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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Holy Family Teens Preparing for Confirmation

We celebrated Spirit Day here yesterday for our teens!

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Catechetical Sunday – A New Year!

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Last Sunday we commissioned the catechists at the 9:30 AM Mass for Catechetical Sunday.

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We are so very fortunate to have the volunteers at Holy Family to teach the faith.

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Religious Subterfuge & Dissent Against Rome

Today the Huffington Post ran the headline, “Nuns Blast Catholic Church’s ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ That Justified Indigenous Oppression.” Eyebrows were raised. What the devil were the sisters talking about? These prudential views went out with the ancient notions concerning the divine right of kings. Do the sisters understand it is 2014 and not the 1600’s?

lcwr 3The challenge to the Vatican came from Sister Maureen Fieldler. This, in itself, was an immediate bad sign that something was up. She is a widely known radical feminist and dissenter on a number of issues, such as so-called abortion rights, liberation theology, women’s ordination, religious indifferentism, etc. Given that she is disobedient to the Vatican at every turn, it was the height of arrogance that she demanded renunciation of 15th-century documents.  The LCWR would have you think that they speak for the angels, but not all angels come from heaven.  The devil can also appear as an angel of light.

The Church has already spoken to abuses in the past and the late Pope John Paul II included the rights of indigenous persons in his famous apologias. This seems sufficient. Of course, the Church would not want to renounce the courageous missionary efforts of saints or the unique value of our saving Catholic faith. These modern sisters would be oddly less celebratory of this saving inheritance.  Like secular anthropologists, they would stress the retention of isolated New World pre-Christian cultural and religious associations from the unique value of the Gospel that came with explorers from the Old World. Along these lines, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has repeatedly compromised itself by engaging in pagan, New Age and various native spiritualties during its conferences and retreats. Indeed, along with their demand to the Pope, they are insisting that he participate in “a sacred ceremony of reconciliation.” You can bet all your donuts that these girls do not mean the Sacrament of Confession. Sorry, while they might pray to the four winds, true Catholics place their confidence in the Holy Spirit and the Church Jesus founded. Christ commanded that we take this faith to the entire world and to baptize in the name of the Trinity. We cannot and must not apologize for the command of Christ at the end of Matthew’s Gospel. It is true that colonization brought with it oppression and disease; but it also gave a new people the saving Gospel and Western civilization. We should not be so quick to idolize a multiculturalism that would utterly discount our rich history and the benefits of colonization. Would Sister Fieldler, her Loretto religious community and the LCWR have preferred that the saving faith were never proclaimed and that the missionaries had stayed at home? While the ancient Church decrees are summarized to sound like one had to convert or die, it was actually much more complex.  While Western countries sought new resources, the Church saw in civilization the opportunity to bring the true faith to the New World. While the soldiers and conquerors did not always abide by the Church’s admonitions to respect human dignity; the sword was also used to protect the colonists and those native peoples who were ordinarily endangered by more violent neighbors. In any case, the issues around this partnership of the Church and state have long been mute.

Vaguely analogous notions of intervention today are not the same as that which included the promulgation of the Gospel in days of old. Even American “Manifest Destiny'” had less to do with the Church and more about a non-denominational American sense of providence and the call to greatness.  The sisters are experts at the jargon that wins a secular modernity to its side. But when one scratches the surface, it becomes clear that there is a peculiar eccentricity to them. For instance, they would attach the anachronistic appeal to the Pope with the effort to strip the Washington football team from using the name Redskins. I suspect few reasonable people see any connection.  The Holy See has no lands of its own and no longer even makes reference to doctrines of discovery. By contrast, there are already plenty of papal declarations which speak to the rights and dignities of indigenous peoples. But the sisters are merely flexing their muscle. If they were serious, they would be reproaching secular governments and struggles in the present, as with the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. Here at home they conveniently disguise the absurd ramifications of their stance. They want to get even with the Holy See, not a secular nation.  Remember, if one must apologize for the past then one must make restitution. Along these lines the proposal was made years ago that all whites should be taxed in the U.S. so that monetary reparations might be paid the descendants of slaves. The argument was rightly made that you cannot fault the living for the crimes of the dead. Would the United States give back all lands and territories that belonged to Native Americans, including Manhattan? Would we surrender Texas to the Mexicans? Would we hand over our territories and Hawaii to the native population as new sovereign countries? We bought Alaska from the Russians but they had essentially claimed it through colonization. Would we give it back to the Eskimos (along with the oil) and go home? And given that most of us are the sons and daughters of immigrants, where would home be? The repercussions would become rather silly. But silliness is not something new for the Loretto religious community or this organization of sisters.

Something is rotten about this business. This overture is not really about renouncing the oppression of indigenous peoples. It is payback for being put into their place by Rome. They want to show that they (the Leadership Conference of Women Religious) have the true moral high ground. This is all about politics and not at all about justice. Once we see the truth about it, the organization and its leadership are exposed as utterly pathetic and without contrition for their disobedience and heresies.

It is sick and twisted that the LCWR resolution targets the Pope. No organization has done more to make a positive difference in the lives of indigenous peoples than the Church. This effort is to take our attention away from their own shortcomings and sins. Indeed, by speaking of these ancient policies as doctrines, these dissenters can then point to the modern doctrinal debates and argue that the Church has the authority to evolve or change other teachings of faith… particularly in those doctrinal conflicts where the LCWR is on the other side. This is a measure to undermine the continuity and permanence of Catholic teachings.

The Vatican in 2012 was critical of the LCWR on a host of issues: particularly their silence on the right to life and their dissent on the nature of the family and human sexuality. These are not the sisters we fondly remember in nostalgia.  They largely refuse to wear their habits and veils, even though the late Pope John Paul II told them to do so.  They have watered down their traditionally prescribed prayer life and often do not live in community.  The feminist agenda has poisoned their hearts and minds.  Many demand that women be ordained priests and condemn what they call a patriarchal Church.  This past April, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller chastised them for failing to comply with Rome’s correctives. They even purposely honored Sister Elizabeth Johnson who was faulted by the U.S. bishops for her Christology and other teachings. [She heavily employs weak metaphors over analogies, compromising or revising the objective truth value of certain Catholic doctrines.  She was my professor at CUA and I recall that she got upset about our usage of JESUS and CHRIST.  She taught that the JESUS of history (minus miracles and messianic claims) was different from the CHRIST of faith (which is what the Church had fashioned him).  It seemed to me that this fell back into the old “two Sons” heresy.  Also, the impression was given that the human JESUS was real and that CHRIST was more symbolic of the Church’s kerygma.  We see many biblical exegetes who use similar language in their analysis of the Scriptures.]  Pope Francis backed the rebuke of the rebellious LCWR. Instead of obedience to Rome’s demands, they now seek to make demands of Rome.

The sisters of this sort are quickly dying out. The Church will probably be better off when they are gone. They will be replaced by a small but growing number of women who practice the traditional disciplines and know that humility and orthodoxy is how we approach the Magisterium and abide with the Church.  Pray for vocations… of the right kind.

Cardinal George: A Tale of Two Churches

This is a reprint of the September 7, 2014 article by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

cgeorgeOnce upon a time there was a church founded on God’s entering into human history in order to give humanity a path to eternal life and happiness with him. The Savior that God sent, his only-begotten Son, did not write a book but founded a community, a church, upon the witness and ministry of twelve apostles. He sent this church the gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love between Father and Son, the Spirit of the truth that God had revealed about himself and humanity by breaking into the history of human sinfulness.

This church, a hierarchical communion, continued through history, living among different peoples and cultures, filled with sinners, but always guided in the essentials of her life and teaching by the Holy Spirit. She called herself “Catholic” because her purpose was to preach a universal faith and a universal morality, encompassing all peoples and cultures. This claim often invited conflict with the ruling classes of many countries. About 1,800 years into her often stormy history, this church found herself as a very small group in a new country in Eastern North America that promised to respect all religions because the State would not be confessional; it would not try to play the role of a religion.

This church knew that it was far from socially acceptable in this new country. One of the reasons the country was established was to protest the king of England’s permitting the public celebration of the Catholic Mass on the soil of the British Empire in the newly conquered Catholic territories of Canada. He had betrayed his coronation oath to combat Catholicism, defined as “America’s greatest enemy,” and protect Protestantism, bringing the pure religion of the colonists into danger and giving them the moral right to revolt and reject his rule.

Nonetheless, many Catholics in the American colonies thought their life might be better in the new country than under a regime whose ruling class had penalized and persecuted them since the mid-16th century. They made this new country their own and served her loyally. The social history was often contentious, but the State basically kept its promise to protect all religions and not become a rival to them, a fake church. Until recent years.

There was always a quasi-religious element in the public creed of the country. It lived off the myth of human progress, which had little place for dependence on divine providence. It tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language to co-opt them into the purposes of the ruling class. Forms of anti-Catholicism were part of its social DNA. It had encouraged its citizens to think of themselves as the creators of world history and the managers of nature, so that no source of truth outside of themselves needed to be consulted to check their collective purposes and desires. But it had never explicitly taken upon itself the mantle of a religion and officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what “values” they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.

When the recent case about religious objection to one provision of the Health Care Act was decided against the State religion, the Huffington Post (June 30, 2014) raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” This is not the voice of the nativists who first fought against Catholic immigration in the 1830s. Nor is it the voice of those who burned convents and churches in Boston and Philadelphia a decade later. Neither is it the voice of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s, nor of the Ku Klux Klan, which burned crosses before Catholic churches in the Midwest after the civil war. It is a voice more sophisticated than that of the American Protective Association, whose members promised never to vote for a Catholic for public office. This is, rather, the selfrighteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as “progressive” and “enlightened.”

The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics. Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.

Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.

A reader of the tale of two churches, an outside observer, might note that American civil law has done much to weaken and destroy what is the basic unit of every human society, the family. With the weakening of the internal restraints that healthy family life teaches, the State will need to impose more and more external restraints on everyone’s activities. An outside observer might also note that the official religion’s imposing whatever its proponents currently desire on all citizens and even on the world at large inevitably generates resentment. An outside observer might point out that class plays a large role in determining the tenets of the official State religion. “Same-sex marriage,” as a case in point, is not an issue for the poor or those on the margins of society.

How does the tale end? We don’t know. The actual situation is, of course, far more complex than a story plot, and there are many actors and characters, even among the ruling class, who do not want their beloved country to transform itself into a fake church. It would be wrong to lose hope, since there are so many good and faithful people.

Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him. There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.

Discussion: Saint Patrick’s Day Parade & Controversy

 

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Links for information and the news:

The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Gay Groups to March in St. Patrick’s Day Parade as a Ban Falls
St. Patrick’s Day Parade Announcement Isn’t Progress — It’s an Insult to NY’s Irish LGBT Community
When Catholic Leaders Abandon the Faithful
NY archdiocese should sever ties with St. Patrick’s Day parade
Gays, Jesus and St. Patrick’s Day

Cardinal Dolan Responds to Controversy on His Blog

SEAMUS:

What are your thoughts, Father Joe? The blogosphere is in a terrible commotion, for and against the inclusion of a LGBT contingent in the parade. There is a lot of name-calling and other voices are remaining strangely silent.

FATHER JOE:

At a time when Catholics are dying for Christ, is this issue worth the attention it is getting?

But okay, I am not sure what to think or say but I will try.

As a preamble to my thoughts, it is too bad that many critics have lost the art of civil discourse.  As with politics, when people disagree with each other these days they end up demonizing the other side. Our nation and Church are being ripped asunder by polemics and ad hominem attacks.  It resolves nothing but makes fellow citizens into hardened enemies and threatens the Church with a virtual schism.  I know what the Church teaches, but of course, as the good Pope tells us, this must be measured with charity.

Like many conservative voices, by temperament I would also like to strike out and keep Catholic events pure; but as I get older, I worry that a lack of tact could alienate souls that might yet be saved. There is a tension in balancing our witness to the truth with the forgiveness of sins. I can exhort, condemn, and correct— at least addressing sins if not sinners; but maybe time and space is needed for certain sinners to reflect, know mercy and find healing?  I have serious misgivings about the decision in New York, but beyond this parade I have long had concerns about the association of St. Patrick’s Day with ribald antics and public drunkenness.  It seems like a terribly poor manner to remember a great saint of the Church.

MICHAEL:

Time for healing? Am I hearing right? Have you been seduced by the “Church of Nice”? These dissenters are not interested in healing. They get angry when you call them sinners. They want acceptance and they want to change the Church. Some of them would like to see the Church disappear.  We cannot compromise with them.  There is no such thing as a partial Catholic.  You are either in the boat or out.  It is scandalous that a Cardinal of the Church should assert that homosexuality is no big deal.  These [words deleted] are headed straight for hell and those who pamper them will risk going with them.

FATHER JOE:

Is the scenario you present entirely the case?  When Catholic voices are demanding separation and asylum from such public events, are they not giving our enemies precisely what they want?  A dead Church or a Church in hiding is still a win scenario for those who hate her and want the Church gone.  Cardinal Dolan insists that we must find a new language and/or way of dealing with the advocates of homosexuality, divorce-and-remarried persons, users of contraception and even those who wrongly accent freedom over the sanctity of human life.  When asked about how one might both affirm gays and still oppose so-called same-sex marriages, he honestly replied that he did not know yet.  It seems to me that he is grasping for a new hermeneutic that would not betray our core principles.  I cannot say for sure if it is possible.  Personally, I doubt that accommodation will work and fear it will make matters worse.  But he is still a successor of the apostles and must be given the respect as such.  We may suggest that there is a disconnect between the new praxis and the enunciated principles; but it would be wrong to suggest any formal detraction from Catholic moral teaching.  Like the Pope, the Cardinal is Catholic.

MICHAEL:

We need more courage from our shepherds. Priests should speak out!

FATHER JOE:

Priests are men of the Church. Years ago I was told that strong words of mine hurt and embarrassed one of our important shepherds. I am wounded by this memory. Priests, in particular, owe their bishops both RESPECT and obedience. The Church must speak with a unified voice. While seeking to avoid scandal, we should support our pastors and bishops, even when we fail to see things entirely their way. There has to be confidence that the Holy Spirit still guides our shepherds and protects the Church.  This struggle to be faithful and respectful is often hard.  The matter of pro-abortion politicians routinely taking Holy Communion have many times brought me to tears during prayer.  I have long agonized over what I personally feel we should do (withhold the sacrament) over what we are directed to do by just authority.  But as I wrote before, priests are men of the Church.  They pledge respect and obedience, not only to God but to their bishops and their successors.  They must do and say as they are told.  The late Cardinal Hickey was very clear about this and he spoke about how we are extensions of the bishop’s ministry.  While this can be taken too far, his assertion was theological sound.  The laity have a certain latitude that ordained men do not.  However, even they should not breech themselves from their shepherds.  We must all be faithful to the teaching Church; conservatives (to use a political term) have generally been better at this than the more liberal or progressive voices.  But once the lawful Magisterium is attacked, one is no better than the other.

I am sickened by the recent negativity focused upon Cardinal Dolan and how certain voices on the right harshly ridicule Pope Francis. We do not get to pick our Popes. And, as I tell my traditionalist friends, we immediately follow living Popes, not dead ones.  Our support for Church leadership means respectful and civil dialogue, and never recourse to fearful muted criticism or caustic public ridicule

MICHAEL:

I think you are being naïve. Truth is truth and sin is sin. If church leaders compromise themselves and the saving message then the laity should call them out. You never used to mince words!  You’re not the Father Joe I used to know.

FATHER JOE:

Did you ever know me? I am a faithful son of the Church. I took a promise to obey my bishop and his successors. I will be judged as to how I keep that pledge. As for you and the laity, be careful that you do not forget yourselves. You can no more tell Church leaders their business than can the liberal dissenters. Have you forgotten your place? You are not the Magisterium. You cannot defend Catholicism by discarding a major element of her hierarchical nature. This is a common mistake these days, from critics on the right and left. It damages the harmony and good order of the Church.

SEAMUS:

There may be a lot about this parade business to which we are not privy. It is easy to criticize when the weight of such decisions rests on the shoulders of others. The planners and the Archbishop may be in a situation where no decision will please everybody.

This parade is older than the United States and its continuation is in jeopardy. No one wants to be labeled as the person who killed it. The planners’ concession admits that the parade mimics the messiness of our world and society.

FATHER JOE:

Sinners and saints are mixed together. People and relationships are broken. Dreams are made and others are left unrealized. Is it enough to witness within this “messiness” or do we circle the wagons and refuse to associate with the world around us? Jesus went out to the poor, the oppressed, the sick and hurting.

SEAMUS:

He associated with tax-collectors and sinners, even prostitutes. While we must never forget our message and the truths of faith— might this be an opportunity to draw prodigals home?

MICHAEL:

Jesus also called the hypocritical Jewish leadership, “blind guides” and “dead men’s bones.” He refused to even speak with Herod.  When Jesus related to the rabble it was always for purposes of bringing them to repentance and conversion. Where is that here? This “who am I to judge” nonsense from Pope Francis is like an Ebola epidemic spreading throughout the Church. How can we condone activity that will cast souls into hell? It is a lie to perpetrators and an enticement to others to join the procession, or in this case the parade, marching into the mouth of Satan.

FATHER JOE:

There will always be some who will exploit and reject our faith message. While we might argue about a prudential decision here; there is no evil intent from the organizers, Hibernians or the Archbishop. There is no denial of Church doctrine. The Church has been clear and consistent about her teachings in the public forum on human sexuality.  I doubt people will forget this any time soon.  The mechanisms of authority and truth will protect her from going in the direction of our confused Episcopalian brothers and sisters.

Our Lord saw many new faces following him after the multiplication of the bread and fish. Not all followed for the right reason, but he did not stop them. He lamented that some were only interested in the free food. When the real demands of his preaching were voiced, they abandoned him.  It will not be the presence of sinners that will destroy the parade, not as long as we make it clear what is right and wrong.  If we remain resolute, those unhappy about the overall Catholic message will eventually fall away on their own initiative.

MICHAEL:

No doubt some of those who abandoned Jesus were among the crowd that shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar!”

FATHER JOE:

Yes, I suspect so, but that is the chance you take.

SEAMUS:

We are still battling with Caesar. As individuals and as a Church we may face further recrimination and abuse. But that seems to me to be part of the package Jesus gives to his followers.

FATHER JOE:

Returning to basics, what does it mean to be Irish? Some treat being Irish as if it automatically makes one a member of the Catholic club. But those days are over, both here at home and back in the ancient homeland itself. The nation that converted much of the world is now closing seminaries and being ministered to by priests from Nigeria. Scandal and secularism have destroyed in a decade or two what centuries-old British persecution was never able to accomplish.

st_patrick_19646_lgI like parades, and I would not mind tripping up a leprechaun and making a wish upon his gold at the rainbow’s end, but as with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, my emphasis would always be upon Christ and his saints. There is nothing wrong with a pint of green beer. But it does bother me that these accidentals to St. Patrick’s Day should displace going to Mass, seeking God’s mercy and receiving (with the proper disposition) the Blessed Sacrament. St. Patrick was a slave who found his freedom and then came back to the Emerald Isle so that those in slavery to sin might know true freedom. Those who ignorantly worshipped trees would now come to the dead tree of the Cross and adore the one who laid down his life to redeem us. The Irish suffered the destruction of their monasteries and saw their priests humiliated, hunted and murdered; and yet, they still held on to the faith. They suffered starvation and dire poverty, coming to this nation for a new start. Signs advertised, “No Irish Wanted,” and yet they endured prejudice and worked hard to be good citizens and Christians. They had babies and Irish families were large and happy. It may be that traditions of family are among the greatest gifts they brought to this land. Remembering their past, they worked for a better tomorrow for their children. Folklore says that St. Patrick drove out the snakes from Ireland. May we never compromise ourselves with the serpent that began the woes of men in the primordial Garden.

MICHAEL:

Here in the States, many of the Irish have lost their sense of guilt over sin and have increasingly replaced the substance of faith with green beer and fancies about leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold and wearing the green.

SEAMUS:

How closely have you both followed the news in New York? There have been a lot of “fighting words” over the decision by the organizers to allow a gay contingent under their own banner into the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

MICHAEL:

This had long been resisted as incompatible with the Catholic faith.

FATHER JOE:

Actually, it was initially denied because of a conflict with public morals and decency. Today the winds of public opinion have evidently changed direction.

SEAMUS:

But it remains a celebration named after a saint. Is this not a kind of blasphemy? Does it mean that the faith is no longer regarded by the organizers as an intrinsic element of Irish identity?

MICHAEL:

Precisely!

FATHER JOE:

I am no mind-reader but I take the organizers for their word that the issue of faith is still important.  It might simply be an overture of peace to Irish men and women who struggle with their gender identity and yet still want to celebrate their ethnic roots. At least I hope so. But admittedly, I am fearful that a goodwill gesture will be turned against us.

SEAMUS:

The parade committee stated that its “change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics.” The statement also reiterated that the event was “remaining loyal to Church teachings.”

MICHAEL:

Empty words— that is all they are.

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FATHER JOE:

No, I think they mean what they say.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the incoming Grand Marshal, acknowledged that the parade committee “continues to have my confidence and support.” He apparently agrees that a measure to keep the peace and to preserve the city parade does not signal religious dissent on the part of the Hibernians or the parade organizers. However, it may not bode well for future negotiations with the more radical groups.  A rash conciliation today could lead to a more severe divide tomorrow.

MICHAEL:

That last remark is quite an understatement.

SEAMUS:

Right now, one somewhat moderate gay group affiliated with the media that broadcasts the parade is involved: OUT@NBCUniversal. They will march under their own banner. The expectation is that they merely want inclusion to celebrate Irish ethnicity and heritage.

MICHAEL:

Don’t be fooled!

FATHER JOE:

Hopefully this will be given a greater weight than any promotion of same-sex attraction; however, I suspect much of the talk and media attention will focus on their homosexuality. It has the potential to kidnap the meaning of the parade.

SEAMUS:

I suppose so, if not this time around then possibly in years to follow.

FATHER JOE:

It is my hope that pages will be taken from the late Cardinal John O’Connor’s book.  He was a strong defender of Church teaching on sexual morality and yet he was a compassionate man.  He volunteered to clean bedpans at an AIDS hospice.  He suffered with calm and composure having a gay activist spit the consecrated host into his face.  He regularly had supper with his Jewish friend, Mayor Ed Koch, on the other side of the divide upon many issues.  We can be strong and still work with one another.  He also knew that some might never come to the truth unless strong stands are made.  Cardinal O’Connor explained his opposition to allowing groups identified as gay from marching in the parade, “Irish Catholics have been persecuted for the sole reason that they have refused to compromise Church teaching. What others may call bigotry, Irish Catholics call principle.”

MICHAEL:

It was admitted that other gay groups would be permitted in the future. What if there should be dozens of gay applicants, each demanding its inclusion? What if participants should become increasingly brazen and vulgar? Will there be a forum to vet costumes, gestures, signs and float designs? Would such be judged as censorship? Will opposing groups get to march, carrying signs and banners for traditional marriage? Once a group that defines itself chiefly by its sexual orientation is permitted, then what about future scenarios where advocates for polygamy, bestiality and pederasty will want their place in the line up? Do I exaggerate?

FATHER JOE:

You do, indeed, paint a nightmare picture of escalating corruption of the parade and its basic meaning. I pray that some semblance of control can be maintained but what was once regarded as unthinkable is realized every day. It is sometimes joked, “Expect the worse and you will never be surprised or disappointed.”

SEAMUS:

I guess I would have less a problem with the concession if past lewdness and/or belligerence were not so often displayed by protesters with their explicit banners, gestures and decorated floats.

MICHAEL:

Evil is incapable of controlling itself.

FATHER JOE:

Such images can torment the conservative mind. Gays were always free to march as individuals, but not under banners that advertised their disorientation. The fear was this would politicize the event. Unfortunately, their exclusion did the very same thing.

MICHAEL:

I bet other more militant gay organizations will not be satisfied. They may even interpret the small concession to one group as an insult. Their angry agenda will not be appeased until the basic meaning of the parade is transformed beyond recognition. Like the Red Army parading its soldiers and missiles, they want to see their victorious legions marching in drag while shocking the crowds with public passion.

Proof for what I say:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3XjSsqd1rM

FATHER JOE:

I recall a NOW rally on the Mall many years ago which included such visual and vocal expressions of foul gay exhibitionism that the liberal Washington Post press took offense and CSPAN refused to repeat the program, at least during the family hour. You are correct, we have seen poor displays of manners and it even embarrasses the more civil and family-minded homosexuals. When a gay activist several years ago spat the consecrated host back into Cardinal O’Connor’s face, several came to me with utter shame to be associated with such reprobates. They were members of COURAGE, started by my cousin, the late Fr. John Harvey. They embrace a life of celibate love, prayer and service.  I wonder why they have no contingent in the parade, given that they abide by Catholic moral discipline?

MIKE:

Unfortunately these men and women have a very low profile compared to most. Stereotypes are realized and literally thrown into the faces of others: “Accept us or else!” When it comes to these militant gays, theirs is not a celebration of faith and heritage, because many of them hate the Church.

FATHER JOE:

I have read already that some of them think OUT@NBCUniversal is a rouse to keep them quiet and to restore the beer sponsors. I had never heard of it but it seems to be a small amalgamation of gays and straights that share basic values and want to keep the parade a family show.

MICHAEL:

Evil is evil. They are painted in the same sickening colors.

SEAMUS:

Still, I think it hardly compares at all with a number of other groups biting at the bit to participate, like the so-called Irish Queers.

FATHER JOE:

Even there name is wrong and offensive. None of them can begin to compare to a group of faithful sons of the Church like the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The AOH is “the oldest Catholic lay organization in America and is dedicated to Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity.” The statement was released: “Organizers (no longer strictly AOH) have diligently worked to keep politics – of any kind – out of the parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event. Paradoxically, that ended up politicizing the parade.” While we can individually question the prudence of the current decision, I could certainly see how it fits into its appreciation of Christian charity. The problem will remain that others will view it as a matter of obligatory justice, at least as understood by a secular society.

SEAMUS:

Cardinal Dolan referenced the second theme by saying that he hoped the parade would be “a source of unity for all of us.” I pray that it will be so, but I fail to see how it will not be a strained unity.

MICHAEL:

How can we have unity with devils? Mortal sin breeches any viable communion between us.

