Friday, February 28, 2014

More Dangers From The Pill

And I'm not even talking about the spiritual ones.

Oral contraceptives linked to increased risk of multiple sclerosis

So yet again, we have the pill tied to some horrific health consequences. For those who don't recall the other ones, you can check the links here.

Here's the great line from the above article that really drives home the insanity that holds sway in the realm of chemical self-sterilization:

In a new study, researchers found an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) among women who have taken oral contraceptives. However, the findings do not mean women should stop using birth control, the researchers say.

In other words, "Yeah, we think it might wreck your nervous system, but go ahead and stick with it." We have had nation-wide freak outs over way less. The whole thing is tragically comical.

Again, though, we have to ask: What would it take to break our nation's addiction to the pill?

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Four

Continuing on.

70. It is also true that at times greater emphasis is placed on the outward expressions and traditions of some groups, or on alleged private revelations which would replace all else, than on the impulse of Christian piety. There is a kind of Christianity made up of devotions reflecting an individual and sentimental faith life which does not in fact correspond to authentic “popular piety”. Some people promote these expressions while not being in the least concerned with the advancement of society or the formation of the laity, and in certain cases they do so in order to obtain economic benefits or some power over others.

I wonder if I’m the only guy who thought of Medjugorge while reading this.

Nor can we overlook the fact that in recent decades there has been a breakdown in the way Catholics pass down the Christian faith to the young. It is undeniable that many people feel disillusioned and no longer identify with the Catholic tradition. Growing numbers of parents do not bring their children for baptism or teach them how to pray. There is also a certain exodus towards other faith communities. The causes of this breakdown include: a lack of opportunity for dialogue in families, the influence of the communications media, a relativistic subjectivism, unbridled consumerism which feeds the market, lack of pastoral care among the poor, the failure of our institutions to be welcoming, and our difficulty in restoring a mystical adherence to the faith in a pluralistic religious landscape. 

This is all pretty good stuff. Our disregard for the liturgy fits squarely into the Pope’s last category. At the bare minimum, it acknowledges that there’s a problem. So many prelates seem to deny there is a crisis in the Church at all or offer decidedly non-Catholic remedies for combating it.

At this point, the exhortation diverges into a long discussion of city life, including the following statement:

This challenges us to imagine innovative spaces and possibilities for prayer and communion which are more attractive and meaningful for city dwellers. Through the influence of the media, rural areas are being affected by the same cultural changes, which are significantly altering their way of life as well. 

Here’s an innovative idea. The people I know who live in highly urbanized areas desire peace and quiet and reflection more than just about anything else. I strongly believe that promoting the Traditional Mass in these areas, rather than ghettoizing it, would be a tremendous draw for those who want a refuge from the noise and clamor of the city.

78. Today we are seeing in many pastoral workers, including consecrated men and women, an inordinate concern for their personal freedom and relaxation, which leads them to see their work as a mere appendage to their life, as if it were not part of their very identity. At the same time, the spiritual life comes to be identified with a few religious exercises which can offer a certain comfort but which do not encourage encounter with others, engagement with the world or a passion for evangelization. As a result, one can observe in many agents of evangelization, even though they pray, a heightened individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour. These are three evils which fuel one another. 

Let me offer an example of this. This piece was written by the wife of a diaconate candidate. First, let’s look beyond the absurdity of her comparing her selfish frustrations with the process to Christ’s Passion. Second, notice what the primary concern is in all her reflections. Is it the work of God? No. It’s her own feelings and her getting a place at the table. She might as well have just gone around saying “Do you know who I am?”

This is also a phenomenon witnessed frequently among the disco liturgy crowd and anything that reeks of making “me” the most significant element of what the Church does.

80. Pastoral workers can thus fall into a relativism which, whatever their particular style of spirituality or way of thinking, proves even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism. It has to do with the deepest and inmost decisions that shape their way of life. This practical relativism consists in acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist. It is striking that even some who clearly have solid doctrinal and spiritual convictions frequently fall into a lifestyle which leads to an attachment to financial security, or to a desire for power or human glory at all cost, rather than giving their lives to others in mission. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary enthusiasm! 

I would disagree with this insofar as it reverses cause and effect. Doctrinal relativism is often at the root of the “lifestyle relativism” the Pope mentions. The Church’s social doctrine is, after all, doctrinal. Consider, though, the LCWR types who are fine with the murder of babies while thinking that our biggest problem is that homosexuals can’t have fake marriages. This is a doctrinal problem first.

