The Motley Monk

The Motley Monk is Fr. Richard Jacobs, O.S.A., a Professor of Public Administration at Villanova University. His academic specialities include: organization theory; leadership ethics; Catholic eduational leadership; and, U.S. Catholic educational history. Fr. Jacobs writes several blogs: "The Motley Monk Omnibus" (http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/); "The Motley Monk's Homilies for Sundays and Holy Days" (http://themotleymonkhomilies.blogspot.com); and, "The Motley Monk's ***** Food" (http://www83.homepage.villanova.edu/richard.jacobs/FOOD/index.html).

It’s raining on the pro-homosexual “marriage” parade…

It’s a tough slog to read Mark Regnerus’ study “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” But, it’s required if one is to properly evaluate whether the findings are the result of “good” social science methods or “junk” social science methods.

The Motley Monk evaluates the study as “good social science,” the findings of which are going to fuel a lot of acrimony on the part of those advocating so-called “homosexual marriage.”

The key finding?

According to Regnerus:

While it is certainly accurate to affirm that sexual orientation or parental sexual behavior need have nothing to do with the ability to be a good, effective parent, the data evaluated herein using population-based estimates drawn from a large, nationally-representative sample of young Americans suggest that it may affect the reality of family experiences among a significant number.

It appears anecdotally that children don’t need a married mother and father to turn out well as adults.  Furthermore, the data gathered in the New Family Structures Study (NFSS) indicates there are many children who “have proven resilient and prevailed as adults in spite of numerous transitions, be they death, divorce, additional or diverse romantic partners, or remarriage.”  That said:

[The] NFSS also clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day. Insofar as the share of intact, biological mother/father families continues to shrink in the United States, as it has, this portends growing challenges within families, but also heightened dependence on public health organizations, federal and state public assistance, psychotherapeutic resources, substance use programs, and the criminal justice system.

Whoa!  The best home environment in which to raise children is one with a married mother and father who remain married?

There’s more:

  • There are “statistically significant” differences in 25 of 40 outcomes between adult children who grew up with married, heterosexual parents and those who grew up with a mother who had a homosexual relationship.
  • Households led by parents of either sex who are engaged in homosexual relationships demonstrate greater household instability.
  • Children from lesbian households demonstrate more physical and mental health problems, more instability in romantic relationships, and lower average income as adults. In addition, children from these households also demonstrate higher levels of unemployment, smoking, need for public assistance, and involvement in crime.

The critics haven’t allowed these findings to go unchallenged…so much so that a group of 18 eminent social scientists have criticized the “sustained and sensational criticism” voiced by the mainstream media concerning the study’s findings.  Asserting that the study is “not without limitations,” the scholars claim that much of the criticism is “unwarranted.”

According to Catholic News Service, the study’s findings are consistent with other studies of homosexual couples in countries like the Netherlands and Sweden and are “parallel” to those of the American Institutes for Research sociologist Daniel Potter.  Potter studied homosexual parenting and children’s academic achievement, finding that children in homosexual parent families scored lower than their peers in married households with both biological parents.

Interestingly, much of the criticism has nothing to do with the study’s methodology but with the how study is being used to promote an anti-homosexual “marriage” agenda.

 

 

To read the study, click on the following link:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610

To read the Catholic News Service article, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/scholars-defend-findings-of-difficulties-among-same-sex-parented-children/

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Has the Austrian hierarchy “had it”?

Although the undercurrents have been there for decades and similar ideas and conduct transpires beneath the radar, dissident U.S. Catholic priests had better observe what’s happening in Austria—where 10% of the clergy have formed a dissident group named “Call to Disobedience”—before signing documents espousing their heterodox ideas and conduct.

What does the Austrian group propose?

Similar to American dissident priests, Austrian dissident priests have for decades formed groups that publicly have advocated “reforms,” including the ordination of women and abolishing clerical celibacy.  More recently, they have publicly pledged to break Church rules by giving Holy Communion to Protestants and divorced Catholics who remarry.

 

The dissident priests’ policies are popular in Austria, with public opinion polls demonstrating broad support for them.

But, “the times…they are a’ changing.”

In May, the Archbishop of Vienna , Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, priests in May that dissidents would not be appointed to the post of dean and those who would be coming up for renewal would have to choose between Church teaching or their group’s “reform” campaign.

