I like to return to the subject of bad music in the Church periodically. I think it is a symptom of the post Vatican II “identity crisis” of the human portion of the Church. We no longer know who we are, what we should do or where we are going, and our music reflects this lost, aimless attitude by endlessly playing the most banal music in the history of the Church, as if to make certain that we receive no hint of inspiration to lead us out of our spiritual morass.
What is the Catholic hymn you hate the most? (I know, I know there are so many choices!) For me it is hands down Sing a New Song by ex-Jesuit Dan Schutte, a founding member of the Saint Louis Jesuits, the group responsible for writing more truly wretched music than any other organization in the history of Man. A miserable piece of doggerel that has been played to death at Masses since it fell from Schutte’s pen in 1972. Ah the seventies! One more crime for that kidney stone of a decade!
Why is Catholic music at Mass so bad when we have such a magnificent musical heritage?
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, brings us this story that highlights one of the problems that the Church has these days with precious snowflakes who think they are heroic rebels:
Northwestern University student Kathleen Ferraro was RAISED CATHOLIC!! and thinks that it’s extremely important for all of you people to understand that fact:
My name is Kathleen and I am a little Catholic schoolgirl. I wore a sweater vest and knee-highs and a skirt that could be no more than two inches above my knees. Rogue nuns wandered the halls of my high school. We “left room for Jesus” at school dances, all of which were supervised by a resident priest. I come from a devoutly Roman Catholic family from a primarily Catholic community largely dominated by Catholic institutions, schools, values and beliefs.
Yet young Katie doesn’t consider herself Catholic any more.
And yet against all odds, I don’t fit into Catholicism. My Catholic upbringing and education seemed the perfect formula for a perfect Catholic. Nonetheless, I’ve developed values and beliefs that significantly diverge from this foundation.
Gee. Wonder what those might be.
Whenever I think about this question, I always resort to my list-making ways, crafting an inventory of the reasons that Catholicism has not worked for me. Old-fashioned values and traditions, hesitation towards accepting the LGBTQ community and inherent political undertones of church leadership leave me feeling conflicted and uneasy. I will never understand why dressing up in a modest J.Crew dress and sitting in the first pew at church trumps participating in a climate march, or why accepting doctrine on faith alone beats independent thinking, questioning and customizing one’s religious life. For me, religion has been more a culture of privilege than of prayer, a competition of piety rather than a humble quest of personal growth and spiritual connection. These are all examples from my experience with religion that motivate me to reject Catholicism, but as I think about it, are these also reasons that Catholicism rejects me?
No, because that’s just stupid.
I believe it is. Speaking only for the Catholic institutions I come from, I do not fit the prototype of what a Catholic is supposed to be–the by the book churchgoer who accepts Catholicism because that is what is true.
I am pro-choice, don’t go to church on Sundays, don’t put stock in the Bible or doctrine, challenge traditional ideas of religion and spirituality and care infinitely more about trying to be a kind, humble person than actively worshipping.
In other words, an Episcopalian.
On one hand, this rejection validates my personal beliefs and their deliberate divergence from Catholicism. On the other hand, this rejection leaves me unfulfilled. I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers: the very exclusivity that prompts me to reject Catholicism in the first place. Its a perplexing paradox – my beliefs exclude me and define me as an independent. And because my beliefs disqualify me from active participation, I am consequently excluded from a community that I want to engage with, though not necessarily be a part of. I would say “its not you, its me,” but I think “its not me, its you” is equally appropriate.
I’m not saying that my beliefs are right,
You are so.
but I am saying that I want to be heard, not just listened to.
Every Anglican in the world knows that means that we keep yammering until the Roman Catholic Church realizes that it’s wrong and I’m right.
For me, this conversation is not about stylizing religion to suit the tastes of young adults;
HAW, HAW HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW!!
it’s about aligning all voices with the process of organized religion and earnestly engaging in different conceptualizations of faith.
Whatever that means. Katie? I’d like to tell you a little bit about my mom.
Over and over again, I’m amazed at what a visionary my mother was. Mom was also RAISED CATHOLIC!! but had some sort of major conflict with the Catholic Church in the 40′s, the nature of which she never disclosed to any of us.
I suspect what it might have been but I don’t know for certain so I’m not going to speculate. But to those of you whose parents are still with you, a word of warning; you find out quite a bit after they shuffle off this mortal coil.
Mom was always a little bit of a rebel. She was born and raised in New York City and when she was in college at Adelphi, she vocally stood up for the Jews. She’d married in the late 30′s, early 40′s, somewhere in there, and had a daughter shortly after that. Her husband was killed during the war and after it, she was a single mom with a little girl to raise and she didn’t have any money coming in.
