Synod on the Family: Were the Episcopalians Right All Along?

The Vatican is already trying to calm things down.

The Synod issued a summary document of the speeches and debate which have taken place in the Synod so far. They called it the Relatio post disceptationem, which probably added to the confusion. If they had just titled it the Official Minutes of the Synod Thus Far, it would have gone a long way toward keeping reactions from going off like bullets in a campfire.

But they didn’t. They called it the Relatio post disceptationem, and now the word is out that the Synod has decided that the Episcopalians were right all along; marriage is a civil contract and entirely flexible and, oh yes, it’s not even all that necessary to sexual liaisons.

Seeing the mess they’d made, the Vatican issued a “caution” or whatever they call it saying:

Relatio post disceptationem, and the fact that often a value has been attributed to the document that does not correspond to its nature, reiterates that it is a working document, which summarises the interventions and debate of the first week, and is now being offered for discussion by the members of the Synod gathered in the Small Groups, in accordance with the Regulations of the Synod.
The work of the Small Groups will be presented to the Assembly in the General Congregation next Thursday morning.

What the Vatican is trying to communicate in that painfully indirect paragraph is that the document the Vatican issued yesterday is NOT a final draft. In fact, it’s not a draft at all.

It’s just a summary of the speeches that the cardinals made during the first week of discussion. The Vatican had to issue this comment today because the relatio (my shorthand for the document) which is a ramble, summarizing a lot of speechifying, has lit a lot of fires.

Releasing it was a bit like emptying a feather pillow in front of a fan. Since it was just a summary of the speeches made by Synod participants after the Pope told them to be unafraid to say whatever they thought, and since, at least based on how they sound in their statements, the cardinals are almost as polarized in how they view the Gospels as our larger culture, it has something in it to scratch everbody’s itch, but is flat-out scandalous to the average pew-sitting Catholic.

Which is why it should have been published with a warning label — at the top, in big, bold letters — saying that it was not Church teaching but just, basically, minutes of the meeting.

The reason this matters is that the Synod is treading dangerous ground. It is trying to move bricks in the wall that forms the Church’s foundation: The sacraments.

The relatio is not Church teaching, but it’s being taken as Church teaching. Even worse, nobody’s going to read it. 

The media and those with agendas are the only ones who will read this thing all the way through, and they are looking for things they can pull out to advance their own ideas. With a document like the Relatio, that’s short work.

It is not a problem for anyone who wants to find it to pull out verbiage that could be used to convince people that the Synod has decided to continue proclaiming Holy Matrimony as a sacrament between one man and one woman, but to only do it in speech-making and sermonizing. It’s easy to assert from the relatio that the Synod actually sees Holy Matrimony as an arcane, “official” ideal and not something to actually live.

In the meantime, it would be equally easy to produce verbiage supporting the idea that the Synod is moving toward allowing divorce-remarriage, divorce-remarriage, divorce-remarriage, shacking up and sleeping around, with an inevitable gay marriage/polygamy chaser as its actual practice. In other words, the Episcopalians were right all along, but the Synod won’t admit it. They just plan to live it.

That, and not the nuances, are what the larger culture is going to teach from the relatio.

Meeting minutes are not official documents. I’ve been in a lot of meetings. The most productive of them included discussions that wouldn’t play well in the press. That’s the way of human nature. People think best when they’re free to be foolish and say stupid things.

I’m going to link to the relatio here. Read if it you want. But don’t mistake it for doctrine.

Let’s give the Synod time to finish and see what it produces.

Dueling Bishops: The Synod in Their Own Words

I’ve put together a set of comments from the various cardinals about the on-going Synod of the Family. I think it’s best right now to let them speak in their own words, rather than try to interpret what they mean.

One thing that seems apparent is that there is a wide gap between the Cardinals of the developing world and those from the wealthier nations.

 

Cardinal Burke

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German Bishops

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Cardinal Napier on Polygamy

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Cardinal Tagle Poor Families Need Synod’s Help

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Cardinal Wuerl on Who May Receive Communion?

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Cardinal Nichols on Marriage and Fidelity

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Synod on the Family: What Do They Mean by Gradualism?

 

We’re getting snippets of this, and snippets of that out of the Synod on the Family.