Clarifying matters, an archdiocesan spokesman Nikolaus Haselsteiner said:

You can easily remain a member of the Priests’ Initiative. You must only distance yourself from the “Call to Disobedience” in an appropriate way.

In an average company, a department head can’t say he doesn’t care what the CEO says.

According to a Reuters report, one priest has withdrawn his support for the reform campaign and kept his job.  Two or three more have yet to decide whether to withdraw their support from the manifesto.  But, the Reverend Peter Meidinger—a founding member of the group issuing the Manifesto—has stepped down from the post of dean rather than renounce the “Call to Disobedience” manifesto.  Meidinger said:

I spoke to the archbishop and perhaps you cannot say I had to choose, but I had the impression that there was no way out for me so I am stepping down and freeing up the spot.

For me what is important is the Priests’ Initiative and not the term “disobedience.”  The term civil disobedience is used when the leaders are simply not prepared to listen to people.

Yes, that’s what the problem has been: The hierarchy is “not prepared” to listen to the people.

 

The Motley Monk is wondering if the opposite is more likely the case.  Namely, might it be that the hierarchy has listened long and patiently and finally has decided “enough is enough”?

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn

Will Cardinal Schoenborn’s more confrontational approach to dealing with dissident priests be exported to the United States?

Time will tell.

 

 To read the Reuters report, click on the following link:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/27/us-austria-catholic-priests-idUSBRE85Q0ZO20120627

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

The “Fortnight for Freedom” and established religion…

With the Catholic Church in the United States deep into its “Fortnight for Freedom,” The Motley Monk thinks it useful to contemplate the blessing of religious liberty called the “Establishment Clause” and the “Free Exercise Clause.”  That is, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Other nations aren’t so richly blessed.

Grundtvig’s Church, Denmark

Take Denmark, for example, where the Vatican Insider reports that Parliament recently voted 85 to 24 to compel churches in the established Evangelical Lutheran Church to perform homosexual “marriage” ceremonies—identical to those performed for heterosexual couples—inside their sanctuaries.  The new law took effect on June 15th.

One third of the denomination’s ministers say they will not participate in these rituals and may use the law’s “opt out for theological reasons” clause to do so.  However, a bishop must arrange for a replacement.

Okay, The Motley Monk “gets it.”  The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark is an established church and, in fact, has been Denmark’s established church since 1849.  As such, Denmark’s House of Parliament is free to exert its will upon the church as it pleases.  If a minister won’t do what Parliament demands, Parliament has every right to tell the bishop to do what Parliament demands.

Thank God that’s not how it works in the United States.

But, this particular establishment story doesn’t end there.

Better yet is the genesis of the legislation establishing homosexual “marriages” in Denmark’s established church.

The bill’s primary sponsor was Denmark’s Minister of Equality and Church and Nordic Cooperation, Manu Sareen. 

Manu Sareen

Mr. Sareen is an agnostic.

The Motley Monk is down on his knees thanking God for the blessing of religious liberty. 

 

To read the Vatican Insider article, click on the following link:
http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/blog-san-pietro-e-dintorni-en/detail/articolo/15837/ 

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

 

Are vouchers for Catholic schools the answer?

Consider the following statistics:

  • Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago saw enrollment increase 3% in 2012 and 1% in 2011—the first two-year period of growth since 1965.  Archdiocese of Boston elementary schools had a 2% bump—the first in two decades.  The Archdioceses of Los Angeles and Indianapolis and the Diocese of Bridgeport (CN) also increased in student population for the first time in a very long time.
  • Since 2000, U.S. Catholic school enrollment has plummeted by 23% and 1.9k schools have closed.  However, the rate of decline in the number of Catholic schools has slowed.  In 2012, 2M students attended Catholic schools, down 1.7% from 2011, but less than the average yearly decline of 2.5% since 2000.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that much of this growth is due to the increasing availability of vouchers, which ease the financial burden on parents of sending their kids to non-public schools. 

For example:

  • Vouchers are currently available in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana each created or expanded voucher or tax credit programs in the last 18 months.
  • Indiana boasts the largest voucher system in the nation.  More than 2.4k students have transferred from public schools to private Catholic schools since the program began last year.

Perhaps this “success” is for entirely the wrong reason.

