Thursday, January 30, 2014

Speaking Of ND (Pope Francis)

Rorate delivered some great laughs this morning by providing a snip of the Holy Father's comments to a delegation from ND. Check this out:

In my recent Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions. This commitment to “missionary discipleship” ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 132-134), which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life. Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it! 


Somebody needs to get the Holy Father the memo with the new ND mission statement. You know, the one that makes Church teaching a point for dialogue rather than promotion or defense. The one where the university, in the name of Mammon, capitulates to Caesar's demand for a small smackeral of incense. The one where the enemies of life and adversaries who assault the Church are given platforms, even within the university itself, for launching their broadsides, with the excuse being that they should have freedom to tell their lies or that the school is "honored" by their presence.

Pope Francis needs to get with the brave new world.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Haunting In Indiana

No, this isn't about the spirit of cowardice that has claimed ND.

This is about the demonic possession of children, with multiple witnesses to the paranormal activity. It's scary stuff. I'm sure the Agent Scullys out there will be more than willing to come up with "rational" explanations for all this.

A Gary, Ind., mother of three claims demons caused her 12-year-old daughter to levitate and her 9-year-old son to walk on a hospital ceiling — accounts supported by medical personnel and police officials, according to a shocking report.

For Latoya Ammons, the late night footsteps, the creaking of a door and wet footprints left by a shadowy male figure through her living room were merely child's play when that was all her family had to endure.

But then things turned violent.

It was March 10, 2012 — four months after her family moved into a three-bedroom rental — that Ammons’ saw her daughter floating above her bed, the Indy Star reports.

It was first a scream that alerted her grandmother, Rosa Campbell, to the girl's bedroom at about 2 a.m. that night.

"I thought, 'What's going on?'" Campbell recalled to the Star. "'Why is this happening?'"

When the girl fell back onto the bed, she gained consciousness but said she had no memory of what had happened.

Two clairvoyants told them the house was filled with more than 200 demons. The family's church recommended pouring olive oil on Ammons' children's hands and feet, with smeared crosses along their foreheads, as a form of protection.

At one clairvoyant's recommendation, the frightened mother created an altar in her basement with a white candle and a statue of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. It was down there, beneath the staircase leading up to her kitchen, where the family believed the terrifying events began.

She and a friend prayed over the altar while filling the area with smoke in an attempt to spiritually purify the home, she told The Star.

For three days, nothing happened. And then Ammons and her children began acting out.

The mother found her youngest, a 7-year-old boy, inside a closet while allegedly talking to another boy only Ammons' son could see.

When asked what they were talking about, her son allegedly told her that the other child was describing what it was like to be killed.

Not long after that, the woman claims her 7-year-old flew out of a bathroom and that her 12-year-old daughter required stitches after being hit in the head.

The girl told health care professionals that she sometimes felt like she was being choked. A voice would tell her that she'd never see her family again.

On April 19, 2012, the family went to see Dr. Geoffrey Onyeukwu, whose encounter with the children was one he said he'd never forget.

"Twenty years, and I've never heard anything like that in my life," the physician told the Star about their first meeting since the frightening events began. "I was scared myself when I walked into the room."

According to a report by the Department of Children Services obtained by The Star, one of the boys began cursing at Onyeukwu in a demonic voice. He and his brother then abruptly passed out and wouldn't come to.

The police were called. When both children woke up in a hospital, the youngest began screaming and violently thrashing about.

It took five men to hold the 7-year-old boy down, Campbell told The Star.

The children's behavior was so unusual and unexplainable that doctors feared their mother was suffering a mental illness and possibly encouraging the kids to act that way.

Ammons was reported to DCS for possible child abuse, but when she was evaluated by a hospital psychiatrist she was found to be of "sound mind."

DCS family case manager Valerie Washington was then called in to evaluate the children. When she met them, the youngest, she reported, started to growl and flash his teeth at her. His eyes then rolled back into his head. Then the 7-year-old lunged for his older brother and put his hands around his throat while saying in a voice that wasn't his own: "It's time to die. I will kill you," according to Washington's report.

Once released from his brother's grasp, the 9-year-old allegedly started head-butting his grandmother.

Campbell took his hand and started to pray when the boy walked backward up a wall and onto the ceiling. Once there he flipped and landed perfectly on his feet.

Washington's DCS report is corroborated by Willie Lee Walker, a registered nurse, who was in the room with them.

"He walked up the wall, flipped over her [the grandmother] and stood there," Walker told The Star. "There's no way he could've done that."

Washington, in her report to police, described the boy as "gliding."

The 7-year-old boy stayed overnight in the hospital with Ammons while Campbell took the other two children to a relative's for the night.

They returned the next day, which was the youngest boy's 8th birthday, but were greeted by DCS workers, who took all three children into custody.

The following day, the hospital chaplain called Rev. Michael Maginot, asking him to perform an exorcism on the 9-year-old boy.

The reverend agreed to interview the mother and grandmother at the home. During their meeting, a bathroom light bulb flickered, blinds in the kitchen swung, and footprints appeared in the living room, he told the Star.

After that, Ammons and Campbell moved out to temporarily live with a relative, but less than a week later were called back for an afternoon inspection by the DCS.

Gary police Capt. Charles Austin accompanied the two women with Washington and another officer.

