Monday, October 27, 2014

Why the Devil is Pope Francis Talking about the Devil?

Because he is a Jesuit! As one who has written on spiritual warfare in the history of the Catholic Church, it is refreshing to have as Pope one so attuned to preset day realities!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Libido Redux: Hope for Catholics With a Homosexual Orientation

Dean Bailey and Family
I have just read an interview with a man who is being healed of a same-sex orientation, which he describes as an addiction. He has authored a book, much of which is on his websiteHe speaks publicly about his struggle with homosexuality, telling audiences that homosexuality is a “sexual addiction and dependency,” not a condition to be socially accepted and celebrated. “It is merely one of the many evidences of the broken, spiritual condition of our human race,” he tells people. Having written extensively on how Paul VI, recently beatified, teaches that the Devil uses human libido as a way to lead souls from the truth about human sexuality, taught by Our Lord though His Church, I was glad to hear Dean Bailey state the following:

"Spiritually speaking, however, I believe that Satan is the ultimate deceptive force and mastermind behind not just the marriage aspect of their agenda, but also behind the entire distortion that somehow managed to turn a dysfunctional human sexual behavior into a “civil rights” cause." 

I applaud Mr. Bailey for his courage in revealing the truth about homosexuality, and shall pray for the success of the mission Our Lord has called him to.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Blessed Paul VI

Pope Paul VI will be beatified Sunday at the Vatican.
While he is perhaps best known for his decisive 1968 encyclical on the regulation of birth, Humanae Vitae, he will also be remembered as a man of extraordinary gifts who was burdened by the tumult the Church faced during his 15-year papacy.

His election as Pope Paul VI in 1963 required of him to bring the Second Vatican Council to a conclusion and oversee its implementation. Having taken the name Paul to signify the Church’s mission to evangelize the whole world, he made nine overseas journeys, beginning with the Holy Land.
Unhappily his pontificate was marked by a series of crises. Both heterodox and traditionalist Catholics considered him feeble and vacillating, though for differing reasons, and he was tormented to the point of once saying that “the smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. It was this phrase which caught my attention to the point of research for a book on the Church in the U.S. since Vatican II.

As the story unfolds in the book, a number of traditionalists questioned Vatican II’s authority, especially its decrees on liturgy, ecumenism and religious liberty, prominent among them the Society of St. Pius X, founded by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was suspended from office for ordaining priests and consecrating bishops without canonical authority.

It was a time of swift change in the Church, and Paul VI was to oversee the internationalization of the Curia, an increase in size of the College of Cardinals, the elimination of the Index of Forbidden Books, reform of the procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, eradication of frills of the triple tiara and the coronation ceremony,  and the establishment of permanent Vatican Secretariats for the Laity, the Family, Christian Unity, Non-Christians and Unbelievers.
Paul continued Pope St. John XXIII’s ecumenical initiative, establishing the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.Vatican II also declared the Church’s acceptance of religious liberty and her coming to terms with the modern democratic state — although the full implications of this has remained unresolved.
The crux of my book centers on the gravest crises of Paul’s papacy, caused by those who were set on going beyond the Council documents. In the late 1960s, a global cultural revolution mounted an assault on all forms of authority. Paul VI was sympathetic to the nouvelle theologie that ruled the Council — ressourcement, a return to the Church’s scriptural and patristic roots, led by Henri De Lubac, Jean Danielou, Louis Bouyer, Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

However, he was persistently pressed by a second new theological approach, called “aggiornamento” (“updating”) — represented by Hans Küng — that took the demands of modern culture as its principal issue.

The Council defined episcopal “collegiality” such that bishops had apostolic authority in their own right, but Paul VI’s intervention guaranteed that such authority respected papal infallibility. Of all the changes wrought by the Council, none were more dramatic and far-reaching than those affecting the liturgy, as I Take up in my fourth chapter. The conciliar decree Sacrosanctum Concilium exemplified a theology that had been emerging for a century — speaking of the Liturgy it in mystical terms, as a foretaste of the New Jerusalem, as a glimpse of heaven itself.
As is not well-known by all Catholics, Vatican II did not mandate a change from Latin to the vernacular. The Council decreed that this might be appropriate in some parts of the liturgy. Newer styles of music were encouraged, but Gregorian chant was still to have “pride of place.” However, as we know, for reasons I discuss at length, both Latin and Gregorian chant all but disappeared after the Council. Mass was celebrated facing the people; many of the prayers of the “old Mass” were revised or eliminated; permanent altars were often replaced by wooden tables, as the Mass as a communal meal was emphasized over the Mass as a sacrifice.