While voucher programs may have “breathed new life” into Catholic schools while simultaneously offering students the opportunity to receive a superior education, are those schools decidedly Catholic?  And if it is claimed they are, how so?

Let’s try a couple of “not’s”:

  • A good private school that calls itself Catholic isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school that offers a generic or optional Christian religion curriculum isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school that doesn’t immerse students in the faith and its practice isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school whose faculty, administration, and staff don’t believe what the Church teaches isn’t a Catholic school. 

Then, let’s try a couple “what’s”:

  • A Catholic school is one whose faculty, administration, and staff view their work as a vocation and collaborate together in the ministry of providing young people an integral education—mind and soul—as that is informed by Church teaching.
  • A Catholic school is one whose students grow in love of God and neighbor through the practice of the Sacraments and communal prayer.
  • A Catholic school is one where students learn about the Catholic religion and appreciate its role in salvation history.

The Motley Monk would rather there be no “quasi” Catholic schools than an increase in good private schools that masquerade as Catholic, take government money, and in the process, erode the important and distinctive mission of Catholic education.

 

 

To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304821304577440763188839928.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Ideology trumps reporting…

In a National Review Online article, Ann Carey summarizes the mainstream media’s reaction to and fallout from the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

In short, the reporting reveals “ignorance/laziness/bias.”

No surprise there, because this lack of reporting of the facts furthers the mainstream media’s ongoing “David versus Goliath” narrative.  Except, of course in this version, it’s “All of those poor, disrespected, and enslaved Sisters versus THE male Vatican apparatchiks.”

One difficulty with this narrative, at least as it’s being reported by the mainstream media, is that most of those Sisters don’t belong to LCWR.  According to Carey:

The grassroots sisters in religious orders do not belong to LCWR, and have neither voice nor vote in the organization. Many of these sisters have told me they resent the LCWR claiming it represents them.

Then, too, Carey points out that most of the mainstream media has ignored the serious doctrinal problems identified by the CDF, indicating a “rejection of faith.”  These include: undermining the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture as well as embracing radical feminism.  As Carey notes:

These are all major doctrines of the Catholic Church, not just “basic, nonheretical questions about gender equality in the church,” as the Times editorial claims.

The Motley Monk notes that in this narrative—pitting the Church’s mission against a secularist agenda—the mainstream media doesn’t seem to be much interested in reporting the facts.  After all, the ideological target is the Church, which may explain why those facts aren’t being reported.

 

Worse yet, Carey thinks, the truth may be that those who are reporting the story may not have even read the CDF’s documentation.

 

To read Ann Carey’s article, click on the following link:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/301714/nun-too-accurate-reporting-ann-carey#

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Something “new” for Catholic high schools in Cleveland: A radical, revamped Catholic religion curriculum…

 

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Diocese of Cleveland has “revamped” its high school religion curriculum which will be implemented when school reopens this fall.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who grew up in the pre-Vatican II era is that the term “revamped” today means “redoux.”  Gone is the post-Vatican II ”God loves you, so feel good doing it” religious education curriculum which stressed the many and varied pathways to salvation.  The revamped curriculum will feature a traditional Catholic religion curriculum that stresses orthodoxy and moral clarity.

 

The Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Cleveland, Margaret Lyons, says the revamped program will be “Gospel-centered” and “very orthodox.”  In addition, the revamped teaching materials have expunged any “shyness about talking about moral issues” and will convey concepts “known to previous generations of Catholics but absent from more recent instruction.”  The Motley Monk would note that means many of the catechetical “noun-ing’s” representative of that era—”faithing,” “theologizing,” and “deconstructing”—are “out.” 

Moral clarityVery orthodox?  No shyness?

Omigosh!  This is radical!

While the revamped curriculum “underscores Jesus Christ and the Paschal Mystery” as the source of salvation, students will “read and [will be] guided through Church documents” and if it’s to be believed…

They [will be] taught the role and importance of the Magisterium in guarding and passing on the faith, as well as being a sure guide to positive thinking and behavior.

Additionally, students [will be] instructed in ancient prayer practices used throughout the Church’s two thousand years of history, including the Rosary, Lectio Divina, meditation, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Psalms, litanies and readings in Sacred Scripture.

Omigosh, again!  Magisterium? A sure guide?

What happened to magisterium of the vox populi Dei?