Austin tells the Star that after that visit, he believes in both ghosts and demons. He also vowed to never go inside the house again.

I'm not a clinician, but I work in a health care environment with a lot of folks who have been formally diagnosed with mental/behavioral problems. There are a number of cases where I have significant doubts about whether or not illness is the real issue. It's creepy as hell, and tragic if its considered that people in such circumstances are far less likely to get the help they need than in past time periods and for no other reason than our collective arrogance in being to "rational" to believe in the demonic.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Eldest Daughter

We mentioned before that there is a possible awakening of Catholicism in France. Granted, after your country has been an international punchline for so long, something was bound to give.

Anyways, this article gives some more details about what's going on.

Everyone thought they had disappeared, and they had indeed become invisible to most of us. But for the past six months, they have been resurfacing and taking to the streets relentlessly to protest against gay marriage. 

They use their networks to organize events and rallies, as well as candlelit sit-ins and vigils. As defenders of the so-called traditional family, they represent a large proportion of those who march against same-sex marriage. 

“It is a real groundswell,” says Christine Pedotti, editor-in-chief at Témoignage chrétien (“Christian Testimony”), the only Catholic magazine to favor gay marriage. “These young conservative activists obey the Church hierarchy and are addicted to family values and genuflecting. This is the new face of the Church.” 

This new generation of Catholics – the John Paul II and Benedict XVI generation – became the unexpected sentinel of the Church in the battle against gay marriage, which started on August 15 with a “Prayer for France.”

It's all very inspiring. Sure, they lost this battle, but losing in the name of the Long Defeat isn't a bad thing. It's to be expected even. But it's worth everything we have.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pope Blackmun And The Anniversary Of Roe

I wanted to wait out the week in an attempt to see what kind of media coverage the March for Life would get. I basically saw nothing of note from any of the usual broadcast suspects. There was this interesting riposte to Pope Francis (or whoever the Twitter underling is) for daring to tweet his support for the cause.

Most of the "reporting" on the anniversary spoke about how it's a landmark decision (which it is) and a triumph of women's rights (which it isn't) and how terrifying it is to see this alleged right under assault (which is abominable considering we're weighing this mythical assault against corpses of 50+ million dead babies).

However, I wanted to focus on a slightly different aspect of the story, namely that of Roe v. Wade as "settled law." We usually hear this trope on the anniversary but also whenever there is a Supreme Court nomination that comes up. I know this was discussed for Justices Sotomayor, Roberts, and Alito. I don't recall it being an issue with Kagan.

Of course, this "settled law" business isn't even true from a legal standpoint, with the Casey decision probably being the most famous example of how unsettled the Roe opinion is. Looking at it another way, though, consider that this fanatical devotion to the illusory rights in Roe actually reflects something very interesting in the pro-abortion crowd.

They actually believe in personal infallibility.

Oh sure, it's not papal infallibility. What they've granted to Justice Blackmun, author of the original Roe opinion, is actually far, far more exalted than even what Catholics ascribe to the Pope.

First, there is no doubt about whether or not what Justice Blackmun wrote is truly an infallible statement. Typically, there is some debate among Catholics about what counts as ex cathedra, as evidenced by Cardinal Ratzinger's response to this question when Ordinatio Sacredotalis came out. Justice Blackmun garners no such scrutiny.

Second, reformed positions by the expository entity are not infallible. The Supreme Court has altered Roe on a number of occasions as mentioned above. Holdings that are restrictive of Roe are automatically decried as tragedies and open up hysterical rhetoric the like of which is not seen in even the most heated political discourse. In other words, it isn't the Supreme Court that is infallible. It's Justice Blackmun. For an example of the aforementioned rhetoric, read his dissent in Casey. The man sounds insane.

Third, the Pope cannot make up new stuff. He can't just ex cathedra his way into a fourth person of the Trinity, for example. Justice Blackmun's powers granted him the ability to create ex nihilo, a new right, heretofore unknown, that is elevated to a status above all other rights, to the extent that one is considered unfit for a Supreme Court seat if they do anything other than re-affirm Blackmun's infallibility.

Third, there is nothing in jurisprudence that can ever be really called settled. Except here. Is there another Supreme Court case that gets the "settled law" treatment the way Roe does? Other areas of the law are in constant flux, even if the Court is obviously struggling with ways to maintain the principles of the original case law (any establishment clause case, substantive/procedural due process, the Commerce Clause, etc). What other area is so vehement in its brooking of no dissent?


Because it cannot be conceived, imagined, or even pondered that Justice Blackmun, speaking for the confreres of the plurality opinion, could be wrong. It is impossible. Dissenters are worse than heretics and must be silenced and destroyed post haste, sans the vaunted dialogue and tolerance that is normally touted by those of pro-abortion philosophical stock.

Who would have thought? We've had 266 popes. Apparently, none of them have been infallible. It only took 97 Supreme Court justices to find an infallible one.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Purge Continues

It might shock Candida Moss to find this out, but Christians are being murdered every day for no other reason than that they are Christians.

This is a topic that we discuss here with some frequency. Surprise, surprise. Not much has changed, per The Week.

Like many Coptic Christians in Egypt, Ayman Nabil Labib had a tattoo of the cross on his wrist. And like 17-year-old men everywhere, he could be assertive about his identity. But in 2011, after Egypt's revolution, that kind of assertiveness could mean trouble.

