Who has Teaching Authority in the Church? The Bishops, or High-Profile Catholic Politicians?

 

How do Catholic politicians come to the conclusion that it’s A-Ok for them to vote, speak and advocate for abortion?

How do Catholic politicians decide that it’s not a big deal for them to vote for discriminatory laws against whole swaths of humanity?

How do Catholic politicians develop the belief that they can vote and speak for the HHS Mandate and not be attacking their own Church?

How on earth do Catholic politicians come to believe that, even though John Paul II expressly wrote a whole letter telling them flat out that politicians who vote for gay marriage are committing grave sins, that it’s still ok for them to vote for gay marriage and that they can march right up to the front of the church and take communion afterwards?

Where do these elected officials get the gas to denounce a bishop for having the temerity to teach the teachings of the Church? What is the source of the arrogance that allows a member of the Catholic laity to proclaim that a bishop’s teaching, which is based on papal documents and the constant teaching of the Church, is “a tragedy?”

Where do politicians who essentially tell bishops of the Church to “mind your place” when they teach Church teaching acquire their overbearing attitudes towards their religious leaders? Where did the princes and princesses of Western democracies get the nerve to lecture the Church on what constitutes a state of grace and who would be taking communion unworthily?

It has grown past scandal and become a broad cultural reality that dissenting high profile Catholics deliberately and publicly thumb their noses at Church teaching by deciding, with a clear knowledge of what they are doing, to cast votes, make speeches, accept awards and publicly advocate for abortion and gay marriage. These actions have been specifically defined as mortal sins by the popes.

Who brought this beast of arrogant Catholic politicians who oppose and attack their own Church to life? Who feeds it?

While there are multiple factors and causes involved in the exploits of such a large group of people, one thing that stands out in my mind is the actions of the Bishops themselves. I understand that telling a group of people that they may not take communion unless they repent, as in the situation of politicians who cast a certain vote, is a difficult call, primarily for reasons of justice.

Votes can be misleading simply because there are procedural methods of killing a piece of legislation or of working to get at it, which can look one way to the outsider and are really another thing altogether to someone who understands the process. Lawmaking in a democracy is a wild West process where anything that works, goes.

Added to this is the fact that the bishops themselves seem to have little more than a high school political science understanding of how legislating works. A few years ago, I watched an EWTN broadcast of a meeting of the USCCB as they tried to iron out what would have been simple parliamentary procedures for an elected official. It was funny stuff. But it also taught me that these guys don’t understand what politicians do for a living.

That is why these cases have to be taken individually and why a repeated practice of voting a certain way, added to public statements is the best method for a bishop to determine if he is dealing with an elected official who just fell off the horse, or who even may be doing the right thing with a confusing procedural move, or, if the politician in question is a hardened dissenter who is committing mortal sins without compunction.

Even though examples of obvious, high-profile cases of the latter are easily found in American politics, both at the federal and the state level, I do not want to see star chamber Catholics with their desire to use communion as a club to beat people they don’t like to rule the day. I appreciate the caution of good bishops in a matter as serious as telling someone to refrain from taking communion.

But if they want to lead their people, the bishops are going to have to get together and do something. They should have done something a long time back. It needs to be consistent, cohesive and understandable. It also needs to occur in non-election years so that there is no taint of electoral politics to it.

This penchant for openly committing grave sins and then denouncing anyone who says that it is, in fact, a sin, has become a mass revolt in the public at large, and it is being led by large numbers of Catholic politicians.

I know that it is difficult for a bishop to talk to each one of these offending politicians personally and advise them of the gravity of their situation. I also understand that a certain number of the politicians in question will make the whole thing public and milk it for all it’s worth. There will inevitably a public outcry and excoriation of the bishops for their “intolerance” when they advise someone to refrain from taking communion until they repent and go to confession.

But the fact is that the reason there are so many Catholic politicians doing this is that the bishops have failed Catholic elected officials in this matter for a long time.

Elected officials are not just things with power. They are human beings. They are immortal souls. If they are Catholic, their religious leaders are their pastor and their bishop. If both these men do not take note of public dissent against Church teaching in grave matters when it is manifesting and step in to advise the person of the danger to their soul in what they are doing, then that pastor or bishop is failing this person.

It really is as simple as that. Bishops who allow high profile Catholics to run amuk and commit equally high-profile mortal sins without at least making sure that their pastors talk to them about it are failing these people. What’s more, they are failing them in an area which strikes to the core of what a bishop is, which is their role as the shepherd of souls.

