No Matter What the Synod Does, I Will Keep on Doing What I’ve Been Doing

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

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

Conscience is a weak reed on which to lay the foundation of your eternal destiny.

I know from personal experience that I can convince myself of anything. I also know that I am not the only person with this problem. In fact, I would guess that this ability to justify oneself to oneself is part of the universal human condition.

The truth is, people cannot do that which they cannot justify to themselves. I have no doubt that Hitler had justifications that worked for him for everything he did. Ditto for Pol Pot, John Wayne Gacy, abortionists and corporatists alike.

They all manage to justify what they do, at least to themselves. The rapist’s “she asked for it,” works perfectly fine to allow him to sadistically degrade, brutalize and harm another person, just as the corporatists’ blather lets their greed fuel wars, create poverty and destroy hope.

I learned a long time ago that nothing makes a person meaner than being challenged on their self-justifications. The worse the thing they are justifying, the meaner they get when the justification is challenged. Thus we have men who beat their wives yelling “You made me do it!” and following that with another blow to silence any challenge to their justification. We have nations going to war rather than treat their own citizens as full human beings.

Nothing makes a person meaner than telling them they cannot kill somebody they’ve decided it is their right to kill. If you try to confront them with the reality of what they are doing, they become dangerous to you, as well.

The one thing you cannot rely on to make them change their behavior is the whispering of their own conscience. Conscience is an unworkable guide precisely because conscience is so easily shaped by the forces of self interest and human weakness. Perhaps the number one human weakness that damages conscience is the desire to be accepted and liked by the people around us.

That weakness works against good judgement and right conscience in an insidious and steady sort of way. It is buttressed by sophisticated arguments that excuse virtually anything. Today’s advocates for dissolute living are skilled in making good sound bad and bad sound good.

They can and do convince people that everything from killing grandma with euthanasia to dismembering our children with abortion is a positive good. Our conscience is no defense against them unless we have a reliable touchstone by which to judge and evaluate what we are hearing.

For two thousand years, the Catholic Church has provided that reliable touchstone. For two thousand years, the Church has held fast in its teachings and dogma. Individual priests and bishops have been all over the map in their moral teaching. They are all over the map right now on the core challenges facing modern Christians. But the Church itself has never taught that which is not true. It has not deviated from following Christ and Him crucified.

That is why so many Christians found the discussions at last year’s Synod disturbing. That disturbance is why they are distrustful of this year’s Synod. They become restive when Synod fathers talk about allowing individual conscience to be used as a guide for when it’s ok to ignore grave sin because they know — we all know — that our own consciences can lead us straight down the road to perdition.

We need a Church that we can trust to present us with Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We do not need and will not benefit from theological experimentation that runs perpendicular to the explicit teachings of Our Lord and of Scripture.

Jesus said, For this cause a man shall leave his mother and father and join with his wife and they two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one. What therefore God has joined together let no man put asunder … anyone who divorces … and marries another … commits adultery. 

He was speaking directly and explicitly about the question of divorce, which he said Moses had allowed due to the Israelite’s hardness of heart. Marriage is between one man and one woman and it is for life. Period.

St Paul said, … whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup unworthily shall be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord … and brings judgement upon himself. 

These teachings put a crimp in things for a lot of people these days. If they are true, then a great many men and women are living in adultery. If they are not true, then the Scriptures themselves are false.

People don’t like hearing things like that. They want Jesus. They know they need Him, and they want Him. They crave communion with the Lord, and Christ in the Eucharist is the best and easiest way to achieve that.

They are good people. Many of them repent of their mistakes and are trying to do better. Divorce is a scalding experience that wounds people to the core. That’s because marriage is exactly what Jesus said it was; the binding of two people together as one for life. Tearing that apart is painful beyond pain.

There are often serious reasons for divorce. Violence, infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse are not fixable unless the offender is committed to changing. The only thing the victim spouse can do is end the marriage and try to rebuild.

That is why the Church has developed the process of annulment; to determine if the marriage was invalid. It lets people move forward.

This is a thorny subject for the Church right now precisely because certain bishops are pushing to place Christ’s teaching on a shelf and ignore it in actual practice. They want to say that Jesus said what He said, and the Church is not changing doctrine, but it will ignore the doctrine in its pastoral life.

