Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sojourning

"The Berrigans were paradigmatic of what 'new' Catholicism looked like when melded with the genius of America"

"This is the Catholicism that helped make a person like Pope Francis possible."

Two statements from a recent Sojourners article following the death of Daniel Berrigan. If the reader finds  these statements to miss the mark, my book, The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God tells the story of what happened in the Churchin the U.S. following the Second Vatican Council, which goes a long way in explaining why the author of the Sojourners piece needs a remedial course in Catholicism....

Friday, April 29, 2016

Gay Marriage

It was encouraging to It was encouraging to see the intellectual honesty in this article, which is not reported on enough in the media....

I want nothing in this world more than to be a father. Yet I can’t bring myself to celebrate same-sex marriage.

APRIL 28, 2015
Gay marriage has gone from unthinkable to reality in the blink of an eye. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that support for gay marriage is now at 61 percent—the highest it’s ever been. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case that many court-watchers believe will deliver the final blow to those seeking to prevent the redefinition of marriage. By all measures, this fight is over. Gay marriage won.

As a 30-year-old gay man, one would expect me to be ecstatic. After all, I’m at that age where people tend to settle down and get married. And there is nothing in this world I want more than to be a father and raise a family. Yet I can’t seem to bring myself to celebrate the triumph of same-sex marriage. Deep down, I know that every American, gay or straight, has suffered a great loss because of this.
I’m not alone in thinking this. The big secret in the LGBT community is that there are a significant number of gays and lesbians who oppose same-sex marriage, and an even larger number who are ambivalent. You don’t hear us speak out because gay rights activists (most of whom are straight) have a history of viciously stamping out any trace of individualism within the gay community. I asked to publish this article under a pseudonym, not because I fear harassment from Christian conservatives, but because I know this article will make me a target of the Gaystapo.
Marriage Is More than a Contract
The wheels of my Pride Parade float came off the moment I realized that the argument in support of gay marriage is predicated on one audaciously bald-faced lie: the lie that same-sex relationships are inherently equal to heterosexual relationships. It only takes a moment of objective thought to realize that the union of two men or two women is a drastically different arrangement than the union of a man and a woman. It’s about time we realize this very basic truth and stop pretending that all relationships are created equal.
Why was government invited to regulate marriages but not other interpersonal relationships, like friendships?
This inherent inequality is often overlooked by same-sex marriage advocates because they lack a fundamental understanding of what marriage actually is. It seems as though most people view marriage as little more than a love contract. Two people fall in love, agree to stick together (for a while, at least), then sign on the dotted line. If marriage is just a love contract, then surely same-sex couples should be allowed to participate in this institution. After all, two men or two women are capable of loving each other just as well as a man and a woman.
But this vapid understanding of marriage leaves many questions unanswered. If marriage is little more than a love contract, why do we need government to get involved? Why was government invited to regulate marriages but not other interpersonal relationships, like friendships? Why does every religion hold marriage to be a sacred and divine institution? Surely marriage must be more than just a love contract.
Government Is Involved in Marriage Because It Creates Babies
People have forgotten that the defining feature of marriage, the thing that makes marriage marriage, is the sexual complementarity of the people involved. Marriage is often correctly viewed as an institution deeply rooted in religious tradition. But people sometimes forget that marriage is also based in science. When a heterosexual couple has sex, a biological reaction can occur that results in a new human life.
Government got into the marriage business to ensure that these new lives are created in a responsible manner. This capacity for creating new life is what makes marriage special. No matter how much we try, same-sex couples will never be able to create a new life. If you find that level of inequality offensive, take it up with Mother Nature. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples relegates this once noble institution to nothing more than a lousy love contract. This harms all of society by turning marriage, the bedrock of society, into a meaningless anachronism.
A Good Dad Puts Kids First
Same-sex relationships not only lack the ability to create children, but I believe they are also suboptimal environments for raising children. On a personal level, this was an agonizing realization for me to come to. I have always wanted to be a father. I would give just about anything for the chance to have kids. But the first rule of fatherhood is that a good dad will put the needs of his children before his own—and every child needs a mom and a dad. Period. I could never forgive myself for ripping a child away from his mother so I could selfishly live out my dreams.
Same-sex relationships, by design, require children to be removed from one or more of their biological parents and raised absent a father or mother. This hardly seems fair. So much of what we do as a society prioritizes the needs of adults over the needs of children. Social Security and Medicare rob the young to pay the old. The Affordable Care Act requires young and healthy people to buy insurance to subsidize the cost for the old and sick. Our schools seem more concerned with keeping the teachers unions happy than they are educating our children. Haven’t children suffered enough to make adults’ lives more convenient? For once, it would be nice to see our society put the needs of children first. Let’s raise them in homes where they can enjoy having both a mom and a dad. We owe them that.
At its core, the institution of marriage is all about creating and sustaining families. Over thousands of years of human civilization, the brightest minds have been unable to come up with a successful alternative. Yet in our hubris we assume we know better. Americans need to realize that same-sex relationships will never be equal to traditional marriages. You know what? I’m okay with that.
Paul Rosnick is a pseudonym.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Just Catholics


Today in Catholic circles one would be forgiven if one equated Catholicism with nothing more than the concept and rhetoric of “social justice.” This `unfortunate reality takes place because the phrase social “justice” is not used as the traditional vocabulary suggests, as a virtue present in individuals, but as a matter of policy. Misunderstood as such, social justice is reduced to whatever progressive policy one finds desirable. This disengages the dialog about social justice from a moral framework of virtue, and makes it prone to exploitation by any special interest group vocal enough to demand assistance from the public treasury.

