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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Preserving Purity

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As I pondered revising my remarks about cohabitation and premarital relations, written about thirty years ago, I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake by addressing bad behavior instead of giving the gravity to good or wholesome behavior. I suppose I thought that everyone should already know right from wrong. This presupposition does not hold today and I am not sure it did then. Maybe 66% or more of those asking for marriage in the Church are already living together? Large numbers of such couples are no longer seeking true marriage, ever!

How should couples act prior to marriage? I would like to offer certain recommendations:

FIRST, the whole dating scene is a mess. We should opt for the older practices of courtship. Dating today is an excuse for “making out” and compromising virginity. Younger children should not go out on dates and older teens should be chaperoned. Young adults need the mindset that stepping out with the opposite sex is not simply for a good time, but part of the search for a future mate. Dating is transitory. Courtship plays for keeps!

SECOND, both men and women should prize their purity and do all they can to preserve it as a gift for their future spouse. There should be no double-standard or leniency for men to misbehave. As for women, it is not true feminism or liberation to be as sleazy as certain men. Restraint in this area shows strength of character and a discipline that will keep them in good stead within marriage. Today, we must also contend with sexually transmitted diseases which infect millions, sometimes with lethal consequences. Sex kills! This is contrary to its very purpose. The only sure way to remain clean of infection is for a couple to remain pure and to enter upon the marriage bed undefiled.

THIRD, modesty in speech and dress should rule the day. Vulgar flirtation and immodest dress is in vogue starting with pre-teens and going into adulthood. Many complain that styles are so risqué that it is hard for true ladies to find decent clothing. Some women have resorted again to making their own dresses. Men and women are not the same. One pretty but flirtatious girl who had every boy’s eye remarked to me that she stopped short of getting the boys’ motors running. Poor thing, I explained, boys’ motors are always running! The best of young men can be quite weak in the flesh and they need good girls to keep them good. Young men should not lie or compel favors from women with their physical strength. Women should not tempt men with their clothes, or lack of clothes, and suggestive speech. Those who play games with the flames of passion are likely to get burned.

FOURTH, we should avoid those persons, places or things that can lead us into sin. Bad companions are problematic for both children and adults. Those who would lead us into sin and refuse efforts at conversion or change are best avoided. Girls who like dangerous bad boys often pay a terrible price and the loss of a good reputation. Boys should hang out with nice girls, the kind they might find regularly at church. Church groups, respectable public places, clean movies, and a parent’s dinner table are great places to meet and spend time. Bars and secluded car parks are no good. Definitely they should not share motel rooms or cohabitate. When couples are alone the defenses often go down. Things can also corrupt relationships, like bad movies, dirty magazines and lewd television programs.

FIFTH, while showing compassion to those who make mistakes, we need to retain a sense of shame for scandalous activity. I recall a teenage girl who had a child and everyone kissed and admired the beautiful baby. We were thankful that a pro-life decision was made. However, I was troubled that she showed no remorse or embarrassment at having given away her virginity or having an illegitimate child. Most babies in the past born to such girls were given up for adoption. The stigma served a purpose and its eradication is no service to other girls who might make a similar mistake. God draws good out of evil. But our sin remains and needs confession and absolution.

SIXTH, it is best to pursue love interests among friends who share our faith and values. Just because another person is Catholic is no longer insurance that he or she takes our faith and morals seriously. Mixed marriages (with non-Catholics) should be discouraged but, in any case, the young man and woman should be on the same page about morality and the significance of marriage. If they should decide to get married, they should both affirm that divorce will never be in the cards. Chastity is important because fornication before marriage opens the door to adultery after marriage. Once you take sex out of marriage it is very hard to put back into the box. Spouses should be best friends. There will be differences, but also many preoccupations held in common.

SEVENTH, we should insist upon a component of prayer and worship with those who are courted. If the couple do what is right, pray regularly and go to Mass together, the odds are that they will remain faithful to marriage until one of them dies.