Ayman's Arabic-language teacher told him to cover his tattoo in class. Instead of complying, the young man defiantly pulled out the cross that hung around his neck, making it visible. His teacher flew into a rage and began choking him, goading the young man's Muslim classmates by saying, "What are you going to do with him?"

Ayman's classmates then beat him to death. False statements were given to police, and two boys were taken into custody only after Ayman's terror-stricken family spoke out...

In Syria, the situation is even worse. In June 2013, a cluster of Christian villages was totally destroyed. Friar Pierbattista Pizzaballa reported that "of the 4,000 inhabitants of the village of Ghassanieh... no more than 10 people remain..."

According to West, between 2004 and 2011 the population of Chaldo-Assyrian Christians fell from over a million to as few as 150,000. In 2006, Isoh Majeed, who advocated the creation of a safe haven for Christians around Nineveh, was murdered in his home. The number of churches in Iraq has declined to just 57, from 300 before the invasion. The decline of Iraq's Christian population since the first Gulf War is roughly 90 percent, with most of the drop occurring since the 2003 invasion.

Hey, at least they aren't using gas chamber and ovens.

No tears, now. It will all be over soon.

Friday, January 24, 2014

For Those Wondering

I am waiting until Sunday to do a post on the Roe anniversary.

There's a reason.

A Tale Of Two Joes

This is Joe Paterno.

Joe Paterno was a long-time football coach. His job was a high-profile one, made so mostly by his tenure. He was a highly influential personality and developed a significant coaching tree. He was one of the most beloved figures in all of college football for thousands, perhaps millions, of people, whether fans or peers. He also had an assistant coach who was a child rapist. He covered up this man's crimes and eventually lost his job when this was discovered.

This is Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

Cardinal Bernardin was a long-time prelate in the Catholic Church. His jobs were a high-profile ones, made significantly moreso by his tenure. He was a highly influential personality and saw many of his friends and proteges also chosen for the episcopacy. He was one of the most beloved figures in the entire American church for thousands, perhaps millions, of people, whether Catholic or not. He also had multiple priests in his diocese who were child rapists. He covered up these men's crimes but never lost his job over it, despite the evidence that at least called for an investigation into the matter well before the Cardinal's death.

That last sentence and Cardinal Bernardin's far more exalted role on both a temporal and spiritual plane notwithstanding, what is the main difference between these two? I would suggest that it relates to the legacy of each man. Paterno, while still staunchly (and creepily) defended by members of the Penn State community, retroactively forfeited all his wins going back to 1998 and was fired. His statue outside of the football stadium was removed by the university of its own accord. Most people, outside of the Penn State hardcore, now view Paterno with disgust.

The revelations about Cardinal Bernardin's activities in not only covering up, but in some cases promoting the predators involved, have met with deafening silence. I guess there might be people out there calling for at least revisiting the legacy of the most influential American churchmen of the last couple of decades (and that's a conservative guess; I could probably go back much, much farther). No, as we mentioned in our prior post, the blame seems to be getting deflected to anyone and everyone else.

I post this for a couple of reasons.

First, this is more proof that our society takes football more seriously than its obligations to God.

Second, dissent does not allow for the sullying of its icons, regardless of the reasons or charges. Comparing the cult of personality around Paterno/Bernardin is like comparing Saddleback with Jonestown. At least the Paterno folks admit that allegations were made and that their beloved JoePa was in charge at the time. From what I've seen, Cardinal Bernardin has been barely acknowledged in all this and such will continue to be the case.

Third, this isn't about picking on/attacking/slandering Cardinal Bernardin, though I'm sure with the tenor of emails I've gotten that it will be construed that way. This is about showing the hypocrisy of those engaged in the discussion of the subject at all. I've heard more people bring up Cardinal Cody in this matter than Bernardin. I've heard most people go after Cardinal George or John Paul II or even Benedict XVI. This isn't just a media issue. This is the reaction of people on the street, Catholic or no. Why is the one guy most involved getting the least criticism?

It's simple. It's not just history that is written by the victors. It's current events as well. At the moment, the victors are the enemies of the Church, both without and within. Like any party in power, they aim to stay there, and that means protecting the ideas that got them there in the first place. Protecting those ideas means protecting those who gave them life to begin with, regardless of the doublethink that has to go on to do so.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Protecting Cardinal Bernardin's Legacy

The responses to the documents revealed in the cases of child molestation in the Chicago archdiocese have been very interesting.

First, there is the now non-shocking way that covering for rapists was handled. You just take it for granted now that nobody was doing their job and these evil people were basically running the show, in fact if not in name.

Second, there doesn't seem to be a real move to actually confront the problem now. I think Pope Benedict went a long way with the aforementioned defrocking of priests and removal of bishops and attempted reform of groups like the LOC, but the hardcore problems are still there. Here, I renew my call for the entire Catholic episcopacy to be given the Henry II treatment in penance for these sins and those bishops involved to be given monastic exile.