So Mom found herself a job. In Montana. She left New York City and never again entertained the idea of ever going back.
Anyway, Mom’s got this problem with the Roman Catholic Church. Know what she did about it, Katie?
She left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopalians. My mom loved the Episcopal Church until the end of her life. And as far as I know, she was the only one in her family who ever did anything like that. Her brother, my Uncle Howard, remained Catholic until the end of his life.
Kid? The Catholic Church is almost 2,000 years old; you’re not. Your idea that the Catholic Church needs to conform itself to the
bumper stickers beliefs of the Young PeopleTM is too absurd for any intelligent person to even begin to entertain. So emulate my mother, grow a freaking spine and drop into one of Chicagoland’s many fine Episcopal parishes next Sunday. You’ll be glad you did. Continue reading
There is an ongoing attempt around Saint Blogs to get critics of Pope Francis to shut up. Frank Walker of Pewsitter will have none of it:
Catholic World Report has an unfortunate piece which tries to make Faithful sensible Catholics feel guilty for honest direct criticism of bishops. Right out of the box we’re all disgruntled, full of pride and ‘cheap chatter.’ Oh, and if we knew anything of Church teaching, we’d be very careful with our ‘murmuring.’
While disgruntled criticisms of Catholic bishops are nothing new, there seems to be an increase of late, especially since the start of Pope Francis’s pontificate. There is clearly no denying that there are problems within the Church, but Catholic moral teaching makes it clear that murmuring against our bishops shouldn’t be taken lightly. Cheap chatter, intellectual pride, and unchecked emotions can often make it difficult to discern who is in the right and make such murmurs justifiable.
Don’t be sold. If you love your Church, you put the blame where it belongs. Try running a destructive problem in your parish upstairs and see how far you get. There’s no democracy in the Church, and to the Pope’s delight, no free market.
Next CWR’s Carrie Gress tells us how we’re putting cracks in the windshield of the bishops’ authority, how we’re just like Protestants, and how we need to be charitable, merciful, not gossip or vent – in short, sheepish before our shepherds. She aims for her conservative targets with an appeal to ‘subsidiarity’ meaning, “Don’t get over your head.”
Subsidiarity is the Church’s fundamental tenet that assigns responsibility for an issue or problem to the lowest appropriate authority; likewise, it restrains higher authorities from usurping the tasks of the lower. Embracing such decentralization liberates all of us back-seat drivers to let go and let the driver do his job. So too with our faith. If it is your job to voice criticisms of a bishop because you are in close proximity to him as an employee or trusted friend, then yes, using fraternal correction, you may have an obligation to do so. But for the rest of us, not so much, unless you are like St. Catherine of Siena, tasked with the project because of your personal sanctity (and not just in your own mind).
If in fact our bishops weren’t actively working against the Church and for its enemies, if most of them showed any substantial evidence of being Catholic, or if they didn’t generally have long records of collapse in their dioceses, then possibly this quietism might be in order.
Our bishops are not politicians. They have been ordained to shepherd us. Are some corrupt? Yes. Are there some who are weak? Yes. Are there some who are sinners? Yes (we all are). But perhaps if we offered them more space to do their job and increased prayer to support them, they might do the right thing. And even if they don’t, at least we know we have.
Pastern: The knee of a horse. (This is wrong. When Dr. Samuel Johnson was once asked how he came to make such a mistake, Boswell tells us he replied, “Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”)
One of the major problems over the past half century in the Church is almost complete ignorance about what was actually written at Vatican II. Father Z gives us a grand example:
Someone sent me a PDF of a flyer from the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida promoting a series of talks on Sacrosanctum Concilium.
Hopefully the talks will be great.
The flyer, however, isn’t so great. There are a series of statements which perpetuate goofy notions that have been circulated for a long time. Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments:
- Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy we did not always have Old and New Testament readings at Mass? (Chapter 2, #51) [This is a false statement. There are Old Testament readings in Extraordinary Form. Furthermore, every Mass includes texts from the Psalms. The Antiphon are mostly Old Testament.]
- Did you know that reception of the Eucharist under both kinds for the people came into practice after the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? Before the document, people did not receive the Eucharist at every Mass and did not receive the blood of Christ at all. (Chapter 2, #55) [This is a misleading statement. Frequent Communion was strongly promoted by St. Pope Pius X. However, people still understood before the depredations that took place in the wake of and name of the Council that if you are not in the state of grace, you shouldn’t go to Communion. Furthermore, this statement makes it seem that if people are not receiving the Precious Blood, they are somehow being deprived of receiving the Eucharist.]
- Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Mass was only offered in Latin – not in the multiple languages allowed today? (Chapter 1, #36) [This is a manipulative statement that also hides the truth of what the Council commanded. First, it is not entirely desirable that multiple languages be used, because the multiplication of languages has fractured our unity, both across borders and across centuries. The illicit elimination of Latin also slammed the doors of our treasury of Sacred Music. Moreover, the Fathers of the Council commanded that Latin be retained! They allowed for some limited use of the vernacular on occasions.]
- Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy reestablished the adult catechumenate? The RCIA process was developed to bring adults (and children age 7 and above) into the Church. (Chapter 3, #64) [This statement is much ado about nothing. Adult converts and children above 7 were constantly being brought into the Church before the Council, and not in a one-sized mainstreams all method. Additionally, I can’t tell you how many people I have spoken to who wished they had had the opportunity of private instruction rather than the silly RCIA stuff they had to endure.]
- Did you know that prior to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, people were not expected to actively participate in Mass by responding, praying, or singing – people were there just to “hear” the Mass? (Chapter 2, #48) [This is a falsehood. Of course people were expected to participate actively at Mass, but actively in its most authentic sense of interiorly receptive activity. Furthermore, Popes throughout the 20th century urged people to make responses during Mass and clarified which parts they could participate in also with outward, vocal participation.]
- Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls for conscious and active participation in Mass and affairs of the Church by all the faithful by reason of our baptism? It set in motion the ability for lay people, including women, who were previously not even allowed in the sanctuary, to be lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, [No!] altar servers, [altar girls were promoted contrary to the law] and hold leadership positions. (Chapter 2, #14) [This is incorrect. Before the Council began, during the Pontificate of Pius XII there was an important document on Sacred Music which promoted congregational singing and gave a clear, strong definition of “active participation”. Also, lay people cannot be “Eucharistic Ministers”. They can be ministers of “Holy Communion”. Only the ordained are truly Eucharistic Ministers.]
These statements are misleading. They reflect an attitude of, “Before the Council, bad. After the Council, good.” It is not uncommon among people of a certain age to find a view that the Church really began with Vatican II. They want you simply to accept their premises (e.g., women being allowed into the sanctuary is a good thing). Continue reading
Pope Francis has indicated that he wishes to complete the work of Vatican II. This is an opportune moment to look at Vatican II which 50 years ago was close to its half way point.
As a practical matter, PopeWatch believes the Church as an earthly institution has been in decline by most measurements, mass attendance, ordinations, numbers of nuns, sisters and brothers, since 1965. The decline is undeniable, but is it fair to blame Vatican II? Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II? PopeWatch doubts it. The Church had thriven in the hostile environment of the first half of the Twentieth Century, when malevolent atheist ideologies, such as Nazism and Communism, had launched unceasing assaults on the Church. Odd that the Church could so well weather this storm and then encounter such difficulties in the relatively calm seas of the latter Twentieth Century. Plus, the collapse came on so rapidly after the Council that it is hard to resist the temptation to believe that there has to be some link. It also didn’t help that Paul VI was a very good man, but also a very weak pope.
Of course much, although not all, of the difficulties of Vatican II are caused by misinterpretations of what the Council did and what the Council actually stated. The “spirit of Vatican II” is often responsible for idiocies within the contemporary Church that most of the participants in Vatican II never, in their wildest nightmares, intended. This misinterpretation of the Council started even while it was in progress:
PopeWatch would direct your attention to Time January 4, 1963 in the issue where Pope John XXIII was declared Man of the Year:
“By launching a reform whose goal is to make the Catholic Church sine macula et ruga (without spot or wrinkle), John set out to adapt his church’s whole life and stance to the revolutionary changes in science, economics, morals and politics that have swept the modern world: to make it, in short, more Catholic and less Roman.”
This statement PopeWatch finds truly hilarious from the Time article, in light of the experience of the last 50 years: “The great majority of Protestant and Catholic clergymen and theologians—as well as many non-Christians—agree that Christianity is much stronger today than it was when World War II ended. Their reason is not the postwar “religious revival” (which many of them distrust as superficial) or the numerical strength of Christianity. It is that the Christian Church has finally recognized and faced the problems that have cut off much of its communication with the modern world. Says Notre Dame’s President Theodore Hesburgh: “We better understand the job that is before us. The challenge is to make religion relevant to relevant to real life.”’ Continue reading
James Cardinal McIntyre was very unhappy with Vatican II and spoke about it, one of the few Cardinals who did. However, McIntyre was a man who never minded swimming against the stream. Born on June 25, 1886 in New York City, his father a member of the mounted police and his mother an immigrant from Ireland. His father was rendered an invalid after a fall from a horse in Central Park, and his mother supported the family as a dressmaker. When she died in 1896 his father and James went to live with a relative. To support himself and his father, James became a runner on the New York Stock Exchange. He was offered a junior partnership in 1914, but declined to pursue his dream of becoming a priest. He was ordained in 1921 and served as associate pastor at Saint Gabriel’s on the lower East Side until he was made Assistant Chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York in 1923, rising to Chancellor in 1934. In 1939 he formed the Columbiettes, the woman’s auxilary of the Knights of Columbus. In 1940 he was named Coadjutor Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York. In 1946 he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of New York, and in 1948 second Archbishop of Los Angeles.
