

Get used to it folks. This is probably only the beginning.

Bishop Martino Calls Senator Casey Out

Bishop Martino is another award nominee for this year. Mostly because of this outburst, but that wasn't his only shining moment.

CatholicOnline has furnished us with His Excellency's latest rebuke to Senator Bob Casey. Here's the intro:

Now, after the Bishop had already corrected Catholic Senator Bob Casey, of the Scranton Diocese, for his vote against the Mexico City Policy and asked him to rescind it, Senator Casey has publicly questioned the Bishop’s assertion that his vote was improper for a Catholic in elective office. This Bishop will have none of the sophistry demonstrated by the follow up statements from the Senator’s office indicating that his vote - which in effect allows U.S. Taxpayer funds to be used to promote Abortions overseas - was somehow actually a “pro-life vote”.

Yeah, pro-life. Ignorance is strength. Freedom is slavery. Murder is life.

Anyways, the letter is pretty good, even if it's not the sort of bomb-blast that we would have hoped for. He doesn't have to say anything about Casey's momma, but something like the "sophistry" bit above would have been nice. Here's the closing bit:

My letter of January 30 urging you to rescind your vote on the Mexico City Policy was in no way mistaken regarding the nature and the effect of President Obama’s order to rescind America’s long-standing policy to avoid using U.S. tax dollars to support organizations that promote abortion abroad. It is imperative that this fact be made known to the public. It is also imperative that there be utter clarity when it comes to the teaching of the Church on matters that pertain to the taking of innocent life and the special responsibilities that fall to you, Senator, as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils.

Make sure you read the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cardinal O'Malley Answers My Question


A couple of days ago, we discussed the Boston hospital that had apparently caved to the call of The Adversary to provide "family planning services." Of course, this is code for abortion/contraception stuff.

LifeNews has quoted Cardinal O'Malley's response to this:

In comment released by the archdiocese, he says he has received confirmation that abortions will not be done under the contract.

"I want to confirm for the Catholic community and the wider interested public that Caritas Christi Health Care has assured me that it will not be engaged in any procedures nor draw any benefits from any relationship which violate the Church's moral teaching," O'Malley said in a statement.

"I understand and support the desire of Caritas Christi to serve as a healthcare system collaborating with this program," O'Malley continued. "If it can happen without compromising the Catholic identity of the system, it would benefit both civil society and especially the poor in our community."

This is all very nice. The problem is that His Eminence is directly contradicting the statement from the hospital itself. So what is he going to do if they tell him to go take a dump in his red hat?As the hierarchy has become more and more toothless over the years, that has been the typical response to these sorts of conflicts. I hope very much that he will have the courage to crack down if the need arises.

I hope even more that His Eminence won't have to go there at all. The Boston faithful have been through enough without having to deal with another scandal.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm Really Just Posting This to See What Karl Has to Say

It's from the TimesOnline, and it's a fascinating article on the current status of Mt. Athos and its Esphigmenou monks.

Basically, they take a hardline on ecumenism, and I respect the hell out of that.

While European Union funds have converted surrounding monasteries to near-hotel standard, with showers, electricity and modern kitchens, Esphigmenou now gets by, it claims, on a daily budget of €130. Why, many have asked, would they make such sacrifices, simply because the leader of their church is friendly with the Pope? “The Patriarch tells us that we have no love for Catholics - no love in our hearts,” explains Father Savvas who, after 20 years in the monastery, is one of the more senior monks. “Well, is it an expression of love to let people live in deceit? In Europe, with your Protestantism and your Catholicism you are in...” he stops, to find the mot juste in his English-Greek dictionary. “Oh yes, perversion.” The word pleases him. “Popism is a perversion of Christianity.”

Ok, so he's way off the reservation of the True Faith, but I appreciate their willingness to step up and say, "This is right. You are all wrong. Telling other people they are right when they are wrong is bad, especially since it involves their soul's destination."

Note to Catholics: If you think you are the Church of Christ on earth, act like it! There are others who will make this claim, and you do them no favors by ignoring their errors. It's Lent. Works of mercy are in. Note numbers 1 and 3 here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cowards in Boston

The first Catholic hospital to capitulate to the Culture of Death has stepped forward. LifeNews has the story:

A St. Louis-based company, Caritas has joined in a bid to provide government-subsidized health insurance in Massachusetts. Caritas Christi, is joining with Centene Corporation in a bid for the government contract that would include coverage for abortion.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Nancy Turnbull, an associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health, complained that Caritas doesn't do abortions. As a result, she opposes its bid to provide state-subsidized health insurance through the Commonwealth Care program.

In response, Caritas released a statement last month saying the new venture "will contract with providers, both in and out of the Caritas network, to ensure access to all services required by the authority, including confidential family planning services."

You can't serve two masters. In an interesting effort to do so, Caritas has chosen both Mammon and Molech.

Can and will Cardinal O'Malley try to stop this?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We're Getting More Priests

According to the BBC:

The Holy See presented a statistical yearbook to Pope Benedict XVI, showing an increase of several hundred priests a year since 2000.

Thanks to large increases in Africa and Asia, the number of Catholic priests rose from 405,178 in 2000 to 408,024 in 2007, the report said.