Sacred Cross or Sacred Tree?

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The ceremony in the Vatican gardens to Mother Earth should be a warning to us about the dangers of any environmentalism that is detached from good science and sound religious teachings about our stewardship over creation. We take care of the world because it is God’s gift to us and what God creates is good. There is no divinity that can be identified with nature. We do not worship the world but rather the one who made the world. We do not preserve nature for its own sake. Rather, we realize that we diminish or hurt ourselves by the destruction of our habitat and the species with which we share the earth.

The female indigenous leader who planted a “sacred tree” in the Vatican Gardens was quite clear about the syncretistic and pagan meaning associated with the idols and rituals. She explained that it was to “satisfy the hunger of Mother Earth” and reconnect with “the divinity present in the Amazonian soil.” Catholicism has always rejected any pantheism that identifies the divinity with the things of nature.

All created things possess something of the divine spark or God’s power that sustains them in existence; however, God cannot be identified with any created things other than the God-man, Jesus Christ. The idolatry here is deeper than the “pachamama” statues but also includes the soil and the “sacred tree.” Indeed, the “pachamama” as a false deity is historically regarded as a harsh goddess demanding sacrifices. Her worship signifies the inclusion of paganism into what should now be a Christian culture. It is also a feature in current New Age religion or cults.

The Brazilian Ednamar de Oliveira Viana offered an explanation about the Vatican Garden tree-planting ceremony:

“To plant . . . is believing in a growing and fruitful life to satisfy the hunger of Mother Earth’s creation. This brings us to our origin by reconnecting divine energy and teaching us the way back to the Creator Father.”

Instructing the participants to bow before the “pachamama” statues, she added:

“The Synod is to plant this tree, water and cultivate, so that the Amazonian peoples are heard and respected in their customs and traditions experiencing the mystery of the divinity present in the Amazonian soil.”

Pope Francis helped to shovel the dirt but little more. The video of him doing this reminded me of our planting of trees as school children on Arbor Day. But there is something much more sinister behind this. (A connection might be made with the so-called “sacred trees” of present-day Wiccans with their nature worship. Similarly, Celts and Druids worshipped trees until St. Patrick’s victory over paganism.) Peruvian “sacred” trees are regarded as sacred beings. Again, it is associated with “living energy” and “spirits in nature.” Given this understanding, I would not be surprised if someone were to soon give the tree the axe and we were to see it following the “pachamama” down the Tiber. The one true tree that matters to Christians is the cross of Jesus. We must be ever mindful that sin, suffering and death come from the living tree in the primordial garden; mercy, healing and eternal life come from the dead tree of the cross.

The Pachamama Crusaders

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The now famous or infamous online video of the young Austrian men (led by Alexander Tschugguel) throwing the “pachamama” idols into the river may be an action that subsequently speaks louder than the entire official synod on the Amazon. Many of us who earnestly seek to be orthodox in faith and worship could not help but to respond favorably: “Good work boys!” We venerate statues of holy persons, but we do not worship them. These monstrosities crossed the line. Those who allowed false worship and idolatry in the Vatican should race to confession and beseech the mercy of Christ. Critics have been severe in their judgment: “Those who defended their inclusion must be morally and spiritually sick.”

While it was explained to him that they were “signs of fertility, of Mother Earth, and integral ecology,” Alexander Tschugguel saw the idols for what they were, a violation of the first commandment. The Holy Father explained that no idolatry was intended and he apologized to those offended by what the boys did. The first part of the Decalogue is clear:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Exodus 20:2-5; cf. Deuteronomy 5:6-9).

What many of us would consider witchcraft in the Vatican Gardens included a ritual dance around a blanket on the grass upon which were two idols of a naked woman, apparently a pagan goddess. Next to them was a statue of a man with an erection. A female shaman, wearing a feathered headdress, lifted up her hands for an invocation. Her sixteen concelebrants knelt and bowed to the idols that rested upon the blanket.