Ever a fighter, McIntyre led the successful campaign to overturn a California state law which taxed Catholic schools. He was made a Cardinal in 1953 by Pius XII. Under his leadership the Archdiocese went through a period of immense growth, McIntyre showing exceptional foresight in purchasing land cheap as the sites of future churches and schools. Endlessly hardworking, he made sure the Archdiocese ran efficiently and effectively.
McIntyre was Orthdox in his religion and hard right in his politics, which put him at odds with most other of the high clergy in the Church of his day. He sent his priests to classes conducted by the John Birch Society about the threat of Communist infiltration. He railed against moral laxity in the film industry, normally a sacred cow in California.
He never let politics stand in the way of friendships. He was a friend of Dorothy Day although their political views were light years apart. Go here to read what Day wrote about the Archbishop.
Vatican II met with his disfavor. In a speech to the Council Fathers on October 23, 1962 he uttered words which proved prophetic in regard to proposed changes in the liturgy: “The schema on the Liturgy proposes confusion and complication. If it is adopted, it would be an immediate scandal for our people. The continuity of the Mass must be kept.”
He voted in the Conclave of 1963. He was no happier with Vatican II after the Conclave than before. When the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters went crazy following Vatican II, a process described in excruciating detail here, McIntyre told them that they had to follow Vatican II guidelines for religious. They refused to do so, the Vatican backed McIntyre up, and almost all of the IHM sisters left the Church. Until he retired in 1970 McIntyre continually butted heads with radical priests and nuns. He was totally opposed to the zeitgeist of the time, and clearly could not have cared less. After his retirement he served as parish priest at Saint Basil’s in Los Angeles, and would say the Tridentine Mass on the side altars. He died at 93 in 1979. Continue reading
Edward Cardinal Mooney added a bit of tragic drama to the Conclave of 1958. Born in 1882 in Mount Savage, Maryland, the seventh child in his family, he moved with them to Youngstown, Ohio at the age of 5. His father was a tube mill worker and died in the early 1890’s. His mother opened a small baking shop to support the family, and George and his brothers and sisters delivered the goods to customers. He began his studies for the priesthood at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and concluded them at the North American pontifical college. Ordained in 1909, he taught dogmatic theology at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland until 1916. He was the founding principal of the Cathedral Latin School in Cleveland from 1916-1922.
Made the spiritual director of the North American Pontifical College in Rome in 1923, he received the unique assignment of being the Apostolic Delegate to India and made a Titular Archbishop. In India he helped found 15 missions and three parishes. In 1931 he was made Apostolic Delegate to Japan. In 1933 he was made fourth Bishop of Rochester with the personal title of Archbishop. In 1937 he was named the first Archbishop of Detroit, receiving a Cardinal’s cap from Pope Pius XII in 1946.
Like most Catholic clergy of his generation, he was very pro-labor unions which stood him in good stead in the heavily unionized Detroit. He immediately clashed heads with Father Charles Coughlin, the fiery controversial radio priest who operated from Royal Oak, Michigan. The clashes continued until Father Coughlin agreed to end his radio program in 1942.
During World War II he was a strong supporter of the war effort viewing Nazi Germany as a mortal adversary of Christianity.
At the Conclave of 1958 he had a massive heart attack in Rome and died at age 70 just three hours before the Conclave began. The more deranged sedevacantists claim that Mooney was murdered to help deny Cardinal Siri the papal throne, which is pure, unadulterated one hundred percent bunk. Continue reading
I must admit a certain reticence to writing this article because I don’t think in one article I can truly do the Schoenstatt Movement justice, but the movement’s nearly 100 year old story and that of its founder Father Josef Kentenich really needs to be told. In 1914 a young German priest Father Kentenich started a movement that was so unique it took nearly 50 years before many would understand the groundbreaking effects it could have on the Church. This future saint would not only survive the suspicions of some on the theological left and right, but he would also survive Dachau. He died in 1968, the same year as another misunderstood priest, Saint Padre Pio.
When writing my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, even I was stunned about the new movements that keep cropping up within the Church, even as so many have written off the Church. Indeed this is the History of the Church, when one thinks she is coming under attack by the dark side, she only grows stronger in faith due to her burgeoning movements.