Responsibility for implementing liturgical reform was given to the Italian Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who vindicated unlawful experimentation. After all the changes had been made, Paul VI indicated his displeasure with Archbishop Bugnini by in effect exiling him from Rome. Sadly, little was done to roll back the changes.
In some ways, the most severe crisis of faith in following the Council was experienced in priestly and religious life. For many priests and religious, renunciation of the world for the sake of the kingdom of God seemed oppressive. Thus many gave up their vocations, and many of those who remained were distressed. Religious discipline declined sharply, and vocations waned.
Moral theology also underwent a state of crisis during Paul VI’s pontificate. During the Council, there was substantial agitation for the Church to allow some kinds of artificial contraception, and Paul VI intervened to take the issue off the Council floor, appointing a special commission to study it.
As recounted in The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God, the very fact that the commission was called caused many to assume that Church authorities themselves were ambiguous, and traditional teaching was therefore likely to change — an expectation that was confirmed when a majority of the commission recommended acceptance of contraception.
I was then that the Holy Spirit came to the Holy Father’s assistance, as Paul VI reaffirmed traditional teaching in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, though it must be said that, perhaps fearing an exodus from the Church, he appeared loath to mandate acceptance of his encyclical. Several national bishops’ conferences appeared to dissociate themselves from it, and when Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle of Washington suspended a number of priests who had rejected it, he was required by the Holy See to reinstate them.

After the Pope’s death, his former confessor eulogized, “If he was not a saint before he became pope, he became one while in office,” citing the Holy Father’s many sufferings, which he had endured with “abandonment to divine Providence.” After years of research into the papacy of Baptista Montini, I wholeheatedly agree, and await with hope coverage of the event.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Not So Fast....

A principle used in Catholic moral and pastoral theology of which many Catholics have never even heard of, the “law of gradualness,” has gone viral this week emanating from the Synod on the Family. The law is a principle by which people should be heartened to grow closer to God and his plan for us gradually, rather than hoping to go from an initial conversion to holiness in a single step. We see this in Sacred Scripture in 1 Cor. 3:1-3, 2 Cor. 10:6, and Heb. 5:12-14. Has the idea of the law of gradualness been abused? Looking at its invocation of late, one sees that it is prone to abuse. For example, at the Synod of Bishops on the Family in 1980, bishops called for an interpretation of this law that would permit contracepting married couples to receive absolution and Holy Communion on condition of a firm purpose to gradually stop contracepting. St. John Paul II’s rejected it in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, rejected this proposal:

[Married people] cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations.
In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will.
On the same lines, it is part of the Church’s pedagogy that husbands and wives should first of all recognize clearly the teaching of Humanae vitae as indicating the norm for the exercise of their sexuality, and that they should endeavor to establish the conditions necessary for observing that norm [No.34].

At the present Synod in its Relatio post disceptationem (summary what various bishops proposed in discussions) some Bishops seem to be proposing that Catholics who have divorced and entered a subsequent, civil marriage (while the previous spouse is still alive and without an annulment and convalidation) should in some cases be allowed to receive absolution and holy Communion if they intend gradually to bring their situation in line with God’s law.

 A closer reading of Familiaris Consortio is needed by those who are on record as holding the aforementioned interpretation of the law. It appears more to reflect the “gradualness of law” that JPII warned against, according to which a decisive break with sin is not obligatory before receiving absolution and Holy Communion, and in which a different standard of what constitutes sin would be applied to some than is applied to others. Other bishops opposed this—but, as it is not a magisterial document, it does nothing to change Church teaching. The fathers will produce a document at the end of the present Synod, which will be discussed in the approaching year. The discussion will then be repeated at the approaching Synod of Bishops on the Family in 2015; Francis will then decide what is to be done with the Synod’s recommendations.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bishops Bishoping!

As the nation’s courts increasingly strike down popularly-supported state bans on marriage between men who have sex with men, and women who have sex with women, bishops increasingly are “bishoping”, to coin a term I use often in my book; i.e., they are at long last defending the faith against the onslaught always sure to come from the secular culture.

