Pope Francis Combines Family, Laity and Life Into One Dicastery

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Pope Francis has enacted an internal reform of the Vatican by combining Family, Laity and Life into one dicastery.

I don’t understand the inner workings of the Vatican. But looking at this from the outside, it makes sense. If I am correct, a dicastery is a department within the Curia. The ministries relating to family, laity and life are certainly bound together by common interests.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Pope Francis announced Thursday to the Synod on the Family that he has chosen to establish a new office in the Roman Curia that will deal with issues of laity, family, and life, as part of his reform of the curia.

“I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family,” Pope Francis said Oct. 22, according to a communique from the Holy See press office.

“To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competencies of the new Dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion to the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December.”

The Pope added that in addition to the pontifical councils for the laity and the family, the Pontifical Academy for Life will also joined to the new office.

This move is significant because it streamlines three separate offices into one; it is also meant to give greater attention to issues relating to the laity in the Church.

 

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The Synod: German Bishops Take One Last Shot

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Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Mary Rezac, at Catholic News Agency, wrote a pithy summary of the German bishops’ efforts to change pastoral practice within the Catholic Church as it applies to marriage.

Here’s part of what she said:

Ok everyone, last German bishops blog for the duration of #Synod15! (At least, I think. I hope?)

As they near the end of an eventful three weeks, the 13 small groups of the Synod on the Family, divided by language, have released their last reports before the conclusion of the meeting on Sunday.

For those of you just joining us, the German-speaking group of bishops has been in the spotlight during the Synod as some of the main proponents of what has become known as the “Kasper proposal”, by which Cardinal Walter Kasper has promoted allowing some divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics to receive sacramental Communion after a ‘penitential path’, among other controversial proposals.

This proposal has been shut down multiple times by the Church over the years, and yet, it continues to crop up, particularly amongst German bishops. Hence this blog. And this one. And this one. Oh and also this one. 

In their small group report on the third part of the synod’s working document, the German bishops suggest that divorced-and-civilly-remarried couples discern in the “internal forum” their ability to receive the sacraments, following their conscience and aided by their confessor. Read the rest here.

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Drug Addiction is a Catastrophe for Families

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Imagens Evangelicas https://www.flickr.com/photos/imagensevangelicas/

I wish that the Synod on the Family had been able to spend more time considering ways in which the modern world destroys families, often from the inside out. If they had, drug addiction would surely have found a way onto the list.

Nothing is more insidious or difficult to address than drug addict family members. The rest of the family ends up paying a horrendous price for the love they feel for the addict, and the addict is destroyed utterly by both the addiction and the things they do as a result of the addiction.

I wonder that there is so little genuine attention given to this plague by religious thinkers. I honestly do not know why this is so.

I wrote a post for the National Catholic Register about my own struggles with a family member of mine that I love with all my heart who suffers from a life-long addiction to drugs.

Here is part of what I said:

If you doubt that drug addiction is evil, consider what it does to love.

I’ve been dealing for years with the heartbreak and disaster of a beloved niece who suffers from cocaine and meth addiction. I’ve watched and suffered as the drugs destroyed her personality, health and sanity.

It’s as if the drugs were devils who consumed her. They disassembled her personality and shredded her rationality until there was nothing but rage and violence left behind.

Drugs eat the person alive, hollow them out and leave them as clanking and unworkable faux versions of themselves. Drugs degrade addicts in horrible ways. They do things to themselves and others that scar and mutilate them spiritually and morally, as well as physically. The worst of it is that drugs turn them sociopathic. They become manipulative, dishonest, and without conscience in their dealings with the people who love them.

No one can have a practicing drug addict in their life and stay sane and happy. You can’t help them. If you try, they will pull you into their insanity and destroy you, along with themselves. The choice inevitably becomes a choice to either cut all ties with the drug addict, or be destroyed by their addiction, along with them.

That’s why I said that drug addiction is evil. It destroys life, personality, morality and sanity. But its worst crime against the people it infects is that it turns love into a weakness and a weapon.

Read the rest here.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/drug-addiction-is-a-catastrophe-for-families/#ixzz3pJFlvmjj

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Small Groups Release Concluding Reports on Instrumentum Laboris

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

The Synod on the Family moved closer to a conclusion with the release of small group reports. It appears that the English-speaking reports call for no change so far as the issue of communion for divorced and remarried couples is concerned.

Rather than try to summarize these reports, I’m going to link to them at the National Catholic Register, so you can read them yourselves. Remember, this link is only for the English-speaking reports. I’ve read the some of the reports that are written in other languages differ from them.

To read the reports, go here.

