Monday, December 28, 2015

Libido Redux: Hinder Tinder

From college campuses in Indiana to bars in New York City, men and women are using technology, Tinder, to find available partners in the vicinity, for one thing only: sex.This is the marriage apocalypse.
All of this endless swiping is producing men and women who have an infinite choices of sexual partners with no strings attached. How long before this has a serious effect on how you view members of the opposite sex?
In the past few decades, the average age of first marriage has climbed significantly — to all-time highs of almost 30 for men and 27 for women. And the marriage rates have plummeted. There were 31 marriages per 1,000 women in 2014, compared to 1920, when it was 92 per 1,000. Pope Francis would not approve.
What’s doubly depressing is that has affected the poor more than the rich. For college graduates, the rates of marriage have been almost unchanged. But among those with lower incomes, it’s plummeting, which leads to a vicious circle.
Studies repeatedly show that children born out of wedlock have worse life outcomes — with children born to single mothers more than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime and a third more likely to drop out before completing high school.
Enter the Tinder Effect. It could throw the future of marriage at all income levels into chaos.
The way it works: one could talk to two or three girls at a bar and pick the best one, or you can swipe a couple hundred people a day — the sample size is so much larger—set up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, you could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.”
It appears the formula for success that has been drummed into the heads of middle-class kids — good education, good job, marriage, kids — will not be enough to stand up to 10 years of swiping for sex.
Apps such as Tinder have brought the men’s “game” to a new level. First of all, they never have to leave their apartments, let alone spend money on a date. Now it’s just messages like “Send me nudes.” Or “I’m looking for something quick in the next 10 or 20 minutes.”
Parents who read this article may comfort themselves with the thought that their own children would not engage in this kind of depraved behavior for any length of time, that their daughters know better than to have sex with a guy they’ve never met who communicates with them entirely in emojis. That their sons have more respect for women.
But the culture matters.
And if a critical mass of women are willing to be used by hook-up culture, because that’s what all the kids are doing these days, it affects everyone’s prospects. Men too are allowed to live in a perpetual adolescence and never find out what it means to put effort into a relationship. Oremus.

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The Sisters wanted people to know of their existence, so....

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Divide et Impera

Mr. Patrick Boyden has penned a reflection worth noting. In 2013 I wrote:

Lest we forget, there were indeed reform-minded Council Fathers who responded to Pope John’s vision of the Church growing in spiritual riches as a fruit of the Council under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the hope that the faithful might through grace be aided in turning hearts and minds toward heavenly things.  Given what has been said thus far, it should not surprise the reader that many “liberal Catholics” view the pontificate of John Paul II as too “conservative,” and out of touch with the modern world, while the traditionalists view the writings and teachings of the Holy Father as modernist!
Thus the schema of “liberal” (progressive, left) vs. conservative (traditional, right) which followed upon the close of Vatican II is wholly inadequate for explaining the present-day crisis of faith within the Church of Jesus Christ, though it is most unfortunate that usage of these terms persist among many Catholics and in the media today. Division within Christ’s Church is a clear attack by the evil one. Satan’s strategy here is the time-honored one of divide et impera  –  divide and conquer. Remember, too, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Quite simply, no ideology, no matter how sincerely embraced, may substitute for personal conversion.

Mr. Boyden also notes, sans the demonic element (couched as "civil war:")

Ultimately, what Ross Douthat and others miss is the deep and abiding reality that there is, in the end, no such thing as “liberal Catholicism” or “conservative Catholicism.” There is only Catholicism. [italics mine] In our human imperfection, we often try to erect walls of division where walls need not exist or, in fact, cannot exist. So, Mr. Douthat, I don’t think that your civil war will ever come to pass: how could a perfectly one body—the Body of Christ—ever truly divide itself, despite how loudly its members clamor for revolt? Have faith—the Spirit hasn’t led us astray yet!

