May you have a happy and holy All Saints Day.
Pope Francis managed to make Forbes most powerful list, and he did it without a single Tomahawk missile.
I would guess that this is a bow to the pope’s worldwide popularity. What is ironic is that despite the fact that the pope has none of the trappings of raw power that the other members of the Most Powerful list possess, he really does have a kind of power.
The power to persuade through love and hope is and always has been the most potent kind of power that anyone can possess. What these other people have is the power to destroy — through weapons, taxes regulations., or expenditures of monies. They can, if they are careful, creative and deeply good people, shape this power to the purposes of good.
But Pope Francis has the healing power of Christ at his disposal. This acts on the many cruelties and sins of individual lives in the same way that water acts on stone. It slowly wears away the rough edges and transforms, but it does it so gradually and painlessly that the observer can not see it as it happens.
What is interesting is that every Christian has access to this same healing power, if they will just use it. Scripture tells us that love is stronger than death. I don’t think this refers only to physical death. I think it refers to our whole death-worshipping culture and, on a personal scale, to the many little deaths of cruelty and indifference that we encounter in our daily lives.
Love is stronger than death. God’s love is stronger than the entropy of decaying civilizations and the slow deconstruction of wasted lives. His love cancels out the annihilation that is the core craving of all deep evil.
God’s love is the not just the transforming power in human society. It is the glue that holds everything, everywhere, together. We see the corrosive effect that rejecting God has on individuals, on their belief systems and their overall behavior. We see it writ large on societies that fall away from Him. But the truth is, God is still holding those people and this world in existence, even as they reject Him. If God ceased to love existence into existence, there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, anywhere. Existence itself would cease to exist without the power of God holding it in place.
When the scriptures tell us that He holds us in the palm of his hand, they are telling a truth that is simultaneously metaphorical and literal. We exist because He wills existence itself into being. And yet, for all that incomprehensible power and grandeur, He cares for and knows each of us as the individual lights that we are.
The Holy Father, who speaks for His Son’s Church, does have power. It is the power of the words that lead to eternal life spoken to a world dedicated to following after its own death.
I’ve found this to be true in my own life. The one person I can always count on is my husband. Marriage provides stability and security that people cannot find in any other human relationship.
The so-called Bishop of Bling, Bishop Frantz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, has been suspended for what may prove to be misappropriation of funds.
The charges against him are basically that he has been living large off monies that should have gone to Church ministries.
Other bishops find themselves in situations like that of Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St Paul Minneapolis. This bishop is in trouble for failure to remove priests with pedophile problems from active ministry.
While the charges against both these bishops are serious, I don’t feel nearly as strongly about the things Bishop Tebartz-van Elst is accused of doing as those that Archbishop Nienstedt may have done. I am, as I said yesterday, out of patience with the refusal by some bishops to do their jobs vis a vis the clergy child sex abuse scandal.
Both these situations highlight a simple fact: The Church’s way of dealing with the public failings of its bishops is going to have to change.
The era of ignoring things is over. The reason it is over is that the world has changed. We live in an age where I can sit in Oklahoma and learn about the missteps of a German bishop right along with the people in his diocese. I know about what is happening in Minnesota as soon as the Minnesotans know.
More than that, I learn about these things in an immediate way that makes me feel as if I am one of the parishioners in Minnesota or Germany, that this is my problem, as well as theirs.
Unfortunately, vendetta-inspired lies and smears transmit with the same speed as facts. Different pressure groups, particularly gay marriage advocates, have used this ability to communicate at internet speed to punish, coerce and just plain injure those who disagree with them.
Not only do we live in a world of instant communication, we also live in a world of self-entitled people who think that whatever they want is a moral imperative that justifies whatever they do to get it.
What this means for bishops of the Church is that they are often the targets of vendetta-motivated smear campaigns. The bishops who speak out strongly for Church teaching against the forces that want to oppose that teaching are the most viciously targeted.
Since bishops are human beings with human failings, there will always be things about them to criticize. Not one person on this planet can survive this kind of malicious scrutiny intact. We’ve all done something or other. Most of us have done lots of somethings or other, that would look gross when they are put in the worst possible light and flung out on the internet by those who hate us and are motivated to destroy our reputations.
The question for the Church is when to stand by a bishop in disgrace, and when to remove him.
This is not a small question. If the Church allows public witch hunts to provoke it into removing bishops, then it will destroy its own strength of witness in the world. On the other hand, if it leaves truly disgraceful bishops in place, it will — once again — destroy its witness in the world.
I don’t have to make these decisions, and I’m glad I don’t. However, I do have one opinion.
The sexual abuse of children by clergy has got to stop.
It has to stop.
I understand that charges like this are sometimes flung against priests falsely. I also understand that each priest functions more or less independently most of the time, which means that bishops don’t know all that they are doing.
But when a bishop is given credible information that makes it seem likely that a priest is engaging in kiddie porn or other improper behavior with and about children, that bishop needs to act immediately. It is not necessary to ascertain if the evidence will stand up in a court of law. The safety of children demands that if the evidence is credible — as opposed to baseless vicious gossip — the bishop has to remove that priest from active ministry.