As I recount in my book, around the time of the Second Vatican Council, there was the rhetoric of “letting a breath of fresh air into the Church,” opening her to a more understanding relationship with modernity. Many Catholics, it turned out, were unable to escape the effects of the confusion and waves of social revolution and antinomianism that hit during the decade of the ’60s. Typical of many people in that generation, borrowing a line from liberal activism, was to set up a false dichotomy between the Church’s sacramental action – always the center of her activity – and her secular/non-sacramental activity, which was not as great as it should have been. Here their primary fault was imagining that the Church can, without prejudice to her supernatural nature, engage in any activity that is not sacramental and salvific, which is merely mundane, secular, institutional, “social.”

What, for example, is the meaning of “human liberation”? Catholics who equate Catholicism with working for justice seem to mean freedom from forms of political/economic oppression. Yet true liberation comes only in the freedom of Christian life in God, and so this understanding is little more than Marxist utopianism. Our Lord lived under the brutal regime of Rome. Did He make make its slavery or violations of dignity the focal point of his doctrine? Rather, Christ focused on seeking first God’s kingdom of holiness. All else would be added.

So—working for “social justice,” can either be at the service of a socialist utopianism, an antagonistic centralizing government, or the true Kingdom of God, which cannot be reduced to the lack of political oppression or the complete possession of economic independence. Properly understood, the Kingdom of God is the sacramental union of all mankind with the Father in Christ brought about by the Holy Spirit.

Catholicism teaches that the greatest oppression is the law of sin reigning in human hearts. Thus, social justice can be truly transformational only if it is sacramental. Relief from external oppression, if not supported by inner transformation of mind, leads only to a new kind of slavery. Secular social justice thinking leaves no room for the transformative element, for the spiritual rebirth that the works of mercy can bring about in both the worker and the object of the work. Genuine Catholic social work leads both the benefiter and the benefited on the way of transformation in Christ, calling both of them to the higher social order of the Church, which is spiritually redeemed humanity, the Body of Christ.

The promotion of justice is a vital function in Christian society – not only as a praiseworthy work of mercy, but even as a requirement for full participation in the liturgical-sacramental life. How can one pretend to love God if we don’t empathize with our suffering brethren? Christ calls us to establish the reign of justice and peace on Earth, which almost always means struggles with the unjust powers ruling the earth. Indeed, traditional Catholic social teaching is quite a bit more feisty in its demands on earthly rulers and on the necessity of reforming political-economic structures. Just read Leo XIII or Pius XI.

Catholics ought to take part in works of mercy and social justice initiatives. It is often our duty to do so. But if we are to take on the full mind of the Church, we must not let ourselves be carried away by the sort of ideologies with which these things are often associated. The “source and summit” of the Christian life is not human society or any particular work we do, but the sacred liturgy of the Church, the work of Christ in and for us, which saves us and saves the world.
Justice is a natural virtue, and the establishment of more just economic and political systems is the Catholic citizen’s duty. As the hedonism of society further corrodes the image of human dignity in the popular mind, the Church may very soon be the only one who can show people a true vision of just society. But she becomes superfluous if she is just another NGO, a sort of U.N. service. Her priests, as many did after the Council, must not downplay their sacramental role as sanctifiers to spend all their time as “liberators” in “social work.” When they leave off praying the Office, when their negligence reduces liturgy to its bare minimum of sacramental validity, we see a vital loss of perspective.

Should we sell our churches and the treasures of the Vatican to fund liberation campaigns in South America? That’s not Catholic logic. Such thinking is the post-Conciliar abandonment of the primary sacramental purpose which stifles the Church’s efforts to transform society far more deeply than anything else.

The Church’s firm doctrine, proclaimed through all of tradition, is that only the reign of Christ the King over hearts and governments can lead to the establishment of true justice. Because sin causes injustice, only by conforming the world sacramentally to Christ may evil be overcome. The Church’s liturgical-sacramental function is absolutely crucial; it is the only chance for the world’s salvation, because it is the prime locus of Christ’s action on Earth. If there is no Mass, there is no hope for the world. If we don’t take the Mass seriously, or think it is just something we get out of the way before rolling up our sleeves to do the “real work,” we forget Christ’s loving caution that “without Me you can do nothing.” If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor.

Catholic social justice has to be Eucharistic. Within the Catholic Church, “social justice” cannot be understood except Eucharistically and liturgically, as the resolute effort to order the human community ideally in relation to liturgical worship, providing all the material goods (and only those) that are sufficient to support their easy acquisition of spiritual goods. Justice demands that people have enough to eat so that they may eat of the bread which comes down from heaven.