Need I say more? Well, I have.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Rare: Good Journalism

The Atlantic magazine staged an LGBT Summit the other day with the redoubtable Ryan T Anderson as a contributor. The Atlantic -- as in general -- hews to the liberal line on “equality” in sexual matters, but its representative, Mary Louise Kelley, conducted a respectful interview with Anderson, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, in front of a live audience.
It’s 20 minutes long, including three questions from the audience, but compulsory viewing for anyone who wants to get the conversation with the equality movement in this post-Obergefell era right. Anderson is a top scholar who disarms (reasonable) opponents with his genuine tolerance and makes the issues – even for those outside the USA -- crystal clear. 
Note in particular his recent experience of having a hotel in Bermuda cancel a seminar booking at the last minute because he would be speaking against gay marriage, and why he would NOT take the hotel to court over such a thing, even though he has a better case for doing so under anti-discrimination law than the gay couple who sued a 71-year-old florist for declining to bake them a wedding cake.
- See more at:

Who He is to Judge

I have chronicled in these pages evidence of Pope Francis' traditional views on marriage and family, which give the lie to heterodox claims that he is their man. The latest:  Pope Francis warned the bishops of Puerto Rico on Monday,

Dear brothers in the Episcopate:
I rejoice in being able to greet you on the occasion of the Ad Limina Apostolorum pilgrimage visit.
It is my desire that (this visit) be a fruitful experience of communion for each one of you and for Church on its pilgrim journey in Puerto Rico.
I thank His Excellency Roberto Octavio González Nieves, Archbishop of San Juan and President of the Bishops Conference for the words he addressed to me in the name of all of you.
In that beautiful Caribbean archipelago was founded one of the first three dioceses that were established on the American continent. Since then, the Church’s history has been interwoven with the faithfulness and tenacity of its pastors, religious, missionaries and lay people that, responding to the times and places, knew how to communicate the joy of announcing Christ the Savior, in whose name so many initiatives for the common good were created in the liturgical, social and educational fields, that have profoundly marked the public and private life of the Puerto Rican people.
You, as heralds of the Gospel and guardians of the hope of your people, are called to continue writing that work of God in his local Churches, enlivened by a spirit of ecclesial communion, endeavoring to make the faith grow and the light of truth also shine in our days.
Mutual confidence and sincere communication among yourselves will permit the clergy and the faithful to see the authentic unity desired by Christ. Moreover, faced with the magnitude and disproportion of problems, the bishop needs to have recourse not only to prayer but also the friendship and brotherly assistance of their brothers in the episcopate. Do not waste energy in divisions and confrontations, but instead building and collaborating. You already know that “the more intense communion is, the more mission is fostered.” (Pastores gregis, 22)
Know how to keep your distance from all political or ideological trends that would make you lose time and the true ardor for the Kingdom of God. The Church, by reason of her mission, is not tied to any political system in order to always be able to be “a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person.” (Gaudium et spec 76)
The bishop is a model for his priests and he encourages them to always seek spiritual renewal and to rediscover the joy of pastoring his flock within the great family of the Church. I ask (you to have) a welcoming attitude towards them, that they feel listened to and guided so they can grow in communion, holiness, wisdom, and bring to everyone the mysteries of salvation.
Looking toward the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, recall first of all to yourselves and then to (your) priests, the service of being faithful servants of God’s forgiveness, above all in the sacrament of Reconciliation, that allows (the penitent) to experience in the flesh the love of God and to offer the penitent the source of true interior peace. (cf. Misericordiae vultus, 17)
To have good pastors it is necessary to do the work of fostering vocations, so as to have an adequate number of vocations and especially in the seminaries, you should offer a proper formation to the candidates. The seminary is the plot of land that calls for the most careful attention of Bishop Shepherd.
Providing the faithful with the sacramental life and offering them an appropriate continual formation makes it possible for them too to fulfill their own mission. The Puerto Rican faithful, and in particular the associations, the movements and the educational institutions are called to generously collaborate so that the Good News may be announced in all environments, including those most hostile and distanced from the Church.
It is my heartfelt desire that, inspired by the example of distinguished laymen like Blessed Carlos Manuel RodrĂ­guez Santiago, model of dedication and apostolic service, or the venerable teacher Rafael Cordero y Molina, you continue advancing on the path of a joyful observance of the Gospel, going deeper into the Church’s Social Teaching, and participating lucidly and serenely in the public debates that concern the society that you live in.
Among the initiatives necessary to strengthen more and more is family pastoral ministry, in the face of the serious social problems that afflict it: the difficult economic situation, emigration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking, corruption. These are realities that are cause for concern.
Allow me to draw your attention to the value and beauty of marriage. The complementarity of man and woman, the vertex of the divine creation, is being questioned by gender ideology, in the name of a freer and more just society. The difference between man and woman is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate, but is for the sake of communion and generation, always “in the image and likeness of God.”
Without mutual self-giving, the two cannot even understand the depth of what it means to be man and woman. (General Audience April 15, 2015) The sacrament of marriage is a sign of the love of God for humanity and Christ’s self-giving to his Spouse, the Church. Take care of this treasure, one of the “most important of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples.” (Aparecida, 433)
Finally, among the greatest challenges for the apostolic work, is the implementation of the Joint Pastoral Plan  in the dioceses, by means of programs drawn up to proclaim Christ and to respond to the concerns of society and of the People of God today, in which the missionary dimension must always be present even to the farthest existential peripheries.
I assure you of my prayers for you as well as for the priests, consecrated religious and for all the lay faithful of that beloved land of Puerto Rico. Please give everyone the pope’s greetings. Watch over with zeal and patience that portion of the Lord’s vineyard that has been entrusted you, and go forward together. I entrust the work of evangelization in Puerto Rico to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, asking you to not forget to pray for me, I impart with affection the Apostolic Blessing.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Here we go again! Liberal vs. Conservative in the Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam et apostolicam ecclesia