To my way of thinking, this is inherently dishonest. It also sets the Church on the path of unraveling the cords that bind it together. The Catholic Church is the Eucharist and the Eucharist is a sacrament.

The Eucharist is a sacrament, established by Our Lord. Marriage is a sacrament, established by Our Lord. No one — including bishops — has to power to undo or nullify a sacrament.

If the sacrament of Holy Matrimony can be dismembered into a meaningless nothing that has no actual power in how people live their lives, and the core meaning of the Church, which is the Eucharist, can be taken by force and popular demand, then the Church itself has come unwound.

Holy Orders are meaningless if the Eucharist and Holy Matrimony are meaningless. If the Church puts doctrine on the shelf and ignores it in its actual, pastoral practices as they pertain to the Eucharist and Holy Matrimony, then the sacraments become pro forma to the people in the pews.

I do not understand anyone who would take the Eucharist by force. I do not.

I don’t “get” people who know that they are living in violation of Church teaching and then demand that the Church change what it teaches to suit them. Their job is to change how they live in order to follow Christ. And Church teaching has, up until now, been a reliable guide on how to follow Christ.

Why would anyone take communion when they know they are in mortal sin? Do they think that Jesus can be fooled? Do they think they can lie to Him and He won’t notice? Why would a bishop deliberately lead people into doing this? Doesn’t the bishop fear God?

I understand full well that much of the arguing in the two Synods has been a manifestation of the culture wars raging in the Western world. I believe that a number of politico-socio movements, including the gay rights movement and the new atheism, have a vested interest in tearing down the Church’s teaching.

Trashing the sacrament of Holy Matrimony would weaken the Church’s witness in the world today far more than even the priest sex abuse scandal has done. If the Church walks away from the sacraments, then it walks away from itself.

The fact that so many secular interests perceive the Synod as something they can influence to act in ways that are contrary to 2,000 years of Church teaching says a lot about at least some of the bishops who are meeting there. The other fact, that so many faithful Catholics who have stood by the Church through all the wounds she has inflicted on herself in the past 15 years, are deeply mistrustful of the Synod, says a lot about the danger that lies within the Church if such a change is made.

If the Synod Fathers accede to pressures from the German bishops to radically change Church practice on marriage in these fraught times, they will make the Church the pawn of special interests.  At the same time, they will alienate many of their most faithful followers.

They don’t seem to understand the synergy at work here. To put it simply, a decision to change Church practice would comfort the Church’s enemies, including those who seek to destroy faith altogether. It would, at the same time, alienate and create confusion and mistrust among those who ardently try to follow the Church. It would weaken the loyalty of the people the Church must turn to for help when it is attacked.

I pray about the Synod, but one thing is absolute: No matter what happens with these bishops, I will not leave the Church. To paraphrase St Peter, where would I go?

What I will do is read whatever the Synod produces carefully and prayerfully. Then, I will think about it. I imagine I may go through this read-pray-think process more than once. If the Church wounds itself with unsound practices, I will pray for wiser minds to undo this mistake in the future.

Whatever the Synod does, I plan to keep on doing what I’ve been doing for quite a while now. I will do my best to follow Jesus within the confines of the Catholic Church.

 

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It’s Synod Time Again. That Scares Me.

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

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

It’s almost Synod time again.

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

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

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

Here’s a bit of what I said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

 

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

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Pope Changes Annulment Process. What Does it Mean?

Sometimes, it's obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

Sometimes, it’s obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

My ignorance of canon law is showing.

Pope Francis issued two Apostolic letters, which are edicts affecting the entire Church this morning. These letters reform the process by which members of the laity — and those wishing to enter the Church who have  marital baggage from the pasts — can obtain an annulment.

I have questions out to canonists so that I can give you a more exact and accurate understanding of exactly what the Holy Father did, but there are a few things I can say, just from reading the documents. One critical reform that he has instituted is that the process of obtaining an annulment should be offered to the faithful without charge.

The diocese in which I live does not charge for annulments. That is the way it should be, everywhere. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that a complex marital arrangement can block people from entering the Church, and it can also keep them from taking Communion. That makes the annulment process a roadblock to Jesus. There should never have been a charge for someone seeking to partake of the Body and Blood of Our Savior.