When the idol was presented to the pope, he crossed himself. The shaman shook her rattle around those assembled. The syncretism of pagan and Christian elements was clear. Although a few churchmen suggested that the idols were depictions of Our Lady of the Amazon (which looks totally different), Fr. Giacomo Costa, an official with the Amazon synod, explained that the wooden depictions of a nude pregnant woman were not of the Virgin Mary, but were figures symbolic of life. Nevertheless, in truth the “pachamama” was reckoned as much more, as Mother Earth or literally “World Mother.”

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Idolatrous intent or not, these are idols and false worship was permitted (there is video proof). This ranks with the biblical scene where the Almighty tells Moses that his people have corrupted themselves.

“They have quickly turned aside from the way I commanded them, making for themselves a molten calf and bowing down to it, sacrificing to it. . . .”

Although made of wood, the “Pachamama” idols signify the worship of a fertility goddess of the earth. This new “golden calf” had no business within the church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Infuriated by the idolatry, a couple of young Austrian men took the idols from the church where they were on display and threw them into the Tiber River. The images were recovered later and the Pope apologized for what the boys did. I think bishops and priests in leadership need to apologize to the Church and to God. Are we more concerned about not hurting feelings or about saving souls? We should thank the boys for reminding everyone that our focus is on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The passive toleration and extolling of false pagan worship is a sin. My only complaint with the boys is that the figures should have been physically destroyed before being discarded into the Tiber. Were the boys criminals? I would argue that they answered to a higher law. As with the Arian crisis, if the bishops should fall into heresy or fail to act, there is a faithful remnant that will uphold the true faith.

The statues were recovered but not exhibited during the closing Mass of the synod.

 

A Synod & an Uncomfortable Pope

157358893444805185 (2)Despite attestations to the contrary, the images and video recordings of rituals around the “pachamama” statues at the Amazon synod has led to charges of idolatry and has ironically damaged efforts at evangelization. Indeed, many of the evangelical Protestants and/or Pentecostals (who are making converts in droves) are now pointing to this scandal as so-called proof that Catholicism is not a genuine form of Christianity. It may be that so much attention was given to the orchestration of the dialogue and documents that insufficient guidance was given to the scandalous indigenous images and questionable rituals that many wrongly felt were the fluff of the synod.

I mentioned in a previous posting that “Some have suggested that given the charges of syncretism and idolatry leveled at the peripheral activities around the synod deliberations, any conclusions from the conferences forfeit credibility and importance for any later papal exhortation or summary based upon them.” Rather than a message that is conditioned by culture; should we not be emphasizing the Gospel as a counter-cultural proclamation anywhere and everywhere? Speaking for myself, I find it hard to believe that the pope, cardinals, bishops and priests involved with the Amazon synod intended to be complicit with any sinful act of idolatry. It is my suspicion that the designated handlers for the side-event either lacked the theological sophistication to appreciate the ramifications of certain elements or else the ceremonials got quickly out of their control. It is evident that many of those involved or in attendance were confused about what was happening.

Various contradictory explanations were offered by churchmen that also conflicted with the expressed paganism spelled out by the indigenous people given charge. The “pachamama” images were errantly detailed as images of the Virgin or as depictions of Mary and Elizabeth at the Visitation or as symbols for life. However, it became increasingly clear that critics condemning this as idolatry were apparently correct. Subsequent remarks by involved churchmen and even by the Pope were efforts at damage control. The worry about the theft and the discarding of the images was that the indigenous people invited to the synod would feel insulted or hurt.