Ross Douthat joined First Things  to deliver the Erasmus lecture, “The Crisis of Conservative Catholicism,” on Monday, October 26th at the Union League.

Douthat is an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times and the author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Free Press, 2012), Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class(Hyperion, 2005), and the co-author, with Reihan Salam, of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream (Doubleday, 2008). He is the film critic forNational Review.

After listening to this remarkable synthesis of "the sifting like wheat" of certain Catholics these days, I offered the following comment:

In 1972 the Pope of the Council, Paul VI, observed that seven years following the close of the Council conditions in the Church were such that it was as if “the Smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God.” I have spent 30 years reflecting on how it was that the misimplementation of the council’s documents resulted in the emergence of what Henri De Lubac termed “a different Church from that of Jesus Christ,” all under the guide of updating (aggiornamento) and renewal. Pope Paul was of the mind that by 1972 the greatest need in the Church was to be defended against the adversary power of darkness, the Devil. Mr. Douthat is thus rightly concerned about the “not-so-center left’s” influence evident in synodol discussion on who may  or may not receive the sacraments, as for Paul VI the unmistakable signs of the Evil One’s penetration of the Church post- Vatican II were a vast undermining of Catholic moral teaching (particularly sexual morality), the ideological seduction of fashionable theological errors which spawned doctrinal uncertainty, and the watering down of and even rejection of the spirit of the Gospel. 

Hence the priority for those whom Douthat terms “conservative Catholics?” What George Weigel has termed “Evangelical Catholicism.”
Perhaps intellectual pride evident in current debates over the present Holy Father get in the way of repentance and conversion, and believing the good news?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Libido Redux: Germain Grisez on Vatican II

Germain Grisez

For 30 years, until 2009, Germain Grisez  was professor of Christian Ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. He is one of America’s most respected Catholic philosophers. He began his career teaching ethics at Georgetown in 1959. His 1965 book Contraception and the Natural Law was an important part of the debate over contraception, and he assisted Jesuit Father John Ford when Pope Paul VI called on him to serve on the Pontifical Commission for Population, Family and Birthrate prior to the drafting of the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. Both men's writings provided a counterpoint to those who suggested that birth control was not an intrinsic evil and the choice to use it should left to couples, and were instrumental in research for my chapter on Catholic sexual moral teaching.  His magnum opusThe Way of the Lord Jesus Christ, can be found both online and in print. He recently discussed the Second Vatican Council 50 years after:

What was the state of the Church going into the Council?

The agenda of Vatican II was to try to get the Church better equipped and organized and operating to deal with the world. That was not only John XXIII’s view of the Council, but the view of those who did the preparation and those from the central European bloc who came in to take charge.

The background of this was the modernist controversy at the beginning of the 20th century, and Pius X had dealt with that. After that, there was a great deal of rather heavy-handed discipline imposed upon the rest of the Church, and theologians in particular. There was this kind of disciplinary straitjacket and a huge amount of resentment of that among theologians and philosophers and Scripture scholars all around the world.

There was a great amount of work being circulated that couldn’t be published because it wouldn’t have been allowed to be published. The majority of serious scholars were more or less unhappy with the discipline situation, and these scholars were not particularly far out or anything. So, for 50 years, everyone active in philosophy, theology and Scripture had come up in this straightjacket, and they resented it.

Pope John XXIII relaxed the heavy-handed discipline. He let it be known that he didn’t want to be imposing any discipline on the theologians, perhaps too much.

Why “too much”?

