The Motley Monk
A Wall Street Journal op-ed calling into question whether tax “reform” should disallow the deduction for charitable donations offers a nugget of data that Catholics interested in tax reform should carefully consider.
The “nugget” is the total amount of money the federal government is pouring into charitable programs sponsored by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Charities USA (CC-USA). The op-ed notes:
Religious organizations also receive large infusions of federal funds. Catholic Charities USA receives more than half of its funding each year ($554 million in 2010) from federal grants. In 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops received $63 million…in federal grants.
It’s difficult to unpack the exact numbers because the recipients oftentimes use multiple names. That said, the USCCB directly received $34,767,249 in the form of three awards in 2012. That’s 17.3% of its 2012 annual budget. CC-USA directly received $5,546,607 in 2012 for 21 contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The President of the William Simon Foundation, James Piereson, who wrote the op-ed, stated:
These are reputable institutions, and many of the programs they sponsor are important. Nevertheless, in view of their dependence upon government funds, no one can seriously maintain that these groups are “independent.” Instead, they form one of the more powerful lobbying forces in Washington for increasing government spending, especially spending on tax-exempt groups.
Forget all of that “lobbying” to garner more federal largess which, in turn, only increases the federal tax burden on the less than 50% of U.S. citizens who pay income tax.
Bad as that is, all of that lobbying represents these organizations’ ever-increasing dependency upon the federal government to subsidize their “charitable” work. And that’s the problem: The government knows just how to pull those strings when it’s to the government’s advantage to do so.
If the government threatens not to increase funding, leaders of charitable organizations cry “Wolf!”, insisting their organizations will no longer be able to provide the quality of goods and services all of those people who are dependent upon those organizations have come to expect. Why? Those leaders define “no increase” in funding as a “cut” in funding.
Then, too, if the government was to cut funding to those organizations, those leaders will also cry “Wolf!”, insisting that the cuts will hurt those who are already dependent upon those organizations as well as all of those additional clients who also need the goods and services provided by those organizations.
In the end, the government uses the power of the purse to control those organizations, exerting appropriate pressure to get them to knuckle under to the government’s diktats. Never forget: The government wants those charitable organization to do its bidding and to promote its policies. Look at what Obamacare has attempted to do to Catholic higher education and the nation’s Catholic hospitals.
So, where is the lion’s share of all that federal largess to the USCCB and Catholic Charities USA going? “Immigration services.” Hmm…why ever would the federal government so willingly fund Catholic organizations to provide those “services” and not “educational” services, like parochial schools?
Charity is an individual’s love of God and neighbor that is demonstrated in that individual’s freely-given acts of love. Churches—funded by their members—do that. Government can never do that.
It might very well be time to eliminate the tax deduction for charitable donations as part of a much larger tax reform package. This should include eliminating the IRS and introducing the flat tax (with appropriate thresholds for the poor, destitute, and those in need). Then, let’s see if “charity” is really charity or if much of it is just a tax deduction.
To view the USCCB data, click on the following link:
To view the Catholic Charities USA data, click on the following:
To view the USCCB 2012 budget news, click on the following link:
“Pathetic, inducing sorrow” is about all The Motley Monk can say concerning University of Pennsylvania Professor Anthea Butler’s suggestion this past weekend that past abortions and single parenthood should be marketed as positive elements in women’s political campaigns.
In an MSNBC interview, CNSNews reports Butler—an associate professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania—saying:
You have to be able to push past this, because these stories are not liabilities, they are assets, to speak that other women, whatever your experience has been, whether you’ve had an abortion, you’re a single parent, however those things are, we have to make them pluses, and not minuses.
Insofar as Butler is concerned, the problem is a consequence of those male politicians who make it difficult for women to participate in the political process. Professor Butler noted:
…I’m thinking about what happened with [Texas Gov.] Rick Perry making that snide comment about Wendy [Davis]…and I think that’s what keeps women away from doing this. Just like we did “Souls to the Polls” in 2012, we need to do women to the polls, and women to run in 2014.
Imagine that! To win office, women politicians should boast about abortions and divorces.
The culture of death is alive and well. What used to be considered evil is touted as virtue. What used to be considered virtuous is considered an embarrassment.
This, from a professor of religious studies at an Ivy League university.
“Uterus, to the polls!”, the show’s hostess Melissa Harris-Perry, enthusiastically interjected.
All The Motley Monk can say is “Pathetic. Inducing sorrow.”
To read the CNSNews article, click on the following link:
In the post, “What’s in an emptychair?“, The Motley Monk wondered what could have happened at the last minute that prevented Pope Francis from attending the Sunday, June 22 performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to celebrate the Year of Faith. Announcing the last minute change in plans, a papal spokesman cited “other commitments,” specifically, “commitments that could not be postponed.”
