The Motley Monk
The “spirit of adolescent progressivism” and the commencement season at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges…
It’s commencement season in U.S. Catholic higher education, that time of year when administrators of the so-called “independent” Catholic universities and colleges can take advantage of the annual opportunity to “thumb their noses” at the Church and Her teaching.
The truth be told, those administrators don’t actually thumb their noses. Instead, they invite speakers with pedigrees aligning them with the “progressive forces of worldliness,” to quote Pope Francis. The speakers then do the thumbing for the administrators, as they sit on the dais and applaud.
Consider this year’s commencement speaker at Villanova University, Dr. Jill Biden.
The wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Biden is being honored for her work as an educator, supporter of military families and veterans, and breast cancer prevention. So far, so good! Dr. Biden also earned an M.A. in English at Villanova. Even better yet!
However, the University’s announcement of Dr. Biden’s invitation didn’t mention her support for abortion, for the proliferation and use of artificial forms of birth control (some of which are abortafacients), and for so-called “homosexual marriage.” Check it all out at LifesiteNews.com.
Administrators at Villanova likely would reply to critics that Dr. Biden’s invitation evidences their unwavering, personal commitment to “the tradition of Catholic higher education [that] has always placed a priority on the integration of the pursuit of intellectual excellence and ethical conversions essential for the integration of knowledge and faith.” Furthermore, those administrators likely would assert that this invitation demonstrates their commitment to “the sacredness of individual conscience [that] must find a secure place in the discourse with a Catholic, Augustinian university.”
In her speech, even if Dr. Biden wasn’t to mention any of her personal beliefs that are contrary to Church teaching, it will be eminently clear to everyone in the audience what those beliefs are. After all, that’s why administrators of the independent Catholic universities and colleges exercise such great care and oversight when inviting commencement speakers. In this case, Dr. Jill Biden will clarify for graduates the administrators’ loyalty to those cherished Catholic and Augustinian values as well as what those values should mean for graduates in the existential practice of their lives as they commence forth into the world beyond Villanova.
Yes, indeed. “Ethical conversions” and “the sacredness of individual conscience”—cherished institutional values.
Especially at a Catholic university, should it not be asked: “Ethical conversions to what ?” and “Individual conscience guided by what ?” And, especially at an Augustinian university, should it not also be asked: “Supported by what truth ?”
During a daily homily as Pope Francis was describing the Maccabean persectuion, he noted how when the people of God live in a foreign and alien culture, they oftentimes prefer to distance themselves from the Lord in favor of worldly proposals. These proposals, he said, are the root of evil. This preference then leads the people of God to abandon their sacred traditions as they negotiate their loyalty to God. This is “apostasy—a form of “adultery” the Pope said—that transpires as the people of God negotiate the essence of their being: loyalty to the Lord. This attitude of adolescent progressivism, he said, is the attitude “is a fruit of the devil who makes his way forward with the spirit of secular worldliness.”
Just two weeks ago, the University’s pro-life group, Villanovans for Life, celebrated its 40th anniversary. This student organization has evidenced a legacy of unwavering loyalty to Catholic and Augustinian values rooted in Church teaching. In contrast, the invitation to Dr. Jill Biden evidences the spirit of adolescent progressivism, as the University—like so many other independent Catholic institutions—seeks to be part of the secular world and promotes its spirit.
To read the LifesiteNews.com article, click on the following link:
To read the text of Pope Francis’ comments about adolescent progressivism, click on the following link:
The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
William Peter Blatty, Georgetown, and the Congregation for Catholic Education: Headed for the circular file?
The narrative is pretty common today. An alumnus of a Catholic university believes his Alma Mater is failing to uphold in a significant and meaningful way her Catholic identity. So, this alumnus collects signatories on a petition and sends the petition to the members of the institution’s Board and administration. All of which goes nowhere, as everyone decides to ignore the stormy petrils.
This particular narrative takes a different turn, however, as the alumnus is William Peter Blatty—author of The Exorcist—whose Alma Mater is Georgetown University. Moreover, rather than have his petition go nowhere except into the circular file, Blatty decides to exercise his canonical rights, sending his petition containing 2k+ names to the Congregation for Catholic Education (CCE) asking that the Congregation “require that Georgetown implement Ex corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges.” Failing that, the petition asked the Congregation to strip Georgetown of its right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit. Let there be not doubt: Blatty is serious. He believes that neither Georgetown’s faculty nor its students are exemplary of the faith.
In a letter sent to Blatty dated April 4, 2014, the CCE’s Secretary, Archbishop Angelo Zani, stated that CCE cannot grant Blatty’s request for “hierarchic recourse” because Blatty is not able to demonstrate that he has “suffered an objective change in his/her condition due to an administrative act.” However, Zani did write:
Your communications to this dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University…constitute a well-founded complaint. Our congregation is taking the issue seriously and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus in this regard.
(click on the image below to read the letter in its entirety.)
At this time, precisely what Archbishop Zani has in mind when he states that CCE is “taking the issue seriously” and is “cooperating with the Society of Jesus [SJ] in this regard” is impossible to know from those phrases. Is CCE sufficiently serious enough in this issue to bring pressure upon SJ leadership in Rome to introduce the kind of changes at Georgetown that Blatty seeks? Or, lacking “hierarchic recourse,” is CCE going to communicate with SJ leadership in Rome (perhaps over a very nice lunch and glass of wine) and then place Blatty’s canonical petition in the circular file, Archbishop Zani having done what said he would do?
One thing is for certain: Administrators at Georgetown are unrepentant. According to Inside Higher Ed, a Georgetown spokeswoman, Rachel Pugh, wrote in an email that the University has received no formal correspondence from the Vatican regarding the petition, and that Georgetown’s Catholic identity “has never been stronger.”