I think John XXIII made some mistakes. The biggest was one of judgment. I think he thought the health of the Church was much better than it actually was, but he wasn’t the only one who thought that.

He was very optimistic about the state of the Church. The Church, alas, was not in that great of shape. There was a great deal of corruption among pastors and in religious institutes. A lot of people were failing to live up to what they were pretending to be.

Through this period of strict discipline, the wraps were being kept on things. Problems didn’t get spotted, and, therefore, they weren’t dealt with. There was a lot of unrest. There was a movement from the Depression of the ’30s to the hard years of World War II to the prosperity of the post-war years. That succession had a tremendous effect on secular opinion and attitudes.

There was a great worldwide rejection of authority. The change in the 1960s was tremendous, and it was present in the Church. When the previous tightness was loosened all of a sudden, people just said “whoopee” and went to it [secular culture]. It was really incredible. This has been going on from time immemorial. You can analogize this to what [often] happens whenever children leave home and go off to school.

You point out in your lectures that the Council’s task was sorting what is essential from what is accidental in the faith and the hope of St. John XXIII that discerning between the two would help usher the Church into modernity with her dogmas inviolate. Did this happen?

On the whole, the Council delivered what John XXIII was asking for. Vatican II does put things in a fresh way. It’s more scripturally rich than previous Church teachings. It certainly takes into account the long tradition of theology. It’s not unduly influenced by what theologians were thinking from 1900 to 1965, but it was heavily influenced by what the Church Fathers were thinking.

If the documents are simply looked at for what they are and what they say, rather than being cherry-picked for things that will support an intransigent traditionalism on the one hand, or a spirit of the Council on the other, they are a great step forward and a great help to better understanding the faith.

The Council was, in some sense, a struggle between the more conservative voices in the Curia and the more radical central European bloc. Shortly after the Council, the Europeans themselves split between factions dedicated to continuing the “spirit” of the Council (theologians like Hans Kung, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner and others) and those who were resistant to continual innovation (such as Joseph Ratzinger, Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar). How did these tensions play out in post-Conciliar theology?

If we look at the volume of publications, and the opinions of the majority of the laity, the picture of the Council is of this emergence of the kind of triumphant central European bloc carrying everything with them. They did get dominance in publications, journals and higher studies in theology. In general, they were even dominant in the seminaries into the 1980s.

The main thing in theology was to make an altogether new departure. Theology is an attempt to understand the faith: to get hold of it and see how it all hangs together. That’s the classical conception of theology, and John Paul II, for example, did a large amount of work unpacking the Council.

By and large, however, academic theologians began to look at theology in a very different way. Their work was an attempt to connect secular scholarship with the thinking and teaching of the Church. Their idea was: “We’re the people who are going to do the mediating. We have one foot in the modern world and one in the Church, and we’re going to play these things off each other and mediate between the two.”

That’s a very different idea of theology. When you have this idea of bringing these two sides together, there’s going to be a certain amount of compromising on both sides. A great deal of it was ineffective compromise.

What role did the media play in the work and reception of the Council?

The media had very little impact on Vatican I, but by Vatican II, you have a full-blown media blast. There was no planning or provision for dealing with this at the Vatican. The secular media took tremendous interest in the Council and did a tremendous amount to interpret what the Council was about. Bishops participating in the Council got more information from outside (from the media) than from inside the Council. This was a very unfortunate situation. There was no provision for the Council to communicate within itself.

The way the media covered the Council built up a lot of push behind the things the secular media wanted. The things they were for received a tremendous amount of publicity and consideration. They were cheered on.

The secular media, in general, have been, increasingly in my lifetime, not in the business of reporting, but in promoting. They’re trying to bring about change in the world, rather than being concerned primarily with accuracy. I think they were very skillful in “playing up” people. Promoting the “right” ideas became a very big thing, and if you disagreed with what they considered the “right” ideas, you didn’t get much coverage; the media didn’t mention it. If you had a good argument, you never heard anyone repeat it. Even the telling of the story was a falsification, because the arguments were over-simplified and important points left out.

It’s traditional now to speak of the two visions of the Council: the hermeneutic of rupture (those who imagine an ongoing “spirit” of the Council) and a hermeneutic of continuity (those who see the Council in harmony with the tradition of the Church). Which was it?

