Thursday, July 27, 2017

In Compliance

Guest Op-Ed - Bishop Schneider: The interpretation of Vatican II and its connection with the current crisis of the Church
Once again, we are honored to post this guest op-ed, submitted to us by His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider. We not only allow but encourage all media and blogs to reprint this as well. 

OK, I am delighted to do this, as I wrote a book in support of what His Excellency wishes:

(From the Amazon page): "Taking as his point of departure Pope Paul VI’s observation that seven years following the close of the Second Vatican Council conditions in the Church were such that it was as if “the Smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God,” the author recounts 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. For the Pope the unmistakable signs of the Evil One’s penetration of the Church were a vast undermining of Catholic moral teaching (particularly sexual morality), the ideological seduction of fashionable theological errors (particularly neomodernism) which spawned doctrinal uncertainty, a radical denial of God, and the watering down of and even rejection of the spirit of the Gospel.

This was the net result of the misimplementation of the Council, for whicH I advised all Catholics to READ THE DOCUMENTS OF VATICAN II FOR THEMSELVES.

By Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Special to Rorate Caeli
July 21, 2017

The interpretation of Vatican II and its connection with the current crisis of the Church

The current situation of the unprecedented crisis of the Church is comparable with the general crisis in the 4th century, when the Arianism had contaminated the overwhelming majority of the episcopacy, taking a dominant position in the life of the Church. We must seek to address this current situation on the one hand with realism and, on the other hand, with a supernatural spirit – with a profound love for the Church, our mother, who is suffering the Passion of Christ because of this tremendous and general doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral confusion.

We must renew our faith in believing that the Church is in the safe hands of Christ, and that He will always intervene to renew the Church in the moments in which the boat of the Church seems to capsize, as is the obvious case in our days. 

As to the attitude towards the Second Vatican Council, we must avoid two extremes: a complete rejection (as do the sedevacantists and a part of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) or a “infallibilization” of everything the council spoke.

Vatican II was a legitimate assembly presided by the Popes and we must maintain towards this council a respectful attitude. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we are forbidden to express well-founded doubts or respectful improvement suggestions regarding some specific items, while doing so based on the entire tradition of the Church and on the constant Magisterium.

Traditional and constant doctrinal statements of the Magisterium during a centuries-old period have precedence and constitute a criterion of verification regarding the exactness of posterior magisterial statements. New statements of the Magisterium must, in principle, be more exact and clearer, but should never be ambiguous and apparently contrast with previous magisterial statements.

Those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous must be read and interpreted according to the statements of the entire Tradition and of the constant Magisterium of the Church.

In case of doubt the statements of the constant Magisterium (the previous councils and the documents of the Popes, whose content demonstrates being a sure and repeated tradition during centuries in the same sense) prevail over those objectively ambiguous or new statements of the Vatican II, which difficultly concord with specific statements of the constant and previous Magisterium (e.g. the duty of the state to venerate publicly Christ, the King of all human societies, the true sense of the episcopal collegiality in relation to the Petrine primacy and the universal government of the Church, the noxiousness of all non-Catholic religions and their dangerousness for the eternal salvation of the souls).

Vatican II must be seen and received as it is and as it was really: a primarily pastoral council. This council had not the intention to propose new doctrines or to propose them in a definitive form. In its statements the council confirmed largely the traditional and constant doctrine of the Church.

Some of the new statements of Vatican II (e.g. collegiality, religious liberty, ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, the attitude towards the world) have not a definitive character, and being apparently or truly non-concordant with the traditional and constant statements of the Magisterium, they must be complemented by more exact explications and by more precise supplements of a doctrinal character. A blind application of the principle of the “hermeneutics of continuity” does not help either, since thereby are created forced interpretations, which are not convincing and which are not helpful to arrive at a clearer understanding of the immutable truths of the Catholic faith and of its concrete application.

There have been cases in the history, where non-definitive statements of certain ecumenical councils were later – thanks to a serene theological debate – refined or tacitly corrected (e.g. the statements of the Council of Florence regarding the matter of the sacrament of Orders, i.e. that the matter were the handing-over of the instruments, whereas the more sure and constant tradition said that the imposition of the hands of the bishop were sufficient, a truth, which was ultimately confirmed by Pius XII in 1947). If after the Council of Florence the theologians would have blindly applied the principle of the “hermeneutics of the continuity” to this concrete statement of the Council of Florence (an objectively erroneous statement), defending the thesis that the handing-over of the instruments as the matter of the sacrament of Orders would concord with the constant Magisterium, probably there would not have been achieved the general consensus of the theologians regarding the truth which says that only the imposition of the hands of the bishop is the real matter of the sacrament of Orders.

