A brilliant analysis of the plight of liberals in the Catholic Church

Over at the Catholic Herald, Matthew Schmitz, the literary editor for First Things, has a brilliant analysis of the plight of Catholic liberals.

Here’s the link.  Please read the whole thing.

He writes:

Vito Mancuso, a former priest and protégé of the liberal Italian lion Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, shares their fears. “Two diametrically opposed forces are intensifying within the Catholic Church,” he warns us in a recent interview in La Repubblica. Opposed to the innovators like himself are those who “want to return to the ‘sound tradition,’ something especially prevalent among young priests”.

Mancuso believes that if Francis does not act more decisively, and soon, he risks being no more than “a shooting star”. After his death or retirement, the College of Cardinals could elect a pope who would end Francis’s flexible pastoral approach and begin making straightforward affirmations and condemnations. They particularly fear the election of Cardinal Robert Sarah, a man who does not seem much interested in flattering the sensibilities of educated Westerners. He appears in their nightmares with the name Pius XIII.

And this:

Francis does not challenge the teaching of his predecessors head-on. He insists that the norm still stands even after he includes every case in the exception. What was once simply an absolute principle is now discussed in relative terms, and the terms are so relative that it is possible even to insist that the rule remains absolute. The resulting “pastoral solutions” infuriate traditional Catholics, who sense the inconsistency, and fail to satisfy liberals, who want a more thoroughgoing revolution. Écrasez l’infâme!

-snip-

Liberal Catholics are left with a delicate and tedious task. The doctrine of infallibility limits even those who would call it into question. Peter can wink, nod, nudge or fall silent, but he cannot contradict himself. Francis knows this well.

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On Cardinal Sarah’s talk at the Sacra Liturgica conference

I have been watching with fascination and, from time to time, dismay, the reaction to Cardinal Sarah’s talk July 5 at the Sacra Liturgica conference in England.

Here’s a roundup by Leroy Huizenga of some of the reaction over at First Things

And there is a new piece at First Things this morning, by Christopher Ruddy!  This story show no signs of dying down.

Ruddy writes: Cardinal Robert Sarah’s call on July 5th for a wider celebration of the Ordinary Form Mass ad orientem was predictably dead on arrival, given the lack of support from higher authority and most of the episcopate, as well as the widespread sense among clergy and laity that such orientation represents the priest’s turning his “back to the people” in a pre–Vatican II, clericalist manner.

The swiftness and vehemence, however, with which the Cardinal’s suggestion was rejected remains striking. The intensity of that rejection reveals much about liturgy, the reception of Vatican II, and the Church’s identity and purpose.

On Saturday, July 9th, Pope Francis received Cardinal Sarah in audience. On the following day, July 10th, Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor of Civiltà Cattolica and papal confidant-interviewer, tweeted that the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) dictates that the priest must face the congregation at various points during Mass. (Several commentators responded that such instructions presuppose that the priest is otherwise facing in the same direction—ad orientem—as the people.)

That same day, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, in whose diocese Cardinal Sarah had delivered his July 5th address, released a letter to his priests. After noting the importance of dignified liturgical celebration, he claimed that No. 299 of GIRM, which calls for a free-standing altar, holds that versus populum worship “is desirable wherever possible.” (Others have argued that the “desirable wherever possible” phrase pertains not to celebration versus populum, but to the existence of a free-standing altar.) He also warned his priests against a clericalism that would impose the celebrant’s “personal preference or taste” upon the liturgy.

And on the following day, July 11th, the Vatican Press Office Director, Federico Lombardi, S.J., issued a clarification regarding Cardinal Sarah’s original comments and recent papal audience. Father Lombardi reiterated the claim that GIRM No. 299 supports versus populum worship. Stating also that the expression “reform of the reform” should be avoided, he said that “new liturgical directives are not expected.” Pope Francis and Cardinal Sarah, he concluded, were “unanimous” in their agreement on these points. At that point, the Cardinal’s appeal had been totally rejected. The rebuttal was swift, decisive, and total.

 

Like most people, I was reading about the talk and reaction to it and had only been exposed to brief excerpts of Cardinal Sarah’s.   Well, yesterday, I decided to sit down and read the whole talk which is now published at the Sacra Liturgica site in English and in French.

I urge you to read Cardinal Sarah’s talk in its entirety.  See how he anchors his explanation of liturgical reform not only in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and post conciliar popes, but also in popes prior to the council.  He explains how liturgical reform did not begin at Vatican II, but had already been underway.

He goes back repeatedly to what the Council Fathers had written in their text on the liturgy to discern their intent.  His text is an example of what Pope Benedict called a hermeneutic of reform in continuity.

His writing is a marvel of clarity, precision and beauty.  What he called for in the text, i.e. an encouragement (not a directive!) for priests to worship ad orientem is already allowed in the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM) for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

It is saddening to see articles like this about the Cardinal:

Cardinal Sarah’s very public slap down shows pope is willing to use his authority

 

Or this piece by Robert Mickens in the National Catholic Reporter: Que Sera Sarah?

Cardinal Sarah quickly made a mark as one of the shrillest voices against “gender ideology,” same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception and other so-called attacks on the family. During the two autumn Synod sessions on the family (2014 and 2015), and even between those sessions, he was among the most visibly active bishops to warn Pope Francis — through books, letters and interviews — not to soften the church’s stance on divorce and remarriage.

People continue to scratch their heads in total confusion as to why Francis gave him such a high-profile post in a pontificate in which Sarah seems so out of step. Some believe it was meant to neutralize the cardinal by putting him in charge of an area of church life (the liturgy) that the pope simply takes for granted and about which he is contemplating no further developments.

Others fear he miscalculated the depth of the cardinal’s commitment to the neo-Tridentinists and the “reform of the reform” movement.

Up until he caused the stir with his recent talk in London, the pope remained remarkably tolerant with him. But that lecture may have been the final straw.

 

I urge you to read the talk in full and then comment.

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Is man or the Cross the axis of the world?

 

Or on a more specific, personal level, let me ask this question:   is the Cross, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the axis of your world?   Or are you and your desires?

This is a crucial question. Pun intended.  And it is a question all of us Christians should be asking ourselves constantly.

Though I have to constantly repent of the natural sinful propensity to be selfish, I keep coming back to the Cross and to God’s mercy that flows from Christ’s atonement for our sin.  And with that mercy is the opportunity to die with Christ so I can rise with Him, in a new identity He has given me totally by grace.

In my work as a journalist, I have the opportunity to visit and communicate with Catholics from a wide range of liturgical preferences, and varying stresses on aspects of doctrine and moral theology.  In all of these communities, there are those who seem to make the Cross the axis of their world and those who seem to make themselves the axis.

Thus I look at a recent statement by the head of the Society of St. Pius X that the Rorate-Caeli blog said is to be “read between the lines” as provocative.

Bishop Fellay  writes, via Rorate Caeli (with my emphases):

When Saint Pius X condemned modernism, he traced the whole argument of the encyclical Pascendi back to one initial principle: independence. Now the world makes all its efforts to change the axis around which it must turn. And it is obvious to Catholics, as it is to those who are not, that the Cross is no longer that axis. Paul VI said it very well: man is (See Closing Speech of Vatican II, December 7, 1965).
Today the world turns around this, according to him, definitively established axis: human dignity, man’s conscience and freedom. Modern man exists for his own sake. Man is the king of the universe. He has dethroned Christ. Man exalts his autonomous, independent conscience, to the point of dissolving even the very foundations of the family and marriage.
To me, it is a no brainer.  The Cross is the axis of the world; not man.  I would have said that when I was an evangelical Protestant.  I say that as a Catholic.  And many  Catholics I know who are not liturgically traditional, who prefer contemporary praise and worship, would say the Cross is their axis, too.  And I believe them.  Ever since the Fall, though, man has the propensity to want the world to revolve around him. This is nothing new.
The parable of the wheat and the tares comes to mind.  And most of us are a mixed bag, with areas of tares that need to be weeded out to find complete freedom in Christ to live according to our new nature.

Still fresh in our memory are the words uttered in this basilica by our venerated predecessor, John XXIII, whom we may in truth call the originator of this great synod. In his opening address to the council he had this to say: “The greatest concern of the ecumenical council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be guarded and taught more effectively…. The Lord has said: ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice.’ The word ‘first’ expresses the direction in which our thoughts and energies must move” (Discorsi, 1962, p. 583).

His great purpose has now been achieved. To appreciate it properly it is necessary to remember the time in which it was realized: a time which everyone admits is orientated toward the conquest of the kingdom of earth rather than of that of heaven; a time in which forgetfulness of God has become habitual, and seems, quite wrongly, to be prompted by the progress of science; a time in which the fundamental act of the human person, more conscious now of himself and of his liberty, tends to pronounce in favor of his own absolute autonomy, in emancipation from every transcendent law; a time in which secularism seems the legitimate consequence of modern thought and the highest wisdom in the temporal ordering of society; a time, moreover, in which the soul of man has plumbed the depths of irrationality and desolation; a time, finally, which is characterized by upheavals and a hitherto unknown decline even in the great world religions. [Clearly, Pope Paul VI is talking about the man-centred world as a reality to be addressed by the Church, not a doctrine the Church should adopt!]

It was at such a time as this that our council was held to the honor of God, in the name of Christ and under the impulse of the Spirit: who “searcheth all things,” “making us understand God’s gifts to us” (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-12), and who is now quickening the Church, giving her a vision at once profound and all-embracing of the life of the world. The theocentric and theological concept of man and the universe, almost in defiance of the charge of anachronism and irrelevance, has been given a new prominence by the council, through claims which the world will at first judge to be foolish, but which, we hope, it will later come to recognize as being truly human, wise and salutary: namely, God is—and more, He is real, He lives, a personal, provident God, infinitely good; and not only good in Himself, but also immeasurably good to us. He will be recognized as Our Creator, our truth, our happiness; so much so that the effort to look on Him, and to center our heart in Him which we call contemplation, is the highest, the most perfect act of the spirit, the act which even today can and must be at the apex of all human activity. [I wish Pope Paul VI also mentioned the foolishness of the Cross in this! But I would imagine for the Pope and the majority of the Council Fathers, the Cross is implicit.  Whether it was wise to assume that in 50 years of bad catechesis and the erosion of Catholic education that implicit understanding would remain intact is the subject of another debate.]

Men will realize that the council devoted its attention not so much to divine truths, but rather, and principally, to the Church—her nature and composition, her ecumenical vocation, her apostolic and missionary activity. This secular religious society, which is the Church, has endeavored to carry out an act of reflection about herself, to know herself better, to define herself better and, in consequence, to set aright what she feels and what she commands. So much is true. But this introspection has not been an end in itself, has not been simply an exercise of human understanding or of a merely worldly culture. The Church has gathered herself together in deep spiritual awareness, not to produce a learned analysis of religious psychology, or an account of her own experiences, not even to devote herself to reaffirming her rights and explaining her laws. Rather, it was to find in herself, active and alive, the Holy Spirit, the word of Christ; and to probe more deeply still the mystery, the plan and the presence of God above and within herself; to revitalize in herself that faith which is the secret of her confidence and of her wisdom, and that love which impels her to sing without ceasing the praises of God. “Cantare amantis est” (Song is the expression of a lover), says St. Augustine (Serm. 336; P. L. 38, 1472).

The council documents—especially the ones on divine revelation, the liturgy, the Church, priests, Religious and the laity—leave wide open to view this primary and focal religious intention, and show how clear and fresh and rich is the spiritual stream which contact with the living God causes to well up in the heart of the Church, and flow out from it over the dry wastes of our world.

Bishop Fellay’s text will be interpreted as a rebuke to the Second Vatican Council and the present papacy.  It will be interpreted as a criticism of anyone who is not with them as against the Cross.  It will be seen as divisive, as “we’re the only ones who are fully Catholic.”

Many who read it will dismiss Fellay’s statement as unwarranted criticism because they say, no, we are focused on the Cross, but we are merely trying to speak to modern man as he is.

It was interesting to read this text of Pope Paul VI and think of how similar he sounds to Pope Francis.

The context the Church is facing in today’s world is completely different from that of 50 years ago. Is it time for a change of strategy?

Is making the Church more and more welcoming wise especially when so few seem to know what that deposit is?  Maybe 50 years ago, one could assume people knew the faith as they had it inculcated into them.  Not true, today, unfortunately, and the pull of the world on the beliefs of Catholics is, sadly, stronger than the teachings of the Church.

I benefited greatly from a seeker-friendly Baptist Church in my faith journey, but the leadership of the Church were deeply devout, mature Christians.  A gentle, non-confrontational approach worked with me, so I understand why Pope Francis and other prelates are advocating this kind of appeal.

However, if the leadership of that Baptist Church had been mushy and lacking in faith themselves, then what?   I think it would have become like any liberal, progressive denomination that is hemorrhaging members, because if going to church devolves to being a nice meeting of a social club, people can find better things to do on Sunday mornings.

 

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On criticizing Pope Francis

Yesterday or the day before, a good friend sent me a link to Michael Cook’s piece over at Mercatornet entitled:

7 Reasons Why Pope Francis’ Gaffes are OK

The subtitle is:  “Some of his Catholic critics think the sky is falling. It’s not.”

Michael Cook writes:

6. THE SKY Inot falling; the sky is not falling; the sky is not falling. Just in case, that isn’t clear for all the Chicken Littles in the Catholic media, let me say it again: the sky is not falling. What the Pope says at a press conference or at a Q&A after a first communion Mass is not, to resort to theological jargon, “definitive Papal Magisterium” or even a proposition which requires “religious submission of intellect and will”. If you want to know what Pope Francis thinks, read documents which he has signed and sealed, not CNN reports.

What has been interesting for me to observe is how conservative Pope Francis from the moment he stepped onto the balcony of St Peters– Catholics, who tried very hard to give Pope Francis the benefit of a doubt, have increasingly become openly but respectfully critical.

Catholic World Report’s Carl Olsen responded to Michael Cook’s piece today with this:

10 Things Michael Cook gets wrong in his criticism of papal critics.

Point one is:

1. Cook, like many of those taking umbrage with criticisms of Pope Francis, does not offer distinctions about the various forms of criticism out there. He mentions “malcontents” who are, in some cases, calling for the Holy Father’s resignation. As far as I know, critics such as myself, Edward Peters, Phil Lawler, Jeff Mirus, Monsignor Charles Pope, Amy Welborn, Janet Smith, and Rachel Lu—just to mention some American writers who have criticized certain statements or actions of Francis—have never called for his resignation. It’s easy to highlight the most extreme or even outrageous criticisms made of Francis. Unfortunately, the conversation (if it is such a thing) over Francis within Catholic circles seems to often consist of little more than a shouting match between those who think He’s the Greatest Pope Ever (and I’m not exaggerating) and those who think He’s the Antichrist and a Communist Antichrist at That (again, not exaggerating).

But there has been a steady, if not always recognized, flow of measured, thoughtful, and insightful criticism, some of it going back to the latter part of 2013, as when one perplexed pundit wrote: “To state what should be obvious, a pope in 2013 simply needs to be as precise and clear as possible. Fuzzy language, half-formed concepts, and failure to make important distinctions will eventually result in confusion and frustration.” Yes, I am that pundit, and I do think my concerns, alas, have been borne out. The fact is, critics such as myself and those mentioned above have been focused on three main things: the scolding and abrasive tone sometimes used by Francis, oftentimes in reference to Christians; the ambiguity and imprecision which often appears in not only the now legendary off-the-cuff utterances, but also in homilies and even more formal papal documents such as Amoris Laetitia; and statements about various matters—especially relating to marriage and family life—that are either bewildering or, arguably, simply wrong. Cook never addresses or acknowledges those criticisms, which seriously undermines his arguments.

 

I think Michael Cook’s advice is good in this sense:  no matter what we should not let anything disturb the peace of Christ in us and that includes this or that action or saying of the Holy Father.

But those who respectfully examine what any pope says in light of what the Church has always taught, or in light of previous popes, can and should do so.  They are doing us all a service, including Pope Francis.

Where I think critics can run into danger though is when in judging the pope, they step out from under the protective headship of the Bishop of Rome, and then open themselves up for spiritual attack that could manifest in them as spite, depression, discouragement, outrage, scorn and rebellion.  The holiest people I know in the Church are serene, abiding in Christ in quietness and confidence.

We owe the Holy Father our love and our prayers.  I think we also owe him a benefit of a doubt so as not to approach everything he says and does with suspicion or putting the worst possible interpretation on it.  That does not mean, however, we should not exercise holy discernment from a respectful and prayerful perspective.

On another note related to criticism of the Pope, this piece from Crux by Ines San Martin is interesting and signals all the more reason we need to pray for Pope Francis:

ROME-As Pope Francis was celebrating a solemn Mass in Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on Wednesday, in his home country of Argentina a small army of priests working in the slums issued a petition defending the pontiff against what they called a “brutal campaign against him.”

“In a world where wars, hunger and abuses over the environment endanger human life,” Francis “raises his voice in an effort to preserve the life of the weakest and to protect mother earth, putting limits to such craziness,” says the communique, inviting people to join them in prayer for the pope.

The group, together with a lay association called “Generacion Francisco,” also writes that not “by chance” there’s a “brutal campaign against him with attacks of every kind,” especially in Argentina, where local political leaders and the media continue their efforts to either claim him as their own, or discredit his every word.

On Wednesday, in a Mass celebrated by the “villero” priests to mark the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, an interreligious alliance signed a petition “ratifying our commitment to the pope’s intentions and our repudiation to the actions against him.”

 

 

 

 

 

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On the demonic vs. the body over at The Catholic Thing

A beautiful post over at The Catholic Thing on the demonic roots of ideologies that seek to separate the soul from the body. Fr. Paul Scalia writes:

Fallen man is always at odds with his body. Christianity seeks to heal that division. Gender ideology seeks to codify it. The latter rests on the principle that there is no real relationship between body and soul. So absolute is their division that a person can be physically one thing and spiritually another.

Closely linked to this is the demonic hatred of procreation. The devil cannot procreate. But man does. Man and woman cooperate with God in bringing a new human person into being. The devil is envious because God is generous. Of course, gender ideology rejects the complementarity of male and female – and what their union accomplishes.

The Lord takes up natural truths – body, marriage, and family – and uses them as the template and means for His salvific work. He is the Word made flesh, the Bridegroom, the Son of Joseph and Mary, Who makes us members of God’s family. We grasp the significance of Jesus’ offering His Body on the Cross and in the Eucharist precisely because we know the body has significance. The permanent, faithful, and life-giving union of husband and wife enables us to grasp what it means that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride.

The loss of these natural truths, therefore, inhibits our ability to understand the supernatural and grasp salvation. If the human body has no intrinsic meaning – if it tells us nothing about ourselves and can be adjusted as we see fit – then how can we appreciate the words, “This is my Body”?

 

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Another look at Eberstadt’s book

Michael Brendan Doughherty over at The Week writes an interesting review of Mary Eberstadt’s book It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies.

This is a good complement to the David P. Goldman link I provided yesterday. Dougherty writes:

But what is most interesting about this book is that Eberstadt proposes novel ways of understanding what is really at work in this phenomenon. On the one hand, this pattern of fear and light hysteria about religious people has a familiarity to it. The sharing of lurid and unrepresentative portrayals of religious people — think documentaries like Jesus Camp — or the fear that Christians present a unique threat for corrupting the government — the theocracy trend of the last decade — or that they are uniquely dangerous to children and minors — the suspicion of homeschoolers and Christians as child abusers — show all the signs of being a classic moral panic. These are the same kinds of accusations that in earlier ages were hurled at suspected witches, or at suspected Communists, or that fueled the fear of Satanists at daycare centers. Eberstadt suggests that more people would recognize it was a moral panic if it were aimed at any other religious or ethnic group. Because it is a moral panic, many people now participating will be embarrassed about it in the future.

If Eberstadt is right that this is a moral panic, that would be a considerable relief for the orthodox Christians who are reading her book. A moral panic tends to be a moral fad, and to burn itself out in a decade or two. Although some, like the witch trials, can consist of recurring panics over centuries.

But I wonder if Eberstadt’s moral panic analogy doesn’t conflict with the other novel suggestion in her book, that the post-sexual revolution ethics and anthropology that progressives are championing in the culture war is becoming a religion itself

I am veering towards the “is becoming a religion itself” mode.

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Some thoughts on the so-called Benedict option

Here a links to a couple of interesting pieces I read on the Internet today about the challenges facing Christians.

Rod Dreher reports on a sermon by Southern Baptist Russell Moore at a conference he attended.  I especially liked these paragraphs because they reminded me so much of what many of us who came from the Anglican Communion went through:

Moore said that for Christians, the thing that must be preserved above all is the Gospel. Today, as in the early church, we are confronted by the question of Scriptural authority: Is the Bible truly the binding word of God?

“The debates we are having about human sexuality now are really not about sexuality. They are about whether the word we have is from God,” said Moore. “If the Word of God has been delivered by God through his apostles to us, and says you must submit your creatureliness, even your sexuality, to the Lordship of Christ.”

That’s one claim, he said. Another is that we know so much more about sexuality than the authors of Scripture did, and we therefore don’t have to take their teachings on it seriously.

Moore, citing St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, said we had all better fear the judgment of God, not other men.

“You will not have the courage and confidence to stand in whatever moment you face simply because you have better ideas and arguments,” he said. “I’m all for talking about the common good, and human flourishing [but] those are all secondary means to get to the main conversation. And the main conversation is, has God spoken, and what has God said?”

I remember a talk New Testament scholar Edith Humphrey gave to people of the Anglican essentials movement here in Ottawa  well over a decade ago, before the Anglican Network in Canada split from the Anglican Church of Canada.

 

OTTAWA — New Testament scholar Edith Humphrey says the debate over homosexual eroticism, which threatens to divide the Anglican Church, is the “tip of the iceberg” already scraping the hull of the whole Christian Church. She says the next debate will be about the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

Under the surface are deep divisions over the authority of Scripture, the Church’s traditional interpretation of the Bible, and the role of reason and of human experience, the associate professor of theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary told hundreds of concerned Anglicans who packed a downtown Ottawa church on February 11.

Revisionist theologians talk about experience as if it trumps Scripture and everything else, she said, adding that they heed other sources rather than the Bible and assume they know more about human sexuality than those who wrote the New Testament. Humphrey warned that what’s being preached is a new gospel of “inclusivity and welcome” instead of the “Gospel of redemption, transformation and healing.” While the new gospel involves a “vague idea of acceptance,” the traditional Christian Gospel demands repentance and obedience, she said.

Now, for those Christians who believe in the Gospel as handed down from the eye-witness accounts of the first Apostles, who believe in the “Gospel of redemption, transformation and healing,” living in an age of apostasy is going to pose massive challenges.

Dreher has been writing a lot about a Benedict option, urging Christians to form intentional communities where they can help each other to preserve the faith and pass it on to future generations.   But David P. Goldman has a most interesting piece over at First Things about what’s to come, in a review of a book by Mary Eberstadt.  Well worth reading.

Goldman writes:

Eberstadt calls the persecution of traditional religion a “witch-hunt”—a critical error. A witch-hunt is a search for malefactors who pretend to be good people but really are intent on doing evil. There is a witch-hunt going on today, namely the search for secret racists at American universities. The witch-hunters pillory teachers and administrators who claim to hold politically correct views but allegedly betray their secret racism through wicked actions, for instance by correcting bad grammarin minority students’ term papers. Loyal liberals who commit no aggressions are said to be guilty of micro-aggressions.

By contrast, the purge of traditional Christians and Jews is a heretic hunt, an Inquisition, whose objective is to isolate and punish individuals who actually profess opinions contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy. There can be some overlap between an Inquisition and a witch-hunt, to be sure. But today’s liberal Inquisitors are not searching for individuals secretly in communion with God—yet.

This is a critical distinction. Witch-hunters eventually discover that burning a few old hags does not prevent cows’ milk from souring. Inquisitions, by contrast, usually succeed: The Catholic Church succeeded in stamping out broadly held heresies, as in the Albigensian Crusade of 1220-1229, which destroyed between 200,000 and 1,000,000 inhabitants of Cathar-controlled towns in Southern France. In many cases a town’s entire population was killed, just to make sure. For its part, the Spanish Inquisition eliminated all the Jews, Muslims, and Protestants, although it sometimes drove heretical opinions underground, with baleful consequences for the Catholic faith.

Because Eberstadt confuses the present persecution with mere witch-hunting, she hopes that the witch-hunters will realize their error and do the decent thing.

 

 

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On the Pope’s call for an apology to gays

I read the transcript of the Pope’s interview on the plane yesterday and I have looked at the mainstream media coverage of his response to his call for the Catholics to apologize to the gay community.  The transcript of the plane interview is here.

The pope talked about accompaniment.  He often talks about accompaniment but no one asks him what is the end of accompaniment.

That would have been my follow up question!

Then I came across this blog via Twitter and her apology, which was probably not what Pope Francis expected!   

 

One Mad Mom writes:

I apologize for all of those bishops who didn’t bother to teach you the Faith, who didn’t give you a vision of what life would be if you embraced your crosses and rejected temptation, and who left you to your own devices to build your own “truth” which is contra to THE TRUTH and a twisting of reality.  These bishops strove for fame and likeability over your salvation.

Embedded in her rant is this amazing testimony by a former gay activist.  If the Catholics James Parker encountered in his spiritual journey are an example of what Pope Francis means by accompaniment, then I am all in.

The kind of non-judgmental welcoming that gently exposed him to solid, Biblical teaching, with patience, grace, love and friendship is similar to what I experienced when I came to Kanata Baptist and it was so healing.   There is a way to do this that trusts in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation, rather than rushing in with a rule book.

Broken people like I was or this man was—because if you listen to his testimony, we are all broken in some way—cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps by trying under our own power to live out the demands of the law.   But God in His mercy and His love can heal our brokenness and give us the power to live as we ought.  It is up to us as Christians to make Him so attractive that those who come visit us then hunger for a personal relationship with the Lord that launches them on their healing journey.

People shoving the law in our faces at this stage only drive us away.  That does not mean the law is of no importance.  But let the Holy Spirit determine the timing, not ourselves as busybody rule givers.

It is for freedom that Christ set us free.  Freedom to have the power to be the person in Christ we ought to be, fulfilling the law without having to strain because the Holy Spirit gives us the power.

Sadly, accompaniment too often sounds like enabling and when there is no supernatural faith and deep healing in the lives of those who seek to accompany, that’s what happens. People get confirmed in their sinful natures and are deprived of the hope and joy and freedom Christ’s transforming love brings.

 

 

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Fr James Schall looks at Orlando in the light of Islam’s history

A sober reflection in the aftermath of Orlando over a Catholic World Report by Fr. James Schall.

Here is an excerpt but please go read the whole thing:

Orlando—like San Bernardino, Fort Hood, the Spanish trains, the Paris concert hall, and the Mumbai hotel—will soon be forgotten or minimized in the light of ever new events of the same order. Radical Islam is now a two-pronged force: the ISIS side and the Muslim Brotherhood side. Both have the same goal. The first relies on more direct military and terrorist methods. The latter does not shun these means but finds that more effective ways to gain control is through the shrewd use of democratic methods themselves. Both are aware of the demographics that Islam has over cultures that have been breeding themselves out of existence. This decline in willingness even to have children in any significant numbers is not the result of Muslim thought which, in its odd way with multiple wives, is pro-natal, however disordered a polygamous family may be for men, women, and their children. In this sense, numbers count. Islamic thinkers have every right to expect that numbers are in their favor. Several European countries can expect to be Muslim in ten to thirty years.

Aristotle had already said that large changes in population and culture would transform any existing regime into something else. The American regime, in particular, has doggedly maintained that it could welcome any one into its country. It took this position on the assumption that certain basic ideas about human nature were agreed on. Most of the immigrants, until recent years, came from the same broad European Christian culture that had much in common. It was not until the twenty-first century that its political culture decided that there was no human nature to agree about and that religion was not relevant.

Everyone had a “right” to his own view of the cosmos. The effects of this relativism are straight-forward. All individuals and institutions must accept the principle of relativism to continue in the public order. What is unique about Islam is that it has been able to use the principles of relativism to secure a place within the legal world that has no means to reject it other than to call it “terrorism”. But in a relativist world, even terrorism has a theoretic place. If there are no real standards, it is difficult to see on what grounds it can be excluded.

This is so, so true!   When religious freedom becomes sheer relativism and there is no reference whatsoever to truth, principles, and the common good, then the West becomes helpless against a pernicious political ideology every bit as dangerous as National Socialism or Communism.

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Canada and autonomy with no moral law

McGill University Professor of Christian Thought Douglas Farrow looks at the relationship of Canada’s legal regime to any underlying moral law now that Canada’s Parliament has passed a euthanasia and assisted suicide law.   The whole piece is worth reading and sharing.  Here’s an excerpt from First Things in a piece entitled “Is there no moral law?”:

There are many things, to be sure, both morally and theologically, that the state does well to leave to civil society, neither legislating nor making the basis for legislation. Unfortunately, assisted suicide and euthanasia are not among them. They were criminalized for good reason, as things repugnant to respect for the God-given sanctity of human life, and they ought to remain criminal. They were criminalized out of respect for the link between the rule of law and the supremacy of God, a link that is broken the moment we officially approve of taking (innocent) human life into our own hands, determining its boundaries for ourselves.

Truth be told, in Canada we broke that link back in 1969 with C-150, and though we gave lip service to it in the Charter we are again acting in denial of it with C-14. But the rule of law detached from the supremacy of God is a rule grounded in what, exactly? Certainly not the moral law. No, it is a “rule” grounded in nothing more than our whims, or in some perverse notion of autonomy that sets the human will on a par with the divine, indeed, above the divine.

Here there is no moral law to constrain the human will. And if there is no moral law to constrain the human will, there is no moral law to constrain the state either. When the state promises its assistance to those who wish to end their own lives, it necessarily commits its own agents to complicity. Where will this end? It will end with the state—emulating those citizens who are already doing this to family members—killing those whom it chooses to kill. Such will be its philanthropy, justified by prudential concerns related to the populace as a whole, and by sober determinations that those being killed are either in agreement or insufficiently autonomous to make any valid objection.

I had the misfortune of listening to then writing about the final debate in the Senate on the euthanasia and assisted suicide bill, which is euphemistically called “medical aid in dying” or “MAID” for short.  The language is deliberately confusing because of course all of us want medical aid while we are dying if we are in pain or have trouble breathing and so on.  It is confused with palliative care and killing patients is being called medical treatment.

So many of the Senators argued the bill is too narrow because it excludes classes of suffering people whose death is not “reasonably foreseeable.”

Some trotted out anecdote after anecdote of individuals suffering themselves from painful chronic conditions or caring for family members with them, as if killing the patient or assisting their suicide is the only solution to human suffering.  As advocates for people living with disabilities have argued, so many disabled people who already face societal views that their frailty and dependency make their lives not worth living, will see this euthanasia/assisted suicide law as an inducement.  Couple that with the lack of societal supports and services for many of them and the the fact their underlying depression will go untreated while a non-disabled person’s depression is more likely to be addressed, the advent of this bill spells doom for many vulnerable people.

In a few days, this bill will receive Royal Assent and become law.  Canada will join the nine jurisdictions in the world that allow euthanasia and or assisted suicide.  Six of those jurisdictions restrict access to those who are at end of life, or terminally ill.  Canada’s eligibility requirement is, as one doctor put it, more “elastic” than that, but it is better than the wide open access a majority of Senators had called for.

What’s saddening and sobering is this bill, while modest, is viewed as an incremental step, a cautious entry into the brave new world of state sponsored killing of patients, but one that promises further study on such issues as euthanasia for “mature minors” aka children under 18 and for advanced directives so people can say they wish to be killed by the state at some time in the future when they no longer have mental capacity to ask for the deed due to Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.

And conscience rights?  Only a feeble nod to their existence in the bill.  The actual regulation of health professionals is being left to the provinces or respective physicians’, nurses’ and pharmacists’ colleges, most of whom require an effective referral.

As one constitutional lawyer told me, when we were expressing mutual dismay over the lack of regard given to conscientious objection:   What’s going to happen if there’s a war and a draft?   Will those who conscientiously object to killing people be lined up in front of a firing squad?

 

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