If the pastor or bishop allows this behavior to continue unchallenged until it becomes a public scandal — as it will — then they have not only failed this one individual, they have failed all those who observe this politician’s defiance and decide that it must be ok for them to defy the Church in matters of mortal sin, as well.

In this way, the pastor and bishops are training both elected officials and the rest of the laity to defy the Church and ignore its teachings. The bishops are indirectly teaching that mortal sin is not mortal sin and the Eucharist is simply a social rite which may be taken by the force of public approbation and criticism.

We’ve just been given a startling example of this by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England basically did exactly what I’m talking about in a recent letter in which they made it clear that, insofar as the Church is concerned, the Catholic MPs who voted for gay marriage did not commit a serious sin with that vote.

They didn’t say this explicitly, of course. What they said was that there were no plans to deny communion to those MPs who had voted for gay marriage. So far as the public is concerned, this is the bishops’ imprimatur on the power of Catholic politicians to commit any sin they chose with their offices and not have to count it as sin.

Again, the bishops didn’t explicitly say that, but there is enough past experience here, and they all have to be intelligent well-educated men who are fully aware of the consequences to this sort of thing that I’m certain they know how people will see their actions. They also have to know that the effect of their little letter will be more dissent in the future.

Where do you think dissenting politicians come from? They are empowered and enabled by bishops like these.

From LifeSiteNews:

LONDON, April 2, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales assured Catholic Members of Parliament this week that there are “no plans” to refuse them Holy Communion after they voted to support the “gay marriage” legislation that came into effect yesterday.

Greg Pope, head of parliamentary relations at the conference and a former Labour Party MP, wrote to MPs assuring them that comments by the bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan, on the Church’s Code of Canon Law forbidding Communion to “manifest grave sinners,” would not be applied to them.

Portsmouth Bishop Philip Egan

Today the media office of the bishops’ conference confirmed with LifeSiteNews that the letter was addressed to the Catholic MPs with the bishops’ full authorization. “Many thanks for your mail. Mr. Greg Pope was speaking as a spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales,” a spokesman with the bishops’ Catholic Communications Network said.  Greg Pope was chosen as the liaison between the English Catholic bishops and Parliament despite his consistent voting record in opposition to traditional moral teachings. Pope has supported abortion, adoption by homosexual partners, and artificial contraception.

“The statement was approved by the General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference after appropriate consultation. ‘There are no plans by any Bishops in England and Wales to deny communion to Catholic MPs who voted in favour of same sex marriage legislation last year,’” the spokesman said.

Pope’s letter came in response to a LifeSiteNews interview with Bishop Philip Egan in which he said that denying Communion to someone engaged publicly in grave sin is an “act of mercy” and a “medicinal” remedy for Catholics.

He said, “When people are not in communion with the Catholic Church … in terms of the teachings of the Church on marriage and family life – they are voting in favour of same-sex marriage – then they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion.”

“When people are not in communion with the Catholic Church on such a central thing as the value of life of the unborn child and also in terms of the teachings of the church on marriage and family life – they are voting in favor of same-sex marriage – then they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion,” he said.

Bishop Egan refused to be intimidated by the possibility of opposition, saying “Nobody is forced to be Catholic.”

Here is how the discussion began, also from LifeSiteNews:

PORTSMOUTH, UK, April 1, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An openly gay Catholic MP who voted for same-sex “marriage” in Britain has said he “feels unable,” in the words of The Telegraph, to receive Communion after his local bishop said that those who vote for legislation that is contrary to Church teaching on marriage and family make themselves unworthy to receive Holy Communion.

Conservative MP Conors Burns called Portsmouth Bishop Philip Egan’s remarks a “tragedy.”

Portsmouth Bishop Philip Egan

“I have been a practising Catholic and communicant within the diocese of Portsmouth since I arrived at Southampton university in 1991 before anyone in Portsmouth Diocese had ever heard of Philip Egan,” Burns told The Telegraph.

He voted for the same-sex “marriage” legislation that came into effect last month, even though he had voiced prior reservations to redefining marriage.

“If the arrival of this bishop means that I can no longer be a practising Catholic within the diocese, that is a tragedy,” hetold The Tablet last week.

Burns co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Britain’s relations with the Holy See and is considered to be one of the country’s most senior Roman Catholic MPs.

Despite his high ranking, Burns appears to have missed his bishop’s main message.