There must be created in the Church a serene climate of a doctrinal discussion regarding those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous or which have caused erroneous interpretations. In such a doctrinal discussion there is nothing scandalous, but on the contrary, it will be a contribution in order to maintain and explain in a more sure and integral manner the deposit of the immutable faith of the Church.

One must not highlight so much  a certain council, absolutizing it or equating it in fact with the oral (Sacred Tradition) or written (Sacred Scripture) Word of God. Vatican II itself said rightly (cf. Verbum Dei, 10), that the Magisterium (Pope, Councils, ordinary and universal Magisterium) is not above the Word of God, but beneath it, subject to it, and being only the servant of it (of the oral Word of God = Sacred Tradition and of the written Word of God = Sacred Scripture).

From an objective point of view, the statements of the Magisterium (Popes and councils) of definitive character, have more value and more weight compared with the statements of pastoral character, which have naturally a changeable and temporary quality depending on historical circumstances or responding to pastoral situations of a certain period of time, as it is the case with the major part of the statements of Vatican II.

The original and valuable contribution of the Vatican II consists in the universal call to holiness of all members of the Church (chap. 5 of Lumen gentium), in the doctrine about the central role of Our Lady in the life of the Church (chap. 8 of Lumen gentium), in the importance of the lay faithful in maintaining, defending and promoting the Catholic faith and in their duty to evangelize and sanctify the temporal realities according to the perennial sense of the Church (chap. 4 of Lumen gentium), in the primacy of the adoration of God in the life of the Church and in the celebration of the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, nn. 2; 5-10). The rest one can consider to a certain extent secondary, temporary and, in the future, probably forgettable, as it was the case with some non-definitive, pastoral and disciplinary statements of various ecumenical councils in the past.

The following issues – Our Lady, sanctification of the personal life of the faithful with the sanctification of the world according to the perennial sense of the Church and the primacy of the adoration of God – are the most urgent aspects which have to be lived in our days. Therein Vatican II has a prophetical role which, unfortunately, is not yet realized in a satisfactory manner.

Instead of living these four aspects, a considerable part of the theological and administrative “nomenclature” in the life of the Church promoted for the past 50 years and still promotes ambiguous doctrinal, pastoral and liturgical issues, distorting thereby the original intention of the Council or abusing its less clear or ambiguous doctrinal statements in order to create another church – a church of a relativistic or Protestant type.

In our days, we are experiencing the culmination of this development.

The problem of the current crisis of the Church consists partly in the fact that some statements of Vatican II – which are objectively ambiguous or those few statements, which are difficultly concordant with the constant magisterial tradition of the Church – have been infallibilisized. In this way, a healthy debate with a necessarily implicit or tacit correction was blocked.

At the same time there was given the incentive in creating theological affirmations in contrast with the perennial tradition (e.g. regarding the new theory of an ordinary double supreme subject of the government of the Church, i.e. the Pope alone and the entire episcopal college together with the Pope, the doctrine of the neutrality of the state towards the public worship, which it must pay to the true God, who is Jesus Christ, the King also of each human and political society, the relativizing of the truth that the Catholic Church is the unique way of salvation, wanted and commanded by God).

We must free ourselves from the chains of the absolutization and of the total infallibilization of Vatican II. We must ask for a climate of a serene and respectful debate out of a sincere love for the Church and for the immutable faith of the Church.

We can see a positive indication in the fact that on August 2, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a preface to the volume regarding Vatican II in the edition of his Opera omnia. In this preface, Benedict XVI expresses his reservations regarding specific content in the documents Gaudium et spes and Nostra aetate. From the tenor of these words of Benedict XVI one can see that concrete defects in certain sections of the documents are not improvable by the “hermeneutics of the continuity.”

An SSPX, canonically and fully integrated in the life of the Church, could also give a valuable contribution in this debate – as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre desired. The fully canonical presence of the SSPX in the life of the Church of our days could also help to create a general climate of  constructive debate, in order that that, which was believed always, everywhere and by all Catholics for 2,000 years, would be believed in a more clear and in a more sure manner in our days as well, realizing thereby the true pastoral intention of the Fathers  of the Second Vatican Council.