However, Father Kentenich left behind an amazing outlook which every believer should emulate and a perseverance that few could imagine. In a modern world full of individuals making millions of dollars on self help, pep talks and new age “spiritual guidance,” Father Kentenich reminded everyone that Jesus is our true Spiritual Guide and His Blessed Mother the model for us all to follow. Continue reading
Last week National Public Radio ran a story called “Narcissism on Rise in Pop Music Lyrics.” It opened up with,
On this very day in 1985, the number one song on the Billboard Top 100 was…”We Are the World” (“We are the world. We are the children.”) Fast-forward to 2007 when Timbaland’s “Give It to Me” featuring Nelly Furtado topped the charts: “…love my a$$ and my abs in the video for ‘Promiscuous.’ My style is ridiculous.”
So more than two decades ago, we were holding hands and swaying to a song of unity, and these days, we’re bouncing to pop stars singing about how fabulous they are. Psychologist Nathan DeWall has had the pleasure of listening to it all for research, and he found that lyrics in pop music from 1980 to 2007 reflect increasing narcissism in society. And DeWall is an associate psychology professor at the University of Kentucky.
Dr. DeWall proceeded to explain:
I was listening to a song that, really, one of my favorite bands, Weezer, had on one of their albums recently, and it’s called “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” and I kept wondering, who would actually say that out loud? “I am the greatest man that ever lived. I was born to give and give and give.”
The ironic thing is it’s a song about how I’m the greatest person in the world, but it’s to the tune of “‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple,” which is a song about humility. And so what I wanted to do, instead of relying on self-report measures of personality like narcissism, I wanted to actually go into our culture, our cultural products, which are tangible artifacts of our cultural environment. And so, for that, I thought maybe song lyrics would be a very good jumping-off spot.
What we found over time is that there’s an increasing focus on me and my instead of we and our and us. So, for example, instead of talking about love being between we and us and us finding new things together, it’s mostly about how, you know, for example, Justin Timberlake in 2006 said, “I’m bringing sexy back. Yeah. Them other boys don’t know how to act. Yeah.”
There is no doubt that DeWall is correct. Pop music is becoming more narcissistic. The broader, age old question is: Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? The answer is probably some of both. Our culture is increasingly narcissistic. In the spirit of the NPR article, which was about music, I wish to propose a possible antidote for narcissism: the liturgy, specifically liturgical music.
Unfortunately, we must first distinguish between music that might be heard in any given liturgy and liturgical music, properly speaking. While the Catholic Church has been plagued with bad versions of the four-hymn sandwich for decades, the fact remains that Holy Mother Church has given us a liturgical hymnbook: The Graduale Romanum, In this book, one will find the ancient Gregorian chants. But what many will be surprised to find is that the Church has given us specific chants for every Sunday of the year in the places that we currently sing “hymns.” For any given Mass, there are prescribed chants for the Introit (think here of the “Opening Hymn” you are used to hearing), the Gradual (“Responsorial Psalm”), the Offertorio (“Offertory”), and the Communio (“Communion Song”). Most of these date back more than a thousand years. Of course, in the Graduale Romanum, one will find the chant written in Latin. However, vernacular versions of these exist. What is key is that the liturgical rubrics, while they permit hymns, call for a preference given to these chants. Vatican II itself held that the Gregorian chant tradition should enjoy a “pride of place” in our liturgies.
Why do I see this as an antidote for narcissism? The surest way to deal with this problem is to give people the sense that they are not the center of reality, nor are they the source. The Cartesian turn to the subject has flipped classical metaphysics on its head so that people come to view reality as what is in their own minds rather than what their minds encounter on the outside. The liturgy is a reality that is given to us, not one that is created by us. In fact, it is in the liturgy itself that we find our own fulfillment. When we go to Mass, we participate in reality itself, something that is much bigger than us. If we see the Liturgy as something that we fit into rather than something that fits into our lives, we can come to understand that we are not the center of reality: God is.
The problem is, as has been observed on several observations over the past decade, there is an increasing narcissism even within the liturgy itself: both priests and people come to think that the liturgy is something that can be created and recreated with the fickle winds of changing culture. In fact, the lack of narcissistic language in the new translation of the Roman Missal has been pointed out in comparison with the current, defective translation. Currently, there are several places in the texts that seem to order God to do certain things and to give a primacy to the people over the divine. The new translation, being more faithful to the Latin, has sought to correct many of these errors. What remains to be fixed is the same problem in the hymns that are often chosen for Sunday worship. Many of the modern hymns focus on man rather than God (think here of “Gather Us In,” or the ever-elusive “Sing a New Church Into Being”). Quite simply, these hymns are self-centered rather than God-centered.