Perhaps the petition has already been placed in the circular file.
To read the Inside Higher Ed article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
On divorce, remarriage, and responding adequately to the people’s expectations: Sorry, folks, but this “experiment” has already been tried…
The sole item on the agenda for the upcoming Synod of Bishops–the family–has sparked heated debate concerning the Church’s teaching about marriage, especially among Germany’s episcopate. The agenda has also ginned up hope among divorced Catholics, especially in the United States.
Expect the latter to be ginned up even more as the liberal Catholic news media tout the recent comments of the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. In an interview with the Christian weekly magazine Tertio, Baldisseri is quoted as stating that he wants a change in Church teaching on marriage:
The Church is not timeless, she lives amidst the vicissitudes of history and the Gospel must be known and experienced by people today. It is in the present that the message should be, with all respect for the integrity from whom the message has been received. We now have two synods to treat this complex theme of the family and I believe that these dynamics in two movements will allow a more adequate response to the expectations of the people.
Perhaps Cardinal Baldisseri’s comments represent the kind of “open” and “frank” dialogue that Pope Francis has encouraged. Perhaps, too, they are a “trial balloon” Baldisseri is floating for the Synod to gauge attitudes and responses. Those comments may also represent only one man’s opinion, in this case, a very important man–given his leadership role in the Synod. Let’s not forget that Cardinal Baldiserri will be intimately involved in selecting the “experts” who will be advising the Synod…the “periti.”
That’s all fine…the stuff of “inside ecclesiastical politics.” The simple fact is that the Church has constantly upheld what Jesus taught:
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9; cf. Mark 10:2–9; Luke 16:18)
Jesus’ words “except for sexual immorality” would seem to allow for divorce. Okay. But, the Church teaches, they do not allow for remarriage. If spouses must divorce due to the existential realities associated with their marriage, divorce–though reprehensible–is tolerable. Again, the Church is upholding Scripture and, in this case, what St. Paul taught:
To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)—and that the husband should not divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10–11).
Unfortunately, divorce sometimes happens. Yet, it does not extinguish a sacramental marriage and, thus, as the Church has consistently taught based upon Scripture and Tradition, remarriage is not permissible. It’s in this sense that Jesus was not making an exception in the case of valid, sacramental marriages, despite what many Catholics–including some in the German episcopate–and non-Catholics today hold. This is the “truth” the Church has constantly taught, most recently in Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris Consortio.”
But, Cardinal Baldisseri seems to think, what Tradition has consistently taught is not timeless. After all, the Cardinal does seem to have gone out of his way to note that the document is 33 years old. And, if that’s his attitude as it is the attitude of many of those who want this teaching changed, what about Scripture–which is much older, yes, ancient–”even with all respect for the integrity from whom the message has been received”?
Respect for the integrity ? What about respect for the truth ?
Those who want Church teaching as it concerns divorce and remarriage to change seem to be arguing that doing so will provide a wonderful tool for evangelization. At a minimum, at least consider all of those disaffected Catholics who would return to the faith if only the Church lowered the bar and became more inclusive.
With all respect for the integrity of those who are promoting this message, this experiment has already been tried…to the detriment of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. Look around: Are the divorced and remarried flocking to those Christian denominations that have allowed for divorce and remarriage for centuries? The demographics suggest not.
The Church doesn’t have to become more like those who would fashion the gospel to fit their attitudes to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. No, the Church’s mission is to promote the truth as it is conveyed in Scripture and Tradition. Yes, as Karl Rahner noted in his book The Shape of the Church to Come, this may very well mean a much smaller Church than many would hope. But, its witness would be more potent to the ends of the earth because its members would be more unified.
Unfortunately, this attitude isn’t very popular in this generation. Or, come to think of it, was it in any previous generation.
To read the article reporting Cardinal Baldisseri’s interview, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
On April 30, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, made some opening remarks at the Meeting of the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The meeting focused upon the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, especially the revision of the LCWR’s Statutes and civil by-laws.
Remember that the Doctrinal Assessment was made necessary by the LCWR’s theological positions which indicated the organization was entertaining if not promoting theories beyond the boundaries of the Catholic faith. The goal was that the LCWR would reflect more explicitly the mission of a Conference of Major Superiors as something centered on Jesus Christ and grounded in the Church’s teaching about Consecrated Life and so that religious life might continue to flourish in the United States.
As Cardinal Müller noted in his opening statement:
We are aware that, from the beginning, LCWR Officers judged the Doctrinal Assessment to be “flawed and the findings based on unsubstantiated accusations” and that the so-called “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.”
The remainder of Cardinal Müller’s opening remarks address those two judgments made. In his own words:
It is my intention in discussing these things frankly and openly with you to offer an explanation of why it is that we believe the conclusions of the Doctrinal Assessment are accurate and the path of reform it lays before the LCWR remains necessary so that religious life might continue to flourish in the United States.
Anyone who reads Cardinal Müller’s remarks objectively and carefully will see that he is not “playing poker” with the LCWR. Although gracious and respectful, the Cardinal was not bluffing as he carefully details, point by point, how the LCWR has been less than fully responsive to the Doctrinal Assessment and what its leadership needs to do. Without drawing a line in the sand, Cardinal Müller intimates there is a line in the sand when he concluded:
The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration.
Read the entirety of Cardinal Müller’s remarks because they are very important. They represent “the other side of the story,” the one that the National Catholic Reporter isn’t telling except by negative example. The simple fact is that the LCWR is in error theologically. Despite the image they may want to project, these are not the sisters whose heroic witness over the generations in U.S. Catholic schools, hospitals, and social service agencies is seared upon the memory of those many Catholics and non-Catholics alike their predecessors once selflessly served. These sisters are promoting an ideology that is beyond the boundaries of the Catholic faith.