81. At a time when we most need a missionary dynamism which will bring salt and light to the world, many lay people fear that they may be asked to undertake some apostolic work and they seek to avoid any responsibility that may take away from their free time. For example, it has become very difficult today to find trained parish catechists willing to persevere in this work for some years. Something similar is also happening with priests who are obsessed with protecting their free time. This is frequently due to the fact that people feel an overbearing need to guard their personal freedom, as though the task of evangelization was a dangerous poison rather than a joyful response to God’s love which summons us to mission and makes us fulfilled and productive. Some resist giving themselves over completely to mission and thus end up in a state of paralysis and acedia… 

83. And so the biggest threat of all gradually takes shape: “the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness”.[63] A tomb psychology thus develops and slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum. Disillusioned with reality, with the Church and with themselves, they experience a constant temptation to cling to a faint melancholy, lacking in hope, which seizes the heart like “the most precious of the devil’s potions”.[64] Called to radiate light and communicate life, in the end they are caught up in things that generate only darkness and inner weariness, and slowly consume all zeal for the apostolate. For all this, I repeat: Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the joy of evangelization!

But again, what is the source of all this? Is it just laziness? If so, where does the laziness comes from? This is all a product of not believing what the Church teaches. The saints evangelized because they wanted to keep people out of hell, including themselves. They loved so intensely that they couldn’t bear the thought of not participating in the Master’s mission or following His command to preach the Gospel and baptize the nations. With this motivation removed, it’s easy to slack off.

84. Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, we are distressed by the troubles of our age and far from naive optimism; yet the fact that we are more realistic must not mean that we are any less trusting in the Spirit or less generous. In this sense, we can once again listen to the words of Blessed John XXIII on the memorable day of 11 October 1962: “At times we have to listen, much to our regret, to the voices of people who, though burning with zeal, lack a sense of discretion and measure. In this modern age they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin … We feel that we must disagree with those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand. In our times, divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by human effort and even beyond all expectations, are directed to the fulfilment of God’s superior and inscrutable designs, in which everything, even human setbacks, leads to the greater good of the Church”.[65] 

Can we just admit that Blessed John was wrong when he said this?

86. In some places a spiritual “desertification” has evidently come about, as the result of attempts by some societies to build without God or to eliminate their Christian roots. In those places “the Christian world is becoming sterile, and it is depleting itself like an overexploited ground, which transforms into a desert”.[66] In other countries, violent opposition to Christianity forces Christians to hide their faith in their own beloved homeland. This is another painful kind of desert. But family and the workplace can also be a parched place where faith nonetheless has to be preserved and communicated. Yet “it is starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, by the example of their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive”.[67] In these situations we are called to be living sources of water from which others can drink. At times, this becomes a heavy cross, but it was from the cross, from his pierced side, that our Lord gave himself to us as a source of living water. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope! 

Notice how contrary this is to the prevailing narrative of religion in society. We are increasingly told that religion is a private matter and not for public discussion and certainly not a basis for cultural transformation. How odd that the Pope’s call on this front has been ignored. What would Nancy Pelosi/Joe Biden do?

More to come...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our Very Own Humanae Vitae Moment

Prof. Ralph McInerny wrote a book called What Went Wrong With Vatican II? His basic point was that nothing actually went wrong with the Council. The post-conciliar chaos is really more a function of the revolt that occurred after Humanae Vitae. This is something we should pay attention to because there are rumblings of just such another revolt on the horizon.

We've mentioned before about how various parties are attempting to overthrow the Church's moral teaching via a more "pastoral" approach to the situation of the divorced/remarried Catholic. Tancred has been doing a good job keeping track of the scorecard. Despite Cardinal Muller's claims that there are no divisions on this point, I'm afraid the reality of others' statements show that he is wrong.

I can see the upcoming Synod on the Family turning very ugly on this. It will be Humanae Vitae all over again, with whackjobs running around telling the press and the laity that the Church is going to be changing its teaching and all other kinds of insanities. We might even see a formal report coming out on the side of such a change. Like with Humanae Vitae. Then a minority report written by the non-delusional. I would fully expect Pope Francis to uphold the Church's teaching on this matter.

Then all hell will break loose.

I wonder especially about guys like Cardinal Maradiaga, who has no problems taking cheap shots at Cardinal Muller (and maybe even Pope Benedict). He recently made a comment about how one could legitimately criticize the Pope as long as it's done in love. That will be how the firestorm is couched if all this comes to pass. People will "lovingly" trash Pope Francis and explain that he's just confused or misinformed or whatever. He'll just be a nice old man who doesn't understand the times. And then they will revolt and it will be Winnipeg Statements all over the world.

But all the Pope-bashing will be out of love.

Pray for the Pope and for the bishops, especially those who will be attending the Synod.

Pope Francis With A TRIDENTINE Shout-Out!

