Great piece by Austin Ruse on the recent family conference

I like what Cardinal George recently said, that categories like conservative and progressive or liberal are wrong. We should be thinking in terms of what is true or false, right or wrong.

Anyway, Austin Ruse has a nice recap of the conference that took place last week on marriage and complementarity and so on in Crisis Magazine.

There are limits to messaging. In the end, everyone pretty much knows who you are and what you are talking about.

It’s true: the conference was one long beautiful meditation on how men and women uniquely fit together and how this is agreed upon across cultures, across the globe and across faiths. It was also about something else.

A soft-spoken Taoist woman lectured on the Yin and Yang, not the two Yins or the two Yangs.

She made it clear that two Yangs aren’t complementary. They can’t be. Two Yins can’t make a baby. Two Yangs can’t make a family. This does not denigrate or demean them or their relationships. It is simply a beautiful truth that was discussed in depth at the Vatican this week. But totally off message.


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I don’t agree with this analysis

Adam Shaw at Fox News has a news item about Cardinal Burke’s demotion and how it has quelled the conservative revolt.

He writes:

A recent meeting of bishops unleashed what one Vatican watcher called “a tsunami of conservative backlash” against the pope when it followed an agenda that sought to revisit long-held doctrine on controversial social issues. The most vocal critic was American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who described the Church under Francis as like “a ship without a rudder.” But as conservative bishops and lower-level clergy in the U.S. began to signal their agreement, Burke quickly found himself demoted from his powerful Vatican post to a purely ceremonial role.

The move sent a chill through the ranks of American conservative bishops, nearly two dozen of whom declined comment when contacted by, despite many having previously expressed strong doubts about the church’s leftward swerve under Francis, who assumed the papacy in 2013.
This makes is sound like the Pope demoted Cardinal Burke because of what he said during and after the extraordinary synod.
That’s not the case from what I understand.
I heard rumors from reliable sources that Cardinal Burke had been notified of the demotion well before the synod.  I think I heard this news some time in early to mid September and some people were wondering if it would come into effect before the synod.   If the demotion had taken place before the synod, then Cardinal Burke would not have been able to attend automatically as a Vatican prefect.
I wish the mainstream media would focus on some of Pope Francis recent statements about the family and about life, which are certainly not representative of a progressive agenda.
But no, they won’t.
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Dr. Gregory Papcok chimes in on Douthat/Martin debate over at Patheos

He makes some interesting points, basically saying both need to do better.  I especially liked this addition to the argument:

Doctrine isn’t a law. It isn’t ratified by mere legislative consensus and mediated by additional legislation.  Doctrine is, ultimately, an absolute truth claim of what it means to be a fully formed human person in a rightly ordered relationship with God.  Moreover, doctrine is a truth-claim tested in the crucible of thousands of years of revelation and human experience. It is true that at some point, doctrine must be defined, but that is largely after a particular truth claim has been tested over hundreds and sometimes thousands of years of prayer, debate, discernment and lived experience.  Because of the rigor of this process, a doctrine is as close to an authentic, absolute truth as we can probably discern this side of heaven.

As such, the doctrine of marital indissolubility isn’t, as Fr. Martin’s analogy appears to suggest,  a “law” that says “don’t get divorced and remarried.”  It is a claim that there is something about lifelong marital fidelity that is essential to our ability to fulfill our destiny both as human persons and children of God. 

Any pastoral practice that doesn’t acknowledge this is too wimpy to succeed at the job it allegedly sets out to do.  Any valid pastoral practice must more effectively enable the person to fulfill his human and divine potential.  At the very least, it can’t stand in the person’s way or obscure the path to human fulfillment and divinization.

That’s why Cardinal Kasper’s proposal, especially in light of his stated position that it isn’t appropriate to expect heroic virtue from the laity is the equivalent of damning lay people with the soft clericalism of low expectations.  Kasper’s proposal is not merely wrong because it contravenes the traditionalists’ obsession with the law.  It is frankly,  despicable, because it counsels the faithful to pursue a path that is in direct opposition to their spiritual and human fulfillment as authentic persons and children of God (Mt 19:7-8; Mk 10:7-9; or Mt 5:32).

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Great debate between Ross Douthat and Fr. James Martin, SJ at America Magazine

This is a great read, and if there is more of this kind of respectful, civil dialog as a result of what Pope Francis is doing, then this is a good sign of synodal journeying together.

Ross Douthat:

But as someone who came of age long, long after the battles of Vatican II, I simply don’t recognize the Catholic culture that many liberal Catholics seem to believe they’re warring against or seeking to undo or overthrow. The “traditionalist” church, the church of lace and legalisms if you will, that the current pontiff is particularly quick to critique, is simply not part of most American Catholics’ everyday experience. It may exist in some parishes and precincts, or among certain bishops or cardinals. But the dominant experience of Catholic life, Catholic liturgy, Catholic preaching, has nothing in common with the stereotype of a Pharisee lecturing people about their (mostly sexual) sins.

What it has more in common with, and I speak from experience, is certain forms of Mainline Protestantism and megachurch evangelicalism: Notwithstanding what still emanates from the Vatican, we’ve become a church of long communion and short confession lines (and you’re more likely to find me in the first than the second), of Jesus-affirms-you sermons and songs, of marriage preparation retreats (like mine) where most of the couples are cohabitating and nobody particularly cares, and of widespread popular attitudes toward the divine and toward church teaching that mostly resemble H. Richard Niebuhr’s vision of a God without wrath, men without sin, and a Kingdom without judgment.

And that kind of church can be as false to the Jesus of the New Testament as a proud and pharisaical church, because even as Jesus was condemning dead ritualism, he was intensifying many of the law’s explicitly moral demands—both on issues related to money and greed, where (as I said above) I think progressive Catholics sometimes have something to teach their more conservative brethren, and on precisely the issues of sex and marriage and family that we’ve been arguing about lo these forty years. The strengthening coexists with forgiveness, absolute forgiveness…but whether it’s the woman taken in adultery, the much-married Samaritan woman, or the prodigal who has spent his inheritance on prostitutes, that forgiveness always coexists with the admonition go and sin and no more.

When that admonition is no longer given, when not only individual pastors but the church itself promises absolution irrespective of amendment, I’m not sure the word “mercy” quite fits what’s happening. As I’vewritten elsewhere, if pharisaism and elder brotherism are always a temptation for dogmatists, then the temptation for progressives comes wrapped in Cardinal Kasper’s remark that certain forms of moral heroism are “not for the average Christian.” In that attitude, it seems to me, there’s a kind of Grand Inquisitorial paternalism at work—at attitude that would try to slip as many “ordinary” Christians into heaven by protecting them as much as possible from Jesus’s most rigorous demands. And theological issues aside, such paternalism comes with its own cost in this world, because cheap grace often isn’t really grace at all, and where one set of hard obligations gets lightened a different set of miseries often gets imposed.

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Great interview with Cardinal George

I met Cardinal George in 2008 when he was honored as alumnus of the year at Saint Paul University

I met Cardinal George in 2008 when he was honored as alumnus of the year at Saint Paul University

John Allen Jr’s interview over at Crux is a great read.

Some excerpts:

What we have to do is to preach the truth, in season and out, and do it in such a way that it has a chance to be heard rather than beating people over the head with an idea, even if the idea is true. We’re supposed to preach the truth and I believe we have to do that.

If you lead people along, string then along, so they think that somehow you’re playing with the truth, you’ve betrayed your vocation. If speaking clearly means that you’ve got a weapon in your hand, that you’re at war, then I guess so, but I don’t see it that way at all. What I see is the bishops being actively involved in engaging the culture, but it’s not a war. It’s a question of transformation of conversion. We all have to change and the culture has to change, too; it always will. Does that mean you’re at war? No, it means you’re doing what a bishop is supposed to do and will always do.

From my perspective, I’ve seen myself for a long time as engaging culture. Engagement is not warfare. I know that’s less dramatic to say, and people like to have drama, but calling it ‘war’ deforms what I’m about. It really denigrates my motivation, and I resent that. I’m not trying to beat anybody up at all; I’m trying to proclaim the truth of the Gospel, which I have an obligation to do.


The liberal/conservative thing, I think, is destructive of the Church’s mission and her life. I’ve said that publicly a lot at times. You’re taking a definition that comes out of nowhere, as far as we’re concerned, it’s a modern distinction, and making it the judgment of the Church’s life. It’s because we’re lazy. You put a label on people, you put a label on something, and it saves you the trouble of thinking.

I find that we are not self-critical as a people of our own thinking. We’re critical of authority, because we’re trained to be that. That’s the liberal/conservative thing … conservatives give authority a pass, liberals don’t. But for both, everything has to do with authority. What’s that got to do with truth? For us, the category that matters is true/false. I just reject that whole liberal/conservative deformation of the character of our lives. If you’re limited to that, as the press has to be because it can’t talk about the faith in its own terms, then somehow or other you’ve betrayed your vocation as a bishop and a priest.


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Pope Francis meets with Bishops of the CEEC and Emiliana Palmer

Here’s a YouTube video of a recent meeting Pope Francis had with bishops of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) and Emiliana Palmer, the widow of CEEC Bishop Tony Palmer.

I support this kind of ecumenism, one that focuses on walking together by the Spirit, in love, and letting the Holy Spirit build the unity and guide us to all Truth.

Of course as a Catholic, I hope one day for full, visible unity of all Christians in One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church.  But in the meantime, let’s do together what we can in the Lord.

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Cardinal Burke speaks in Ireland

An excerpt from The Catholic Herald article by Sarah MacDonald:

Warning that Satan was sowing confusion and error about matrimony, the cardinal patron of the Knights of Malta said, “Even within the church there are those who would obscure the truth of the indissolubility of marriage in the name of mercy.”

The 66-year-old former archbishop of St Louis instead recommended that next year’s synod devote itself to promoting the church’s teaching on marriage.

Cardinal Burke also ruled out any easing of the restriction on Communion for those divorced and remarried without an annulment of their original marriage.

“I fail to be able to comprehend how — if marriage is indissoluble and someone is living in a state contradicting this indissolubility of marriage — the person can be admitted to holy Communion,” he said.


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On bishops and masculinity by Fr. Bevil Bramville, OMI at The Catholic Thing

Great post on bishops and masculinity at The Catholic Thing by Fr. Bevil Bramville, OMI Money quote:

Graced masculinity in action, presenting the Church directly to the faithful, shows the Church in all of her gendered beauty. The Church’s union with Christ becomes visible as the foundation of the union between a man and a woman for all society to see. The male presence of Christ working through the evangelizing bishop expresses Christ’s relationship to his Church. Reducing the Church’s presence to that of a corporation like a bank or a hamburger chain, however, means that the unique character of the presence of the Church and of its relating spousally is frittered away. The institution becomes as blah as any other.

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John Allen Jr. interviews Cardinal George

At Crux, Cardinal George talks about some questions he’d like to pose to Pope Francis.  Good ones.

To begin, George said he’d like to ask Francis if he fully grasps that in some quarters, he’s created the impression Catholic doctrine is up for grabs.

Does Francis realize, for example, “what has happened just by that phrase, ‘Who am I to judge?’ ”

 Francis’ signature sound-bite, George said, “has been very misused … because he was talking about someone who has already asked for mercy and been given absolution, whom he knows well,” George said.

(Francis uttered the line in 2013, in response to a question about a Vatican cleric accused of gay relationships earlier in his career.)

“That’s entirely different than talking to somebody who demands acceptance rather than asking for forgiveness,” George said.


Second, George said he’d like to ask Francis who is providing him advice — which, he said, has become the “big question” about this pope.

“Obviously he’s getting input from somewhere,” George said. “Much of it he collects himself, but I’d love to know who’s truly shaping his thinking.”

Third, George noted that Francis often makes references to the Devil and the biblical notion of the end-times, but said it’s not clear how that shapes his vision and agenda.


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Very interesting interview with Cardinal Burke

And Irish news outlet interviewed Cardinal Burke.   Very interesting interview:

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