To read the text of Cardinal Müller’s remarks, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
It’s no secret that there’s a college tuition bubble and that it’s showing signs of potentially imploding across the United States. As fewer students enroll, administrators at public and private institutions of higher education are having to make sometimes Draconian budget cuts. Oftentimes, these cuts adversely impact support staff, programs, and faculty…in that order, as The Motley Monk reported about the University of Southern Maine here.
Well, the bubble may be demonstrating signs of imploding at Catholic institutions of higher education.
According to an article in the Times-Tribune, the President of the University of Scranton, the Reverend Kevin P. Quinn, SJ, outlined some of the “difficult, even painful, decisions” to be implemented—to the tune of $4M—to align the budget better with current realities. Fr. Quinn wrote:
As a result, we will see a decrease in net tuition and fee revenue per student for the class we recruit for this fall when compared to the class that preceded it.
This problem involving enrollments and finances has been brewing for a couple of years, but evidently came to a boil at Scranton with increased operational costs and a smaller than expected entering freshman class in 2013. Having already reached the “price point” that students and parents were willing to pay or indebt themselves for a Scranton degree, the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, Edward Steinmetz, knew a tuition increase was off the table. Hence, the cuts.
Why is Fr. Quinn’s announcement important? Considering the landscape of U.S. Catholic higher education:
- Scranton is a small, tuition dependent institution. Student enrollment—hence, tuition cash flow—is the “mother’s milk” for institutional survival. As the cost of attending Scranton, for example, passes the “price point”—and with a limited number of “discounts” (ahem, “scholarships”) available to award new students—enrollments will inevitably decline, exacerbating the institution’s already fragile financial problems.
- As cuts evidence themselves in fewer new “attractors”—those non-educational, Disneyworld-like experiences, programs, and buildings that universities and colleges have increasingly focused upon to improve on-campus student “life” and, hence, “attract” more new students to enroll—high school seniors may be less attracted to attend an institution like Scranton. The day of “keeping up with the Jones”—at first, those were the state university systems, but increasingly in recent decades, the larger Catholic institutions—may be over.
- The Motley Monk knows Scranton to be a pretty good Catholic college, meaning that students generally can experience a somewhat solid Catholic culture. The only drawback is its Jesuitical emphasis upon social justice and de-emphasis upon doctrine. If a Catholic institution isn’t offering a truly Catholic education—as that has been defined by Saint John Paul II and reiterated by Benedict XVI–why would students pay a higher price point—and indebt themselves more upon graduation–when cheaper alternatives are readily available?
It’s all about supply and demand because market forces are at work. Moreover, with many students and their families having to indebt themselves increasingly if they are to graduate from a Catholic institution of higher education, “glitz” will necessarily factor less into a decision about enrollment than whether the institution delivers on its value proposition.
Unless administrators in Catholic higher education are willing to differentiate their institutions sufficiently by providing students and parents a sufficient return on investment, the tuition bubble has the potential to alter the landscape of U.S. Catholic higher education dramatically. Why ever would they pay a “premium” for a “product” that doesn’t deliver on what’s promised?
Then, too, don’t forget that tuition revenues also provide the necessary cash flow to pay off the debts many of those institutions have incurred over the past two decades in keeping up, all in a desperate effort to attract more students.
The challenge to those administrators?
To demonstrate in fact how their institutional cultures, from the curriculum, to the classrooms, to the dormitories, and to its extra-curricular offerings actually form students from a decidedly Catholic perspective (that is, the “value added” proposition).
To read the Times-Tribune article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
It’s pretty easy to tell that the folks over at the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) aren’t happy campers these days. Some of their heroes fighting on the front lines for women’s ordination are being “disciplined.”
A longtime peace and human rights activist arrested countless times, Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada has been removed from public ministry for concelebrating Mass with a woman priest in 2011.
Poor Fr. Zawada! After all he’s done over the decades to promote the cause of social justice. He’s been jailed numerous times and now at the age of 76, one would think the Vatican would overlook Fr. Zawada’s minor infelicity for merely concelebrating “Mass” with the Roman Catholic “WomanPriest,” the Rev. Ms. Janice Sevre-Duszynska.
The enemy in the NCR’s narrative is the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which reviewed documentation related to the November 22, 2011 “Mass.” NCR obtained a copy of the CDF’s private letter which stated:
Having carefully examined the acts of the case, and the vota of the former Minister General and the Rev. Zawada’s Provincial Superior, this Dicastery has decided to impose on Rev. Jerome Zawada, OFM, a life of prayer and penance to be lived within the Queen of Peace Friary in Burlington, Wisconsin.
The letter also forbids Fr. Zawada from presenting himself in public as a priest or celebrating the sacraments publicly. However, Fr. Zawada is allowed to concelebrate Mass with other friars at the friary and in private.
Zawada isn’t too pleased. He told the NCR:
I don’t mind the prayer part, but when they called, when they say that I need to be spending time in penance, well, I’m not going to do penance for my convictions and the convictions of so many others, too.
Apparently, CDF isn’t going to wink and ignore any priest who concelebrates “Mass” with so-called “WomenPriests.”
- Strike #1 involved the former Maryknoll priest, Ray Bourgeois, who was excommunicated in November 2012 for doing so.
- Strike #2 involved the Jesuit priest, Bill Brennen, who was relieved of his priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for concelebrating “Mass” with a “WomanPriest” one month later.
- Strike #3 is Fr. Zawada.
And that’s only the cases that the priests involved have made public.
“You’re out!” the umpire yells after a batter takes three strikes.
And, by the way, the baseball season opens today.
Perhaps those priests who support the cause for the ordination of women should place their money on the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series this year. Both have about an equal chance of happening anytime soon.