One word that has appeared and is floating around like one of those word bubbles above characters heads in a cartoon is gradualism. Even John Allen over at Crux, has made note of the sudden uptick in gradualism talk. “Gradualism … seemed on the verge of being stricken fem the official lexicon, is back with a vengeance,” he tell us. 

Unfortunately, ordinary pew-sitting Catholics like me have been pummeled and pounded with moral relativism these past few years. We’ve had the cant of what’s-happening-now talking-head theology thrown in our faces as we’ve been called everything from bigots to birdbrains for attempting to stay true to the Church’s teachings. In times like this, the sudden employment of the word “gradualism” by our bishops as they talk about those teachings fills us with anxiety.

Are our religious leaders going to pull the rug out from under us and announce that the teachings we’ve given real emotional blood to support are now as relative as the larger society has told us they are? The anxiety, which runs deep in a lot of hearts, is that our bishops are going to end up playing us for chumps for having believed them in the first place.

I’m no theologian, but I think — emphasis think — that gradualism, as it applies to Catholic teaching is that you don’t have to be all the way home to perfection or order to be on your way there. It sounds like shorthand way of saying that we are all on a journey in this life, and, in terms of our walk with Christ, we fall down a lot and have to get back up.

The easiest way I can explain what I’m trying to say is to describe my own self at the time of my conversion experience. I had committed the whole library of serious sins. I could go down the Ten Commandments and tick them off. Took the Lord’s name in vain? Check. Bore false witness? Check. Killed innocent people? Done and done.

I was rotten with sin, but the only sin I believed was a sin happened to be something that neither the press nor most of my friends know about. I confessed it to my priest and I’ve certainly taken it to God. I think I’ll let that ride and not confess it here.

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Suffice it to say, that I believed I had done something cruel to another person and I was grieved to my core over it. So grieved that, after 17 years of telling God to buzz off, I reached out to Him. “Forgive me,” was all I said, but it was enough.

I experienced a homecoming that puts the welcome given the prodigal son to shame. I was, as Protestants say, washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb.

Buutttttt … I stil didn’t know my other sins were sins.

I know that sounds daffy.

But I had lived by my own lights, been my own little g god for so long, drunk so many gallons of my own Kool-Aid that I honestly believed that, say, abortion, was a positive good that saved women’s lives. I believed that right down to the ground. No questions. No doubts.

I could go on for a long time, cataloguing what I didn’t know about my own sinful state. But the point I’m making needs no further explication, and here it is:

God accepted me just exactly as I was.

Let me say that again: God accepted me just exactly as I was. 

I didn’t have to go to the spiritual dry cleaners and get all spiffed up to be acceptable to Him and loved by Him.

I didn’t need to have my nose rubbed in my sins and be humiliated for them.

I didn’t even need to know what my sins were.

All I had to do was say “yes” and God loved me from death to life in an instant of overwhelming grace.

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The interesting part is that He didn’t start educating me right away. At first, it was like a honeymoon of sorts. I fell blindly and absolutely in love with Jesus and He loved me back. I felt so free, clean and loved.

And I was.

Gradually, this Being (Who I did not understand at the time was the Holy Spirit) Who had been walking with me since I said “Forgive me,” began to show me my sins. It was gently done. He would show me something I had done, and I would realize that it was wrong.

It was — get ready for this now — almost a year and a half before He raise the question of abortion, and then it was as gently done as all the rest. Just, this is wrong.

A lot came later, but once again, this suffices for the point I’m trying to make.

Gradualism is not just a theological construct. It is a lived reality. What I experienced when the Holy Spirit began the process of re-shaping me into what He wanted me to become, what He had always intended me to be, was God’s own gradualism.

He can knock you flat just as He did me. But when He picks you up, it’s like a mother holding her own precious child. He does not expect you to “get” it all at once, even more than I expected my newborn babies to hop down off the delivery table and start tap dancing.

I knew, and God knows, that we learn slowly or not at all.

And, perhaps more to the point, we learn when the time is right for us to do it.

This gradualism I describe does not say that God’s Word, His Gospels and His Righteousness are relative. They are not. In fact, they are so absolute that none of us can live up to them. That is the reason for the Cross. It is why God had to become human and suffer what we suffer and die as we die to open a way out of our lostness for us.