Egan made it clear in a video interview last month with LifeSiteNews that denying Holy Communion — which Catholics believe to be the body of Jesus Christ —to Catholic politicians not believing and practicing the faith is not a punitive measure, but “always an act of mercy.”

It is done to “encourage someone to come back to seek communion with the Lord with the truth and say I’m sorry I got lost,” he said. It is done “with the hope and prayer that that person can be wooed back into full communion with the Church.”

Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

However, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has responded to Egan’s remarks by assuring Catholic politicians that Canon 915 will not be enforced. The bishops’ head of parliamentary relations, Greg Pope, has written to Catholic MPs that Communion will not be denied to those who supported gay “marriage,” reported The Telegraph.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, has strongly advocated the use of canon 915 in the case of Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion and same-sex “marriage.”

In a recent interview published exclusively in English by LifeSiteNews, Burke said denying these politicians Communion is a “prime act of pastoral charity,” since it helps the person in question to “avoid sacrilege and safeguard[s] the other faithful from scandal.”

San Franciso Archbishop: Dissenters and Those Living in Mortal Sin Must Repent and Confess Before Taking Communion


The Church’s teaching on worthiness to receive communion goes all the way back to St Paul. 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco

“Anyone who would violate this by dissenting from divine Church teaching or who are living in a way that violates the moral teachings of the Church in a serious way — what we would call mortal sin — are not properly disposed to receive Holy Communion,” Archbishop Cordileone tells us in the video below.

“The Eucharist is not simply a way of welcoming people, or affirming people … the Holy Eucharist is our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ,” he said.

This is Catholicism 101.

Everybody who knows anything about the Church knows this.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone performed an important service by reiterating it clearly and concisely.

People who demand that they be allowed to take communion in the Catholic Church while they flaunt their dissent and immoral lifestyles are rife. They often seem to have reporters at their elbows, ready to write scalding stories about the Church’s “discrimination” the minute they don’t get what they demand.

I don’t think that this behavior has anything at all to do with genuine faith in Christ and a desire for the graces of the Holy Eucharist. I believe it is a coarse and aggressive political action which is made in a deliberate attempt to force the Church to change 2,000 years of Christian teaching.

Our world is so completely upside down with its messaging that we are constantly bombarded with cultural “teachings” that evil actions are good and good actions are evil.

Make no mistake about it: A Church, bishops and priests who will stand against this tide of excoriation to tell people that their sins are, in fact, sins, are doing great good.

People need to hear this, no matter how much it outrages them. They need to hear it because, without repentance and conversion, they are doomed to hell.

We — all of us, no matter what our sins happen to be — must approach the cross on our knees.

A broken and contrite heart, You will not refuse, King David prayed after his sins of adultery, murder and lying were exposed.  Against You and You only have I sinned. 

That is the essence of it. The Way to heaven is the way of conversion, and conversion means laying down your own understanding and accepting the leadership of God. The easiest way to do this is simply to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Lean not on your own understanding, the Scriptures tell us.

You will not get to heaven by defaming God and demanding that His Church affirm you in your sins. If you deliberately take communion with mortal sin on your soul, you are essentially thumbing your nose at Jesus as He hangs on the cross. You are joining in with the jeering mobs who mocked Him as He suffered.

In this video, Bishop Cordileone outlines Church teaching about worthiness to receive communion in a clear statement.

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The CIA Lied to Congress Repeatedly About the Use of Torture

 

The CIA lied to Congress and the American people about the brutal interrogation methods it used during the Bush administration.

The agency lied about the severity of the torture it inflicted on detainees, as well as the quality of information that these methods garnered.

Why?

Why would the CIA want to torture people, even if it wasn’t effective? The answer to that probably goes back decades and is intertwined with areas of activity that our government has engaged in that the American people know very little about.

Something as monstrous as the government-sanctioned use of torture doesn’t spring fully grown from the head of the government Zeus. It grows through long years of mortal compromises, piled one on top the other. One of the many disturbing things about all this is that only the lowest level people involved have ever, or will probably ever, be brought to anything resembling justice.

From The Washington Post:

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

Noah: PETA Meets the Animators by Way of a Wizard, with Mad Max and a Boat

 

Noah, the movie, is such a messy mish-mash of conflicting memes that I’m not really sure how to characterize it.

It is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which a king, who bears the name Tubal Cain, has supposedly destroyed creation by eating meat and forging weapons of iron. The Biblical Tubal Cain was a descendent of Cain, and he did forge various instruments of bronze and iron, so I’m guessing that’s where the filmmakers got that idea.