Per Rorate:

The Second Vatican Council states that to the Bishops "is fully entrusted the pastoral office, that is the habitual and daily care of their flock" (Lumen Gentium, 27). We must dwell more on these two descriptions of the care of the flock: habitual and daily. In our time assiduity and habituality are often associated with daily routine and boredom. So often we try to escape to a permanent "elsewhere". This is a temptation for Shepherds, for all pastors! The spiritual fathers must explain it well, so that we understand it and will not fall. Even in the Church, unfortunately, we are not exempt from this risk. Therefore, it is important to reiterate that the mission of the Bishop requires habituality and daily dedication. I think that in this age of meetings and conferences the decree of the Council of Trent on residency is so up-to-date: it is so up-to-date and it would be nice if the Congregation for Bishops wrote something about this. The flock need to find space in the heart of the Shepherd. If he is not firmly anchored within himself, in Christ and in his Church, he will be constantly buffeted by the waves in search of ephemeral compensation and will not offer any shelter to the flock.

This is pretty awesome. As Rorate points out, though, the jet-setting bishop thing is very much a product of the post-conciliar pandemonium. The Council itself is cited as the reason for all this trekking around, especially among the ecumenical "experts" crowd. We've mentioned events like these in posts before like the ones here.

This would be a great starting point for reforms. Since 90% of all the Vatican's ecumenical activities are utterly worthless, we should be thinking of all the money and resources that could be saved just by eliminating these conferences, seminars, etc. Let's just go the distance and ditch the Pontifical Councils for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue. Anything they were doing that was worthwhile can be transferred to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hilarity Ensues

With Joe Bob Briggs commentary:


Monday, February 24, 2014


When attempting to reform a vast, unwieldy, and corrupt-laden bureaucracy like the Curia, does it help to begin by adding more bureaucracy?

I guess so.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

More On The Holy Father And The TLM

Consider these comments from Bishop Rifan in Sao Paulo.

During the sermon, bishop Rifan told us about his last visit to the Holy Father and that the pope thinks that the Traditional Latin Mass is a treasure to the Church and that his only fear is that the Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form could be “instrumentalized”, and bishop Rifan answered His Holiness that he is doing everything that he could to ensure that this is not going to happen and to promote the Extraordinary Form as a treasure for the entire universal Church, to which he humbly belongs. At the end of the Mass the Te Deum was sung by all those present.

So we got that going for us. Ultimately, I go back to something we've said before. Contrary to the prevailing paranoia about the Pope and the liturgy and the FFI and so forth, I don't think he's hostile at all to the TLM. I think he's just not that interested in the liturgy and has people around him who encourage that.

Granted, some of those guys are probably hostile...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some Insight On Pope Francis

Let's take a look at something Pope Francis said recently that has attracted no small amount of controversy. Per Rorate:

Yesterday (Friday, Feb. 14), Pope Francis held an audience with the Bishops of the Czech Republic who came to Rome for their ad limina visit.

In the visit, as it usually happens in such cases, other than the formal address, the Pope heard the questions and comments of the bishops. Archbishop Jan Graubner, of Olomouc, told the Czech section of Vatican Radio what the Pope told him:

[Abp. Jan Graubner speaks:] When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. "When I search more thoroughly - the Pope said - I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: 'móda']. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us."

Anyways, there are a couple of noteworthy items in this selection.

First, let's start with the last bit first with His Holiness's comment on how no liturgical form can save us if we don't "go deep into things."

The Pope is absolutely correct here, and the folks not appreciating that need to slow their rolls. Initially, this is a pretty huge deal because his mentioning about liturgy in isolation not being able to save us shows that he acknowledges the Church is in trouble which is in contrast to stuff he's said in the past. Moreover, adherents to the traditional liturgies need to remember that the modernists and ephebophiles who have done so much damage to the Church in the last century were all formed in a heydey of the Traditional Latin Mass and strong Catholic culture. So yes, going deeper is necessary because if it wasn't then the ball of auto-demolition would never have gotten rolling.

But what about the Pope's comment about affection for the TLM being a "fashion" or an "addiction," especially among the young?

I suppose I might be surprised by the somewhat insensitive nature of the Pope's comments, again, especially about young people. An addiction? A fashion? How about giving them the benefit of the doubt that their attachment to the traditional liturgy isn't something so shallow?

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has given his take, but I think this is a bit more than that. He is skeptical of the reports veracity and/or relevance. I think it's highly relevant but for perhaps a weird reason.

We've mentioned before that the Pope's thoughts on a lot of stuff (say, section 60 of Evangelii Gaudium for a recent example) are possibly very much colored by his specific cultural background, namely his experiences in Argentina. I'm wondering if maybe this is another example of that. What does he really know about the desire of youth to participate in the Traditional Latin Mass? Or the Eastern liturgies?

I'm betting not much. Here's what I know anecdotally. When I go to one of the patristically-rooted liturgies, the average age is probably under 35. There are a few old folks, but the vast majority of the pew-sitters are people under 30. When you throw in the number of babies, the age curve drops even more. I say this having been to these types of deals in at least five different states.