The authentic pastoral intention aims towards the eternal salvation of the souls -- a salvation which will be achieved only through the proclamation of the entire will of God (cf. Act 20: 7). The ambiguity in the doctrine of the faith and in its concrete application (in the liturgy and in the pastoral life) would menace the eternal salvation of the souls and would be consequently anti-pastoral, since the proclamation of the clarity and of the integrity of the Catholic faith and of its faithful concrete application is the explicit will of God.

Only the perfect obedience to the will of God -- Who revealed us through Christ the Incarnate Word and through the Apostles the true faith, the faith interpreted and practiced constantly in the same sense by the Magisterium of the Church – will bring the salvation of souls.

+ Athanasius Schneider,
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan
Posted by Adfero. at 7/21/2017 10:20:00 AM

Monday, July 24, 2017

LGBTQIA and Its Variances

It seems Crisis Magazine has published another piece sparking much discussion on the web (my comments in red):

Orthophobia and the Marginalized QTBGL Catholic

As I survey the current state of the Catholic Church, I believe I can no longer hold back. It is time for me to come out.
I am and have for some time identified as a member of the QTBGL community, and I need to explain why I call myself a QTBGL Catholic.
For those who may not know, “QTBGL” stands for “Quietly Totally Believing God’s Law” and is sometimes referred to more simply as “TBGL” (just Totally Believing God’s Law). Personally, I think the “Q” is an essential aspect of our community, since it’s important to recognize just how quietly we go about totally believing the fullness of truth of the Catholic faith in our daily lives. I suppose I am out of sync here, as I am perhaps not as quiet as I should be.
Coming out at this moment is vitally important. Not only do I need to be utterly honest about who I really am, but the Church needs to do a better job ministering to the QTBGL Catholic in the pew, not to mention QTBGL clergy in the Church, like me. We are marginalized, unjustly discriminated against, and regularly face demeaning “orthophobia” (irrational hate for, and fear of, right-thinking Christians) not only from fellow Catholics but even from secular society. I would amend this to “right thinking [Catholic] Christians"….
The level of orthophobia is getting worse, in fact. Within the Church, we are called “haters” and “bigots” simply for accepting and affirming what the Church actually teaches us about liturgy, justice, virtue, and, of course, the human person and sexuality (natural law). Yes, yes, YES Outside the Church, orthophobes everywhere are trying to curtail our religious liberty, take away our conscience rights, and subject us to ridicule and hate simply because of who we really are.
Yet many QTBGL Catholics really feel as though we were born this way. Or at least baptized this way. Even in the face of such orthophobic animosity and outright discrimination (some of us have even lost jobs after publicly coming out as QTBGL), we know we are being true to ourselves. We are resigned to a rather lonely life of quietly accepting each and every truth taught to us by the Church, often at great personal cost.
You may have heard that recently a bishop was heartlessly attacked by orthophobes for his faithful interpretation of canon law as it applies to reception of Holy Communion and to funerals. While this bishop has not overtly come out as a QTBGL Catholic, orthophobes everywhere treated him that way. He was vilified horribly, even threatened.
Despite this bishop’s brave example, however, we need to face it—QTBGL Catholics are under attack and often feel alienated from so many other leaders of the Church who are supposed to welcome, affirm, and accompany us with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Indeed.
Just think of how very few QTBGL-affirming parishes there really are in our local dioceses. When was the last time you saw a parish intentionally advertise something like, “At St. Fidelis Parish, ALL are really welcome—including QTBGL Catholics. Come as you are. Who am I to judge?”
It just doesn’t happen often enough. Sure, there may be some parishes that do what they can to minister to members of the QTBGL community and help us feel accepted for who we are. But more often than not, especially at the diocesan level, our needs are largely rejected and ignored.