The human race has descended to cannibalism and is so obviously on its way out that one wonders why God would bother annihilating it.

Noah and his family, along with the rest of humanity, live in a barren waste that looks like a lava field. There is no vegetation to speak of in this post-apocalyptic world; nothing to sustain the life of even one person, much less a whole “industrial civilization,” which is what the film claims exists.

The narrative arc of the movie is primarily the tale of Noah’s rise and fall in obedience to “the creator.” Noah rises to obedience to “the creator” by building an ark to save the animals, the “innocents” as the movie calls them, from the destruction of the Flood.

“The creator” has ordained that all people should perish, including Noah’s family, which is made inevitable, since Noah and his wife have only sons and the sons have no wives. Noah falls from obedience because he refuses to kill his own granddaughters in order to “end” the human race.

This is a massive departure from both the facts and the meaning of the story of Noah in Scripture. The first human beings with whom God made a covenant were Adam and Eve when He gave them dominion over creation and told them to “be fruitful and multiply.” They deformed this Covenant when they decided to disobey God.

Noah was the second person with whom the Almighty formed a Covenant. God spoke to Noah and gave him specific instructions on what he was to do. He also renewed the Covenant He had made with Adam and Eve with Noah, giving him and his progeny (unlike in the movie, Noah’s sons had wives) dominion over creation and telling them to be fruitful and multiply.

The entire narrative arc of the movie, which is built around the idea that it was God’s will that humanity be obliterated entirely, is anti-Biblical.

There is a brief mention in the movie of the real reason for the Flood, which is that fallen angels had mated with human women and the resulting offspring were such a taint in the human blood line that the line had to end and begin again. The movie is accurate in that the violence of humanity was also given as a reason. The entire line of Cain was wiped from the earth with the Flood.

Rather than connecting the dots about what the Nephilim were, the movie supplies us with Animators in the guise of fallen angels. The angels supposedly fell from grace when they disobeyed “the creator” and tried to help humanity. Their punishment was to become klutzy creatures, encapsulated in rock.

The animator/fallen-angels help Noah build the arc, and end up defending it Mad Max style against an invasion by Tubal-Cain’s hordes just as the rains begin. Their reward for this is that they are forgiven, shed their rock covering and warp off to the skies.

There is nothing in the movie of the grand theme of Noah, the renewer of the Covenant with humanity. The Bible story is edited significantly to provide us with the human-beings-are-bad/animals-are-the-innocents/humanity-must-die arc that the movie version of Noah’s story is woven around.

Noah’s movie encounters with God are limited to dreams. Instead of the precise instructions that the Almighty gave Noah in the Scriptures, we are treated to a Quest in which Noah goes to visit his grandfather Methuselah who acts as shaman and wizard. Methuselah lives in a cave with no food or visible means to provide food, and no contact with other humans.

He gives Noah a potion to drink which makes “the creator’s” plan a bit more clear to him. Later in the film, Methuselah heals Noah’s adoptive daughter with a touch, thus enabling her to bear the children which lead to Noah’s downfall. Methuselah does this at the behest of Noah’s wife, who, in a repeat of the Eve story, is the instrument which leads to Noah’s failure to obey “the creator.”

Instead of renewing the original Covenant with Adam and Eve, which is what the Bible story is about, Noah ends up renewing the Fall.

The Biblical story ends with humanity beginning again with God’s blessing. The movie ends on a hopeless note of fallen humanity separated from God forever. The only creatures who gain redemption are — get ready for this — the fallen angels.

Frankly, I think the movie makers are trying to get some of those $$$ that people of faith control. But they can’t bring themselves to make a movie that actually deals with the message that resonates throughout Scripture.

We are made in God’s image. We are fallen. We do have dominion over all creation. That is why we can tease out things like the Big Bang and unravel the secrets of how God did it when He made everything, everywhere. Although we are made of the dust of this earth and are bone and flesh, we are, in this essential quality, not the least bit like the animals. We can do great goodness. We can also commit great sin.

The Scriptures are the story of Jesus. Noah and the Covenant God made with him is the beginning of God’s active interaction with a fallen and depraved humanity. Over long millennia of slow interaction, God will raise up a people, who, after many falls and much chastisement, will give humanity its Christ, the final and absolute un-doer of the curse of the Fall.