You don't have to listen to me, though. This has been getting a fair amount of play over the last couple of years. Even the Anglican Use is bringing in the young crowd. That being said, I completely understand if the Pope is ignorant about this kind of stuff.

Instead of shoveling criticism at him, despite his sort of harsh way of putting things, maybe we should do as much as we can at the local and diocesan levels to spread the devotion to traditional liturgy. Send letters to the Pope even. What could it hurt?

Most of all, though, we should be praying for him personally and for those around him to be wise and virtuous advisers who can correct any misunderstandings or lack of knowledge he has about such things.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Head-Scratcher

When he was first elected to the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Francis's connection with Eastern Catholics was referenced in several different circles (here for example).

If we take his alleged understanding and sensitivity to the Eastern lung as a given, we must concede that we are utterly confused by his recent decision to keep Cardinal Sandri in charge of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

Why is he being allowed to stick around after rendering such an insult to our Eastern Catholic brethren?

This is another example of why I'm not optimistic about the supposed efforts at Curial reform.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fruits Of The Liturgical Form

Rorate asks question that we've pondered over many times. What are the fruits of the post-conciliar liturgical form?

Faithful attending Mass?


Greater understanding of the Faith?

I'm at a pretty big loss to come up with anything. The best answer I tend to hear from folks who defend the reforms while being confronted with the ongoing and catastrophic loss of the Faith among Catholics is "Just imagine how bad things would be if we hadn't done all this reforming."

I'm not sure appeal to a hypothetical greater catastrophe is an actual fruit.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You Go, Girl!

In a bit of profoundly wonderful weirdness, Ricki Lake is producing a documentary on the dangers of contraception. Per LifeSiteNews:

Lake will act as executive producer alongside director Abby Epstein in a full-length film based on Holly Grigg-Spall's book Sweetening The Pill: or How We Became Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control.

“In the 50 years since its release, the birth control Pill has become synonymous with women’s liberation and has been thought of as some sort of miracle drug. But now it’s making women sick,” the two said in a statement. “Our goal with this film is to wake women up to the unexposed side effects of these powerful medications and the unforeseen consequences of repressing women’s natural cycles.”

In addition to the oral contraceptive pill, the film is said to deal with Yaz/Yasmin, the NuvaRing, and other forms of artificial contraception.

The article even mentions a few of the problems with The Pill:

Women who take the contraceptive pill are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer and 10-30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never took the pill. The risk lasts 10 years after the woman goes off the pill.

Although the World Health Organization ranks the estrogen-progestogen pill a Group One carcinogen – its deadliest rating – no less than 10 percent of all women of reproductive age globally are taking it.

A new study links the pill to an elevated risk of glaucoma.

Other forms of contraception profiled in Lake's press release have damaged women, as well.

Pharmaceutical giant Merck has agreed to pay $100 million over complaints that the NuvaRing causes heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes, after 3,800 women took action.

Bayer paid $1.6 billion in a settlement over similar side effects caused by Yaz/Yasmin, which include stroke, partial blindness, blood clots, and death.

You can add to all this the recent study in India that backs up the scientific evidence that hormonal contraception increases the risk of breast cancer.

All of this will be ignored in the name of advancing the culture of death and the real ongoing war on women. If we've learned nothing from the lessons of modernity, it's that there is nothing so valuable as a person's ability to sterilize themselves. After all, what harm could it possibly do?

Kudos to Ricki Lake. I doubt this will do much, but who knows? This might be an "only Nixon could go to China" sort of moment.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Who Do You Think They Are Praying To?

From Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

Really, who are they addressing with petitions such as these?

This is pure Satanic malice on display for all to see.

If anyone wants to read a good analysis of how this kind of stuff develops and plays out, I recommend Walker Percy's The Thanatos Syndrome.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Balkanization Of Everything

I post this as more a cultural anecdote than anything else.

My kids and I recently went to a comic book convention. There was a panel there that featured a famous creator walking the audience through the process of making new characters. Well over a dozen ideas were tossed around by the fans there.

What I noticed about all of these ideas was that they were all reliant on the character holding some sort of ostensible ethnic, cultural, gender, etc. diversity to make them interesting. Characters were Hispanic, female, homosexual, half black/half Asian, autistic, Muslim, etc. but with no other real personality or exceptional qualities.

Here's the funny part I see in all this. First, it pretends to make something exceptional that isn't. For example, Black Canary isn't exceptional because she's female. She's exceptional because of the things she does and the challenges she overcomes in the stories she's in. Those might be related to her femininity, sure, but she doesn't instantly become a good character because she's a woman. The mindset of would-be writers these days (and not just my fellow audience members at the panel) is that some set of appropriate cultural qualifications automatically makes something readable.