Third, and perhaps also not shocking, is the measures people will take to defend their favorites. We alluded to this earlier. Consider a few articles on the goings on in Chicago. They hardly mention Cardinal Bernardin at all. This item from the Huffington Post doesn't mention him even once. Has anyone called for a re-examination of his rather influential legacy? I haven't heard one. Instead, I'm hearing blame placed on Cardinal George (who is involved to a much lesser degree), Pope Benedict (who just let anything and everything go apparently), diocesan staff (who steered Bernardin in the wrong direction), and a whole bunch of other people who have only a remote connection (if any) to the situation.

My guess is such criticisms never emerge from our current media. My guess is that Cardinal Bernardin gets the posthumous version of the Rembert Weakland treatment.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Media's Pope

If you check out this article we wrote for Unam Sanctam, you'll find our take that the popular image of Blessed John XXIII is a fabrication. The notion of Pope John as the patron saint of dissent, heresy, and schism that has been propagated is the furthest thing from the facts. His own writings provide proof aplenty of this.

However, we've been left with the media's fake Pope John since 1965 as the most widespread view of the man.

The press seeks to do likewise with Pope Francis.

We've pointed out here before things like the selective quoting of Evangelii Gaudium and the wholesale blind-eye turned to Lumen Fidei. Consider these recent headlines as new evidence:

Pope, after conservatives' criticism, calls abortion "horrific"

Because, of course, Pope Francis was donating money to Planned Parenthood until "conservatives" forced him to condemn abortion. Maybe they were too busy calling the Holy Father a Marxist to read this part of Evangelii Gaudium:

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”.

Or maybe that was compelled by evil conservatives holding the Pope at gunpoint? We must again ponder why journalists who write this kind of garbage aren't openly mocked.

Just make sure when you hear something that relates to the Vicar of Christ that it's the real one and not the media substitute.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rewarding Perversion

In other news, Hollywood again proves the double standard when it comes to assaulting children.

We're all familiar with Roman Polanski's drugging and raping of a young girl, his subsequent flight from the country, and his continued high status among celebrities.

Now, the movie industry has again rewarded Woody Allen, with no apparent regard for the accusations against him for molesting his own adopted daughter (or daughters if you count the one he went on to marry). 

I ask the question again. Whose action was worse? Roman Polanski's or Mel Gibson's?

A new question. Who deserves greater scrutiny? A known deviant who also has credible allegations of child molestation against him like Woody Allen? Or Mel Gibson?

We know Hollywood's answer for sure.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pope Benedict Vs. The Wolves

A report has come out describing Pope Benedict's efforts to purge the Church of predators. He dismissed almost 400 priests from the clerical state ("defrocked") in his last two years alone. The Insider has the story here.

He'll get no credit for any of his work in this area. Be prepared for our former Vicar of Christ to get something of the Pius XII treatment. The chorus will always be not just that he didn't do more. It will be what a horrible person he is for what he did and didn't do, regardless of the circumstances. We'll never know what the struggle was like amongst the Curial wolfpack. However, we know now that Pope Benedict did more than anyone else to rid the Mystical Body of Christ of this filth. And that he has been and will be castigated for doing so.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hans Kung: Comedian

Ok, there's a little bit in this offering from Tancred that is serious, namely, the reports that members of the German episcopacy were trying to get Pope Francis to ditch the idea of making Archbishop Muller a cardinal. Granted, these are just reports, but given the conflict that is going on right now, it isn't all that far-fetched.

Now, for the best part:

On the other hand, a contribution by Hans Küng in the "Passau Neue Presse", in which Müller was referred to as a "new Cardinal Ottaviani," who feels called to, "impose his conservative opinion of the faith on the Pope, the Council and to the whole Church." 


Hoo Boy. I'd like to extend my personal thanks to Hans Kung for providing the best laugh I've had thus far in the New Year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part 2

Continuing from our prior post:

36. All revealed truths derive from the same divine source and are to be believed with the same faith, yet some of them are more important for giving direct expression to the heart of the Gospel. In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead. In this sense, the Second Vatican Council explained, “in Catholic doctrine there exists an order or a ‘hierarchy’ of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith”.[38] This holds true as much for the dogmas of faith as for the whole corpus of the Church’s teaching, including her moral teaching.

This section isn’t nearly as controversial as some claims I’ve heard would make it out to be. Even Ott notes these differences, as did Cardinal Ratzinger in the explanatory text for Ad Tuendam Fidem.

One thing to point out here, though. The Pope makes a reference to God’s saving love. The word salvation crops up several times throughout the exhortation. Is there an indication of what we are being saved from? There seems to be a common idea that all we are saved from are “sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.” With the concept of damnation left vague, do we really understand the basics of what salvation is? If we don’t understand the basics, can we really grasp things like divinization (theosis) or the Beatific Vision?

37. Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that the Church’s moral teaching has its own “hierarchy”, in the virtues and in the acts which proceed from them.[39] What counts above all else is “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). Works of love directed to one’s neighbour are the most perfect external manifestation of the interior grace of the Spirit: “The foundation of the New Law is in the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is manifested in the faith which works through love”.[40] Thomas thus explains that, as far as external works are concerned, mercy is the greatest of all the virtues: “In itself mercy is the greatest of the virtues, since all the others revolve around it and, more than this, it makes up for their deficiencies. This is particular to the superior virtue, and as such it is proper to God to have mercy, through which his omnipotence is manifested to the greatest degree”.[41]

Holy smokes! It’s a St. Thomas sighting!