We can never live up to God’s absolute righteousness. Thanks be to God, we don’t have to.

We are, all of us pilgrim people on the road through this life and into the next one.

Gradualism is simply the acknowledgement of two things:

1. None of us is righteous is His sight, and,

2. He accepts us just as we are.

What we must do — what we must do — is trust Him and give Him our lives and our wills. We must let Him shape us into what we were meant to be, one gradual step at a time. If we presume on His mercy to declare that we do not need to change, that our sins are not sins, then we refuse Him and we will die the ultimate death.

God accepted me just as I was, and then He began to slowly change what I wanted to be. He showed me my sins and I reacted by believing Him and letting Him change me, from the inside out.

That is the key to salvation.

It is also why gradualism is not relativism. Gradualism does not say that sins are not sins. It simply says that we are, all of us, at whatever stage in our Walk with Christ, in need of improvement.

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Do not take the concept of gradualism and mis-use it as a get out of jail free card that allows you to willfully continue in your sins and thumb your nose at the Gospels. That is a fearful and, if it’s not given up, fatal sin. “God is not mocked,” St Paul told us, and those who claim God’s forgiveness as a fiat to sin are mocking God.

Gradualism is not relativism, although I suspect it will be bandied about as if it was. Gradualism is simply a word expressing what the old hymn, Just As I Am, expresses. It does not teach that sin is not sin. What it teaches is that the hopelessness of our sins need not be our story.

We can be washed clean of our sins by the Blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side. We can become true pilgrims who are walking faithfully with Him on the Narrow Way that will lead us to Glory.

Gradualism tells us that we don’t have to get perfect to go to God. That, no matter what we’ve done, we can change and become new creatures in Him.

Because the same Jesus Who told us He was the Way, also promised that He would make all things new.

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Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith takes his own view of gradualism here

The Supremes KO Marriage as a State’s Right Issue

 

They didn’t do it directly.

It was an indirect, “if you say so” kind of move.

The United States Supreme Court allowed rulings from lower courts in favor of legalizing gay marriage stand. This decision, which affected rulings in five states, simply said that the Court would not address these lower court rulings. The rulings had overturned state laws in five states that limited marriage to one man and one woman.

This decision not to decide on the part of the Supreme Court was a backdoor way of overturning their own ruling of a few months ago that marriage was a matter for the states to regulate. It is also the natural outcome of their concomitant ruling overturning DOMA.

The Supreme Court’s tut-tut verbiage of the time aside, overturning DOMA had the effect of federalizing marriage. Lower courts have followed by legislating from the bench and overturning state laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman in a willy-nilly fashion.

Personally, I’m not surprised. I basically said this would happen when the DOMA decision came down. I ran into a bit of criticism for saying this at the time. But far too often, people try to parse their way out of the obvious by hinging arguments on the particulars and ignoring the major effects of a piece of legislation or public statement by government authorities.

This kind of “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is“ commentary cripples people’s understanding and leaves them wide open to what anyone with half a brain can see is coming.

The Supreme Court overturned DOMA, and that federalized marriage. They also, at the same time, made statements about marriage being a state’s rights issue. As the Court so often does, it set up a collision that it would have to rule on in the future.

In the instance of gay marriage, I think they did this for political reasons. It was their attempt to avoid the kind of cataclysmic ruling and the resulting public battle that happened with Roe v Wade. They know the harm Roe did to this country, and they didn’t want their fingerprints on another ruing that would damage it even further. At the same time, they intended to allow gay marriage.

What they did to avoid this was try the frog-in-the-pan-of-water method of making a cataclysmic ruling. You know how it goes. If you put a frog in a pan of boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put it in a pan of tepid water and slowly heat it up, the frog will sit there until it’s cooked. In this case, the frog is us.

The Supreme Court overturned DOMA, and thereby federalized marriage, which set up a series of court battles that collided directly with their statements concerning marriage in another ruling they made on the same day. It was inevitable and necessary that they were going to have to rule again as to which of their conflicting rulings they actually meant.

They did just that on Monday. But they didn’t do it by making a ruling. They did it by letting other courts’ rulings stand.

This is an interesting ploy.

In politics, we call it heat transference.

