Quotes Suitable for Framing: Abraham Lincoln

Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

 

Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

 

 

MARCH 15, 1865

     EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON

     DEAR MR. WEED:

     Every one likes a compliment. Thank you for yours on my little notification speech and on the recent inaugural address. I expect the latter to wear as well as–perhaps better than–anything I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told, and, as whatever of humiliation there is in it falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it.

          Truly yours,

                    A. Lincoln

Vampires

Through mere glimpses of him, however, demonic accuracy is achieved: Dracula is an Antichrist. He cannot attack unless willingly engaged. He baptizes his victims in his blood even as he drinks theirs in a sacrifice that gives eternal “life” in animated death. He unites captive souls to his existence, thriving on the unhallowed. He twists scripture to his purpose, lusts for worship … and fears Christ. Crisis Magazine, Oct 2013

Over at Father Z’s blog, he made a (joking) post about how sad he was that he didn’t get a vampire hunting kit for Christmas. One comment pointed out that we can’t sell blessed objects. (Technically false; blessed objects can be sold for their intrinsic value, without added price for the blessing, but accurate enough in terms of buying a Vampire hunting kit which would be pretty worthless without blessing.) This got me thinking about the various legends related to vampires, and Catholicism, especially how often they are portrayed wrongly.

The most famous example of bad (horrifying, really) Catholic theology that involves vampires and popular culture is probably the Dracula story. At one point, Van Helsing makes a putty out of consecrated Hosts, and uses it to vampire-proof a room. It’s supposed to be alright, because he has a dispensation. (No, they don’t work that way.)

Needless to say, this isn’t respectful of the Body of Christ, and if the vampire is reacting to the Body of Christ then it isn’t effective, either.

With respect to the presence of Christ, most theologians hold that, although the host externally remains intact for several days, the real presence ceases as soon as the host is fully soaked with water as from that moment the species is no longer exclusively that of bread.

That aside, Dracula is rather well researched in regards to the folklore of vampires. For example, the crucifix has power in and of itself, since it has a representation of Christ on it, while crosses depend more on the person holding the cross invoking God directly. In various times and places, the formally-blessed cross (or other objects, such as holy medals) was thought to be enough to invoke God. Those objects are called sacramentals, things that recall the sacraments. (Dracula’s mistaken abuse of the Host is indicative of someone who didn’t recognize Transubstantiation, but viewed it as a sort of super-strong symbol.) The most obvious sacramental, which is also used in popular pieties and commonly available for the asking, is holy water– many parishes even have dispensers. It should be kept in mind that the people who really believed in vampires weren’t trying to use holy water or any other sacramental for some kind of a magical effect, but to invoke God’s protection from forces of evil.

Some of the things vampires fear are symbolic, instead of sacramental. Running water calls to mind baptism and the washing away of sins, silver is “white” metal and thus pure, garlic and various plants were believed to be medicines against corruption. Even salt, because of its powers of preservation, was thought in some places to ward off evil, including vampires.

Vampires lack of reflection probably grew out of the folklore of the soulless not having a shadow, and the way that mirrors were once backed with silver. Some more folklore savvy stories had digital cameras work to record vampires, but not silver-based movie cameras, and at least one used silver nitrate in the blood to kill a vampire.

Speaking of souls, this is probably the biggest problem with vampire stories: all too often, authors write “vampires” that by all evidence possess rational souls. To shamelessly steal–er, borrow– from Jimmy Akin’s highly enjoyable Theology of the Living Dead, there are four basic options for any flavor of living dead:

  1. Animal soul – this is the most traditional, but has more in common with modern zombies as far as behavior goes; modern vampires are generally more intelligent than the average human.
  2. Non-human rational soulBuffy the Vampire Slayer’s vampires– they are evil, but the “demons” animating vampires aren’t Satanic, and a lot of the “demons” are just multidimensional travelers. The theology of that television show makes my head hurt….
  3. Human souls – the ‘vampire’ subculture would be an example of this, or if a story had vampirism as a sort of disease.
  4. No soul – the body is remote-controlled, either by technology (nanobot vampires) or perhaps demonic possession. (As I understand it, demons are spirits, rather than souls, and couldn’t inhabit a body the way a human soul would. I’d highly advise a lot of mythology research before anybody tried to write this!)