Contrast this with the use of the Graduale Romanum. These chants have been given to us by the Church, each carefully constructed around sacred texts in order to serve as a sort of lectio divina for the readings of the day. Indeed, when Gregorian chant is properly performed, it seems as if it is not of this world. Part of that is due to the inherent structure of the music, for chant lacks a strict meter (though it has an internal rhythm of its own). Unlike a hymn, which marches forward towards a climactic conclusion, chant allows the listener to rest in contemplation, a mirror of the eternity which we, God willing, will experience someday. But another part is due to the words, which become primary (unlike modern pop music, where the words are often a later add-on to an already existing rhythm/chord structure).
Perhaps the most important point, however, is the fact that the music of the Mass inevitably (forgive the pun) sets the tone of the entire celebration. It stands to reason, then, if we employ a music that is provided for us by the Church (not to mention encouraged by the rubrics), then the people will better understand that the liturgy itself is given and not created. If they come to understand the liturgy, which is the objective center of reality, in this manner, then they will come to see that they are not the center of reality. Thus, my rapid fire, probably incomplete, but hopefully coherent, argument that an antidote for the rise in narcissism is Gregorian Chant. Save the liturgy, save the world.
I shouldn’t have, but I did.
Today I read Fr. Richard McBrien’s article on Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. As the prefect for this congregation Cardinal Ouellet will play a crucial role in the appointment of the Church’s bishops in the years to come.
In his article McBrien makes the following observation:
When commenting on the greatest crisis to confront the Catholic Church since the Reformation of the 16th century, Ouellet seemed to blame the scandal of sexual abuse in the priesthood on the weakening of moral standards in society — a common explanation given by those who are reluctant to address the internal problems of the church, including obligatory clerical celibacy, the role of women, and the declining quality of pastoral leadership.
While there might be some who see the clergy sex scandal as the greatest crisis for the Church since the Reformation, I am certainly not one of them. But what I found completely absurd — again, I should’ve avoided the article to begin with, because it was to be expected — was McBrien’s reference to the role of women in this context. How, exactly, would priestesses have prevented the abuse of children by clergy?
Father McBrien: your vision of the Church and of the Second Vatican Council is both erroneous and dying. Only a tiny fraction of young Catholics in general and those seeking degrees in theology in particular accept that erroneous reading.
Might I propose that you get with the times?
by Jeff Ziegler
On June 17, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo expressed “grave concern over the FDA’s current process for approving the drug Ulipristal (with the proposed trade name of Ella) for use as an ‘emergency contraceptive.’ Ulipristal is a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486, with the same biological effect — that is, it can disrupt an established pregnancy weeks after conception has taken place.”
Cardinal DiNardo expressed these concerns as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the latest in a line of responsibilities he has assumed in recent years. As recently as 1997, he was simply “Father Dan,” a 48-year-old Pittsburgh parish priest, before he was appointed coadjutor bishop of a small Iowa diocese. At the age of 54, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Galveston-Houston, and at 58, Pope Benedict created him a cardinal — the first cardinal from a diocese in the South, and the youngest American cardinal since Cardinal Roger Mahony received his red hat in 1991.
Following the consistory of 2007, Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal DiNardo a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (2008) and the Pontifical Council for Culture (2009). In the fall of 2009, he assumed the leadership of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life efforts. He will take part in any conclave that occurs before his eightieth birthday in 2029 and appears destined to be one of the leading American ecclesial figures of the next two decades.
As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, Richard Fernandez asks us to name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. (“Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.”)
Meanwhile, Donald Sensing (Sense of Events) thinks it’s past time for Western churches to stop treating Japan as victim every Aug. 6 and 9:
I refuse on principle to pollute God’s ears with prayers dedicated only to Hiroshima Day and the dead of those cities while ignoring the tens of millions of Japanese-murdered souls who cry for remembrance, but do not get it, certainly not from the World Council of Churches and its allies who have no loathing but for their own civilization. If the prayers of the WCC’s service are to be offered, let them be uttered on Aug. 14, the day Japan announced its surrender, or on Sept. 2, the day the surrender instruments were signed aboard USS Missouri. Let our churches no longer be accessories to Japan’s blood-soaked silence but instead be voices for the millions of murdered victims of its bloodlust, imperialist militarism.
(HT: Bill Cork).
This article originally appeared on The New Theological Movement written by Reginaldus on July 29, 2010 Anno Domini. Re-posted with permission.
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 12:13-21
The rich man of this Sunday’s Gospel is blessed with a bountiful harvest. Rather than thanking God for this gift, he hoards the grain in his barns – his heart is possessed by his possessions. At the moment of death, the Lord calls him a fool, for he was not rich in what matters to God.
