Pope Francis gave another one of his wonderful homilies this week. This one is on the devil, evil and Jesus’ triumph over both of them.
Pope Francis gave another one of his wonderful homilies this week. This one is on the devil, evil and Jesus’ triumph over both of them.
Divorce is one of the plagues of modern America. It is the root cause of much of the misery of our modern life. The damage it does to our children and their children and their children’s children is incalculable. It is almost as if we have visited a social plague of Biblical proportions on ourselves with our disregard for marriage, home and family.
And we do disregard these things.
Social policy, especially as it pertains to how business activities are regulated, do not ever seem to consider the good the family. If you want to see what people really care about, look at what they serve. Judged by that standard, American government — and the American people as well — consistently put the Almighty dollar ahead of families, including, or perhaps most especially, children.
Divorce is a cause and a symptom of these values, as well as a result of them. In this way, we have created a divorce cycle that feeds on itself and appears to be endangering the survival of the institution of Holy Matrimony in the larger society. If we are heading toward a society where only certain groups of people maintain stable homes and families, there is no better place for one of those groups to form than among faithful Catholics.
It appears that the foundation for this sort of thing may already be in place.
According to a recent study by the Applied Research Apostolate at Georgetown University, Catholics divorce. In fact, Catholics divorce a lot. But compared to those other guys and gals out there, Catholics don’t divorce so much.
I suppose it’s a relief to learn that we’re not as prone as non-Catholics to steer our marriages — and our lives and our children’s lives — onto the rocks. In fact, I know it’s good news. The study shows that 28% of Catholics have been divorced at some time in their lives. I am assuming that this includes people who converted to Catholicism after they were divorced. If that’s true, the numbers for cradle Catholics might be even lower. Catholics who are married to other Catholics divorce at the slightly lower rate of 27%, so there may be something to that notion.
Protestants divorce at a rate of 39%, other faiths at 35% and people of no faith at 40%.
What this means is that, while we’re far from the point where we need to pop open the champagne and begin congratulating ourselves, we have a basis of solid Catholic families on which to build. Our ultimate goal should be the conversion of the larger society. But for now, I think it’s more than enough for us to look to ways to strengthen and build strong Catholic families which can raise children who will grow into productive and faithful adults.
I’ll talk about this more later, but we’re going to have to face the reality that our society is inimical to us and our values. If we want to live the true good life of stable homes that produce children who grow into equally stable adults, we face the necessity — not the choice, but the necessity — of pulling our families and our kids out of the cesspools of modern life.
We can no longer rely on the larger culture to be a safe place for our kids. And we certainly cannot rely on the larger culture to teach either us or them about what matters in life. Following Christ has always been counter-cultural. It was a scandal to the larger society from its beginning. In a very real way, we simply need to go back to our New Testament Gospel roots and live out our faith as the countercultural force it is and always has been.
From Catholic News Agency:
Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2013 / 05:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Recent studies on marriage show that while their rates of divorce are significant, U.S. Catholics are less likely to divorce than people of other religious affiliations.
“Although the Catholic ‘divorce rate’ is lower than the U.S. average it is still a daunting figure,” said the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
In a Sept. 26 blog post, the research group explained that divorce among Catholics “represents more than 11 million individuals,” many of whom “are likely in need of more outreach and ongoing ministry from the Church.”
In its article, the organization explained that different ways of tallying divorce and marriage rates create a range of different divorce figures, including the oft-quoted statistic that “half of all marriages fail.”
Looking at national surveys, “Catholics stand out with only 28 percent of the ever-married having divorced at some point,” the blog post stated, compared to more than 40 percent of those with no religious affiliation, 39 percent of Protestants and 35 percent of those of another religious faith.
Furthermore, Catholics who marry other Catholics are also less likely to divorce than Catholics married to people of other faiths.
A 2007 survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate estimates that only 27 percent of Catholics married to other Catholics have ever experienced divorce, compared to nearly half of Catholics married to Protestants or to spouses with no religious belief.
Comments on this post about divorce have, as these things usually do, veered off into the subject of abusive relationships in marriage. Here, just for the record is my two cents on that topic.
Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.
John Milton, Paradise Lost
I chose the quote above because of it’s origin. It comes from Paradise Lost, which is the tale of Satan, cast out of heaven and down to hell because of his hatred.
People who beat and batter their own families seem like that to me. Ditto for the monsters who sexually abuse their own loved ones.
I am talking about people so cowardly that they spend their frustrations on the people who trust them and who deserve their protection because they, unlike the rest of the world, are unwilling or unable to fight back against their real problems.
