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  • 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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The Rights of the Accused: Innocent Priests

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This is an insightful article that every priest AND BISHOP should read from my old friend Fr. Tom Guarino.

Rolling Stone, Alan Dershowitz and Catholic Priests by Thomas Guarino

The Conspiracy:  An Innocent Priest by Msgr. William McCarthy

Sacrificing Priests on the Altar of Insurance by D. Shaneyfelt & J. Maher

ATHEIST COMMANDMENT 10

“Leave the world a better place than you found it.”

big-bag-of-money-6497-largeThis is a nice platitude but that is about all it is. The truth is that we have very little control over the world. We can try to make a positive difference over our small piece of it, but even here things often do not go our way. Indeed, we might be in conflict with one another as to what makes the world better. Is it technology, more parks, electric cars or gas guzzlers, laws that promote “choice” over human life, legalizing sodomy, what? Those who promote justice for some often want it revoked for others. That was a facet of the religious liberty fight between the Church and the current government administration. Often we experience life as a mess and leave the world in a mess. Despite progress can we say that the world is a better place than in the past? There are still acts of terrorism and genocide. This year it was estimated that the one percent of the world population owns over 50% of the world’s wealth and resources. There is an old saying about this— the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

We live and we die. Many people just scrape along, try to find some happiness and deal with dreams realized and/or broken. Relationships give comfort and belonging but there is also betrayal and abandonment. We are a society of givers and takers and critics debate as to which it might be better to be.

Catholic Charities is the largest social service organization in the world just behind the U.S. government. Believers are often very generous to those in need. I heard one atheist share his deep regrets that they were frequently shamed by believers in how they respond to the needy and human suffering. Why is that? What is it about the so-called “pie-in-the-sky religion” that also focuses on earthly struggles and pain? Why is it that by comparison non-theistic forms of humanism often become oppressive and part of the problem?

A Few Thoughts about the Synod Relatio & Debates

My head is spinning about some of the things that are being seriously argued at the Vatican’s Synod on the Family. I am already concerned that a Commission was established to look at streamlining the process for annulments even prior to the start of the Synod. It seems to me that if such were a concern then the bishops would then request the Holy See to do so. Will the documents which will be formulated reflect the majority view and Catholic tradition or will there be attempts to steal the show for the minority progressives?

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What is it about this new Synod document that has critics saying it signals a revolutionary shift in favor of same-sex couples? It is acknowledged that this “relatio” urges clergy to make “fraternal space” for homosexuals. But what does it say? We read:

“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of proving that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”

Are we reading the same document? All I see are questions. Hopefully they are not rhetorical. Do we eject gay brothers and sisters from our churches? No we do not. Can we invite them forward for Holy Communion? Yes, provided that they maintain chaste and celibate lives. Can we affirm or value their sexual orientation? No, we cannot do so. Such would devalue the true meaning of marriage and human sexuality. We cannot move away from the assessment of disorientation or that same-sex carnality is mortal sin.

As a so-called case-in-point of past intolerance, the news contrasted this development with the story of Barb Webb who was fired from a Catholic school when she and her partner announced her pregnancy. Similarly, her partner, Kristen Moore was asked to resign from her post as a music director at a Catholic parish. The secular media glossed entirely over the moral issues that extend beyond same sex unions, like the freezing of embryos, donated semen and IVF technologies. All these elements are reckoned as moral evils and sinful.

This relatio is being interpreted precisely as Cardinal Kasper would suggest. The doctrinal truth is eclipsed, if it remains, for the sake of a pastoral provision or slackening of discipline. The same reasoning he uses for divorced and remarried couples is being applied to active homosexuals. I find this reckoning very disturbing. Discipline can be distinguished from doctrine but discipline is always at the service of doctrine. There are doctrinal elements that cannot be ignored. It is contradictory to say that gay acts are sinful and then to value, in any way, homosexuality. It is contradictory to say that marriage is a lifelong institution and that divorce is a sin, while inviting couples to receive Holy Communion who are living in adultery. The truths of Scripture are clear and we must always be at the service of the truth on every level: doctrinally, canonically and pastorally.