If I understand what I read correctly, the Pope has put the annulment process in the hands of the local bishop, who has been given the option of appointing one person to act on his behalf in this matter. Pope Francis calls this person “a single judge under the responsibly of the Bishop.” One of the things I need to learn more about is how this would affect the existing tribunals.

The important point is a bit further down when the document states clearly “the bishop is judge.” I interpret that to mean that the local bishop is the first voice of appeal if there is disagreement about his designee’s decisions. It also means that the bishop is always directly responsible for the annulment process in his diocese.

The letters says that “a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed — in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use.” This simplified process “is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of martial nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments.” I interpret this to mean that this shorter process is for cases cases in which the facts say on their face that the marriage was not a sacramental marriage. That would probably include things such as common law marriage, forced marriage, child marriage, or marriages performed by atheists/pagans/justices of the peace/ship’s captains, etc.

As I said, I’ve asked people who are Canonists to help me understand what these changes will mean to the people in the pews. My guess is that these new rules will be abused by some, but will also help many people who are shut away from the sacraments by a past they cannot change. I think they will also remove what has been unmovable barriers to people who have messy marital pasts and who have converted and changed and are now following the call of Christ to enter the Catholic Church. I personally know people whose conversion to the Catholic church was blocked by their inability to fill out the paperwork required by the current process.

Marriage is a vastly important commitment. When you marry, you chose this one person as your life’s partner. You will create other people with them, people that are part of each of you, but are uniquely themselves. Your spouse is the one who stands beside you in life’s trials, the one who shares your future.

We have degraded and damaged marriage to the point that family itself has lost its meaning to many people. In many ways, these changes in the annulment process are a recognition of the fact that Western society has fallen into such deep and widespread marital sin that the necessity of reconversion means that we must accommodate these things in order to bring the converted to Christ.

Western society has fallen into depravity that has become the norm. But the message of the Gospels is unchanged. That message is simple and straight foward: Jesus Christ the Way to eternal life.  Not only that, but there is no sin we can commit that is greater than His forgiveness.

That’s what I think these changes are about. They are a way to telling people that no matter what kind of mess they’ve made of things, nothing they’ve done is greater than Christ’s mercy.

Here, from Vatican Radio, is the summary of the Apostolic Letters Pope Francis issued today:

  1. That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.

  2. A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.

  3. The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.

  4. Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.

  5. Appeal to the Metropolitcan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.

  6. The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion, and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.

 

 

Deacon Greg offers an excellent news summary of the letters here.

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Poll Reveals Catholic Base is Strong in US

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

It appears that reports of the Catholic Church’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, it appears that they are 180 degrees off the mark. American Catholics chalked up astronomical percentages of approval for both their Church and the Holy Father in a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Institute.

There were sighting of the usual Catholic confusion about their Church’s teachings. I think that’s to be expected. After all, the Catholic Church is both the largest church in the world and and the largest religious body in the United States. There are a lot of Catholics, which means there are also a lot of opportunities for addlepated thinking.

That’s what makes these survey results so compelling. If you can get 90% of a group of people this big to agree on anything, you’ve pulled off quite a coup. Considering the the Church has been under continuous attack and bashing and that it has managed to add a lot of fuel to those fires with its own clerical failures, the numbers are even more astounding.

I wrote about this for CatholicVote. Here is a bit of what I said:

How does the much-vaunted power of Pope Francis’ open-hearted approach to the papacy play with American Catholics? It turns out that it plays very well. The numbers reflect an almost universal love affair with this black-shoed, old-car-driving, selfie-taking man who is Peter.

American Catholics are happy their pope. Fully 90% have a favorable view of the Holy Father, and 89% also have a positive view of the Catholic Church. Those are power numbers that any world leader would envy. They don’t just reflect popularity. They speak of the sheer political power of the Church, of our ability to reconvert Western Culture, if we will just do it.

Any politician will tell you that their single most important demographic is their base. Most of the time, if your base turns on you, you are dead in the water. That is why it’s so hard to get an elected official to change their position on barn-burning issues such as abortion. A move like that is a little bit like jumping from one horse to the next in the middle of the Kentucky Derby. Chances are, both the jockey and horse are going down.

