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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From LifeSiteNews:

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

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

Portsmouth Bishop Philip Egan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is how the discussion began, also from LifeSiteNews:

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

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

Portsmouth Bishop Philip Egan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the President They Said …

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This was Pope Francis’ tweet a couple of days after meeting President Obama. I wonder if there’s any connection?

We live in a society that leaves no room for God; day by day this numbs our hearts.

 

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Source: Photobucket

It turns out, that the Pope backed the US Bishops in his discussions with our president. Hopefully, something got through.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did the Supreme Court do this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can they take it?

Can you?

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

President Obama and 700 of His Closest Friends are Off to See the Pope

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President Obama has created a Constitutional crisis over religious freedom by aggressively using the power of his office to re-define it as a narrow “freedom to worship.” He seems proud of the moniker “most pro abortion president in history.” He has done more to destroy traditional marriage than any other living American.

Why would he want to have his photo taken with the pope?

Maybe he views himself as a sort of alter-statesman, a gee to the Holy Father’s haw, an omega to the pope’s alpha.

All I know is that the President of the United States is on his way for a photo op with the black-shoe pope who rides around in a battered up old jalopy that looks like it came from an inner city slum.

The president is arriving on his very own jet, accompanied by his entourage of 700 staff. He’ll be dressed to the nines and swoop in with his Secret Service agents, complete with mirror glasses and grim expressions.

The pope will presumably ramble over from the digs he shares with other Vatican staff and clergy after a hearty communal breakfast.

One man is the synthesis of ambition and earthly power. The other is the anti-thesis of it.

One man is considered the most powerful man on earth. The other is so gentle that small children steal his chair while he’s making a speech.

One man leads my country. The other leads me.

What will they talk about as the cameras flash?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Franklin Graham and World Vision in a World of Changing Gods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Kentucky’s AG Refuses to Defend Marriage. Governor Forced to Hire Private Law Firm.

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This story is a couple of weeks old, but I’ve been too busy to take it on until now.

A few weeks back, a federal judged made the landmark ruling that Kentucky had to honor gay marriages which were contracted in other states. This ruling, if upheld, has the practical effect of legalizing gay marriage in every state of the union. The judge’s ruling was based on last summer’s hydra-headed Windsor ruling by the United States Supreme Court. Windsor overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA.)

In what has become a predictable dereliction of duty, Kentucky’s Attorney General, Jack Conway, announced that he would not defend the state statute, because “it was discrimination,” and, as he said in his announcement, “that I will not do.”

In other words, he’s appointed himself the legislature, court and will of the people of the entire state. He is also, flatly and obviously refusing to do the job he was elected to do. Pious pronouncements aside, this is a clear failure of integrity on his part. As I said before about other attorney general’s who have done this same thing, they don’t seem to know what their job is.

Attorney’s General are chief law enforcement officers. They are not lawmakers, and even though law enforcement rests in the judicial branch, they are not judges. Attorney General Conway obviously ran for the wrong office.

Now, Kentucky’s Governor, Steve Beshear, has announced that he will hire an independent law firm to defend the state.

Does anyone “get” what a dereliction of duty this attorney general is indulging in? Does anyone understand how wrong it is for the governor to have to spend tax payer money to hire outside attorneys to do the job that the attorney general of Kentucky was elected to do?

I am way past glad that the Governor is taking this step. This court decision is huge. It must be challenged.

In the meantime, I’m wondering if the people of Kentucky are so caught up in the gay marriage bubble that they don’t “get” the full significance of what their AG is going to them. I wonder if any of the people of this country can understand what a breakdown it is for so many attorneys general to refuse to do their jobs.

This isn’t a small thing. It’s a symptom of a very ugly infection of narcissistic dishonesty in the body politic. I am not talking about gay marriage, per se. I am not talking about any issue. I am talking about our system of governance, which depends on people who will govern by the law and by responsible action, not opinion polls.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder has stepped in with a “ruling” of his own, saying that “states attorneys general don’t have to defend gay marriage bans if they view them as discriminatory.”

Isn’t that nice? The nation’s number one cop as decided to publicly indulge in selective law enforcement. He is unilaterally giving anyone who wants to violate their oath in support of the side of an issue that he happens to agree with a free pass from the Justice Department.

If the laws are enforced selectively — which is what the United States Attorney General is doing — then the laws are by definition unjust. Selective enforcement of the law is — dare I say it? — discriminatory on its face.

One interesting side note in this story: Both the governor and the attorney general are Democrats.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that his office would hire outside counsel to appeal a court ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside Kentucky, just moments after the state attorney general, a fellow Democrat, said he would no longer defend the ban.

Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, said Tuesday that if he appealed the recent ruling, he would be forced to defend discrimination. “That I will not do,” he said in a statement. “As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination.”

Beshear promptly announced that his office would continue the appeal, the Associated Press reports, saying there would be “legal chaos” if the courts don’t delay any changes until after an appeal. “Employers, health care providers, governmental agencies and others faced with changing rules need a clear and certain roadmap,” Beshear said. “Also, people may take action based on this decision only to be placed at a disadvantage should a higher court reverse the decision.”

The rapid-fire action and reaction underscored how states are struggling to respond to a wave of court decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans of various kinds. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said state attorneys general don’t have to defend gay-marriage bans if they view them as discriminatory.

 

How to Present the Christian Message When the Message is the Medium

Worldevangelization

The media is hard-selling abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and now polygamy and polyamory. It is also pushing farming women’s bodies for eggs and using women as pregnancy surrogates.

That is the real-world situation. We need to be aware of it. We need to do what we can to make other Christians aware of it, so that they see it for what it is. But what, beyond that, should we do?

We must learn how to communicate our message in today’s world. We can, you know. We’ve just got to stop bemoaning the situation and start thinking about what we can do.

This video gives a brief discussion of how Christianity has historically communicated its message. That’s a good place to start as we move forward to how we will communicate it in today’s world.

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In Their Own Words: Pope Francis and Cardinal Dolan on Civil Unions

 

Pope Francis has given another interview and the internet is ga ga.

According to things I’ve read, the Holy Father has come out in favor of civil unions for homosexuals.

Cardinal Dolan gave another interview, and, again according to reports I’ve read, he agreed that the Holy Father is favoring civil unions.

This is a real show-stopper for Catholics who depend on the Church to not compromise on the basic teachings of the faith. Is the Holy Father planning to overturn Blessed John Paul II’s teaching when he said,

IV. POSITIONS OF CATHOLIC POLITICIANS
WITH REGARD TO LEGISLATION IN FAVOUR
OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.

If this letter by Pope John Paul II is now to be discarded, why should Catholic politicians pay attention to other letters by succeeding popes, or, for that matter, bishops? I’m here to tell you that I took it very seriously, and taking it seriously has exacted a great cost on me and my life. If the new story is basically April Fool, it was all a joke, I’m not laughing.

I honestly think that one reason so many other Catholic politicians have failed to heed what Blessed John Paul II and later, Pope Benedict XVI, taught us is that no one bothered to teach them about it. For reasons that I do not understand, Catholics are left to find these documents, read and interpret them themselves and then act according to them all on their own. The Church does not teach what it teaches to the people in the pews.

I think that if their pastors and bishops had taken the trouble to teach Catholic teaching — including what Pope John Paul II said in this letter — to our elected officials, a good many of them would have behaved differently in the past couple of years. I also think a lot of good Catholic people would not be so flim-flammed by what the world teaches.

Despite everything I just said, I don’t expect that we will see Pope Francis overturn what Blessed John Paul II taught in this matter. I think this is just another flap caused by a reply to a question in an interview. If you read what Pope Francis actually said, it becomes clear that the only definitive statement he made is that marriage is between one woman and one man. He then goes on to enumerate a few of the many manifestations of civil unions around the globe and ends with a political sounding “we’ll take it under advisement” type comment.

Now that I’ve said my say, I want to let you decide for yourself. Here is a video of the salient portion of Cardinal Dolan’s interview. Notice that the Cardinal says he hasn’t read the Holy Father’s actual words. He’s basing his comments entirely on press reports about the interview and not the interview itself. (Mistake.)

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If you want to read the full text of Pope Francis’ interview, you can find it at Catholic News Agency.

If you want a quick take, here is the question on civil unions, and the Holy Father’s answer:

Many nations have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?

Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures, of which I wouldn’t know how to list the different ways. One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.

Jen Fitz, who blogs at Sticking the Corners, offers her take on the Pope Fancis/Civil Unions debate here.


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