I don’t expect a movie about Noah to tell this whole story. But I do expect it to be faithful enough to the Biblical narrative that I can, by watching it, place that story within the narrative whole of the Scriptures. This movie goes the other direction in order to deliver a message that is not only not part of the Biblical narrative, but in most ways, it runs counter to it.

Human dominion over creation becomes sinful when it becomes exploitation and destruction. We, alone of all the beings on this planet, have the capacity to chose, and our call in relation to creation is to chose to be responsible in how we use it.

This strikes to the heart of our politics, commerce and endless warfare. It shows us our sins in a glaring way that many people deny.

But the PETA-esq meme of this movie denies the essential fact of humanity as it relates to the created universe. We have dominion; it was created for us.

 

Is Religious Freedom Threatened? Duhhh … Is This a Trick Question?

 

When the roll is called down yonder, we’ll all line up according to our politics.

At least that appears to be the situation regarding the answers to the question of whether or not religious freedom is threatened.

There’s a lot of gas expended on this question, and most of it falls so predictably into political camps that the answers look more like responses to a roll call than genuine thinking.

Liberal Democrats, say no, of course not; only ignorant fools think so. Liberal Protestants, who are also almost entirely liberal Democrats, say no; only bigots who want to cling to their bigotry say yes. Conservative Republicans say yes; only liberal flat-liners who’ve sold this country out doubt it. Conservative Protestants, who are becoming more and more a solidified conservative Republican front, say yes; only weak Christians think otherwise.

Catholics? As the religious group that is Liberal Democrats, Conservative Republicans and every single thing in between, all sitting around the same table, we answer, yes/no/what did you say? and whatever.

So what do I, a decidedly liberal Democrat who is also a decidedly devout Catholic, say?

Before I answer that, I’m going to narrow that question to whether or not religious freedom is threatened in United States of America. I think the answer for much of the rest of the world is so obviously yes that those who doubt it fall into the same intellectual space as holocaust deniers.

Even when I narrow the question to the United States, I am tempted to reply … Duhhhh … Is this a trick question?

Rather than go for the golden one-word/one-off, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding answer, let’s review the obvious, public and undeniable facts.

What did the Supreme Court do this week?

It heard three cases brought before it by people who feel so strongly that their religious freedom is being violated that they are willing to risk their businesses and life’s work to stand against it. These are not rabble rousers. They are stable, quiet, pillars-of-the-community types, who normally eschew both litigation and the spotlight. They are the people who are the foundations of this country.

These people didn’t want to be part of a Supreme Court case. They were backed into this position by an overweening government that is so bent on enforcing an agency regulation that infringes on religious liberty that it is willing to precipitate a Constitutional crisis to do it.

What is happening in court rooms all over this country? We have mom and pop businesspeople — again quiet, apolitical, non-litigious, pillars of the community types — who are being forced to risk their livelihoods rather than violate their religious beliefs. This is happening because of overweening government force.

Not one of these people wanted to do this. Not one of them is the type who loves standing in front of microphones and sounding off. Every single one of them is putting their livelihoods on the line to stand for what they believe against a government that has taken hubris as its operating standard.

According to court testimony by administration attorneys, the fiction that is driving these government attacks on religious liberty is a deliberate narrowing of the First Amendment. Instead of religious freedom that applies to every man, woman and child in this great nation, the Obama Administration is seeking to shoe-horn it into the box of a narrow “freedom of worship.” In other words, keep your faith behind the closed doors of church sanctuaries, or suffer government-mandated penalties.

The standard argument against all this is either a stubborn sophistry which simply denies the obvious, or an insulting version of the hayseed argument. The hayseed argument goes like this: We sophisticates in the know understand that these hayseeds out in the hustings are deluded fools for thinking that their rights are being violated. We morally superior denizens of right-thinking also know that the hayseeds in the hustings are so blighted morally that their outdated ideas of religious fealty need to be shut down for a greater good that is defined by — you guessed it — us.

The hayseed argument, stupid and arrogant as it is, is actually the driving argument behind all these initiatives against individual freedom. It is the insider’s view of what they think is outsider foolishness for opposing the obviously higher morality and wisdom of their betters.

A slightly different version of the hayseed argument is the moral ingrate argument. It goes something like this: Moral imperatives which have been discovered in the last five years require that the moral ingrates of this country abandon their claims to religious freedom in order to serve the higher morality that we sophisticates have fashioned for ourselves and which we are going to use government force to enforce on everyone else.