The Fathers of the Church, and St. Thomas Aquinas following them, see in this parable a strong teaching of social justice. Their teachings have in turn been integrated into the Social Doctrine of the Church. Here we will consider St. Thomas’ exposition of the doctrine as well as several important quotations from the Church Fathers.?
The common destination of all goods and right to private property
We must first affirm that man has a right to own private property. All men have a natural right to make use of material goods. According to positive human law, men also have a right to private property – this is necessary for the good order of society and the proper care of the goods themselves, it also serves as a means of restraining greed and inciting toward generosity (a man can give alms only if he has some property of his own).
However, it is equally clear in the Church’s Tradition, as expressed by the Fathers of the Church and magisterial teachings, that the right to private property is subordinate to the universal destination of all goods. That is, the right to private property cannot be extended to the point of depriving others of the basic material necessities of life. Every man has the right to the material necessities of life – when he is deprived of these, while another has excess wealth, a grave injustice has occurred.
Last year I posted a column title, Weapons of Mass Destruction. In it I lampooned many of the abuses that arose out of the Second Vatican Council.
I revisit that post only to shed some light on how the abuses came about referencing Church documents, councils, and prelates.
Holy Communion in the Hand is allowed only as an indult, ie, a concession. In May 29, 1969 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a document allowing for, but not to displace the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.
The correct reception of Holy Communion has always been and still is on the tongue.
Unfortunately this has become the norm which has resulted in the desacrelization of the Eucharist.
Ad Populum, or facing the congregation during Mass was recently allowed in Pope Paul VI’s Missale Romanum in 1969 (fully released in 1970). Meaning it was not mandatory to face the congregation in all parts of the Mass, but only in certain instances.
Altar Girls, were allowed to serve in Mass by the Congregation for Divine Worship in a letter by Cardinal Ortas on March 15, 1994.
Basically there was a “reinterpretation” of Canon 230 that allowed a loophole for female altar servers.
So each national conference can decide to allow this, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to. Meaning that each diocese can decide for itself whether or not to allow female altar servers.
It is important to note that the Bishop is in line with apostolic succession and has the final say for liturgical practices in the diocese concerning female altar servers.
Father Edward L. Beck, a Passionist Priest, and a contributor to ABC, wrote a column for ABC in which he calls for Vatican III. I think the article is worth a fisking.
April 2, 2010 —Surely this was originally intended for April 1?
As Christians begin their celebration of the Easter season, the Catholic church seems stuck in Good Friday. No Father, the Catholic Church is always “stuck” in Easter. Just when some would like to turn their attention to the profound mysteries of their faith, they are instead mystified by yet another round of horrendous sex abuse storiesmaking headlines. Yeah, totally by accident, and too bad Father doesn’t spend time mentioning how spurious this piece of tripe by the New York Times was.
Most Catholics in the United States were convinced that the issue of sexual abuse by priests had been adequately dealt with after the last go round more than eight years ago. I do not think this is the case. Most Catholics in this country are still fuming about predator priests and the bishops who protected them. Many are also outraged by the ambulance chasing attorneys and the suspicion that some of the victims are merely cashing in on flimsy evidence. There is still a lot of outrage about this whole mess. In many ways, it has been. U.S. bishops adopted strict policies of zero-tolerance after the abuse scandal exploded in 2002. Bishops are now required to comply with state laws for reporting abuse and to cooperate fully with authorities. For the most part the stories once again generating news in the United States concern old cases and the previous negligence of bishops to deal effectively and justly with the crisis. New to the controversy has been the suggestion by some that the Pope himself bears responsibility for lapses. Actually such accusations have been flying around for years. They have gotten nowhere because they lack substance.
The recent reports indicate this is not — and never has been — a distinctly American church problem. I doubt if many Catholics in this country thought that it was. The European Catholic Church is now experiencing what the U.S. Catholic Church did nearly a decade ago. Once reports from Pope Benedict’s native Germany emerged that boys had been abused in a church-run school there, hundreds more from other European countries came forward admitting that they too had been victims of abuse decades ago. We have not heard the last of these stories. Africa and Latin America have yet to weigh in, but they will. Reports from those parts of the world will eventually emerge to increase the dismay of those who expected more diligence and, indeed, holiness, from religious institutions.