To read the NCR article, click on the following link:
Atlanta’s “Archbishop Bling”? The mainstream media and liberals in the Catholic press have been silent…
When it comes to clerical “careerism,” ostentatious “princely” lifestyles, or even the mode of transportation, Pope Francis has sent a new standard—one of humility and poverty—for clerics. It’s been called the “l’effet Francois” (“the Francis effect”).
Members of the mainstream media and liberals in the Catholic press love it and have been quick to jump on the bandwagon to criticize clerics who have crossed the line that Pope Francis has drawn in the sand. Arguably, the most roundly criticized cleric to have crossed that line is “Bishop Bling,” the Most Reverend Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany. He constructed a new residence and office complex costing nearly $43M.
Not only did Tebartz-van Elst spend a ton of money on all the wrong things, but he did so just after the cardinals elected a pope who is making austerity and humility the hallmarks of a bishop in today’s church. Francis wants prelates to “smell like the sheep,” not pricey cologne, and he doesn’t want them to act with the sort of authoritarian and dismissive manner that Tebartz-van Elst displayed.
In fact, as the resignation of Tebartz-van Elst was being announced Wednesday, Francis was telling thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square that “a bishop who is not in the service of the community does no good.”
In addition, Tebartz-van Elst in November paid a court-ordered fine of nearly $30,000 to avoid a perjury charge over his false claims that he did not fly first class to India on a charity trip. That’s three strikes.
Okay, Bishop Bling deserved to be “fired,” although technically that’s impossible. Removed, yes. Fired, no. His conduct was egregious, although similar conduct certainly was not in the early- to mid- 20th century.
But, will those media outlets and liberals in the Catholic press be as vociferous when it comes to the Archbishop of Atlanta, the Most Reverend Wilton Gregory?
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Archbishop Gregory recently moved into a new, 6,196-square-foot home built at the cost of $2.2M. His previous residence—adjacent to the Cathedral of Christ the King—is also slated to be renovated as a rectory for the priests assigned to the Cathedral residence. The price tag for those renovations, which includes the purchase of additional property, is another $2.2M.
That’s a total of $4.4M for two residences. That’s not quite $43M. Plus the money comes from a $15M bequest. So, technically, all of this housing is “free.”
But, is it consistent with the “l’effet Francois” that the mainstream media and liberals in the Catholic press on this side of the pond have been propounding as the standard for criticizing clerics?
Some believe Archbishop Gregory should have used the money for schools and the poor. “This is an excessive lifestyle,” said one parishioner of Christ the King, Beth Maguire.
Both Archbishop Gregory and the Cathedral’s Rector, the Reverend Monsignor Frank McNamee, call the expenditures “necessary.” Gregory said the new residence will allow him to “smell like the flock,” providing him a residence where he can more easily mingle with his sheep.
Isn’t that what Pope Francis said bishops should do?
Once again, will the mainstream media as well as liberals in the Catholic press who have been so quick to denounce Bishop Bling be as quick in denouncing Archbishop Gregory?
Time will tell. So far, they’ve been silent.
The answer is unknown. But, there are at least three possible answers:
- The magnitude of his expenditures for suitable housing is only a little more than 10% that of Bishop Bling. If so, is this a new standard for judging the nation’s bishops and cathedral rectors that the mainstream media as well as liberals in the Catholic press have deemed acceptable?
- The mainstream media as well as liberals in the Catholic press perceive Archbishop Gregory to be a theological liberal and kindred spirit. It would be indecorous to take one of their own to task, would it not? But, if a conservative bishop were to do the same, then watch how quickly he will be denounced.
- They don’t want to attack one of the nation’s most respected Black Catholic leaders. But wouldn’t that be using a double standard?
Atlanta’s “Archbishop Bling”?
Pope Francis may not be as silent. He may speak by denying Archbishop Gregory a red hat because of that new residence.
But, all of that doesn’t really matter. What matters is the perception of duplicity on the part of the mainstream media and liberals in the Catholic press.
To read the National Catholic Reporter article, click on the following link:
To read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, click on the following link:
Today, the Solicitor General of the United States, Donald Verrilli, will tell the the Supreme Court during oral arguments in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby that killing a human embryo by preventing the embryo from implanting in his or her mother’s uterus is not an “abortion” and, thus, the drugs approved by Obamacare that kill embryos in this way are not “abortion-inducing” drugs. Verrilli will also argue that every business that provides its employees’ healthcare insurance plans—even businesses owned and operated by Christians who are pro-life—must provide the drugs Obamacare mandates.
Yet, when Verrilli first petitioned the Supreme Court in September 2013 to take up Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, his petition conceded that among the drugs and devices Obamacare approved were some that prevented human “fertilized eggs”—conceived human embryos—from implanting in their mothers’ wombs. In his petition, Verrilli wrote:
The FDA has approved twenty such methods, ranging from oral contraceptives to surgical sterilization. Four of the twenty approved methods—two types of intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the emergency contraceptives commonly known as Plan B and Ella—can function by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Then, in a footnote, Verrilli went stated:
Both the government and the medical amici supporting the government concede that at least some of the contraceptive methods to which the plaintiffs object have the potential to prevent uterine implantation.
So, Virrelli concedes that the drugs and devices the Obama administration mandates can terminate the life of a human embryo by preventing “implantation.” However, Virrelli also asserts that terminating the life of a conceived human embryo by preventing it from implanting in the womb is not an “abortion.”
Verrilli is weaving a clever, but illogical deceit. What the FDA and the Federal regulations call “contraceptives” include drugs and devices some of which work not by preventing conception but by terminating a human life after conception. In other words, these government-approved drugs and devices are not contraceptives but post-conception abortofacients.