I hope Cardinal Mahony doesn't see this. Remember:

What some refer to as a "vocations crisis" is, rather, one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, a sign of God’s deep love for the Church, and an invitation to a more creative and effective ordering of gifts and energy in the Body of Christ.

No, I'm not making it up. He really said that. Too bad that we might be seeing this wonderful fruit of the Council dissipate before our very eyes. Clearly, the End Times are upon us. More priests AND the increasing popularity of the TLM! How will the Church survive?

Archbishop Ranjith In the Running for the PAE Awesomeness Award

As a nice counter-point to Cardinal Mahoney's recent commentary on the TLM, CatholicCulture has a great bit on +Ranjith taking a blowtorch to modern(ist) thinking on the liturgy.

If you read this blog with some frequency, you'll note that many of these ideas are familiar. It's not a secret anymore that the Pauline Mass has very little in common with the liturgical reform contemplated by Vatican II. +Ranjith goes into quite a few specifics.

Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation."

Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation--all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained.

An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation-- and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium-- were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools.

If there was ever a guy in need of a red hat, it's His Excellency.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Oh, That Wacky Cardinal Mahoney!

Check out Fr. Z's analysis of the latest from Cardinal Mahoney. At issue is the following statement from His Eminence:

Ann Scolari: What are your thoughts on the Trindentine mass?

CardinalMahony: Ann: The Tridentine Mass was meant for those who could not make the transition from Latin to English [or other languages] after the Council. But there is no participation by the people, and I don’t believe that instills the spirit of Christ among us.

Fr. Z goes through it much better than I could, but you have to laugh at the cardinal's casual denigration of 1500 years of Christianity. Basically, the Mass wasn't instilling the spirit of Christ until Paul VI came along. I'm pretty sure there are no Latin rite saints who celebrated exclusively under the Pauline Missal, so basically all those folks were just spiritually crippled. No Latin Doctor the Church had such a benefit, so we might as well ditch all their writings right now and start over.

I wonder what Blessed John XXIII would say about this comment. Hints contained here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Numbers Never Lie

The problem is that you can get numbers to say whatever you want them to say. Such appears to be the case with the latest news on how "family planning" programs somehow reduce the number of abortions.

Let's look beyond the fact that contraceptive pills are abortifacients, and limit ourselves to a few items from LifeSite on this.

Last year, officials in Sweden reported that the number of abortions increased 17 percent in Sweden from 2000 to 2007 despite sales of the morning after pill increasing during the same time period.

Meanwhile, last year the number of abortions in Scotland rose for the third straight year despite a heavy push for women to use the morning after pill. Abortions in Scotland rose four percent according to a report from the British National Health Service and now number 13,703. That increase cameafter NHS reported 13,081 abortions in 2006, up from 12,603 the previous year -- an increase of nearly 3.8 percent.

Finally, a report from Planned Parenthood of Western Washington shows abortions are on the rise in Washington state even though it participated in Washington state’s Take Charge pilot program. Take Charge is a Medicaid section 1115 Waiver program initiated in 2001 to provide free contraceptives to low-income women not already covered under Medicaid. It was originally funded for five years in 2001, then extended for three more years, and comes up for renewal in 2009. Yet the PPWW annual report indicates abortions rose 16 percent from 7,790 in 2006 to 9,059 in 2007.

There's more, but you get the idea. The culture of death begets death. It's as simple as that.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm Watching a Lot of Protestant TV These Days

My wife thinks that I'm losing my mind. I can't help it, though. It's far and away the most entertaining stuff that's on. Maybe a feature on my favorite tv preachers is due.

Anyways, I was watching Leroy Thompson and some other show that I can't recall the name of. Love Worth Sharing, maybe? Whatever it was, they had a big fake Ark brought in straight from the set of Indiana Jones.

What both of these guys had in common was that they couldn't talk about anything but God, the Almighty Lottery Ticket. Comments like, "I don't serve a broke God," and, "Get what you want without hard laboring," were all over the place. Bible verses like Zechariah 8:12 were used to justify this:

But there shall be the seed of peace: the vine shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew: and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

Of course, the context of this really doesn't give much indication of God giving you lots of money and your never having to work again. I think most folks would say that it's Messianic and shows the ecclesiological development of the Church from the Jews. But, hey, who am I to question great minds such as these.

The whole message, though, really seemed to be "Blessed are the poor, but only when God gives you cash."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pius XII Continues to be Exonerated

Zenit reports on the latest evidence of the Pope's holiness.

The article is chock-full of examples, but here are a few to get you going:

These documents, available for downloading from the foundation's Web site, include a nun's manuscript from 1943, detailing the Pope's order to hide Jews in Rome and a list of protected Jews.

Another document is a 1939 report on the "new Pope" by the U.S. Foreign Service, from the American consul in Cologne. The diplomat reported surprise at the "extreme dislike" of Pacelli toward Hitler and the Nazi regime, and his support to the German bishops in their opposition to Nazism, even at the cost of losing German Catholic youth.

During the war, Pius XII saved 80,000 lives by persuading the Hungarian regent to prevent the deportation of the Jews. He also requested the Brazilian government to receive 3,000 "non-Aryans."

Nary a word from Wills or Foxman on this. Not surprising.