Superintendent Lyons also says the purpose of the revamped curriculum is to cultivate an enduring and lifelong faith, one that’s capable of standing up to cultural secularism and moral relativism.

Wasn’t that called forming “the Church militant” in a previous era?

 

Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon
Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland (OH)

 

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the revamped religion curriculum comes in response to concerns raised by teachers and clergy about the quality of religious instruction in local Catholic schools.  After being appointed Bishop of Cleveland in 2006, Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon listened and assessed the situation, a process that resulted in the 2012 revamped religion curriculum based upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church and guidelines from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Motley Monk will be watching closely to see if Cleveland’s revamped Catholic religion curriculum will demonstrate significantly better learning outcomes than the post-Vatican II religious education curriculum did.  Since the 1970s, the National Catholic Educational Association’s Assessment of Catechesis and Religious Education has demonstrated very little difference in outcomes between students attending Catholic schools and those attending CCD programs.  All along, the dirty little secret everyone knew—including the nation’s Catholic hierarchy—was that few young Catholics learned anything demonstrably Catholic during those decades.

At a minimum, future graduates from Cleveland’s Catholic high schools will hopefully know something about the Catholic faith and its practice.  That certainly would represent one important step in the right direction.

After all, knowing little-to-nothing about the Catholic faith and its practice, whatever became of the vast majority of those graduates of Catholic high schools students who were taught the post-Vatican II religious education curriculum?

One thing is certain: They surely aren’t attending Sunday Mass but want those big, expensive church weddings…what has been called “an important catechetical moment.”

 

 

To read the Cleveland Plain Dealer article, click on the following link:
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/06/cleveland-area_catholic_high_s.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

More on the “instruction”: Sr. Margaret Farley, RSM fires back…

It didn’t take long for the New York Times to report a statement issued by Sister Margaret Farley, RSM, whose 2006 book concerning sexual ethics was deemed unfit for Catholic consumption.

In her statement, Sr. Farley wrote:

I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.

Sr. Farley is a crafty thinker.  Note her use of the phrase “official Catholic teaching.”

Invoking that phrase, Sr. Farley communicates something subtle: She was not intending to write a book that would reflect what the Vatican teaches.

Crafty indeed!

What Sr. Farley is distinguishing between is what the Vatican teaches about sexual ethics and what she believes is an authentically Catholic sexual ethics.

At the same time, however, those who serve on Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) also happen to be clever.  Its members possess decades of experience in spotting such crafty linguistic games.

The Motley Monk thinks this distinction earned Sr. Farley a slap on the wrist.  After all, the CDF’s instruction makes clear there is no authentic Catholic teaching that is not official Catholic teaching.

In contrast, Sr. Farley would like others to believe that her book is eminently suitable for Catholics, even though it does not present official Church teachings. That’s unacceptable to the CDF.

Consequently, if Sr. Farley wants to write ecumenical theology, she remains free to do so.  But if her theology does not square with the teaching of the Magisterium, then Sr. Farley should expect that the CDF will not allow Sr. Farley—or any Catholic theologian who plays the same crafty linguistic game—to pass her speculations off as suitable for Catholics.

In short, “Just Love” is not suitable for Catholics to use to form their consciences.

 

 

To read the New York Times article, click on the following link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/us/sister-margaret-farley-denounced-by-vatican.html?_r=2&hp

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
 http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith slaps Sr. Margaret A. Farley, RSM, on the hand…

In a notification dated March 30, 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated that the book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics” written by Sister Margaret A. Farley, RSM, contains “erroneous propositions, the dissemination of which risks grave harm to the faithful.”

In her 2006 book, the CDF states that Sr. Farley—now retired from the faculty at Yale Divinity School—”does not present a correct understanding of the role of the Church’s Magisterium as the teaching authority of the Bishops united with the Successor of Peter, which guides the Church’s ever deeper understanding of the Word of God as found in Holy Scripture and handed on faithfully in the Church’s living tradition.” 

In addition, Sr. Farley’s treatment of specific moral issues—including masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage, and the problem of divorce and remarriage—are erroneous and ambiguous.  The CDF notes:

…either ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others. Such an attitude is in no way justified, even within the ecumenical perspective that she wishes to promote. Sr. Farley also manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law, choosing instead to argue on the basis of conclusions selected from certain philosophical currents or from her own understanding of “contemporary experience”. This approach is not consistent with authentic Catholic theology.