The hayseed and moral ingrate arguments often overlap in actual practice. Sometimes they merge. The subtle difference between them is that one appeals to the pretension of moral superiority on the part of those who purvey it, and the other feeds their pretensions of intellectual superiority. Both arguments are at base a pose and a sham that have far more to do with bell-jar/echo-chamber thinking than anything approaching reality.

There is one other argument that surfaces in these discussions. That is the every-kid-in-China argument. This one is familiar to mothers of previous generations who were faced with recalcitrant children who wouldn’t eat their veggies. You know: The every kid in China would love to have that spinach on your plate, so you’d better eat it argument.

Applied to the question of attacks on religious freedom in America today, it goes something like this. Christians in other parts of the world are suffering real persecution. They are being burnt, beheaded, raped, imprisoned and tortured. So how dare you complain about government oppression of your little rights?

The irony is that this particular argument is usually advanced by someone who, in other contexts, does everything they can to deny and minimize the horror of Christian persecution.

I’m going to circle back here and take another look at the original question: Is religious freedom threatened in America today?

The answer is, of course. That’s obvious. The parsing — and that’s all it is — runs along lines of party affiliation and prejudice.

 

Note: This post is my reply to the discussion about Patheos’ Public Square Question: Is Religious Freedom Threatened? 

World Vision Switches Tracks. Says They Won’t Hire Gay Marrieds. Can Their Supporters Trust Them After This?

 

It’s been an interesting 24 hours for the folks at World Vision.

Franklin Graham took them to task for their decision to hire people who are in same-sex marriages. Their supporters responded with a sense of betrayal and outrage. World Vision President, Richard Stearns, gave an interview to Christianity Today in which he tried to parse the decision into something it wasn’t, saying in part:

“It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there, he said, “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.”

My reaction after reading this earlier today was that Mr Stearns needs to run for Congress. He’d fight right in. While the decision to hire people who are involved in gay marriages may not be a formal, written-out endorsement of gay marriage that was specifically voted on and approved by the board of directors of World Vision, it was, in fact and in practice, a public endorsement of the practice.

The Latin phrase is de facto. It was a de facto endorsement of gay marriage.

The reasoning Mr Stearns gave for this decision doesn’t hold any more water than his claims that the decision itself was just a teeny-tiny policy change with no serious ramifications.

After this particular dog didn’t hunt, something happened behind the scenes at World Vision. I don’t know what, but I have a feeling it wasn’t good times had by all for the people who went through it. What came out of it was a reversal of the organization’s earlier decision to hire people who are in gay marriages. From Christianity Today:

Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

I am relieved that World Vision has taken this step back into Christian fealty. I pray that they stick with it in the days to come. Christians everywhere are being challenged by the changes in our society as we move deeper into a post Christian world.

World Vision flirted almost disastrously with allowing themselves and their ministry to slip over into public apostasy. Their reasoning, which seemed to be based on the notion that a lot of their supporter churches were slipping into this apostasy, is the oldest and weakest reason going.

“Everybody else is doing it” is an excuse that my kids gave up after they tried it on me and got a fail. Where this large organization got the notion that this line of thinking was a reasonable response to the challenges of being a faithful Christian in a post Christian world, I do not know.

I am glad that they are back where they should be.

I donate to other organizations rather than World Vision, so the next consideration is not one I have to think about. That consideration is, Can we trust them to stay with it?

That’s a legitimate concern, considering the bizarre leap of illogic they used to try to justify this move. If that is an example of how easily they get off the Christian track and how mush-minded they are about these things, there’s a real question, at least in my mind, as to when they’re going to jump off the track again.

I say that because I am certain without doubt that the challenges to Christians are just beginning. We are not even really out of the gate when it comes to the dissolution and dissing that is heading our way.

Can they take it?

Can you?

I’m pretty sure that we’re all going to get the chance to find out.

All Catholics are Obliged to Oppose the Legal Recognition of Homosexual Unions

 

I put together a quick collage of teachings on marriage from Scripture, the Catechism and a couple of Apostolic letters written by Blessed John Paul II.

I want to emphasize that Blessed John Paul II was reiterating what the Church has taught for two millennia. Synods reaching back to antiquity have consistently taught these same things.

This is what the Church teaches about gay marriage. The sentence that I put in bold states the position those of us in the laity must take: All Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions. 

In another part of the same document, Blessed Pope John Paul II says that politicians who vote for gay marriage are committing a mortal sin. I think that applies also to anyone in a position of influence who supports the destruction of marriage. Jesus said, To those whom much is given, much is required. I think He meant any of us who are in positions of power and influence.

