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: organizational theory; leadership ethics; Catholic educational leadership; and, U.S. Catholic educational history. Check out Fr. Jacobs' daily blog at http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html.

Did Cardinal Dolan step into the middle of a mess? Not really, despite his critics…

 

If four critics are correct, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan stepped into the middle of a mess when he said on last Sunday’s NBC’s “Meet the Press” that if not for the Obamacare’s treatment of undocumented immigrants, provisions that require Catholics to violate the dictates of their consciences, and abortion, Catholics would be among the loudest “cheerleaders” for Obamacare.

Concerning Obamacare, Cardinal Dolan said:

We bishops are really in kind of a tough place because we’re for universal, comprehensive. life-affirming healthcare. We, the bishops of the United States–can you believe it, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal health care. That’s how far back we go in this matter, okay. So we’re not Johnny-come-latelys.

We’ve been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time. So we were kind of an early supporter in this. Where we started bristling and saying, “Uh-oh, first of all this isn’t comprehensive, because it’s excluding the undocumented immigrant and it’s excluding the unborn baby,” so we began to bristle at that.

And then secondly we said, “And wait a minute, we who are pretty good Catholics who are kind of among the pros when it comes to providing healthcare, do it because of our religious conviction, and because of the dictates of our conscience, and now we’re being asked to violate some of those.”

So that’s when we began to worry and draw back and say, “Mr. President, please, you’re really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. We want to be with you, we want to be strong. And if you keep doing this, we’re not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders.” And that, sadly, is what happened.

The Cardinal’s narrative didn’t set well with the President of the Media Research Center, L. Brent Bozell. In an interview with CNSNews.com, Bozell asked:

Who is the “we” in this conversation? Certainly not the Catholic Church.

It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church is one of Obamacare’s greatest supporters. It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church “wants to be” with Mr. Obama on this. It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church wants to be a cheerleader for a policy sold to the public through deceit, with projections that were false, and based on a formula that is guaranteed not to succeed.

I say this respectfully: Your Eminence, you speak for yourself here, not the Church.

Bozell is correct. Cardinal Dolan doesn’t speak for the Church, even when he was the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, Bozell went a bit far afield in his criticism because Cardinal Dolan specified three moral issues–lines in the sand, so to speak–that make it impossible for Catholics to support Obamacare.

The Cardinal’s narrative also didn’t sit well with the long-time Dolan critic, the President of the American Life League, Judie Brown. According to CNSNews.com, she said:

How dare he say that Catholics should be “cheerleaders” of Obamacare. He’s a pathetic example of a shepherd of the Catholic Church.

A bit strong, no?  “Pathetic”?

Brown didn’t back down. The hierarchy’s failure to stand against the total opposition to Catholic teaching by prominent Catholics in the Obama administration–Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, specifically–and to unite their flock against the passage of Obamacare, means they now have to deal with the contraceptive mandate. She added:

[Dolan] is a media darling. They promote him as the preeminent Catholic speaker in the U.S. because they know what he’s saying suits their agenda, not what the Church teaches.

I’ve known Dolan for over 20 years, since he was the archbishop of Milwaukee, and it has not been what you would call a friendly relationship. That’s because I was one of the original authors of the campaign to get the bishops in the United States to follow Canon Law 915 and deny Communion to people who were persisting in the public promotion of a grave evil, such as abortion. Cardinal Dolan has never agreed to enforce 915.

If the courts uphold the contraceptive mandate, Brown believes the hierarchy will back off. She predicts:

It’s so very sad. The Catholic Church has the ability to shut down the Obamacare mandate. It would go away if they shut the doors of every Catholic facility, but they won’t–and Obama knows they won’t.

Unfortunately, Ms. Brown misquoted Cardinal Dolan. He did not state that Catholics should be cheerleaders but that they would have been cheerleaders for Obamacare if not for those three moral issues. Who’s to know if Catholics would have been? Cardinal Dolan is entitled to his opinion.

Not one to shy away from voicing his opinion, the founder of Church Militant TV, Michael Voris–who believes Obamacare would not have passed if Cardinal Dolan and other members of the U.S. hierarchy had actively opposed it–had this to say:

I just continue to be deeply disappointed in [Dolan]. They don’t want to rock the boat. They run the Church like it’s a corporation. Less than five U.S. bishops said, “We will defy this.” The other 300 said nothing, and a good number of them quietly supported it. They won’t make the tough choices. They’re constantly siding with a pro-abortion, liberal, socialist-minded agenda.

The Faith has been watered down. It’s like the 11th Commandment is “Never give offense”–and the other 10 have been erased.

Voris is absolutely correct. When the hierarchy is divided and does not speak with a united and forceful voice, opponents of Church teaching are always more likely to prevail in the public square.

Then, there’s the professor of political science at Christendom College, Dr. Christopher Manion, who has been examining the relationship between the U.S. Catholic bishops and federal government. Ever since World War I, Manion believes, the Catholic Church and the federal government have been “joined at the hip.”

In the CNSNews.com interview, Manion cited a March 31, 2012 Wall Street Journal article in which Cardinal Dolan admitted that the Church’s sex abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality.” Manion said: “They lack fortitude. They haven’t taught morality in 50 years.”

Manion fears the hierarchy will back down concerning contraceptive mandate. He said:

I only pray they do the right thing under tremendous pressure. There is a powerful temptation not to, and reasons that can be easily rationalized.

If Manion’s observations about Cardinal Dolan and the U.S. hierarchy are correct, for the past five decades the nation’s bishops have not been obsessing over social issues. Many disagree with that opinion.

The banner headline resulting from the “Meet the Press” interview was Cardinal Dolan’s statement that Catholics had been “out-marketed” in the battle over so-called “homosexual marriage.”  But, the real headline is the opposition his statement that Catholics would have been “cheerleaders” for Obamacare–excepting three moral issues–has stirred. Unfortunately, much of that criticism is unwarranted.

 

 

To read the CNSNews.com article, click on the following link:
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/catholics-criticize-cardinal-dolan-lamenting-catholics-couldve

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

“Liberalthink” and the ideology of public education…

 

If liberalism was a religion, it’s parishes would be the nation’s public schools and its catechism would be the curriculum. Any evidence of their failure would be systematically denied, if only because “What happens in church must stay in church!” or “Who are you to question what we teach?”

Sounds a little bit like the Catholic clergy abuse scandal, no?

Back to the point. A short while back, Allison Benedikt published an article in Slate entitled “If You Send Your Child To A Private School, You Are A Bad Person.” Ms. Benedikt basically argues that parental choice in terms of what school their children should attend is a very bad thing, evidencing not “murder bad” but “pretty bad” parents.  She writes:

If every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve…It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

What a gem of logic!

  • it could take generations“…(in English) parents should subject the children of this generation to a subpar education that results in high dropout rates and poor tests scores.
  • Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime“…(in English) education doesn’t really matter in the short run so providing a subpar education in this generation really won’t matter.
  • for the eventual common good“…(in English) we are all in this together, comrades, enduring a little short-term pain for some long-term hopium is a good thing.

Benedikt believes the body politic would do impoverished children a great favor by keeping them trapped in a failed educational system (especially in the nation’s urban areas) if only the body politic would pour all of its children into that system.

That’s nothing more than liberalthink! If the rich get all of the goods, the poor will suffer. So, let’s distribute the suffering equitably by tossing every child into the same failed system. Then, the long-term good will eventually be achieved.

What Ms. Benedikt’s ideology disallows is the fact that per-pupil spending in the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools has increased 18% between 2000 and 2010. Today, there are more teachers, more reading specialists, more social workers, more assistant principals and principal, and yes, more computers.

But, guess what?

For that investment of an additional $1.9+B on the part of 48% of the body politic, standardized test scores have not improved. Except for many of those impoverished students whose parents have taken advantage of various voucher schemes.

When parents are allowed to choose where their children will get the best education–giving the “public” choice–marketplace competition produces better results than a government monopoly.

The Motley Monk wouldn’t ever call Ms. Benedikt “a very bad person” because she believes in the ideology of public education. That would be an illogical, ad hominem argument. Deluded, perhaps, Misguided, perhaps. But, not a “murder bad” or “pretty bad person.”

 

 

To read Allison Benedikt’s article in Slate, click on the following link:
http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/08/private_school_vs_public_school_only_bad_people_send_their_kids_to_private.html

To read the NCES report on spending in the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools, click on the following link:
http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

An object lesson in fearlessness when defending Church teaching…

 

When it comes to controversy, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield (Illinois) is no stranger. This prelate is fearless when defending Church teaching.

According to Breitbart.com, Bishop Paprocki will perform the Rite of Exorcism on Wednesday, November 20, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception located in the state capital. The rite is officially being called “Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage.” Bishop Paprocki believes that so-called “homosexual marriage” is the work of the devil and, in this instance, Satan not only can inhabit people but also can invade the Church and the government. He said:

We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our Church.

On the same day as the Rite of Exorcism, Illinois’ Governor–himself a Roman Catholic, Pat Quinn, is scheduled to sign Illinois’ homosexual marriage bill into law.

paprocki

Bishop Thomas Paprocki
Diocese of Springfield (Illinois)

Bishop Paprocki’s rationale for leading this particular Rite of Exorcism is to follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis who, as an archbishop in Argentina, called the country’s legalization of homosexual marriage “a move of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.” The Bishop said:

The Pope’s reference to “father of lies” comes from the Gospel of John, where Jesus refers to the devil as “a liar and father of lies,” so Pope Francis is saying that same-sex marriage comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.

As The Motley Monk reported in a previous post, it was Bishop Paprocki who used the “b” word to describe praying for so-called homosexual marriage (praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous“) .

The Motley Monk is now wondering how long it will take before  the Rainbow Sash Coalition denounces Bishop Paprocki for following in the Holy Father’s footsteps? 

 

 

To read the article in Breitbart.com, click on the following link:
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/11/16/Illinois-bishop-plans-same-sex-marriage-exorcism

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

Divorce and remarriage among Catholics: Theology, canon law, and Church teaching count…

 

During the past summer, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, wrote two articles concerning Church teaching as it relates to divorce and remarriage among Catholics in a German journal. A slightly reworked text was later published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Then, on his return flight to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis casually mentioned—in off-the-cuff remarks to reporters—that the Church might consider the Orthodox approach, looking toward divine economy (God’s mercy) to resolve the pastoral problem posed by divorce among Catholics. When that comment hit the press, it set off a flurry of speculation that the Church might admit divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacraments.

An office of the Archdiocese of Freiburg ran with the idea, formulating a 14-page pastoral policy and program that would pave the way for remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

That policy proposal earned a rebuke from Archbishop Müller. In a recent letter to the German bishops’ conference, Müller stated that if divorced and remarried Catholics are to receive the sacraments, they must conform to Catholic doctrine regarding the indissolubility of marriage. Müller specifically ruled out the Orthodox option implied in the Freiburg document, namely, a second marriage that is not “crowned,” because this option doesn’t conform to Catholic teaching.

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

While The Motley Monk would hope that a theological and canonical solution to the problem raised by divorce and remarriage among Catholics can be formulated—after all, it isn’t just liberal Catholics who have this hope—the recent pastoral solution proposed in Germany involves an important issue—call it a “head tax”—that liberal Catholics in the United States seem not to consider when advocating the adoption of a pastoral policy.

In Germany, the State collects a tax from every Catholic that is returned to the Church for the upkeep, maintenance, and running of its institutions. Many German Catholics who are in irregular marriages and can’t receive Holy Communion decide to stop participating in the life of the Church. As a result, the Church doesn’t receive the income it would otherwise receive from the State. If those marriages could just be regularized, the Church would reap the financial benefits.

This well-intentioned “pastoral” solution is, in part, a “financial” solution to the cost of maintaining the Church’s institutions in Germany. Archbishop Müller knows that and isn’t going to allow Church teaching to be compromised by financial gain.

Just to make sure everyone understands the Church’s position clearly, the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, had this to say about the Freiburg policy:

Nothing changes, there is no news for the divorced who remarry. The document comes in fact from a local pastoral office and does not touch the responsibility of the bishop. Therefore, it has jumped the gun, and is not the official expression of diocesan authorities.

There is no doubt that this pastoral problem is one Pope Benedict XVI wanted to resolve and Pope Francis seems bent on resolving. The problem with the many policies that have been floated for decades—each attempting to “thread the needle” by calling marriage “indissoluble” while allowing it to be “dissoluble”—don’t work theologically or canonically. Likewise, with the Orthodox solution proposed in off-the-cuff remarks by Pope Francis.

Marriage either is or is not dissoluble, with one exception, the Pauline privilege. And that fact presents problems for those who want it both ways.

That said, this story may have taken a wrong turn.

According to an article by Andrea Tornielli in La Stampa, the Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has criticized Archbishop Müller’s article, writing: “The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot stop the discussions.” Marx also described Archbishop Müller’s as putting a “fence” around Pope Francis’ “field hospital” of mercy.”

Why “a wrong turn?”

Cardinal Marx is a member of Pope Francis’ eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals whose task is to reform the Curia. It may be that the Holy Father has appointed a group of cardinals who may share his vision of the Church’s first duty towards those in society (and especially Catholics) who are wounded by evil. In the name of divine economy, this group may decide to treat and bind up old wounds irrespective of the problems that doing so presents.

At least, that’s what many liberal Catholics hope. Why should theology or canon law—or even, Church teaching—get in the way of how they feel?

 

 

To read the official Vatican transcript of Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff comments, click on the following link:http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130728_gmg-conferenza-stampa_en.html

To read Archbishop Müller’s letter to the German bishops’ conference, click on the following link:http://www.kath.net/news/43656

To read Andrea Torinelli’s article in La Stampa, click on the following link:
http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/muller-divorziati-divorciado-divorced-29616/

To learn about the Pauline privilege, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7272

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

When it comes to student athletes and sexual assault, the Hoyas “get it”…

 

According to an article in Inside Higher Education, what began as a response to incidents of sexual assault at Duke University and the University of Virginia has evolved into a proactive program, the Hoyas Lead program, which joins Georgetown University’s (GU) Athletics, Academics, and Student Services divisions to teach GU athletes to get more out of their sport than just wins. In 2012, GU’s President, John J. DeGioia, created and funded the program using his office’s budget.

About Hoyas Lead, GU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Leadership and Development, Mike Lorenzen, said:

How do we find that balance? Are we just entertainment, or are we really using athletics as a means to a developmental end?

There’s a lot of hoopla generated by schools that are paying lip service to it but not really investing in a day-to-day, rubber meets the road, look the kid in the eye in a variety of situations and help them deal with their lives and capture the essence of their athletic experience.

Lorenzen believes that Hoyas Lead is well-suited to GU’s Jesuit mission, “Utraque unum,” which speaks to unity and educating the whole person.

Hoyas Lead began by bringing in an outside consultant who spoke with students about leadership. Now in its second year, the program has evolved into a comprehensive approach to athlete development includes a curricular component. Although classes are “required,” they’re not technically mandatory with about 140 of 150 new athletes signed up for them. By junior and senior year, athletes aren’t obliged to participate in Hoyas Lead. But, for those who want to do so through a more experiential-based approach, lectures and seminars as well as practical work such as working with kids, mentoring, assistant teaching, etc., are available.

This academic and co-curricular work is complemented by Lorenzen’s consulting teams on their athletic responsibilities. According to Lorenzen:

We have young people who are forced to deal with suffering, discomfort, dealing with adversity, success. They have to learn to follow, they have to learn to lead, and they do all of this in an ongoing, iterative process every day. If you believe that [athletics] truly belongs in higher education, it is a unique lab within which we can practice human development.

Reflecting upon the Hoyas Lead program, Lorenzen said:

At an institution like Georgetown, there is an almost institutionalized sense of inadequacy on the part of student-athletes who know that they got in here because they’re an athlete, and sit in class next to really smart people who got in because of their SATs and their GPAs. A lot of what we’re doing now is helping them see the value that they get out of their sport and reframing their participation in athletics as a really critical life skill.

The Motley Monk offers kudos to the GU Hoyas who have done something proactive to address the potential problem of athletes who commit sexual assault.

 

To read the Inside Higher Education article, click on the following link:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/12/georgetown-takes-comprehensive-approach-athlete-development#ixzz2kRPbsHVD

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:

http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

Omigosh! Public universities to require single-sex dorms and houses…

 

Take a deep breath and calm down!

It’s not going to happen in the United States where the dogma teaches that co-ed dormitories and homes are healthy and good for young adults, even if the practice correlates positively with a skyrocketing increase in more virulent, sexually transmitted diseases.

According to the Associated Press, Turkey’s prime minister is going to segregate male and female students in university dorms and student houses.

Secularists are aghast. How dare Recep Tayyip Erdogan interfere with their lifestyles by imposing his rigid and conservative religious ideology upon them?

The answer is simple: The Prime Minister is an Islamic-leaning conservative who sincerely believes his duty is to support parental wishes in the education of their children and doing so is in the best interests of young people and the state.

Stateside, no President or Governor–even if he or she wanted to–could get away with implementing a similar moral standard. So, the secularists at the nation’s institutions of higher education needn’t fret.

More importantly, however, imagine the outcry if Presidents of Catholic universities and colleges  in the United States–imitating John Garvey of The Catholic University of America–were to be so authoritarian as to impose their conservative religious ideology upon residence life?

 

 

To read the Associated Press report, click on the following link:
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/turkey-separate-males-and-females-dorms

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

Advocates for the Court of Liberal Catholic Public Opinion weigh in…

 

In an amicus curiae filing for the Court of Liberal Catholic Public Opinion in Motley Monk v. +McElroy published over at the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters (MSW) takes The Motley Monk to task for playing what MSW calls a “shell game.” In MSW’s opinion, The Motley Monk’s analysis published in The American Catholic doesn’t delve sufficiently into “the weeds of facticity.”  MSW then goes on to state:

The poverty of so many millions of fellow human beings is also a fact with which the moral law must reckon and +McElroy rightly diagnoses the cultural and political impediments to our recognizing that fact of widespread poverty, and urges us to engage policies that will alleviate it.

According to MSW, Bishop McElroy rightly calls increasing the amount of money that government spends on anti-poverty programs—whether domestic or international—and for the Church to oblige Catholics to make doing so the moral equivalent of the Church’s efforts to eliminate abortion.

Poverty is morally repugnant to any serious Catholic.  Yet, what MSW doesn’t seem to appreciate is that U.S. Catholics should take pride in the fact that for the past five decades the government has directed their hard-earned tax dollars toward eliminating poverty.  But, domestically, to what end?

In 1964, in the opening salvo of the “War on Poverty,” President Johnson declared:

I believe that thirty years from now Americans will look back upon these 1960s as the time of the great American Breakthrough…the victory of prosperity over poverty.

Well, it’s been almost 50 years and there are some facts that ought to be factored into MSW’s considerations.

FACT: Some economists argue that government—both federal and state—has spent $15T to eliminate poverty across the nation in the past 50 years.

Despite the inherent problems in calculating the total outlay, it is estimated (in inflation-adjusted terms) that this figure represents anywhere from 13.3%-15% of the government’s total budget over those years. That’s a lot of money.

FACT: Some economists argue that the poverty rate in 2013 is about 15%. The last time it was this high was in 1993. Perhaps this figure is skewed due to the nation’s recent economic problems, so others argue that the actual poverty rate is more likely 7.2%.

So, let’s split the difference and say the 2013 US rate of poverty is 10%.  That’s about 33M citizens.

To interpret these facts, imagine if President Johnson had declared in 1964:

We will spend $15T over the next 50 years. Our goal will be to get the nation’s poverty rate down to 10%.

The real “shell game” being played is by those whose moral policy platitudes are intended to make Catholics feel guilty, with the goal of inducing them to comply unthinkingly with those moral policy platitudes. In this case, Pecksniffians who would seek to have Catholic bishops obligate Catholics to comply with their policy solution for poverty are evading important facts which demonstrate that theirs is a failed policy solution.

But, that isn’t what really matters because MSW’s amicus curiae brief indicates that he either didn’t read or read carefully enough what The Motley Monk posted at The American Catholic. In that posting, The Motley Monk took Bishop McElroy to task because in his 2005 article in America, His Excellency argued:

The imposition of eucharistic sanctions solely on candidates who support abortion legislation will inevitably transform the church in the United States, in the minds of many, into a partisan, Republican-oriented institution and thus sacrifice the role that the church has played almost alone in American society in advocating a moral agenda that transcends the political divide.

Okay. If the goal is to keep the Court of Liberal Catholic Public Opinion satisfied, it would indeed be wise for the nation’s Catholic bishops not to contest the right of pro-abortion Catholic politicians to receive Holy Communion.

But, then, if this were a true principle used to inform consciences, why ever would Bishop McElroy write in 2013 that the nation’s Catholic bishops should oblige Catholics to support government programs aimed at eliminating poverty?

If this were true, would not the imposition of Eucharistic sanctions solely on candidates who support increasing governmental spending on anti-poverty legislation inevitably transform the Church in the United States, in the minds of many, into a partisan, Democrat-oriented institution and thus sacrifice the role that the Church has played almost alone in American society in advocating a moral agenda that transcends the political divide?

The human species uses the facticity of dollars and sense to determine whether and to ensure that policies aimed at alleviating evils—political, social, economic, and yes, moral—are cost effective.

As an astute commenter responded to The Motley Monk’s post, supporting illegal immigration floods the labor market at a time when the labor participation rate is at its lowest point in 34 years. To support flooding the labor market means driving more Americans into poverty.

Some policy. And the bishops should oblige Catholics to follow it?

 

 

To read The Motley Monk’s post at The American Catholic, click on the following link:
http://the-american-catholic.com/2013/10/24/poverty-and-abortion-on-an-equal-footing/

To read Michael Sean Winter’s post at Nation Catholic Reporter Online, click on the following link:
http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/motley-monk-v-mcelroy

To read The Fact Checker’s evaluation of the facts concerning the nation’s “War on Poverty” at the Washington Post, click on the following link:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/paul-ryans-claim-that-15-trillion-has-been-spent-on-the-war-on-poverty/2013/08/01/b2599058-faf9-11e2-a369-d1954abcb7e3_blog.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

 

Poverty and abortion on an equal footing?

Way back in 2005, then-Msgr. Robert W. McElroy wrote an article published in America in which he argued that Catholic public officials who endorse the legalization of abortion should not be denied communion. The then-Monsignor’s fear? He wrote:

The imposition of eucharistic sanctions solely on candidates who support abortion legislation will inevitably transform the church in the United States, in the minds of many, into a partisan, Republican-oriented institution and thus sacrifice the role that the church has played almost alone in American society in advocating a moral agenda that transcends the political divide.

Msgr. McElroy must have had then-Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in mind when writing that gem.

McElroy

The Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy
Auxiliary Bishop
Archdiocese of San Francisco

Well, that was then and the-now Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, the Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, is once again writing in AmericaThis time, he’s arguing that the Church in the United States “must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues the U.S. Catholic community pursues at this moment in the nation’s history.”

With Pope Francis serving as his inspiration, Bishop McElroy writes:

If the Catholic Church is truly to be a “church for the poor” in the United States, it must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues the Catholic community pursues at this moment in our nation’s history. Both abortion and poverty countenance the deaths of millions of children in a world where government action could end the slaughter. Both abortion and poverty, each in its own way and to its own degree, constitute an assault on the very core of the dignity of the human person, instrumentalizing life as part of a throwaway culture. The cry of the unborn and the cry of the poor must be at the core of Catholic political conversation in the coming years because these realities dwarf other threats to human life and dignity that confront us today.

Arguing that “both abortion and poverty countenance the deaths of millions of children in a world where government action could end the slaughter,” Bishop McElroy asks his readers why, if the sanctity of the unborn human life is a doctrinal issue of the Church and, therefore, requires faithful Catholics to defend it in the public square, Catholics do not feel equally compelled to demand that their government fund social justice programs in the United States and abroad?

To answer that question, a brief review of the reasons McElroy provided in 2005 regarding why political leaders who support abortion legislation should not be denied Holy Communion is necessary:

  • it would be perceived as coercive;
  • it would identify abortion as a specifically Catholic issue and play into the hands of those who accuse the pro-life movement of imposing religious tenets upon Americans;
  • it would make it appear that abortion defines the church’s social agenda; and,
  • it would “cast the church as a partisan actor in the American political system.”

That was then, but now when the issue is “poverty,” McElroy writes in his current piece:

Choices by citizens or public officials that systematically, and therefore unjustly, decrease governmental financial support for the poor clearly reject core Catholic teachings on poverty and economic justice. Policy decisions that reduce development assistance to the poorest countries reject core Catholic teachings. Tax policies that increase rather than decrease inequalities reject core Catholic teachings.

Bishop McElroy’s conclusion? The “categorical nature of Catholic teaching on economic justice is clear and binding” (italics added).

Economic justice trumps justice for the unborn?

In The Motley Monk’s estimation, Bishop McElory is dead wrong for two reasons:

First: In the 2004 memorandum to the U.S. bishops titled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion — General Principles” then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote:

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia. (italics added)

Second: Catholic moral theology holds that moral principles expressed in the negative (“Thou shalt not…”) are generally more binding than moral principles stated in the affirmative (“Thou shalt…”). It’s easy to see why this is the case. A precept expressed in the negative tells me one thing that I may not do, but one expressed in the affirmative does not tell me exactly what I must do; it merely expresses an end goal. For example, the commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother” does not tell me how to do that.

As this principle is applied to abortion, the obligation not to commit abortion has greater moral clarity than, for example, the obligation to provide healthcare for the poor, to solve hunger, or to stop the melting of glaciers. These latter precepts do not imply a clear obligation. Men and women of good will can and will legitimately disagree about the best ways to address issues like healthcare, hunger, and the melting of glaciers.

Congressional as well as United Nations committees debate, and even legislate policies for dealing with issues like these. Individual bishops as well as national bishops’ conferences may very well agree with these policies and propose that Catholics support them. But, bishops cannot morally obligate anyone to do so.

Why not?

If Catholics believe there are better ways to address these issues than through the particular government programs that the bishops support (programs which, by the way, demonstrably involve enormous waste), Catholics are free—arguably, morally obliged—to opt for other ways to reach these laudable ethical goals than the means urged by the bishops.

In contrast, abortion is wrong in an absolute sense. Bishops and national bishops’ conferences can bind the faithful to oppose the legalization and government funding of abortion because the evil involved in the practice is absolutely clear and because defined Church teaching states so.

Examined from this perspective, when Bishop McElory writes that the “categorical nature of Catholic teaching on economic justice is clear and binding,” and deduces from this an obligation morally binding on Catholics to support specific government policies, he is not only wrong but also is making a mockery of Catholic moral theology as well as Catholic magisterial teaching.

The Motley Monk wonders whether Bishop McElroy wants it both ways, just like those Democrat pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

******

To read Bishop McElroy’s recent article in America, click on the following link:
http://www.americamagazine.org/church-poor

To read then-Msgr. McElroy’s article about not denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, click on the following link:
http://americamagazine.org/node/147154

To read then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 memorandum, click on the following link:
http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfworthycom.htm

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

A politically uncorrect Miss World 2013…

 

In an interview on the Filipino news show ANC Headstart, the recently crowned Miss World 2013, Megan Lynn Young, responded to questions about human sexuality.

PHILIPPINES-LIFESTYLE-MISSWORLD-YOUNG

Miss World 2013, Megan Lynn Young
(click on picture to watch the interview)

Concerning a controversial anti-life law making its way through the Philippine courts, Miss Young stated:

Well, I’m pro-life and if it means killing someone that’s already there, then I’m against that, of course. I’m against abortion.

Asked about contraception, she said:

I don’t engage in stuff like that as of now. I think that’s – uh, sex is for marriage. That’s my belief. So, when it comes to the RH bill, as long as my beliefs are no abortion; it should be with your partner for life. Then that’s my stand.

About divorce?

 Divorce. I’m actually against divorce, because I’ve seen, of course, that in my family. So I think that if you marry someone, that should be the person you should be with forever, through sickness and health, through good and bad, you should be with that person.

Then, get this question: “Now, a woman as gorgeous as yourself, how do you say no to sex? “

You just say no. If they try to push you, then you step away because you know that that person doesn’t value you, doesn’t value the relationship as much – and if the guy is willing, you know, to sacrifice that, then that means a lot.

Well, duh!

Espousing those politically uncorrect views, how did Miss Young—born to a Filipino mother and an American father and living in the Philippines—ever get crowned “Miss World 2013”?

More to the point, doesn’t this entire line of questioning say a whole lot more about the interviewer–as representative of the mainstream media–than it does the interviewee?

The Motley Monk “kudos” to Miss World 2013, Megan Lynn Young, for her staunch defense of life!  Hopefully during her year-long reign, this Miss World will be free to continue espousing her politically uncorrect views.

The Obama administration and the myth of “freedom of religion”…

 

Father Ray Leonard spent a decade serving the Tibetan population in China where the regime of the People’s Republic of China didn’t tolerate religious freedom. Of that decade, Fr. Leonard observed:

In China, I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China.

Now serving in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, imagine Fr. Leonard’s surprise when, during the recent government shutdown, the Obama administration prohibited him and nearly 50 other Catholic priests from saying Mass and administering other sacraments at U.S. military facilities around the world. This prohibition was issued despite the fact that Congress had passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a law instructing the Department of Defense (DOD) to keep paying contract employees who were supporting the troops on the job.

chaplain

The rationale for the DOD prohibition?

According to CNSNews.com, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel determined–after consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department–that civilian Catholic priests, working under contract as chaplains, did not, among other things, “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of service personnel. In a memorandum dated October 5, Hagel wrote:

The Department of Defense consulted closely with the Department of Justice, which expressed its view that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians. Under our current reading of the law, the standard of “support to members of the Armed Forces” requires a focus on those employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of covered military members during the lapse of appropriations.

The only civilian contractors who met this standard, Hagel stated, were those working in secular “Family Support Programs and Activities,” “Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention Programs” and “Health Care Activities and Providers.”

Note how those categories could be construed to include abortionists, but not Catholic clergy.

hagel obama

After Hagel published his determination, DOD maintained that the Anti-Deficiency Act barred civilian priests from volunteering to administer the sacraments to Catholic military personnel at military facilities. Thus, in his role as the Catholic chaplain at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, Fr. Leonard was barred from visiting the chapel or his office on the Naval Base beginning October 7, 2013.

Leonard observed:

I never imagined that when I returned home to the United States, that I would be forbidden from practicing my religious beliefs as I am called to do, and would be forbidden from helping and serving my faith community.

Fr. Leonard didn’t take Hagel’s prohibition sitting down and filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, the Defense Secretary, the Department of the Navy, and the Navy Secretary. Leonard’s suit alleges that the Obama administration is violating his and his congregation’s First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of assembly.

With the government shutdown over, Fr. Leonard’s lawsuit is moot.  But, the Obama administration’s secular, anti-freedom of religion ideology remains.

 

 

To read the CNSNews.com report, click on the following link:
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/terry-jeffrey/dod-bars-50-priests-administering-sacraments-locks-eucharist-priest-sues

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog “Omnibus,” click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

A difference in tone or volume, but not in substance…

 

There’s a Washington Post article that’s been circulating through cyberspace, quoting conservative Catholics who are expressing qualms about Pope Francis’ leadership style or have found themselves questioning whether they should stop proclaiming Church moral teaching.

For example, an Ohio marriage and family counselor in private practice and on the radio, Gregory Popcak, is featured. Popcak describes how he turned to prayer after several clients invoked the Pope’s public words to challenge Popcak after, to his credit, he explained Church teaching concerning human sexuality and love. One patient even quit, telling Popcak: “I’m much more of a Pope Francis-Nancy Pelosi Catholic, and you’re an old-school, Pope John Paul II Catholic.”

Several issues are entangled in what’s transpiring here, perhaps the most focal being how liberal Catholics have seized upon Pope Francis’ public statements and are challenging conservative Catholics to be less “obsessed” with Church teaching. In effect, they’re saying “Get over it! Pope John Paul II is dead and Pope Benedict XVI is retired. Our guy’s  in charge now. It’s our day. Your day has passed.”

Consider what Popcak reports feeling after his patient quit therapy. He first felt frustrated, then ashamed. Contemplating Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, Popcak saw himself acting like the good son. In that online essay, Popcak wrote:

The good kid who stayed behind, did everything his father told him to do. People who left the Church, who hated the Church…were suddenly realizing that God loved them, that the Church welcomed them, and all I could do was feel bitter about it.

Experiences like Popcak’s certainly put a face on the reality of the effect the Holy Father’s words are having on the ground. But, does that mean conservative Catholics should fall on their knees in frustration or perhaps even shame and repent of having evangelized others about Church teaching?

What’s important to note about the Washington Post article is that it reports nothing new, absolutely nothing.  Its contents could have been written last summer.

FrancisPlane

Yes, the momentous interview on the flight from Rio de Janiero did make people across the globe aware of Pope Francis’ views. And purposely so, because the Holy Father’s statements are being interpreted by the mainstream media in a way that favors their secularist ideology.

The Holy Father must surely know how his words are being twisted for ends other than which he may intend. But, so far, the Pope doesn’t seem much to care that he’s being misinterpreted. Perhaps that’s because Pope Francis believes the vast majority of people across the globe (including Catholics) have the wrong idea of the Catholic Church, believing Her teachers are cold, withdrawn, severe, and judgmental.

It appears the Pope isn’t going to allow that idea to persist, believing the idea will take care of itself over time. Right now, he’s going to use the mainstream media to get his point across. Perhaps the Holy Father even relishes the banner headlines he’s generating. Why? Pope Francis may see himself as the “the game changer” in the Church’s overall goal of evangelizing secular society.

Who’s to know?

If the experiences of the people reported in the Washington Post article accurately represent the reality on the ground, it appears Pope Francis may be correct. Driving people out of the Church won’t build the Church, so why alienate people if they can be opened to hearing the Good News?

Who’s to say that Pope Francis doesn’t agree 100% with pro-life, pro-family Catholics? Contrary to what the mainstream media is reporting and makes conservative Catholics feel frustrated or ashamed, his may be a difference in tone or volume, but not in substance.

 

Let the discussion begin…

 

 

To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/conservative-catholics-question-pope-franciss-approach/2013/10/12/21d7f484-2cf4-11e3-8ade-a1f23cda135e_story.html

To read The Motley Monk’s blog, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

Another post-Vatican “cutting-edge” institute closes its doors…

 

As with many of the structures erected in the wake of Vatican II and whose founders promised to open the windows of the Catholic Church in the United States to the fresh air of the modern world, the Woodstock Theological Center (WTC) at Georgetown University—an “ecumenically open” institute since 1973 which has “carried out theological and ethical reflection on the most pressing human issues of the day”—has shut its doors.

Last February, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) chronicled WTC’s closure. According to WTC’s Director, Fr. Gasper LoBiondo, SJ, WTC’s demise was a natural consequence of “ongoing strategic reflection” on the part of the Jesuits’ New England, New York, and Maryland provinces. Fr. LoBiondo noted, however, that the reflection itself was directly attributable to “the diminishing number of Jesuits.”

Writing at WTC’s website, Fr. LoBiondo was upbeat about the closure last June, writing:

All who have been associated with Woodstock Theological Center over its 40 years of service can be proud of what they have accomplished, and should be encouraged by the knowledge that the work they have done will not come to an end, because the value of such work will be embraced by other institutions in new forms.

Perhaps the work completed at WTC’s will be “embraced by other institutions” and continue “in new forms.” However, those who labored at WTC have now turned the page and moved on.

Come to think of it, WTC’s closure is similar to the late-1960s when liturgical liberals rejoiced that maniples were done away with. The “rest of the story,” as it is said with frequency, “is history,” meaning “get over it.”

maniple

So, let’s be pragmatic.

As the age of the post-Vatican II generation who founded institutes such as WTC increases and their numbers decline and, then, with fewer young men who are prepared theologically to shoulder the mantle of leading these institutes, the likelihood that these “cutting-edge institutes” will continue for another generation or two decreases dramatically.

What is ageless—the Church—will continue.

In the political world, it’s called “term limits.”  In the Church, it’s the simple reality of “sic transit gloria mundi.”  This is how God purifies the Church of that which is time bound so His creatures will focus upon the timeless.

 

 

To read about the closure of WTC, click on the following link:
http://ncronline.org/news/theology/woodstock-theological-center-close-june

To read The Motley Monk’s blog, click on the following link:
The Motley Monk’s Omnibus

No communion for Ms. Nancy?

 

There’s nothing newsworthy when it comes to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) advocating a woman’s right to abortion.  After all, she earned a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and last June, when asked by a reporter if there is a moral difference between aborting a baby at 26 weeks and what Dr. Kermit Gosnell did in Philadelphia in delivering babies alive at 23 weeks and then severing their spinal cords to kill them, she said:

As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics, and that’s where you’re taking it and I’m not going there.

pelosi

“practicing and respectful”

Ms. Pelosi’s statement didn’t escape the scrutiny of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church, apart from Pope Francis.

Cardinal Burke’s analysis of Ms. Pelosi’s public statements concerning abortion?

According to a July 2013 interview in The Wanderer, Ms. Pelosi has violated Canon 915 which applies to “a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin–cooperating with the crime of procured abortion–and still professes to be a devout Catholic.”  In the Cardinal’s view, Ms. Pelosi has divorced her faith from her public life.  Therefore, she is not serving her brothers and sisters in the way that she must–in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family.

Speaking truth to power, Cardinal Burke minced no words:

What Congresswoman Pelosi is speaking of is not particular confessional beliefs or practices of the Catholic Church. It belongs to the natural moral law which is written on every human heart and which the Catholic Church obviously also teaches: that natural moral law which is so wonderfully illumined for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ by His saving teaching, but most of all by His Passion and death.

To say that these are simply questions of Catholic faith which have no part in politics is just false and wrong. I fear for Congresswoman Pelosi if she does not come to understand how gravely in error she is. I invite her to reflect upon the example of St. Thomas More who acted rightly in a similar situation even at the cost of his life.

For this violation of Canon 915, Cardinal Burke asserted that Ms. Pelosi must be denied Communion.

What makes the Cardinal’s judgment newsworthy are two, more recent events: 1) Pope Francis reappointed Cardinal Burke to his position last week and 2) Pope Francis said in an interview last week that the Church must be careful not to alienate sinners but, instead, become more welcoming and inclusive of them.

dead horses

Drawing a line in the sand by denying Ms. Pelosi communion seems to put Cardinal Burke’s jurisprudence at odds with Pope Francis’ call for greater pastoral sensitivity.

 

 

To read the Wanderer article, click on the following link:
http://www.thewandererpress.com/ee/wandererpress/index.php?pSetup=wandererpress&curDate=20130905

“Proud to be Catholic” scores again…

 

Over at “Proud to be Catholic” in a blog post entitled “Going to War?”, the normally provocative Father Brian Sistare (pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Woonsocket, RI) raises an interesting if not challenging juxtaposition of two images for Americans to contemplate.

The first image is that of President Barack Obama expressing his personal outrage that the chemical weapons used in Syria were killing many children.  Of this image Fr. Sistare writes:

What I would like to point out in the midst of this difficult moment is the sheer hypocrisy of our government “leaders.” The Secretary of State John Kerry said that what President Assad did was a “crime against conscience,” and a “crime against humanity.” Obama also spoke of the heinous crimes that were done to the Syrian people by their own president, mentioning that children were killed. He said that “we cannot accept a world in which people are gassed on a terrible scale,” and that we don’t want the world to be paralyzed.”

POTUSB

The second image is that of the 40-year history of chemically induced abortions being performed in the United States, which both the President and his Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, support.  Of this image, Fr. Sistare writes:

The little, innocent victims of abortion are even being killed “chemically” by such CONTRAceptives/abortificients, such as the morning after pill, the IUD, the NuvaRing, and even high dosages of the birth control pill.  “Chemical warfare” against our own people has been happening for over 40 years now, and the current “leader” of our country has no problem with it, even adding insult to injury by asking God to bless one of the major suppliers of these chemicals used in the warfare against the innocent, in the organization known as Planned Parenthood.

POTUS

While many of the nation’s citizens will surely be offended by this juxtaposition of images, Fr. Sistare correctly notes that both depict acts of “chemical warfare,” whether or not the United Nations certifies them as such.

In the political arena, it’s so very easy for the leader of a world superpower to point the finger of blame at a tin-horn dictator who inflicts genocide upon his citizens and to threaten war to end such horrific crimes against humanity.

But, it isn’t all that easy for that leader to recognize that his four other fingers are pointing right back at him.  To recognize that fact, that leader would have to admit that he is entirely supportive of genocidal acts being committed in his own nation.

Kudos to Father Sistare for expressing the matter so clearly.

Sending your children to a Catholic school? Caveat emptor…

 

With the new academic year having gotten underway, it’s always good for parents to assess what their children will be learning, especially with the curriculum being nationalized.

In 2009, the National Governors Association launched the Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”) which is an attempt to nationalize the curriculum so that high school students who graduate in every state that adopts the Common Core will “be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

Who possibly could be against that goal?

Hicks

In her book, Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith, and Freedom, Marybeth Hicks tells parents who enroll their children in Catholic schools they should be very wary, if not opposed to the Common Core.

Why so?

Not for the usual reasons conservatives assert: who’s really behind the Common Core (e.g., the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with David Coleman, President of the College Board and architect of the Common Core) as well as the content it requires students to learn (e.g., social justice mathematics, using class and race conflict to explain American history).

Hicks tells her readers how the Common Core now is infecting Catholic schools nationwide because, although dioceses are not required to adopt the Common Core, they must do so if students are to demonstrate mastery on the tests measuring what students have learned (as that is measured using the standard of the Common Core designed by Coleman whose company makes the tests).  Hicks quotes Sarah Dalske, a Catholic school parent living in Sacramento:

My children go to Catholic school, and over 100+ [d]ioceses have adopted the [Common Core] because it’s what “has to be done” if we want our kids to get into college and be prepared and also be prepared to enter the “workforce” and earn a “living wage.”

In a letter Dalske wrote to the Diocese of Sacramento, she argued:

[Are] you telling me in future grades my kids will be reading such books as “Freakonomics” and “The Tipping Point,” learning that abortion is one of the was to lower crime…?  How would Catholic school teachers reconcile this while simultaneously teaching that all life is sacred and every baby has the right to life, that every person is give a soul at the moment of conception by God and has the God-given right to be brought into this world?….After all the new and confusing math and reading lessons, and the “literacy” lessons through science, history and technology, after all the testing, where will the time be to teach our children their faith?

The lesson for parents who send their children to Catholic schools?

Lest they believe Catholic schools provide immunity from the infection of a curriculum that’s opposed to Catholic teaching, they had better—like Sarah Dalske—investigate precisely what their children are being taught and when they are being taught it.

In Catholic schools, the goal of training the nation’s youth for the workforce is not antithetical to the goal of educating their souls in the faith of the Catholic Church.  If Dalske’s statistic is correct, in many dioceses the former may become more prominent than the latter…if it hasn’t already.

 

The post-Copacabana Beach parish…

 

While many Catholics are regaling in the afterglow of the much-touted and “highly successful” World Youth Day (WYD) 2013 in Rio, there are signs that papal spectacles like these—“circuses” some might say—should be reassessed for their ultimate value in evangelizing Catholic youth.

One young Catholic—sincere and searching for the truth but not quite sure what truth is—recently told me that young people are leaving the Church in droves because they “don’t feel the Church loves us…present company excepted, of course.”

It was for this purpose—to reach out to evangelize youth, demonstrating Mother Church’s love for them and their salvation—that Blessed John Paul II established WYD.  Over the decades, the media’s images of all of those young people—millions in some instances—traveling to distant locales to unite in prayer, to be catechized, and to participate in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist—has been edifying for many Catholics and especially members the Curia who are already preparing for the next WYD in Poland.

PF Rio

But, there’s another aspect of  WYD that isn’t being reported and discussed, one that casts a shadow over WYDs, in general, and raising the question “Should WYD be held?”, in particular.

In “The Downside of World Youth Day,” Connor Malloy describes some of what’s not being reported.  For example, large group sessions dedicated to catechesis—two featuring Cardinals O’Malley and Dolan—didn’t have their desired effect upon the audience.  The problem? Everything else competing for the audience’s attention.  At the opening Mass, Malloy notes:

…hordes of pilgrims were wandering around, popping in at food tents and taking pictures of Copacabana Palace during the Consecration. It was beyond easy to take one’s eyes off the ball, and this identity crisis—between being a pilgrim and being a tourist—presented a constant struggle.

This is nothing new.  Malloy tells of an author who related that, following WYD 2000 in Rome, “mounds of used condoms were reportedly found scattered on the grounds—a most eloquent monument to relativism.”

For Malloy, this detachment, those distractions, and the immoral behavior raise two questions: Are we serious about the faith? And, what faith are we spreading?  He answers:

When contemplating the emerging Catholic youth, the target audience of WYD 2013, one has to ask, with what they have already witnessed in their lives from cultural, domestic, economic, and social perspectives—from Hollywood, secularism, capitalism, and the iPhone—how much of a role does Catholicism really play in their everyday lives? And what kind of Catholicism is it, anyway? Because from what I saw in Rio, for many there is a wink-wink, “do as I say not as I do” mentality about the Catholic faith.

Looking with an unvarnished eye at these papal spectacles and what they have become in some ways,  have they outlived their purpose?  Arguably, there may be better ways to evangelize Catholic youth.

More substantively, are those outdoor liturgies a disservice to the Eucharist?  Is Mass to be a spectacle—pulsating with dyathrambic rhythms to which the congregants bump and grind while slurping down a latté—or is the Mass  a sacrament—an encounter with the Living God?

“Why can’t it be both?” some may ask.

Malloy observes:

That young pilgrims may have confused WYD with a rock concert is understandable. The question is, can we trust them to see the substance beyond the fluff, the Incarnation beyond the entertainment? Chances are these pilgrims love challenges; we must challenge them to swim against the tide of relativism that exists even within the Church itself, and to surrender themselves to Christ’s redeeming love.

Time will tell when many in that crowd—the “sheep” Pope Francis wants to bring “home” to the Church—return to their dioceses and parishes and  “shake things up,” as the Pope instructed them. What will happen when these young people discover that the Church’s teaching hasn’t changed?  Then, too, should they be allowed to turn liturgy in their parishes into mini-Copacabanas? Will they once again leave, and this time, for good?

If young people are leaving Church in droves because they don’t “feel the Church loves us,” one wonders what kind of mother they are looking for.

 

 

To read Connor Malloy’s article, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/2500/The_Downside_of_Rio.aspx#.Ugy2wJKHuSq

A decades’ long administrative “wink and nod” in U.S. Catholic education?

 

When a local newspaper in suburban southern California—the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin—published photographs of a local Catholic high school teacher’s wedding, “Matrimonial bliss turned into an employment nightmare.”

The problem?

The teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glenora, CA, 45-year-old Ken Bencomo, is homosexual and attempted a so-called “homosexual marriage” with his “partner” of 10 years, 32-year-old Christopher Persky.  Bencomo and Persky were among the first homosexuals who got “married” at the San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder’s Office following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that allowed homosexuals to simulate marriage, according to the Los Angeles Times.

After the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin published the pictures, administrators at St. Lucy’s fired Bencomo, telling him on July 12 his contract would not be renewed, citing the “wedding, the photos, and the attendant publicity.”

The school’s administrators followed-up the firing with a statement, calling St. Lucy’s “a community of faith for those who wish to express, practice and adhere to values in education based on the Roman Catholic tradition.”  The statement adds that employees have a contractual obligation to abide by those values in public.  And:

While the school does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values.

Conservative Catholics might applaud the firing—Catholic moral teaching is supposed to be the keystone supporting the distinctive identity of a Catholic school—and liberal Catholics might deride it—using Catholic moral teaching as a judgmental cudgel is an affront to human rights.  Bencomo’s lawyer called the decision “crushing” and “draconian,” intimating that Bencomo may sue to get his job back.

None of that really matters.  What really matters is how this outcome is the result of a consistent failure of moral leadership on the part of St. Lucy’s administrators for at least 17 years which, according to the LA Times, is the period of time Bencomo has been teaching St. Lucy’s.  For at least the past 10 years, the school’s administrators have known about Bencomo’s sexual orientation and relationship with Persky. During that decade, Bencomo has brought Persky to school events, identifying Persky as his “partner,” according to Bencomo’s lawyer.

There was nothing “in the closet” about this homosexual relationship.

That is, until all of the “attendant publicity” resulting from the “photos” taken at the “wedding” were published in the newspaper.  Had Bencomo only kept the entire affair in the closet, administrators at St. Lucy’s must have reasoned, there would have been no attendant publicity and no firing because, at St. Lucy’s, immoral lifestyle choices kept private are “okay,” but public displays of immoral lifestyle choices are “not okay.”

It’s a Catholic school administrator’s policy equivalent of the military’s “Don’t Kiss, Don’t Tell” policy.  One doesn’t have to make a judgment or take a stand on a moral issue.  No, just ignore it…unless…

Quite likely, the administrators fired Bencomo because important constitutents and constitutent groups associated with the school or perhaps even the Archbishop of Los Angeles or his representative demanded that something be done…or else.

That’s the problem.  It’s an administrative “wink and nod,” even though the efficacy of Catholic moral teaching is being debased inside a community of faith—an “educational” one at that—whose administrators claim this community to be “for those who wish to express, practice and adhere to values in education based on the Roman Catholic tradition.”

So-called “homosexual marriage” is not part of that tradition.  Nor does presenting one’s “partner” to that educational community of faith express, practice, and adhere to the values of that tradition.

Why administrators at St. Lucy’s didn’t deal with the problem when it first emerged says a whole lot about their expression, practice, and adherence to the values of the Roman Catholic tradition…as well as all of those Catholic educational leaders who didn’t tell those administrators “or else” during those 17 years.

 

 

To read the LA Times article, click on the following link:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-gay-teacher-catholic-school-20130801,0,4837008.story

 

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