The Catholic Church may very well end up as the last lone soldier in the fight to re-convert Western civilization to traditional Christianity. This survey provides good news concerning that task. Our base is solid, if confused. Go here to read the rest.

NOTE: The opening sentence of this post is a paraphrase of a quote by Mark Twain.

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How Do You Leave the Catholic Church?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

How can you leave the Catholic Church?

I ask this question and give my answer at the National Catholic Register.

How can you leave the Catholic Church?

The question was rhetorical, not literal. I asked it of the air, more or less, as my husband was driving the car. At the same time that I asked it rhetorically, I meant it absolutely.

I recently talked to someone I know who told me that she’d “left” the Catholic Church. She’s now attending one of those smorgasbord mega-congregations where they serve you Jesus-as-you-like-him. I felt as if I was listening to a person who’d told me that they had decided to give up eating balanced meals and ingest nothing cotton candy and donuts.

I get as aggravated with the Church as the next Catholic. I don’t mind at all saying that I think this bishop or that has gotten it wrong. I’ve been very outspoken about the failure to stop child sex abuse by priests. Very. I’ve been equally outspoken about the failure in some quarters to take a strong stand on basic Church teaching, and the propensity of some bishops for throwing hapless underlings under the proverbial bus so the bishop can pander to the crowds. I just recently wrote a rather strong series of posts on the question of the Church and rape.

Our wonderful Church gives us great freedom to think and let think, and I exercise that freedom.

But … leave the Church?

I mean, how does one do that?

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/how-can-you-leave-the-catholic-church/#ixzz3fVe8nwAU

 

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I Chose Christ, and He is There on All the Altars of All the Catholic Churches in the World.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

The Catholic Patheosi are writing about why we chose to stay in the doomed Catholic Church.

I mean, it’s been in all the news lately that the Catholic Church is on the way out. We’re supposed to be over and done for, or at least going down for the count. Catholic teachings are irrelevant to the world today, or so we’re told.

So why would anyone stay in the Catholic Church? Is staying Catholic a twisted desire for irrelevance and being out of step with the world? Do we stay because we have nothing better to do with that hour each week?

Here, in three sentences, is why I stay.

1. Christ in the Eucharist called me to the Catholic Church.

2. Christ is in the Eucharist.

3. Christ has not told me to leave.

That’s it.

To the best of my ability, and according to the grace that I am given, I follow Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If you want to find Jesus Christ and Him crucified, go to a Catholic Church. He’s there, on all the altars of all the Catholic Churches in all the world.

The priest may ride with Jesse James, and the bishop may be as confused as the priest. The people in the seats around you may be all kinds of sinners. You may be all kinds of sinner yourself.  But Jesus Christ the Lord is there — body, blood, soul and divinity — on that altar. And He’s there for you.

You can reach out and touch Him. You can partake of Him. You can be blessed, healed and loved by Him in a concrete, direct and completely reliable way, just by going to a Catholic Church and taking communion.

You hold out your hands and Christ is laid on your upright palm. You taste the wine and the blood of God Who died for you enters into you. You partake of His Passion, and you share in His triumph. He rose so that you may live forever. He died so that you can enter into God’s great ocean of mercy and forgiveness. He cleansed you with that blood you taste, saved you with the flesh hidden in bread on your palm.

I am not leaving the Catholic Church, because Christ in the Eucharist called me to the Church. I am not leaving the Catholic Church, because Christ is in the Eucharist and I partake of Him and His blessings in communion. I stay in the Catholic Church because my Lord and my God put me here and He has not told me to leave.

I chose Christ, and He is there on all the altars of all the Catholic Churches in all the world.

 

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Surprise! The Catholic Church IS Relevant.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Christian bashers are fond of creating alternate realities and then pretending that they are actual reality.

In these alternate realities, Christianity is dying from the earth. In the real world, Christianity is dynamic and growing. Estimates are that there will be around 3 billion Christians on this planet by 2050.

Another Christian bashing fantasy is that Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular are not “relevant” to the modern world. This is another example of Christian bashers deliberately ignoring not only reality, but their own behavior.

Let’s start with the Christian bashers themselves. Who do they attack? Is it Muslims? Pagans? Satanists?

Nope.

They go after Christians and Christianity and they love to hate on the Catholic Church. Day and night, night and day, they rant and rave like a bunch of torch-carrying Nazis at a rally about the supposed horrors of Christianity and the Catholic Church. They make searching for embarrassing things that individual Christians or Catholics do, and then implying that this is the behavior of all 2 billion Christians, their bigoted business day and night.

They will go to just about any lengths to drive Catholics off discussion boards and use those boards for their own purposes. They flatter and cajole the weak-as-branch-water Christians who simp when they are stroked. Then they try to use these silly people as weapons against other Christians. It appears that they get up every morning and flick on their computers to begin their daily mission of hate, bigotry and cultivation of prejudice.

If Christianity isn’t relevant to these people, they’re behavior makes even less sense than it does now. I would posit that Christianity, in particular Catholicism, is the most relevant fact of their lives. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, they would no longer have any reason to write their gutter blogs. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, how would they feel special?

These people are more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis. In fact, they are a lot more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis, since Pope Francis is actually focused on Jesus Christ.

Relevant? These folks who claim that the Catholic Church is not relevant deny their claims by how they live their lives. They are obsessed, and not in a good sense, with the Catholic Church. It may be the only relevance in their sick little lives.

Now, let’s look at government leaders here in America. If the Catholic Church is irrelevant to President Obama, why did he tarnish the legacy of his own presidency by attacking the First Amendment as a means of attacking the Church? All he had to do was keep his word and live up to the promises he made to the American people and Congress when he was lobbying to pass the Affordable Health Care Act.

But no. He compromised his own place in history by going off on a battle to limit the First Amendment to activities inside church sanctuaries. He went after the basic freedoms of all Americans in order to attack one specific group of Americans: The Catholic Church.

Why? I’m not going to venture into the subterranean channels of President Obama’s mind. I have no idea what lies there. Besides, it doesn’t matter. All that matters with any public official is what they do with the power we give them. Why they do what they do is their problem.

The point for the purpose of this post is simply that the Catholic Church is way past “relevant” to President Obama. This meretricious war he’s engaged in against the First Amendment is the behavior of man who is willing to bet everything on an attempt to force the Catholic Church to bend its knee and kiss Caesar’s ring.

There appear to be few things more “relevant” to president Obama than the Catholic Church.

Now, let’s look at the Catholic bashers of the right and left sides of the political spectrum. I lump them together because, after long years in public office in which I have been thoroughly and repeatedly attacked by both sides, I see no difference between them. Right and left wing nuts are the same.

The reason that both right and left wing nuts attack the Catholic Church is the reason that they do everything: Power. Far from being “irrelevant,” the Catholic Church is a powerhouse of political persuasion. Literally millions of people will place their loyalty to the Catholic Church above loyalty to the R and the D.

Witness the 2014 elections. For the first time, a majority of Catholics voted R. Why? I think the answer to that is obvious. President Obama and his attacks on their Church made the decision for them. Their loyalty was to their Church, not their party.

That, my friends, is power. The power to inspire people to change their long-held behavior, simply out of loyalty, is political power with a capitol P.

The problem for the Rs is that the Catholic Church does not trim the Gospels down to a couple of issues and ignore or even attack all the rest of what Jesus taught. Contrary to what President Obama implied, the Catholic Church expects a lot more of government officials than that they just vote against abortion and gay marriage.

Rank and file wing nuts of both political persuasions, which is to say people like you and me, are just a blinded file of nameless nothings to the people who run the two political parties. They are numbers on a sheet. They were recruited by careful use of “wedge issues,” push polls and profiling. It’s a numbers game.

In the rooms where the decisions are made, which is to say in the rooms of the money men who control the parties, no one is committed to pro life, pro choice, or gay marriage. They want control of government monies and lawmaking powers.  They may have opinions about those issues, but their first concern is simply how the issues help them take control of the government. Their real goals are government pork barrel, using government to destroy their competitors, both domestic and foreign, and enacting policies that will allow them to seize public monies and use government power for their own ends.

The Catholic Church is a troublesome factor in this real life game of thrones, simply because it will not be controlled by these power brokers. While a good many denominations have abandoned the Gospels to deify either the right or the left, the Catholic Church keeps on following the whole Gospels of Christ.

An entity that inspires such loyalty of so many people, that will not fall into the carefully hewn lines of right and left political manipulation, is not just relevant in today’s political world; it is the last serious challenge to the hegemony of the power brokers behind the R and the D.

That’s why the right and left power brokers send their minions to attack the Church. They hate and fear the Church because it is the last challenger facing them.

Contrary to the bizarre little tropes created by Catholic bashers, the Catholic Church is relevant to today’s world in a way that no other entity is relevant. The reason it is being attacked from all sides is because the Catholic Church is that sign of contradiction to the world of darkness that every Christian should be.

My purpose in writing Public Catholic is to encourage, empower and equip individual Christians to become signs of contradiction themselves. I do not care if you are an R or a D. I am not trying to get you to change parties. I’m not interested in telling you how to vote.

I want you to fall in love with Jesus. I want you to commit yourself to Him. I want you to become a change agent for Christ, wherever you are.

This world needs conversion, and you and I are the ones God has placed here in this time and place to do the converting. But we cannot do that if we are so enthralled with the R and the D that we trim our faith to fit their machinations.

The Catholic Church shows us the Way that leads to eternal life. There is nothing more relevant than that.

The Catholic Church teaches us how to apply the Gospels of Christ to our daily lives, our culture and our world. There is nothing more relevant than that.

The Catholic Church is hated, feared, bashed and attacked by purveyors of nihilism, death and corporatism everywhere. That is because they know but lie to avoid admitting that the Catholic Church is absolutely, completely and everlastingly relevant to this dying world.

The Catholic Church is as relevant as Jesus Christ, and He is the only relevance there is.

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Pope Accepts Bishop Finn’s Resignation

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

The Roman Catholic Church in America is under attack from many directions.

First, it is the target of everyone who opposes traditional Christian teaching and morality.

Second, it is the target of those who want to destroy Christianity’s influence in Western culture because they hate religion.

Third, it is the target of both extreme left Christians and extreme right Christians who have joined forces with those who want to destroy Christianity’s influence in Western culture. I am speaking specifically of those liberal Christians who have aligned themselves with atheists against other Christians and those conservative Christians who have gone the way of deifying militarism and corporatism.

Fourth, it is under both direct attack and attempts to co-opt it by corporatist influences who want to silence any voice that might criticize their actions on moral grounds.

If you will notice, all of these attackers combine on one point: They want to destroy the prophetic and moral voice of the Catholic Church in American society, and indeed in all of Western society. They do this because the Catholic Church’s teachings call them and all of society to something better than the exploited and degraded version of humanity that they want.

Sadly, there is a fifth and a sixth line of attack against the moral and prophetic voice of the Church. That line of attack comes from within the Church itself.

Fifth, the Church is under attack from within by Catholics who have aligned themselves with political and social forces outside the Church. They attack the Church in the areas where its teachings disagree with the teachings of those social and political forces. These people are aligned  on both the secular political left and the secular political right.

Sixth, the Church is under attack from those of her own clergy who, for their own reasons, are ripping off their priesthood.

As always in any competitive circumstance, these attackers from within are far more damaging that all the attacks from without combined. However, the single most damaging attack against the Church’s prophetic and moral voice has come, not from without, not from the pews, not even from the priests behind the altar.

It has come from the Church’s own bishops. This damage has accrued because of the wide scale, deliberate, long-term and totally indefensible practice of allowing priests to molest children in the parishes entrusted to them and doing nothing to stop them.

The Vatican has not been as remiss in dealing with this as the press would have us believe. Pope Benedict XVI removed over 400 priests during one 2-year time span for sexually abusing children. He also removed a Cardinal for personal sexual misconduct. I think the reason this is largely ignored by his critics is that they didn’t like him for other reasons and were not fair enough to tell the truth.

Pope Francis has moved this up a notch. He has removed a Bishop in Paraguay,  another bishop in Argentina, the Papal Envoy to the Dominican Republic, bishops in Ireland for either committing child sex abuse of sheltering abusing priests. He has also removed Bishop Peter Tebartz-van Elst for high living.

Now he has accepted Bishop Robert Finn’s resignation resignation Bishop Finn was convicted of failing to report a priest who had taken pornographic photos of little girls in his parish.