Because Sr. Farley’s affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality, the notification states:

The Congregation warns the faithful that her book Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Consequently it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Furthermore the Congregation wishes to encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine.

While the focus of the notification is the content of Sr. Farley’s book, The Motley Monk notes that Pope Benedict XVI approved it and ordered its publication.

Might this notification, approved and ordered before what The Motley Monk called the “hostile takeover” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, provide another signal that the Vatican is going to take a more activist stance in “truth in labeling”?

The warning is gentle, but it’s there.

The CDF wants to ”encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine.”

 

To read the CDF’s notification, click on the following link:
http://www.news.va/en/news/cdf-publishes-notification-on-book-just-love

To read The Motley Monk’s post on the hostile takeover of the LCWR, click on the following link:
http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/01/the-vatican-vs-the-good-sisters/

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Attempting to advance the ball, the President of the University of Notre Dame drops it…

Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about:  it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services.  Many of our faculty, staff and students—both Catholic and non-Catholic—have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives.  As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs.

This is part of what the President of the University of Notre Dame (UND), the Reverend John Jenkins, CSC, had to say in a statement explaining his decision that UND would file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.  The lawsuit concerns the so-called “Obamacare mandate” promulgated by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who just happens to be a UND honorary degree recipient.

The explanation, posted to Fr. Jenkins’ page on the official UND website, articulates a position that many Catholics are familiar with and take for granted.  That is, as long as in their consciences Catholics believe that conduct contrary to Church moral teaching is moral, they are free to engage in that immoral conduct because they believe it is moral.

 

The Motley Monk is no moral theologian or canon lawyer, but he is able to read and is saddened in reading Fr. Jenkins’ comments.

Why?

Fr. Jenkins contradicts long-standing, Magisterially defined Catholic moral teaching concerning artificial contraception (cf. 1989 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “The moral norm of ‘Humanae Vitae’ and pastoral duty“).  In sum, Catholics do not possess a “right” to conscientiously dissent from defined Catholic moral teaching concerning the use of artificial  contraception.  After all, in the Catholic view, “rights” devolve not from man—bolstered by science, theology, and the social sciences or public opinion—but from God.

For a President of a Catholic university or college—especially one who is an ordained priest—to state otherwise promotes a false impression, ultimately creating or furthering serious confusion and ambiguity among the Catholic faithful, in particular. Rather than upholding the Church’s credibility in teaching matters concerning faith and morals, statements like that of Fr. Jenkins only provide ammunition to those who are opposed to the Church’s teaching.

It would have helped Fr. Jenkins had he grasped, in particular, the meaning of the CDF document’s reiteration of Pope Paul VI’s words to priests:

Worth recalling here are the words which Paul VI addressed to priests: “It is  your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to expound the Church’s teaching with regard to marriage in its entirety and with complete frankness. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the Magisterium of the Church, For, as you know, the Pastors of the Church enjoy a special light of the Holy Spirit in teaching the  truth (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 25)” (Humanae Vitae, n. 26).

Priests are called to lead by defending the Church and its moral teaching, calling the faithful to greater fidelity to the truth as defined by the Magisterium.  This is especially true of priests who are appointed to lead Catholic universities and colleges.

While The Motley Monk applauds Fr. Jenkins in his attempt to advance the ball upfield in the U.S. Catholic Church’s current battle with the Obama administration concerning religious liberty, The Motley Monk thinks Fr. Jenkins dropped the ball when it came to his statement explaining his rationale.

 

And people wonder why the critics contend that U.S. Catholic higher education is “Catholic in Name Only”?

 

 

To read Fr. Jenkins’ statement, click on the following link:
http://president.nd.edu/communications/a-message-from-father-jenkins-on-the-hhs-lawsuit/

To read the CDF document, click on the following link:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19890216_norma-morale_en.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

The Obama administration’s attack on religious freedom: The Second Vatican Council’s “spirit of ecumenism” at work…

 

When he was a seventh grader, The Motley Monk recalls his homeroom teacher, Sr. Gerald Francis, OP, making a matter-of-fact statement that caught The Motley Monk’s attention.

“God will not be mocked,” Sr. Gerald Francis said.

That may very well be what’s playing out in an ironic way in the United States today.