I’ve read several reports now of people within a diocese sending a bishop clear evidence of priests having salacious photos of children on their computers and the bishop brushing it off. This has happened with different bishops in different states. We’ve had to deal with a bishop in New Jersey who allowed a priest who had been convicted of child sex abuse to go back into ministry with children.
If the bishops will not remove priests who have these problems from active ministry, then the bishops themselves need to be removed.
The safety of our children and the integrity of the Church depend on it.
Deacon Greg has the story.
The Vatican has suspended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the so-called “Bishop of Bling.” This action is less than the calls from at least some quarters in the German public to dismiss the bishop, and it is more than the nothing which many people expected.
Rather than make a public statement about the bishop’s guilt or innocence, the Vatican confined itself to saying simply that “A situation has been created in which the bishop can no longer exercise his episcopal duties.”
From what I’ve read, that is an accurate assessment of the situation.
To read more, check out The Deacon’s Bench.
Archbishop John Nienstedt
I can never undo what happened to those boys, and that hangs incredibly heavy on me, says Jennifer Haselberger.
That is evidently the motivation that led Ms Haselberger, who is the former chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of St Paul Minneapolis, to turn whistle-blower against her employer.
Ms Haselberger found what she describes as child pornography on the computer disks of a priest who is still in active ministry. She resigned her position with the archdiocese after her attempts to get action concerning this priest from her boss, Archbishop John Nienstedt, failed.
Personally, I am all out of patience with the bishops who do this. When a bishop’s response to photos from a priest’s computer of a child engaging in sexual acts is to confiscate the evidence and refuse to act, there’s something wrong with that bishop as a man and a human being. That kind of behavior is also, at least here in Oklahoma, a felony, with serious jail time attached to it.
These bishops who do this are not following Jesus. Followers of Christ do what Ms Haselberger did and defend children from sexual assault, regardless of the cost to themselves.
This set-in-concrete, stubborn refusal to defend little children from sexual assault by at least some of the bishops makes no sense. They are contributing to the scandal which has so greatly damaged the Church’s moral witness in these perilous times. They even set themselves up for criminal prosecution.
This isn’t a lapse in either judgement or morals. It’s gone on too long for it to be a lapse of any sort.
Why do they keep doing this?
What is wrong with these men?
From Minnesota Public Radio:
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The church lawyer turned whistleblower at the center of a series of investigative reports involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was described glowingly as “studious, thoughtful and extremely well prepared” by the archbishop who hired her in 2008.
As of last week, a lawyer for the archdiocese was referring to her as a disgruntled former employee.
Jennifer Haselberger, who left her position as chancellor for canonical affairs last April, was appointed to the post in August 2008 by Archbishop John Nienstedt. She resigned four and a half years later after a series of unsuccessful attempts to get her superiors to take action on problem priests.
One of those efforts, which she later described as the “nuclear option,” involved copying pornographic images that had been found on a priest’s computer onto a word document and sending them to the archbishop. Some of the images, she said, appeared to show boys engaged in sexual acts.
After Nienstedt failed to call the police, his deputy, the Rev. Peter Laird, ordered Haselberger to hand over the images. She did so, she said — and called Ramsey County authorities. She also contacted MPR News.
Georgetown student testifies before Congress on behalf of the HHS Mandate. Georgetown University began providing free contraceptives to students August 15.
Many Catholic universities have become salt that has lost its savor.
They’ve drunk so deeply from the post Christian cup that if you took the word Catholic from their names, you would never guess they were anything other than another state-run school. Their alums, as well as the rest of us, feel cheated by this. After all, a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building these schools, all of it dedicated to the proposition that a Catholic education was distinguishable from the education provided by secular schools.
It’s as if a great treasure of Catholic culture has been stolen from us, and the theft has been instituted by people we trusted to care for it — our priests and religious who run these schools.
Evidently, Peter Blatty, Georgetown alumnus and author of The Exorcist, shares these feelings. He recently signed a petition asking Georgetown to either implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae or stop the false advertising of claiming to be a Catholic university.
While I understand the emotion, I also think there should be more that we can do than just ask these schools to either be Catholic or stop saying they are Catholic. After all, this “drift” they’ve taken into anti-Christ secularism is not just a harmless thing. It amounts to the theft of the treasure of many people, as well as a violation of their trust.
I wonder if there aren’t civil remedies of some sort. I’m not sure what kind of lawsuit could be mounted against these schools, but it’s certainly worth looking into. I also wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to change their leadership. After all, many of the worst offenders are run by Jesuits. Surely they are answerable to somebody; maybe somebody in Rome.
All this is just musing on my part.
For now, here’s the story about Peter Blatty’s actions. From the National Catholic Register:
The reluctance of predominately Christian countries to speak out is remarkable.
That quote comes from a February 2012 article in the National Review.
The article describes a PEW Research study which says that over 200 million Christians live in countries where they are persecuted. The article also states that over 100,000 Christians are murdered each year for their faith.
After going through all these facts, the National Review author comments that the reluctance of predominantly Christian countries to speak out is remarkable.
Is it remarkable? Or is it an obvious result of the harassment and repeated attacks people who speak out about Christian persecution are subjected to?