In “Double Storm for the IOR” (Institute for Religious Works, or “Papal Bank”), Sandro Magister suggests that revelations about the new “prelate” Pope Francis had appointed to clean house at the IOR kept the Holy Father from attending the concert.
According to Magister’s report, the “new prelate” is Monsignor Battista Ricca who apparently won the Pope’s trust “above all through the familiar relations he established with him as director of the Domus Sanctae Marthae—where Francis chose to reside—and of two other residences for priests and bishops passing through Rome, including the one on Via della Scrofa at which Bergoglio used to stay as a cardinal.”
Appointing Ricca “prelate” of the IOR, Pope Francis thought he was placing a highly trustworthy person in a key IOR role, one giving Ricca statutory power to access the proceedings and documents as well as to participate in the meetings both of the cardinalate commission of oversight and of the supervisory board of the Vatican bank.
As the media reports described the appointment, Pope Francis personally appointed a man possessing an “incorruptible” reputation, well-suited to “clean house.” This was to be a “signature” appointment, one demonstrating the Pope’s commitment to reform the Vatican bureaucracy, in general, and the IOR, in particular.
What Pope Francis did not know when he made the appointment, Ricca had previously served in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps and, after one year in Montevideo, Uruguay, Ricca was suddenly transferred. Magister reports the transfer can be summarized in two phrases used by those who confidentially examined the case: “pink power” and “conducta escandalosa.”
With all the papal nuncios convened in Rome to meet with Pope Francis, it was at the time of the concert in his honor that the Pope became convinced, Magister reports, “thanks to not one but several incontrovertible sources, that he had put his trust in the wrong person.” The Pope’s response? According to Magister:
Sadness, gratitude to those who had opened his eyes, the desire to make remedy: these are the sentiments gathered from the sound of the pope’s voice during these conversations.
Informed about what was being discussed, Ricca asked for and obtained a meeting with Francis to defend himself and make his own accusations.
Who’d believe it? The Pope may have been absent from the concert because the IOR scandal he was attempting to clean up was now blowing up right in front of him with his handpicked man as the potential source of a “Double Storm.”
Unfortunately, this story possesses the elements of a high-intrigue soap opera that will draw the media’s attention—like moths to a lightbulb—to it: power…sex…and money.
Hopefully, the Holy Father sent notes of apology to all of those who had spent hours preparing for the concert in his honor. But, if what Sandro Magister is reporting is correct, the Holy Father needs the prayers of the faithful. This “housecleaning” isn’t going to be easy.
To read the “What’s in an empty chair?” post, click on the following link:
To read Sandro Magister’s post concerning the IOR’s double scandal, click on the following link:
An email sent by the secretary of the local branch of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham—established in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church while retaining much of their heritage and traditions—was forwarded to The Motley Monk.
It’s a great piece of exegesis that The Motley Monk will allow speak for itself without comment:
For those who haven’t heard, Washington State has passed both laws—gay marriage and legalized marijuana. The fact that gay marriage and marijuana were legalized on the same day makes perfect biblical sense because Leviticus 20:13 says “If a man lies with another man they should be stoned.” We just hadn’t interpreted it correctly before.
There is quite a diversity of opinion being expressed about this photograph:
Taken on Sunday, June 22 just prior to a concert—a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony—to celebrate the Year of Faith, the Pope’s chair is empty “due to other commitments,” specifically, “commitments that could not be postponed.”
Unlike his predecessor Benedict, who was well-known as a music lover, Francis has shown scant interest in music, liturgical or otherwise.
Then, too, Sandro Magister has reported “papists” in the Curia attributing the following words to the Pope: “I am not a Renaissance prince who listens to music instead of working.”
That’s the stuff of papal palace intrigue that’s intended to communicate what Pope Francis really is thinking…or to impugn his character.
What if Pope Francis doesn’t want to live the lifestyle of a Renaissance prince? What if he personally abhors concerts of classical music? In the big scheme of things, none of that really matters, except perhaps for “Curiaistas” who have something to gain or lose if and when Pope Francis does reform the Curia.
Yet, let us not forget what the Pope’s absence communicated to the conductor as well as to all of those musicians and vocalists who practiced for hours precisely because he is the Pope and they admire him. After all, this is the Successor of St. Peter and Bishop of Rome, not Bishop Joe Schlub of some diocese located somewhere in Lower Slobovia. A lot of people watch and interpret a pope’s conduct for what it may signal about his and the Church’s intentions.
If there isn’t a better reason than the two already provided, The Motley Monk counts himself among those whom the Pope’s conduct “bewildered…even some of his most convinced admirers.”
The Pope has sent a message. Whether it has the grandeur of “a solemn, severe peal,” as Sandro Magister quotes Church historian Alberto Melloni observing, it is clear this pope believes some things are more important—and very well may be more important—than a concert of classical music where he is scheduled to be the guest of honor.