The document recognizes that same-sex couples live lives where they render “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice [which] constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.” Critics are saying that this is a crack in the door that may one day lead to full acceptance. I would say that this is not the case. The statement is one that reflects the immediate horizontal human condition but says nothing about the vertical supernatural dimension. It is a mere statement of fact that these couples support each other in their day-to-day lives. However, this does not mean that they are in right standing before God. Mortal sin is still mortal sin. I suspect that there are many “nice and pleasant” people who make good neighbors and yet will suffer damnation and hellfire. We are not saved by simply being nice but by being faithful and obedient to God. The Church can relax certain disciplines but she cannot change divine positive law. My fear is that tolerant language might enable or encourage more sinners to remain within their sins. The Church must be a place for saving truth and grace. She should never be an enabler for sinful lifestyles or blasphemous acts like receiving the Eucharist while ill-disposed or in mortal sin. This document does NOT acknowledge the “holiness” of such couples as was suggested in the Huffington Post article by Antonia Blumberg (1/13/14). It simply asks if we might tolerate with passivity and silence the situation of people living in sin.

I cannot buy this application of any “law of graduality.” No matter how slow might be the movement to holiness; the Church should never compromise on the fullness of truth. Confessors can exhibit great understanding and compassion for married couples who use artificial contraception, with the hope that they will eventually come around to the Church’s understanding of human dignity and the full value of the marital act. It is here that I can well appreciate “graduality.” However, this is not the same as cohabitating, adulterous and same-sex couples. They have no right to a shared bed.  In their regard, where there is neither contrition nor amendment of life, absolution must be withheld. Similarly, while they should attend weekly Sunday Mass, they should abstain from taking Holy Communion. The priest will not usually embarrass people in public but he fails his sacerdotal charge if he does not challenge such couples in private.

This law or better yet, theory of graduality was very much the rationale for the “open table” of Anglicanism. It was hoped that this welcoming to receive the Eucharist would draw others into greater unity. Contrastingly, the “closed table” of Catholicism sees Holy Communion as an expression of an ecclesial unity that is already realized. This is representative of the ancient tradition wherein heretics and grievous sinners were denied the sacrament or even excommunicated. The Church’s censure of interdict would also illustrate this posture. One had to be properly disposed and graced to receive the sacrament. Anything less was judged as blasphemous and scandalous. One should not pretend there is a union that is not truly there. This resonates with the current debate about divorced and remarried couples as well as with active homosexuals. We cannot allow a false compassion to tolerate normalization for the sake of public acceptance while the pastoral accommodation is deceptive to the doctrinal truth and the spiritual state of souls before God. We can move away from using pejorative biblical terms like “sodomites” and “adulterers,” but the underlying reality will remain the same. Does this really serve the summons to repent and believe?

If we change the discipline for those in serious sin and the intrinsically disordered, would we not logically have to open up Holy Communion to others (particularly Christians) who might be in ignorance of the full ecclesial reality but who live moral lives? It is a real can of worms and I would prefer to leave it closed. But that is my opinion.

40 Days for Life

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From September 24 through November 2, you’re invited to join other Christians for 40 Days for Life – 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion.

You’re also invited to stand and peacefully pray during a 40-day vigil in the public right-of-way outside Metropolitan Family Planning, 5915 Greenbelt Road, College Park, MD.

If you’d like more information – and especially if you’d like to volunteer to pray, please contact: Tom Trunk at 240-593-6982 or 40daysforlifeMD@gmail.com.

Visit the website at http://www.40daysforlife.com/collegepark.

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Father Joseph Jenkins, our Council Chaplain and the Pastor of Holy Family Parish was scheduled to lead the Rosary in front of the Greenbelt Abortion Clinic on the first day of the prayer vigils, Wednesday, September 24 at 1:00 PM. He was accompanied by Jim Murry, PGK, PFN. He was joined by other Council Knights, Jimmy Cardano, DGK and Roger Doucet, Fraternal Benefits Advisor. Various others had come from other councils and parishes. People came and left, although numbers swelled into the 20’s at one point. A young woman came over and told us that the happiest day of her life was when she had an abortion and that she did not regret it. We did not debate her but simply let her know that we were praying for the unborn children, including hers, and for the conversion of the hearts and minds of mothers and fathers to the Gospel of Life. It was clear to see that she came over to incite some negative action. Instead, we extended love and prayers. After the Rosary was offered, Father Jenkins offered an extemporaneous prayer, invoking the grace and aid of the Holy Spirit upon the prayer champions for life and for this woman in particular. That she might come to repentance and instead of dispairing when her eyes are opened, that she might find hope in Christ’s mercy. A few people beeped their car horns at us. In the past we have had people shout and gesture obscenities. Our reaction is always non-violence. We hate no one and do not want to hurt anyone.

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Every year when we do this prayer of protest there are women who will also tell us that we made them rethink what they were doing and turn around. Babies are saved. Father Jenkins also made mention of SPIRITUAL ADOPTION and how our prayers are an expression that all children are miracles and wanted. We are Christians proclaiming the Gospel of Life. There is no such thing as a pro-abortion Christianity. We witness to life. The Council Knights and their families were urged to come throughout the month and to offer their prayers and rosaries, both outside the clinic and wherever else they find themselves. We should pray unceasingly against the scourge in our society. Father Jenkins was very defiant and exclaimed, “When the child in the womb is not safe, none of us are safe!”

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Bishop Tobin on Remarried Couples & the Eucharist

pptobin280409Has anyone else read Bishop Thomas Tobin’s letter posted on the Providence Diocese’s website?  He invites discussion.  Thus, with all due respect, I would like to share my concerns.  The bishop writes:

In my personal reflection on this dilemma, I turn to the incident in the Gospels in which Jesus and His followers were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath and because they were hungry, began to pick and eat the grain, a clear violation of an important Mosaic Law. The offense was roundly condemned by the religious experts, the Pharisees. But in response, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:23-28).  In other words, while not denying the validity of the law, our Lord clearly placed it in a “pastoral context,” exempting its enforcement due to the human needs of the moment. Could we not take a similar approach to marriage law today?

One cannot really compare the issue of divorced-and-remarried Catholics being allowed to receive Holy Communion with the incident where our Lord’s apostles are charged with violation of the Sabbath by picking and eating the heads of grain (Mk 2:23-28).  The first is in regard to spiritual disposition and the sacrilege of taking Holy Communion while in mortal sin.  The latter simply focuses upon a pharisaical interpretation of the commandment demanding rest.  The apostles were not in any grievously sinful state.  Jesus excuses them, as a foretaste of the freedom that comes with his dispensation.  But, more than this, Jesus is God.  The lawgiver can excuse whatever laws he wills.  The Church can also make modifications, as with our keeping the Sunday Observance over the traditional Hebrew Sabbath.  However, such authority is not absolute and this juridical rendering is a far cry from trying to circumnavigate around basic objective moral norms.  The Church and the Pope do not have the authority to authorize sin and sacrilege.

What constitutes a genuine pastoral approach?  Excusing or enabling serious sin is no favor to anyone.  While we may be troubled by exclusion and feelings of hurt; how can these compare to the fires of hell and the loss of God’s friendship.  The pastoral cannot be so focused on the external situation or appearances that we neglect the internal reality.  The corollary to the assertion that “matrimony is made for man, not man for matrimony” does not find its solution in feigned second marriages but in a chaste celibacy.  Promises are made to be kept.  If the first marriage is authentic, then as long as one spouse lives, any attempted second marriage is a fiction.  That is the long-and-short of it.  There is no viable solution out of this conundrum.  This is more than “the lofty demands of the law,” but the enduring truth that the two become one flesh.  Affections might stray but one spouse continues to belong to the other.  Infidelity is stealing what is the spouse’s due and giving it to another.  There is no way that the Church could rubber-stamp such a scenario.

The bishop writes,

But at the same time, the Church has taught the pre-eminent value of receiving the Holy Eucharist, and I keep hearing the words of Jesus about the Eucharist, words that are just as valid and important as His words about marriage: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (John 6:53).

Missing from this assessment is the ancient teaching, recited in the sequence for Corpus Christi, that the same sacrament which brings life to one, brings judgment to another.  Purposely giving Holy Communion to those who are in an adulterous situation would invite condemnation upon them and ridicule upon a hypocritical Church.

Bishop Thomas Tobin states:

And I know that I would much rather give Holy Communion to these long-suffering souls (divorced-and-remarried couples) than to pseudo-Catholic politicians who parade up the aisle every Sunday for Holy Communion and then return to their legislative chambers to defy the teachings of the Church by championing same-sex marriage and abortion.

The bishop means well and he says, honestly, that he does not know the answer to the predicament; however, sympathy for small devils while castigating large ones is no answer at all.  A man can jump from one ledge to another.  If he misses by a foot or an inch, it makes no difference.  He is still just as dead.  This is the appropriate analogy here.

Bishop Tobin echoes an article in the National Catholic Reporter by Fr. Peter Daly who suggested that annulments be simplified by handling the situations entirely at the local level.  The bishop writes:

Can we eliminate the necessity of having detailed personal interviews, hefty fees, testimony from witnesses, psychological exams, and automatic appeals to other tribunals?  In lieu of this formal court-like process, which some participants have found intimidating, can we rely more on the conscientious personal judgment of spouses about the history of their marriage (after all, they are the ministers and recipients of the sacrament!) and their worthiness to receive Holy Communion?

The true Sensus Fidelium is that collection of the laity that keeps our moral laws and regularly goes to Mass.  They would be critical of this proposed solution.  The grounds for annulments often rests in ignorance, deceit, lack of proper discretion, inability to fulfill the obligations of marriage, mental problems, prior addiction, etc.  People are often blind to their own faults and shortcomings; but here the bishop is literally saying, “Physician, heal thyself!”  Would this apply for only the second marriage?  What about the third?  What part would “the other woman” play when marriages were deliberately destroyed?  Such a measure would play into the hands of selfishness.  Many of them do not understand the difference between an annulment and a divorce.  If the bishop’s notion were adopted, there would be no difference— and a basic command from Christ would be explicitly violated.

This is all quite serious.  The marriage analogy plays a crucial part in our understanding of the Church’s relationship to Christ and the sacrament of Holy Orders.  Weaken one and we hurt the others— the dominoes will begin to fall.

Conflict Between Homosexuality & Catholicism

Msgr. Pope followed up his post on fornication and cohabitation with one on homosexuality. This is a real hotbed issue (no pun intended) and I suspect that in the face of growing political and social acceptance, many preachers and religious leaders are hesitant to take it on in a critical fashion. Given curt responses from Pope Francis and Cardinal Dolan which were quickly misconstrued, many are wrongly anticipating a change in the Church’s stance toward homosexual acts. This just is not going to happen. Our respect for natural law and for the authority of Scripture and Tradition make any compromise absolutely impossible on this issue. The mechanisms in place that safeguard the deposit of faith will allow no repudiation of basic moral truths— what befell the Episcopalian churches can never happen in the Catholic Church.

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Men and women are their bodies. They are ordered toward marital union and propagation. Same-sex unions are inherently disordered and closed to biological fruitfulness. That is one of the reasons why the first element of the faith attacked was our adoption services. The Boston and Washington Archdioceses had to shut down their programs because of legal insistence that children be adopted by homosexual and lesbian couples. We could not do it. The Church cannot deliberately participate in an act that would cooperate with moral evil or place children into a position of suffering spiritual harm. Homosexual acts neither further the end of procreation nor foster genuine fidelity or union between spouses. Homosexual marriage is regarded by the Church as an empty secular legal construct which is, in fact, an outright deception or fiction. Both natural bonds and sacramental unions require the proper matter of men and women… their whole selves and bodies.

Msgr. Pope is quite right that both the Old and the New Testaments reject homosexual activity. Indeed, some contend that just quoting Old Testament sanctions for homosexuality would constitute a hate crime. St. Paul is clear; it is in conflict with the values of Christ’s kingdom. While certain revisionist churches come straight out and criticize God’s Word as wrong (culturally conditioned stereotypes over immutable objective truths), there are also biblical authorities who engage in fanciful exegetical gymnastics to make provision for such acts despite black-and-white condemnations. They point to their credentials or alphabet soup after their names as if that makes them a suitable parallel magisterium. Desperate to find loopholes, they propose theories and speculation as if they are fact. They insist that only a homosexuality, really a pederasty that targeted children was condemned— not consensual relationships between adults. They argue that the divine prohibition only targeted lustful promiscuity— not faithful monogamous and loving relationships. They would have us take their word on this, as neither the “letter” nor the “spirit” of God’s Word makes such strained distinctions. It is a contemporary reading into Scripture what is not there. It is much like a loose constructionist arguing for rights or interpretations in the U.S. Constitution which the framers never imagined. They would do for faith what politically motivated judges would do for the laws of our land. Redefinitions of marriage are an instance where both secular law and religious truth are corrupted.

Jesus is not recorded as having explicitly condemned homosexuality, but this works against the revisionists in that he did clearly override the Mosaic writ of divorce. Silence can only be interpreted to mean affirmation of the traditional opposition. Further, the living Word is manifest both with the incarnation and the Gospels and with the entirety of inspired Scripture. The teachings of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Timothy and St. Luke are also the teachings of Christ! That which is objectively true does not lose its binding force. We stand under God’s Word, not above it. The Pope and the bishops pass on the saving deposit; they cannot revoke or utterly change it. As much as they might want it to be otherwise, they do not have the authority to make homosexual acts good or acceptable before almighty God.