38. It is important to draw out the pastoral consequences of the Council’s teaching, which reflects an ancient conviction of the Church. First, it needs to be said that in preaching the Gospel a fitting sense of proportion has to be maintained. This would be seen in the frequency with which certain themes are brought up and in the emphasis given to them in preaching. For example, if in the course of the liturgical year a parish priest speaks about temperance ten times but only mentions charity or justice two or three times, an imbalance results, and precisely those virtues which ought to be most present in preaching and catechesis are overlooked. The same thing happens when we speak more about law than about grace, more about the Church than about Christ, more about the Pope than about God’s word.

Again, I have to wonder what the Pope is getting at. Is this really the imbalance that exists or is he just using it as a hypothetical? Are there really a shortage of homilies on charity/justice, grace, Christ, or God’s word? I’m not sure I’ve heard a homily on temperance, the nature of the Church, or the Pope since I was in grade school.

39. Just as the organic unity existing among the virtues means that no one of them can be excluded from the Christian ideal, so no truth may be denied. The integrity of the Gospel message must not be deformed. What is more, each truth is better understood when related to the harmonious totality of the Christian message; in this context all of the truths are important and illumine one another. When preaching is faithful to the Gospel, the centrality of certain truths is evident and it becomes clear that Christian morality is not a form of stoicism, or self-denial, or merely a practical philosophy or a catalogue of sins and faults. Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love. If this invitation does not radiate forcefully and attractively, the edifice of the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards, and this is our greatest risk. It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel”.

So all the truths of the Faith are important. And ideology can’t take the place of truth. Has someone told the LCWR this stuff? Have the liberation theologians been made to grasp that social justice isn’t the ends they make it out to be? I would like to have seen Leonardo Boff’s reaction to this section.

41. At the same time, today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness. “The deposit of the faith is one thing... the way it is expressed is another”.[45] There are times when the faithful, in listening to completely orthodox language, take away something alien to the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, because that language is alien to their own way of speaking to and understanding one another. With the holy intent of communicating the truth about God and humanity, we sometimes give them a false god or a human ideal which is not really Christian. In this way, we hold fast to a formulation while failing to convey its substance. This is the greatest danger. Let us never forget that “the expression of truth can take different forms. The renewal of these forms of expression becomes necessary for the sake of transmitting to the people of today the Gospel message in its unchanging meaning”.[46]

Two things here. First, shocking as it may seem, the Pope seems concerned about orthodoxy in this passage. I'm sure secularists and dissenters find this completely bizarre.

Second, let us also not forget:

Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.

Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, First Vatican Council

In other words, this whole notion of "re-formulating" stuff has to be done with utmost care. This was ostensibly the goal of the Second Vatican Council and the result was pandemonium.

43. In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated. Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives. Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God “are very few”.[47] Citing Saint Augustine, he noted that the precepts subsequently enjoined by the Church should be insisted upon with moderation “so as not to burden the lives of the faithful” and make our religion a form of servitude, whereas “God’s mercy has willed that we should be free”.[48] This warning, issued many centuries ago, is most timely today. It ought to be one of the criteria to be taken into account in considering a reform of the Church and her preaching which would enable it to reach everyone.

I have no idea what the Holy Father is talking about here. What are these practices and customs that can be seen as so burdensome? Part of me wonders if my not being from Latin America is a problem in my understanding all this. In the American church, where we can’t even have Ascension Thursday as a real Holy Day anymore, I don’t know where the relevance might be.

On the flip side, what about those customs that were abandoned to the detriment of evangelization? For example, has the uglification of so many churches contributed to the preaching of the Gospel? Do we see more interest in the Church now that so many of our popular devotions to the saints have fallen by the wayside?

I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy which spurs us on to do our best.

And yet again, is this really a problem, and, if so, where and how?

48. If the whole Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception. But to whom should she go first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy neighbours, but above all the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised and overlooked, “those who cannot repay you” (Lk 14:14). There can be no room for doubt or for explanations which weaken so clear a message. Today and always, “the poor are the privileged recipients of the Gospel”,[52] and the fact that it is freely preached to them is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish. We have to state, without mincing words, that there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them.

49. Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire Church what I have often said to the priests and laity of Buenos Aires: I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).

Pope Francis says a lot here about the poor. Most of it is completely ignored in light of some of the following passages. Notice, though, that the primary things spoken of in these sections here relate to tending to the spiritual needs of the poor. Before anyone accuses me of going all Ayn Rand here, I’m not begrudging the poor temporal helps here any more than the Pope is. However, in the modern “social justice” framework, the spiritual needs of the poor are almost entirely neglected if not outright assaulted. People want to make sure they have plenty of food, shelter, and contraception/abortions. It’s not going to do them a lot of good to go to bed with a full belly, only to find they wind up in the same place as Dives once they die.

We need to distinguish clearly what might be a fruit of the kingdom from what runs counter to God’s plan. This involves not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also – and this is decisive – choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil. I take for granted the different analyses which other documents of the universal magisterium have offered, as well as those proposed by the regional and national conferences of bishops.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of these things can’t be taken for granted anymore. Which is weird because the Pope seems to agree with that in other sections where he talks about needing to get back to the basics of the Gospel.

At long last, more than fifty sections in, we finally come to some of the stuff that has actually been reported on.

53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

The second paragraph here reminded me a lot of Brave New World, wherein the society never mends or patches things that need repair. In an effort to keep the consumerist culture going, they just buy everything new.

Also, I think what Pope Francis says here could be applied equally to the business world. The bigger entities set up barriers to the smaller entities’ ability to compete on a level playing field, including getting government to adopt absurd regulatory schemes to drive out competition.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

The Pope is a Marxist!!!!

Or not. There appears to have been a translation issue with this part. I’ll pass this part of the commentary off to Fr. Zuhlsdorf, who goes through this pretty succintly.

So there's our second installment. Part 3 coming soon.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cardinal News

First, it's amazing the lengths people will go to exonerate Cardinal Bernardin from the abuse scandal.

Second, per Rocco Palma, Pope Francis has come out with the list of folks getting their red hat on at February's consistory:

16 Voting Cardinals-

Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State (Italy)

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops (Italy)

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Germany)

Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (Italy)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster (Great Britain)

Archbishop Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano of Managua (Nicaragua)

Archbishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of Québec (Canada)

Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan (Ivory Coast)

Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, O.Cist. of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy)

Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli of Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo Jung of Seoul (South Korea)

Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello SDB of Santiago de Chile

Archbishop Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)

Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI of Cotabato (Philippines)

Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes (Haïti)

...and the three cardinals-designate over 80-

Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla

Archbishop Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, CMF, emeritus of Pamplona (Spain)

Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix, emeritus of Castries (St Lucia/Dominica)

Several of these aren't much of a surprise (+Muller, +Parolin, +Baldiserri, +Stella). I honestly don't know much about the rest of them. Archbishop Nichols is probably the best-known name from the rest of the list. There isn't a cardinal from the British Isles right now, so you figured that someone would get tapped this time around.

The only other name that drew my attention was Archbishop Andrello due to the fact that he was one of the original prelates charged with the apostolic visitation to the Legion of Christ. Given recent events, his inclusion is interesting.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thought From The First Reading

From Isaiah 42:

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

The reading mentions "justice" a couple of times. It's weird how much of its meaning that word has lost over the years. These days, when we hear about "justice," it's a completely temporal concept. Justice, that idea of "rendering to someone what they are due," is almost strictly used in talking about what one person owes to another. There is nothing about what man owes to God or what God will render to man for what he is due.

This has a couple of negative effects.

First, it dilutes not only the meaning of justice but charity as well to reduce our duties to our fellow man to those of justice alone.

Second, it ignores the justice more commonly spoken of in the Scriptures, such as that spoken of in Romans 2:5-8 :

But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his works. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life: But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation.

There has been a loss in the sense of Divine Justice and how we will all be accountable to it. This isn't to say that justice for our brothers and sisters isn't significant. It is. It just isn't primary, despite the efforts of so many to make it so.

Friday, January 10, 2014

So Rorate Must Stop By Here

Just pointing out that there are other folks who have noted the odd differences in how the Legion of Christ has been treated when compared with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

An Update For The Last Acceptable Prejudice

This new op-ed in US News and World Reports is a doozy. In a nutshell, the author claims that Justice Sotomayor's granting a stay for the Little Sisters of the Poor in their HHS mandate lawsuit is the result of a brewing conspiracy on the majority-Catholic Supreme Court to destroy women's rights.

No, really. That's the substance of the piece.

For a moment, let's ignore the fact that the author clearly has no grasp of the legal claims involved or that the Supreme Court has been at least nominally majority Catholic for a while now, certainly before Justice Sotomayor's appointment.

Let's just reflect on the audacity of being able to write such an article.

Over the last decade, we've seen an increasing hostility to Catholic views in public life. It seems to get raised as an issue more and more and was very much at the heart of the Obama campaign's insertion of contraception into the last political debate and the subsequent arguments over Obamacare.

Here's a little prediction for everyone. We know that public mentality is very much one of "Give me contraception or give me death." If the Supreme Court overrules the HHS mandate, which it very well might (or might not), the "War on Women" rhetoric will explode and be laid directly at the doorstep of the Catholic Church. We're going to see anti-Catholicism preached freely from Sunday morning pundits. There will be calls for an official litmus test. It's just one more Constitutional protection to be ignored, so that's not going to be a big deal.

Anyways, nobody is going to care, which will probably allow for an increase in the hostility. The comment box on the op-ed has a lot of people saying nice things, but that happened with the HHS mandate too. Which was forgotten the minute people couldn't log on to a web site to buy health insurance. Even Sotomayor's stay hasn't really been big news.

The Uncle Tom Catholics will be welcomed as the "right" Catholics for whatever job is open. Pope Francis will be invoked as being on the side of the Uncle Toms and being in favor of Catholic institutions caving on this issue. This will be a lie, of course, but that will be par for the course as far as papal coverage has been going.

What the final stop for this will be, I don't know. Just look forward to a lot more venom in the public discourse about the Church.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


But hey, they won their bowl game, so I guess that makes it ok then.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part One

One of my (many) resolutions for 2014 is to keep up with this blog on a more regular basis, which includes finishing off our series on Sacrosanctum Concilium and Our Favorite Popes. On another point, though, we're going to go through Evangelii Gaudium. For no other reason, we pretty much have to from all the emails we've gotten about it.