Most vampire stories these days are either humans with a disease or non-human souls animating a body; some of them aren’t even “allergic” to blessed objects. Obviously, if they have rational souls, we have to treat them as people rather than monsters, but then it doesn’t make any sense why holy objects would harm them.

On a practical level, I’d say that anything that smokes on contact with a holy object is to be avoided.

For Halloween, I’m cross-posting slightly edited versions of my C&C monster series from Catholic Stand, one a week. Hope that you folks enjoy them.

“Because Shut Up” He Said

How do you solve a problem like Walter?

Walter Cardinal Kasper, that is.

Cardinal Kasper, who is leading the charge to allow some civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion, has given an interview with Zenit. The entire thing is a dispiriting mess, but the truly horrendous part comes partway through the interview.

I do not see this going on in the Pope’s head. But I think the majority of these five people are open people who want to go on with this. The problem, as well, is that there are different problems of different continents and different cultures. Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.


But are African participants listened to in this regard?

No, the majority of them [who hold these views won’t speak about them].


They’re not listened to?

In Africa of course [their views are listened to], where it’s a taboo.


What has changed for you, regarding the methodology of this synod?

I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. But they should not tell us too much what we have to do. (emphasis mine)

So a Prince of the Church has essentially dismissed the viewpoints of an entire continent, as well as a large chunk of another. This from a Cardinal who only moments earlier had praised Pope Francis because:

Is there any sense that he’s trying to push things in that direction?

He does not push. His first speech was freedom: freedom of speech, everyone should say what he thinks and what he has on his mind and this was very positive.

Well, obviously it’s only positive so long as those backward ninnies from Africa and the Middle East keep their pieholes shut, right Cardinal?

By the way, people should not disregard how awful the rest of the interview is. First, here’s the Cardinal sounding like he would be a good addition to the National Catholic Reporter:

But people feel the Church’s teaching is going to be undermined by your proposal if it passes, that it’s undoing 2,000 years of Church teaching. What is your view on this?

Well nobody is putting into question the indissolubility of marriage. I think it wouldn’t be a help for people, but if you look to the word of Jesus, there are different synoptic gospels in different places, in different contexts. It’s different in the Judeo-Christian context and in the Hellenistic context. Mark and Matthew are different. There was already a problem in the apostolic age. The Word of Jesus is clear, but how to apply it in complex, different situations? It’s a problem to do with the application of these words.

And for those who still think the relatio is nothing to get too worked up about, there’s this gem:

The teaching does not change?

The teaching does not change but it can be made more profound, it can be different. There is also a certain growth in the understanding of the Gospel and the doctrine, a development. Our famous Cardinal Newman had spoken on the development of doctrine. This is also not a change but a development on the same line. Of course, the Pope wants it and the world needs it. We live in a globalized world and you cannot govern everything from the Curia. There must be a common faith, a common discipline but a different application.

But remember kids, you have nothing to worry about. No doctrine is going to change.

You may now resume putting your heads in the sand.

This Isn’t America

 

tolerance

 

 

The late great Art Carney, who rose to fame for his comedic portrayal of Ed Norton in Jackie Gleason’s The Honeymooners television show, also had a flare for drama.  I recall one role in which he played a character being told by the police that they they had a right to search his house without a warrant.  His response has always stayed with me:  “Not unless I made a mistake this morning and woke up in Russia instead of the US. !” That is precisely my reaction to this story that Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reports on:

 

 

The city of Houston has fought a pitched battle to enforce its equal-rights ordinance, but in an ironic twist, they may find themselves afoul of the First Amendment for doing so. The ordinance has come under fire from a number of quarters, but perhaps none more determined than Christian pastors who see the law as a threat to their ability to preach. They have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the law, and city attorneys in turn demonstrated exactly why they feared this in the first place:

Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

 

 

Pastor Hernan Castano received a subpoena and believes his sermons are protected by the First Amendment.