The Motley Monk prays and is remains hopeful the more sober and honest members of the Supreme Court will see this charade for what it truly is and rule on behalf of innocent children.
To read the Solicitor General’s petition for a writ of certiorari, click on the following link:
It appears that the public relations officer for Cardinal Dolan, Joseph Zwilling, has been getting quite a workout this past week. The poor fellow has had to respond to the Cardinal’s botched pre-recorded appearance on Sunday, March 9th’s Meet the Press.
In that interview, David Gregory asked Cardinal Dolan:
Michael Sam, from your home state, the football player, revealed that he was gay, first in the NFL. And you saw the celebration from the president, the first lady, and they were saying what a courageous step that was. How did you view it?
The Cardinal responded:
Good for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. I don’t think, look, the same Bible that tells us, that teaches us, well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, “Bravo.”
Not one who fails to express her opinions with trenchant clarity, Ann Barnhardt posted in her blog:
“Bravo” to sodomy….says Dolan, who couldn’t give any less of a [s***] about this Michael Sam kid, and is perfectly willing to not only watch this poor kid go to hell, but will even relish in Michael Sam’s sin in order to leverage his (Dolan’s) own personal worldly popularity. There simply aren’t words. The craven connivance is beyond description.
Is this yet another example of the Bergoglio—“Who am I to judge?”—phenomenon?
Does Dolan really believe that we are called by God to make absolutely NO moral judgements whatsoever about human behavior? Really? So we can’t judge murder? We can’t judge rape? We can’t judge theft? “Judge not lest ye be judged” is God Almighty abolishing the very notion of sin and demanding total anarchy? REALLY?
But beyond that obvious imbecility, Dolan has now taken it a step further—he HAS in fact JUDGED the sin of sodomy, and has JUDGED it positively. ”Bravo” means “good”. ”Good for him” means GOOD. FOR. HIM. But Dolan isn’t smart enough to recognize the internal contradiction in saying “Bravo”—which is the Italian word for “good” in the sense of “well done”—and in literally the same breath saying “Who am I to judge?” You just DID judge, you jackass.
Like her assessment or not, Barnhardt does make a point.
Cardinal Dolan should have anticipated David Gregory’s question. He also should have answered in a way that promoted Church teaching and protected the Pope’s integrity. After all, the interview was pre-recorded.
But, some might opine, the Cardinal may have been caught off guard anyway. What can be said about this?
For one thing, whereas Cardinal Dolan is usually very adept at evading traps when interviewed, no one—even a cardinal—is so good as to be able to dodge every bullet, every time. Imagine what it must be like to be in the Cardinal’s position: In every interview, he knows there’s always the possibility that after each question is asked, it might be the next one that takes him down.
And, taken down to the mat and pinned as Cardinal Dolan was on Meet the Press, it wasn’t by David Gregory…but by the Cardinal himself and by his own words.
Barnhardt also makes the point that Pope Francis bears some responsibility for this phenomenon. His advice that priests and Religious should throw doctrinal caution to the wind and mix it up with the los pueblos goads not only priests and Religious but also high-ranking prelates—who sometimes think themselves more clever than most, even allegedly “friendly” folks in the press—into a snake pit from which it is impossible to escape unscathed.
That’s why Zwilling was in high gear last week, attempting to tamp down the maelstrom. Responding to questions from CNSNews.com, Zwilling’s email stated:
You can quote me about the Cardinal’s appearance on Meet the Press as follows:
“I believe that the Cardinal’s intention was clear, when he said that the same Bible that teaches us about chastity and fidelity also teaches us not to judge. We are called to love one another.
At the same time, the Cardinal is a very strong supporter of Courage, the Church’s ministry to those with same-sex attraction who are trying to follow the Church’s teaching. He understands, however, that the Church can only extend the invitation, and that, in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, the Church can only propose, it cannot impose.
It would therefore be wrong for anyone to say, or even imply, that the Cardinal’s words on Meet the Press meant that he was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexual activity (or any other immoral behavior), or that he was not fully supportive of that teaching, particularly as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
Oh, come now! As the CNS News.com report observed, Zwilling sidestepped the question concerning whether the openly homosexual Michael Sam is a good role model for young males or whether his conduct is scandalous.
Cardinal Dolan has stepped right into a snake pit. Now, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men won’t be able to put New York’s Cardinal back together again. No doubt, he will survive, but not unscathed.
Likewise for Pope Francis. If the Pope is of the opinion that this kind of mixing it up with los pueblos will make the Church look more inviting to disaffected U.S. Catholics on the left or right, it’s quite likely he’s either misinformed or mistaken.
To read Ann Barnhardt’s blog, click on the following link:
To read the CNSNews report, click on the following link:
Last December, S. E. Cupp wrote an op-ed “A Pope Conservative Can Love” in the New York Daily News in which she stated:
While liberals will revel in ideas that Pope Francis is reforming the church to their liking, and condemning conservative values in the process, it’s actually fairly easy to see his mission as the opposite. He’s arguing for a church with limited powers, reduced bureaucracy and lean, local governing.
Conservatives should say “Amen to that.”
Having mulled over that thought for a while, The Motley Monk decided he can’t say “Amen” to that.
Ms Cupp’s lens for “conservative” in social, political, and economic theory, doesn’t apply to ecclesiology. That fundamental misunderstanding causes many conservatives to fail to call out the liberals in the Church who continuously argue for “limited powers, reduced bureaucracy, and lean, local government.” Doing so enables them to manipulate local bishops and dioceses into doing whatever they, the liberals, want them to do.
This is what happened in the Church during the “liberal” pontificate of Paul VI. The “conservative” pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict reversed this trend, re-centralizing doctrinal authority in Rome, where it belongs. That was good for the Church, and it was also conservative.