What kind of monster would hit or batter their own spouse? Don’t they know that their husband or wife is their own self?
You can not harm you’re life’s companion, the person you create other people with, the only one who will be there beside you throughout your days in this life, without also harming yourself.
I repeat: What kind of monster attacks his or her own wife or husband, his or her own children?
Home is refuge, one that, in these increasingly traumatic times, we all need. Home is, as Robert Frost said, “where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” Home is that last place on earth where you can go, where you will be safe, even when the rest of the world is perilous.
Home is also the last place on earth anyone should defile with their violence and abuse of other people.
If batterers are so brave, let them take their rages to the world and try yelling at their boss or talking back to the cop who writes them a ticket. See who lets them in the house later when they’ve been fired, or who empties the piggy bank to pay their bail.
It will be those people no one should ever attack: Their family.
Manly men do not beat up women. Manly men do not rape children.
Womanly women do not batter their kids. Womanly women do not berate and belittle their husbands.
To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, home is meant to be the closest thing to heaven we will know in this life. But, with our propensity to evil, many of us turn our homes into all we need to know of hell.
What should a Christian do when they’ve married what they thought was a good person and find later that they have yoked themselves to a monster?
If there is violence or sexual abuse, you must divorce them. If you have to go to a shelter or take out restraining orders, do it. If they are violating your children, send them to prison. You owe that to the rest of society, so that they won’t do it again to other children.
I do not fully understand the nuances of the Church’s teaching in this regard and I am speaking here entirely for myself. But you and your children have a right to life, the same as everyone else. Physical violence or sexual abuse are threats to that right to life. They are an abrogation of your dignity as human beings made in the image and likeness of God.
There can be no marriage with a monster and people who do things like this to their own families are monsters. I do not know how the Church treats these things, but as far as I am concerned, a person who is so morally deficient that he or she will physically attack their own family is incapable of entering into a sacramental marriage in the first place. They are too morally blighted for the words of their vows to have meaning.
In short, get yourself safe and sort out the finer points later.
As for those readers who actually batter their wives or husbands, you need to go to a priest and, after confession, ask for referrals where you can get help. You also need to move out of the family home until you are safe for them. If you never are safe for them, then realize that you are not worthy of having a family of your own.
If, on the other hand, you have sexually abused your children, you need to turn yourself in to the police. I mean that. You can get counseling and whatever in prison. But you do not belong free.
I don’t know that people who commit these kinds of crimes against their own families ever turn themselves into the police. I have never personally heard of it. However, I do know people who have gone to prison for sexually abusing their children.
That is just the beginning for the children who have been through this. If they do not get immediate help, they will suffer the consequences of what was done to them all the days of their lives.
If your spouse has done this to your kids, you need to consider the best ways to get your children the therapy they need. As always, the Church is a great resource. Here in my archdiocese, the Church offers all sorts of help for families and children in distress, and most of it is free.
If you are the victim of battering or abuse yourself, you need to take care of yourself by getting therapy and assistance for you.
In the midst of all this, do not forget your spiritual healing. A kind priest can do wonders about helping you through times like this. If you should run into one of the occasional bad priests who are unsympathetic or who try to get you to stay in a situation that is violent and dangerous, just find another priest. You can talk to your bishop about this bad guy later, when you are stronger.
Many times, families who have an abusive member are isolated from other people. You may not have been attending church. Or, if you have, you may not have been able to participate in the guilds and groups that help you meet people and form friendships. Don’t let this stop you from seeking their help now. I would not hesitate to call the parish altar society or Knights of Columbus, and ask them for support and help.
If you’re lonely, say so. If you need a job, ask them for leads. You will probably be astonished by the help they give you and how much it enables you to move forward with your life.
If, for some reason, they don’t respond, try another parish.
Above all, pray, pray, pray. The Rosary is a wonderful prayer for bad times for the simple reason that you don’t have to come up with the words. When you are distraught and can’t think what to say, the Rosary will pray for you.
Ruth Graham once said that if two people are married and never disagree, then one of them is unnecessary. All marriages, even the best of them, have their times when the spouses are at loggerheads over something or other.
In a good marriage, this usually lasts only a few hours at most, then the love the two of them have for one another works its magic. But even the best marriages have times when one spouse is in their private misery over work or feelings of failure or grief and the other spouse cannot reach them. These are tough times. But they are not a reason for divorce.