“For a city government to step into churches and ask pastors to turn in sermons, it’s gone too far. This is not what America, the nation is about,” he told Eyewitness News. …

Some signatures were acquired at churches which make the sermons fair game, according to City Attorney Dave Feldman.

“If they choose to do this inside the church, choose to do this from the pulpit, then they open the door to the questions being asked,” Feldman said.

Again, that argument might work for issues about the petitions, and possibly even the mayor, if it was tied to their tax status and electoral activities, assuming the city could assert jurisdiction on those points. Those topics might be defensible in a discovery demand, too, although that would come from a court motion rather than a subpoena from the city attorneys. But when it comes to their positions on LGBT issues and “gender identity,” that’s a different kettle of fish. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: A Feature Not a Bug

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Father Z asks the eternal question in regard to the release of the Relation:  Cui bono?

 

 

We continue to watch the spin and the spinning of the spin after yesterday’s Synod… what can we call it?…. debacle.  Yes, debacle.  The release of the Relatio post disceptationem, an unprecedented mid-point summary document, was a debacle.   It has provoked “wonder”, which is old Church code for “shock, scandal provoking confusion”.

It was telling that, during yesterday’s presser, for the presentation of the Relatio, the chair of the Synod, Card. Erdö, tossed a question about the now infamous homosexuality paragraphs over to Archbp. Bruno Forte (whom some suggest might wind up as Prefect of a Franciscan CDF… if it isn’t Archbp. Fernandez), saying: “the one who wrote the passage ought to know what it means”.

The Holy See Press Office spun the Relatio this way:

Declaration of the Director of the Holy See Press Office on behalf of the General Secretariat of the Synod

The General Secretariat of the Synod, in response to reactions and discussions following the publication of the Relatio post disceptationem, and the fact that often a value has been attributed to the document that does not correspond to its nature, [Is that so?] reiterates that it is a working document, which summarises the interventions and debate of the first week, and is now being offered for discussion by the members of the Synod gathered in the Small Groups, in accordance with the Regulations of the Synod.
The work of the Small Groups will be presented to the Assembly in the General Congregation next Thursday morning.

A good example of spin – and the massive damage inflicted by the release of the Relatio – is found at CNN, which has a few slanted points:

Under conservative assault, Vatican backtracks on gay comments

Rome (CNN) — Under furious assault from conservative Catholics, [Furious assault?] the Vatican backtracked Tuesday on its surprisingly positive assessment of gays and same-sex relationships.
In a report Monday, the Vatican had said that gays and lesbians have “gifts to offer” the Christian community and acknowledged that same-sex couples can give “precious support” to one other.
The statement, an interim report from a closely watched meeting of Catholic clergy here, was widely praised by liberals. It is believed to be the first time the Vatican has said anything positive about gay relationships. [And yet it isn't supposed to be an official document, a final document.  It's just a working document.  Right?]
[...]

And that, even with its ominous language about conservatives and their furious assaults, is somewhat more responsible than what you will see at some other outlets, especially the even more openly pro-homosexual sites.

Again, my great worry is not so much what the Synod is talking about, but the expectations that are being raised because of gaffs, errors, bad decisions, weird language and, it must be said, the machinations of some within the Church.

So, let’s accept that the Relatio is just a “working document”.  Fine.

Did nobody in the Synod office or in the Press Office know that when the MSM got hold of it, people were going to go bananas?

Of course they knew that chaos would occur and that certain paragraphs would be read with strong reactions.  Of course they did.

Therefore, someone wanted the chaos.  Someone wanted those now infamous paragraphs to hit the press and then be spun into all sorts of false conclusions and false expectation.  They wanted to bump the needle, move the paradigm in a certain direction.  This seems like a classic exercise in creeping incrementalism.  They know that they are not going to get their way, or get everything that they want… this time.  But they toss things out, create the chaos, and then, even as they back away from it and do some clean up, they have managed to moved the paradigm a degree or two toward their goal.  That’s how they work. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Price’s Raid

Price's Raid

The last significant military offensive of the Confederacy west of the Mississippi, Price’s Raid started on August 28, 1864 when Major General Sterling Price, a former governor of Missouri, departed Camden, Arkansas on his horse Bucephalus.  Leading three divisions of Confederate cavalry, approximately 12,000 troopers, in the longest raid of the war, traveling 1, 434 miles across Missouri, into Kansas, through the Indian Territory and back into Arkansas.  During the raid Price and his men fought some 43 battles and skirmishes.