 

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Men: Your Women and Children Need You

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

Bishop Olmsted has written a powerful call for Catholic men to step up and be men. I am particularly impressed because he did this without attacking women. A couple of his brother bishops might take a page from him in this.

I wrote about this pastoral letter from a woman’s viewpoint for CatholicVote. Women need manly men in their lives, as do children and the whole of our society. Men and women together are the foundation of all human civilization.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

John White wrote an article for CatholicVote a few days ago about a pastoral letter to men from Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix. Bishop Olmsted called this pastoral letter “Into the Breach.”

I want to thank the bishop for writing a letter that calls men to be men, but does it without attacking women. That alone was a breath of fresh air. This powerful letter is important to women, as well as men. Because we need you.

Women need the strength and power of manly men. So many women, and even more children, lead blighted lives because they do not have the strong male presence of a husband and father to uphold them.

Men, take note. Your women and your children need you. We need your presence in our lives. Look around you. Look at the messed up people who grew up in messed up homes with no fathers. Look at the gender-confused, feral young people who are so damaged that they can’t marry, form their own families, and raise their own children.

What have we done?

By “we” I mean all of us, men and women, the great we that is the human race. What have we done that we have created this mess? How can we heal it?

– See more at: http://www.catholicvote.org/man-woman-designed-to-need-each-other/#sthash.lV3QMaQf.dpuf

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History Repeats in USA, But Evil Will Never Triumph

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

What happens when evil appears to triumph?

I wrote about that for CatholicVote. Here’s part of what I said:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. King Solomon

“Today’s families face challenges that previous generations did not face.”

We recite that cliché in somber tones, as if we were saying something profound. But King Solomon was right. There is nothing new under the sun.

A society run amok with sexual depravity? Look no further than Sodom and Gomorrah, or most of the ancient pagan world, for that matter.

Killing our children to free us to achieve for the corporate empires that rule our world? Change “career” to “good harvest” and “abortion” to “putting your children through the fires,” and you are right back in the pagan world, standing before Moloch.

Poison our elderly, disabled, sick, weak and frail in an act of “mercy?” Go back 70 years to the “useless eaters” of the Third Reich, being driven around in trucks with hoses piping the exhaust in on them. If that seems too pertinent, look at pagan societies that left their helpless members out, where the animals could kill them.

Sex selected abortion? Think of exposing baby girls by throwing them in the dump and leaving them to die.

What about drugs and the reign of terror exacted on families today by the drug addicts in their midst? What about incest? Or polygamy or Christian persecution?

There’s nothing new, not under the star we call Sol. It’s all been done before.

– See more at: http://www.catholicvote.org/history-repeats-in-usa-but-evil-will-never-triumph/#sthash.NhluMqGh.dpuf

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It’s Synod Time Again. That Scares Me.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

It’s almost Synod time again.

After last year’s Synod on the Family, I almost wish they would all stay home. I’m afraid of what craziness the cardinals and bishops are going to cook up concerning marriage.

We need leadership from our Church in this time of upheaval. What they tried to give us last year was theological experimentation that walked off from the Gospels into their personal wish list for Jesus as they would like Him to be so their jobs would be easier.

I wrote about all that in a post for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

Last year’s Synod on the Family was the low point in my Catholic faith.

It wasn’t the dueling cardinals and their clashing press comments that got to me. What pushed me close to despair was the fear that the Church might actually walk away from Jesus.

After I converted, I found a few of the Church’s teachings difficult to accept. But I hung in there and slowly came around to acceptance and a profound gratitude for the Church’s fidelity to Christ down through the centuries.

I have always understood that the members of the priesthood, including those in the papacy, are fallen men. I knew from many experiences in my life that they were capable of all sorts of sin. I didn’t expect anything else of them.

That’s how I got through the sexual abuse crisis. I was not, as many Catholic commentators said on television last week, “ashamed” of my Church because of the sex abuse crisis. I was angry with the bishops who allowed this to happen. I never, not for one moment, felt the inclination to excuse them by saying that they had “made mistakes.” Mistakes don’t involve lengthy court action, pay-offs and conspiracy to suppress evidence. Those actions were considered and deliberate. They were not blunders or momentary lapses.

But this never made me doubt the Church itself. I expected that human beings would do bad things. I don’t put my trust in princes, not even princes of the Church. I believed that, whatever wrong-headed things individual men in the Church hierarchy might do, the Church itself was a trustworthy teacher of the unchanging truths of Christ Jesus.

I was called to the Church by Christ in the Eucharist. I accepted difficult Church teachings and got past the scandal by believing that the Church taught truth, even when its leaders erred on a personal or professional level. But when Cardinals in last year’s Synod began yakkity-yakking about changing one of the sacraments; a sacrament that was instituted specifically and directly by Our Lord, it challenged that belief.