“Mind your manners,” The Motley Monk’s Mom used to tell him, especially when he didn’t want to do something he was required to do and for reasons he didn’t very much appreciate.
Hopefully, Pope Francis has written personal notes expressing his regret to all of those who were to perform for him. That’s what The Motley Monk’s Mom would make him do…“or else, Mister!”
To read the AP report, click on the following link:
To read Sandro Magister’s report, click on the following link:
On February 25, 2013, Deandre Poole—an adjunct instructor of communications at Florida Atlantic University (FAU)—engaged his class in an exercise to teach them about the power of certain words and the way that power is based on cultural values. Following the textbook’s instructions, Poole had students write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, place the paper on the floor, and step on it.
The exercise offended one student, who exchanged words with Poole. In turn, Poole reported the student to FAU academic administrators not for his reaction, but the way he treated Poole. When this student went public with his grievances, some media outlets sympathetically portrayed him as facing FAU charges for refusing to “stomp on Jesus.”
The protest sparked interest in the story.
Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, weighed in. He wrote FAU’s President calling the lesson “offensive, even intolerant” and requested a report concerning policies “to ensure this type of ‘lesson’ will never occur again.” U.S. Senator Marco Rubio also weighed in, asking why the student was suspended for “respectfully expressing his religious and conscientious objections” to the classroom exercise. The Motley Monk posted about the matter here at “The American Catholic.”
Poole denied using the word “stomp” and FAU academic administrators denied punishing any student. Yet, Poole was placed on leave and barred from campus, FAU citing threats against him, presumably from all of those right-wingnut, gun-toting Christian zealots.
As it’s said, “the rest is history.”
“Really, what does it matter now?” Hillary Clinton would ask.
According to Inside Higher Ed, FAU academic administrators have rehired Poole. Furthermore, they stated that Poole had done nothing wrong and any decision about the future use of the exercise would be based upon a FAU Faculty Senate investigation.
What’s that mean?
Those administrators have reneged on their previous statement that the exercise would not be used again:
Based on the offensive nature of the exercise, we will not use it again and have issued an apology to the community. It was insensitive and unacceptable. We continue to apologize to all the people who were offended and deeply regret this situation has occurred.
Why did FAU’s academic administrators back down?
Perhaps it’s for the reason that the FAU Faculty Senate report finds Poole’s classroom exercise entirely appropriate. The report then took aim at senior FAU administrators, writing how—by not defending Poole—they “dismally failed” to protect academic freedom. What irked members of the Faculty Senate, in particular, is the extent to which external political pressure (read: Republican conservatives) influenced decisions that were based upon early media reports concerning what transpired but did not happen as reported.
Poole says “I’m ecstatic,” adding:
I regret the misinformation that was out there and the way the story was characterized. I wish everyone had all the information to form a more reasonable conclusion…. Members of the public need to be reminded that a university is an institution of higher learning, and is supposed to be a safe place for engaging in controversial issues. If we can’t have these conversations at the university, where else are we going to have them?
In the name of protecting academic freedom, then, “stomping” on Jesus’ name is absolutely “out” at FAU. “Stepping” on Jesus’ name is definitely “in.”
For students to understand better the power of certain words and the way that power is based on cultural values.
Believe it or not, people are going to pay tuition for this communications lesson, one that can be learned for free. Just state in public something that’s not politically correct.
Today, this is what passes for “higher education.”
Others might call it a denying “freedom of speech.” Or, better yet, a “racket.”
To read The Motley Monk’s previous post about the FAU incident, click on the following link:
To read the Inside Higher Ed article, click on the following link:
In Fall 2012, an unnamed parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (presumably its pastor) hired the Villanova University economist and Director of its Center for the Study of Church Management, Charles Zech, to survey lapsed Catholics (presumably the parish’s lapsed members). The survey’s purpose was to discover their reasons for leaving the practice of the Catholic faith.
The study’s findings—methodological questions and generalizations aside—were (yawn) unsurprising:
- the sexual abuse scandal;
- dissatisfaction with the parish, Archdiocese, and Vatican; and,
- most who leave join Protestant denominations.
Interviewed by NBC’s local television affiliate, Zech noted that parishes do have some power to keep disgruntled Catholics from leaving. Most important is what Zech identified as the “quality” of the liturgy:
Liturgies are really important. I’m not sure that parish staff and clergy understand how important liturgies are to people, that they have good music and the liturgy be meaningful. People who feel they are not being fed by a meaningful liturgy—they’ll go where they are being fed.
That’s a very interesting observation. “Good music” will keep potentially disgruntled congregants from leaving? If so, then it would be interesting to learn exactly what kind of music is most likely to keep in the pews those apparently many congregants who disagree with Church teaching? Might it be Gregorian chant?
The Motley Monk doubts that is what Professor Zech is suggesting. But, for the 189 respondents who have left the Church, how the music makes them feel appears to be primary.