These are important steps for the Vatican. These bishops have done great damage to the moral and prophetic voice of the Catholic Church at a perilous time for Christianity. The laity is justified in demanding a change in this dynamic. In fact, the laity’s refusal to accept this behavior is a critical incentive for change.

At the same time, it is just as important for the laity to stand behind the bishops when they are trying to lead in the right way. We need the Vatican to pull those who go astray. We also need to support those who stay the course and follow Christ in the face of public criticism.

We live in times when the Church is under attack. Whenever one of our religious leaders takes a firm stand on Church teaching, he is immediately smeared and slandered. It is up to us, the people in the pews, to stand with him and support him.

It’s easy to get caught up in anger because of the betrayals of some bishops and forget how hard the others work and what good men they truly are. If you have a bishop who follows the faith and teaches the truth, take a moment to let him know that you appreciate him.

We are in a time when Christians who follow the Gospels are attacked constantly. Don’t peck your bishop apart over trivialities. Support him as best you can and follow his leadership.

 

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Sprinklergate: Is it Real, or Is It Politics?

Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/

Market Street, San Francisco Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by William Welch https://www.flickr.com/photos/20098477@N02/

I’ve been sick as the proverbial dawg these past few days. I managed to put together a couple of posts, but then I fell back into bed and pulled the blankets over my head.

I’m not feeling all that great today, either, but I have roused myself from my coughing and hacking and moaning and complaining long enough to realize that there’s another oddball “scandal” about the Catholic Church leap-frogging around the internet.

From what I gather, a cathedral in San Francisco (of all places) attempted to use a sprinkler system to encourage homeless people to vacate the steps leading into their building. Or some such.

Needless to say, the story has fueled the tanks of Catholic bashers. It’s also brought out quite a few disappointed and sad comments from faithful Catholics, as well. The story seems to be all about whether or not the Catholic Church and the Archbishop of San Francisco should be keel-hauled and sentenced to extinction over Sprinklergate.

I haven’t read too much about a couple of issues that I think are somewhat pertinent.

First, the Archbishop of San Francisco is engaged in a battle over the future of the Catholicism in that great city, i.e., whether or not the Church will be run by its own teachings or by secular authorities and the mob actions of “activists” who don’t agree with those teachings. This particular argument is about homosexuals.

Second, digging up dirt on someone who opposes them is a standard tactic of the gay rights movement. Demands for  civil and human rights for gay people are just. Homosexuals have been subjected to unjust discrimination and violence for a long time.

But that does not justify advancing this cause by denying the human rights of other people. Far too often, the gay rights movement has advanced its cause by the ignoble method of organized and manufactured character assassination of those who oppose it.

Using character assassination as a method of political bullying is an effective tactic. It harms, sometimes destroys, the ability of the person who is attacked to put their ideas forward in a credible manner. It also serves as a warning to anyone who might be inclined to join them that they, too, will be destroyed. In this case, it sends a signal to other bishops to duck and cover or be personally attacked as well.

I’m not going to take a position on Sprinklergate in this post, but I am going to raise a simple question: Is the whole scandal and the sudden media focus on this rather obscure action by the cathedral an example of attacking the Archbishop because he’s standing for Catholic teaching?

I’m not saying that turning the sprinkler system on homeless people to get them to move off the church steps is a good thing. What I’m saying is that the reason it has been so widely reported may very well be politically motivated.

Archbishop Cordileone has been attacked, picketed and and smeared ever since he took office in San Francisco. These attacks are because  he has taught actual Catholic teaching as regards gay marriage. This latest series of attacks are precisely and directly because he has been doing his best to create a Catholic Church in San Francisco (again, of all places) that is actually Catholic.

In a back-handed way, Sprinklergate is a compliment to Archbishop Cordileone. If this is the best his opponents could do, then he must be an honest man.

There are other issues about Sprinklergate which need to be discussed. But that really is the topic for another post.

My point here, dear Catholics, is don’t be so quick to join in with public lynchings of our clergy when those public lynchings are so obviously linked to actions by that clergy to defend the teachings of the Church in a Catholic-bashing world.

Now, I’m going back to coughing and hacking, moaning and complaining. As soon as I feel up to it, I’ll write another post talking about other overlooked issues in Sprinklergate.

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The Beauty of the Catholic Church


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