The Church has made an ardent appeal to natural law, especially to those who do not share our faith. We have seen this in reference to racial and ethnic inequality, artificial contraception, abortion and now homosexuality. Dissenting revisionists would have us do to our bodies what we would never do to our automobiles— there is a refusal to acknowledge the specifications of human design as that of two complementary genders. Men and women are made for each other. Homosexual sex would be like trying to run your car on molasses instead of gasoline. You are not going to get very far. Homosexual unions are not going to generate children. Cars filled with molasses are not going to be speeding down the highway— they will be stopped alongside the road, ruined for the purpose for which they were really made. Same sex unions often damage their bodies and health, resorting to parodies of the marital act, a feigned intercourse. Like jigsaw puzzles, the pieces are damaged and do not fit no matter how frustrated people try to force them.

Msgr. Pope rightly writes, “Whatever pressures many may wish to place on the Church to conform; however they may wish to ‘shame’ us into compliance by labeling us with adjectives such as bigoted, homophobic, or intolerant— we cannot comply with their demands.”

The civil rights won for ethnicity and gender would now be wrongly extended or ascribed to sexual orientation. Opposition of any form will be counted as discrimination. Within only a few generations, homosexuality has gone from being criminalized to being a “right” protected under law. Indeed, now the criminals would be those who oppose it. Do they see this as “pay-back” time? Here we find the bottom line and we must be prepared to pay a heavy price for any non-compliance. Try as we must to make a distinction between orientation and activity; the truth be said, gays increasingly spurn with impunity any such delineation. They argue, “Can you hate black skin without hating the black man? Can you view males as superior to females without belittling the gifts of women? Then how can you say that you hate the sin of homosexual sex while loving the person who defines himself by such intimacy?” We must be ready and careful in how we answer.

My priest friend cites the universal catechism:

[CCC 2357] 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.

[CCC 2358] The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

[CCC 2359] Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

It is probable that there are many in the Church who wishes that our doctrine on human sexuality was different. However, we are constrained by Scripture, Tradition and the Natural Law. We must not usurp God’s authority. Illustrative of how want to play God on this issue, medical research has gone into how lesbians might clone or mix DNA through clinical intervention. It has been speculated that homosexual men might be augmented to allow them to carry a child in the linings of the stomach. Already, they seek adoption of children and IVF is routinely used for surrogates and lesbian insemination. Proponents are feverishly striving to make right that which is blatantly wrong.

As Christians we must accept the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman. It is a relationship that is to endure until the natural death of one of the spouses. The marital act which they share must always further the oneness of their union, promoting the fidelity of the spouses and (in type) open to procreation. Sexual congress outside of marriage is morally wrong and sinful. Thus, by definition, acts of masturbation, fornication and homosexuality are wrong and sinful. All sexual sin is serious, but certain sins are worse than others. Obviously, when another person is dragged down with us, the sin takes in the accomplice. Men and women who have sex outside of marriage do wrong, but as according to nature. Homosexual acts are not only wrong, but are counted as contrary to properly oriented human nature. Men and women who are not married are called to live chaste and virginal lives. Exceptions are NOT made for heterosexual couples planning to get married or for homosexuals who want to take platonic friendships to the so-called next level.

We should not hate homosexuals. We should avoid various forms of discrimination against them as persons. However, we can do nothing to support or enable a homosexual lifestyle. This is where we find the clash today. Oppose homosexuality and you are stamped as bigoted and hateful. There may even come a time when we will face hefty fines and even imprisonment. There have already been cases where people have been legally compelled to take re-education or sensitivity classes.

I have known a number of heroic homosexuals who embraced celibacy, living out their need for intimacy in the COURAGE community in terms of daily prayer, meditation and Christian service. We all need both to love and to be loved. COURAGE is an affiliation established by my cousin the late Fr. John Harvey. These men and women are wonderful witnesses and signs of contradiction to our hedonistic times. Sadly, they are ruthlessly attacked by other homosexuals. Despite negative charges, they do not betray who they are; rather, they affirm their identity and struggles while placing the weight on their Christian discipleship and obedience. They have not been abandoned by God or his Church. God’s grace can empower all who are disposed to his goodness and presence. We are all broken. We are all sinners. It is in Jesus that we find the beginnings of healing and our ultimate salvation.

If one would like to pursue an instructive bible study on this question, Msgr. Pope directs the reader to the following texts:

  • Genesis 19
  • Leviticus 18:22; 20:13
  • Romans 1:18, 21
  • Matthew 15:19-20
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
  • Galatians 5:16-21
  • Ephesians 5:5-7
  • Colossians 3:5-6
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
  • 1 Timothy 1:8-11
  • Hebrews 13:4
  • Revelation 21:5-8; 22:14-16

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?