What is readily observable from the avalanche of reports is that the sexual abuse of minors is a systemic, worldwide problem. But it is not exclusively a Catholic or ecclesial one. True. It cuts across all faiths, institutions and family systems. Presently, however, it is the Catholic church in the spotlight, so it must take the lead in dealing with this issue in a transparent, effective and ultimately transformative way. Though its halo has been dimmed by past negligence, if only the scandal of the criminal protection afforded by bishops to predator priests had been limited to mere negligence the church can still be a beacon of light to lead the way if it now proceeds with haste and unwavering conviction. We might start by ordaining only those who believe what the Church teaches when it comes to sexual morality. We must also understand that a fair number of the people who attack the Church on this issue are motivated much more by raw hatred of the Church than concern for the victims. The evil from our ranks must be excised, but let us not assume we will receive plaudits from the World for doing so.
So then, what is the best way for the church to move forward? Dramatic failure requires a dramatic solution. Nothing gets the attention of the church and, perhaps the world, like a Vatican Council. Here we get to the purpose behind this article. The last one, of course, ended more than 45 years ago in 1965. While some would maintain that we have yet to fully execute the decrees of that Council, the world and the church have changed dramatically in the interim. When has the World not been changing? As to Vatican II, all the turmoil in the Church since that Council should cause us to hesitate before calling the next one. The current crisis in the church can serve as the impetus for once again calling together the worldwide church community in pursuit of modernization, reform and spiritual integration for a new time and world. Always be alarmed when anyone proposes a radical step for the sake of vague terms like modernization, reform and spiritual integration.
What issues might this Council address? The death of the Faith in Europe? Rampant immorality? The failure of the Novus Ordo Mass to inspire many Catholics? Many to be sure, but chief among them could be the current crisis confronting the priesthood. Homosexuality? Lack of fidelity to their vows? A desire for a life of ease? Certainly the issue of sexual abuse and the devastating toll it has taken in the church might be examined and addressed definitively, once and for all. In addition, while pedophilia and the sexual abuse of minors and priestly celibacy are not organically related, the abuse crisis has once again raised the issue of the necessity and relevancy of mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests. How long has celibacy been bugging you Father? Wasn’t that particular requirement spelled out clearly enough for you when you were ordained? The majority of Catholics and priests want an open discussion about this issue, but up to this point, that has not been permitted. Rubbish. This ” issue” isn’t even on the radarscope for most priests and laity.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
Iota Unum, written by the late Romano Amerio who passed away in 1997, is a magisterial study of change in the Catholic Church in the last century. Amerio took his title from Christ’s statement in Matthew 5:18 that begins this post. Amerio began the work in 1935 and published it in 1985. Born on June 22, 1905 in Lugano, Switzerland, Amerio was a Roman Catholic theologian as well as a philologist and philosopher. He served as a peritus (theological expert) at Vatican II and was an advisor to Cardinal Guiseppe Siri.
Intensely critical of most of the changes implemented after Vactican II, Amerio essentially became a non-person in Vatican circles after the publication of Iota Unum. A review prepared for L’osservatore Romano, for example, in 1985 was not published. The pontificate of Pope Benedict ushered in a change of view as to Iota Unum. A good overview of Iota Unum and its reception, written by Father Richard Whinder, is here. Sandro Magister has a fine article here on Iota Unum. Here is an earlier article from 2007 by Sandro Magister when the silence about Iota Unum at the Vatican was broken. (Hattip to Father Z. I was unaware of the book Iota Unum until I read this post by him.) Continue reading
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is a recent invention that grew out of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. Some Catholics confuse the USCCB as a teaching authority and mistaken it for a parallel magisterium.
Nowhere in Sacred Scripture and Tradition do we have an instance for this man made invention. We have one teaching authority and that is the Magisterium.
So why have the USCCB? Well, to support the various ministries of bishops. And of course you need the laity to support the many functions that the USCCB does.
Which brings us to our current scandal. Like anything else the USCCB is susceptible to error. Which in this case is that many bishops and the majority of the laity that work inside the USCCB are partial or are openly members of the Democratic Party that has various liberal platforms which cooperatives in evil such as abortion and the legalization of homosexual license.
The issue is that this creates a conflict of interest. When a member, in this instance a high executive such as John Carr, in the USCCB also holds a board membership with a group that supports abortion, confusion and scandal is created.
And this isn’t just one isolated case. There is the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that provides funds to anti-marriage and pro-abortion organizations. The bishops response is to arrogantly deny any scandal whatsoever.
This of course creates more scandal.
At this moment the bishops have refused to deal with infestation that the USCCB has, hoping that the scandal and uproar will quietly subside just as the controversy over Harry Forbes glowing movie reviews of anti-Catholic movies.
Well, enough is enough. The chickens have come home to roost.
More and more Catholics will continue to shine the light on the decrepit state of the USCCB until the someone does something to resolve the matter.
Ora pro nobis!
Where is our Cardinal Spellman!