Note in the garden ceremony the pope did not sit in what appeared to be a presider’s chair but deliberately sat with other observers. He looked uncomfortable. When presented with a black tucum ring (associated with liberation theology) he quickly took it off. Notice also the posture of the Holy Father during the garden service. He tended to cast his eyes downward, toward his feet. When presented with the “pachamama” he hesitated in blessing it and instead crossed himself. When there was some insistence that he receive the object, he made a small sign of the cross over it. Was he blessing the object, as he does routinely for so many things presented to him, or was he trying both not to offend and to offer a minor exorcism over the statue? He set aside anticipated comments so as to avoid making any statement pro or con. Did the pope’s heart go out to those involved, confident that they meant well and not desiring to humiliate them publicly? Might he had forgiven them as little children dancing in a circle and playing a game of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”? However, the ambiguity of his actions and the clear syncretistic idolatry of the participants was certainly scandalous. The shaman would make the sign of the cross several times herself but the mixture of pagan and Christian piety would not give the activity legitimacy. While there was no “idolatrous intent” on the Pope’s part (as he says); this cannot be said for everyone else involved. The activity that was enabled was arguably wrong and a matter of serious sin.

While it might seem unbelievable, the Italian Episcopal Conference published its own pagan prayer to Pachamama back in April 2019.  Entitled, “Prayer to Mother Earth of the Inca Peoples,” it is as follows:

“Pachamama of these places, drink and eat this offering at will, so that this earth may be fruitful. Pachamama, good Mother, be favorable (propitiated)! Be favorable (propitiated)! Make that the oxen walk well, and that they not become tired. Make that the seed sprout well, that nothing bad may happen to it, that the cold may not destroy it, that it produce good food. We ask this from you: give us everything. Be favorable (propitiated)! Be favorable (propitiated)!”

Aside from the question of who is or is not complicit, it is in light of such paganism that we must turn to genuine Christian prayer and make reparation.

Here is an oration recommended by a holy churchman:

PRAYER OF REPARATION
Recommended by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

imagesMost Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, receive through the hands of the Immaculate Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary from our contrite heart a sincere act of reparation for the acts of worship of wooden idols and symbols during the Synod for the Amazon, which occurred in Rome, the Eternal City, the heart of the Catholic world. Pour out in the heart of Our Holy Father Pope Francis, of the Cardinals, of the Bishops, of priests and lay faithful, your Spirit, who will expel the darkness of their minds, so that they might recognize the impiety of such acts, which offended your Divine majesty and offer to you public and private acts of reparation.

Pour out in all members of the Church the light of the fullness and beauty of the Catholic Faith. Enkindle in them the burning zeal of bringing the salvation of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, to all men, especially the people in the Amazon region, who still are enslaved in the service of feeble material and perishable things, as the deaf and mute symbols and idols of “mother earth.” Enkindle the light of faith in those persons, especially in the persons of the Amazonian tribes who do not yet possess the liberty of the children of God, and who do not have the unspeakable happiness of knowing Jesus Christ and having in Him a participation in the life of your Divine nature.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the one true God, besides Whom there is no other god and no salvation, have mercy on your Church. Look especially upon the tears and contrite and humble sighs of the little ones in the Church. Look upon the tears and prayers of the little children, of the adolescents, of young men and young women, of the fathers and mothers of families and also of the true Christian heroes, who in their zeal for your glory and in their love for Mother Church threw into the water the symbols of abomination which defiled her. Have mercy on us: spare us, O Lord, parce Domine, parce Domine! Have mercy on us: Kyrie eleison! Amen.

Married Priests & Women Deacons?

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Ordination of Married Men in the Amazon

111. Many of the ecclesial communities of the Amazonian territory have enormous difficulties in accessing the Eucharist. Sometimes it takes not just months but even several years before a priest can return to a community to celebrate the Eucharist, offer the sacrament of reconciliation or anoint the sick in the community. We appreciate celibacy as a gift of God (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 1), to the extent that this gift enables the missionary disciple, ordained to the priesthood, to dedicate himself fully to the service of the Holy People of God. It stimulates pastoral charity and we pray that there will be many vocations living the celibate priesthood. We know that this discipline “is not required by the very nature of the priesthood… although it has many reasons of convenience with it” (PO 16). In his encyclical on priestly celibacy, St. Paul VI maintained this law and set out theological, spiritual, and pastoral motivations that sustain it. In 1992, the post-synodal exhortation of John Paul II on priestly formation confirmed this tradition in the Latin Church (PDV 29). Considering that legitimate diversity does not harm the communion and unity of the Church, but expresses and serves it (LG 13; SO 6) which testifies to the plurality of existing rites and disciplines, we proposed to establish criteria and dispositions on the part of the competent authority, within the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain priests suitable and esteemed men of the community, who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive and adequate formation for the priesthood, having a legitimately constituted and stable family to sustain the life of the Christian community through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon region. In this regard, some were in favor of a more universal approach to the subject.