This is laziness and a great example of how dumbed down things have gotten. It also makes good stuff that stands on its own merits subject to criticism for no other reason than it has a white male as the main character.

Second, anybody remember this guy?

This, dear readers, is Vibe. Vibe was a break-dancing Hispanic guy from the inner city who was made a member of the Justice League during it's abominable "Detroit" phase. Anyways, Vibe (and the rest of the new members for that JLA team) were brought in to make the group into a young, hip team that would appeal to a new audience of readers. In other words, a lot of the same gimmick that you see media doing now.

Vibe was rightfully reviled at the time as a cheap racial stereotype with nothing else to offer but his contrived "Hispanicness." Now, we seem to be trying to inject characters with contrived personalities like Vibe into everything.

This leads to a weird Catch-22. It's like when The Cosby Show wasn't black enough. Characters get criticized for not being genuinely black/Jewish/Muslim/Hispanic, so the author ramps up their whatever factor by appealing to the exact same stereotypes that are ordinarily regarded as manifestations of prejudice under other circumstances.

All this makes for more lazy writing because now the folks with the pens rely on cheap stereotypes to make their characters "authentic."

And this doesn't even begin to address the issue of trying to make plain old crap famous in the name of diversity.

And so forth.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A High Priestess Of Molech

From Fr. Zuhlsdorf. Listen to this elected representative, brought to you from the voters of Iowa, as she lists the reasons why a woman (specifically a woman who loves babies, by the way) could reasonably choose to murder her own child:

I wonder if she had colic as an infant.

It would be interesting to hear this narrative as a voice-over to Dr. Bernard Nathanson's documentary The Eclipse of Reason.

Behold your god, America. And as he offers you the gift of convenience and freedom from the nuisances your high priestess describes in the video, perhaps take a few moments to consider just what the hell you are doing:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Conciliarist Conundrum

I hear a lot that certain past ecumenical councils, such a Trent, are no longer binding on the faithful because the faithful do not accept their teachings. This is usually done with a rather afflicted view of the sensus fidelium.

Forget for the moment that this would be a bizarre paradox as to how something to be considered as binding one anyone when it would need to first be accepted.

Here's a puzzle. Most of what people have "accepted" about Vatican II is nowhere supported in the text. In fact, the text often says the exact opposite of what such individuals insist. That being the case, how could such individuals consider Vatican II to be an ecumenical council in the first place when they disagree with so much of what it says?

AF (After Francis)

I've been thinking about this a lot what with Pope Francis being on the cover of all these magazines lately.

Part of the reason that the Church was thrust into so much chaos after Vatican II was that the dissenters used the image of the fake John XXIII to insist that heresy and schism was ok. This narrative was a sacred icon for just about every faux Catholic movement (and still is to a large extent).

"If only John XXIII had lived longer, we'd have had women priests, disco liturgy, contraceptives, and full acceptance of the idea that all religions are equal and everyone is going to heaven."

That's the general preaching of these folks. It made it easy to villify Paul VI. John Paul II's personality made it more difficult to make the commentary fit, but it was still promoted *cough*McBrien*cough*.

All this came down in an age where media was rising but was not yet fully ascendant in forming the opinions of the masses. I would also submit that there was a lot more critical thinking back then and it would have been harder to pass of stories about such absurdities as "the Pope abolished sin" as anything other than lunacy.

Imagine what things will look like after Pope Francis. God forbid something happen to the Holy Father, but just consider what that will look like with all the current stories floating around about how the whole purpose of Pope Francis's pontificate is to overthrow the Church. Remember that the whole reason His Holiness was initially considered for Time's Man of the Year was that he "rejected Church dogma."

Despite what people think, Pope Benedict wasn't a "traditionalist," yet he is revile as such by those with an axe to grind. Consider what the reaction will be if someone of even a moderate leaning (like Pope Benedict) succeeds Pope Francis. All hell is going to break loose. The new narrative will be:

"If only Pope Francis hadn't died! We'd have women priests...blahblahblah!"

Only this time it will be 1000 times worse because now every heretic and schismatic with an internet account can blast their madness over facebook and twitter. Every Candida Moss/Richard McBrien in the world will have special feature articles at CNN and MSNBC and so forth to spew venom about the new pontiff. Every prelate who supports the new pope will be condemned and the others will be emboldened to increase the pace to de jure schism.

It will be a worse poopstorm than we've ever seen. And it will inevitably happen. So get ready.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

They Said We Were Mad!

In our predictions over the last few years that Catholicism would eventually be regarded as hate speech, many chose to label myself or Karl as crazy-minded, tin-foil hat types. This was in spite of actual events occurring that seemed to indicate that we weren't so far off the reservation.