Just a note first. This will just be hitting some marks that have generated discussion for us. This document ranks right up with Caritas in Veritate and some of JPII's greatest hits in terms of long-windedness. Unfortunately, it's also very high on the confusion scale, so we're going to try and cover as many angles as possible.

So let's begin:

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come. 

Sounds good. We’re going to take this opening as the basic theme for the whole exhortation.

2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ. 

This will not be the last time the Pope speaks of a world overrun by materialism and lacking in charity.

3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards! 

This kind of call to penance is more than worthwhile. However, we must ask ourselves a very pointed question. Does it make sense for a person to ask for mercy when they have no acknowledgment of their sin? Most people, it seems, think of themselves as “good people.” Since they haven’t murdered or raped anyone, what need have they for God’s mercy?

6. There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26). 7. Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy”.[2] I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ. I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”.[3] 

This last quote from Pope Benedict is a good way to understand Pope Francis’s comments that we can’t always just be talking about abortion or contraception. Christianity isn’t just a philosophical code like Stoicism. It’s far, far more than that.

I was really hoping that this section would turn into a broadside against prosperity gospel types. It didn’t really go there. The Pope’s main point for the next several sections is that proclamation of the Gospel requires a joyful heart on the part of the evangelist. It is at this point that the Holy Father’s lack of an editor begins to show itself. This has been a consistent problem at least since the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II. Pope Francis uses incredibly long-winded phrases to impart very simple ideas. Moving on, though.

Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always “new”.

Is this true? There is a noticeable lack of examples here.

12. Though it is true that this mission demands great generosity on our part, it would be wrong to see it as a heroic individual undertaking, for it is first and foremost the Lord’s work, surpassing anything which we can see and understand. Jesus is “the first and greatest evangelizer”.[9] In every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by by the power of his Spirit. 

This is significant for what comes after. There has been zero reporting about this document’s points on evangelization. In light of God’s mission for the Church in the world, the Pope lists the three targets that the Synod wanted to focus on:

15. In first place, we can mention the area of ordinary pastoral ministry, which is “animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life”.[11] In this category we can also include those members of faithful who preserve a deep and sincere faith, expressing it in different ways, but seldom taking part in worship. Ordinary pastoral ministry seeks to help believers to grow spiritually so that they can respond to God’s love ever more fully in their lives. 

A second area is that of “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”,[12] who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith.

Lastly, we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”.[13] 

Ah, “proselytizing.” I wonder if the word has any meaning any more. Of course, this has been latched onto by certain folks who, ignoring the context provided in Pope Benedict’s homily that the Holy Father references here, have decided that “proselytism” and “evangelization” are actually the same thing. Which would make the Pope’s comments insane but play well with the secular narrative.

John Paul II asked us to recognize that “there must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel” to those who are far from Christ, “because this is the first task of the Church”.[14] Indeed, “today missionary activity still represents the greatest challenge for the Church”[15] and “the missionary task must remain foremost”. .. This task continues to be a source of immense joy for the Church: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk 15:7). 

Just pointing out again that the Pope is tying evangelization to repentance.

Nor do I believe that the papal magisterium should be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the Church and the world. It is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound “decentralization”. 

Mark this well. And remember.

I have dealt extensively with these topics, with a detail which some may find excessive. 

No joke.

But I have done so, not with the intention of providing an exhaustive treatise but simply as a way of showing their important practical implications for the Church’s mission today. All of them help give shape to a definite style of evangelization which I ask you to adopt in every activity which you undertake. 

So the Pope is looking for a particular “style” of evangelizing? Doesn’t this cut against the earlier comments about new paths and such? He makes similar points about the diversity of cultures, etc. throughout the exhortation. If a certain style is needed, I’m not sure that we can be sure that there is a one size fits all version that is out there.

19. Evangelization takes place in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). In these verses we see how the risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth. 

In other words, you know, convert them.

24. The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. 

This sentence essentially takes the place of a 500 word paragraph and says the same thing.

The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving. 

Interesting comments given the perception that Pope Francis has no regard for beauty in the liturgy.

I am aware that nowadays documents do not arouse the same interest as in the past and that they are quickly forgotten. 

There is precious little attention paid to why this is, though. Why does something issuing forth from the Magisterium arouse so little engagement these days? I submit the following reasons:

1. Apathy. Nobody cares because they are used to nothing being done to promote or enforce the teaching authority.

2. Perplexity. The documents of the Magisterium have become far too long and far too confusing. The Church writes much but seems to say very little. Just my opinion.

27. I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.

Is the suggestion here that these things are currently not being used for evangelization? If so, why is that? If not, same question. Are there particular examples?

We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented. 

Just as there wouldn’t seem to be a one size fits all remedy to the evangelical mission of the Church, I’m not sure it’s fair to promote one size fits all criticisms either, at least not from a pastoral activity standpoint. This and the following sections repeat the theme over and over that every part of the Church is called to evangelize.

31. The bishop must always foster this missionary communion in his diocesan Church, following the ideal of the first Christian communities, in which the believers were of one heart and one soul (cf. Acts 4:32). To do so, he will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant. At other times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, he will have to walk after them, helping those who lag behind and – above all – allowing the flock to strike out on new paths. In his mission of fostering a dynamic, open and missionary communion, he will have to encourage and develop the means of participation proposed in the Code of Canon Law,[34] and other forms of pastoral dialogue, out of a desire to listen to everyone and not simply to those who would tell him what he would like to hear. Yet the principal aim of these participatory processes should not be ecclesiastical organization but rather the missionary aspiration of reaching everyone. 