But when a marriage descends into the hell of violence and abuse, that is a sure sign that there is no love there to persevere. Some things are not negotiable. One of them is that anyone who harms their family in this way does not deserve to have a family.
It’s as simple as that: They don’t deserve you.
Pope Francis made a few comments today on one of my favorite topics: The role of women in the Church.
I think this is an area that needs a little work. My primary concern is the worldwide plague of violence against and exploitation of women. This evil is so endemic that we take it as a given. I have been praying for years that the pope — whoever the pope might be — would address this with the force and uncompromising moral clarity that it deserves.
The Holy Father did not address violence against women today, but he had a lot of other great comments, just the same.
From Catholic News Agency:
Vatican City, Oct 12, 2013 / 08:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with experts on women’s issues today in Rome, affirming that the Church must continue to work for a more profound understanding of women and their roles.
“Also in the Church it is important to ask ourselves: what presence does woman have? Can it be valued more?” the Pope asked.
He met with experts who had participated in a seminar marking the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.” The two-day seminar was sponsored by the Pontifical Council of the Laity.
Pope Francis said the presence of women in the Church is “a reality that is very much on my heart.” He said he wanted to meet the seminar participants “and bless you and your task.”
He noted that John Paul II’s apostolic letter teaches that “God entrusts man, the human being, to woman in a special way.”
“What does this ‘special entrustment’ mean?” asked Pope Francis.
“I think it is evident that my predecessor refers to motherhood,” he explained. “And this is not simply a biological fact, but it involves a wealth of implications both for woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for a way of extending respect for human life and for life in general.”
The Pope then warned of two ever-present dangers, “two extreme opposites that degrade woman and her vocation.”
“The first is to reduce motherhood to a social role, to a task, however noble, but in fact sets apart woman with her potential, not fully valuing her in the construction of the community,” he noted.
The second peril is that of “promoting a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the space stolen by the masculine, abandons the feminine with its priceless elements.”
He said women can help provide better insight into the nature of God.
This is one of those heartening stories that can make your day.
More than 750 people gathered October 5 in front to of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, Long Island to pray the Rosary for religious freedom. This is especially heartening after yesterday’s story about Marymount Loyola.
The event was organized by Catholics for Freedom of Religion. I am not familiar with this group, but it sounds like it might be a good example of leading from the pews.
From The National Catholic Register:
I stand corrected.
I wrote yesterday that the trustees of Marymount Loyola University — a Jesuit-run, Catholic university — voted that the school would not provide abortion coverage as part of their employee insurance plans.
I read today that while they had indeed voted to not provide abortion coverage in their employee insurance plans, they also voted to provide aide in helping employees find coverage that will pay for their abortions. I don’t know if this is in response to the threats of at least one faculty member to “consider legal action” or not.
But I do know it’s a faux following of Church teachings.
What makes this Catholic university so precious that it can’t stand for the sanctity of human life?
The trustees’ logic in handing down this decision says a lot:
“We acknowledge that the issue of abortion is extremely complicated and encompasses varied and competing values that often leave no one happy,” Burcham and Aikenhead stated. “Nonetheless, we believe that the right to life and dignity for every human being is a fundamental part of Catholic beliefs (all other rights flow from this primary right to life and dignity) and that this vision needs to be evidenced in LMU’s policies and procedures.”
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFDWmTGB
I know — and I mean I know full-well and from hard personal experience — just how tough it can be to take a stand for life. When people claim for themselves the right to kill other people, it does something to them. They become ruthless, focused on their ends with no regard to the means. They will do anything they can get away with to anyone who opposes them. I’ve been on the receiving end of this hate, and I can tell you, it scalds.
That is no doubt what this Catholic university faced.
It is what pro life people face all over this country.
But this Mr Wishy Meet Ms Washy decision still stinks.
It’s one of those I-don’t-believe-in-abortion-personally-but-I-won’t-impose-that-on-anyone-else politically correct word salad decisions. When a politician does it, they are pilloried. But when a Jesuit (priests) school does it, then, it’s …. what???
If this is our leadership, how can anyone expect those of us who are just pew-sitting Catholics to follow the Church? If Church institutions tuck tail and run, then who is going to stand?
Are we supposed to lead from the pews?
There are days when I feel that the Church is asking the laity to step forward and lead the charge for Christ while we also have to step around the Catholic leaders in Catholic institutions as they run past us, heading for the rear.
Telling people that you won’t directly pay for an abortion, but that you’ll be happy to call around and find someone else who will pay for it, is not taking a pro life stand.