Indeed, they called us mad!

Let's examined a recent item from Spain, though. Per Zenit:

Spanish prosecutors have opened an investigation into newly chosen Cardinal-desginate Fernando Sebastian Aguilar after a homosexual-rights group accused him of hate speech for calling homosexuality a "defect". AFP reports that the public prosecutor for the southern province of Malaga, Juan Carlos Lopez, had opened a preliminary inquiry "to clarify whether the allegations constitute a criminal offence.”

And what did he actually say?

The 84-year-old archbishop emeritus of Pamplona said in a newspaper interview last month that a lot of people “complain and don't tolerate it, but with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation.”

He compared homosexuality to his own high blood pressure -- "a defect I have that I have to correct as far as I can". He added: "Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an offence, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be recovered and normalised with adequate treatment."

Catholicism expressed openly = outrage.

A Spanish same-sex rights group lodged a complaint against the cardinal-designate, saying he violated the constitution's guarantees of dignity and non-discrimination and for "clearly inciting hate and discrimination".

Do I think he will wind up being prosecuted for this? Maybe. Do I think he will be convicted? Probably not.

Do I think that this will become more and more commonplace very quickly? Yes. Once the attempts to persecute the Church in this way are normalized, then we will see convictions.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ra's Al Gore And Population Control

Al Gore has confirmed that that the Earth's levels of non-white people are rising at alarming rates, per CNBC:

Stopping overpopulation is one way the dangers of climate change can be mitigated, according to two of the most prominent believers in global warming.

Former Vice President Al Gore and Microsoft founder Bill Gates said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that contraception is a key in controlling the proliferation of unusual weather they say is endangering the world.

"Depressing the rate of child mortality, educating girls, empowering women and making fertility management ubiquitously available ... is crucial to the future shape of human civilization," said Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on global warming.

Gore said Africa's population is expected to surpass India's and China's by the mid-21st century and will be more than both combined by the end of the century.

Here are some inconvenient truths for Al from Zenit:

Recent years have seen a dramatic decline in the number of children being born, according to a new report from the United Nations.

The “World Fertility Report 2012" was published earlier this year by the population division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The data covers the period from 1970 to recent times.

“Fertility has declined worldwide to unprecedented levels since the 1970s,” the report stated. In fact, fertility fell in all but 6 of the 186 countries that the United Nations surveyed.

The trend to lower fertility is accelerating. The report noted that in the most recent period covered, 80 countries or areas had a total fertility below 2.1 children per woman, which is the level required to ensure the replacement of the current population level.

The population division observed that quite a number of countries have “remarkably low total fertility.” There are 20 countries with fertility that is below 1.4 children per women and 38 countries with fertility below 1.6 children per woman.

The report said that in the last decade no European or North American countries had total fertility above 2.2 children per woman and only four (France, Iceland, Ireland and the United States of America) had levels above 2.0 children per woman.

Overall, total fertility was below 1.4 children per woman in about half of the developed countries.

A number of countries have experienced quite dramatic falls in fertility. One mentioned in the report was Iran. From 7.0 children per woman in 1985 by 2006 it had plummeted to 1.9 children woman.

Not surprisingly the report said that the proportion of governments that considered their fertility levels to be too low rose from 11% in 1976 to 26% in 2011.

So people have been having fewer babies in a trend that goes back to 1970. And how about those contraceptives?

As well, contraceptive use has risen since the 1970s in nine out of 10 countries with data available. The use of contraception among women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union increased in 88% of the 74 countries that the United Nations had information for.

Overall, the median level of contraceptive use was 61.2% in the period 2000 to 2011, and contraceptive prevalence remained below 10.0% in just three countries.

By 2011, the report observed, 93% of governments supported family planning programs and the distribution of contraceptives.

And during that time, we've had a huge increase in the availability of contraceptives and government promotion of fewer people in the world.

Yet global warming is still a huge problem? Geez Al, just how many humans do we have to get rid of before all this climate stuff gets fixed? We're trending as low as we've ever been. What more can we do to promote contraception? Forced sterilization?

And why is it only non-whiteys that are a problem? Have white people gone far enough down the road of demographic suicide that we need to take everyone else with us? Or are you essentially admitting that those particular groups represent some kind of problem? In other words, you are pretty much going all in with Margaret Sanger.

The man is a menace.

PS: For those who don't get the reference in the post title.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pope Francis Even Believes In Sin

Despite what Mr. Scalfari and Rolling Stone might say. Here's the story from Zenit:

The Holy Father reflected on the first reading which spoke of David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba which led to the murder of her husband, Uriah. David, he said, rather than seeing his adultery as a grave sin, sees it as a problem that needs to be resolved.

“This thing can happen to all of us,” he said. “We are all sinners and we are all tempted and temptation is our daily bread. If one of us said: ‘I never had a temptation’, either you’re a cherubim or a bit stupid, no?”

“Struggle is normal in life and the devil is never calm, he wants his victory. But the problem - the most serious problem in this passage - is not so much temptation and the sin against the 9th commandment, but how David behaves. And David here does not speak of sin, he speaks of a problem that he needs to resolve. This is a sign! When the Kingdom of God is lessened, when the Kingdom of God decreases, one of the signs is that the sense of sin is lost."

Comments about sin and the Devil? I wonder if Time Magazine knows about this.

Worse than that, he quotes Venerable Pius XII:

Referring to Pius XII’s assertion that “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin”, the Pope reflected on Uriah, who represents the innocent victims who suffer as consequence of our sins.

It dovetails well with out prior comments regarding Evangelii Gaudium #64. Keep this in mind when you hear about how Pope Francis is overturning Catholic applecarts everywhere.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Three

Still working our way through this mammoth document. Continuing on:

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption. 

And the denial of the place of the person begins with a denial of God’s place in the universe.

But really, is this anything new? Something about the love of money and the root of evil comes to mind. Is there any doubt that man is being stripped down into nothing more than a machine for consuming lots of worthless crap? We’ve moved well beyond our natural need for leisure here. Brave New World comes to mind again.

That being said, I wish very much that Pope Francis would have acknowledged that the poor often idolize money even moreso than the rich. As we’ve referenced here before, distributist remedies to our economic and moral problems seem to be past their prime because of the effects that attempts at wealth redistribution have had on the poor themselves. The decay of families, the rise of the welfare state, etc. are all things we’d been warned about (see Centessimus Annus #48, for example). We didn’t listen. Now, the poor and rich can bask in their mutual religion of money worship.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. 

None of this is wrong. It shows a limited view of the problem, though, as we mentioned in the prior section. Yes, it’s awful that income gaps keep growing. It’s even worse that we’ve put poor people in a position where they are just as greedy as the rich. This happened because they were fed a line about how great things would be if they just had stuff and how their real salvation was in liberation from poverty and oppression. Why has the “prosperity gospel” made such in-roads in the Third World? Because it’s preaching to this inherent materialistic greed that grace is cheap and really what we should be praying for and expecting is more stuff.

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55] 

This is absolutely correct. What I’ve noticed, though, is a lot confusion about its application. The Pope has spent several sections up to this point talking about breaking the Gospel back down to its basic tenets because the teachings of the Church on virtue, sin, morals, etc. won’t hold up without this foundation. Now, we see this about how the underlying issue of financial injustice is actually a rejection of ethics. I’ve heard more than one person talk about this as being somewhat contradictory, or at best, putting us in a chicken/egg sort of dilemma about how to remedy the situation. I don’t think it’s contradictory. I do think that it’s not very clear how this is supposed to be incorporated into the over-arching “style” that the Pope had talked about earlier.

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings. 

Again, very little of controversy there. It still raises the question of how we immediately inject a discussion of ethics into a conversation that is supposed to be about the Gospel basics, which, as stated earlier, precedes reference to morality.

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized. 

This could be applied equally to the “better theology through guns” crowd among the liberation theology types who use the rhetoric of “social justice” to incite poor people to violence. Still nothing particularly eyebrow-raising in this section either.

60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders. 

Here’s another section where I think being from outside the Latin American loop hurts understandings. For myself, I have no idea where these accusations against poor people and countries are coming from. The only such accusation I’m familiar with is the same one Pope Francis makes regarding internal corruption in such countries.

Here also ends the first part of the exhortation that received widespread reporting. Other than one section that was apparently caught up in a translation error, was there anything all that shocking or earth-shattering? Especially when compared with a much more substantive (yet shorter) document like Lumen Fidei?

61. We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise.[56] On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to any-thing which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions. 

Lots of stuff hear that hearkens back to Pope Benedict. The Pope is coming out and saying that there is no subjective truth or morality and that the belief in such things is damaging to the Church and everything else. Contrast this with the insanity that was promoted after the Scalfari “interview.”

And Pope Francis also deserves big kudos for his constant beating of the drum when it comes to our persecuted and increasingly persecuted brethren all over the world. He doesn’t come right out and quote Tertullian’s “The blood of the martyrs is seed” statement, but this section comes close to it.

63. The Catholic faith of many peoples is nowadays being challenged by the proliferation of new religious movements, some of which tend to fundamentalism while others seem to propose a spirituality without God. This is, on the one hand, a human reaction to a materialistic, consumerist and individualistic society, but it is also a means of exploiting the weaknesses of people living in poverty and on the fringes of society, people who make ends meet amid great human suffering and are looking for immediate solutions to their needs. These religious movements, not without a certain shrewdness, come to fill, within a predominantly individualistic culture, a vacuum left by secularist rationalism. We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization.