Conservatives should say “Amen to that.”
To read S. E. Cupp’s op ed, click on the following link:
“Educational itineraries of encounter and of dialogue”: The new mission of Catholic higher education…
Many have said that Pope Francis would “shake things up.” They have pointed to his living quarters, cars, committee of cardinals to study reforming the Curia, founding the new dicastery for finance, and most famously, his “Who am I to judge?” statement. These provide all the testimony need to demonstrate that this Pope is indeed shaking things up.
There’s now more evidence.
At the recent Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education, members discussed a series of issues:
- the reform of the Apostolic Constitution, Sapientia Christiana, which governs the Pontifical university system (Catholic universities chartered by the Vatican, not Catholic universities and colleges chartered by other nations or states);
- the recovery and strengthening of Catholic identity in all Catholic institutions of higher learning; and,
- the preparation of two major anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the II Vatican Council’s declaration, Gravissimum educationis, which called for a renewal of Catholic instruction and formation at all levels and the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, Ex corde Ecclesiae, which describes the nature and mission of Catholic universities.
Ho hum. More pious platitudes about providing an “integral formation” and strengthening Catholic identity.
Who’s interested in that? Certainly not many of those who administer and teach in the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges. They routinely interpret Vatican statements concerning Catholic education to fit their progressive secularist agenda or ignore those statements altogether.
However, those weren’t the topics on Pope Francis’ agenda when he addressed the Plenary Assembly. Of many things the Pope told participants, he expressed his desire that they
…be involved in educational itineraries of encounter and of dialogue, with a courageous and innovative faithfulness that is capable of bringing the different “souls” of a multicultural society together with Catholic identity.
What’s this? “Itineraries of encounter and dialogue”? A “courageous and innovative faithfulness”? “Bringing different ‘souls’ of a multicultural society together with a Catholic identity”?
It’s difficult to know what Pope Francis means, as the terms he used could mean many different things to many different people and be invoked to quite different ends.
Take the phrase “courageous and innovative faithfulness,” for example.
Liberal Catholics could interpret it to justify continuing their experiments in Catholic thought and practice that undermine Catholic doctrine. It takes courage and innovation to move beyond the confines and limitations of doctrine, they would argue. Consider, for example, their research and calls for change in Church teaching about so many moral issues–including divorce and remarriage, so-called “homosexual marriage,” and women’s ordination–and being rebuffed at the highest levels of the Vatican, especially the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Just ask Father Charles Curran.
Conservative Catholics could interpret that phrase to justify a greater emphasis upon doctrine in Theology courses as well as reining in many of the so-called “progressive” trends in U.S. Catholic higher education during the past five decades. It takes courage and innovation stem the tide of secular progressivism that has diminished Catholic identity in those institutions, they would argue. Consider, for example, the national culture of Catholic higher education as well as many of those institutions where conservatives are marginalized, if not mocked for their fidelity to Church teaching. Just ask the folks at Wyoming Catholic College or conservatives at institutions like the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown, DePaul, Gonzaga, and the University of San Francisco, among others.
Is it possible that the Holy Father thinks both are forms of courage and innovative faithfulness?
The Motley Monk thinks not.
In this instance, however, the Pope’s choice of terms has muddied the waters more than they have been for the past five decades. In doing so, the Holy Father may have unintentionally emboldened the secular progressivists in U.S. Catholic higher education. Now, their lemmings over at National Catholic Reporter will endeavor to convince more and more folks that they are the authentic interpreters of Pope Francis’ statements concerning Catholic higher education.
Despite the Siren song of the stormy petrils, a Bay Area News Group article reports that the Board of Trustees of Santa Clara University (SCU)—a Jesuit university—has upheld its decision last year to terminate elective abortion healthcare coverage for employees beginning January 1, 2015.
In a statement issued February 14, Board Chairman Robert Finocchio wrote:
In making the decision, the President carried out this duty. The decision was not a decision of condemnation or of exclusion, but rather one that flows from the University’s identity and mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university.
In his statement, Finocchio merely reiterated what the Board had stated previously when Fr. Engh announced the Board’s decision last fall.
As was entirely predictable, Fr. Engh’s announcement didn’t set well with SCU’s Faculty Senate, which objected strenuously. Members claimed that the Board’s new policy sent several messages: the Board doesn’t value diversity (not all employees support Church teaching), the Board doesn’t value inclusivity (having excluded faculty leaders from the process), and the Board was imposing Catholic doctrine on employees (many are not Catholic).
Addressing the protests, Fr. Engh announced a delay in the benefits change until January 2015. The extra year, he said, would allow the Faculty Senate to review the new policy and study options beyond SCU’s healthcare plan.
That said, in this round, the decision has been made. The Board didn’t reverse it, despite the Siren song of the stormy petrils.
Isn’t it refreshing to read that members of the Board of Trustees of a Catholic university are upholding their sacred trust? Would that members of the boards of every institution of U.S. Catholic higher education had as much spine!
Come to think of it: Why do so many of Board members live in mortal fear of and cower before the stormy petrils who charge them with not being diverse and inclusive as well as with imposing Church doctrine on employees? Or, is the real truth that many Board members actually side with the stormy petrils?
To read the Bay Area News Group article, click on the following link:
Given the outcry on the part of the stormy petrils and length of the article in the National Catholic Reporter Online (NCR), one would think the world had come to an end.
At least, according to the “narrative.” It seems as if everything today is about a “narrative.”
Consider the angry narrative providing the subtext of the NCR article.