St-Patricks-Day-Beckman1

FATHER JOE:

Timothy Cardinal Dolan has caught a lot of flak for his involvement and support of the organizers. But he knows too the hearts of the good men among the organizers and of the AOH. We live in a society where we must live together despite ever widening divergences of beliefs and moral practices. The dynamics to this are complicated. Do we retreat to the ghetto so as to be untainted by the world or do we throw ourselves into the mix as a living ingredient of the melting pot? The former would minimize our voice in the public forum, the latter might risk our deformation.  The answers are not as easy as some make out.

Cardinal Dolan has responded to the controversy on his blog:

However, the most important question I had to ask myself was this: does the new policy violate Catholic faith or morals? If it does, then the Committee has compromised the integrity of the Parade, and I must object and refuse to participate or support it.

From my review, it does not. Catholic teaching is clear: “being Gay” is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals. Homosexual actions are—as are any sexual relations outside of the lifelong, faithful, loving, lifegiving bond of a man and woman in marriage—a moral teaching grounded in the Bible, reflected in nature, and faithfully taught by the Church.

So, while actions are immoral, identity is not! In fact, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, people with same-sex attraction are God’s children, deserving dignity and respect, never to be treated with discrimination or injustice.

To the point: the committee’s decision allows a group to publicize its identity, not promote actions contrary to the values of the Church that are such an essential part of Irish culture. I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching, but simply identifying themselves as “Gay people of Irish ancestry.”

MICHAEL:

I think the matter is black-and-white clear. But the “Church of Nice” is too far gone to see it. Liberality and pacifism rule the day. Those who would speak the truth cower to intimidation. If it is OUR parade then we should just tell the gays to stick to their own. Must they own two New York parades? The mayor can march for them and they can keep the beer and television rights, too. Must everything Catholic be spoiled?

SEAMUS:

The Cardinal states, “Neither my predecessors as Archbishop of New York nor I have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade… but have always appreciated the cooperation of parade organizers in keeping the parade close to its Catholic heritage.”

FATHER JOE:

Honestly, I must acknowledge that I find the expression “Catholic heritage” a tad weak. Many colleges advertise their Catholic “heritage” and “tradition” long after abandoning the Church and any emphasis upon sacraments and holiness. Is a Catholic heritage the most for which we can hope in this broken world? My hope would be, as ridiculous and unlikely as it might sound, that events like the St. Patrick’s Parade would be an overwhelming expression of Christian faith, winning converts and praising God as it proceeds under the massive skyscrapers.

MICHAEL:

Good luck on that one!  It may remain a cultural event but the religious significance has been killed.

FATHER JOE:

I understand where you are coming from and I sympathize, but let me finish. Personally, I would like to see the nature of the parade restored to its religious roots.  Our desire for inclusion and the benefits from commercial sponsorship (as with beer companies) has escalated the secularization of the celebration.  I suspect that if it returned to its pious foundations, the parade would be much smaller and many dissenting groups would want no part of it.  The problem we face would largely take care of itself.

What would I like to see?  Like the processions of old, in my mind’s eye, I can imagine a brilliant monstrance carried down the thoroughfare with believers falling to their knees as it passes. Next we would witness relics of hundreds of saints carried in procession and finally a beautiful float with the Blessed Mother, adorned with flowers. Hymns and chants to Christ and Mary would fill the air. Altar servers in vesture would stretch the length of the parade. Priests and people, mindful of what they really celebrate, would enter St. Patrick’s for Mass and all the other churches would be filled as well. Large screens throughout the city would televise the procession and liturgy. Millions of people would honor the great patron saint and proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

MICHAEL:

And they say I am detached from reality. A secular world knows that New York is a godless city. Radical Islamists have attacked what they judge as the home of the Great Satan. I wish things were different, but yours is a silly dream, detached from any semblance of reality.

FATHER JOE:

I know it is not the city we know now, but how about tomorrow? I still believe in the God of miracles. He can heal bodies, change minds and convert hearts.

St. Patrick, do not forget your spiritual children!

O blessed Archbishop Sheen, intercede for us!

When Caesar will Not Play Fair

A decade ago when I challenged giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, I was told that we needed these men and women for other important issues and should not burn our bridges. Of course, when push came to shove, these politicians largely abandoned the Church anyway: forcing us to shut-down adoption services because of homosexual inclusion, redefining marriage as something other than one man and one woman, requiring contraceptive and abortifacient coverage to healthcare plans, and tightening the screws on our tax exemption.