Female Diaconate 

103. In the many consultations carried out in the Amazon, the fundamental role of religious and lay women in the Church of the Amazon and its communities was recognized and emphasized, given the multiple services they provide. In a large number of these consultations, the permanent diaconate for women was requested. For this reason the theme was important during the Synod. Already in 2016, Pope Francis had created a “Study Commission on the Diaconate of Women” which, as a Commission, arrived at a partial result based on what the reality of the diaconate of women was like in the early centuries of the Church and its implications for today. We would therefore like to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and await its results.

My initial concern about the Amazonian synod was that it was a setup to compel the larger Church to permit married priests and to allow for the ordination of women as deacons. The former is certainly possible but the importance of celibacy should not be regarded lightly or merely as a convenient accidental to preserve Church property or to fill vacancies in parishes. The celibate love of the priest is a profound imitation of Christ that makes him into an eschatological sign of the kingdom. With or without a synod, the pope could allow a few stable married men, probably in their 70’s, to be ordained so as to insure the Mass and sacraments. However, any wholesale allowance in the Amazonian churches would likely impact the universal Church. As for the prospect of women deacons, there are three degrees to the one sacrament of holy orders and St. Pope John Paul II has defined infallibly that the Church has no authority to ordain women. Despite the prudential service of women “deaconesses” in the early Church; the ordination of women has always been prohibited.

Final Synod Document

Instead of the Amazonian or world bishops coming together in a democratic fashion, the attendees were appointed by the Holy See. The orchestration of the event was obvious and one might argue that this made any results or recommendations a foregone conclusion. It seemed that certain progressive German bishops ran the show, despite their having no direct investment in the Amazonian churches.  Some have suggested that given the charges of syncretism and idolatry leveled at the peripheral activities around the synod deliberations, any conclusions from the conferences forfeit credibility and importance for any later papal exhortation or summary based upon them.  Is this true?

The Amazon Synod & Charges of Idolatry

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The worship of anyone or anything other than almighty God is a violation of the first commandment. As with all transgressions, while objectively wrong the subjective culpability is judged by God alone. This is why the Holy Father says there was no “idolatrous intent” even if the situation got out of hand. Nevertheless, if the indigenous shaman and her friends out of ignorance truly did not know better, those Catholic clerics (who would certainly know right from wrong) might be more culpable. I suspect this is why many critics are demanding correction, repentance and reparation for the public and objective grave sins likely committed at the Amazonian synod.

Regardless of intention, the placing of idols in a church is sacrilegious act offensive to God. Those demanding recantation point to the following:

  • The pope allowed and attended an act of idolatrous worship of “pachamama,” a pagan goddess.
  • The Vatican Gardens as well as the graves of the martyrs and of the church of the Apostle Peter were desecrated.
  • The pope participated in this idolatry by blessing the “pachamama” image.
  • The pope prayed with an idol (naked woman with child) placed in front of the altar at St. Peter’s and joined in procession with it.
  • After wooden images were taken from Santa Maria Church and thrown into the Tiber by outraged Catholics, the pope apologized for their removal.
  • A new profanation was committed when another wooden image of “pachamama” was returned to the church.
  • At the closing Mass, the pope accepted a bowl (of plants) used in the idolatrous worship of “pachamama” and placed it on the altar.
  • The pope called the images “pachamama” in his apology for their removal: a name for a false goddess of mother earth (in South America).

Beginning with St. Paul, the early Church fathers taught that sacrifices made to pagan idols were actually oblations made to demons. Christians were urged to have no part in them or even to take of the food that was subsequently shared with the poor.

“No, I mean that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:19-21).

I will have to give some serious reflection to this matter before writing further.  My suspicion is that the Holy Father’s compassion for wayward children was given precedence over their errant behavior.  Note that when initially presented with the statue he crossed himself instead of the image.  When pressed to bless and receive it, did he truly bless it or was it a simple exorcism?  When he takes it notice that the statue is quickly passed off to an attendant.  

 

When is Freedom Not Freedom?

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As Americans the notion of individual freedom is very precious to us. But even we acknowledge that such liberty is not absolute. Further, one might speak about freedom but in action place an entire people in bondage (slavery) or strip the most vulnerable as having any rights at all (unborn children). People can believe as they want; however I suspect that there would be some friction if certain citizens decided to shake off the yoke of repression as an indigenous people and returned to the religion of the Aztecs, killing children as a sacrifice to their idols. (I guess the legal way around this would be only to use the recent kills from abortion clinics.) Christians understand freedom as the opportunity to work with grace and to do what is good in the sight of God. Fortunately, the deity of the Church is satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ and is not looking for other “physical” victims. In any case, who determines what is good or evil? Catholicism would argue that one is not truly free in committing evil. Such choices place one into spiritual bondage. Look at these freedoms closely. Is one free to believe that the world is flat and sits on the back of a large cosmic turtle? Would we not call this DELUSION? Atheists sometimes view any deity as ridiculous and promote the parody of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Is one free to believe that there is no God? The catechism speaks of atheism as a sin. How is true freedom promoted by sinning? One may have freedom of expression or speech but even civil law stipulates against crying out, “Fire!” in a crowded theater. The liberties of one should not run over the rights of others. This principle is violated in slavery as it is in abortion and the mistreatment of laborers today. Contemporary Catholicism speaks a great deal about freedom of conscience; however, conscience must be properly informed and rational. There should always be a connection to the objective and real. That is in part where the fight is today regarding sexual behavior. Catholicism argues both for natural, divine-positive and Church law. Islam contends for Sharia law. Secular society makes up its laws according to the fads and fashion of the day; it equates right and wrong with political activism as realized in legislative and judicial power. Today we see a usurpation of both the laws of nature and of God as in measures promoting abortion, physician assisted suicide and relativizing gender identity.

See also DOCUMENT ON HUMAN FRATERNITY.

Aggressive Evangelism to the East

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Rather than trying to get Islam to join the apathy and passivity of the West; we should readily confront it for what it is. We must be aggressive as they are aggressive. If there is to be true liberty, then Christianity must be allowed its place in both Western and Eastern society. Give us an even playing field or do not expect reciprocity. Many of us are confident that if there is no threat of violence or intimidation, Catholicism will always win the day in seeking the hearts and minds of believers. The Muslims are certainly not wimps in trying to spread their faith. There is bound to be conflict and challenge. What many of us are saying is that we should only be open to Islamic indoctrination to the extent that Catholic or Christian evangelism is allowed in the non-Christian nations. I am not afraid to say that it is my fervent hope and prayer that everyone might be Catholic. Our missionaries should have no closed doors placed before them. We should be strong in seeking to convert others to the truth. A reluctance to witness the faith in this manner implies that we have nothing to offer and that the faith does not matter. A hesitance to share the faith is a failure to love God and our neighbor. Is there any sin that is more serious?

See also DOCUMENT ON HUMAN FRATERNITY.