For example, do our Church and parish leaders really not know the disheartening and isolating double standard that so many QTBGL Catholics experience? Too often, our leaders devote lots of time and energy ministering to orthophobic Catholics who reject us, offering them lavish attention, welcome, affirmation, and acceptance. Yet, many of these same leaders never seem to get around to teaching the orthophobic Catholics all those truths that we QTBGL persons accept unreservedly. We certainly don’t feel very respected in such unwelcoming parish environments.
My QTBGL community is starving for the nourishment that can only come from our pastoral ministers. It’s like a dagger in the hearts of marginalized QTBGL Catholics to know that we ourselves may rarely hear the fullness of truth in our parishes. But more than that, many of us “out” members of the QTBGL community have great concerns that orthophobic Catholics are not hearing those truths either. I suppose this is why I wrote my book?! Often, when we approach parish and diocesan leaders with our concerns, mostly we are ignored outright—never hearing a word of affirmation or comfort. I can’t tell you how many times QTBGL Catholics have phoned or written their dioceses to ask for support when orthophobia rears its ugly head in our local parishes and even in our schools.
When we get no response, how can such silence be construed as respect, compassion, and sensitivity? How can it not be construed as a form of unjust discrimination against QTBGL Catholics?
By coming out, I am hoping to contribute to a culture of authentic “bridge building,” (nice turn of a phrase, given Fr. Martin!) so to speak, between the institutional Church and the QTBGL community. And, I must say, the onus is really on the Church to take the first steps to eradicate orthophobia in all its forms and to reassure the QTBGL Catholic that, yes, we have just as much right to be part of the Church as even the pope does. QTBGL Catholics have real gifts to offer. We need to be permitted to share our God-given gifts. Particularly, our total acceptance of the truth is a great gift to the Church. Why don’t we hear this affirmed more in our churches?
Oddly, it’s a bit like the parable of the shepherd who goes after the one sheep but, in a twist of the parable, takes absolutely no precautions to meet the needs of the other 99 sheep while he is busy seeking and finding that one lost lamb. What shepherd, while seeking the one lost ewe, leaves 99 without food, water, protection, and guidance? What shepherd, after finding the lost sheep, brings it back and spends a huge amount of time caring for it while ignoring the requests and needs of the other 99? Such a shepherd might say to that one lost sheep, “You know, it’s okay if you still want to identify as a ‘lost sheep’; I don’t want to make you feel unwelcome or judged just because you have no real interest in thinking of yourself as ‘found’ like these other 99.”
In the fractured parable I’ve penned, when the 99 see how little value the shepherd seems to place on staying “found,” they might feel a bit underappreciated. Here the author should read Catholic exegesis (JP II, B16) on this parable….
With these things in mind, my coming out as a QTBGL Catholic will also help combat the “erasure” our community has experienced for too long. We exist. We are out. We’re in every parish, every pew. QTBGL pride should be proclaimed in every parish community.
I can’t begin to say what a relief it is to finally come out and embrace my QTBGL identity.
Just one more thing—maybe we could come up with a QTBGL-pride flag to inspire us. I mean, I think we have a real shot at eradicating orthophobia, even in my lifetime. But we will need the cooperation of all Catholics, and all Catholic leaders. Until then, those who do make the brave choice to minister to QTBGL Catholics and our families will likely face hate, persecution, discrimination, and outright rejection.
Even so, I’ve heard from those ministering to the QTBGL community that all the hateful comments they endure from orthophobic Catholics seem like nothing after meeting just one QTBGL person or parent who says “thank you.”
And so—as a newly out QTBGL Catholic, on behalf of our community, I say to all who choose to minister to our pastoral needs:
Thank you.
Editor’s note: Pictured above is a detail from “Holy C0mmunion” painted by Ariel Agemian.