Diocesan Catholic schools in Cincinnati and Oakland, Calif., are weathering criticism for contracts that require teachers not only to witness to the faith in the classroom, but also in how they live their lives in the public square.
Condemnation of Catholic-school contracts that ask teachers to not controvert the Church in public have received dramatized coverage from the secular media in California and Ohio, where a slight number of teachers are opposing the contractual language.
A a teacher in a Catholic school it is heartening to see the dioceses in question standing their ground, emphasizing the dynamic role teachers play in transmitting Catholic teaching and values to their students.
“We have to faithfully represent what Christ and the Church stand for,” Oakland Bishop Michael Barber stated May last. Bishop Barber thus made the language of the annual teaching contracts in his diocese more specific, clarifying that teachers should not publicly defy Church’s teaching on controversial issues such as abortion and marriage. It is also hopeful to see that all but three of the 1,400 school employees have signed the contract. Oakland’s Catholic schools serve nearly 20,000 students.

“Morality clauses” are nothing new in Catholic-school employment policies. The Bishop of Oakland rightly explains that “All teachers are expected to join in the Church’s educational ministry, teaching and modeling the values and ethical standards of Christ and the Catholic Church.” As is usually the case, the change was met with some hostility. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, a Catholic with a daughter with a homosexual orientation, branded the contract as “Inquisition-style” tactics. Also as is the norm these days. She was joined by homosexual-rights activists, holing a press conference in front of Oakland’s cathedral.

 “My desire is simply to make explicit in the contract the importance of being a public witness to the values and practices that are an integral part of the Catholic faith. I am not interested in examining a teacher’s private life,” Bishop Barber is on record as having written. He further warned, however, that the means of social communication, such as Facebook and Twitter, are indeed “public manifestations,” and opposing Church teaching here has “consequences on a teacher’s ability to fulfill his or her ministry as a role model in a Catholic school.” Good for you, Eminence.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gates Narrow and Wide

I just ran across an Andrew Sullivan op-ed in The Dish . What piqued my interest was the following: (My comments in red).

And it comes down to this: does it seem Christian to you to fire people for marrying someone or for having a baby?"  For one who becomes pregnant by the method(s) employed in "same-sex marriages," she would not be being terminated  solely for "having a baby." Catholic teaching prohibits in vitro fertilization, maintaining that a child has the right to be conceived in the marital embrace of his parents. Human sexuality has two components, the unitive and procreative; IVF separates these components and makes the procreative its only goal. Pope Paul VI said that there is an “inseparable connection, willed by God, and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning.”  IVF makes the child a commodity produced in a laboratory, and makes doctors, technicians, and even business people part of the conception process. The sperm used is usually obtained by masturbation, which the Church teaches is immoral. The sperm or eggs used may not come from the couple desiring the child; because one of the spouses may be infertile, it may be necessary to use the sperm or eggs from an outsider. Most of the embryos conceived—which the Church holds should be respected new human lives—die, are frozen indefinitely for later implantation, are used for research, or are discarded. Children conceived through IVF also have a greater incidence of birth defects. In sum, the Church views the child as a gift from God, not a right (although the child has rights). For more information on Catholic teaching on the issue, read the Catechism of the Catholic Churchparagraphs 2373-2379. This is applicable to all Catholics, not just those with a homosexual orientation.
When the next generation of Catholics comes to see their church as doing this, how will they reconcile that with the notion of the church as dedicated to universal love, social justice and compassion?" Yesterday I noted here that bishops are beginning to fulfill their responsibility as chief catechists in their dioceses by, among other things, overseeing the qualifications of teachers in Catholic schools. This is a good first step in ensuring that the next generation of  Catholics comes to uunderstand the fullness of Catholic moral teaching, the truth of which, when properly understood, is self-evident.
The “sins” that gay Catholics are committing, after all, are no worse in theological terms than masturbation, pre-marital sex or the use of contraception within a marriage. And yet only the gays are really subject to these new censures, because they can be more easily identified in the public space." With the exception of the use of parentheses around sins, this point is well taken and is evidence of the wisdom of bishops in beginning to oversee the qualifications of all who would engage in the Church's evangelical, catechetical and educational mission, not just those with a homosexual orientation. 
However way you slice it, that means that the Catholic church is engaged in a very targeted campaign of discrimination against gay people for the very sins most straight Catholics commit all the time. It must be remembered that not all people with a homosexual orientation engage in behavior the Church teaches is sinful.... Why this is so bears looking into on the part of Mr. Sullivan. This has to strike most people as wrong – deeply wrong. Even the most stringent church teaching on homosexuality opposes what it calls “unjust discrimination” against gays. And isn’t selective enforcement of morals against one tiny minority precisely the definition of “unjust”?" Againthe way to rectify this is not to enter where the gate is wide and leads to destruction, but to enter through the narrow gate, which leads to life, though there are indeed few who find it. (Matthew 7:13) Let us hope and pray that the bishops continue to take dead serious their role as shepherds, so eloquently set down in Vatican II's Christus Dominus.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Of Obsessions