How?

It seems to The Motley Monk that President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have done more than many on the Catholic left be might be capable of imagining: They’re fostering the Second Vatican Council’s much-touted “spirit of ecumenism”—and, in particular, a spirit of moral outrage—to refocus the nation upon traditional Christian moral values.

Advancing the Second Vatican Council’s
“spirit of ecumenism”?

 

Imagine the nation’s Catholic, Baptist, Orthodox Jew, Orthodox Christian, Mormon and other religious leaders gathering in the early 20th century to discuss the state of religious freedom in the United States and to develop a plan to confront this moral malignancy.  They wouldn’t gather to pray!

Yet, according to an article in the Church Report, that’s exactly what happened at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program which sponsored a daylong summit on Thursday, May 24th.

The Chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Richard Land, perhaps expressed best the participants’ sentiments when he said:

We must all be willing to stand up and tell the government “No.”  Secularists don’t like people of faith because the ultimate authority for us is not the state.  The ultimate authority is God.

Of course, detractors will continue to portray the nation’s Catholic bishops as being controlled by a “minority” of conservatives whose primary backers are Curia officials in Rome and whose less-than-thinly-veiled intention is to compel women to submit to Rome’s moral dictates.  Thank you, for more of the “same old, same old” insightful analysis, Mo’.

But, The Motley Monk would note, that’s evidence of a very different agenda—whose specific action items include agitating for abortion, artificial contraception, and women’s ordination—rather than the specific agenda the nation’s Catholic bishops have focused upon: the Obama administration’s unprecedented attack on religious freedom.

Archbishops Lori and Dolan

 

This broader issue is tangential to that other agenda with its action items.  The focus is the attack upon the freedom of religious groups to hire employees of their choice as well as the rights of orthodox believers to abstain from activities forbidden by their religious beliefs.

The threat is real.  Not just for Catholics but also for those who believe in and uphold traditional Judaeo-Christian morality.

“God won’t be mocked.”

That President Obama and his Catholic HHS Secretary have pushed an anti-traditional Judaeo-Christian moral agenda that advances the Church’s ecumenical agenda would be a “delicious” irony.

 

 

To read the article in the Church Report, click on the following link: http://www.thechurchreport.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=siteContent.default&objectID=155162

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Is the American press anti-Catholic?

While it’s easy to paint any institution—like the press—with the broad brush strokes and to pretend the portrait accurately depicts the entire institution, The Motley Monk thinks it pretty safe to say the general impression of the U.S. public is that the national press is basically liberal in terms of its members’ political leanings and is also generally not balanced when it comes to reporting issues concerning Roman Catholic teaching.

This lack of balance is something liberals and conservatives might actually agree upon.  Liberals because they enjoy having the press report their point of view.  And conservatives because they are angry because they feel cheated because their point of view isn’t being reported.

In light of this broad brush portrait and observation, The Motley Monk was pleasantly surprised to read the ombudsman for the Washington Post, Patrick B. Pexton, taking time in an op-ed to respond directly to the question: “What would lead so many Washington Post readers during the past six months to conclude that the newspaper is anti-Catholic?”

That’s a great question, no?

Pexton’s conclusion—following a bit of the expected institutional self-defense—revealed more than bit of refreshing candor, in The Motley Monk’s opinion.

Concerning the critics’ charge that the Washington Post is anti-Catholic, Pexton wrote:

They have a point. There are deep divisions within the church that Post  reporting should accurately reflect. But sometimes The Post’s reporting and even  editorials fall short in conveying the passion with which many Catholics hold  their views, whether they be against the contraception mandate, gay marriage,  abortion or in favor of aid to the poor. It doesn’t mean that Post reporters or  editorialists have to embrace those views, but they should accurately explain  them in a ways all readers can understand. That, after all, is also part of  getting at the truth.

The Motley Monk thinks Mr. Pexton is absolutely correct.

To be a “free press,” its members will always hold personal opinions—both pro and con—about the various matters they report.  But, if the press is to remain “free” and exercise its “watchdog” function, its members must not be beholden to any particular interest or ideology that would cause any of them to distort the facts they are reporting.

A free press reports the whole and entire truth as it’s currently understood, supporting reportage with all of the relevant facts.