On January 13, 2014, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of the Santa Fe Archdiocese told the pastor of Aquinas Newman Center that the Dominicans’ service would be terminated on June 30, 2014. Worse yet, the ham-handed, conservative Archbishop issued this edict allegedly without any prior consultation. And, rubbing some salt into the ecclesial wound he was unnecessarily inflicting upon all of the Center’s students and parishioners, the Archbishop stated in the press release he issued announcing the change that two “fine young priests” of his Archdiocese would be replacing the Dominicans. (The latter obviously aren’t “young” and perhaps will be touted as victims of age discrimination.) Those two priests include the Archdiocese’s vocation director and University of New Mexico (UNM) alumnus, Fr. Michael DePalma, who will serve as pastor. The parochial vicar will be Fr. Simon Carian, 26. Ordained last year, Carian is a University of Notre Dame alumnus currently studying medical ethics in Rome.
Why the change?
Consider Archbishop Sheehan’s pastoral narrative which added fuel to the angry narrative. In his press release, the Archbishop stated:
Having Archdiocesan priests at the Newman Center will enhance relations with the Archdiocese’s pastors and parishes of whose young adults attend [UNM], as well as promote diocesan vocations.
The angry narrative’s reaction?
To paraphrase: The nerve of His Excellency! This is the post-Vatican II Church, not the patriarchal and triumphal post-Tridentine Church! That man has no right to remove our beloved Dominicans. For gracious sakes, he even dumped the name “Aquinas” that has been in the Center’s title for as long as everyone can remember. Hrrumphhhh….
Some background information concerning the two narratives.
The Dominicans have served UNM’s Aquinas Newman Center in Albuquerque since 1950. The Center currently serves more than 500 UNM students and 750 families. One Mass is offered daily and five Masses are offered on Sundays. The Center also provides campus ministry, parish social groups, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and service opportunities.
Now, in light of these competing narratives, what may be the real narrative: Archbishop Sheehan is well aware of the success many Newman Centers across the nation are having in fostering vocations to the priesthood, especially those centers where “young” priests serve. The Dominicans never had much success in this regard during their 60+ years of service at the Center. So, the Archbishop decided to staff the Newman Center with his men and have them run it in the style that has demonstrated success at other universities and colleges.
That has the stormy petrils in an uproar. An allegedly “pre-Vatican II” bishop is seeking to destroy the “Pope Francis Church” the Dominicans have constructed and which parishioners seem to enjoy very much. After all, one subtext to the angry narrative is that parishioners must enjoy going to Mass (or “services” as the NCR article called them). As the Newman Center’s current pastor, Fr. Dan Davis, OP, opined:
The parishioners are very progressive, very intellectual, and they resonated with the way we preached. The Newman Center tends to be a conglomeration of disenfranchised Christians from around the city–which confirms the very things that the bishop is contesting.
In an email circulated to parishioners, a former UNM student and longtime Center parishioner, Chuck Wellborn, provided some additional details:
The Archbishop has made critical statements about our parish to others in the Archdiocese….These comments suggest that he believes our parish is insufficiently doctrinaire. It is certainly true that the Newman Center attracts parishioners with a wide variety of backgrounds and views, in particular university students and faculty. In that sense, our parish is quite dissimilar and perhaps more liberal in its thinking than at the Archdiocese’s non-university parishes.
Is that what has the stormy petrils in an uproar? A Newman Center that was intended primarily to serve students’ religious, spiritual, and moral needs has developed into a parish that operates as a “quasi-exempt” institution in the Archdiocese, meaning “operating parallel to but not necessarily in tandem with the Archbishop and his clergy.” And now, Archbishop Sheehan is quashing that long-term “arrangement.”
Despite the anger espoused by Fr. Davis and parishioner Wellborn, not all are happy with the current arrangement and support the Archbishop’s decision.
For example, on January 13, a UNM student, Colt Balok, posted a picture on his Facebook page of himself having dinner with Archbishop Sheehan. Balok captioned the picture, “I had a great dinner with Archbishop Sheehan tonight. UNM, he has some great news for us Catholics!” Then, in a Letter to the Editor printed on January 29 in the Daily Lobo, UNM’s student newspaper, Balok said:
…[the Newman Center] needs to be a place where the body and blood of Christ is adored and worshipped, not a place where the altar servers wear polo shirts and fail to honor and respect our Lord Jesus Christ….Thank you, Archbishop, for making the Newman Center Catholic again. My friends and I will no longer have to travel to other parishes to attend Mass.
Good for Archbishop Sheehan!
The Motley Monk would observe that His Excellency has every right to provide UNM students a religious, spiritual, and moral home in a way that fits his overall pastoral plan and its objectives. One objective is to increase the number of vocations to the diocesan priesthood so that UNM students will continue to be served by the Archdiocese. And, the Archbishop has every right to staff it with his men who will run it in the way the Archbishop desires.
Given the demographics, archbishops and bishops across the United States no longer can depend on the religious communities of men to provide manpower, especially manpower that is not self-sustaining. Now is the time to envision the future, not to look backwards in hope that the 1960s and 1970s will return.
To read the National Catholic Reporter Online article, click on the following link:
Planned Parenthood is constructing a new $42.M, 8k-square foot building in New Orleans.The City of New Orleans has already approved the construction permit and the facility is scheduled to open later this year. It is estimated that 30 abortions will be able to be performed each day at the facility.
Archbishop Gregory M, Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans isn’t taking the news sitting down, taking direct aim at the facility in a letter published in the Archdiocesan newspaper, the Clarion Herald.
“We cannot be silent in view of the grave injustice presented by the abortions that will be performed at the Planned Parenthood facility,” Aymond wrote. “The Archdiocese is obliged to remind every person and organization involved in the acquisition, preparation, and construction of this or any abortion facility that they are cooperating with the evil that will take place there.”
Not mincing his words, Archbishop Aymond fired off a unique first salvo:
For this reason, the Archdiocese, including the churches, schools, apartments for the elderly and nursing homes, will strive in its privately funded work not to enter into business relationships with any person or organization that participates in actions that are essential to making this abortion facility a reality.
This policy applies to all businesses, regardless of religious affiliation or non-affiliation. Our fidelity to Church teaching and our conscience necessitates this stance. There is no justification, including economic hardship that will make a direct or indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood, or any abortion provider, acceptable. Additionally, affiliation or support of Planned Parenthood by Catholics is a matter of serious scandal. (emphasis added)
In his final salvo, Aymond noted:
There are many issues, from violence in the streets to poverty, which hurt this community. A regional abortion center will not solve our problems; it will only create more….We hope that the community invested in the City of New Orleans and in her future will join us in standing for life, not more abortion. All citizens of the New Orleans area must stand together for a peaceful community, not one with more abortion and more Planned Parenthood.
Kudos to Archbishop Aymond! His Excellency not only is attention to the facility, but also calling upon Catholics and non–Catholics alike to use their economic clout in the cause of life. Pressuring those who have or will be participating in this grave evil by entering into direct or indirect business relationships with the facility is a very clever way to challenge Catholics, in particular, to put their faith into economic practice.
How’s that for some authentic Catholic social justice?
To read Archbishop Aymond’s letter, click on the following link:
Liberal American Catholics are in for one, big surprise. The Pope who is expected to change everything–Pope “Wunnerful”–isn’t quite the liberal they hope he is.
The Rolling Stone magazine cover naming Pope Francis its “Person of the Year for 2013″ along with its banner headline, “The Times They Are a-Changin,” is yet another instance of the mainstream media proclaiming the singular liberal American Catholic hope. Namely, that the Pope’s views concerning homosexuality, the ordination of women, and economics are more closely aligned with liberal American Catholics.
Unfortunately, mainstream media proclamations, like the Rolling Stone magazine cover, are based upon little substance.
What liberal American Catholics do “get” is that their views concerning most moral issues contradict Church teaching. Yet, they live in hope that Pope Francis will emerge one day on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica having withstood the power being wielded by all of those “curial careerists” and announce to the world that he’s returning the Church and its teaching to the people. The “Pope of the People”…Pope Wunnerful.
On this score, liberal American Catholics couldn’t be more wrong, in The Motley Monk’s opinion. Hints in papal pronouncements already have and increasingly will clarify this is the case.
Of greater interest to The Motley Monk is what liberal American Catholics “don’t get.” Namely, that Church teaching about economic systems is as suspicious of socialism as it is of capitalism.
For example, liberal American Catholics jumped upon Pope Francis’ statement in Evangelium gaudiam–”trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market alone, will succeed by itself in bringing about greater justice” [the correct translation]–to be a denunciation of capitalism. Correctly translated and read carefully, there is no denunciation. Pope Francis–as did John Paul II and Benedict XVI before him–is correctly teaching that unfettered capitalism is as much of a corruption as is unfettered socialism. That represents very sound teaching.
This strand of Church teaching began with Pope Leo XIII who, in 1891 condemned socialism. He wrote:
And in addition to injustice, it is only too evident what an upset and disturbance there would be in all classes, and to how intolerable and hateful a slavery citizens would be subjected. The door would be thrown open to envy, to mutual invective, and to discord; the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation. Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property. (#15)
One century later, Pope John Paul II viewed capitalism as a potential force for good. Yet, he wrote in 1991:
It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs. But this is true only for those needs which are ‘solvent’, insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are ‘marketable’, insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price. But there are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish….
If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”. But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative….
The Marxist solution has failed, but the realities of marginalization and exploitation remain in the world, especially the Third World, as does the reality of human alienation, especially in the more advanced countries. Against these phenomena the Church strongly raises her voice. Vast multitudes are still living in conditions of great material and moral poverty. The collapse of the Communist system in so many countries certainly removes an obstacle to facing these problems in an appropriate and realistic way, but it is not enough to bring about their solution. Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces. (Centesimus Annus, 1991, #42)
Once again, what John Paul II described as a “radical capitalistic ideology”–one lacking an “ethical and religious” core–is a corruption.
At the Inaugural Session of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Carribean in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures. And this ideological promise has proven false….Capitalism leaves a distance between rich and poor…giving rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity. (#4)
On this score, liberal American Catholics are simply wrong. Pope Francis hasn’t promoted their economic agenda. Instead, the Pope has reiterated consistent Church teaching.
Hope all they want, liberal American Catholics just “don’t get it” when it comes to Church teaching concerning economics because they have adopted the socialist critique of capitalism as a core dogma of their faith. As a result, liberal American Catholics cannot appreciate that Church teaching concerning economics hasn’t taken sides in debates about the superiority of one economic system over another. Instead, the Church has examined and critiqued two economic systems in particular, socialism and capitalism, to ensure that they serve people rather than at as their masters.
In the end, liberal American Catholic are desirous of a unilateral embrace of socialism and a unilateral condemnation of capitalism, which makes The Motley Monk wonder: Isn’t it strange how Rush Limbaugh is now their best pal for peddling their hope, as he falsely opines that Pope Francis is a Marxist and is undoing Church economic teaching? In this regard, Rush is mind-numbed because he hasn’t studied Church teaching carefully.
When it comes to Church teaching concerning economics, the times, they aren’t a-changin’, despite what the editors of Rolling Stone and other mainstream media outlets proclaim. Pope Francis isn’t going to emerge from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope Wunnerful.
To read Pope Leo XIII’s condemnation of socialism, click on the following link:
To read Pope John Paul II’s critique of socialism and capitalism, click on the following link:
To read Pope Benedict XVI’s critique of socialism and capitalism, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link: