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Questions & Answers About Baptism (in General)

What is the importance of the baptismal ritual?

The various rituals that surround and precede the baptism amplify and signify the whole meaning of the sacrament. The candidate is given a saint’s name so that he will have a special patron before God and a particular model of holiness. He is asked if he desires baptism to insure that such is his own choice and that the conversion is not coerced. There is a brief exorcism rite, especially if the person has been involved in New Age cults or various Eastern religions. Of course, given the perplexing times, it is also possible that a person has actively engaged in witchcraft and Satanic practices. The words of the priest and his very breath in saying them signify the protecting presence of the Holy Spirit against evil and anything diabolic. Any enslavement to Satan is broken. The sign of the cross, made many times in the ritual, and upon the head of the candidate, marks the person as the property of God and as a disciple of the crucified Christ. He is to nurture in his heart and practice in his life the dictates of the Christian calling.

The imposition of hands is a further symbol of divine protection. Retained, at least as an option for children, the priest touches the ears and mouth of the candidate with the words, “Be opened” or Ephpheta! After the example of Jesus with spittle in Mark 7:33, his eyes are given spiritual sight and his mouth and actions are opened to the truth of the Word of God.

The person being baptized proclaims the faith and renounces Satan and all his works. Unless accomplished earlier, as with the exorcism rites, the candidate is anointed with the oil of baptism, also called the oil of catechumens. A child is anointed upon the breast. An adult is anointed upon the palms of the hands. It is still another sign of protection. Just as one might use lotion to protect from the damaging rays of the sun, here the oil is to act like armor against the assault of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

How is baptism performed?

There are several ways that water might be used:  immersion, sprinkling, and pouring. Pouring is still the most common. The priest or deacon pours water over the head of the catechumen while saying: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

What are some of the ceremonies that follow the act of baptism?

There is a second anointing, upon the forehead (upon the crown of the head for children). The oil used is a sacred chrism (slightly perfumed). The initiate is confirmed with this anointing, or if it is delayed, he is anointed priest, prophet, and king. He is the anointed of God, specially chosen to be among his elect. Such is our hope and the reasoning behind the white garment that might be used at this point. The book of Revelation asserts that the elect will be attired in gowns of white. It is a special sign of purity. We pray that they might bring it (figuratively) unstained before the judgment-seat of Christ. A lighted candle is presented to the person, or to a godparent in the case of children, lit from the Paschal or Easter Candle. Christ is the Light of the world and his is the fire that brings warmth to a world ever so cold. We pray that the one baptized into Christ will witness to this light and warmth. This is only made possible if one avoids sin, keeps the commandments, and loves both God and neighbor. If such is accomplished, then he can be confident in coming to the marriage banquet of heaven with all the saints. While the candle represents the newly baptized as a new Christ, the fire is the flame of everlasting life.

Why do we have sponsors or godparents?

They stand by the adult as supports and friends in the journey of faith. They stand by the child as one who professes faith and makes a solemn vow on the child’s behalf. They will support parents in raising the child in the Catholic faith. They will remain a model of Christian discipleship to the adult. We are a family. We do not come to God alone. A spiritual relationship is forged.

For more such material, contact me about getting my book, CATHOLIC QUESTIONS & ANSWERS.

Questions & Answers About Purgatory, Heaven & Hell

Does the Bible say anything about purgatory?

The word as such is not mentioned; however, it does say that we should pray for the dead: “Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Maccabees 12:45). Obviously the souls in heaven do not require our prayers for atonement and the dead in hell are beyond redemption. It must mean the dead in a purgative condition.

What is purgatory?

It is a state where certain souls go to suffer for a while, having died with unremitted venial sins or with temporal punishment for sin yet to be expiated. When they have satisfied divine justice, they will be delivered into heaven.

Is this something the early Christians believed?

Uniform prayers for the dead were promulgated by counciliar decree in 253 AD. Later councils of the Church in 579 AD, in 827 AD, and at Trent, urged people to pray for the dead. This is ample evidence that the first Christians believed in a state of atonement after this life.

But do not some question the authenticity of 2 Maccabees?

Protestant reformers removed it about five hundred years ago. However, the Catholic Church from the earliest days had approved it as canonical and authentic.

But its author apologizes for its errors?

Yes, but he meant errors in style, not in doctrine.

Are there any other proofs for purgatory?

We read in the book of Revelation: “But nothing unclean shall enter it [heaven], nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). If nothing defiled can enter heaven, then it would seem that the millions upon millions who die in their venial sins are eternally lost. That is, they are lost unless there is a purgatory to offer final and complete spiritual healing. It is also written that God will render to each of us according to his works and that an accounting will be required for every idle word spoken. Many die with small faults in word and action; certainly a good God will not damn them eternally for minor transgressions. Purgatory is the place of atonement for little imperfections.

But, in light of Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us,” purgatory would not seem necessary. Why would Catholics claim otherwise?

Such an interpretation against purgatory would eliminate the necessity for hell, too. Christ cleanses us from sin, as long as we use the means he has prescribed. If we neglect them, we will incur suffering because God rewards and punishes each of us according to our works.

The Bible asserts “in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie” (Ecclesiastes 11:3); thus, there is no other condition than that in heaven and hell, right?

Wrong, this would reduce to insignificance the justice of God. The text can only be used within this context in reference to our final orientation, toward heaven or hell. Every soul is destined for heaven, IF we accept and make sufficient use of the grace God gives us (see 2 Peter 3:9; Wisdom 11:27; Ezekiel 31:11; 1 Timothy 2:4).

But does not the Bible say that some people are predestined for heaven?

Certainly we all hope to be numbered among the elect. Some, like the apostles, martyrs, and other saints reveal such predestination by lives of extraordinary faith and loving witness to the Gospel. St. Augustine would talk about this mystery as a predestination to glory. This is quite different from the exaggerated Calvinistic view that sees signs of election (being saved) in our status and worldly success. Such a view would insinuate that the poor are abandoned, even by God. This notion is utterly reprehensible. God gives sufficient grace to all men and women to be saved. What we need is faith and cooperation in that grace.

Is it just to damn someone for all eternity?

The souls in hell chose by their own free will and understanding the bondage to sin over the freedom of the children of God. Like the fallen angels before them, they will never again change their minds and hearts. God will not drag a soul by force into heaven. We cannot know all the reasons why such souls were created in the first place; however, beyond this mystery, the affirmation of God’s justice and its support to Christian morality cannot be underestimated.

For more such material, contact me about getting my book, CATHOLIC QUESTIONS & ANSWERS.

Questions & Answers About Mary & the Saints

Is it not wrong to honor saints and angels since the Bible says, “You shall adore the Lord your God, and him alone you shall serve” (see Lk 4:8; Mt 4:10)?

Certain critics misinterpret Catholic teaching on this matter. Catholics adore or worship God alone. He is the one we serve. The honor we show the saints is of a secondary order. It is no more an offense against God than the honor and respect we show our parents and friends.

How can Catholics rationalize such an attitude given the clear Scriptural prohibitions, as in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other”?

There is no deep rationalization here, only common sense and courtesy. Of course, the mindset of those who have refashioned Christianity into a privatized sect, seeking a direct link with Christ while ignoring any semblance of a family of faith– living and dead– would have a hard time appreciating the communion of saints. As I said before, the highest honor and adoration goes to God alone; however, the very fact that we have natural bonds (with blood kin) and supernatural ones (in the family of the Church) demands some level of respect and affection.

What is the difference between showing honor and giving adoration?

Adoration is the term we properly use regarding the highest honor we show and this is directed to God. We recognize his Lordship over all creation. By honoring angels and saints we give glory to God who has worked wondrous deeds and has instilled divine virtues in them.

Does the Bible say that we should honor angels?

Most certainly, it does. Three angels appeared to Abraham. His response was to bow his face to the ground and to honor them (Genesis 18:2; 19:1). Similarly, Joshua raised his eyes and saw what he at first took to be a man, standing over against him, holding a drawn sword and proclaiming, I am “commander of the army of the LORD. . .” (Joshua 5:15). We read in Exodus 23:20-21, God saying: “Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.”

But, does not St. Paul say, “To God alone is due honor and praise” (see 1 Timothy 1:17)?

The apostle means that the highest honor and praise is reserved to God. Note what he says in Romans 12:10: “Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”

What does it really mean to pray to saints?

It is a particular kind of prayer. Ultimately, it is a prayer of supplication that finds its ultimate source in God, himself. We are asking the saints to pray for us and with us. Our prayers of adoration are reserved to God, all glory and praise is his.

Does the Bible say it is permissible to ask the saintsto pray for us?

Yes, it does. The Bible tells us that there is a real value in requesting the prayers of people on earth and the prayers of the angels in heaven. This being the case, it is only logical that the saints, who reign with Christ in heaven and who are still a part of our family of faith, can pray and intercede for us. St. Paul makes this request: “I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Romans 15:30). He said similar things in Ephesians 6:18 and Thessalonians 5:25.

Does the Bible say anything about angels and saints praying for people who walk the earth?

There is evidence for this. Zechariah 1:12 documents an angel praying for the Jewish people: “O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these seventy years?” God heard and responded to the angel’s prayer, noting that his words were “gracious and comforting” and that he would have mercy on Jerusalem. Note these words from the chief apostle (2 Peter 1:15):

“And I will endeavour that you frequently have after my decease whereby you may keep a memory of these things” (Douay-Rheims).

“And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition).

While the language sounds a bit convoluted, one might claim that the apostle is saying, “And I will do my endeavor that after my death also you may often have prayers whereby you may keep a memory of these things” (2 Peter 1:15).

St. Peter wished to pray for his friends even after his death. The clincher that the saints pray for us is in the Book of Revelation where St. John saw four and twenty ancients who “fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).

But how can angels and saints be mediators when St. Paul tells us that “There is one mediator between God and men,” and his name is “Christ Jesus” (see 1 Timothy 2:5)?

Jesus is our Mediator. However, this does not rule out secondary intercessors that are assisted and used by Christ. Remember, St. Paul, himself, asked for prayers from his brethren.

Why not pray to God in a direct way, according to the fashion that Jesus taught us?

There are many instances where we do pray directly to God. However, we acknowledge that we do not come to God alone. Just as God called to himself a People of God in the Jewish nation, so too he summons a new people in the Church. We pray with and for one another. Death is no barrier to this solidarity. We beckon the saints to pray for our needs. There is a great humility in this form of prayer. We recognize our unworthiness and ask the saints to obtain for us that which may be just out of our grasp. Both prayer forms are recommended.

But if the dead are either asleep or too far off to hear us, then what use are our petitions?

The saints know rest in the Lord, but this does not mean that they have been relegated, even temporarily, to oblivion. Further, the ties that bind us, particularly our faith and love in Christ, transcend the barrier of death. There is a legitimate mystery here and yet we trust the Word of God, which testifies that angels and saints do, indeed, hear us. “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). The saints have joined the angels of heaven. They hear our voices.

But does not Jeremiah 17:5 say, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man”?

The prophet only meant that trust in men should not displace trust in God. Note that God himself told us to observe and trust his angel (Exodus 23).

Do not Catholics go too far in calling various saints “our hope, our mercy,” etc.?

These are merely signs of affection and thankfulness to our special friends among the saints. Such expressions should not be interpreted crudely as denying the singular place of God and his operation in our lives.

Why do Catholics pay special and heightened honor to the Virgin Mary?

She was chosen by God to be the Mother of our Savior. Should we not honor the mother of the one who has saved the world? Sure we should.

The appearance and the words of the angel honored Mary with titles befitting her dignity: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.” Is it right to echo the salutation of a heavenly messenger? Certainly it is.

Jesus desired that we take notice of his mother and honor her, saying to John from the cross, “See your mother” (John 19:27). Are we obliged to carry out the last words of our crucified Lord? Without question, this is the case.

The first Christians honored Mary with a most intense and intimate love. Should we do the same as brothers and sisters to Christ, adopted children of the Father, and spiritual children to Mary? Yes, the pattern and connection is clear.

After God himself, Mary is the most perfect model of purity, justice, and holiness for us to imitate. If Mary is the queen of the saints, then is her spiritual perfection worthy of imitation? Quite so.

Those who have honored her have been wondrously rewarded by God; the lame walked, the blind regained their sight, the sick recovered, etc. Practically speaking, we would be fools to ignore such a person and the incredible manner that God continues to use her. In many ways, the miracles and messages attributed to her remind us that God is still very much aware and concerned about our plight.

Again, does it not defame God to give so many honors to a mere creature?

This honor we show her does not degrade God in the least. As a matter of fact, the respect and veneration we show Mary pleases God. We give glory to God in honoring the woman who was so wonderfully made free from sin and who said YES to God for all humanity.

Did the Virgin Mary have other children besides Jesus?

No, the Bible calls her “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:27). The Scriptures also tell us that she remained a virgin up to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25). Her perpetual virginity was an accepted fact in the early Church community, taught by the Nicene Creed and the early fathers as “the glorious EVER virgin Mary.”

But does this conflict with what the evangelist actually says, that Joseph “knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus” (Mt 1:25)?

There is no conflict, just a problem with language and translation. The wording, “until” or “not till” does not mean that her virginity ended at that point or at some time after. It merely stresses again that Jesus was specially conceived by divine intervention. Given that Mary was a sacred vessel for the presence of God, Joseph would do nothing to defile her. After the birth of Christ, and knowing full well the identity of his foster Son, Joseph and Mary lived a virginal marriage. The language here shares some similarity with Genesis 8:7: “. . . and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro UNTIL the waters were dried up from the earth.” The raven did not return at all. As with the virginity of Mary, it was a perpetual status. The same expression is used in 1 Kings 15:30.

But if Jesus is called Mary’s FIRST BORN, does not this readily imply other children?

No, and again, language is a serious issue in biblical interpretation. The term “first born” was applied to the FIRST BORN of every Jewish woman, regardless of whether other children followed. A case in point is Joshua 17:1. The frequent mention of the brethren of Jesus finds several reliable explanations. There is evidence that in some cases it refers to cousins (especially when a woman other than Mary is mentioned as their mother) and in other instances it may simply be an extension of referring to his followers as his brethren.

Does the Bible say that Mary was always free from original sin?

We read in Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The seed is interpreted as Christ Jesus, the woman is the Virgin Mary, and the serpent is Satan. Certain older Catholic renditions translated the last line here as “She shall crush your head.” Thus, in statuary and other imagery, she is often envisioned stepping upon a serpent. This translation peculiarity is fortuitous in that modern scholarship tells us that a more exact rendering would be, “They [all the descendants of the woman] will strike at your head.” The Mother of the Redeemer is now the Mother of the Redeemed. She is the image and model of the Church. The enmity between her sons and daughters against those in league with the devil is a perpetual one. Such an interpretation would not admit to even a momentary moment of reconciliation. She has always been, and always will be, the one made holy by Christ’s saving grace– a favor which reached from the cross backwards through history, to the very moment of her conception– all so that the divine and all-holy one might pass through a sinless vessel. The angel’s salutation affirms this truth, “Hail full of grace.” There is no space or vacuum in her for sin. The angel continues, “blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:26,33). The holiness of Mary distinguishes her from all other women.

Are there any other reasons that might prove that Mary was free from original sin?

It would have been unbecoming of an infinitely pure God to be incarnated in a woman who was or had been under the dominion of sin, even if just for a moment.

Christ takes his flesh from the flesh of Mary; as God and as untouched by sin, he could not assume a sinful flesh.

The Holy Spirit has guided the Church on this matter and thus it can be trusted.

Mary appeared at Lourdes in France and declared herself the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION. As verification of this message, healing water sprung mysteriously from the ground and as a lasting testimony thousands have been cured by it from all kinds of diseases.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS VIOLATES ACADEMIC FREEDOM

Dr. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, Champaign, who taught classes on the Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, was fired for teaching and explaining in an email to students the Catholic teaching on homosexuality. While the Catholic position is based upon the clear Scriptural prohibition, the meat or substance for our position is a reasoned stand applying Natural Law.

The universal catechism is very clear:

[CCC 2357] Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The context of the current controversy was an upcoming test on the theory of utilitarianism. He contrasted it with the Catholic appreciation of natural law. Apparently, the university wanted him either to be silent regarding such Catholic teachings or to encourage dissent. Because he honestly taught what he was charged to teach, he was terminated. A friend of the student complained that the explanation he gave amounted to “hate speech.” This is precisely the kind of repercussion that we were told by liberals would not happen when legislation redefined such speech. Professor Howell has also suffered the loss of his position at the campus Catholic center. I suspect that the school will now seek out lapsed and/or bad Catholics to replace him. No “good” Catholic would take such a position since that school has unveiled its blatant anti-Catholic bias.

The professor wrote:

  • In short, to judge an action wrong is not to condemn a person. A person and his/her acts can be distinguished for the purposes of morality.
  • Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.
  • Men and women are complementary in their anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Men and women are not interchangeable. So, a moral sexual act has to be between persons that are fitted for that act. Consent is important but there is more than consent needed.
  • One example applicable to homosexual acts illustrates the problem. To the best of my knowledge, in a sexual relationship between two men, one of them tends to act as the “woman” while the other acts as the “man.” In this scenario, homosexual men have been known to engage in certain types of actions for which their bodies are not fitted.
  • I don’t want to be too graphic so I won’t go into details but a physician has told me that these acts are deleterious to the health of one or possibly both of the men. Yet, if the morality of the act is judged only by mutual consent, then there are clearly homosexual acts which are injurious to their health but which are consented to. Why are they injurious? Because they violate the meaning, structure, and (sometimes) health of the human body.
  • Thus, people tend to think that we can use our bodies sexually in whatever ways we choose without regard to their actual structure and meaning. This is also what lies behind the idea of sex change operations. We can manipulate our bodies to be whatever we want them to be.
  • Natural Moral Theory says that if we are to have healthy sexual lives, we must return to a connection between procreation and sex. Why? Because that is what is REAL. It is based on human sexual anatomy and physiology. Human sexuality is inherently unitive and procreative. If we encourage sexual relations that violate this basic meaning, we will end up denying something essential about our humanity, about our feminine and masculine nature.
  • I know this doesn’t answer all the questions in many of your minds. All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions.

To read the complete email, go to: THE GAZETTE

This honest and good teacher taught for nine years at the University of Illinois. He told his students that they would be tested on their understanding of Catholic teaching, not judged upon their personal acceptance or beliefs.

The setting for the controversy was one of his lectures in the Introduction to Catholicism course. He wrote an email in May to his students in preparation for an exam regarding the application of natural law theory to a practical social issue, i.e. like judging the morality of homosexual acts. Despite acknowledging that many might disagree with Catholic doctrine, and the notion of natural law (like Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan), the good professor gave an accurate application to a pertinent issue from Catholic social teaching. Nevertheless, the school insisted that the teachings and email violated their standards of inclusivity.

Today, certain concerned administrators of the school have asked that the faculty committee determine whether or not academic freedom was violated. I suspect for many of us, even those unsympathetic to such views, would regard this as a no brainer. It seems obvious that a pro-homosexual litmus test usurped such freedom and an accurate, if offensive to some, Catholic teaching. Would he have also been fired for the application of natural law to the abortion question? Liberals hated Justice Clarence Thomas for his paper in such an application, drawing an analogy with the question of slavery and the violation of the innate dignity of human personhood.

It amazes me that a facility dedicated to open education could be so closed-minded. What are they saying to their students?

Truths are relative, unless they are liberal truths.

Judge no one but we can judge you.

All ideas are welcome, except those which are not politically correct.

Exercise your faith, unless you are a conservative Christian or Roman Catholic.

This professor was hired to teach Catholic thought. This university has not only wronged this man but sends the bigoted message that Catholic thinking is unacceptable on their campus. Perversion (my word, not that of the sensitive and gentle professor) is tolerated but no insinuation that such actions might be judged morally wrong. I suspect that this speaks ill both for the religious studies and the philosophy departments. If religious tenets and philosophical/ethical questions cannot be freely addressed, then any insistence of academic freedom becomes a hypocritical sham. Discussions about homosexuality, fornication, and abortion would be limited to the left or made taboo. The teacher gave a forthright answer. The students could have argued and disagreed with it. Instead, the professor was silenced. He attacked no one. He merely gave the Catholic position on a question of conduct.

Faithful Catholic students should complain that they are not really welcome to be fully engaged in the life of the school. Parents should consider sending their children elsewhere. I know one Catholic university which hired a renowned atheist philosophy instructor. The students and other faculty members often delighted in debating with him. They respected each other. But here is a case where a believer is punished precisely because he teaches views which non-believers or secular students will not tolerate. It is ironic that those who are the most fanatical about toleration are so often incredibly intolerant.

Dr. Kenneth Howell is an award winning educator (recognized by the university in 2009) and a convert to the Catholic faith. He has taught there for nine years. The word is out that even the local bishop is requesting his reinstatement. The professor was very careful to admit that he was a faithful practicing Catholic and thus he was sympathetic to the subject matter he was hired to teach. He slandered no one and even admitted that a critical eye to certain actions should not be interpreted as condemnation or hatred against others. Rather than a professional and academic debate, anonymous students and “politically correct” co-workers decided they would simply get rid of him. It reminds me of the spoiled child who takes his ball and runs home when he starts to lose in a game.

We are told that the university president, Michael Hogan, has received over 100 emails. Now he has asked that the matter be reviewed. Maybe more of us should say something about this as well?

UI President
uipres@uillinois.edu
http://www.uillinois.edu/president/

Executive Offices
http://www.uillinois.edu/administration/vps.cfm

Trustees
http://www.uillinois.edu/trustees/

Ethics Office
http://www.ethics.uillinois.edu/policies/index.cfm

My suggestion is that the professor be rehired or that the public school make it very clear that Catholic teachings are neither welcome in the classroom nor in regular discourse. If they do the latter, they should also forfeit tax dollars and public support. They can hang a sign on their doors, saying, “Catholics are only welcome if they shut up and compromise their faith and values!”

Further, if he is reinstated, I would recommend that those administrators, faculty members and students who violated his academic and personal rights face, themselves, some sort of disciplinary censure. They violated this man’s academic freedom, religious freedom and freedom of speech. Where he was open to rational discourse, they were not. He gave a coherent presentation of the subject matter he was charged to teach, Catholicism, without any foul language or attacks upon persons. Those who fired him were not so noble or magnanimous.

Is it not interesting that a liberal atheist professor at another university faced no reprimand when he urge the theft and desecration of the Eucharist while mockingly name-calling Christians and Catholics? However, when a Catholic professor who stresses respect for persons and freedom for intellectual inquiry, shares ideas which are found offensive by a radical minority over-sensitive about homosexual rights, he is quickly terminated.

Finally, I would urge other Catholic professors, students and those sensitive to matters of academic freedom, to take Dr. Howell’s email and to sign it themselves. At present, he is a man who stands largely alone. He did nothing wrong. This could be done online and with hard copies sent to the university. This should not be anonymous. That is the route of cowards, like the one who started this mess for the good professor. We should stand up and be counted.

We love our homosexual brothers and lesbian sisters.

However, Catholic teaching rightly stipulates that homosexual acts are disordered and a violation of our nature.

In any case, even if you disagree with Catholic teaching, given the public setting and the classes he was hired to teach, those who favor academic freedom should also support him.

DISCUSSION ON THIS POST

John

I heard about this on the radio the other day and could not believe it. Liberals are all about freedom of speech until you say something that they disagree with, and then they try to shut you down. Didn’t a professor out in CA teach a class on female masturbation with a [deleted]? I’m sure this was okay because of her freedom of speech. Simply amazing!

Ron D

I wrote the good UI President a three-letter email, “cut the crap.” Here is his reply, and mine:

Let me begin by thanking you for expressing your concerns. Academic freedom is at the core of our teaching and research missions. It’s vital to our ability to explore new ideas, educate our students, and promote the civil and free exchange of alternative viewpoints in a democracy.

I learned of this action on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) campus late last week and immediately asked Chancellor Robert Easter, who oversees the campus, to provide me with a briefing on the matter. I want to assure you that the University administration shares my commitment to the principles of academic freedom. At the same time, we do believe it’s important to fully investigate all of the details related to this situation. As I’m sure you’re aware, it is sometimes the case that public reports may convey only part of the story. I think it important to reserve judgment until I have all of the facts and I hope you’ll agree.

We have asked the UIUC Senate’s standing Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure to immediately review this action. This is the mechanism on the campus through which these matters should be vetted. We expect this review to be completed very soon. By using our channels of shared governance and review, we are in the best position to make informed decisions that afford a fair process for all.
Again, I’m grateful to have heard from you and others about this and I’m grateful for the opportunity to respond. It reaffirms the deep commitment that so many have to the University and public higher education and to ensuring that the University of Illinois continues to be a beacon of excellence, as it should be for the state, the nation, and the world.

Sincerely,
Mike

Michael J. Hogan
President
University of Illinois

Just remember what he’s teaching. CATHOLIC studies. He cannot lie about the position of the Church, that wouldn’t be education. Many Catholics will be following this. I hope you come to the proper conclusion.

WI Catholic

This is why I have missed you!! God bless you abundantly!

Aidan H

Oh my goodness, you are back!

I thought you were dead!

And look, you raise your puffy fat head out of the grave fighting!

What is with you anyway? You must really hate gay people! You attack them and their rights every chance you get!

This screwy professor had to be fired. Like you he was a hate-monger. The university was crazy to allow Catholic nonsense to be taught at a state school anyway! It is a violation of church and state! If religion has to be taught, it should pass a litmus test. Groups and cults which encourage racism, sexism, and discrimination because of sexual orientation have no place in the public forum. They should be ostracized and stamped out.

If I had my way I would force the Catholic church to ordain women and active homosexuals. Guys who like other men and women would not be chasing little boys!

Did the professor explain how Catholicism can excuse and promote child abuse and the protection of molesters? I doubt it, but gay men who love each other are always fair game… NOT!

The natural law is bunk. We control our destinies and make what we want out of life. If same-sex love was unnatural then people would not have such attractions. But there are homosexual people and animals. It does not result in children but not all heterosexual relationships do so either.

If you ask me, celibacy is far more questionable than homosexuality. Is it even possible to go through life without the intimacy of another person and his or her body? It is no wonder these priests go bonkers and start chasing kiddies. They are sick men and this professor was an apologist for their sickness!

I for one am telling the university, “Bravo!” It was about time and I hope more such homophobic bigots are shown the door in the near future.

Father J, you are the most hateful and hypocritical priest I know. Just when I thought we would be spared your spewing lies, you jump back on the scene. I for one hope that your heart is racing. How’s the blood pressure? You can pop a vein but I bet you never [deleted]!

Now, here again is my dare. Show my comment or prove you are a coward and fake! You can give it, but by your own admission, you just can’t take it! I hope I am too much for you and that you will go away for good!

Why can’t you be like most priests, lazy fools who keep their mouths closed? Mind your own business and leave the rest of us alone.

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

Father Joe

Aidan, some comments are so radical that they are their own rebuttal.

Arguing with you will probably be pointless.

I will keep you in prayer, instead.

John

Father Joe, I was thinking the same thing while reading Aidan’s remarks: no sense in even responding to this. My blood pressure did start rising as I read, but by the time I was finished, I actually felt sad for this person. It sounds like he may be a little bigoted himself. You are right, we can only pray for them.

MQ

Kind words, your comment Father Joe, indeed kind words.

Jeff

Father Joe,

Just a quick word of encouragement for you, as a convert to Catholicism in 1987 (from a completely non-religious upbringing, btw), I admire reasoned thought in the defense of the Catholic Church’s teachings. God gave humans the ability to not only love, but also to reason and self-analyze. I believe that is strongest foundation by which we can stand firm in our faith and in our public defense of it.
Keep up the good work!

Lady Godless

Father Joe said: “Is it not interesting that a liberal atheist professor at another university faced no reprimand when he urge the theft and desecration of the Eucharist while mockingly name-calling Christians and Catholics? However, when a Catholic professor who stresses respect for persons and freedom for intellectual inquiry, shares ideas which are found offensive by a radical minority over-sensitive about homosexual rights, he is quickly terminated.”

Are you referring to PZ Myers?

I believe that was about something that happened a couple of years ago. What did you advocate in that case?

Father Joe

I do think there are extremes which would force censure upon professors: inappropriate relationships with students, incompetence, belligerence and seeking to harm the institution for which one is employed, treating students unfairly or unjustly (as in biased grading and verbal abuse), constant foul and derogatory language, encouraging students to violence, a disregard for the civil laws and enticing students to violate them, etc.

Myers ridiculed believers and lacked basic human respect. I would expect all teachers to exhibit a certain tolerance and courtesy to others, even when they do not share their opinions or views. Further, he was hired to teach science; Howell was specifically hired to teach about Roman Catholicism.

Howell might be critical of atheism, other religious beliefs, and the brand of morality practiced by others; however, he seemed honest and approached such issues within the scope of his course, respect for his students and intellectual honesty. A science teacher may or may not believe in God, and he might even share his intellectual reasoning for such views; however, name-calling and deliberate blasphemy crosses the line (in my estimation). It is like using the “n” word to blacks and the “f” word to homosexuals. Polite or decent people should not devalue others, even when there are serious disagreements, either from prejudice or from a given perspective of the created order.

Lady Godless

Looks like Ken Howell has been temporarily reinstated, pending full review:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-07-29/news/ct-met-u-of-i-catholic-professor-073020100729_1_reinstates-academic-freedom-associate-professor

Michele Johnson

I just discovered your blog, Father Joe. I find the discussions here fascinating but I can understand why you would need to limit your postings. The hatred in some of these comments is quite toxic.

What brought me to your blog was a search on how Catholics should react to Islam….which lead me to your article on Pope John Paul II kissing the Koran several years ago. Again, fascinating discussions and hoping I find some answers there.

I’ve recently been invited to attend a meeting to discuss a program for school children in our area. The program is “Operation Cooperation” and strives to bring understanding and cooperation among children of different faiths: Judaism, Catholicism, Islam and Christian Scientist.

I am praying for wisdom in this matter. I look forward to following your blog in the future.

May the Lord bless and keep you