As an institution, perhaps the Washington Post isn’t anti-Catholic.  However, The Motley Monk wasn’t persuaded by Paxton’s institutional self-defense which included the number of Catholics and members of the Catholic hierarchy whose op-ed columns are published in the Washington Post. The number of Catholics who contribute to a newspaper, whether they are liberal or conservative, doesn’t guarantee a newspaper is “getting at the truth.”

Likewise, what guarantees that the Washington Post is “getting at the truth” isn’t that its reporters “get Catholics,” as conservative Catholics as well as the members of the hierarchy at the Archdiocese of Washington and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opined to Mr. Pexton as he was cobbling together his op-ed.

Getting at the truth requires that every Washington Post reporter—not its op-ed contributors—report the facts.  They mustn’t allow any particular bias to interfere with reporting those facts as objectively as is possible…as is expected of any press that would dare to call itself “free.”

 

 

To read Patrick Pexton’s op-ed in the Washington Post, click on the following link:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/does-the-post-hate-catholics/2012/05/18/gIQAsfyVZU_story.html?wpisrc=nl_hdlns_wknds

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

So it’s wink and nod…and provide them cover….

 

In an extraordinarily interesting post at CatholicCulture.org, Phil Lawler raises the question “Is the New York Times protecting dissident priests?”

Lawler’s post is written in response to a New York Times article concerning religious attitudes toward so-called “homosexual marriage”in which the author, Terry Mattingly, noted:

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin, but there are Catholic priests who secretly bless gay unions.

That dependent clause contain a bombshell—which Lawler describes as being treated almost as an “afterthought”—and raises a very important issue.  Mattingly observes:

If, in fact, the Times has factual material about Catholic priests blessing same-sex relationships and unions then this is clearly the most important news angle in this piece. This is a major news story, buried deep in a related news report.

However, note that this claim (which I do not doubt, by the way) appears with absolutely no context, no attribution, no clue as to the source of this information. The Times does not even claim to be printing this information based on anonymous sources who requested protection from the Vatican. This is most strange.

Assuming that Mattingly’s article is accurate, Catholic priests are blessing so-called “homosexual marriages.”

That wouldn’t surprise The Motley Monk.  But, if that is the case, Lawler notes:

…these priests are clearly acting in defiance of the Church: the institution they claim to serve. That defiance would constitute a major news story, not merely an observation to be made in passing.

Lawler asks: Why doesn’t the New York Times provide the evidence? After all, that would be news, no?  He adds:

Any Times reporter who actually witnessed a Catholic priest blessing a homosexual union, or heard a credible first-hand report of such an event, should have written a news story about it, and that story should have appeared on the front page. That didn’t happen.

Why not?

Lawler observes that the New York Times may be protecting dissenting priests from ecclesiastical discipline for three possible reasons:

  1. The New York Times reported something as fact when it had no solid evidence. (The Motley Monk thinks “Unlikely.”)
  2. The New York Times had solid evidence, but withheld it because the priests demanded anonymity. (The Motley Monk thinks “Likely.”)
  3. The New York Times knows of priests who have blessed homosexual unions, and those priests did not request.  But, the New York Times decided not to identify them anyway. (The Motley Monk thinks “Perhaps.”)

While Lawler believes the third reason provides the most likely explanation, The Motley Monk doesn’t.  The Motley Monk thinks it more likely that those priests who celebrate so-called “homosexual marriages” requested anonymity.

After all, there are many priests who dissent from a variety of Church teachings.  Think of those who “bless” the marriages divorced persons whose previous marriages haven’t been annulled.  There also are those priests who advise their parishioners that using artificial birth control is “completely moral.”  Then, too, there are those priests who participate at faux Masses celebrated by so-called “women priests.”  Why should it be any different for those priests who believe that so-called “homosexual marriage” should be a sacrament?

What many of these priests who dissent from these Church teachings absolutely don’t want is that their dissent be made public by the New York Times or any other news organization.

Why?

It would endanger their status as public ministers of the Roman Catholic Church.

So, it’s wink and nod…and provide dissenting priests cover.

And The Motley Monk wouldn’t be surprised if many of their bishops happen to know it.

 

 

To read Phil Lawler’s post at CatholicCulture.org, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=912

To read Terry Mattingly’s article in the New York Times, click on the following link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/us/gay-marriage-issue-divides-churches.html?_r=1

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

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