Democrats have frequently been demonized for promoting every type of liberality that spurns traditional morality. Republicans have been castigated as uncaring or insensitive to the poor. In truth, both parties are often opportunistic. Republicans liked Pope Benedict. Democrats liked Pope Francis. But both parties play with slogans and listen to lobbyists more than operating from incontrovertible convictions. Real Catholics should know that we belong to Christ more than to any political party. Real Catholics should place the teachings of the faith above the fickle fads and fashions of men. Today the attitude is if it is civilly recognized or law then it is morally okay. This is ridiculous. Catholics must be a sign of contradiction to the world, not an enabler for evil and not a deaf ear.

Are our Catholic people on the same page with the teaching Church? Here is where we find our crisis. Many are not. Many of the political enemies of the Church are self-professed Catholics. Back in 2004, 48 Catholic Democratic members of Congress signed a letter to Cardinal McCarrick in Washington, complaining that the bishops’ statements were counterproductive and “miring the Church in partisan politics.” In other words, the Church was told to shut its mouth! The religious liberty battle stems from this attitude. The Catholic card is played at election time, but once elected they are more likely to follow the money than scruples about fundamental human rights. This often leads to a re-prioritizing of what these rights actually are. As for the rest of us, we can be as Catholic as we want inside the church doors; but once outside the church building, we are expected to surrender to Caesar.

How can we play with any of them when they do not play fair? But what would happen to us if we collect our chips and cards and go home? Would we forfeit any say? Could matters be made worse?

No Where to Run, the Church & the World

It is argued that the Catholic Church has lost the contraception fight and now must move on. Similarly, I am today hearing the same said about other issues. Pope Francis is asked about homosexuals and he says, “Who am I to judge?” Critics rashly interpret this as a change in the Church’s stance and a leading gay magazine names the Pope as “Man of the Year.” A special synod is called on the family and revisionists suggest a coming change regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics. But the Pope is still Catholic and I think the dissenters are in for a big surprise. It may be that we cannot judge the souls of individuals, but we can make moral distinctions between right and wrong. Those who commit serious sin are not in a proper disposition for the sacraments. The Pope is the servant of the Word, not its master. He cannot invalidate either divine positive law or natural law. Of course, what might happen is that many Catholics will become accustomed to an ever permeating silence— about birth control, about gay relationships, about invalid marriages, and God-forbid, even about the murder of unborn children. Here again with this last point, too many make too much of papal remarks about there being other moral concerns beyond abortion. The fact is the Church is facing conflict from every angle, including the martyrdom of Christians by ISIS swords.

An essential thrust to Vatican II was a dialogue with the world, not so that the Church might be converted to the world but that the world might be more receptive of Christ’s kingdom. Many of us feel that this remains an important mission for the Church. However, critics can rightly point at instances of impotency and weakness toward a hostile world that seems to be more successful than we are at winning hearts and minds. The Church faces a mocking atheistic secular modernity on one hand and a radical militant Islamic extremism on the other. The Church is not only caught in the middle but old friends have changed alliances.

Can the Church engage cultures that feign courtesy when we are on the same side of its agenda but otherwise find ourselves targeted for extinction? Fight against the death penalty for the guilty and we are applauded; but then we are commanded to lay down our arms in the battle against aborting children and euthanizing the sick and elderly. The bishops are praised for supporting healthcare but condemned for not wanting to provide free contraception and abortifacients. The Church was once rendered accolades for her orphanages and adoption services; but today is shut down for refusing adoptions to homosexuals and lesbians. The Islamic world once protected Christian minorities, and utilized them in government and in schools of higher learning; after all, they were the one minority that was so small it would never be a threat to the ruling powers. But today, fanatics will not rest until every drop of Christian blood is spilt or the men are converted. From the Islamic East to the Secular West, there is nowhere to run and no place to hide. It is for this reason that I fear silence. Peace today will only lead to worse wars tomorrow. Silence will be interpreted as assent, or worse still, retreat.

Calumny about Jewels & Shepherds

Herb wanted to share his calumny with us:

What would Jesus’ or Peter’s reaction be today to bishops, cardinals and the popes parading around in excessive jewel-bedecked outfits?

Father Joe has this response to make:

What jewels are these?  Do you know anything about the simplicity of Pope Francis?  The take home pay for most priests and bishops is around 12 to 15 thousand dollars a year.  Those in religious orders do not even own the clothes on their back.  The marks of faith are passed on from one shepherd to the next.  The cross a bishop wears signifies Christ and his redemptive work.  The ring a bishop puts on is a sign of his apostolic authority.  He wears it just as married couples wear a ring.  At a time when certain millionaire Protestant clergy proclaim a prosperity gospel, you attack poor men who do more for charity and human dignity than you ever will. 

Look to your plank before trying to reach for the splinters in the eyes of your brothers!