WOULD Pope Francis Sign the New Catholic Teacher Contract?”  Frank Bruni of the Times has noted this question  posted on a dozen billboards around Cincinnati recently, presumably because of the Diaz case. This case and others, and the way the involved institutions handle them, are interpreted by Mr. Bruni as the Church vacillating between a message of greater tolerance and the traditional practice of intolerance, and "between the direction in which the Catholic Church needs to move and the matters of sexual morality on which it keeps getting stuck."  Who determines the direction in which the Catholic Church needs to move? The New York Times Editorial page? No, it's founder, Jesus Christ, who has already, through his life, teaching, passion, death and resurrection determined the direction His Church is moving and will continue to move, in spite of all attempt by the gates of hell to prevail against her. Bruni opines, "The more things change, the more they remain mired in libido and loins." Here it would be pastoral to reflect on the teaching of Pope Paul VI, that human libido is one crack through which the Tempter enters the Church, wreaking havoc on souls. Read my book for examples of this, which are legion, and grow worse as we journey to the end times.

Bruni complains that diocesan Cincinnati teachers are being given a detailed prescriptive list of violations of  Church teaching that could result in termination. I applaud this corrective, which is responsible episcopal oversight sadly not employed by all shepherds of the flock. The bishops as chief catechists in their dioceses are charged by Vatican II with the safeguarding of the Deposit of the Faith (which, by the way, Francis has no authority to change). The Cincinnati agreement rightly forbids a “homosexual lifestyle” (nothing said on "orientation") and any “public support” of one, interpreted to mean that an employee by his or her actions, not personal philosophy, violates the teachings of Jesus Christ. Bruni retorts that the agreement "says nothing about public support of the death penalty, something else that the church opposes. Here Bruni reveals a fundamental ignorance of Catholic teaching, set down in the Catechism:

2267  Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against an unjust aggressor.

As a catechist in a Catholic school, I always speak out publicly in opposition to the death penalty, but do not fail to give the full teaching of the Church.

The contract prohibits any use or advocacy of abortion rights, surrogacy, even in vitro fertilization. Rightly so. Bruni points out that it "doesn’t address possible advocacy of the sorts of bloody military engagements that the church often condemns." Again, Mr. Bruni should engage in a close reading of Catholic teaching on just war theory. Surely he is aware of the present day "cafeteria" brand of  practice by Catholics, choosing to support men who have sex with men, and women who have sex with women, but condemning those who support "bloody military engagements." Should a man have sex with a man, and advocate a military engagement which does not meet just war criteria, the Church is bound to admonish him on both counts, and does in her teaching.

The new contract also forbids cohabitation and fornication, and any public endorsement of either. However, it must be said that Bruni notes, incorrectly, that there is "no reference to concern for the downtrodden, to the spirit of giving, to charity." Any Catholic institution by virtue of its Catholic identity is centered around charity, and Bruni is off the mark in intimating that those employed in her schools by the Cincinnati archdiocese are remiss in carrying out its mission, which reads:

"Vital to the evangelizing and educational mission of the Catholic Church, we are Christ-centered communities dedicated to the faith formationacademic excellence, and individual growth of our students, all rooted in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ."

To be rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the full Gospel, is to be caritas-centered.

What I find most disingenuous in Bruni's op-ed is his reference "to what Pope Francis said last year." Intellectual honesty requires that one read the full interview with Pope Francis, posted at America Magazine. In that translation here is the aforementioned passage:

 “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

So we see the word “obsessed” in there, but employed not quite in the same way the Times (and other progressive enthusiasts) see it. 

That Bruni knows not of the institution of which he is writing is best seen in the following:

"Faithful Catholicism has never been a condition of employment in most Catholic schools, which have Protestant teachers, Jewish teachers, teachers of no discernible religion. They know to be respectful. They know to be discreet. But they’re there to decipher the mysteries of algebra, to eradicate the evils of dangling prepositions. They’re not priests."