This is a big deal for me. I’ve lived in several dioceses with several different bishops. The presence of the bishop is huge. The ones who were always visiting parishes, who were always getting out among the people, who were always teaching the flock, these were the ones who saw lots of conversions and vocations. The ones who spent all their time in their office didn’t have that kind of success.

32. Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy. It is my duty, as the Bishop of Rome, to be open to suggestions which can help make the exercise of my ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization. Pope John Paul II asked for help in finding “a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation”.[35] We have made little progress in this regard. The papacy and the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion. The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position “to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit”.[36] Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.[37] Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach. 

This section has received no response in the mainstream media. Yet it is one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. Ever. Look at the situation in the Church today and imagine still greater authority placed in the hands of the national episcopal conferences. I think de-centralization would be an outstanding course for the Church to take. Really, I do. However, it should be done in a way that empowers the local bishop, not some artificial machinery that only serves to dilute the power of the local ordinary.

See Bishop Martino’s comments here for an example.

Archbishop Muller recently came out with comments on this very issue. I certainly hope he's right. I greatly fear that the action the Pope is talking about here would only bear the fruit of schism. I’d also note that the citation to Vatican II here ignores the Council’s teaching on papal authority, including the absolutely necessary texts from the Nota Praevia.

34. If we attempt to put all things in a missionary key, this will also affect the way we communicate the message. In today’s world of instant communication and occasionally biased media coverage, the message we preach runs a greater risk of being distorted or reduced to some of its secondary aspects. In this way certain issues which are part of the Church’s moral teaching are taken out of the context which gives them their meaning. The biggest problem is when the message we preach then seems identified with those secondary aspects which, important as they are, do not in and of themselves convey the heart of Christ’s message. We need to be realistic and not assume that our audience understands the full background to what we are saying, or is capable of relating what we say to the very heart of the Gospel which gives it meaning, beauty and attractiveness. 

We must also acknowledge an overt hostility to the Gospel that motivates many to intentionally distort the Church’s message. It is a common omission, going back to maybe Blessed John XXIII. Nobody seems to want to admit that the Church has enemies, and they play by a different set of rules. Anyways, this paragraph could be considered a summary of the first months of Pope Francis’s pontificate.

35. Pastoral ministry in a missionary style is not obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed. When we adopt a pastoral goal and a missionary style which would actually reach everyone without exception or exclusion, the message has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary. The message is simplified, while losing none of its depth and truth, and thus becomes all the more forceful and convincing. 

It is funny to see a desire for simplification in a document that is over 50,000 words long.

So there's our first entry. Next time, we'll start to get into some of the more well-publicized language that relates to economic matters.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How Bad Has It Gotten?

Read this:

The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had "abolished sin", after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled "Francis' Revolution: He has abolished sin".

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God's mercy and forgiveness were "eternal".

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that "this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin" was wrong.

"Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners," Lombardi said.

Now read it again. Really.

We've mentioned before Mr. Scalfari's problems with truth. Consider how much drool the secular world has expended wanting this kind of stuff to be factual. The very idea that anyone would even contemplate a pope "abolishing sin" demonstrates just how far the Father of Lies has sunk his teeth into the world. That, or how stupid media types can be. Or maybe a little of both.

Still, how far have the guardians of the Magisterium fallen when people who would suggest that sin was abolished can even be taken seriously, rather than openly mocked?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy Feast of the Theotokos!

O glorious womb of Anna, in which the most holy fetus grew and was formed, silently increasing! O womb in which was conceived the living heaven, wider than the wideness of the heavens...This Heaven is clearly much more Divine and awesome than the first. Indeed He Who created the sun in the first heaven would Himself be born of this second heaven, as the Sun of Justice.

St. John Damascene

It's far more important than New Year's. Today is the day we honor the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Mother.

Considering that today is also a prime day of worship at the Altar of the Pigskin, I ask that everyone please recall that it is a Holy Day of Obligation and to offer your graces at Mass in reparation for offenses against Our Lady's Immaculate Heart.

Therefore, because the holy virgin bore in the flesh God who was united hypostatically with the flesh, for that reason we call her mother of God, not as though the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh (for "the Word was in the beginning and the Word was God and the Word was with God", and he made the ages and is coeternal with the Father and craftsman of all things), but because, as we have said, he united to himself hypostatically the human and underwent a birth according to the flesh from her womb. This was not as though he needed necessarily or for his own nature a birth in time and in the last times of this age, but in order that he might bless the beginning of our existence, in order that seeing that it was a woman that had given birth to him united to the flesh, the curse against the whole race should thereafter cease which was consigning all our earthy bodies to death, and in order that the removal through him of the curse, "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children", should demonstrate the truth of the words of the prophet: "Strong death swallowed them Up", and again, "God has wiped every tear away from all face". It is for this cause that we say that in his economy he blessed marriage and, when invited, went down to Cana in Galilee with his holy apostles.

Council of Ephesus, 431 AD.