I have had the experience of leading people astray with my wrong-headed good intentions. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube to undo it later.

We are going through a season of upheaval in a society that recognizes no God except the one it sees in the mirror. Do not allow yourself to be swept up in this and contribute to leading other people astray.

I say that, not as an admonition, but as a plea from the heart of someone who has made this mistake. I can tell you from experience, you don’t want to go there.

Stop trying to pretend that you are smarter and your holiness and understanding of God’s requirements of you are somehow greater than those of His Church.

He told us that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. But He didn’t say anything like that about you and me, deciding to be our own little magisteriums. He didn’t tell us that we could stand alone against the evils of this world by colluding with those evils.

You cannot broker a deal between Christ and the devil. That is precisely what a good many Christians are trying to do with gay marriage. Stop looking for an easy way out and be faithful. Yield your will to God’s will and follow, not lead.

I can tell you from personal experience that this is the only way, to walk the Way.

Marriage has three blessings. The first is children, to be received and raised in God’s service. The second is the loyal faithfulness by which each serves the other. The third is the Sacrament of Matrimony which signifies the inseparable union of Christ with His Church. St Thomas Aquinas.

This now is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh … and for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Adam

For I hate divorce. To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty. So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife. God the Father

God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. … Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Precisely because the love of husband and wife is a uniqueparticipation in the mystery of life and of the love of God Himself, the Church knows that she has received the special mission of guarding and protecting the lofty dignity of marriage and the most serious responsibility of the transmission of human life. John Paul II

No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman … Furthermore the marital union of man and woman has been elected by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church … There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family … all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions. John Paul II

Have you read, that in the beginning, God made them male and female, and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and they two shall be one flesh? They are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Jesus Christ

Franklin Graham and World Vision in a World of Changing Gods

 

World Vision, which is an evangelical Christian organization, has evidently decided to hire “married” gay couples. Rev Franklin Graham has issued a statement condemning this action.

I hadn’t intended to comment about this. Public Catholic is a Catholic blog, and the World Vision-Franklin Graham argument is taking place among Evangelical Protestants. My first thought was that it would be best to let them tend to their own chickens.

I’ve changed my mind because there is only one Jesus, and only one universal body of Christ. That makes this a matter of concern for all Christians and not just the Evangelical Protestant part of us.

I’m going to begin by saying that I have seen this before. After Roe v Wade came down, most of the many Christian denominations dithered. Several denominations that are now stalwart pro life warriors leaned toward accepting Roe. The Catholic Church stood almost alone in its resistance to the ruling.

I believe the same thing is happening once again with gay marriage. A lot of religious organizations are dithering. They don’t have 2,000 years of consistent teaching to instruct them. All they’ve got are their own personal interpretations of Scripture. It’s tempting — given the human desire that we all feel to make things easy on ourselves — for these organizations to come up with a scenario that allows them to go along to get along.

I’m no stranger to this. Politicians are justifiably famous for it. That is not due to any special weakness in those who hold public office. It is due to the fact that when a politician does it, everybody knows about it. Most of us get to trim the corners of our beliefs to make things easy for ourselves without anyone else being the wiser.

However, large Christian organizations are even more high profile than politicians, especially at a time like now, when the cultural gods are changing. Our society has taken the cross off the altar and replaced it with 300 million little tin gods of self. Instead of following Christ, we bow down to our own desires.

The little g gods of self say that whatever people want to do is morally right. We refuse the real God and chase, like a dog following its tail, after this most picayune of gods — our ever-changing, never-satisfied desires. We fix our course on self-love, selfishness, self-righteousness, self-promotion; everything but self-awareness.

We lie to everyone to excuse our behavior, but most especially we lie to ourselves.

When a well-known Christian organization publicly departs from 2,000 years of Christian teaching on a matter as serious as the definition of marriage, it can not legitimately claim, as World Vision has done, that it is doing it to “unite Christians.” That’s a specious argument if I have ever heard one.

I do not know, do not pretend to know, what the real motivations for this change are. But I don’t believe that the public statements I’ve read are anything more than a lie. They may, at least at some level, be lies that the people who put them forward told themselves, but they are not the truth.

No one could be intelligent enough to run an organization of this size and be stupid enough to believe that this action will unite Christians.