He is, of course, absolutely right about the “shrewdness” of new religious movements. This would have been another great opportunity to hammer the prosperity Gospel folks, but he stops just short.

I again profess ignorance on the “structures” and so forth that are so problematic.

64. The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. 

I wonder what this means for those politicians who are “personally opposed” to abortion.

Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. 

I’m still not sure how some of the stuff the Holy Father proposes is supposed to mesh together. How are people supposed to regain the sense of sin without the Church’s condemnation of it and pointing out where it has most infiltrated our culture? To speak constantly of mercy without stressing the fear of our just punishments is only going to lead people down this road more. They get the sense that, since sin is so easily forgiven, then it isn’t all that bad (if it was a sin at all).

These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom”.[59] 

Right. When the Church does speak of sin, She is cast as the enemy. Has this ever not been the case, though?

Again and again, the Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth. And how much good has been done by Catholic schools and universities around the world! This is a good thing. Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good. 

This is a wonderful riposte to secular criticism. The temptation for many Catholics, though, is to focus solely on these accomplishments and not consider the supernatural achievements of the Church, ie- the salvation of souls. Too much focus on the temporal serves to strengthen the feedback loop of forgetting the transcendent, ignoring sin, and so forth.

Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born “of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life”.[60] 

Beautiful stuff.

69. It is imperative to evangelize cultures in order to inculturate the Gospel. In countries of Catholic tradition, this means encouraging, fostering and reinforcing a richness which already exists. In countries of other religious traditions, or profoundly secularized countries, it will mean sparking new processes for evangelizing culture, even though these will demand long-term planning. We must keep in mind, however, that we are constantly being called to grow. Each culture and social group needs purification and growth. In the case of the popular cultures of Catholic peoples, we can see deficiencies which need to be healed by the Gospel: machismo, alcoholism, domestic violence, low Mass attendance, fatalistic or superstitious notions which lead to sorcery, and the like. Popular piety itself can be the starting point for healing and liberation from these deficiencies. 

This might be the most significant section of the whole document. A call for a Catholic culture, born out of popular piety is unimaginable to the vast majority of the world. It is directly opposed to the image that so many have painted of Pope Francis. Not only that, but it looks like this call is extended to non-Catholic nations as well. In other words, the Catholic culture should be something ubiquitous, regardless of national, ethnic, etc. boundaries.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pope Francis And Ecclesiology

Even though he's made similar comments in the past, it's good to make note of the times when Pope Francis focuses on the necessity of belonging to the Church. Here's the latest per Zenit:

A Christian without the Church is not understood, Pope Francis said during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

In a reflection on the importance of belonging to the Church, the Holy Father drew on the image of David in the first reading of the day, focussing on his relationship with God, which he compared to a father and a son. This relationship calls on us to reflect on our relationship with God and the Church.

“The Christian is not a baptized person that receives Baptism and then goes along his own way,” he said.

“The first fruit of Baptism is to make yourself belong to the Church, to the people of God. A Christian without a Church is not understood. And for this reason, the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church; to listen to Christ but not the Church; to be with Christ at the edge of the Church. It can’t be done. It is an absurd dichotomy.”

Consider especially that the references to Paul VI's comment and listening to the Church make it quite nonsensical to imagine that he's referring to some amorphous ecclesial body rather than the Catholic Church. To make it even more clear (and I'm sure shocking to many), he continued:

“A person who is not humble, cannot hear the Church, they will hear what she likes, what he likes," the Pope continued. "And this humility is seen in David: ‘Who am I, Lord GOD, and who are the members of my house?’ - that realization that the history of salvation has not begun with me and will not finish when I die. No, it is all a history of salvation: I am coming, the Lord takes you, He makes you go forward and then calls you and the history continues. The history of the Church first began with us and will continue after us. Humility: we are a small part of a great people, that is going on the path of the Lord.” 

In other words, the individual doesn't get to decide what is good or bad, true or false. What a wacky concept and one that he mentions many times throughout Evangelii Gaudium.

And even more shocking.

The second pillar the Pope highlighted was faithfulness, which he noted is “connected with obedience.” “Faithfulness to the Church: faithfulness to its teachings; faithfulness to the Creed; faithfulness to the doctrine, to guard this doctrine. Humility and faithfulness,” he said.

Well, holy smokes. Pope Francis actually thinks that conformity to Church teaching is important. You know, like other popes have said. Somebody needs to inform Rolling Stone about this. Of course, you won't hear anything about this. The lockdown on media coverage of orthodox statements by the Holy Father will be pretty much all-encompassing.

Get used to it, but keep your ears open at places like Zenit (and here, of course) to stay informed.