More important to The Motley Monk is another of Zech’s observations concerning the study’s secondary findings:
People who are going to leave the church over the scandal and the church’s handling of it have already left. So people leaving the church today are leaving for other reasons. A growing reason we found out was the church’s attitude toward homosexuals and gay marriage. A lot of younger people object to the church’s teaching on that.
Although Zech’s survey is neither reliable nor valid—meaning its findings, though accurate, cannot be generalized to the larger population due to sampling methodology—this finding may lend support to what other, more reliable and valid studies—like the Pew Research studies of faith and religion—have been noting and may very well be a trend. Namely, the nation’s young people don’t particularly care about the moral questions and answers to those questions concerning homosexuality and so-called “homosexual marriage.”
If this finding is accurate, this is not good news for Church officials. The nation’s Catholic youth are no different in attitude toward homosexuality and so-called homosexual marriage than are the nation’s youth in general, despite the Church’s vigorous and very public opposition. Are the nation’s bishops and pastors to believe that improving the quality of music will keep this generation’s young Catholics practicing their faith?
Again, if this finding is accurate, it suggests that post-Vatican II catechesis of the nation’s Catholic youth—whether in the Catholic high schools or parish-based CCD programs—has failed to form the consciences of Catholic youth to appreciate what Pope John Paul II called “The Splendor of Truth.” Instead, the secular, materialist, and consumerist “Culture of Death” has achieved results that may be nothing short of spectacular.
Yes, the Sirens are singing anew. And that’s apparently what lapsed Catholics want and, presumably, what parishes should provide them, according to Zech’s study, if they are going to keep disgruntled members from leaving.
Yet, The Motley Monk would note, this is a noxious prescription. As Walter Copland Perry has observed:
Their song, though irresistibly sweet, was no less sad than sweet, and lapped both body and soul in a fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption.
To read the NBC article, click on the following link:
Once again, there’s a media frenzy. This time it’s been generated by Pope Francis who allegedly has spoken of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Curia. Rumors had been circulating and, it was alledged, confirmed in a “secret” report Pope Benedict XVI prepared for his successor prior to the conclave. Some in the media also believed the “Gang of Eight” cardinals selected by Pope Francis would address the issue.
The details of what Pope Francis said “off the cuff” to the Conference of Latin American Religious (CLAR) on June 6 are well documented elsewhere, the most oft-cited being “In the Curia…there are holy people….[but also] a current of corruption.” According to notes taken at the meeting and released by some who were present concerning the secret report, the Pope said: “The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there….We need to see what we can do….”
All of this has become even more complicated with the Catholic News Agency (CNS) reporting today that CLAR officially states that the Pope’s assertion “cannot be attributed with certainty to the Holy Father” (italics added).
As important as those statements rightly or wrongly attributed to Pope Francis and disclosed to the media may be, other statements—some of potentially greater significance—have not been as widely reported.
For example, La Stampa states that Pope Francis also told CLAR’s leaders to “keep moving forward” and not be “afraid to take risks by approaching the poor and new emerging figures across the continent.” That sounds fine. But, place that statement in its larger context:
Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) [CDF] will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing….But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward….Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up….
It takes time for the contours of a papacy to take shape. Early into this papacy, much has been made about the Pope’s first appearance at St. Peter’s Basilica and his humility. This “pastoral” Pope has washed feet, kissed babies, visited parishes, and heard confessions. This “Pope of the People” has eschewed living in the Apostolic Palace and is now chauffeured not in a Mercedes Benz but a Volkswagen.
The media loves all of this…and hopes for more, interpreting this Pope’s actions as symbolic of what many in the media long for: A Roman Catholic Church that is more open to and accepting of the forces of what some in the media define as “progress.”
In an attempt to understand more clearly the overall direction the Holy Father intends to steer the ship of the Church in today’s murky waters, The Motley Monk reads the daily homilies Pope Francis has been delivering at St. Marta’s as these are reported by ZENIT.
Overall, the Pope preaches in a style reminiscent of the early Church Fathers, dotting his homilies with folksy applications of scripture to this generation’s moral challenges. He invokes little, if any, “hierarchical” language. Instead, it’s much more “lateral.” There’s no insensitive reiteration of Church teaching “from on high,” but a sensitive response on the part of a pastor who knows his people—having heard their confessions—and speaking candidly about what is afflicting them and keeping them from the Kingdom of God.
In sum: Anecdotes that make the daily Scriptures strike home.
The problem: Others can apply those anecdotes in ways the Holy Father may not have intended.
For example, take the Pope’s statement “do something where life calls for it.” This statement has the potential to open the door to a host of unintended interpretations, especially when what has preceded it is “Explain [to CDF] whatever you have to explain, but move forward….”
Don’t overlook this particular statement because, The Motley Monk is sure, Pope Francis means it.
The question is: What precisely does the Pope mean?
