The latest on confession and indulgences

Todd alerted me to this story from Reuters:

The Vatican has granted priests the right to forgive the sin of abortion when hearing the confessions of hundreds of thousands of young people attending a Roman Catholic youth festival in Spain this week.

The termination of pregnancy is a sin punishable by excommunication under Church law. The World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims will attend a mass confession in the presence of Pope Benedict on Saturday in a central Madrid park.

“This (concession) is to make it easier for the faithful who attend the World Youth Day celebrations to obtain the fruits of divine grace,” the Madrid archdiocese said in a statement on its website.

Two hundred white portable confessional cabins have been erected in Madrid’s Retiro Park where hundreds of priests will take confessions in different languages from the pilgrims who have travelled to Spain from around the world.

The pontiff will sit in one of the booths on Saturday morning to hear confessions from three visitors, ahead of a mass with up to 6,000 seminarians.

The Vatican already announced on August 11 that it had authorized a plenary, or full indulgence, to all the young people attending the celebrations.

An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven and is traditionally granted to WYD pilgrims.

via Priests to forgive abortion in Pope youth festival – Yahoo! News.

First of all, could this be one of those many cases in which the reporter completely misunderstands a religious teaching?  Can it be true that in the Roman Catholic Church a woman who has had an abortion cannot normally repent, confess, and be absolved of that sin?  (Please, may a Catholic reader clear this up for us.)  If this is true, we see again the difficulty of finding full forgiveness under the Roman Catholic penitential system.  More certain, I suppose, is getting an indulgence.  Rome doesn’t sell them anymore, but gives them away for the good work of attending a youth rally!

If this is a correct account, it shows how Lutherans actually have a higher view of confession than Rome does. We also have a higher view of Baptism, which deals with all sin throughout one’s life, not just original sin, and the Lord’s Supper, which we receive for forgiveness, not having to already be pure in order to take it.

UPDATE:  Mollie Hemingway has confirmed with canon lawyers that priests cannot forgive the sin of abortion without special arrangement.  She gave me this quotation linked from a comment in her own discussion of World Youth Day:

“Elaine, I am a canon lawyer. The article is correct. Not all priests have the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion with its attendant automatic excommunication. If a person goes to Confession and confesses abortion, and the  priest does not have the faculty to absolve it, he will request the person come  back a few days later. In the meantime, he will notify the bishop and ask for  the faculty to absolve the sin and lift the excommunication. When the person comes back, then the confession is completed and absolution is given. Many dioceses (such as the one where I work) have granted all priests in the
diocese this faculty.”

So forgiveness comes from the bishop rather than the Word and the promises of the Gospel.

 

 

Obama’s new stimulus plan

President Obama will soon propose a new economic stimulus plan, one that will combine tax cuts, lots of new spending, AND deficit reduction:

President Obama has decided to press Congress for a new round of stimulus spending and tax cuts as he seeks to address the great domestic policy quandary of his tenure: how to spur job growth in an age of austerity.

Obama will lay out a series of ideas in a major address right after Labor Day, when he and  a largely antagonistic Congress will return from vacation, the White House said Wednesday.

The president is thinking about proposing tax cuts for companies that hire workers, new spending for roads and construction, and other measures that would target the long-term unemployed, according to administration officials and other people familiar with the matter. Some ideas, such as providing mortgage relief for struggling homeowners, could come through executive action.

Obama also plans to announce a major push for new deficit reduction, urging the special congressional committee formed in the debt-ceiling deal this month to identify even more savings than the $1.5 trillion it has been tasked with finding.

In packaging the two, he will make the case that short-term spending can lead to long-term savings.

“We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both,” Obama said Wednesday in this farming town in northwestern Illinois, population 671, the last stop of his three-day bus tour through the rural Midwest.

via Obama to issue new proposals on job creation, debt reduction – The Washington Post.

Notice how even Democrats see that tax breaks are necessary to improve the economy.  But consider the main approach:  Both more spending AND more cutting.  That should work.

Normalizing “minor-attracted persons”

First we accept homosexuality, some social conservatives said, and next we’ll accept pedophilia.  If we legalize gay marriage, they said, next we’ll have legalize polygamy.  “Nonsense!” came the reply.  “You’re committing the slippery slope fallacy.”  Well, we are slipping and sliding on that same slippery slope.  That’s the point made by  Joe Carter, who analyzes the latest effort to de-stigmatize pedophilia; that is, to use a more politically-correct term “minor-attracted persons.”

If a small group of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have their way at a conference this week, pedophiles themselves could play a role in removing pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s bible of mental illnesses — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), set to undergo a significant revision by 2013. Critics warn that their success could lead to the decriminalization of pedophilia.

The August 17 Baltimore conference is sponsored by B4U-ACT, a group of pro-pedophile mental health professionals and sympathetic activists. According to the conference brochure, the event will examine “ways in which minor-attracted persons [pedophiles] can be involved in the DSM 5 revision process” and how the popular perceptions of pedophiles can be reframed to encourage tolerance.

Researchers from Harvard University, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Louisville, and the University of Illinois will be among the panelists at the conference.

B4U-ACT has been active attacking the APA’s definition of pedophilia in the run up to the conference, denouncing its description of “minor-attracted persons” as “inaccurate” and “misleading” because the current DSM links pedophilia with criminality.

“It is based on data from prison studies, which completely ignore the existence of those who are law-abiding,” said Howard Kline, science director of B4U-ACT, in a July 25, 2011 press release. “The proposed new diagnostic criteria specify ages and frequencies with no scientific basis whatsoever.” . . .

Berlin has similarly compared society’s reaction to pedophilia to that of homosexuality prior to the landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that decriminalized sodomy.

B4U-ACT’s own website puts Berlin’s views front and center. “Just as has been the case historically with homosexuality,” he writes, “society is currently addressing the matter of pedophilia with a balance that is far more heavily weighted on the side of criminal justice solutions than on the side of mental health solutions.”

via Normalizing Pedophilia | Conference | Mental Illness | The Daily Caller.

The end of cursive handwriting

When I was in grade school, penmanship kept me off of the honor roll.  Today most schools have not only dropped penmanship, they do not even teach cursive writing anymore

Most states don’t require children to learn cursive writing anymore. Some 46 states have adopted the Common Core Standards, a set of educational guidelines that do not require cursive writing as part of a school’s curriculum. The state of Indiana recently announced it would drop a district requirement to teach cursive writing as of this fall. Instead, students must be able to type on keyboards.

Technology has pushed cursive writing off the agenda of many school systems across the country. As a result, Handwriting Without Tears founder Jan Olsen sees more sloppy handwriting in schools today.

“If you stop teaching handwriting in the second grade, you’re going to have a generation of people who write like second graders,” says Olsen, whose company teaches a clean and simple style of cursive that avoids the fancy curls and swirls of old-fashioned script. . . .

“Handwritten documents convey important cultural information about authors,” says Davis Schneiderman, novelist and chair of the English Department at Lake Forest College. “These documents also suggest an authenticity that electronically produced documents do not. The Declaration is an index of its time as well as clue to the physicality of its signers. Imagine ‘John Hancock’ typed in an 18-point Times New Roman font. The proud fury behind his oversized signature would be lost.” . . .

Granted, most workplaces are more likely to be dominated by computers and technology than pens and pencils and handwritten thank you notes. Its makes sense that computers are the go-to resource for researching and writing papers and other homework assignments.

And some writing experts aren’t worried about children not being able to read the original Declaration of Independence or sign their names in cursive. Historical documents can be reprinted in print form and children can be taught to sign their names in cursive for legal documents and birthday cards.

Yet teens who can’t write legibly — multimillionaire teen celebrities aside — do suffer. Even though many children use computers to write papers at home, most writing done within the school walls is still done by hand. (The country’s ongoing economic problems won’t likely add many computers to our nation’s public school classrooms in the next few years.)

“Without it [cursive handwriting] you lose the sense of having your thought process through your hand movements to create your language and thoughts to someone else,” says Michael Sull, a master penman in Spencerian script; past president of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting; and author of four books on handwriting including, “American Cursive Handwriting,” which was released last month. “There is a great loss in the progress that could be made with children fostering their motor skill development, literacy training and concepts of communication.”

via Nation of adults who will write like children? – CNN.com.

Should we just let cursive go, like cuneiform, in our new word-processing information environment?  Shouldn’t we at least teach kids to, you know, sign their names, something that credit cards and legal documents still require?

Perry leads in GOP polls–already!

Governor Perry is leading the other Republican presidential contenders, including among tea partiers and anti-tea partiers.  Romney leads him among moderates by only two points.

Rick Perry leads his Republican rivals by double digits in the first national survey taken since the Texas governor joined the race and Michele Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll over the weekend.

According to a Rasmussen Reports poll released Tuesday afternoon, Perry, who launched his campaign Saturday in South Carolina, attracts the support of 29 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sits in second place with 18 percent. Bachmann garners 13 percent support.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who placed second in Ames, receives 9 percent support. Businessman Herman Cain trails him with 6 percent support, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 5 percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum and ex-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman round out the field with 1 percent. . . .

Perry holds a strong 39 percent to 21 percent lead over Bachmann among voters who identify with the Tea Party, an influential constituency for which the two candidates will compete. Perry holds a 27 percent to 24 percent lead over Romney among voters who do not consider themselves members of the Tea Party. The same survey two weeks ago, however, put Romney ahead of Perry among this group by double digits.

The Texas governor wins the plurality of conservative support, topping Romney, 33 percent to 16 percent. Bachmann attracts 14 percent support from this group. Perry also appears competitive among moderates, a group Romney typically claims in national polls. The former Massachusetts governor edges Perry, 27 percent to 25 percent, among this group.

via RealClearPolitics – Perry Leads Republican Field in National Poll.

This sounds like a rush to positive judgment, as if Republicans are so eager for an alternative to the prior slate that they are jumping on the Perry bandwagon.  I haven’t even heard him speak yet, and I suspect the same can be said of lots of his other supporters.   He is making gaffes, but the key is whether he will be a teflon candidate, on which nothing sticks, or a velcro candidate, on which everything sticks.  Surely, though, Republicans need time to take his measure.

The new Lutheran denomination

Congregations dissenting from the ELCA’s embrace of homosexuality now have a bishop and have formed a new Lutheran denomination:  The North American Lutheran Church (NALC).  It has 250 congregations and some 100,000 members.  Check out their website, which details the NALC’s beliefs, government, and mission:

North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

My impression is that the NALC will still ordain women and be ecumenical in relation to other churches–the website specifically says it will co-operate with the new Anglican church, which the NALC seems to be emulating–while being more conservative than the ELCA on moral, Biblical, and theological issues.

What do you think about this?  Is this a promising development for Lutheranism in America?  Would this group attract those of you who are intrigued by Lutheranism but can’t handle the Missouri and Wisconsin Synod’s  practice of closed communion and standoffishness towards other churches, which probably won’t be issues in the NALC?

HT:  Bart Gingerich

 


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