I thought then, and I think now, that these men who did this were using about one-half their brains. It’s clear to me that marriage is the basis for Holy Orders. The theology of Holy Orders is tied to the theology of marriage. Both of them are sacraments instituted by Our Lord. If one of them is conditional and up for grabs, then the other is also.

I could not see how these clerics could be so blind. If they trample on Jesus’ teachings on marriage, then Holy Orders, and their own authority, come tumbling down alongside it.

More to the point, no one — no one — can unsay what Jesus said. After 2,000 years of consistent teaching, no one can unteach what the Church has taught. Marriage is between one man and one woman. It is ordained of and by God.


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/jesus-christ-is-the-same-yesterday-today-and-forever/#ixzz3nKdyjFKE

 

 

 

For other thoughts on the Synod, check out my Patheos colleague Dave Armstrong and The National Catholic Register’s Deacon Nick Donnelly.

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If We Don’t Fight for Life, This Hunger for Annihilation Will Devour Us All

 

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My near death experience with Mama pushed me to considering a nursing home.

I wrote about it, and about the ghastly business of passing laws legalizing medical murder, for the National Catholic Register. 

Here’s part of what I said:

I decided then that we had to put her in a nursing home. I despaired of our ability to keep her safe at home. I called the local Catholic nursing home, which I know is a really good place. But they are full-up. The waiting list stretches months ahead.

So, I found myself driving around this not-so-good nursing home and crying. I looked at other, nicer places, but the cost is out of sight. Three and four thousand dollars a month. And it goes up from there.

I made a list of ways we could make the not-so-good place work. I would, of course, be there every day. So would my kids and my husband. Hospice would be there on a regular basis, giving her baths, praying with her, checking her health. My parish would send people to visit. We could have folks checking on her several times a day.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I asked the hospice social worker to make arrangements for me. I couldn’t face doing it myself.

Then, I got sick. I mean, I got physically ill. I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t cry. Couldn’t even pray. I played scales on the piano for hours, then played Tetris on my phone.

About 9 last night, I thought, “I can’t do this.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/if-we-dont-fight-for-life-this-hunger-for-annihilation-will-devour-us-all/#ixzz3mThBRCWm

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What Do You Put on the Altar of Your Heart?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

Pro life people must not confine their pro life thinking to the tiny intellectual boxes created by the two major political parties.

The Democrats and the Republicans have created this silo mentally for their own self-serving purposes. It does not benefit the cause of the sanctity of human life. It can actually harm it.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register.

Here is part of what I said:

My Grandmother used to say, “That’s like a choice between hanging and a firing squad.”

I wrote a post decrying the lack of a single, unifying objective for the pro-life movement. I also asked readers to offer their thoughts about how to word such an objective for the pro-life movement. I was looking for a one-sentence objective, something on which we could hang discussions about strategies and tactics. The resulting discussion in the comboxes was most edifying.

As people settled into a discursive back and forth, it became obvious that they thought being pro-life in the political sense does not mean protecting human life from conception to natural death. Rather, it means choosing whether to kill the child with abortion or to deny the child the basics of life after birth. It’s as if Satan himself set up the choices for pro-life people, which, in a way, is what has happened.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/elephants-and-donkeys-have-no-place-on-the-altar-of-your-heart/#ixzz3m1XUzZws

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It was a Mama Kind of Weekend.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My family and I had a rough weekend with Mama. Here’s a summary of part of it that I wrote for the National Catholic Register.

If you could spare a prayer for me and mine, it would be much appreciated.

From the National Catholic Register:

I woke with a jolt — one of those soldier-coming-awake-in-a-foxhole snaps from dream sleep to full awake without a step between.

The house was quiet and dark.

I hauled my tired self out of bed and walked down one hall and then the next hall and yet another hall until I came to Mama’s bedroom, flipped on the light and looked at her bed. Which was neatly made up and empty.

Panic is the word, but it’s inadequate. Think baby-missing-from-the-crib-in-a-silent-house, think every nightmare of bungled love and responsibility pounding straight down with one slam.

I ran through the house, yelling for her.

Nothing.

Then, I noticed that the pillows on the sofa were laid out flat in a row that went from one armrest straight across to the other. I walked to the sofa. Lifted a pillow.

She was lying there, fully dressed and sleeping. Her white hair was streaked red with blood, her pants and shirt had huge spots of blood. It was bright red; fresh, newly-bled.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/living-pro-life-is-a-blessing-that-asks-much-of-the-blessed/#ixzz3lpIjaoqQ

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