The raid was launched more out Department Head Lieutenant General Kirby Smith’s frustration than anything else.  With the Union control of the Mississippi, Smith and his Trans-Mississippi Theater was effectively cut off from the West of the War.  Smith hit upon the idea of sending Sterling Price into Missouri to retake it for the Confederacy.  With 12,000 men, Price had no chance of doing that.  The Union had some 35,000 troops stationed in Missouri, tens of thousands of pro-Union Missouri militia on call, and ample reinforcements available from the east by rail or by river.  What Price could do however, was to assist the pro-Confederate guerillas who were part of a conflict that pre-dated the Civil War with the struggle between Kansas and Missouri in the fifties, and which would continue in Missouri through Reconstruction and, with outlaw gangs like that led by Jesse James, well into the 1870’s.

Price named his force the Army of Missouri.  All cavalry, the infantry units he had been initially promised being diverted for other tasks, his army lacked much essential equipment, many of his men being barefoot and dressed in near rags.  However, Price, although he had his failings as a commander did not lack daring, and on September 19, he led his three divisions into his home state of Missouri.

On September 27 at Fort Davidson, near Ironton, Missouri, Price had his first battle and his first victory of the raid, but incurred high casualties.  Union troops were rushing to defend Saint Louis and Price, realizing that taking Saint Louis was well beyond his strenth, veered off to the west and Jefferson City.  Finding Jefferson City too heavily fortified, Price led his army to Booneville, north of Jefferson City.  Here on October 10, 1864 his troops got out of hand and alienated the pro-Confederate populace of the town.  On October 11, his troops repulsed a Union attack.  Bloody Bill Anderson and his gang of cutthroats joined Price’s force at Booneville, with Price outraged by the Union scalps displayed by Anderson and his men.  Ordered by Price to attack the North Missouri Railroad, Anderson and his men instead plundered numerous small towns north of the Missouri river, further alienating public sentiment.

At Glasgow, Missouri on October 15, Price gained the surrender of the Union garrison and a treasure trove of supplies, rifles, uniforms and horses.  His forces also took Sedalia, Missouri the same day.  Price’s army stayed in Glasgow for three days, which allowed the Union to bring troops to attack his force.

Riding towards, Kansas City, Price won several victories, but his progress was checked by Major General Samuel Curtiss leading a 22,000 man Union force he designated the Army of the Border.  On October 23,  at Westport, Missouri, now part of Kansas City, Price in four hours of attack was unable to break the Union lines, each side incurring 1500 casualties.

Price then began a long retreat along the Kansas-Missouri border, pursued by Union forces.  His command was reduced to near starvation as it made its way back through the Indian Territory and Texas.  On December 2, 1864 Price led back into Arkansas 6,000 of the 12,000 troops he started out with.

Here is Price’s report of his raid, which gives a fairly rosy hue on a campaign that ultimately accomplished nothing of value for the Confederacy: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Pierced Vermin of the Apocalypse

The  second in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.

We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose.  I like to refer to these as  The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity.  Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post.  We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin.  The  second of the Hamsters is the Pierced Vermin. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Bravo Father Longenecker!

Father Longenecker

 

Father Dwight Longenecker has an appeal to the Pope in Crisis magazine:

 

I have heard the words of my Holy Father and taken them to heart. I sincerely want to be that kind of priest.

 

However, I can only do this if the timeless truths of the Catholic faith are firmly defined and defended. The dogmas, doctrines and disciplines of the Catholic faith are the tools of my trade. They provide the rules for engagement, the playbook for the game, the map for the journey and the content for the mercy and compassion I wish to display. The historic teachings of the Catholic faith, founded on the teachings of Christ the Lord, revealed by divine inspiration and developed through the magisterium of the Catholic Church provide the method for my mercy, the content for my compassion and the only saving truths I have to share.