Land O' Lakes and the University of Our Lady

In my chapter on Catechesis I did not discuss Catholic Higher Education, as I had not the competence to contribute beyond Catholic priest and famed sociologist Msgr. George Kelly's

COMMENTARY  |  JUL. 20, 2017
The Spirit of Land O’Lakes: A Recent Student’s Perspective
COMMENTARY: Part of a Register Symposium
I can’t help but get defensive when confronted with overstatements about the demise of the University of Notre Dame, my alma mater.
After all, my Catholic faith blossomed on Our Lady’s campus, nurtured by friendships with well-formed Catholic peers living out their faith with joy and fidelity.
At precisely the moment when the simplistic worldview of my youth was beginning to falter under the pressure of existential questioning, these friends witnessed to me the beauty and satisfaction of a life wholly Catholic.
I have similar sentiments for another oft-maligned Catholic institution, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, where I recently earned a master’s degree in Catholic studies.
Whatever the weaknesses and inadequacies of the university as a whole, the Catholic studies program is a bedrock of orthodox Catholic thought and community that has contributed profoundly to my intellectual and spiritual life.
Undeniably, my faith was enriched at both Notre Dame and St. Thomas. But upon reflection, it seems clear that the integrated Catholic worldview I received in these places came about independent of — or even in spite of — the animating spirit of the broader institution.
In fact, my experience seems to be something of an exception rather than a rule. In too many cases, students attending Catholic universities like Notre Dame and St. Thomas are not equipped to engage with modern life in a way that is uncompromisingly Catholic.
The “Land O’Lakes Statement” has likely contributed to this reality.
Signed 50 years ago this month by the leaders of many Catholic universities, including Notre Dame’s Father Theodore Hesburgh, the statement declared the independence of the Catholic university from the Catholic Church.
Complete intellectual autonomy from “authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical,” its signatories argued, was necessary if the Catholic university were to truly be a place where academic freedom reigned and truth was pursued uninhibitedly.
Whether the statement itself ushered in a new era or instead merely articulated the direction in which Catholic higher education was already heading, the spirit found within Land O’Lakes has weakened the capacity of many Catholic universities to adequately address the challenges of an increasingly secular and relativistic culture.
As a result, far too many students are left incapable of squaring the Catholic faith of their youth with the realities they confront as adults.
How could it be any other way? The underlying logic of Land O’Lakes is that fealty to the Church is incompatible with freedom: The claims Christ makes on us are fine for Sundays, but they stop at the threshold of our minds.
Such an understanding distorts academic freedom, which is the freedom to pursue the truth. The suggestion that the Church has no special claim to truth in matters like theology and morality implicitly undermines the authority of the Church in all aspects of our lives.
In turn, it undercuts Catholicism as a comprehensive way of life, blinds one to an integrated Catholic worldview, and leads to a false tension between faith and reality.
I’ve seen what this looks like at both universities I’ve attended.
At St. Thomas, which a decade ago abruptly ended the long-standing practice of making the local archbishop chairman of the board, Catholicism is treated like an embarrassing family ritual. The administration appeals to it in sentimental ways, but it would never dare suggest that the faith is objectively true in any way.
Its treatment of Catholicism is inherently relativistic and has affected everything from the university’s new tagline, an appeal to a vague and make-of-it-what-you-will “common good,” to campus ministry, which was recently gutted in favor of an interfaith approach aimed at meeting the “needs of students” instead of molding them in the Person of Christ.
At Notre Dame, the Catholic identity is far stronger. Eighty percent-plus of the student body identifies as Catholic, and liturgical life is vibrant, with more than 150 Masses celebrated on campus each week. There are also many brilliant orthodox Catholic academics spread throughout its halls, especially in the humanities and business.
Nonetheless, the same logic that informs Land O’Lakes pervades academic and student life, resulting in a practice of Catholicism that is deeply compartmentalized and disintegrated. Students may go to Mass on Sunday, but many have difficulty applying Catholicism to their academic pursuits or their social lives.
Things like single-sex dormitories and theology requirements still exist, but the justification for them is often presented as continuity with arbitrary tradition, not deep and meaningful principles. Uncoincidentally, the hookup culture and careerism characterize the attitudes of many students.
Certainly cultural forces beyond campus shape incoming students, but the administration provides no convincing corrective to them. If anything, their own relentless pursuit of earthly prestige models that it’s okay to desire things detached from Christ.
Additionally, the fact that the faculty is not comprised of a majority of faithful Catholics — a necessary criterion for a university to be meaningfully Catholic, according to both St. John Paul’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae and also the university’s own mission statement — inhibits students’ ability to encounter an integrated Catholic worldview.
The sad irony of Land O’Lakes is that its signatories sought to shift the Catholic university so it could better face the challenges of modernity. Instead, the logic of the statement has rendered those universities that have embraced it incapable of preparing their students to engage with modernity in a way that is fully and authentically Catholic.
In an age when young people struggle more than ever to find purpose and firm grounding for their identity, students need to be offered a vision of Catholicism that demands everything of them — their Sundays, yes, but also their careers, their politics, their sexuality — and life itself.
A Catholic university that treats the faith as anything less is doing a grave disservice to her students, no matter how well she prepares them for earthly success.
Jonathan Liedl, a 2011 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a
2016 graduate of the University of St. Thomas, is a board member
of the Sycamore Trust, an alumni organization committed to
protecting Notre Dame's Catholic identity.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dancing With Mr. D: Biblical Errancy of the First Magnitude

Picture taken 26 October 2006 of an erotic fresco in Pompeii. Art officials have restored an ancient brothel in the archaeological complex of Pompeii, believed to be the most popular one in the ancient Roman city. 
Well, now, here we have the Huffington Post, that universal go-to source for all things Divine, publishing yet another attempt to sophistically rewrite Divine Revelation.  The speaker, the Rev. Canon Steve Chalke is a prominent evangelical Christian from the United Kingdom. In the video created for the Oasis Open Church Network, Chalke preaches about the six passages in the Bible that refer to same-sex behavior. These verses are often referred by heterodox Christians as “clobber passages,” because they are used to reject the homosexual lifestyle.  

A restored erotica fresco is seen in the newly restored public bath in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii November 14, 2001. 

I have attempted to clarify matters in these pagesmany times, so here is a blast from the past on the Bible and those desiring sex with someone of the same sex. 

A restored erotica fresco is seen in the newly restored public bath in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii November 14, 2001. 

What Think Ye of Pope Francis?

Just stumbled on the following article. My comments in red:

Why So Many American Catholics Loathe Pope Francis
Michael Liccione | July 21, 2017

Around the world, Pope Francis is understandably rather popular. It’s not just that he’s a good pastor; it’s that he doesn’t hesitate to speak truth to power when he can have an effect.
But he’s probably less popular among US Catholics than anywhere else in the Church. The reasons for that are instructive, and not only for Catholics.
Tom Hoopes, writer in residence at Benedictine College, Kansas, recently published a book of reflections on the message of Pope Francis: What Pope Francis Really Said: Words of Comfort and Challenge. Having followed Hoopes’ writing for a number of years, I respect his opinions even when I disagree with him.
So a few days ago, I lapped up a promotional interview for his book: Why Aren’t Catholics Rallying Around the Pope?. It’s for a conservative Australian publication, and it’s a pleasure to hear him explain conservative American Catholics to conservative Australian Catholics!
One complaint common among Americans is that Francis represents a break with Pope Benedict. That isn’t really true, of course. Hoopes says it’s
“…a difference in style, not substance, in Francis from his predecessors. None of them can be classified as “conservative” or “liberal.” They all have “liberal” views on economics, the environment and immigration and “conservative” views on sexual ethics, the role of religion and “old fashioned” Catholic truths such as the Devil, Mary and Confession. When we consider Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia, Francis differs remarkably from Benedict (and all his predecessors)
One stylistic difference is Francis’s harsh attitude toward economic sinners and his red-hot contempt for the Western “myths” he calls out: individualism, consumerism, and blind faith in technology.
That “stylistic difference,” however, sets many conservative American Catholics’ teeth on edge. Most such Catholics are Republicans, originally because of the abortion issue. To be Republican by conviction is, of course, to support “free-market” capitalism, including constant technological innovation and limited government, which usually translates into wanting less labor and environmental regulation as well as reined-in social spending. Given the wave of populism that brought Donald Trump into the White House, it now also means increasing restrictions on immigration and harsher penalties for illegal immigrants. 
So it’s largely Francis’ politics that conservative American Catholics dislike. My friend David Mills, another Catholic journalist and editor, notes that they especially resent the Pope’s “…criticism of the kind of totalizing and optimistic kind of free market economics conservative American Catholics embrace…I don't think you can exaggerate how devoted to their politics many Catholics are, to the point that it drives their religion. This has long been a conservative Catholic critique of liberal Catholics, and not unfairly, but it applies to the right as much as to the left.” The problem is hardly that Republicans are pro-life, which all Catholics must be, but that America’s founding is largely inspired by Protestantism and the Enlightenment, both of which gave rise to “free market capitalism.” Catholic social teaching is not bound by American political economic thought, though Pope St. John Paull II in Centesimus Annus, noted that the modern welfare state is often costly, bureaucratic, and counterproductive; further, he averred that it often substitutes for private sector charity that does a better job. Although contending that it can be a mixed blessing, the Pope called capitalism the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs.
But conservative American Catholics also dislike Francis’ welcoming approach to the divorced-and-remarried. Though I’m all-too-familiar with the intricacies of the dispute, I can’t get into them here. Suffice it to say that many think he’s abandoning the Church’s traditional teaching about the indissolubility of marriage: not by denying it—he actually affirms it, in theory—but by making its pastoral application so flexible as to render it irrelevant. In the conservative Catholic mind, there could hardly be any greater papal sin than that. In an explanatory note accompanying their dubia, 4 Cardinals identified what would be at stake if Amoris Laetitia did, by the express intent of Pope Francis, change the Church’s discipline concerning the non-admission to Holy Communion of those living in an adulterous union:

It would seem that admitting to communion those of the faithful who are separated or divorced from their rightful spouse and who have entered a new union in which they live with someone else as if they were husband and wife would mean for the Church to teach by her practice one of the following affirmations about marriage, human sexuality, and the nature of the sacraments:

— A divorce does not dissolve the marriage bond, and the partners to the new union are not married. However, people who are not married can under certain circumstances legitimately engage in acts of sexual intimacy.

— A divorce dissolves the marriage bond. People who are not married cannot legitimately engage in sexual acts. The divorced and remarried are legitimate spouses and their sexual acts are lawful marital acts.

The logic here is airtight. If either of these alternatives is in fact what Amoris Laetitia intends, then it is Amoris Laetitia that needs to be revised. If Pope Francis did not intend either of these alternatives, then it is reasonable to ask him to clarify this as chaos and division spread, thus putting an end to the further growth of beliefs and practices contrary to the doctrine of the Faith.

The net effect of all these resentments is to make a large swath of theologically educated and influential American Catholics very angry with Pope Francis. Asking “Is the Pope Catholic?” no longer seems to be a merely rhetorical question for many. That is not edifying, but neither is it unprecedented.
This is an interesting time for the Church.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Talking About the Vagina at Catholic Institutions of Higher Learning

Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, on several Catholic College campuses it was possible to attend a performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, a play which, among “celebrations” of the female experience of the vagina, contains a “romantic” scene, where a 24-year-old woman seduces a 13-year-old girl. The woman invites the girl into her car, takes her to her house, supplies her with vodka, and seduces her, calling the experience “a kind of heaven.” (One wonders what outcry would occur if priests with same-sex attractions were to come to the defense of the play). Nearly through the century's second decade, how is the play faring? Read the latest from the Cardinal Newman Society.

Founded in 1993, the mission of The Cardinal Newman Society is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education.
The Society seeks to fulfill its mission in numerous ways, including supporting education that is faithful to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church; producing and disseminating research and publications on developments and best practices in Catholic education; and keeping Catholic leaders and families informed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Is 'Game of Thrones' a Dystopia? - The New York Times

MY GOD, IT'S TONIGHT   Is 'Game of Thrones' a Dystopia? - The New York Times:

'via Blog this'

Pastoral Care of "Gays"

Chastity — which is a universal call to every person — is likewise the cornerstone of the Catholic Church’s pastoral approach to people who experience same-sex attractions. The hallmark of an “authentic pastoral program,” according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), is that it honestly faces the truth that homosexual intimate acts are immoral, for they are not ordered to the complementarity and procreativity that give sexual union its meaning and purpose. But if our pastoral practice stopped there, it would be woefully incomplete. Instead, the CDF calls for a “multifaceted approach” that helps people to live chastity and to grow “at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments … prayer, witness, counsel and individual care.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Who Is Jesus?

When I began training as a catechist at an archdiocesan conference in the 1970s, one noted catechetical author informed those present, “Traditionally we Catholics have allowed the Christ of Faith to dominate our faith expression, but after Vatican II it is important to give equal emphasis to the ‘Jesus of history’.” Pope Benedict XVI has decried the impact of this dichotomy as “tragic” for Christian faith, for he has written that the Gospels do present the real, historical Jesus. Neomodernists also  raised questions, as we have seen, as to whether Jesus intended to found a Church, since they understand his mission as concerned only with inaugurating the Kingdom of God, i.e., delivering people from spiritual and physical suffering in this world, which is how neomodernists understand salvation. Here is a recent example of such.

Former Satanist becomes Catholic leader, teacher

Former Satanist becomes Catholic leader, teacher:

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Libido Redux: Youth Led Astray on Gospel of Life

I have taught in Catholic High schools for 39 years and counting. When I first began my career, "same sex marriage" was not even on the table for discussion, and perhaps 60% of my students were "pro-choice." Now, this situation has more than reversed, with over 90% of students being pro-life, FROM CONCEPTION to natural death.... However, as the following article points out, our young are being misled on the fullness of the Gospel of life:  