Are those who tacitly support the violent persecution of Christians able to silence those Christians’ supporters in the West by the simple methods of mocking, deriding and slandering them into silence?
I think the answer is yes.
Every time I write a post about Christian persecution, I get a flurry of nasties coming on here to claim that (1) It ain’t so, and (2) I’m both a moral and intellectual demagogue for claiming that it is so. I’ve had other bloggers dedicate posts on their blogs to attacks on my intellect and my compassion because I wrote about Christian persecution. I have had fellow travelers of those who murder, rape, batter, abduct and terrify Christians join around the virtual campfire to take shots at me.
What does this indicate — beyond the fact that some bloggers aren’t so crazy about Rebecca Hamilton? I think that it’s a small sampling of what awaits those who try to stand up for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. As such, it offers an explanation as to why the silence about Christian persecution from the Christian West is not so remarkable after all.
My advice to anyone who wants to take a stand against the atrocities that Christians suffer in much of the world today is consider the source of the insults they may receive and go ahead and speak up. Criticisms which are designed to tacitly support mass murder are not worthy of either answers or serious consideration.
Persecuted Christians are Christ crucified, right in front of us.
The mob yelled “Crucify Him!” and Jesus’ friends ran away from Him on that day. They ran away naked in the night, denied they even knew Him and went into hiding while He was tortured and murdered. Only the women and one disciple went to the cross with Him.
Don’t let today’s descendants of that mob scare you into running away from Him. His Passion is happening again in the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Don’t miss your chance to be one of the faithful few who don’t run away.
From National Review Online:
Perhaps the gravest under-publicized atrocity in the world is the persecution of Christians. A comprehensive Pew Forum study last year found that Christians are persecuted in 131 countries containing 70 percent of the world’s population, out of 197 countries in the world (if Palestine, Taiwan, South Sudan, and the Vatican are included). Best estimates are that about 200 million Christians are in communities where they are persecuted. There is not the slightest question of the scale and barbarity of this persecution, and a little of it is adequately publicized. But this highlights the second half of the atrocity: the passivity and blasé indifference of most of the West’s media and governments.
It is not generally appreciated that over 100,000 Christians a year are murdered because of their faith. Because Christianity is, by a wide margin, the world’s largest religion, the leading religion in the traditionally most advanced areas of the world, and, despite its many fissures, the best organized, largely because of the relatively tight and authoritarian structure of the Roman Catholic Church, the West is not accustomed to thinking of Christians as a minority, much less a persecuted one.
… The reluctance of the leading predominantly Christian countries to speak out against these outrages is remarkable.
To join the conversation about Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, or to order a copy, go here.
Family life will either be the salvation of America, or the death of it, depending, almost entirely on whether or not American Christians begin living their home lives like the Christians they say they are.
That has long been my opinion about both family life in this country and the future of the country itself. We are imploding as a nation because we have allowed our homes and families to implode along trendy lines.
The authors of Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, have written a simple how-to book for husbands and wives who want to create true Christian family and home for themselves and their children. There is no more important work than the rearing of little children to be strong, Christian adults who can take their place as the shepherds of the next generation after themselves.
That is what parents are: Shepherds of the home. If they fail with their little flock, then nothing else they do in life matters.
Let me repeat that: If you fail in raising your kids, then all the other things that seem so important — career, houses, cars, expensive vacations — all of it is for naught. I don’t believe that God ever created a person for the purpose of having a big house, driving an expensive car and taking lavish vacations. Those things, if they come your way, are the garnishes. They are not life.
Child rearing is becoming a lost art. We are inundated with childcare books for the early years, when things are easy, and a stale silence for the drug-infested, sexual-experimenting later years of childhood, when they are not. Our cultural role models are all about dissolution, parental selfishness, broken homes and designer babies.
True parenting is not about taking. The me-first, kids-are-tough-and-can-take-it philosophy has led us to the where we are today, which is the place where a huge number of our young people are not able or willing to form families and raise children of their own. From the throwaway kids of the inner cities to the trophy children of the rich and shameless, family life has far too often devolved down to a sad manifestation of the narcism of self-satisfying adults.
How are Christians, especially those who were themselves shaped by this malformed and malfunctioning social milieu, going to learn the techniques for raising their kids in a true Christian home?
Possibly, from books like Six Sacred Rules for Families.
This is not an in-depth book. It is rather, a faith-filled starting point. Sue and Tim Muldoon wrote a book that shares both their personal experiences of child-rearing, and the humility they faced in having to accept that they would not have children of their bodies, but would rather adopt children of their hearts. All this is informed by their professional work in the areas of faith formation and counseling.
They built the book around six rules that can get parents started in a dialogue about how best to build a Christian home. The rules are:
If you want to learn what these rules mean, you will have to read the book. I will say that I found number 3, “Our family doesn’t care about success” thought provoking in a personal way. I’ve got some changing to do myself, and reading this book helped me see that.
We’re going to have to be Christian in new ways in this post-Christian society. Perhaps the best way to begin that project is by resurrecting the lost art of Christian homemaking. Six Sacred Rules for Families provides simple direction on how to start down that path.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.