 

This is teamwork Holy Father. I can only do the job you want me to do if you do the job you have been called to do. With the greatest respect and love, please don’t feel that it is your job to tinker with the timeless truths. If my job is to be the compassionate pastor for those in the pew and beyond, then your job is to be the primary definer and defender of the faith. I can’t do my job if you don’t do yours.

Yes, I know you want to inspire us to be that kind of compassionate pastor, but to be honest, I find that inspiration elsewhere. I remember meeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta and being inspired by her compassion. I am inspired by St Damien of Molokai, St Maximillian Kolbe, St Isaac Jogues and a host of other valiant and radiant souls. While your example of compassion, humility and simplicity is stunning and attractive, your most important work is to define and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church so that together we can all proclaim it and live it with the compassion, mercy and forgiveness we all agree is necessary.

I know the Synod on the Family is an attempt to make the church more compassionate and caring, but with respect, this is not best done at the Vatican or diocesan level but on the parish level. I was taught that subsidiarity is a Catholic principle: that solutions to problems and ideas for initiatives are best taken within the local community. Compassion, mercy and the struggle with family issues happens every day at the parish level. You know that from your own work at the front line as a priest and bishop. At the Vatican level the discussion is theoretical and theological as it should be. If you try to tinker with these matters at the global level it doesn’t help. It makes life more confusing and frustrating for us at the local level.

Here is an example: twice in the last week I have had to deal with Catholics in irregular marriages. One woman married outside the church and told me that she thought it was now okay for her to come to communion because, “The pope has changed all those old rules.” Another man has divorced his wife and is living with another woman. He also assured me very confidently that it was now fine for him to come to communion because, “Pope Francis has changed the rules.” I know you mean well Holy Father, and I admire and like you, but this process on which you have led us is not helping. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

What Do We Tell Him?

Pope Francis Facepalms

 

‘I am not a pillar of the Church, but more like a flying buttress — I support the church from the outside.’

Winston Churchill

 

 

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has a question for us:

 

 

I have a serious question for which I’d like a serious answer.  And I’m not going to provide any commentary of my own just yet; I’m much more interested in what you guys think.  But should we flying buttresses of the Catholic Church, to borrow Churchill’s analogy, start seriously worrying right about now?

In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.

Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs to emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle.

As regards matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially trained priest who would be able to offer the parties advice on the validity of their marriage.

In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Cardinal Burke on the Relatio

Raymond Cardinal Burke

 

Raymond Cardinal Burke is one of many clerics speaking out against the Relatio, go here to read all about it, at the Synod on the Family:

 

Cardinal Burke responded late yesterday to questions from Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about his concerns, his view of the mid-term report, and why he thinks a statement from Pope Francis is “long overdue”.

CWR: In what way is information about what is happening in the Synod being either manipulated or only partially reported and made public?

Cardinal Burke: The interventions of the individual Synod Fathers are not made available to the public, as has been the case in the past. All of the information regarding the Synod is controlled by the General Secretariat of the Synod which clearly has favored from the beginning the positions expressed in the Relatio post disceptationem of yesterday morning.

While the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers are not published, yesterday’s Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and, I am told, even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church.
 
CWR: How is that reflected in the Synod’s midterm document, released yesterday, which is being criticised by many for its appeal to a so-called “law of graduality”?

Cardinal Burke: While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept. Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable.

The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called “revolutionary”, teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.
 
CWR: How important is it, do you think, that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?

Cardinal Burke: In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue. The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.

The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

All is Well!

 

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If a Pope decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow,  I suspect Mark’s only response would be to inquire what shade.

Donald R. McClarey

For those of you disturbed by the Relatio of the Synod, go here to read about it, Mark Shea explains at length why you are simply a misguided “Reactionary”:

The latest in months of Reactionary panic (ongoing since March 2013 with the election of Francis) was on display last week in the fears about “gradualism” being discussed at the Synod. What’s gradualism? Gradualism is the common sense fact that conversion usually takes a long time and sinners typically require baby steps to change.  Calah Alexander, who is, like Yr. Obdt. Svt, a wretched sinner, has some rather appreciative words for gradualism. To which I say, “Hear! Hear!” I’ve never met a confessor who was not a gradualist and I doubt you have either. Indeed, most confessors I know tend to discourage gigantic vows of massive instantaneous conversion, particularly with entrenched sins. Why? Because when we fail to keep them, as we almost surely will, we can fly to the opposite end of the spectrum and despair. So the counsels tend to be “slow and steady wins the race”.