In the end, it is a question of faith. Is the Church just a social service organization with some quaintly pleasing exterior forms, or is she what she says she is – the very soul of the world, the hammer of demons, the school of true perfection, the teacher of nations, the one place where man can fulfill his destiny to abide with the divine?


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dancing With Mr. D: LGTB

“I spent much of my life steeped in power analysis theory and taking a look at serving groups who were marginalized within any hegemonic group,” Michael Way Skinner, the York Catholic District School Board’s coordinator of Religious Education, Family Life and Equity, told about 30 teachers attending his workshop, half of them identifying as Catholic. “So, I was quite comfortable taking on how we could serve our LGBTQ students in our schools.”
Skinner’s workshop, titled “Implementing LGBTTQQ Supports Under the Catholic School Board,” revealed how the process worked to make his board explicitly pro-LGBTQ.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Libido Redux: Watch Out

It comes as no surprise to the thinking Catholic that since the onset of the sexual revolution we have had to face an ever-increasing array of sexual problems. One has only to think of the tremendous increase in the number of illegitimate births and abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, opposition to censorship of pornography (especially on the Internet), and the resulting sexual addiction (in some extreme instances resulting in murder). Consider too the tremendous blows to marriage and the family done by adultery, the battle over the homosexual lifestyle in the United States, Canada and Europe (now to the point of the redefinition of marriage under the law); the increasing incidences of sexual harassment, child pornography on the Internet, Internet predators, the collegiate "rape culture", and of course, the divorce rate. Read the following and weep (or pray):


Online harassment of women at risk of becoming 'established norm', study finds
Australian research finds that nearly half of all women report experiencing abuse or harassment online, and 76% of those under 30

Monday 7 March 2016 14.01 ESTLast modified on Monday 7 March 201614.15 EST
Harassment of women online is at risk of becoming “an established norm in our digital society”, with women under 30 particularly vulnerable, according to the creators of a new Australian study.

Nearly half the 1,000 respondents in the research by the digital security firm Norton had experienced some form of abuse or harassment online. Among women under 30, the incidence was 76%.

Harassment ranged from unwanted contact, trolling, and cyberbullying to sexual harassment and threats of rape and death. Women under 30 were overrepresented in every category.

One in seven – and one in four women aged under 30 – had received general threats of physical violence. Almost one in ten women under 30 had experienced revenge porn and/or “sextortion”.

The online quantitative survey was carried out with 1,053 women in Australia aged 18 and over in February this year.

Similar research was done on men’s experience of harassment online, but those findings were held off in order to publicise International Women’s Day, as well as the fact that the issue is disproportionately experienced by women.
Researchers found that women received twice as many death threats and threats of sexual violence as men.

One in four lesbian, bisexual and transgender women who had suffered serious harassment online said their sexual orientation had been the target. One in five online harassment cases attacked a woman’s physical appearance.
The findings suggested that women believed that online abuse was a growing problem and felt powerless to act over it.

Seventy per cent of women said online harassment was a serious problem in 2016 and 60% said that it was getting worse. More than half the women surveyed felt the police needed to start taking victims seriously.
But 38% of those who had experienced online harassment chose to ignore it, and only 10% reported it to police.

Melissa Dempsey, senior director for the Asia Pacific region of Norton by Symantec, said the findings showed a need for greater awareness and collaboration between the IT industry and law enforcement agencies – before online harassment became “an established norm in our digital society”.
Harassment is overwhelmingly taking place on social media, which facilitates 66% of cases – three times as many as by email (22%) or text (17%). Twenty-seven per cent of the women surveyed changed the privacy settings of their accounts after their experience.
The findings will likely fuel the argument that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook need to take greater responsibility for harassment on their platforms.

Twitter announced in February a renewed push to tackle abuse and threats made on the network. Around the same time, Facebook launched a tool to offer supportto users perceived to be at risk of suicide.

Tara Moss, a Canadian-Australian author and advocate who partnered with Norton to help design the survey, said online abuse was just one form of violence against women, all of which needed to be addressed.

With nearly 96,000 followers on Twitter, she said she had often been the target of abuse online, and received a spike in threats when she was made a patron of the Full Stop Foundation, tackling rape and sexual violence.

Georgie Harman, the chief execution of beyondblue, a long-time partner with Norton, said the mental health organisation’s work was increasingly being carried out digitally.

She was especially concerned by figures that more than one in five (22%) of respondents who had experienced online harassment felt depressed and that 5% felt suicidal.

Harman said 65% of contact made to beyondblue was by women.
The Norton study coincides with a separate survey of about 1,000 women working in the Australian media, which found that more than 40% had been harassed on social media in the course of their work.

The survey by Women in Media, an advocacy group supported by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, found that 41% said they had been harassed, bullied or trolled on social media while engaging with audiences.
Several were silenced or changed career as a result of this harassment, which ranged included death threats and stalking. Sixty per cent of respondents agreed that it was more likely to be directed at women than men.
Only 16% of respondents were aware of their employer’s strategies to deal with threats on social media.