Whoever came up with this freaking rules. Basically, you hit the button and the Insulter gives you a randomly generated (authentic) insult from Martin Luther. We've talked before about how incredibly lame Luther was as a theologian and how all he was good at was heaping abuse on people without actually giving any kind of reasoned argument. This ingenious web site helps provide a good example of how vicious the Great Deformer could be.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
I may or may not have brought this up in the past. I don't know, but I find myself thinking about this a lot lately. What would it take to break contraception's death-grip on our culture?
Thursday, February 23, 2012
I've taken to reading The Sadness of Christ during Lent. St. Thomas wrote it while he was awaiting execution, so there's a level of profundity in it that I really can't explain. His own desperation in dealing with his persecution and coming martyrdom is so palpable that the sense of it alone is enough to make you want to cry while reading it.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Thanks to Haskovec for this nugget.
Prime Minister Mario Monti plans an amendment to an Italian law that will force the Catholic Church to pay taxes on all its commercial properties, according to a statement posted late yesterday on the government’s website.
The church currently pays property tax only on buildings designated as “purely commercial,” based on an Italian law originating 20 years ago and extended in 2006. The wording is ambiguous when it comes to clinics that have a chapel or monasteries that offer bed and breakfast accommodation.
The Catholic Church owns about 100,000 properties in Italy, a third of which are commercial, according to the Italian Radical Party, which historically has challenged the church.
The Vatican reported a profit of 9.8 million euros ($12.7 million) in 2010 after three years of losses during the recession.
Following a complaint by the Radical Party, European Union regulators opened a probe in 2010 into Italian tax breaks on real estate granted to the Catholic Church, saying they may distort competition.
Ah. So we're doing this in the name of capitalism? Really?
The outcome of the investigation will be made public by next month and if the decision goes against Italy, the EU could order the country to pay a fine and to demand that the church reimburse the government for unpaid taxes of the last five years, the secretary of the Radical Party, Mario Staderini, said in an interview in Rome on Dec. 21.
Monti has informed European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia of his decision to overhaul the rule and hopes “the government’s initiative will allow the European Commission to close the procedure,” according to the statement.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The debate over the HHS mandate is about the 1st amendment, as it should be. The president's actions seem to violate it. But I think that, if Catholics are going to make such a big deal about the mandate, we ought and owe it to God to attempt to understand the doctrine. Here is my poor attempt to explain it.
For the official restatement of the millenia old teaching, see Paul VI Humanae Vitae. For an attempt to explain it in terms of Kant's categorical imperative, see Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility. For a theological examination of the scriptures and the role of the body in salvation, see Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II. I will try a liturgical explanation.
In my church, behind the altar we have this icon:
This is Jesus in the womb of Mary, his mother. He is portrayed as a young man to show that even as an embryo, he is God. The womb of Mary is the most holy place in all of Creation, because it is where the son of God became man. To rejoice at this occurrence, Simeon the prophet sang "Now you may dismiss your servant in peace, O Lord, for mine eyes have seen the salvation which you have promised to all peoples, a light of revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."
At the baptism of every baby who comes into our parish, we do the same thing. The priest takes the child in his arms, carries him into the sanctuary, and sings the same song "Now you may dismiss your servant. . . " Each birth is holy because Christ's birth was holy. Furthermore, each _conception_ is holy because Christ's conception was holy.
The womb of the woman, every woman, is a holy of holies, because it is there that God creates the immortal, eternal soul of every human being. This makes the sexual act something holy as well. (This is why pornography is such an evil thing, because it makes the greatest of gifts into trash.) To enter into this temple but refuse the gifts which God may offer you is akin to sacrilege, I think. One may as well take the body of Christ in the eucharist and vomit it up to avoid the calories!
It bears repeating that this view of sexuality is ancient. The prohibition against contraception was universal in all Christian churches until 1930. Let me give you a quote from St. John Chrysostom, writing in the fifth century about this issue:
"Where there are medicines of sterility? Where there is murder before birth? Indeed, it is something worse than murder and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you despise the gift of God, and fight with his law?"
Indeed, even in the New Testament you can find writings that are probably against contraception. The NAB translates pharmakia as "sorcery", but it really means the making of potions. This is from catholicapologetics.org: "In the New Testament, it is possible that the Greek "pharmakeia" refers to the birth control issue. "Pharmakeia" in general was the mixing of various potions for secret purposes, and it is known that potions were mixed in the first century A.D. to prevent or stop a pregnancy. The typical translation as "sorcery" may not reveal all of the specific practices condemned by the New Testament. In all three of the passages in which it appears, it is in a context condemning sexual immorality; two of the three passages also condemn murder. (Galatians 5:19-26; Revelation 9:21, 21:8). Thus it is very possible that there are three New Testament passages condemning the use of the products of "pharmakeia" for birth control purposes."
It was the universal teaching of the Church, of all Churches. Should such a teaching get universal mockery?
We now take the great mystery of the creation of new human souls, and our participation in it, and we stop it, we limit it, we sterilize it. Perhaps we should approach the mystery with reverence, and, if for some grave reason we cannot accept the new life God may give us, we should abstain with prayer and fasting, rather than with pills and prophylactics?
I don't expect to convince anyone. On this issue, the culture has gone so far from the faith that it's really difficult to make any headway. But perhaps, someone might reconsider, or at least realize that opposition to contraception is a rational position based on faith.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Not the feeling that you have to go buy flowers or chocolates.