Unfortunately, Reactionaries (who tend to lack people skills) tend also to understand “gradualism” to mean “Let’s gradually change basic Church teaching until it conforms to the world, the flesh, and the devil.”  When they hear “gradualism” they don’t hear “How can the Church welcome sinners and help them to become saints by baby step?”  They hear “How can we slowly pervert the teaching of the Church until  abortion and gay marriage are the eighth and ninth sacraments?” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Bizarre Days At the Vatican

Bizarro Days

 

 

Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing is reporting from Rome and his one word description is a good summary of what is going on:  bizarre:

I have been in Rome, by my rough count, 100 times during my adult life. Some visits had to do with secular matters of culture or politics, most with questions related to the Catholic Church. But I think I can say without the slightest doubt that yesterday was the strangest day I’ve ever passed in the Eternal City.

By now, almost everyone interested in Catholic matters knows about what can only be called the truly bizarre document that the Vatican released Monday: the relatio summing up the first week of work by the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. I was at the press conference after the release and it, too, was a very strange thing indeed. More on that below. But before you despair – I can tell you that there were some questions from utterly astonished old Vatican reporters in that room and journalists walking around in shock outside for hours after – things are both bad and maybe also not so entirely bad as they might first seem.

First, the bad. For reasons that may only be know to certain figures involved – or to the God who searches the human heart – a document coming from the Vatican now has passages like these:

    50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
     51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. [All emphases added.]

If you find your head spinning at the language italicized above, you aren’t the only one. Several of the journalists in the room put very carefully worded questions to the four members of the press conference panel, trying to elicit clarifications. I’m sorry to say that with the exception of Cardinal Erdö, every one of them engaged in a level of spin unworthy of a Church that seeks to proclaim the truth about the Good News of our redemption by Jesus Christ.

I won’t mention the names of respondents out of respect for the nakedness of our fathers. But let me suggest some of the dynamic in the room. One female reporter for RAI Radio, the Italian state-run broadcast services, asked pointedly in response to the last section above about the rights of children, whether they don’t have a right to be raised by a male father and a female mother (an argument that in Europe, especially in France, has been very prominent)? The reply from an exalted cleric was to enter a thicket of platitudes about parental rights to educate a child, which no one objects to or has ever objected to, insofar as they were intelligible. But the fundamental question of having a real mother and a real father went entirely untouched – by a prince of the Church talking about a burning current question.

Similarly, an American journalist raised a question about the absurd phrase in section 50: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” In one way, of course, this is true, since all people have gifts and qualities. The journalist wanted to know, however, whether the Synod fathers were saying that homosexuals have gifts to offer precisely because of their homosexuality? That seemed to be implied.
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PopeWatch: Archbishop Gądecki

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

If you are alarmed by the Relatio, the mid-term report from the Synod on the Family, go here to read about it, you are in good company as Rorate Caeli informs us:

 

 

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference did not hesitate to say that this document departs from the teaching of John Paul II, and even that in it can be noticed traces of the anti-marriage ideology. According to Archbishop Gądecki, this text also highlights the lack of a clear vision for the synodal assembly.

“Referring to the issues of marriage and family, certain criteria are being applied that raise doubt. For example, the criterion of gradualism. Can you really treat cohabitation as gradual, on the path to holiness? Today, the discussion also highlighted that the doctrine presented in the document is marked by the sin of omission. As if the world’s view prevailed and everything was imperfection which leads to perfection… Attention was paid not so much to what this document says, but to what it does not say. Speak about the practical exceptions, but we also need to present the truth. Also, the points that speak of children entrusted to same-sex couples are formulated somewhat as if this situation is being praised! This is also a defect of this text, which should be an incentive to fidelity, family values, but instead seems to accept everything as it is. It created an impression that the teaching of the Church has been merciless so far, as if the teaching of mercy were beginning only now.”

→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Catholicism Lite Triumphs at the Synod

Catholicism Lite

 

 

The Synod on the Family has issued a document summarizing the discussions so far.  It is perhaps the most mealy mouthed Church document that I have ever read, which is saying something considering the competition for that title over the past fifty years.  Here is the heart of the document:

 

 

 

46.        In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

     47.        As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.

     48.        Suggesting limiting themselves to only “spiritual communion” was questioned by more than a few Synodal Fathers: if spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in the sacrament? As a result a greater theological study was requested starting with the links between the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist in relation to the Church-sacrament. In the same way, the moral dimension of the problem requires further consideration, listening to and illuminating the consciences of spouses.

     49.        The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised in the interventions of the Synodal Fathers. The differences in the matrimonial regulations of the Orthodox Churches creates serious problems in certain contexts to which have to be found suitable responses in communion with the Pope. The same applies to inter-religious marriages.

Welcoming homosexual persons

     50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

     51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

The transmission of life and the challenge of the declining birthrate

     53.        It is not difficult to notice the spread of a mentality that reduces the generation of life to a variable of an individual’s or a couple’s plans. Economic factors sometimes have enough weight to contribute to the sharp drop in the birthrate which weakens the social fabric, compromising the relationship between generations and rendering the view of the future less certain. Being open to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love.

     54.        Probably here as well what is required is a realistic language that is able to start from listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional opening to life as that which human life requires to be lived to its fullest. It is on this base that we can rest an appropriate teaching regarding natural methods, which allow the living in a harmonious and aware way of the communication between spouses, in all its dimensions, along with generative responsibility. In this light, we should go back to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI, which underlines the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control.

     55.        So help is required to live affectivity, in marriage as well, as a path of maturation, in the evermore profound welcoming of the other and in an ever-fuller giving. It has to be emphasized in this sense the need to offer formative paths that nourish married life and the importance of a laity that provides an accompaniment consisting of living testimony. It is undoubtedly of great help the example of a faithful and profound love made up of tenderness, of respect, capable of growing in time and which in its concrete opening to the generation of life allows us to experience a mystery that transcends us.

The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization

     56.        The fundamental challenge facing families today is undoubtedly that of education, rendered more difficult and complex by today’s cultural reality. What have to be considered are the needs and expectations of families capable of testifying in daily life, places of growth, of concrete and essential transmission of the virtues that provide form for existence.

     57.        In this Church can carry out a precious role in supporting families, starting from Christian initiation, through welcoming communities. What is asked of these, today even more than yesterday, in complex as well as mundane situations, is to support parents in their educative undertaking, accompanying children and young people in their growth through personalized paths capable of introducing them to the full meaning of life and encouraging choices and responsibilities, lived in the light of the Gospel.

 

Conclusion

     58.        The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view. All the same the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish that from the beginning of our work Pope Francis has extended to us, inviting us to the courage of the faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Christopher Columbus and Historical Optimism

 

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Harvard professor Samuel Eliot Morison, who was about to become the official historian of the Navy during World War II and who would attain Admiral rank, in 1943 came out with his two volume Pulitzer prize winning biography of Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea.  The prologue in that book is a standing rebuke of the historical pessimism that infests our own time:

At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science, and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune [boring] and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past.

Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom. Every effort to recover the holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem, touchstone of Christian prestige, had been a failure. The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had overrun most of Greece, Albania and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna….

With the practical dissolution of the Empire and the Church’s loss of moral leadership, Christians had nothing to which they might cling. The great principle of unity represented by emperor and pope was a dream of the past that had not come true. Belief in the institutions of their ancestors was wavering. It seemed as if the devil had adopted as his own the principle “divide and rule.” Throughout Western Europe the general feeling was one of profound disillusion, cynical pessimism and black despair….

Morrison goes on to note that the Nuremburg Chronicle was in preparation in 1492 which purported to be a universal history from the creation of the world.
Lest any reader feel an unjustified optimism, the Nuremberg chroniclers place 1493 in the Sixth or penultimate Age of the world, and leave six blank pages on which to record events from the date of print to the Day or Judgment. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Indoctrination Not Education

Indoctrination

 

Ericka Andersen at Victory Girls, gives us yet another example of the way in which education is often simple indoctrination these days:

 

The University of California-San Francisco is launching a new course on abortion, the first class of it’s kind.

The aim is to “contextualize abortion care within a public health framework from both clinical and social perspectives.”

What “Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications” is really striving to do is normalize abortion as a typical healthcare procedure.

What they don’t acknowledge is that almost all abortions are elective — and only 3% are due to problems with the mother’s actual health. There are also a small percentage of abortions performed on rape or incest victims, but this is also about 3%. At least (and that’s being generous) 90% of abortions are elective — for reasons such as “not ready,” “too young,” “inconvenient,” “don’t want people to know I’m pregnant,” or “inadequate finances.”

Renowned abortion researcher Alan Guttmacher once said, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life.”

By the way, Guttmacher served as president of Planned Parenthood and vice-president of the American Eugenics Society, but that’s just a little detail.

Abortion is almost never healthcare. If anything, it’s the opposite. Doesn’t a doctor pledge to, “First, do no harm.” It’s beyond comprehension how any doctor can perform abortions and remember that’s an oath they took. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find one who has no trouble with it.

“I think that if we can inspire even a small portion of the people who take the course to take steps in their communities to increase access to safe abortion and decrease stigma about abortion, then we have been totally successful,” Dr. Jody Steinauer, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California – San Francisco said.

Steinauer noted that this “stigma” results in silence on the issue of and leads people “to believe that [abortion] is not common,” when it  is.

The course syllabus includes sections on “overcoming obstacles to abortion access” and “patient-centered care for first-trimester abortion.” Well, I’m glad to see they haven’t graduated to late-term abortion care but that can’t be too far down the road.

Here’s the thing, University of California, abortion will never be normalized. A 2012 Gallup poll showed that Americans lean pro-life by a nine point margin. You can’t deflect the reality of abortion, which is ending the life of a human being in growth. There’s literally no way around the science of when life begins. You can only justify in blind denial after that. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

October 12, 1960: Nikita Khrushchev Pounds His Shoe at the UN

 

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Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!  (Alternative translation of the Russian:  We will dig you in.)

Nikita Khrushchev, to Western diplomats, November 18, 1956 at a diplomatic reception.  He later denied that he meant it literally but that, as Marx said, Communism was the grave digger of capitalism and that it was the Western proletariat who would topple capitalism in the West and not the Soviet Union.

 

By the time I reached the papers of 10 October 1960, I was convinced that the shoe had never left Khrushchev’s foot. Like every New Yorker 40 years earlier, I, too, wanted him to go home. As in a perfect detective novel, I was now afraid that my hero would get caught by some stupid mistake, just before the case closed in his favour.

That day, Khrushchev announced he would be leaving the United States on Thursday 13 October. The UN and New York took a deep breath. I also sighed with relief. On Tuesday 11 October, the Soviet leader addressed the UN one last time. The argument was heated as usual, but no shoe was indicated. I prayed: “You’ve done what you could. Please, go home. We are all tired.” On Wednesday 12 October 1960, there it was, on the front pages of all national papers: Nikita Sergeyevich and his famous shoe. My heart fell. I was in a state of shock, probably no less than those in the UN hall 40 years earlier. Swallowing tears of disappointment, I stared at the page for minutes, then the words started to turn into sentences.

The head of the Philippine delegation, Senator Lorenzo Sumulong, expressed his surprise at the Soviet Union’s concerns over western imperialism, while it, in turn, swallowed the whole of eastern Europe. Khrushchev’s rage was beyond anything he had ever shown before. He called the poor Filipino “a jerk, a stooge and a lackey of imperialism”, then he put his shoe on the desk and banged it.

Nina Khrushchev, Granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I hear people who view with alarm the complexities and the dangers of the contemporary world claim to be nostalgic for the Cold War.  As someone who lived through most of the Cold War, with the free world locked in a seemingly never ending conflict with  totalitarian enemies, and the threat of instant nuclear annihilation always hovering on the horizon, I do not miss it at all.

 

Nikita  Khrushchev

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