Let's be clear: bishops are charged with seeing that faithful Catholicism be a condition of employment, or, failing that, that non Catholics employed by Catholic schools  conduct themselves in accord with Catholic teaching. If 37 years of teaching in Catholic schools has taught me anything, it is that since Vatican II certain Catholics and non-Catholics alike, heterosexual and homosexual male and female employees in Catholic schools have often failed in this regard. Bruni suggests as much in his piece: "Can a teacher be canned for attending a rally for a candidate who’s pro-choice?" What message would attendance at such convey to impressionable students' minds in view of Pope Francis' statements on abortion? To cite only one such sttement: "Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world....") 

It is the responsibility of the bishop to see that faithful Catholicism be a condition of employment, and that all employees, Catholic and non-Catholic both, conduct themselves in accord with Catholic teaching. This charge not a few bishops have only very recently found the courage to accept, as I document in my book. So the Church moves in the direction that the Holy Spirit wills, the efforts of those who walk in darkness notwithstanding. Our Lord has promised she will, as He will be with her until the end of the age. Let us pray that the Lord continue to shine His light on those who dwell in darkness...

Friday, October 3, 2014


On Monday’s feast of the archangels, Pope Francis spoke of the ongoing battle between the devil and mankind, encouraging attendees to pray to the angels, who have been charged to defend us.
“He presents things as if they were good, but his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us,” the Holy Father told those gathered for his Sept. 29 Mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha residence.
Francis began by pointing to the day’s readings, taken from Daniel Chapter 7, in which the prophet has a vision of God the Father on a throne of fire giving Jesus dominion over the world, and Revelation Chapter 12, which recounts the battle in which Satan, as a large dragon, is cast out of heaven by St. Michael.
Noting how these are strong images portraying “the great dragon, the ancient serpent,” who “seduces all of inhabited earth,” the Pope also drew attention to Jesus’ words to the prophet Nathanael in the day’s Gospel from John, when he tells him: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
All of these readings, he said, speak of “the struggle between God and the devil,” which “takes place after Satan tries to destroy the woman who is about to give birth to a son.”
“Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory,” he observed, explaining, “From the beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s (use of) seduction to destroy.”
Envy could be the devil’s motive, he said, pointing to how Psalm 8 tells us: "'You have made man superior to the angels.' And that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation; that a lower creature was made superior to him; and he tries to destroy it.”
Pope Francis then noted how “so many projects, except for one’s own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization, are his work, simply because he hates mankind.”
He continued by explaining that although the Bible tells us that the devil is astute and cunning in his attacks, we have the angels to defend us.
“They defend mankind and defend the God-man, the superior man, Jesus Christ, who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect,” he said.
“This is why the Church honors the angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God — they are in the glory of God — because they defend the great hidden mystery of God — namely, that the Word was made flesh.”

It is, therefore, the responsibility of the people of God “to safeguard man, the man Jesus,” the Pope went on, because “he is the man who gives life to all men.”
However, this is not easy, because Satan has invented “humanistic explanations that go against man, against humanity and against God” in order to destroy us.
“This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches,” the Pope went on, adding that “if we do not struggle, we will be defeated.”
“But the Lord gave this task primarily to the angels: to do battle and win,” he said, drawing attention to the final song of Revelation, which reads: “Now have salvation and power come and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by encouraging those present to pray to the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael and to recite the Prayer to St. Michael often.
We should do this “so he may continue to do battle and defend the greatest mystery of mankind: that the Word was made man, died and rose again. This is our treasure: May battle on to safeguard it.”

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Will Doctrinal Change "Bring the Church into the Twenty-First Century?"

A Catholic theologian once said that the Church is not infallible and that it has changed its doctrines. Perhaps he felt Jesus' words in Matthew 18:18-19 ("Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted them by my heavenly Father") mean that the Church can change its doctrines as times change.

No, the Church cannot change its doctrines no matter how desperately some theologians may want it to or how loudly in the social media they claim it can. The doctrines of the Catholic Church are the deposit of faith
  • ·        revealed by Jesus Christ,
  • ·        taught by the apostles,
  • ·        and handed down in their entirety by the apostles to their successors.

Since revealed truth cannot change, and since the deposit of faith is made up of revealed truth expressed in Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the deposit of faith cannot change.

While it's certainly true that our Lord's words to the apostles in Matthew 18:18-19 grant authority to the apostles to "bind" the members of the Church to believe the doctrines of the Church ("He who listens to you listens to me. He who rejects you rejects me and the one who sent me" [Luke 10:16]), the "loosing" spoken of in Mathew. 18:18 does not mean the apostles can modify doctrine.

