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.
The new bishop at the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis was marked for death before he was born.
If his mother had listened to her doctor, she would have aborted her baby. “You’re carrying a freak,” the doctor told Judy Cozzens during her fifth month, “you shouldn’t continue this pregnancy.”
When Mrs Cozzens refused to have an abortion, the doctor told her she would have to get another physician. She did, and the baby was born reasonably healthy. He suffered from the skin disease eczema and developed asthma in his childhood.
Now, he is the new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis.
Freak becomes a bishop. That’s the quick and easy storyline describing the path Father Andrew Cozzens took to becoming the next auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
But, here’s the strange part — the person who called him this name was a doctor. And, he pinned this label on Father Cozzens, called Drew throughout his childhood, without even seeing him.
In fact, Father Cozzens was still in his mother’s womb.
This takes some explaining, and so it was that his parents, Jack, 75, and Judy, 69, took a good chunk of time on a recent afternoon recalling the circumstances surrounding the birth — and life — of their No. 2 child, a boy who remarked to another doctor when he was just 4 years old that he was going to “do the Lord’s work” someday.
The drama began during Judy’s fifth month of pregnancy. She was teaching part time at a Catholic school in Connecticut. Her stomach hurt, and she figured she was getting the stomach flu that had been going around the school.
“Then, all of a sudden, I realized I’m getting my pains every five minutes, and I realized I was in labor,” she said. “So, Jack met me at the hospital and we went in. I almost lost [the baby], but they stopped the labor.”
She felt relief, but only momentarily. The tension over her son’s condition skyrocketed the following morning when the doctor came in to talk to her about what was happening.
“He said, ‘You’re carrying a deformed fetus, and you need to not continue with the pregnancy’” she said. “And, I said, ‘What do you mean? This is my baby.’ And, he said, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re carrying a freak, and you shouldn’t continue with this pregnancy.’” (Read the rest here.)
How many times have you heard a bishop try to explain away his actions concerning a child-molesting priest by saying “But we got him counseling. It was what the experts advised?”
And how many times, when you heard that, did you think, “Mr Bishop, nobody’s that dumb?”
There appears to be a growing move to legitimize child sexual abuse in our culture. It started a long time ago with the book Lolita and moved forward through lots of movies, books and plays such as American Beauty and others. I remember quite clearly the outrage in certain quarters when the government took a stab at holding Roman Polanski accountable for raping a 13-year-old girl.
In the words of one famous comedienne “It wasn’t rape-rape.”
It is increasingly becoming a fact rather than a conjecture that the sexual abuse of children is only really terrible in our society when it is committed by a Catholic priest, or occasionally, a famous football coach.
My colleague Dr Gregory Popcak has published a post raising the question of whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation.” The phrase “orientation” is loaded up to the top with political correctness. It has become something of a synonym in the popular imagination for an inborn trait or illness, like, say, Down’s Syndrome.
Dr Popcak makes clear that the DSM has not changed its definition. The gray area was there all along. It comes from the dilemma of how to define people who are sexually attracted to children but don’t molest them. My understanding is that the DSM considers the sexual attraction to children as an orientation and the practice of molesting children a disorder.
That’s a fine cut for a layperson, and it explains much of the confusion in the public mind.
All this takes us back to the cry of so many anguished bishops that they were just doing what the “experts” told them when they gave child molesting priests a dose of counseling and then put them back into parishes where they could molest again. The confusion about whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation” is freighted with questions that can lead to all sorts of wrong-headed actions on the part of people ranging from law enforcement, to legislators and on to Catholic bishops.
We need to temper our enthusiasm for advice from various professional associations with the awareness that many of them are too much the captives of political pressure and public opinion. This can hamper the genuine scientific value they offer. Some of the psycho-babble we read is more an attempt at political blackmail aimed at changing laws or “normalizing” destructive behavior than it is actual scientific understanding.
If trendy public opinion is going to be the guide of our professional associations, then those associations become worthless except as dues vacuums to pay for junkets, staff and glossy publications.
The bishops were wrong when they drop-kicked the Scriptures in order to follow the psychologists, especially since many of these psychologists were themselves hand-picked employees. They were morally wrong and they failed in their charge to be shepherds of the people God gave them to care for.
The fact that some of them can’t seem to get the message is not only infuriating, but it raises — at least for me — serious questions about the commitment to Christ on the part of these specific bishops. I am not talking about all bishops everywhere. But if, after all this time, a bishop still can’t figure out that priests should keep their hands off the children in their parishes, I am out of patience with them.
However, if Catholic priests are the only ones who are treated with public approbation because of their child molesting, then there’s something wrong with our mechanisms for public approbation. I read recently about a famous disk jockey who had made plans to meet a woman overseas so he could have sex with her seven year old daughter. British celebrities also come to mind. Where’s the approbation to equal the appall at priest child sexual abuse over these things?
One thing I’ve learned from my time as a member of the board of directors of an organization that rescues trafficked women is that men purposely buy children for sex, and pimps purposely sell them right here in America. They do it all the time. Where, gentle reader, is the outrage over that?
The question — which is the same question each of these satanic moves backward into the pit asks of us — is are the victims of this things, or are they people? In this instance, the question is, are children things, or are they people?
When someone does something so terrible to a child, their “illness” becomes an academic question in my mind. As a lawmaker, my response is that they should be put in prison and never let out again. I mean that. They should live out the rest of their days and die in prison.
If that sounds harsh, so be it. I am not going to change. Not on this.
I know of no other way to keep our children safe from these people than to lock the predators up.
Why do non-Catholics want so desperately for the Catholic Church to change its teachings?
It’s fascinating, the amount of emotion at least some non-Catholics seem to have about Catholic teaching. I can tell you that when I was in the anti-God period of my life, I did not give one whit what any church taught. I paid them the ultimate diss of not giving a care.
But from what I’ve seen on this blog, there are a large number of people who claim to be atheist or some what-not version of what I was in my anti-God period, who appear to think about Christianity, the Catholic Church in particular, 24/7. They appear to be, in a word, obsessed with the minutiae of Catholic teaching.
If you doubt this, go to some of the atheist blogs. All they ever talk about is God, Christian teaching, and the Bible.
There are a few issues in particulate that really rev their engines. They are:
When someone confronts them with the obvious inconsistency implied in their obsessive demands that a Church they claim is a stupid cult alter teachings that they claim are based on a myth, they start denouncing Catholics for using their rights as American citizens to vote and advocate according to their consciences.
It’s as if it offends them that Catholics have the same rights to vote, free assembly and to petition their government as other citizens. I suppose it’s true that it does offend them. Because one takeaway I get from reading the comments from most (not all, there are a couple of clear exceptions) of these people is that they are, at base, bullies.
I also think that the core reason they keep coming around here to drop off their load of insults (most of the truly insulting ones never see the light of day on this blog) is that they are either mental on some level, or, whether they will admit it or not, they are God haunted people who desperately want what the Church offers, which is peace with God, eternal life and a spiritual home. It’s just that they can’t bring themselves to go to God on God’s terms. They want Him — meaning His Church — to come to them on their terms.
These are people who refuse to be forgiven for their sins. What they want is to have the Almighty ratify their sins. They are obsessed with finding, not absolution, but vindication, from a Church they claim they believe is a fraud.
However, that’s just my reaction. Yours may be different. I’m going to throw this open for discussion.
Why do you think nonbelievers are so obsessed with the Catholic Church?
As we would describe it here in Oklahoma, Pope Francis said a mouthful.
His comments on family life have been spot on. Here are a few from a discussion he gave Friday to the XXI Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family:
The family is the “community of life,” the “natural center of human life,” the “engine of the world and society,” and the “place (where) you learn to love.”
Each of us builds his own personality in the family.
In the family a person becomes aware of his own dignity and especially if his education is Christian, recognizes the dignity of every human person.
Marriage is the ‘first sacrament of humanity.’
A society that abandons its children and marginalizes the elderly severs its roots and obscures its future.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called the family a “community of life with its own consistent autonomy”, and that it is the “natural centre of human life”, “the engine of the world and history”, and the “place you learn to love”.
He was speaking on Friday to participants of the XXI Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Assembly has been looking at the theme “Family, Live the Joy of Faith” and also marked the 30th Anniversary of the Holy See’s 1983 Charter on the Rights of the Family.
“Each of us builds his own personality in the family, growing up with their mother and father, brothers and sisters, breathing in the warmth of the house,” Pope Francis said. “In the family, a person becomes aware of his own dignity, and especially if his education is Christian, recognizes the dignity of every human person, and in a special way, that of the sick, weak and marginalized.”
The Holy Father reminded the participants the family is based on marriage, which he called “like a first sacrament of humanity”.
“In marriage, we give ourselves completely without calculation or reservation, sharing everything – gifts and sacrifices – trusting in God’s Providence,” Pope Francis said. “This is the experience that young people can learn from their parents and grandparents. It is an experience of faith in God and mutual trust, of profound freedom, of holiness, because holiness pre-supposes giving of yourself with faithfulness and sacrifice every day of your life!”
The Pope then spoke briefly about two stages of family life: childhood and old age.
“Children and the elderly are the two poles of life and also the most vulnerable, often the most forgotten,” he said. “A society that abandons children and marginalizes the elderly severs its roots and obscures its future. Whenever a child is abandoned and an old person is marginalized, is not just an act of injustice, but it also demonstrates the failure of that society. Taking care of children and the elderly is the only choice of civilization.”
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.