People who have donated money and otherwise supported this organization on the assumption that it was and would continue to be genuinely faithful to the Gospels have every reason to feel betrayed. This was a back room deal. Whatever the true motivations of its proponents were, fealty to their historic organizational beliefs and respect for their supporters could not have been among them.

I think Franklin Graham is justified in expressing dismay and disavowal of World Vision’s decision.

I am also a little bit philosophical about it. We’re going to see more of this. We’re also going to see some of these early deserters turn around and get their heads right as the Holy Spirit works on them. Others will become, as many Christians are today about abortion, set in their defense of principles that fly in the face of Christian morality.

These are difficult times for Christians. The gods of our world are changing. Many will fall away.

Our task is to stay close to Our Lord and to be faithful in all we do. We need to pray, go to mass, trust God and not be afraid.

 

For a brief look at long-standing Christian teaching, including Catholic teaching, concerning marriage, go here.

For an entirely different take on this question, check out Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at Inebriate Me and Billy Kangas at The Orant.

 

Religious Freedom: Will the Supremes Let Us Keep It?

Today’s the day in which the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sibelius vs Hobby Lobby.

The question at hand is not whether the HHS Mandate is Constitutional. The question which is being brought before the Court is whether or not the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects Hobby Lobby against the fines and penalties of the HHS Mandate.

The Obama Administration has argued in previous court appearances that the First Amendment only applies to formal worship activities and other direct actions of federally recognized churches, within the confines of their church proper. This narrow interpretation of the First Amendment would end freedom of religion in this country. In fact, it is very similar to the kind and type of religious freedom that totalitarian states operating under communism grant.

So much is at stake with this case.

Please pray that the Supreme Court will preserve the religious liberties and religious exemptions that Americans have long enjoyed.

From SCOTUS Review:

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Linked with:

Docket No.Op. BelowArgumentOpinionVoteAuthorTerm
13-35410th Cir.Mar 25, 2014TBDTBDTBDOT 2013

Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

Bodies of Aborted Babies Incinerated to Heat UK Hospitals

 

And you shall not let any of your children pass through the fire to Molech. If you do, you are dishonoring the name of your God. I am the LORD.

We are made in the image and likeness of God. Human life does not belong to us. It belongs to Him.

God so completely identifies people as made in His likeness that He told us that the sacrifice of human beings, the grave sin of “passing your children through the fire to Molech” profaned Him.

He took this so seriously that He ordered the Israelites to kill everyone already living in the area when they claimed the Holy land. This was a deliberate attempt to keep this people He was raising up be the light bearers of His covenant, and ultimately, the progenitors of the Messiah, free of the taint of the child sacrifice practiced by the people of that land.

Later, when they fell into it anyway, He repeatedly brought them to their knees until finally they were purged of it by a long imprisonment in exile. That worked. Never again after the Babylonian exile did the children of Israel fall into the evils of polygamy and child sacrifice.

Human sacrifice to demonic gods places its participants so far outside the reach of the real God that His people were ordered to destroy every vestige of it, including its practitioners. The reason was not just the practice, but its insidious contagious quality. The arguments may change, but the attraction to rid ourselves of those who are a burden to us, to propitiate the little g gods of our own self interests with human blood, is powerful.

Loving and caring for other people, accepting the claims they impose on us and our lives, can be sold to us as unnecessary and evil by those who appeal to our selfish self-interest and sense of moral superiority. We can, if we want, convince ourselves of anything. We can, and we do, dismiss our own sins with whatever flabby excuse is at hand. At the same time, we can excoriate and abuse our neighbor for violations of much lesser things with the merciless arrogance of the terminally self-righteous.

The sin of passing our children through the fire is a deep departure from everything that is good that is in us. When parents offer their own children to the gods of this world, then the heart of humanity becomes corrupt at its core. Once that is possible, anything is possible.

Our sacrifice of our children to the gods of this world, in abortion clinics and research laboratories, in medical clinics and in law, revivifies the ancient practice of passing children through the fire to appease demonic gods. Abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, egg harvesting, designer babies, are all, in one way or another, a form of human sacrifice to the demonic.

If you look at it that way, the practice of incinerating the bodies of babies who were murdered in the name of this world’s little g gods by abortion to heat our buildings seems apropos. It is us, living out the degradation of the human that has been our primary cultural drive for quite some time now. It is a riveting and precisely accurate symbol of the sacrifices we make to the gods of this world.

It is what we have become.

From The Telegraph:

The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.

Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.

The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘wast to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by cremation.


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