 

Toleration vs. Missionary Witness & Martyrs

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Seemingly in contradiction to the “Document on Human Fraternity,” (focusing on Catholic-Muslim relations) did not the Catholic Church and/or the leaders of Catholic states seek to impose the true faith in the lands discovered in the New World? Here at home I think about the North American Martyrs, Jesuits like the Holy Father, but men who did not hesitate to proclaim Catholicism to the most bloodthirsty among the natives of America and Canada. I think of the saints that died trying to bring the faith to the nations of Asia. Are we now to belittle their contribution? While certain elements of the faith might be enculturated; nevertheless, the kerygma brings about both individual and communal transformation. Idols are destroyed. Pagan rituals are replaced with the Mass. The immorality of non-Christian orgies is rejected and prayer and processions with the sacrament or statues to holy personages are substituted. Magic and superstition comes to an end or is suppressed. True faith and worship is given its place. The values of the Gospel will utterly transform and give a new meaning to the culture. Despite what this document says, many of us are proud of what Christianity has achieved and would make no apologies. This document seems to say that we are sorry for converting people and trying to change the world.

When speaking of good relations between the East and the West, it is stated that the Christian West can find in the Muslim East remedies for the “spiritual and religious maladies” of materialism. Given that we are speaking here about false religion, how would Islam help Christians to return to orthodoxy and the salvation of their souls? We certainly would not want to reduce the developed nations of the West to the status of third world countries. While Christians need the faith set aflame, I doubt the fanaticism of Islam is something that many Christians would want to embrace. Note while materialism is listed as the one fault of the West, it is compared to the “weakness, division, conflict and scientific, technical and cultural decline” of the East. Given all these faults, how is it that the East is supposed to help the West?

See also DOCUMENT ON HUMAN FRATERNITY.

Divine Wisdom Insures Oneness in Faith

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Often omitted in critiques of the “Document on Human Fraternity” (February 4, 2019) is the part about divine wisdom as the “source” to be “different” in what one believes. When individuals are labeled “different” it usually implies that the person is “touched” or somewhat out of sync with reality. Real faith or belief brings a profound unity with God and with the world he has made.  God has given us various avenues for truth. Speaking for myself, I cannot hold that God is the author of sloppy thinking, denial of proven scientific discoveries and an assortment of religions that disagree with each other more than finding any consensus. It seems to me that God gave us philosophy and logic so that we might rationally consider the ultimate questions. God gave us science and experimentation so that we might understand something of his creation and the objective or real world. God gave us a definite religious faith so that we would appreciate that we are not cosmic accidents but children of a loving and omnipotent Father.

As a Catholic I believe without question that God established covenants and led his people through the patriarchs and prophets. God sent his Son so that he might reveal his face to mankind and save us from our sins. Christianity has an answer that satisfies the soul. The message of Christian faith might be denied or distorted but it makes sense in a way that no religion can except possibly for Judaism. The Christian faith is a narrative that interacts with the stories of each and every man and woman. Here we are talking about the definite story of salvation. Revelation comes to the Church through the movement and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The truths of God are entrusted to the Catholic Church.  What God gives her, she dispenses to the children.

The document comes very close to mouthing the sentiments of Pilate.  He was loyal to the emperor and respectful toward the pagan deities of Rome, yes even when he placed no faith in them.  He had seen too much.  Cynicism had taken ahold of his soul.  All these different nations and people he encountered each claimed that their religion was the true one.  The Jews went so far as to fight among themselves.  The situation with Jesus took him by surprise.  His wife had dreamed about this man and she begged him not to have anything to do with his condemnation.

“So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” (John 18:37-38).

The truth of Christ would break through a world of lies.  Pilate, himself, is touched by this mystery.  However, he was afraid of the crowd.  Maybe on some level he understood that if he allowed the truth of Christ to penetrate his soul then nothing would ever be the same?  The acceptance of Christ always shines a light upon the confusion and deception that surrounds us.  Christianity refused to compromise with pagan Rome and so the age of the martyrs began.  Christianity was not a religion tolerant of others.  The truth is what it is.  You cannot be a Christian and eat the meat of idols!  Ours is a jealous God!  Jesus is the SAVING NAME.  “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12).

See also DOCUMENT ON HUMAN FRATERNITY.