The Church does not have the power to change or delete divinely revealed truth which forms the deposit of faith. The concept of “loosing” as it pertains to the apostles and their successors has more to do the Church's ability to dispense individuals or the whole Church from observing certain ecclesiastical disciplines. There are many examples of this authority to bind and loose in the arena of Church discipline:
·         In the early Church married men were permitted to be ordained as priests in the West. This custom was changed in the tenth century and since then, in the Latin Rite, candidates for the priesthood must be celibate.
·         Until recent years it was forbidden under pain of mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays. The Church has "loosed" this discipline and now allows the faithful to eat meat on Fridays provided some other act of mortification is performed.
·         Prior to Vatican II, the pre-Communion fast extended from midnight until the time one received Communion; no food or water were to be consumed. This discipline was relaxed first to a three-hour fast and then to the one-hour fast the Church now observes.
·         Matthew 18 also refers to the Church's authority to bind and loose with regard to sin. Every priest has the authority of Christ to "loose" (absolve) penitents from their sins through the sacrament of confession (Jn 20:21-22, 2 Cor 5:18-20). The priest also has the obligation, in rare cases when he sees no evidence of contrition or an unwillingness on the part of the penitent to stop committing sin, to "bind" someone in their sins by refusing to grant him absolution until he evinces genuine contrition.
·         The faithful may gain indulgences through corporal and spiritual acts of charity, certain prayers, and pilgrimages, and are thus, by the authority of the Church's power to bind and loose, able to receive partial or complete remission of all temporal punishment due to sin. Through indulgences the Church may loose Christians from the duty of penance which would otherwise need to be performed.
·         Certain forms of excommunication may be "loosed" only by a bishop or, in graver circumstances, only by the Holy See.
·         Priests and religious who request it can be "loosed" (dispensed) from their vows of celibacy (and, in the case of religious, the vows of poverty and obedience).
None of these issues deals with doctrine as such (since doctrine is unchangeable) but with Church discipline, government, and penance.

Would He, Or Wouldn't He?

“Morality clauses” have been cropping up across the country, including in Cincinnati, where the New York Times reported that critics of the new Archdiocese rules there have put up billboards this spring asking, “Would Pope Francis Sign the New Catholic Teacher Contract?” The contract there  specifically bans “public support of positions contrary to Roman Catholic teaching” that include same-sex marriage unions, assisted suicide, abortions, as a few examples.  Answer: Yes, the Holy Father would sign the contract.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Be Not Lukewarm

Is it possible that Church leaders and Catholic institutions in the U.S. are assisting the furtherance of central tenets of the secularist political and cultural plot? Have you ever read of a prominent Catholic who contends that the Bible instructs us not to judge people? How often have you heard this phrase in the social media? I think there is the phenomena of an unsuspecting acceptance in some Catholic circles of a secularist understanding of important cultural issues.

If a Catholic supports the notion that men who have sex with men, or women who have sex with women “come out,” he or she assists the Gay agenda in achieving its dream of getting an imprimatur from society for grave sin. Many Catholics, woefully ignorant of Catholic moral teaching, by default seem to be accepting of secularist identity politics and the groundless idea that same-sex attraction is innate, and the defining characteristic for those aggrieved by it.
Often such Catholics cite the homosexual priest scandal as a point of departure for their abandonment of Catholic moral theology. As I recount in my book, the scandals were the result of defective vetting of seminary candidates, insufficient oversight within seminaries and dioceses, and an opening to neomodernist thought in the post-Conciliar period. For a cleric to issue a non-judgmental statement toward the homosexual movement is ironic, given the fact the sex abuse scandal mostly involved homosexual priests molesting minor post-pubescent males.
Some months ago, I blogged on the president of a respected Catholic college who seemed to publicly rebuke a teaching subordinate after dissenting parents objected to her defense of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality at a Catholic highschool. Here it appeared that a Catholic institution precluded a challenge to the homosexual narrative.
Some Catholics seem unaware of how the homosexualist will use their actions and statements to further an agenda hostile to Church teaching, and then state that the Church now agrees with them. They seem to confuse true caritas with false compassion. They want to be “pastoral” and influence Catholics whom they fear may not otherwise listen, and thus do not emphasize those Church teachings despised by the secular culture.
The U.S. Bishops, the Shepherds of the flock and those of the flock who understand the problem have to speak up. The secularists are aiming at total cultural transformation, evidenced in the media. Catholics must not only avoid unwittingly promoting the secular narrative, they must relentlessly oppose it.