Catholics have a right to expect greater integrity and authenticity than this from Catholic institutions and Catholics in official and quasi official Church leadership positions.
From the National Catholic Register:
John Allen, the respected Vatican analyst, digs into the issue of anti-Christian abuse around the world.
“I don’t think it takes any religious convictions or confessional interests at all to see that defense of persecuted Christians deserves to be the world’s number one human rights priority,” Allen, a noted Vatican journalist and author, told CNA in an Oct. 2
I’m going to order the book and then review it here on Public Catholic. In the meantime, you can read more about it here.
I am delighted to read that the Holy Father has done this. Catholic families are in serious need of support and guidance from their Church.
It’s interesting how people with an agenda can take anything and use it for that agenda’s purposes.
A few commenters on this blog, as well as more than a few commenters in the news media, have drawn unsupportable conclusions that Pope Francis’ comments that the Church shouldn’t focus on abortion to the exclusion of other Gospel teachings means that Catholics should be silent on the subject.
The Pope’s comments were a much-needed call to a healthy return to the full Gospel teachings of Christ. They did not abrogate 2,000 years of Christian teaching, or call Catholics to abandon the cause of the sanctity of human life. To do or say that would be tantamount to saying that the Sermon on the Mount and most of the parables, as well as the message of the cross were all a sham.
The Pope did not do that, and he is not going to do that.
Some people, have, through ignorance of Gospel teachings and reading the hypered-up press coverage, honestly drawn the wrong conclusions. Other people have made the wrong conclusions simply because it serves their purposes to do so.
I do know know which group the author of this article from the New York Times falls into.
LOS ANGELES — Not three weeks have passed since Pope Francis said the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, declaring, “We have to find a new balance.” But on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, overlooking this city’s west side, a fight over abortion now threatens to rip the school asunder.
Trustees of the Jesuit university will decide on Monday whether to remove coverage for elective abortions from the faculty and staff health care plans. The coming vote has exposed a deep rift over just how Catholic a Catholic university should be in the 21st century …
All I know is that the author is mistaken if he believes that the Pope’s comments in any way meant that Christians in general or Catholics in particular should abandon the fight for the protection of the sanctity of human life.
All this leads me to a smaller point, which is the main one the article is about. The trustees of Loyola Marymount, a Jesuit university in California, voted yesterday to cut abortion coverage from faculty and staff insurance.
The article I linked to above was written before the vote. By putting an inaccurate interpretation of the Holy Father’s statements in the lead of the story, the author implies that this board of trustees is somehow defying the Church by refusing to pay for abortions. The implication is that those people the article calls “religiously conservative professors and alumni,” meaning, I would guess, faculty and alumni who want this Catholic university to follow Catholic teaching, are somehow out of step with the Church.
This is absolute nonsense.
The author goes on to declare that a vote to refuse to pay for abortions will “tear the school asunder.”
If that means that some of the faculty and staff who oppose Church teaching on core issues such as the value of human life quit their cushy jobs and go elsewhere, I don’t think it would do the school anything but good. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath, waiting for them to do this.
On the other hand, if it means that some of these faculty and staff try to destroy the school with lawsuits, threats and by inciting the student rebellion, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happens. The same kind of scorched-earth, spoiled-brattedness we see in our Congress is rife among those who hold most of the really great jobs this country offers. Their sense of entitlement is endless.
For instance, LMU Sociology professor Anna Muraco gave at least one interview before the vote even took place saying that she would “consider legal action” if the board didn’t vote the way she wanted.
According to the Cardinal Newman Society, she said,
- See more at: http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/2592/LMU-Professor-Opposed-to-Dropping-Abortion-Coverage-Weighs-Legal-Action.aspx#sthash.n3SkLH2H.dpuf
Presumably Professor Muraco knows that she is employed by a Catholic university and that the Catholic Church has a constant teaching going back 2,000 years opposing abortion. Yet she issues veiled threats about “intellectual bullying or intimidation” which mean who knows what, and then announces she may sue her employer for following the mandate on which the institution is based.
Why did the school hire this professor in the first place? Is there a shortage of applicants for these jobs that I haven’t heard about? One of the primary purposes of Catholic education is to provide a high quality education in a Christian atmosphere that is consistent with Catholic teaching. How would this lady, with her viewpoints, be able to contribute to that?
It sounds like Loyola Marymount is making an attempt at much-needed reform. But it also sounds like they are a lot of work to do to make that happen.
Pope Francis is planning to do more than tweak the way the Vatican is organized. He’s going to make a major overhaul.