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BLOGS  |  JUN. 29, 2017
How Sentimentality Leads Young Catholics Astray About Homosexuality
For many in the Church today, there is a dissonance with a growing affirmation of the value of lives in the womb, yet a growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.
Since coming back to the Church after having a same-sex relationship, I have often been asked to speak to young people about the Church’s teaching on chastity and homosexuality.
These are challenging conversations, since it seems that most young Catholics today tend to believe that the Church’s teaching that calls men like me to live lives guided by chastity is outdated and needlessly cruel.
Many of these children are otherwise strong in core issues of the faith. Parents and teachers at these events often seem mystified why a young person would be willing to save sex for marriage, avoid pornography and decry the evil of abortion, yet at the same time support same-sex “marriage” and homosexual relationships. For many, this seems an odd juxtaposition.
Studies seem to confirm this disconnect: A Gallup Poll from 2010 showed that only 24% of all young people aged 18-29 believed that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, compared to 36% of the same cohort in 1991. Where homosexuality is concerned, a 2014 Pew Research Center study showed that among Catholics aged 18-29, 85% believed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, and 75% approved of same-sex “marriage.”
For many in the Church today, there is a dissonance with a growing affirmation of the value of lives in the womb, yet a growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.
In my recent book, Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace, I discuss the challenge of sharing the Church’s teaching on homosexuality with young people. I quote Pope St. John Paul II, who said in Christifidelis Laici:
The sensitivity of young people profoundly affects their perceiving of the values of justice, nonviolence and peace. Their hearts are disposed to fellowship, friendship and solidarity. They are greatly moved by causes that relate to the quality of life. … But they are troubled by anxiety, deceptions, anguishes and fears of the world as well as by the temptations that come with their state.
Here I believe we can begin to understand the apparent disconnect between young people who have embraced both the Culture of Life, and support same-sex marriage.
Young people’s desire for the happiness of others inclines them to support what they perceive happiness to be. They are naturally concerned with quality of life for themselves and others. I have found in my many talks to young Catholics that most seem to think that the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is mean and unloving. Likewise, the reason many young Catholics are pro-life is primarily because abortion is perceived as mean and cruel to the baby in the womb. Their inability to see the correlation between the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and abortion is because they are not fully formed in their understanding of the human person and God’s design for human sexuality.
At the root of both their views on abortion and same-sex relationships is a love that is guided more by sentimentality than an understanding of authentic love that is guided by the fullness of truth.
The problem here, I believe, derives from a failure in catechesis.
In the fight for the right to life, emotional appeals have proven invaluable, yet appeals to emotion are insufficient guides to moral truth. Many attribute the increase in young people’s pro-life sentiments to advances in ultrasound technology that clearly reveal to the eyes of young people that the child in the womb is, in actuality, a child.
Here, they see reality clearly, and many young Catholics embrace the pro-life movement because they rightly see abortion as snuffing out the life of an innocent baby. The same sentiments, however, guide many of them in their consideration of the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption.
Many pro-life teenagers at my talks have questioned the Church’s teaching on same-sex adoption for the same reason they hold pro-life views: they believe it is cruel and mean to children when the Church is opposed to adopting children to same-sex couples.
Why would the Church deny children loving parents, and keep them in foster homes, when two men or two women desire to love them and provide a home for them? And why would the Church deny two people from sharing their lives together?
They cannot imagine that the Church’s invitation to chastity for men and women with same-sex attraction is an invitation to a better quality of life than same-sex relationships.
Man is a curious creature: he can only imagine ever being happy in the way he’s ever imagined he could be happy. For most young people, happiness looks like some form of marriage, or family, and they have a hard time understanding the stories of men and women like me who found the promises of the “gay rights” movement to be empty mirages.
Many are caught in the great deception of our age — sex is primarily about pleasure. Likewise, when I was a young man, I couldn’t understand why God would say no to my pursuit of sexual pleasure. I didn’t see that no amount of goodwill on the part of those engaging in homosexual acts, contraception or masturbation can change the fact that these actions are opposed to the true ends and meaning of human sexuality — in man, sexual organs are by design ordered toward procreation.
When we ignore this end and seek sexual pleasures for their own sake, we live in opposition to our true nature, and thus we are lead away from our true freedom, fulfillment and happiness.
Unfortunately, this cultural separation of sex from procreation is widespread among Catholics as see in the overwhelming support for contraception. In a 2015 survey, the Public Religion Research Institute found that 72% of white Catholics and 68% of Hispanic Catholics favor contraception.
This is the great challenge ahead for us in the Church. We need to help people to see things, as they really are. Just as the younger generation today can see clearly that children in the womb are really and truly children, they need to be convinced that the Church’s understanding of human sexuality reflects the true nature of things.
The first step in that path must be challenging the contraceptive mindset, and helping them to see that disconnecting sex from procreation leads away from true happiness. This catechesis of course must be done with everyone in the Church too — any efforts to help promote that good news of the Church’s teaching for men and women with same-sex attraction will be meaningless, until members of the faithful recognize the fullness of the wisdom of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality whether single, married or same sex attracted.