There was an attempt on the part of John XXIII and a great part of the Council to innovate. They wanted to do something new. At the same time, they didn’t mean to get away from the roots. I don’t think we can talk about it as a natural development, because it’s not natural. It’s creative. We’re dealing with the work of the Holy Spirit, which is always creative, but we’re also dealing with human work, and human beings are creative.

What were some of the innovations?

If you’re familiar with the documents of Vatican II, you’ll see how much of it is already in [the works of] Pius XII. There are things in Vatican II that are sort of begun but not carried through, such as the idea of personal vocation — that everybody is called to a complete life of good deeds — prepared [by God] in advance for them to walk. The idea is present in Vatican II in a couple of places, but it was really tremendously developed by John Paul II, who has this idea of: When we make choices and commitments, there’s a kind of creativity of choice-making.

The idea of the universal call to holiness is there explicitly in Vatican II, but the implications of that [were not] drawn out very well. They didn’t draw the conclusion that needed to be drawn: It’s not what God calls you to do which decides how holy you are, but how well you respond to God’s call. In other words, you don’t have a better or worse calling depending upon what you’re called to do, but you can respond well or not so well to what God’s calling you to do. Holiness is, in a sense, a generalized and universalized calling.

Consider a woman who got married and had two kids, but the guy she married was a drunk who beat her up. She has to leave him and goes to work to help bring up her kids. That woman is capable of living a much holier life than any priest or bishop or pope, so her vocation could be the opportunity for great holiness.

That gives you a totally different picture of Christian life. It isn’t what you’re called to do that matters, but your willingness to respond to God’s calling. And everyone is given sufficient grace to respond well. There isn’t any preferential option to be holy.

That wipes out what we’ve been told from the Fathers of the Church right down to Vatican II, which is that celibacy for the kingdom of heaven is a better vocation. It’s not a better vocation. The universal call to holiness, when it’s taken seriously, is a development [of our understanding of vocation].

That doesn’t mean that celibacy and virginity for the Kingdom’s sake don’t have certain goods that other vocations don’t have. It has certain very important goods. It allows people to have a closer friendship with Jesus. It allows them to concentrate on the things of the Lord. It provides a very important service, because concentrating on the things of the Lord can help people save their souls, which is a better thing to do for people. It gives a very perspicuous witness. So celibacy for the Kingdom has very special aspects that other vocations don’t have, but it isn’t a holier life. That’s a mistake that started out with Origen and Tertullian and is carried through in Augustine and Aquinas. So Vatican II does have some very important things that are not fully developed.
Vatican II also suggests an eschatology of the kingdom of God. The Kingdom is a real, human community. St. Thomas defines the Kingdom as the blessed participating in the Beatific Vision, but that’s not what Jesus says in the New Testament. Jesus says, “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand,” and he starts giving out free samples: People are cured; people are freed. So we have a real, human community we’re looking for. We have a life to live together.

What kind of life, and how is that a departure from the way we understood it in the past?

We’re going to have a universe that is great and beautiful and enjoyable. Look at Revelation: this Kingdom coming down from God. It’s not up in heaven. It’s down here. And God lives among his people. He’s there. The people can see him. So we have the Beatific Vision. But that’s not all we get: We have this wonderful, real world to live in: the New Jerusalem.

In Gaudium et Spes, it says, “For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in his Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured” (39).

We’re to look forward to everything human, which is going to be available to us in some kind of transformed and perfected way. Resurrection is not just the resurrection of the body, but of the world. Vatican II suggests this, but doesn’t develop it.

What was the result of not developing that more fully?

Since Vatican II, the kingdom of God is hardly mentioned, and no one is talking about what you need to do to get into the Kingdom.

What do we have instead? A kind of almost-universalism: Everyone gets into heaven. If everyone gets into the Kingdom, you don’t have to think about it anymore. The general assumption is no one’s going to hell. When do you remember any pope or bishop talking about hell as a real thing?

So there’s a problem: Vatican II left hell out. Since then, hell has been omitted from preaching and teaching, even by John Paul II. John XXIII wanted to present the faith in an attractive way, and that was understood to mean that we don’t want to talk about these bad or discouraging things.

After Vatican II, you get people like [Hans Urs] von Balthasar saying, “We have to hope that everyone is saved.” Well, we have to hope that each individual is saved, but you don’t have to hope that everybody — collectively — is going to be saved, because you don’t deal with people collectively. You don’t love them collectively. When Jesus says many people will want to enter the Kingdom but won’t be able to, we have to believe he was telling the truth.

A Way Out of Porn Compulsion | Catholic Answers

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