It's the love that moves a person to shed their blood for the Love of God. Remember why we have a Valentine's Day. It's because he would rather be beheaded than to reject the duties of Faith. I couldn't find a picture of St. Valentine's martyrdom, but here's Caravaggio's rendering of the death of St. Peter for your consideration.
It's a picture of love, just not the kind we're used to hearing about today.
This is from a CNA report about Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria's response to the HHS mandate. In the article, he mentions something Cardinal George said back in 2010:
“I will die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”
I hadn't heard that one before, but holy smokes.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Wars and rumors of wars, I guess. Curial politics have always been a very weird animal to try and analyze, mostly because you never really know what's going on or much about the personalities involved. However, when you've got this much news flowing out of the Vatican at once, all from vastly different ends of the spectrum, it seems a safe bet that there is some huge conflict going on behind the scenes. Take a look at the following items from the last couple of months:
Big stuff going down over the last week or so on the HHS mandate front. You've had Obama's campaign director basically tell Catholics to shut up. The Business Insider has run an article calling on the masses to admit the Church has been right about birth control the whole time. Ed Peters has called for an invocation of Canon 915 against Nancy Pelosi. The count of bishops condemning the president's actions went to 171.
First, he has decided to retain HHS's nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.
Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours:
It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.
It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer's policy, not as a separate rider.
Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process.
These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer's plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.
We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today's proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.
We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.
Friday, February 10, 2012
This political involvement by the bishops will no doubt start a movement to strip the Church of its exemption in an effort to destroy it.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Scripture is clear about this in a bunch of different places. Psalms 95:5 and 1 Corinthians 10:20, for example.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I originally got the source articles from CNA regarding the alleged "approval" of the NeoCatechumal Way's weird liturgical practices, but I'm linking here to Fr. Zuhlsdorf's references so that his commentary is available.
“With respect to the celebrations of the Holy Mass and the other liturgies of the Church,” communities of the Neocatechumenal Way must “follow the norms of the Church as indicated in the liturgical books – to do otherwise must be understood to be a liturgical abuse,” a Vatican official who requested anonymity told CNA on Jan. 21.
The invitation issued by the movement to bishops for yesterday’s event stated that “the purpose of this meeting is that His Holiness will sign a Decree from the Congregation of Divine Worship recognizing the full approval of the liturgies of the Neocatechumenal Way.”
Instead, approval for the non-liturgical practices of the group came by way of another source. It was Pontifical Council for the Laity that issued a decree of approval – after having consulted the Congregation for Divine Worship – for those “celebrations” present in their Catechetical Directory.
In this process “the Neocatechumenal Way obtained no new permissions whatsoever,” said the official, who is familiar with the approval process for prayers and liturgies.
“Essentially, the Pontifical Council is only approving these things that are found in the Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way, and in no way touches those things contained in the liturgical books.”
He said that the decree served merely as an assurance that “there is nothing erroneous to the prayers that they use in the context of their catechetical sessions.”
Father Ricardo Reyes Castillo, a member of the Neocatechumenal Way, said Pope Benedict XVI’s approval of the movement’s non-liturgical celebrations “has changed absolutely nothing.”
The Panamanian priest told CNA on Jan. 23 that the papal approval of the celebrations contained in the Neocatechumenal Catechetical Directory means “simply that the Church has confirmed that the rites used in the different stages of formation in the Neocatechumenal Way are in accord with the tradition of the Church.”
Hey, that's great!. Maybe somebody should explain all this to Kiko because he is thinking something a little bit different.
Monday, February 6, 2012
The best comparison, I think, for this ever-growing conflict between Obama and the Church is what you see in The Lord of the Rings when the Ents decide that they are going after Saruman. Treebeard makes the point that it takes a long time for them to make a decision. When they finally do, they march on Isengard. Hopefully, our shepherds will meet with similar success.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
This bit from the National Review was emailed to me:
On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels. The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution.
The Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains subsequently sent an email to senior chaplains advising them that the Archbishop’s letter was not coordinated with that office and asked that it not be read from the pulpit. The Chief’s office directed that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel.
Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants.
Following a discussion between Archbishop Broglio and the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh, it was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop’s letter. Additionally, the line: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law” was removed by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.
The AMS did not receive any objections to the reading of Archbishop Broglio’s statement from the other branches of service.
Rumors have been flying about all kinds of stuff on this front. You've got claims ranging from stalemate all the way up to the CDF rejecting the SSPX response outright. Rorate has been on top of it pretty well, I think.
Bishop Fellay to Rome: "We are ready."
These words truly belong to Bishop Fellay. They were pronounced in Winona, Minnesota, on February 2, on the occasion of the conferral of the cassocks in the American seminary of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX). Do they summarize the entire thinking of the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X? In any event, not less than all those that were used, distorted or taken from their context, by some journalists who impatiently picked the headlines "The failure of the negotiations", or still, "We could not go further in the confusion". Moved by a growing panic as news of the regularization of the Fraternity move closer in time, Progressives and Sedevacantists now advance hand in hand, the first not even hesitating to quote the second. "From enemies that they were, they were made friends," says Holy Writ.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Too much real life intervening.
If you don't recall Pope Paul's prophecies from the encyclical, we covered them a bit here.