The Court used this three-step don’t-really-rule-but-get-the-effect-of-a-ruling method to transfer the heat away from themselves and diffuse it out onto the wider American public. The practical effect in terms of American jurisprudence is both similar to a cataclysmic ruling, and somewhat different.

The major difference is that future Supreme Courts won’t have to overturn this one if they decide to rewind things a bit. The Court hasn’t ruled. It just let lower court rulings stand.

That may sound like a minor difference, but in practical terms of what we’re going to have to do to put the toothpaste back into the tube, it’s major.

The important thing, which I intend to repeat as often as necessary, is that we’ve got a battle ahead of us.

We have to convert this culture, and we have to do it in the face of increasingly ugly anti-Christian bias.

This is not, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, the time for sunshine soldiers of the Cross.

The first place to begin is by clearing away the debris in our own lives and marriages. The second and equally important thing is to protect our children from the propaganda and brainwashing that is directed at them.

We need to live our values and raise our children to do the same.

Only then, when we have removed the beams from our own eyes, will we be fit to remove the splinter from the eyes of those around us.

This is a wonderful time to be a Christian. We have the opportunity to stand for Christ in meaningful ways that can change the world.

Don’t miss your chance to stand with Him in this day.

President Obama Sends Message to Killer’s Mosque. Did He Ignore Victim’s Family?

 

My mother was an amazing woman, loving wife to my father and adoring grandmother.
She made me feel loved everyday.

 

President Obama has set off a bit of a firestorm by sending a congratulatory message to the mosque where Alton Nolen, the man who committed the Oklahoma beheading, worshipped.

The message itself is a routine congratulatory message to Muslims during the celebration of Eid al-Adha. I don’t know if the White House extends similar congratulatory messages to Oklahoma Jewish worshippers during the High Holy Days, or if the head of the Oklahoma Southern Baptist Convention or the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City receive White House congratulations during Easter and Christmas. We’ve got a lot of faiths here in Oklahoma. Do they all get this white-glove treatment?

If they do, I haven’t heard of it.

I feel reasonably certain that no other house of worship in Oklahoma City has had such a message hand-carried and then read aloud to them by David Myers, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships; especially not after one of their members went out and murdered a grandmother shouting the religious slogans of their faith.

While the message itself is a pro forma political attaboy, (or in this case, attaimam) I don’t think it’s customary to issue such messages to all faiths. I’d bet the ranch that this extreme case of a White House aide hand-carrying it over 1500 miles to read it aloud to worshippers is more than a little bit unusual.  If this was common practice with all faiths, we’d need a lot more directors.

What really galls me is the one-sidedness of the behavior. So far as I know, President Obama chose not to send a message of condolence to, or in any other way acknowledge, the family of Colleen Hufford. Colleen Hufford is the 54-year-old grandmother who lost her life to a knife-wielding man shouting Islamic slogans.

Based on her daughter’s statements to the press, Mrs Hufford’s family has been supported by their Oklahoma community and, lately, by the larger American community. But there was no mention of any word from the Mourner in Chief.

Colleen Hufford was not a political inconvenience. She was not and is not a challenge to the politically correct script our government and most of our media is reading to us.

Colleen Hufford was, according to her daughter Kelli Hufford, “a caring and compassionate woman.” She was Meemaw to her granddaughter. She loved to garden, and was a devoted hockey fan. One thing you realize watching her daughter’s statement is that this was a good woman, with a loving family. To see her daughter’s full statement, go here.

Here is the formal statement from Colleen Hufford’s family:

For her life to have been taken in such a tragic act of violence adds a depth of grief we are trying to comprehend. We want to thank the wonderful family and friends who have come to our aid during this very difficult time with messages of hope and prayer. 

Here’s the message the president sent:

Michelle and I would like to extend our best wishes to Muslims in the United States and around the world who are celebrating Eid al-Adha, and to congratulate those performing the Hajj this year.

“As our Muslim neighbors and friends gather for Eid celebrations, Muslim Americans are among the millions of pilgrims joining one of the world’s largest and most diverse gatherings. Hajj brings together Muslims from around the world — Sunni and Shiite — to share in reverent prayer, side by side. It serves as a reminder that no matter one’s tribe or sect, race or religion, gender or age, we are equals in humanity.

Pope Francis: The Future is in the Meeting Between Youth and the Elderly

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German Committee Says ‘Incest a Fundamental Right.’

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The German Ethics Committee, which is described as “a government committee” and which appears to have some sort of legitimacy, has labeled laws against incest “unacceptable” because they “don’t allow the right to sexual self-determination.

This is especially interesting since the European Court of Human Rights ruled in April in favor of the German law making incest illegal. The case was based on the conviction of a man who had an incestuous relationship with his sister that began when the girl was 16 and he was 23.

The committee uses the same old arguments we’ve heard in the gay marriage context.

In case you need a refresher, here are a few snapshots:

fundamental right to sexual self-determination

criminalizing private behavior

incestuous couples are forced to live in secret

individual rights outweigh abstractions such as “family”

2% to 4% of Germans do it.

fundamental freedoms have been violated

must deny their love

“we just want to lead a normal life”

We heard it over and over and over again. Gay marriage would not lead to polygamy. But before the gay marriage deal is fully set, the agitation for normalizing polygamy through the media and legalizing polygamy through the courts is going gangbusters. 

We heard it over and over and over again. Gay marriage would not bother anyone. “If you oppose gay marriage, don’t get gay married,” the slogan went. But small business people all over the country have been drug into court because they didn’t want to become unwilling participants in gay weddings in violation of their religious beliefs.

I don’t remember anyone even asking if gay marriage would lead to incest. That seemed too off the wall. But, sadly, the line of argument used to create a phony-baloney claim that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman has no limit to the things it can justify.

The reason for this is simple: The claims about gay marriage have no basis in reality. I’m not talking about the legitimate claims of homosexual people that they are human beings and American citizens and that they should be treated fairly and without discrimination under the law.

I am talking about codifying a fantasy scenario in which homosexual couples are the same as a marriage between a man and woman. Twisting your mind around to force it to think that this lie is truth destroys rational thought. It requires saying that you see what you don’t see until you begin to actually see what is not there.

This kind of delusional thinking, and the arguments on which it is based, lead to a ever-broadening set of delusions. Human beings are categorizing, if-this-is-true/then-this-must-also-be-true kind of thinkers. When the basic if-this-is-true premises of our thinking become tainted with forced acceptance of delusional lies, the ability to respond rationally to anything and everything related to it slides off the table and smashes itself into pieces.

That appears to be what has happened with the German Ethics Committee. I don’t know anything about German governance, but it seems that this committee has some sort of law-making recommendation ability. I say that because German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded seriously to the committee’s recommendation that Germany legalize incest.

I’m guessing that this puts their recommendation somewhat ahead of a vote taken by the ladies neighborhood flower arranging society of Frankfurt.

Will Germany jump on this parade and legalize incest?

Based on Chancellor Merkel’s response, I don’t think that’s going to happen right away. But the arguments are in place and the persistent lobbying has begun.

Unless we shake off this mass delusion, it’s only a matter of time.

From The Independent:

 

Germany’s national ethics council has called for an end to the criminalisation of incest between siblings after examining the case of a man who had four children with his sister.

Patrick Stuebing, who was adopted as an infant and met his sister in his 20s, has launched several appeals since being imprisoned for incest in 2008 and his lengthy legal battle has prompted widespread public debate.

Sexual relations between siblings or between parents and their children are forbidden under section 173 of the German criminal code and offenders can face years in prison.

But on Wednesday, the German Ethics Council recommended the section be repealed, arguing that the risk of disability in children is not enough to warrant the law and de-criminalising incest would not remove the huge social taboo around it.

The chairman of the council, Christiane Woopen, was among the 14 members voting in favour of repealing section 173, while nine people voted for the ban to continue and two abstained.

A statement released on Wednesday said: “Incest between siblings appears to be very rare in Western societies according to the available data but those affected describe how difficult their situation is in light of the threat of punishment.

“They feel their fundamental freedoms have been violated and are forced into secrecy or to deny their love.

7 Reasons Why Doomsayers About the Catholic Church are Wrong.

 

Brian Cahill, a former director of the San Francisco Catholic Charities, recently wrote an article which was published in National Catholic Reporter claiming that the Catholic Church is headed toward becoming a “shrinking cult.”

It appears that this is the latest in a number of salvos Mr CAthill has fired against the Catholic Church which once employed him. When Mr Cahill retired in 2008, he made a glowing statement about his 8 years of service as the Director of San Fran Catholic Charities. His turn toward bitter criticism seems, at least based on his articles in the National Catholic Reporter, to reflect a rather rancorous disagreement with the Church on issues such as gay marriage and contraception.

He refers to these teachings as the “party line” in one article, and criticizes various bishops for having “followed the party line” concerning them.

He bases his conclusion that the Catholic-Church-is-headed-toward-shrinking-cultism on those same issues. It appears, from the tone of the article, that Mr Cahill has a particular dislike of San Francisco Cardinal Cardileone. One of the more interesting points he raises is that, due to the apostasy exhibited by some high school students (as well as a couple no-spined bishops who backed down, I might add) it is clear that the Catholic Church is out of step with high school students.

Using that conclusion — even if it’s true — as a basis for claiming that the Church is headed toward shrinking numbers and obscure cultism is just, plain, daft. Here are seven quick reasons why.

1. First, the claim that the Church is out of step with high school students is based entirely on the misbehavior of wealthy kids in a few sections of America. We are talking about a few Catholic schools here. There is nothing I’ve seen to indicate that all students who attend Catholic high schools in America are ready to walk out. There is also nothing I’ve seen to indicate that every bishop is as spineless as those this has happened to. Maybe somewhere there is a bishop with the guts to expel the kids and bring in students who actually want the fine future these schools offer. I know a lot of District 89 kids who are stuck in damaging inner-city schools who would be grateful for the chance.

2. Even if every Catholic high school student in America is ready to toss away the Church — which I doubt — high school students have a  habit of getting smarter as they mature. This is the first time in my little life that I’ve ever heard or read anyone seriously claim that we should allow high school students to make monumental decisions for our society.

3. The Catholic Church is growing rapidly worldwide, and it is growing the way Christianity always grows: By voluntary conversion. In 2012 alone, the Catholic Church grew by 14 million people, which outpaces the world birthrate.In 1910, Catholics were 48% of Christians worldwide. In 2013, that percentage had risen to 50%. About a third of the world’s population is Christian, making it the largest religious group.

4. The Catholic population is not declining; it’s shifting and becoming more diverse. In 1910, 65% of Catholics worldwide lived in Europe, and 24% lived in Latin America. Due to the rapid rate of conversions throughout the world, these concentrations of Catholics on one area of the globe are gone. For instance, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa was less than 1% Catholic in 1910. Today, there are 171 million Catholics (17% of the population) in that region.

5. The Catholic Church is always counter-cultural because Jesus Christ is counter-cultural. A church that follows the world — much less a bunch of over-privileged high school students — is not following Christ. This fact, despite its inherent capacity to raise difficulties for Christ’s followers, seems to have worked rather well for Christianity as a whole. What began as a mustard seed of 11 bedraggled fishermen, tax collectors and their former prostitute, misfit fellow believers has grown into a world-wide, universal Church. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, you will always find two things: A MacDonald’s and a Catholic Church.

6. The Catholic Church has a two-thousand-year history of standing for the sanctity of human life, the sacrament of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman and the value and power of the family. Somehow or other, it’s survived this counter-cultural prohibition against killing your unborn, exposing your born and dumping your spouse.

7. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said to Simon, You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I don’t now how the “gates of hell” stack up against a group of spoiled high school students and their rich-dad parents, but I’m willing to bet the Lexus that the gates of hell are worse.

Those of seven reasons why I think Mr Cahill is wrong in his declaration that the Catholic Church is doomed to irrelevance if it doesn’t get with what’s happening now and change those 2,000 year old teachings to be more simpatico with the teachings of Catholic high school students.

I know it’s hard to deal with these teachings. The cost, especially if you run in the social justice circles of trendy San Francisco, would almost certainly be facing a barrage of insults, jibes and spiteful attacks on your character and good name.

But that is what we are called to do. Every day every Christian is called to stand for Christ. The brickbats that may come with this are what Jesus described as  our “cross.” I know this cross can be heavy. However, when I look at the price other Christians in other parts of the world are paying for refusing to renounce Christ, I lose patience with all of us pampered American Christians, including myself.

I’ve whined as much as anyone over the nastiness I’ve encountered because of my faith in Christ.

But no more.

I have photos that are branded into my mind of the price other people have paid for my Jesus. It’s way past time for American Christians to get real.

As for those who want to consign the faith to the garbage bin of what was but ain’t no more because it refuses to get with their trendy little sins, pay them no mind. They’re just engaging in wishful thinking.

Three Cardinals — and I Don’t Mean Baseball Players — and Their Grand Slam of Confusion

I’m late to the party.

But then, I often am.

It takes me a while to think through certain events. There are also times when it takes me a while to care about certain events.

The three cardinals — Dolan, Kasper and McCarrick — and their grand slam of confusion is a case in point. I’m going to take their statements/actions one at a time.

Lesseeeee ….

 

Cardinal Dolan and his parade.

It seems that the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade is going to allow a group of gay people to join in the march. It has been noted in some circles that the writers here at the Catholic Portal at Patheos have been — up to now — silent on this subject. I guess they overlooked — or perhaps didn’t like — the commentary by the Anchoress on this subject. For my part, I’ll attempt to add a bit of perspective from fly-over America.

I’ve been writing a lot about beheadings, mass murder and possible war. So, when I read that homosexuals were going to march in a parade in New York (which I hasten to remind you is almost 2,000 miles and a whole culture away from me) I thought, ummm … it’s a parade. Big whooping deal.

Then I heard that Cardinal Dolan was going to be the grand master at this hoe down, and I thought ummm … it’s a parade. Big whooping deal.

Then, I heard the plunk, plunk, plunk of the sky falling in the New York outpost of the faithful Catholic blogosphere and I thought ummm … it’s a New York thing. Big whooping deal.

To be honest, I’m sorta stuck at it’s a parade and a New York deal.

We’ll see how it comes off. If Cardinal Dolan ends up two-stepping down the road leading the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence or some such, I may decide that, in addition to being a parade, it is an embarrassment.

But basically, I’m still kind of caught up in the fact that we’ve got a blood-red Christian genocide going on and that, well, it’s not a parade. Or a New York deal.

 

Cardinal McCarrick and his newfound universalism.

Cardinal McCarrick attended a press conference arranged by the Muslim Affairs Council and managed to do such a good job of  Muslim apologetics that one headline brayed that “Catholic Cardinal McCarrick Embraces Islam.” All in all, it sounds like the Cardinal put on a pretty good show. It might help if he gave another press conference with Eastern Church leaders to show solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. You know; just to even things out.

 

Cardinal Kasper and his protestantized view of the sacrament of marriage.

My colleague, Dr Greg Popcak already wrote a post about this, so I’ll pick up the salient quote from him. Here it is:

If a Catholic who is divorced and civilly remarried, without a decree of nullity, “repents of his failure to fulfill what he promised before God, his partner and the church in the first marriage, and carries out as well as possible his new duties and does what he can for the Christian education of his children and has a serious desire for the sacraments, which he needs for strength in his difficult situation, can we after a time of new orientation and stabilization deny absolution and forgiveness?”

I’m not any kind of theologian. In fact, I’m only a Christian and a Catholic due to enormous unmerited forgiveness. So, I “get” the desire to let people in, no matter what they’ve done. I also “get” that in this post-Christian world the Church is flat-out counter-cultural. I’m sure that these cardinals deal with the fallout of that counter-culturalism every day when they interact with civic and social leaders in the upper strata.

I’ve had a few doses of that poison myself.

I also “get” that, due to pew-sitting Catholics drinking great draughts of that cultural poison, divorce and remarriage are increasingly a source of alienation for many of the “faithful.”

However, I don’t “get” slam-dunking 2,000 years of Christian teaching in order to make the Church fit in with this fallen world.

I’m not big fan of the annulment process as it is used today, anyway. I know there are times when a sacrament may not have taken place at a wedding, and I also know that the Church always errs on the side of forgiveness and compassion.

I have benefitted from that forgiveness and compassion. When I accepted Christ and changed, no one else would forgive me. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, not only took me in, but treated what I had done as a thing of the past that did not pertain to me as I am now.

I will be grateful for this loving compassion and forgiveness to the end of my days.

I understand that this deep compassion and desire to forgive animates all that the Church does. But compassion can not overwrite the plain teachings of the Gospels. In fact, it is misguided compassion to try. The compassion that I received was a firm and abiding belief in the power of Christ to redeem sinners, including me.

If the Church had told me — as a number of denominations would have — that it was ok for me to be pro abortion (that was my public sin that others would not forgive) that would have been a terrible injustice to me, a false compassion that would have led me into deeper sign, and ultimately hell.

The Church has the same responsibility to the truth in the area of marriage, divorce and remarriage that it has about abortion.

The Church is bending over backwards to allow people who’ve divorced and remarried to come back into the fold. It does this via a somewhat complicated and terribly faulty annulment process.

As I said, I know that there are times when, for various reasons, a marriage is not sacramental and an annulment is justified. But I honestly believe that those times are much more rare than the number of annulments reflect.

I realize that this is one of the more contentious issues facing the Church today. But the fact remains that the facts remain. I know what I’ve seen. And what I’ve seen is people getting annulments for marriages that

they willingly contracted when they were free adults

they undertook after lengthy premarital counseling by the Church that took place in Catholic Churches

whose vows were given in front of many witnesses and before a priest

were not abusive but were cases where the people simply decided — for various reasons — to get out and go and get annulments so they could try again with someone else.

I know the annulment system is a mess because I’ve also seen people who entered into marriage

when both were drunk during the ceremony and they were both sleeping with other people at the time they married and they both knew it not getting an annulment  because they couldn’t get the paperwork filled out.

Add to that, I’ve also seen someone refused entry into the Church because they couldn’t get the paperwork filed out concerning a common law marriage from decades in their past.

The annulment process isn’t working for people who deserve annulments. And it’s chunking out annulments for people who should not get them.

But what the Cardinal seems to be suggesting is to toss the whole thing overboard and shake hands and call it even. In essence, what he’s leading up to is a revocation of the sacramental nature of marriage. I say that because, if marriage is a sacrament, you can’t undo it. Can’t. Not possible.

And if marriage, after 2,000 years, isn’t a sacrament, then what is? I mean, if marriage isn’t a sacrament, then why would Holy Orders, which is akin to it, be a sacrament?

The real problem with all of these actions taken by these various Cardinals is that they are deeply disturbing to the people who actually hold the Church together. I do not mean the hierarchy. I mean the pew-sitting Catholics who believe and try to follow what the Church teaches. It’s a mistake of Homeric proportions to abandon those people and go off chasing after the ones who have left the Church.

Remember when Jesus said, If you do not eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you will have no eternal life within you? His frank discussion of the sacrament of the Eucharist, of which this statement is a part, caused a number of people to abandon Him. They went off muttering about cannibalism or some such.

But Our Lord didn’t go chasing after them and say, Wait a minute, I didn’t mean it that way.

No.

He let what He’d said stand and He allowed them to leave.

If the princes of the Church start teaching that 2,000 years of Christian teaching on the sacraments is up for grabs because it’s an embarrassment to them, we are in big trouble. In truth, sex outside of marriage, including homosexual sex, is a sin. In truth, marriage is between one man and one woman and it is for life. In truth, there are radical differences between Christianity and every other belief system. Christianity alone has the empty tomb and the words that lead to eternal life.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. There is no other.

On the other hand, it is just a parade and a New York deal, and it was just a speech, and then  another speech.

Confusing leadership is … well … confusing. In times such as these, it can be frightening. It seems to be almost impossible for the American bishops to give clear teaching on what is in fact the 2,000 year old teachings of the Church for which they claim to speak. They’re trying so hard to be loved by everybody that they trip over their own eagerness.

That scares people who’ve paid a great price to follow the Church, and it angers them. I think the best way to deal with that is to remember that it has always been so, and it will always be so until the Lord comes again. Your task is to stay faithful, in spite of it.

As for the New York parade deal; I just hope that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence stay away.

HPIM1680

Court Strikes Down Polygamy Law in Utah.

The courts have once against legislated by fiat. In this instance, a federal judge basically legalized polygamy in Utah.

For those who said that gay marriage would not lead to polygamy, your crow is ready and you can start eating it anytime you want.

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