In a homily to his congregation, a pastor can say “I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up….” The members of the congregation would understand exactly what is meant. Plus, that seems to be sound pastoral teaching.
But, the papacy differs from the local pastorate.
Yes, the pope is the Universal Pastor. Yet, he is also the “Rock,” charged personally by Christ with safeguarding Church teaching. It’s one thing for a local pastor to translate the Beatitudes into acts of compassion for those who live on the margins and to challenge the members of one’s congregation to err in favor of compassion rather than to dictate moral positions. It is an entirely different matter if a pope were to intimate—even in private—that bishops should err on the side of heresy and “Explain whatever you have to explain [to CDF], but move forward… (wink).”
Pope Francis certainly does not mean that.
But, some in the media would have him mean that, and are calling upon the Pope clarify precisely what he means. It’s a “lose-lose” proposition, one that will center upon the legitimacy of and the Pope’s stance vis-a-vis Church teaching.
During the 20th century and early into the 21st, the Holy Spirit has blessed the Church with extraordinarily good, if not saintly popes. The contours of this papacy have yet to be clearly defined. As Pope Francis learns to navigate the Church to confront directly this generation’s moral evils which the media may tout as “progress,” Catholics should pray that the Pope teach as Jesus did, “with authority” that stuns those today in his hearing who “are sick for being closed up” in their secular ideologies and unwilling to listen to the Truth, as the Church teaches it.
To read the article in LaStampa, click on the following link:
To read the CNA account, click on the following link:
In Chiesa Express Online, Sandro Magister scoops stories for Catholics in much the same way Matt Drudge does for political junkies in his Drudge Report. In the end, the news and analysis sometimes aren’t “the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth” because they are reported in real time as the stories continue to develop.
Sandro Magister’s report today is a stunner and, if the story develops as Magister’s account suggests it may, will end up being a blockbuster of a scoop, reverberating globally for proponents of “civil unions”…supported by the Church.
The bottom line?
Magister cites the New York Times article which reported that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio—when the passage of a “homosexual marriage” law was being debated in Argentina—“was in favor of a compromise solution that would have legitimized civil unions for homosexuals.”
To be fair, Bergoglio also wrote that the new law was a product of “the envy of the devil, through which sin entered into the world: an envy that seeks astutely to destroy the image of God; that is, the man and woman who receive the command to grow, multiply, and rule the earth.” But, Bergoglio wrote that in a letter sent to four convents of cloistered nuns.
Complicating this story are some high-ranking prelates who have sided with the proponents of civil unions. Read the post for the details, the most troubling being the Archbishop-Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Daneels, who has stated that the Church “has never opposed the fact that there should exist a sort of ‘marriage’ between homosexuals, but one therefore speaks of a ‘sort of’ marriage, not of true marriage between a man and a woman, therefore another word must be found for the dictionary.” Daneels concluded: “About the fact that this should be legal, that it should be made legitimate through a law, about this the Church has nothing to say.”
The problem: The Pope’s silence on the matter—evidently because he is more concerned about “the oppression of the poor and defrauding workers of their wages—rather than….the sin of the sodomites,” according to Magister. He notes:
But to react to the challenge he relies more upon the prayers of the cloistered sisters than upon public proclamations, solemn declarations, or demonstrations in the street.
Until today there are no signs that as bishop of Rome he may wish to change this line of conduct.
Then, too, the Vatican’s spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, has stated:
[One must] clearly emphasize that marriage between a man and a woman is a specific and fundamental institution in the history of humanity. This does not change the fact that there could be some recognition of other forms of union between two persons. (italics added)
When asked what about Pope Francis’ reaction, Fr. Lombardi said: “It is the pope who must speak, I will let him talk.”
So, is the Pope open to and will the Church work out an accommodation concerning civil unions?
That’s not the primary question of interest to The Motley Monk, although it probably is focal for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
“What is going on here?” is The Motley Monk’s primary question.
Let there be no doubt that proponents of “homosexual marriage” will do everything in their power to advance their cause by besmirching Church teaching concerning marriage and family life. One favorite tactic involves depicting the Church as anachronistic and insensitive to the experience of human beings with “same-sex attraction.” Another favorite tactic involves marginalizing the Church by “exposing” the hypocrisy of the episcopate and of clerics in general, pointing out that many of them are not only homosexual but actually side with the proponents, yet live in fear of retribution if they speak their minds freely.
But, this “exposé” of then-Cardinal Bergoglio’s supposed support for some kind of compromise concerning civil unions, might reveal an attempt on the part of the proponents of “homosexual marriage” to bully now-Pope Francis by conflating two different ideas—social justice and so-called “homosexual marriage”—in an effort to get the Church to legitimate civil unions as a first step toward the latter.
If true, the Pope must tread very carefully. He is on the record as favoring a compromise solution that would have legitimized civil unions for persons of the same sex.
How will the Holy Father address this matter?
To read Sandro Magister’s post, click on the following link:
Kudos to retired Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk.
The six-time Pro-Bowler and member of the Ravens’ 2013 Super Bowl team chose not to attend a Ravens team meeting on Wednesday with President Barack Obama at the White House.
#77 is an ardent pro-life Catholic and his public criticism of the pro-abortion lobby now extends to President Obama for his very public support of Planned Parenthood.
On Thursday, Birk said in an interview on KFAN radio in Minneapolis:
I would say this, I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency but about five or six weeks ago, our President made a comment in a speech and he said, “God bless Planned Parenthood”….Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year.
I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement, and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t endorse that in any way…I’m very confused by [the President's] statement. For God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend.
Without fanfare, Matt Birk #77 represents well the “vocation of the laity” envisioned by the Second Vatican Council:
They exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ. (I.2.d)
Now that he’s retired from the NFL, perhaps #77 should evangelize those Catholics members of the U.S. Congress who don’t “get it.”
With yesterday being the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, it might do Catholics well to continue reflecting not only on the Body and Blood of Christ but also concerning how far clever marketers are willing to go to desecrate the Eucharist with the goal of promoting their products.
For example, consider the Australian company, AussieMite, which makes a spread of “the finest ingredients.”
AussieMite was founded by Roger Ramsey. His dream was to bring the best tasting savoury spread, made from the finest nutritions ingredients, a true Australian product, in support of fellow Australians.
We are grateful for all the support over the years and proud of our premium delicious product. It’s been a labour of love, as we strive to do our very best.
We hope you enjoy our delicious savoury spread.
Mr. Ramsey must surely believe the contents of his commercial appropriate. Why not promote the product by lampooning a central tenet of the Catholic faith? Or, Mr. Ramsey might ask, “Don’t Catholics have sense enough to realize the humor?” Or, might it be that Mr. Ramsey thinks the Eucharist is nothing more than a superstitious belief deserving of being mocked in order to promote his product to like-minded people?
As Brendan O’Donnell noted on the company’s Facebook page:
Thye ad is actually quite funny. Perhaps it’s time that the silent majorities around the world stopped being pushed around by minority groups of faceless wowser freaks who are still missing their witch hunts and burning at the stake.
Kelly Dillon wrote:
Loved the ad, off to buy a jar in the morning
Wayne Stringer added:
Thye [sic] ad is actually quite funny. Perhaps it’s time that the silent majorities around the world stopped being pushed around by minority groups of faceless wowser freaks who are still missing their witch hunts and burning at the stake.
Calling the ad “bloody appalling,” the Catholic blogger, Matt Fradd, has called for a boycott.
Trouble is, “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.”
A boycott is likely to draw greater attention to the ad and increase the product’s sales. The marketers win!
Perhaps it would be better to heed Jesus’ injunction: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29).
Theological debate tends to divide, as each side in the intellectual debate attempts to prevail with its cherished argument being stamped as “Orthodox.”
In this regard, the Lutheran theologian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote something to this effect: “The orthodox in one generation had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the heterodox. And, the heterodox in one generation also had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the orthodox.”
Thomas Aquinas comes to mind.
Seemingly unaffected by this important debate, the saints continue living the Gospel, even today.
Marielle Wakim, an editor at Los Angeles Magazine, forwarded to me a feature article appearing in its May 2013 edition concerning one of these saints among us. Reading the article, I thought of Pelikan’s admonition.
From the profile aired years ago on 60 Minutes, readers of The American Catholic may be familiar with “G Dog,” “Father G,” “G,” or to those who’ve met him more recently, “Pops.” He’s Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries, which he launched 25 years ago in Los Angeles and has built into the world’s most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program.
“G” exemplifies a man on a mission—a saint—who has accomplished with real human beings what no government agency could ever accomplish.
A man of prayer, “G” rises each morning at 4:30 in his room at a Jesuit-owned Craftsman bungalow in East L.A. for one hour of prayer and meditation. Yes, during the day “G” may drop the “F-bomb” in contentious situations and, yes, “G” enjoys single malt (Laphroaig). On weekends, “G” celebrates Mass and counsels detainees at youth probation camps, performs baptisms, weddings, and quinceañeras, and answers ex-gang members’ distress calls. Thursday is supposed to be “G’s” day off, but spending at least 100 days each year away from Homeboys on speaking tours, forget that.
One of those whose life has been changed by meeting “G” is Mario Cisneros, who said:
I was running around, back and forth to jail, and I got shot in the stomach and still I’m not stopping—not asking myself “What’s wrong with this picture?” Finally my little brother, 15 years old, gets shot—they killed him. “Is this the time?” I said no, and I kept going and the gangs were at war, back and forth, back and forth. Little by little we’re just decreasing the population of our neighborhoods. And then finally I got tired of it. God’s giving me these passes, and I better take advantage of them….So I walk through the doors of Homeboy Industries and it’s such a beautiful place. It’s the best place I’ve ever been. You can feel the love whenever you walk in. When Father G walks up to me and says, “You ready?” I’m ready.
Once a high-level drug dealer with a gang, Hector Verguo—a Protestant who now takes the seat behind the Executive Director’s desk when “G” travels, told his fiancée that Homeboy would always come first for him:
Since I’ve been at Homeboy, I got to see God at work. You see miracles happen here, like a miracle factory. And when you see it happen in front of you, you know that this is supernatural—this is God.
While “G” has been eminently successful in building Homeboy into an enterprise that rehabilitates gang members, addicts, and the like by giving hope who believe themselves to be hopeless, this “saint” isn’t the best of mendicants. Perhaps that’s why Marielle Wakim forwarded the article to me…to generate some donations for Homeboys Industries.
Whatever. It’s the Lord’s ongoing work of salvation and the May 2013 Los Angeles Magazine feature about “G” and his mission is inspiring, even if “G’s” theology might be “radical” or “heterodox,” depending upon which side of the debate one supports.
To read the Los Angeles Magazine’s article featuring “G,” click on the following link:
Following the election of Pope Francis, many were asking “What do you think of the new Pope?”
Judging from the responses, there was general satisfaction with the election of the Argentinian pontiff. His “humility” and “genuineness” seemed to top the list of reasons explaining this satisfaction.
Then came Holy Thursday and the foot washing. The new Pope washed the feet of women, including Muslim women.
This action raised a few eyebrows, especially on the part of conservative Catholics. “There were no female apostles,” was the standard response.
Questions were raised, too, especially on the part of the American catholique left.
“Was the Pope signaling ‘openness’ to new forms of ordained ministry, perhaps women deacons and priests?” those asking the question were wondering…and, truth be told, hoping.
Just as some conservatives correctly opined early into this new pontificate, that “signal” is now being taken as “fact” by some on the American catholique left.
According to a press release, Dr. Debra Meyers is to be “ordained” as Cincinnati’s first woman, Roman Catholic priest on May 25, 2013, at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church. Dr. Meyers’ ordination follows upon the April 27, 2013, “ordination” of Dr. Rosemarie Smead in Louisville, KY.
The press release states:
Women priests are leading the Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality for women in the church. We are the “Rosa Parks” of the Roman Catholic Church….Since two-thirds of the world’s poor are women, justice and equality must be top priorities for our church. Our world and church can no longer function without the voices of women’s lived experience. Women priests are visible reminders that all women are images of God.
Okay. That’s what the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) thinks. That’s nothing new.
But, the press statement offers two “signals” indicating that Pope Francis has encouraged their extra-ecclesial conduct:
The first signal: “We are encouraged by the tender gesture of Pope Francis who washed the feet of women in prison on Holy Thursday, thus breaking the sexist tradition of washing only men’s feet.”
The second signal: “During the Easter homily Francis affirmed women as the first witnesses to the Resurrection. ‘This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria….The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves.’”
The important point is not that ARCWP types are “cutting” and “pasting” snippets of the Holy Father’s actions and statements into statements to indicate his support of their erroneous beliefs. That’s bad enough. The important point is that those actions and statements lend themselves to this type of propaganda.
In response, some have opined that Pope Francis is “learning how to be Pope.” People should calm down and expect some bumps as the neophyte pontiff navigates that learning curve.
Perhaps there’s some merit to that opinion.
That said, it doesn’t take a member of Mensa to know that greater savvy is required on the international stage. Might it not be better, especially at the beginning and early months (or first year) of a pontificate, for the Pope just to “do the red” and “say the black” until he’s clearer about his responsibilities as well as the scope and impact of the exercise of those responsibilities as the Chief Shepherd?
Yes, the American catholique left would get angry with him. But, they’d argue, he’s been a Vaticanista apparatchik all along. He wasn’t created a cardinal advocating for women’s ordination or anything else on their agenda.
When the Pope’s opponents on the American catholique left see the Holy Father betraying his “social justice” roots, they won’t just be angry. No, that won’t express sufficiently the depth of their outrage, and perhaps that of the 70% of American Catholics who allegedly support the ordination of women.
That potentially could fuel even greater resistance than there is at present among a much broader swath of the Catholic populace in the United States than if the Holy Father had simply let the American catholique left portray him as a Vaticanista apparatchik. Amidst their griping, complaining, and moaning, he would be steering the ship of Holy Mother Church directly toward the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
To read the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests press release, click on the following link:
Academic administrators at the University of San Diego (USD) have offered what they believe is an instructive lesson—actually the second act in the drama titled “Inclusion and Diversity in U.S. Catholic Higher Education”—for knuckle-headed and knuckle-dragging Catholic Neanderthals who just don’t get what it means to be a truly Catholic university.
The instructive lesson is “PRIDE’s Celebration of Gender Expression: Supreme Drag Superstar2.” The event, sponsored by USD PRIDE ( an organization of undergraduate students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, and/or allies of the LGBTQ community) and approved by USD’s Office of Student Affairs, will take place on Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in USD’s Shiley Theater.
According to the USD Vice President of Student Affairs:
Similar to last year’s event, this show will be a combination of informative dialogue, campus resource offerings at information tables, and playful lip-synch performances designed both to raise awareness and understanding of the complex issues surrounding gender identity and expression, and to underscore the importance of mutual respect and the dignity of each individual.
The show as scheduled violates neither the university’s mission nor any university policies. The Celebration of Gender Expression supports the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person and does not promote either behavior or lifestyle that is contrary to the teachings of the Church.
USD supports its students in their journey and defends their right to plan and carry out events that conform to the rules uniformly applied to all approved student activities at the university.
Last year, USD President Mary Lyons defended Supreme Drag Superstar1. In a letter to USD’s Board of Trustees, President Lyons wrote that the event was “intended to foster students’ understanding of, and empathy for, the complexities of gender non-conformity.” More importantly, President Lyons also cited California state law and the fact that other Catholic universities have hosted drag shows as reasons for USD to approve the show.
So, if President Lyons is to be believed, one of the identifying characteristics of a Catholic university is sponsoring a drag show to underscore the importance of mutual respect and the dignity of each individual as well as to celebrate gender expression, albeit “in a way that supports the Church teaching on the dignity of the human person.”
To pre-empt the anticipated negative response to Drag Superstar2, USD administrators have released a statement touting the event as “educational.”
Not true, at least according to a statement issued by the Concerned Catholic USD Students:
The drag show undermines the dignity of the human person by advancing an ideology that is contrary to the natural law, and ultimately perpetuates the deep wounds of gender confusion rather than bringing true healing.
What is it that USD administrators “get” about Catholic higher education that those knuckle-headed and knuckle-dragging Catholic Neanderthals who belong to Concerned Catholic USD Students “don’t get”?
With the publication of one paragraph by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, it appears that the Catholic left’s honeymoon with Pope Francis may have hit a dead end. The paragraph reads:
…Archbishop Müller informed the Presidency that he had recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.
What’s this? Pope Francis is going to continue the process initiated by Pope Benedict XVI that is intended to curtail the doctrinal and liturgical errors propounded by the leadership of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)? Wasn’t this new pope—the pope of the people and the poor—supposed to be on the side of those who are oppressed and marginalized by all of those unjust social, political, and yes, religious structures that benefit the few?
According to a communique by the Holy See, there was a meeting earlier today including the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Presidency of the LCWR, and the Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle and the Holy See’s Delegate for the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR. According to the communique, the CDF Prefect, the Most Rev. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, first expressed “his gratitude for the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years.” Cardinal Müller then
…highlighted the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the important mission of Religious to promote a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium (Cf. Lumen gentium, nn. 43-47). He also emphasized that a Conference of Major Superiors, such as the LCWR, exists in order to promote common efforts among its member Institutes as well as cooperation with the local Conference of Bishops and with individual Bishops. For this reason, such Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See (Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 708-709).
It was after this little lecture that Cardinal Müller shot the missle across the LCWR’s port bow.
The Catholic left will not be happy and their minions in the mainstream media will surely fire back. In fact, it’s already happening. Hard questions are being raised about Pope Francis’ record in Argentina. According to John Allen, these questions include:
- Bergoglio’s response to two priests accused of sexual abuse, where critics have suggested he dropped the ball;
- why Argentina’s conference of Catholic bishops did not finish a set of sex abuse guidelines while he served as president;
- his relationship with Argentina’s military dictatorship as a Jesuit provincial during the 1970s;
- Bergoglio’s attitude toward liberation theology; and
- confusion over where he stood on the question of civil unions during a contentious national debate on gay marriage in 2009 and 2010.
Read Allen’s findings here.
Just a few short weeks ago upon his election as Pope, the LCWR issued the following statement:
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) offers its congratulations and heartfelt prayer to Pope Francis as he assumes the papacy at this critical time for the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio demonstrated great dedication to the mission of the Church during his leadership in Argentina. As he serves in the papacy, we trust that his many gifts will continue to be spent on behalf of the universal church, and most especially for people who live in poverty in all parts of the world.
As a conference of leaders of orders of Catholic sisters in the United States, we welcome Pope Francis’s spiritual leadership and look forward to working with him in carrying forward the Gospel message.
The honeymoon isn’t over…it’s likely hit a dead end. Will the Catholic left characterize Pope Francis—who told the clergy of Rome on Holy Thursday to be with their sheep and to smell like their sheep—as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”?
To read the communique, click on the following link:
To read John Allen’s article in NCROnline, click on the following link:
To read the LCWR statement, click on the following link: