Wednesday, April 29, 2009

John Paul II: More Thoughts

I learned a lot from John Paul II’s writings, despite their length and density. While I was ciphering on the prior post, I got a request for some brief reviews. Here’s my best effort to do so, but please keep in mind my standard disclaimers. I’m not a cleric, theologian, or philosopher. Just a regular guy.

As a matter of introduction, it’s probably a good thing to remember the times in which JPII was working. The Church was in a horrible shambles after the post-conciliar/post-Humanae Vitae upheaval. Communism with all its attending crap was reaching its apex. I think that this explains a lot of why JPII’s stuff reads the way it does. He gets a lot of criticism for being too man-centered, with a lesser emphasis on grace and the supernatural. I submit that the whole project he was working on required a look back on certain basic concepts of humanity that had been forgotten. People are valuable as people. Why? Because they are made in the image a likeness of God. Then he builds from that from the perspective of the person. How does this relate to the problems of the day? Communism, sexual license, abortion, contraception, etc. begin with a diminution of God and the exaltation of man from the get-go. The point was to make people understand that people are important but not for the degrading reasons asserted by these contrary world-views. They aren’t instruments of the Party, or a means of gratification, or entities less important than myself because I happen to have been born already.

Anyways, keep that in mind as you read these.


1. Veritatis Splendor- Freaking awesome. Catholic moral theology and its perpetual relevance presented in a way that those rejecting the supernatural should (if they are honest) respect. Right now, fundmental option morality lies at the core of our modern descent in to Pelagianism. Those views get condemned here.

2. Evangelium Vitae- Sets out the Church's view on life and why it is sacred. The more "speculative" (or whatever) part about the death penalty causes some folks problems, but I'm not sure why. Also contains what some would argue is an ex cathedra statement on the immorality of abortion.

3. Ecclesia de Eucharistia- A beautiful meditation on the Eucharist and Christ's place in the Church. If you read this, I suggest prefacing it with Paul VI's Mysterium Fidei.

4. Dominum et Viveficantum- This one is on the Holy Spirit and is good reading if for no other reason than the Holy Spirit gets ignored a lot by many Catholics. Check Leo XIII's workDivinum Illud Munus first in order to get some background.

5. Centessimus Annus- JPII's social justice Greatest Hits. This is very important these days when you have lots of people claiming that massive federalization of everything and a sprawling welfare state are somehow Catholic views of society.

6. Redemptoris Mater- You've probably heard a lot about JPII's Marian devotion. In fact, he puts a Marian "capstone" of sorts to all his encyclicals. This is his devotion put to paper.

7. Redemptoris Missio- Indifferentism condemned. That by itself makes this worth reading.


1. Redemptor Hominis- God made man. Man is for God. I have no idea what he is talking about for the other 80-whatever pages of this. For those who think he's teaching universalism, if that was realistic, Amerio would have mentioned it in Iota Unum. If he didn't catch it, I don't think it's there.

2. Ut Unum Sint- Another weird one for me. This is on the list just because Protestants latch on to the parts about re-thinking the Petrine office and then try to spin it into something that it isn't. This is more of an appeal than doctrinal teaching, I think, and so didn't really do much except confuse me.

3. Fides et Ratio- If you are a philosopher, you'll probably love this one. There are some highly quotable bits, but they are buried under a load of other stuff that I get headaches about.

4. Laborens Exercens- If you are Opus Dei, you'll probably love this one. I think I kept missing the point. Work seemed to aid sanctification, especially if viewed as a manner of suffering. As sanctifying in and of itself? I just didn't get it.

Ok but not necessary stuff. These are all worth reading, but I'd skip them in favor of the ones in the first section above:

1. Dives in Misericordia- The mercy of God the Father. I'll admit it. I go to sleep reading this one.

2. Slavorum Apostoli- Wonderful recollection of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Most people don't know who these guys are or how their actions radically affected the course of civilization.

3. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis- Centessimus Annus lite. Not much new here.

Happy Anniversary!

The blog is officially a year old now. Thanks to all those who have read, contributed, and supported our efforts here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

From William Esser:

It now appears certain that Washington initiated the contact with Notre Dame and asked that Barack Obama be honored - undoubtedly to advance his political agenda among Catholics. In agreeing to this request, Notre Dame has turned its back on the most innocent among us.

No freaking way. Has anybody else heard about this?

Remembering John Paul II

We’ve had a few people wonder why there was no mention of the anniversary of John Paul II’s death. It’s not that I’m just passing over the event. I’ve actually been trying to come up with something appropriate to the occasion.

I noticed that Boniface over at Unam Sanctam had a couple of very worthwhile articles about it. The Lumen Gentleman also had some good comments (seen here on FishEaters). In retrospect, I probably lie somewhere between the two. I have a great deal of affection for John Paul II. I recall my years growing up in a Protestant-dominated area, thinking that we were the only Catholics in the world except for the Pope. He was our representative to the rest of humanity, and that was a big deal.

As I got older (much older), I learned about all the events that created such scandal when they occurred. This will not be a dead horse beating. Everybody knows the stuff I’m talking about, and Boniface and LG give a better overview than I ever could. From a personal perspective, I’ve always focused on what might be the supreme irony of these events. In seeking to create ecumenical bonds with all these non-Christian groups, he inflicted severe wounds to any outreach to Protestants, who bring this stuff up way more than Catholics.

But I don’t want to digress. The point is that, while you can always find ways to criticize somebody like the Pope, you can’t imagine what the pressures were that he was under. You never walked a mile in the Shoes of the Fisherman. He admitted in Memory and Identity that he probably could have done a lot better in administering the Church. As a guy with bad scruples problems, I can’t fathom what I’d be feeling if I had to deal with the accountability for a billion souls. How to go about dealing with the tares amongst the wheat can’t be an easy job, especially when the field is as big as it is today, and the tares are dug in deeper than any other time in Church history.

Here’s what I am certain of. The previous Holy Father was a braver, smarter, and holier person than me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Plot Thickens . . .

ND was going to try and claim "equal time" for orthodoxy and infanticide by awarding the prestigious Laetare Medal to Mary Ann Glendon, former ambassador to the Holy See and a strong pro-life advocate.

Ms. Glendon has decided to decline being Fr. Jenkins & Company's cover story. She refused the award. First Things provides her comments:

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Has anybody actually agree with Jenkins's interpretation of the 2004 statement? Other than his still-unnamed canon lawyers, I mean.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Translation: Using an event like this to defy the Church and whore yourself out to someone who has set themselves up as an enemy of life itself is bad. I will not be a party to it.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

Translation: You're creating scandal. This is bad, too.

Fr. Jenkins, rock that he is, responded:

"We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.”

I'm sure you are, since this pretty much cements your termination.

What are the odds he tries to give the Medal to Pelosi?

The SSPX Has Launched a New Rosary Crusade

They've had two of these recently. The first was for the liberation of the TLM. The second was for the removal of the 1988 excoms.

Believe it or not, this one is actually going after bigger fish. They are asking for the consecration of Russia to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart per the instructions at Fatima.

It seems to us that the moment is come to launch a substantial offensive, deeply anchored in the message of Our Lady at Fatima, in which she herself promised the happy ending, for she announces that, in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph. It is this triumph that we ask her, by the means that she herself requests, the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart by the Supreme Shepherd and all the bishops of the Catholic world, and the propagation of the devotion to her Dolorous and Immaculate Heart. It is for this that we wish to offer her, with this purpose, from now to March 25, 2010, a bouquet of 12 million Rosaries, as a crown of as many stars around her, accompanied by an equivalent sum of daily sacrifices that we may be able to fulfill most of all in the faithful accomplishment of the duties of our state of life, and with the promise to propagate the devotion to her Immaculate Heart.

This is all on Rorate Caeli. It's also huge. Not 12 million rosaries. The whole consecration bit. First, many have maintained for a long time that the consecration by JPII in 1984 fulfilled Our Lady's wishes on this point. Many more have disputed this, though. These latter might take this as some sort of offense. Second, the whole of Eastern Orthodoxy would likely go into a freaking uproar of cosmic proportions over this. This is especially considering that the Russian Church has been itching to supplant Constantinople as the East's top see. It's hard for me to figure how they would perceive this as anything other than a huge punch to the face.

That being said, I don't see how it could be that bad of a thing. The Orthodox seem willing to find something wrong with everything these days, regardless of anyone else's attitude. Any Catholics having a problem with this could just look at it as a renewal of the previous effort and save themselves any outrage.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Let's Eliminate the Fire Code!

So, I'm teaching the Sermon on the Mount tomorrow in a humanities class. It's one of my favorite things to do, because it shows exactly how odd Christianity really is. My students have little knowledge of Christian teaching, and if they have any notion of who Jesus was, it is of an inoffensive, warm and fuzzy teacher, like Bill and Ted, telling us to be excellent to each other. He certainly would have supported gay marriage, as all cool people do, they may think.

Then we get to Matthew 5:27-30, which amplifies the prohibition of adultery to include even looking at a woman lustfully. Jesus, as he always does, takes the Mosaic law and makes it harder, much harder, encompassing the disposition of the heart as well as the external deeds. We must be perfect, after all! (v.48)

This passage usually gets a reaction. We live in an age of looking lustfully, perhaps the most lustful age that has ever been. One cannot even drive down the highway without being presented with advertisements festooned with nearly naked women. One cannot listen to sports radio without being invited to visit "gentlemen's" clubs. One cannot use the internet without, well, you know what's out there. The revenue from pornography exceeds that of the NFL, the NBA, and MLB combined. What could be more out of touch than Matt 5:28?

Let's be clear: the sexual appetites are very strong, as is to be expected, given their purpose of disposing us to procreation. They are not just another appetite. C.S. Lewis once observed that if hunger and sexual desire were the same sort of thing, there would be establishments where hungry men went to look at food, but not eat it, while the steak was stripped before their eyes. Clearly, it is something very powerful.

The current tendency to get rid of all societal rules concerning sexuality is like repealing the fire code. In previous centuries, catastrophic fires were common, often destroying whole cities. Yet they are not, now, because we have learned how to build in ways that make fires not break out. What if we got rid of all of those rules? It would lead to our destruction, or at least to lots of fires. The rules of society against sexual activity outside of marriage are like the fire code, and serve to prevent people from destroying their lives for the sake of sexual gratification. But we, we wise moderns, have decided to scrap the fire code, so to speak. We have decided to let the whole world burn.

Perhaps our ancestors were not oppressive, but wise.

Slouching Towards Nestorius

In attempting to familiarize myself with the modern crop of TV preachers, I've noticed a few buzz words that come up a lot. Everybody is "sowing seeds" and "reaping harvests," for example. You also have a lot of "anointing" and "covenant" talk. These were concepts not really mentioned (that I recall) by the preachers I knew, whether in my sojourns to Baptist churches with my family or in my casual contacts with Jerry Falwell or Walter Martin.

The one that I've been mulling over a lot lately, though, is "Jesus was God in the flesh," or some paraphrasing thereof. Of course, there's a perfectly ok way of saying this. The more I watch these guys, the more I'm convinced that these preacher folks don't mean what John was talking about. When they say "God in the flesh," they really mean that God came down and, rather than uniting Himself in a human nature with a human soul and will, He put on a man-suit of flesh. Jesus's humanity, in other words, was just having a body, rather than actually "being" human.

We've seen this before. Over 1000 years before, but it's still Nestorianism. This was the heresy condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431. You may also know this as the Council that declared the Blessed Mother as Theotokos (God-Bearer) since she bore not only a human man-suit, but a single divine person, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I wonder if this sort of thinking is linked to Protestant rejection of Marian dogmas.

As with most heresies, one bad idea usually leads to all sorts of worse ideas down the road. One of which is the idea of "penal substitution," which I have heard taught in Protestant circles. Basically, it means that Christ's atonement was by His own damnation. Damnation, of course, means total separation of God, which is impossible to claim and still maintain any belief in the Trinity. When I've heard this in the past, it's usually been with the idea that Christ, as God, didn't suffer in hell, but His flesh did. So we ditch either the hypostatic union or the Trinity. Take your pick.

Imagine my surprise when I find out that this thread of Nestorianism runs all the way back to the Reformers. Thanks to Nick for assembling these quotes.

I'm now going to be watching for signs of this on my preacher shows to see how many of them are denying the Trinity. We've talked before about the new emergence of anti-Trinitarian thought. Looks like it might be even more widespread than I figured.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Quick Overview of Recent Bishop Statements on Obama/ND

I'll be honest, baseball and t-ball have severely limited my posting time, so here's my effort to catch up.

Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph

But as I speak a word of encouragement today I also want to tell you soberly, dear friends, “We are at war!”

As we all know the eminent American Catholic University, Notre Dame, is poised to bestow such an opportunity and honor on President Obama, who is, of course, not Catholic. But it doesn’t take another Bishops’ Conference statement to know this is wrong: scandalous, discouraging and confusing to many Catholics.

God knows what all motivates such a decision. I suspect that, since Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle, and Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job, at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong. He ought to disinvite the President, who I believe would graciously accept the decision. Notre Dame, instead, ought to give the honorary degree to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has supported and tried to guide the University, despite their too frequent waywardness, faithfully for 25 years.

Bishop Latino of Jackson, MS

Latino, who gave the Daily Journal a preview of the letter, said he feels the university has sacrificed the church’s teaching concerning the sacredness of life for the distinction of having the nation’s first African-American president speak at its commencement.

Bishop Blair of Toledo

In an effort to end the murder of unborn children by abortion, the United States Bishops have called for more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials. This remains our priority at every level. However, it is not appropriate for Catholic institutions to give awards, honors or platforms to those who promote an abortion agenda. Doing so suggests that Catholics are not really serious about what the Church teaches regarding grave and immoral offenses against the life of the unborn.

President Obama is our elected President, and we should give him all the honor and respect due to his office. We should also pray for him, especially for a change of mind and heart on his part, away from abortion to protection of unborn human life. An invitation to speak and an honorary doctorate from a Catholic University go beyond the bounds of respect, and can only be a source of dismay.

Bishop Gettelfinger of Evansville, IN

By their actions, President John Jenkins and the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame are by affinity also pandering to the pro-choice movement, and in doing so, they are betraying their faithful alumni and supporters of this once great university.

The irony of it all is that the university, by the vote of its trustees, will confer on President Obama an Honorary Degree of Law. Clearly that degree will not include the moral law. If so, then the honor is shallow — indeed empty — as God is the source from which all law is derived. God is truth. God is the author and guardian of all human life. God does not allow for selective obedience. Do Father Jenkins and the Board of Trustees by their decision see any disconnect of themselves from the Infinite Truth?

Bishop Lucas of Springfield, IL

But many have told me how disturbed they are at the confusion caused by a Catholic university honoring a man who as an Illinois state senator and now as president has promoted an active role for government in the destruction of innocent human life and blocked reasonable qualifications on the practice of abortion.

I am disturbed, too, at this decision by Notre Dame to sow confusion where there is clarity in Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and the evil of abortion. For some this may be one political issue among many. For Catholics it is a matter of worshiping God by the proclamation of the truth. Many students and faculty at Notre Dame know this. The university’s administration thinks it knows better. It is hard to imagine the university honoring someone, no matter his office, who had consistently spoken against the value of football. We are not being unreasonable when we expect the value of human life to be a central focus of a Catholic university.

Archbishop Pilarczyk of Cincinnatti

Pilarczyk and others say it's inappropriate for the school to give Obama an honorary degree and to allow him to deliver the commencement address because his stance on abortion conflicts with the church's position.

“No one who has been a supporter of the anti-life mentality should be given honors or a forum,” archbishop spokesman Dan Andriacco said.

Bishop LeVoir of New Ulm, MN

Since President Obama has taken stands that contradict the fundamental moral principles of the Catholic Church, e.g., the approval of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, he “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for his actions” at a Catholic university. The decision of the University of Notre Dame makes it much more difficult for the Church to carry out her vital mission to transform our culture into a culture of life and love.

Bishop Galeone of St. Augustine, FL

In Bishop Galeone's brief letter to Fr. Jenkins, dated March 21, he stated: "I find it impossible to comprehend how a prestigious Catholic University like Notre Dame would bestow such an honor on President Obama, given his unmitigated support for policies and laws that flagrantly contradict fundamental Catholic teaching on life and marriage."

"Coupled with the performance of the quasi pornographic play, 'The Vagina Monologues,' which continues to appear annually on the Notre Dame campus, this most recent decision raises serious doubts about Fr. Jenkins' qualifications for continuing to serve as president of one of the foremost Catholic universities in the nation," Bishop Galeone concluded.

Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh

Notre Dame — Our Lady — is a title and devotion that every Catholic holds close to heart. Which is why it is so painful that the current leadership of the university has been so sadly forgetful of its responsibility to its sacred name, and to all the faithful, by deciding to give an honorary degree to our president, who has made so clear his opposition to the church’s teaching on the sacredness of human life. It must leave Our Lady — “Notre Dame” — embarrassed.

This is not a matter of the proper respect due our president, or even inviting him to speak on campus, or one of political motivation or a denial of free speech. The issue is not as clear as it must be. To give an honorary degree, to confer such an honor, makes the statement that the recipient of the honor reflects the mind and the heart of the giver. That certainly can’t be true in this instance! This is Our Lady’s university choosing to give an honorary degree to the single most outspoken pro-abortion president since the issue was foisted upon the country by the Supreme Court. It must, indeed, embarrass Our Lady.

Bishop Loverde of Arlington, VA

“While he has been in office only a few short months, President Obama’s actions with respect to life issues already have been a source of grave concern to Catholics,” Bishop Loverde wrote. “You can read my statements on these issues, including the lifting of the Mexico City policy, funding for embryonic stem cell research and the proposed removal of conscience protections for health care workers, at I share [in the] dismay that Notre Dame, contrary to the direction provided by the bishops, has chosen to extend to him an invitation, which — despite the University’s statements to the contrary — undoubtedly will be viewed by many as approbation of his policies.”

On a side note, the PR person for Cardinal George has issued a clarification of his own comments. It is a sign of the Church's current problems that people are trying to spin this as His Eminence saying this whole thing is ok.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy Shreds the ND "canon law" Response

Note how His Excellency's riposte is a fairly straight-forward and objective bit of thinking. Then contrast it to the bankrupt excuses that Fr. Jenkins provided. The focus here is on the 2004 USCCB statement and why it allegedly doesn't apply to the Obama invitation. And for those who wonder why Bishop D'Arcy is bringing it up, it's his job to do so.

Since the matter is now public, it is my duty as the bishop of this diocese to respond and correct. I take up this responsibility with some sadness, but also with the conviction that if I did not do so, I would be remiss in my pastoral responsibility.

So away we go . . .

When there is a doubt concerning the meaning of a document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where does one find the authentic interpretation? A fundamental, canonical and theological principal states that it is found in the local bishop, who is the teacher and law-giver in his diocese. (Cannon 330, 375 §§ 1 & 2; 380; 381 § 1; 391 § 1; 392, & 394 §1)

I informed Father Jenkins that if there was any genuine questions or doubt about the meaning of the relevant sentence in the Conference’s document, any competent canonist with knowledge of the tradition and love for Christ’s Church had the responsibility to inform Father Jenkins of the fundamental principle that the diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibility to provide an authoritative interpretation.

Anybody have any luck getting a list of those canon lawyers that were consulted? Anybody? Bueller?

I reminded Father Jenkins that he indicated that he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities, and at least indirectly, consulted other bishops, since he asked those presidents to share with him those judgments of their own bishops. However, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and law-giver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the President. I mentioned again that it is at the heart of the diocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility to teach as revealed in Sacred Scripture and the Tradition. (Lumen Gentium, 20; & Christus Dominus, 2) I reminded him that it is also central to the University’s relationship to the Church. (Ex corde ecclesiae, 27 & 28; Gen. Norm., Art. 5, §§ 1-3.)

This puts a pretty bad shine on Jenkins's character. It smacks of cowardice.

Father Jenkins declared the invitation to President Obama does not “suggest support” for his actions, because he has expressed and continues to express disagreement with him on issues surrounding protection of life. I wrote that the outpouring of hundreds of thousands who are shocked by the invitation clearly demonstrates, that this invitation has, in fact, scandalized many Catholics and other people of goodwill. In my office alone, there have been over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are still coming in. It seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly that people have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, and indeed, the action has suggested approval to many.

It's ok. Fr. Jenkins said that it didn't, so that means it must be true. If we've seen anything from this episode, it's that appears to be the driving force in his personality. Which is why this next bit is not going to happen:

In my letter, I have also asked Father Jenkins to correct, and if possible, withdraw the erroneous talking points, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outlets across the country. The statements which Father Jenkins has made are simply wrong and give a flawed justification for his actions.

I'd be very interested to see ND's engagement of His Excellency's points here if I thought there was any chance they'd try to offer some. I'm betting ND has reached the "cut bait" level here and nothing else will be said. Including anything to publicly challenge President Obama.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nine More Bishops Join the Anti-Obama/ND Chorus

LifeSite has the latest:

Fr. Jenkins Will Probably Lose His Job

That's from Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City. His neighbor in Salinas, KS, Bishop Paul Coakley, also took on the topic by expressing his "deep disappointment" in a letter to Fr. Jenkins and calling him out for ignoring the 2004 USCCB statement and undermining "the Catholic identity and mission of the institution."

Bishop Vasa from Portland, OR didn't leave his criticism to just ND, saying "This is just one more sign of the failure of Catholic Institutions to stand up for and support a higher ethical standard."

I'm going to try to get the specifics from the statements of the other seven bishops mentioned in the article posted up in the next couple of days.

Even an Orthodox Rabbi Can See the Problems in the Church

LifeSite brings us a great shpiel from an Orthodox rabbi who tells it like it is:

The dissident, leftist movement in the Catholic Church over the last forty years has severely undermined the teaching of the Catholic Church on the moral teachings on life and family, a prominent US Orthodox rabbi told Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the head of a group of 800 Orthodox rabbis in the US and Canada, also dismissed the accusations that the Holy See had not sufficiently distanced itself from the comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on the Holocaust.

"I support this move" to reconcile the traditionalist faction in the Church, he said, "because I understand the big picture, which is that the Catholic Church has a problem. There is a strong left wing of the Church that is doing immeasurable harm to the faith."

Rabbi Levin said that he understands "perfectly" why the reconciliation is vital to the fight against abortion and the homosexualist movement.

"I understand that it is very important to fill the pews of the Catholic Church not with cultural Catholics and left-wingers who are helping to destroy the Catholic Church and corrupt the values of the Catholic Church." This corruption, he said, "has a trickle-down effect to every single religious community in the world."

If this guy was Catholic, I'd be wanting him made a cardinal. It would be great for him to drop some accolades on Pius XII as well. Regardless, it's great to see someone else taking note of what doctrinal relativism does to the Church, and consequently, the world.

Rabbi Levin was in Rome holding meetings with high level Vatican officials to propose what he called a "new stream of thinking" for the Church's inter-religious dialogue, one based on commonly held moral teachings, particularly on the right to life and the sanctity of natural marriage.

"The most important issue," he said, is the work the Church is doing "to save babies from abortion, and save children's minds, and young people's minds, helping them to know right and wrong on the life and family issues."

"That's where ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue has to go."

Well, right after we try to get you to convert, maybe.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Doubting Thomas

Just thinking about the readings today. I pretty much had to post this.

First, it gives me a good reason to put up a Caravaggio, which holds a certain amount of awesomeness in its own right.

Second, you all probably heard a shpiel today about how we judge St. Thomas a bit too harshly. Given some recent events, I have to concur with that.

The standard Thomas homily basically points out that the man had just lost his teacher and best friend. He'd been completely disillusioned and emotionally wiped out. Then he gets news that The Master has risen from the dead and came back to see everybody else. Thomas doesn't believe because he doesn't want to "put himself out there" only to be hurt again in a worse fashion than before.

I agree with all this. People are readily prone to despair. I see folks every day who absolutely cannot conceive of anything good happening. Many will be more than willing to tell you that their attitude is because they don't want to be disappointed or let down by optimism. We've all seen the guy or girl go into a social shell due to prior relationships that ended badly. Thomas was the same thing only with the volume turned up to 11.

Anyways, I'm going to add another element to this. If I was Thomas, I would have been ticked. My thoughts would have probably gone something like this, "Who does Jesus think He is grantng favor to these other guys and leaving me out?" Lots of people have a real problem with other people getting gifts they don't get, whether it's a good job or spiritual consolations or whatever. I think this drives a lot of these "Prosperity Gospel" folk. Ultimately, it's covetousness. I'm not saying that Thomas fell victim to this, but I can see it playing out that way. Easier for him to believe that Jesus didn't come back at all than to think he'd been dissed by Christ not showing up while he was around. It's just how some folks are.

The point in all this, I'd suggest, is something that my colleague Karl mentions from time to time. The Resurrection is the supreme reason for optimism. Dying He destroyed our death; rising He restored our life. The Eternal Galilean has conquered. No matter what is going down at the moment, there is a happy ending. Jesus made it possible. How can one not be joyful?

My Lord and My God!

Looks Like the SSPX Talks Are Moving Ahead

Rorate Caeli has the story.

Bernard Tissier de Mallerais (one of his brother Bishops in the Fraternity) confirmed in Paris that "terms have been fixed for the doctrinal discussions due to take place between the Society of St. Pius X and the Church authorities in Rome".

Apparently, the discussions will not be made public.

I have mixed feelings about this. I understand the desire to keep things quiet, especially with modern media not having a clue as to Church teachings. There is a big chance for scandal or worse if the wrong reporter gets hold of things.

However, if talks break down, then we are faced with the possibility of accusations getting thrown around with nothing to back them up and all the hatchets that we've thought buried by recent events will suddenly be whipped out to the effect of large numbers of Catholics attacking each other.

May God grant the participants in these talks wisdom, humility, faith, and charity.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama/ND Invitation Prompts a Mass of Reparation in Orlando

Do I understand this right? Bishop Wenski is actually saying that the invitation to Obama is a sin that demands satisfaction be made to the Almighty.

Whoa. Never thought we would see a shepherd take it to this level. I'm impressed.

As Catholics we are aware of the many shortcomings and transgressions committed against the dignity and sacredness of human life in our world. That is why it is inconceivable that Notre Dame University, a Catholic institution of higher learning, should receive and honor anyone who promotes policies that are contradictory to who we are as a people of faith.

As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI stated in his visit to the U.S. last year in reference to Catholic university presidents, "to justify positions that contradict the faith and teaching of the church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission."

Mass of Reparation
May 3 at 6:00 p.m.
Cathedral of St. James
215 N. Orange Avenue
Downtown Orlando

Come and pray with Bishop Wenski for all of our transgressions against the Gospel of Life.

Reparation is the making amends for a wrong done or for an offense against God. By his death on the cross, the Son of God offered his life out of love for the Father to make reparation for our sinful disobedience (CCC #614).

We are obliged to make reparation for personal sins against justice and truth (CCC #2412 and #2487).

A Couple of More Bishops Speaking Up on Obama/ND

First, you've got Bishop Barbarito of Palm Beach's letter to Fr. Jenkins.

Other decisions of the University in past years have tarnished the clarity of the University’s Catholic identity. However, the present one gives rise to grave concern as to what message University is giving to the Catholics of our nation when it honors a public figure who, regardless of his office as President and the good work he wishes to accomplish, stands so strongly against already acted contrary to the Church's moral teaching on the right to life of the unborn.

While a step back from some of the harsher rhetoric we've seen lately, the focus is clearly shifting to more than just the Obama deal. Folks are beginning to bring up the fact that ND has been screwing up stuff way before this. Jenkins's move here just took it to the next level. Also of note, the continuing drumbeat as to what exactly ND sees as its mission in the world.

Returning to the more strident verbage we've become accustomed to, Bishop Stika of Knoxville is most displeased with the invitation:

As a Catholic, I am embarrassed by this gesture of the University of Notre Dame. It is fine to honor an individual because of his accomplishments, but can one seriously believe that it is in keeping with the teachings of Jesus to honor someone who is so powerful and influential that innocent and pure human life is in danger of death? It might be simplistic, but so often when I am confronted by moral decisions, I reflect on “what would Jesus do.” For the life of me, I cannot explain how anyone can justify the horrible destruction of human life.

The better question is how does Obama justify his stance given that, by professing his ignorance as to when life begins, he admits the possibility that he is promoting murder.

The president’s approach to abortion rights, embryonic-stem-cell research, and other issues is not in keeping with the teachings of our Catholic faith. It seems that the University of Notre Dame has abandoned its Catholic identity in this matter. I feel that it is embarrassing and shameful.

Too bad shame got ditched about the time Jenkins caved on the Vagina Monologues issue or maybe we would be seeing a different outcome here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Things Notre Dame Students Like

Sorry. This just had to be posted. Especially "Giving Peace."

ND Bishop on Obama/ND

Different ND there. Bishop Aquila is the shepherd of Fargo, North Dakota. In keeping with the recent trend of the rhetorical gloves coming off, he's pretty blunt in voicing his disapproval:

I was surprised and saddened when I learned about the invitation extended to President Obama to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement exercises and to receive an honorary degree. Your statements in defense of the award and invitation have only deepened my dismay.

This is something I've been hoping to see- responses to Fr. Jenkins's canon law defense. It would be good to hear from Archbishop Burke as well, considering his current position and canon law background.

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death is fundamental to our Catholic identity. I know you are a man of integrity and believe in the Church’s witness. I also know as a priest and a president of a Catholic University, you are well acquainted with Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the 2004 statement of the Bishops of the United States on “Catholics in Political Life.” Even though President Obama is not Catholic, he clearly rejects the truth about human dignity through his constant support of a so called “right to
abortion.” He also tolerates the inexcusable act of letting aborted children die who are born alive. He promotes an intrinsic evil which must always be resisted by a just and civil society.

Inviting President Obama to award him a degree and to speak at a Catholic University implicitly extends legitimacy to his views on these issues in the minds of the average onlooker. Your actions and that of the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame do real harm to the mission of Catholic education in this country and further splinters Catholic witness in the public square. Your actions provide a forum for an advocate of abortion, in a university which is committed to teaching the truths known to reason and science, and most of all to our faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church. This places commitment to these truths on an equal plane with a commitment to an intrinsic evil which destroys innocent human life. Your judgment in this matter is seriously flawed, with damaging consequences, for “…you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Mt 16:23).

So we have what amounts to another accusation of betrayal and, interestingly enough, the Board of Trustees gets lumped in for what I recall as the first time. Though I doubt they really care. The only way I can imagine the BOT even raising an eyebrow is if contributions to the university are drastically reduced.

Bishop Aquila closes with the question that we've been pondering here since this whole story came out:

I know that many wonderful Catholic students, faculty and administrators at Notre Dame support the clear teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church. Unfortunately, your action and that of your Board diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is.


No Rebuke for Obama's Anti-Catholic Appointee

Previously, we had the story of an Obama appointee who took it upon himself to insult Pope Benedict, the Knights of Columbus, and Catholics in general.

CNS has been trying to follow-up on this with the White House on this. They were told by a White House spokeswoman that the response was "no comment."

Maybe, under most circumstances, it would be reasonable to think that Obama didn't know about this. The problem is that there has already been a demand for a formal apology and withdrawal of this guy's appointment from Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, who is the House Republican Conference Chairman. That being considered, I think it's safe to say that the president knows about this. Given the lack of response, I think it's also safe to say that he doesn't really care.

Compare this to the John Edwards flap from a while ago. CNA has the story if you don't remember. It will be interesting to see the what the first negative story will be that does manage to stick with Pres. Obama and result in some accountability.

It also makes one reflect on the multiple stories coming out of Georgetown now over the White House requests to cover up religious references set in the backdrop of the president's speech. You can read about it here and here. This isn't such a big deal for me. Georgetown chose its path long ago.

Back to the Problem At-Hand: ND/Obama

This time, it's Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE. The Cardinal Newman Society has posted his letter. It really seems like the bishops are loosing the floodgates on their wording as this goes on:

Permit me to add my name as well to the long list of Bishops of the Catholic Church who are utterly appalled at your dedication to immorality and wrong-doing represented by your support for the obscenity called “The Vagina Monologues” and your absolute indifference to the murderous abortion program and beliefs of this President of the United States. The fact that you have some sort of past connection with the State of Nebraska makes it all the more painful that the Catholic people here have to see your betrayal of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. I can assure you of my prayers for your conversion, and for the conversion of your formerly Catholic University.

"Dedication to immorality." "Betrayal of moral teachings." This is pretty harsh stuff. But it's ok, though, since Fr. Jenkins cleared it with some unnamed canon lawyers.

So he's got that going for him.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remember That Whole Synod Thing? The Ripples Are Still Going.

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for this bit.

If you'll recall, during the recent Synod on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church" (translation: the Bible), I expressed some concerns about a couple of the propositions being knocked around, mostly because they seemed to be topics of discussion simply for the purpose of enhancing modernism.

It looks like the post-synodal study of its recommendations might be underway, only not with the CDF, as had originally been proposed. It's the Pontifical Bible Commission instead, albeit with Cardinal Levada presiding.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission is due to celebrate its annual plenary meeting at the Vatican's "Domus Sanctae Marthae" from 20 to 24 April, under the presidency of Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr. Klemens Stock S.J., pro-secretary general of the commission, will oversee and direct the work of the assembly.

This will be the first gathering of the Pontifical Biblical Commission since the partial renewal of its membership, in accordance with current norms. During the meeting attention will be given to a new study entitled "Inspiration and Truth of the Bible", the draft version of which has already been examined by the commission members.

I don't know what to think of this. The PBC is no longer a part of the Magisterium, which means that it could come out with some watered down tripe that would do nothing more than create a huge scandal and a chasm for genuine ecumenical efforts by implying that Scripture contains errors. On the other hand, I don't know much about who is on the PBC these days. We could get a great report back with all kinds of citations to the Fathers, ecumenical councils, popes, Doctors, etc. who support the inerrancy of Holy Writ.

Very intriguing. Oh, and for my prior shpiel on the inerrancy of Scripture, see here.

"The Church Should Respect and Give Voice to the Diversity of Opinions."

Folks have thrown this statement to me about 3 billion times since I started this blog. I think 2.9 billion of them have come in since I started talking about the ND/Obama stuff.

I was looking at the daily readings and was reminded of what our first Holy Father said on the subject of diversity of opinions.

Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshmentand send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus,whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restorationof which God spoke through the mouthof his holy prophets from of old. For Moses said:

A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for youfrom among your own kin;to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you. Everyone who does not listen to that prophetwill be cut off from the people.

Acts 3:19-23

There is one Truth. Diversity from the Truth gets you cut off. It's that simple.

I'm Watching the EWTN Show on Pope Benedict's Life

I wish I could have seen the announcement of his election live. In the middle of a business trip, I was driving through Dry Prong and got a call from a Protestant friend of mine who informed me that the "Church of Rome" now had a new leader.

The crowd shots of the announcement are quite moving. The people go absolutely ape-poop when they find out that it's Cardinal Ratzinger. Such enthusiasm gives me hope for our future.

Happy Birthday!

The Holy Father turns 82 today. May God grant him many years!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Did Your Parish Have a Lot of Converts?

This is the first year I can recall for a long time that my parish will not have any. I am very sad, as it's converts that have kept my little church going for pretty much its whole history.

What is everyone else seeing?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christos Anesti!

He Preached to Those Spirits That Were in Prison

1 Peter 3:19

If you ever wondered what Christ was doing for the three days, this is the major Biblical passage letting us know.

However, there is a very old book called the Gospel of Nicodemus that gives a more robust account. It's not inspired or anything, but its portrayal of Jesus's descent is pretty wonderful:

And while all the saints were rejoicing, behold Satan the prince and chief of death said unto Hell: Make thyself ready to receive Jesus who boasteth himself that he is the Son of God, whereas he is a man that feareth death, and sayeth: My soul is sorrowful even unto death. And he hath been much mine enemy, doing me great hurt, and many that I had made blind, lame, dumb, leprous, and possessed he hath healed with a word: and some whom I have brought unto thee dead, them hath he taken away from thee. . .

But when all the multitude of the saints heard it, they spake with a voice of rebuking unto Hell: Open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in. And David cried out, saying: Did I not when I was alive upon earth, foretell unto you: Let them give thanks unto the Lord, even his mercies and his wonders unto the children of men; who hath broken the gates of brass and smitten the bars of iron in sunder? he hath taken them out of the way of their iniquity. And thereafter in like manner Esaias said: Did not I when I was alive upon earth foretell unto you: The dead shall arise, and they that are in the tombs shall rise again, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice, for the dew which cometh of the Lord is their healing? And again I said: O death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?

When they heard that of Esaias, all the saints said unto Hell: Open thy gates: now shalt thou be overcome and weak and without strength. And there came a great voice as of thunder, saying: Remove, O princes, your gates, and be ye lift up ye doors of hell, and the King of glory shall come in. And when Hell saw that they so cried out twice, he said, as if he knew it not: Who is the King of glory? And David answered Hell and said: The words of this cry do I know, for by his spirit I prophesied the same; and now I say unto thee that which I said before: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, he is the King of glory. And: The Lord looked down from heaven that he might hear the groanings of them that are in fetters and deliver the children of them that have been slain. And now, O thou most foul and stinking Hell, open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in. And as David spake thus unto Hell, the Lord of majesty appeared in the form of a man and lightened the eternal darkness and brake the bonds that could not be loosed: and the succour of his everlasting might visited us that sat in the deep darkness of our transgressions and in the shadow of death of our sins.

And the Lord stretching forth his hand, said: Come unto me, all ye my saints which bear mine image and my likeness. Ye that by the tree and the devil and death were condemned, behold now the devil and death condemned by the tree. And forthwith all the saints were gathered in one under the hand of the Lord. And the Lord holding the right hand of Adam, said unto him: Peace be unto thee with all thy children that are my righteous ones. But Adam, casting himself at the knees of the Lord entreated him with tears and beseechings, and said with a loud voice: I will magnify thee, O Lord, for thou hast set me up and not made my foes to triumph over me: O Lord my God I cried unto thee and thou hast healed me; Lord, thou hast brought my soul out of hell, thou hast delivered me from them that go down to the pit. Sing praises unto the Lord all ye saints of his, and give thanks unto him for the remembrance of his holiness. For there is wrath in his indignation and life is in his good pleasure. In like manner all the saints of God kneeled and cast themselves at the feet of the Lord, saying with one accord: Thou art come, O redeemer of the world: that which thou didst foretell by the law and by thy prophets, that hast thou accomplished in deed. Thou hast redeemed the living by thy cross, and by the death of the cross thou hast come down unto us, that thou mightest save us out of hell and death through thy majesty. O Lord, like as thou hast set the name of thy glory in the heavens and set up thy cross for a token of redemption upon the earth, so, Lord, set thou up the sign of the victory of thy cross in hell, that death may have no more dominion.

And the Lord stretched forth his hand and made the sign of the cross over Adam and over all his saints, and he took the right hand of Adam and went up out of hell, and all the saints followed him. Then did holy David cry aloud and say: Sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things. His right hand hath wrought salvation for him and his holy arm. The Lord hath made known his saving health, before the face of all nations hath he revealed his righteousness. And the whole multitude of the saints answered, saying: Such honour have all his saints. Amen, Alleluia.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'll Be Watching The Passion of the Christ Tonight

Which has prompted the question:

Which Passion narrative is your favorite?

I'm partial to John, I think. Perhaps Luke because of the bit with Dismas.

Moreso to John, though. I think.

Fr. Jenkins Finally Responds to the Criticism

LifeSite has what is alleged to be the official response to all the Obama backlash.

I'm sure everyone here will say I'm biased, but this strikes me as arrogant and intellectually dishonest. Who are these canon lawyers and why is their opinion more important than the bishops (or even the local ordinary) in question? If all this is so appropriate, why was Bishop D'Arcy not informed until the 11th hour?

Let's take a look at the various rationale employed by President Jenkins:

"Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

Because the title of the document is "Catholics in Political Life", we understood this to refer to honoring Catholics whose actions are not in accord with our moral principles. This interpretation was supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in "defiance" of it. Moreover, fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them that in fact it is only Catholic politicians who are referred to in this document.

So basically, we can just ditch the idea of natural law altogether. This isn't a question of "our" moral principles. This is about something intrinsically evil for which there is no excuse. I'm having some difficulty figuring out how Obama's being a heretic somehow mitigates his culpability. Would we use this excuse for someone who was an avowed racist? Maybe Jenkins can get Fred Phelps an honorary degree next year. Since heresy and schism can apparently excuse everything now, I don't see the difficulty.

I'll also point out that this "interpretation" employed by President Jenkins completely ignores the immediate context of the statement in question. The preceding three points speak generally of "public officials" and "political leaders." When it's speaking directly about Catholics in these categories, it says so. For example:

This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials.

I'd really like to know who the lawyers were the ignored the basic principles of construction to come up with this garbage excuse.

In addition, regardless of how one interprets the first sentence, the second is also important. It reads: "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions. [My italics]" In every statement I have made about the invitation of President Obama and in every statement I will make, I express our disagreement with him on issues surrounding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. If we repeatedly and clearly state that we do not support the President on these issues, we cannot be understood to "suggest support".

You're giving him an honorary degree. As Dr. Beckwith has pointed out, this is hypocritical no matter how you look at it. President Jenkins's "statements" of "disagreement" to this point are worthless in light of the basic logic behind this. We've already seen the comments coming out in this story about how a majority of Catholics voted for Obama in the election. All this invitation has done is de-emphasize the importance of the abortion issue. I eagerly await the statements he "will make" about this. I'm sure they will be paragons of fortitude and bravery worthy of the martyrs. Just like the one that okayed the Vagina Monologues.

Finally, the document states that "we need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials...." However misguided some might consider our actions, it is in the spirit of providing a basis for dialogue that we invited President Obama.

The word "dialogue" in this context seems to be abused. "Dialogue" suggests that Obama has something to bring to the table on this issue. He doesn't. On this particular issue, he's wrong. Any Catholic and/or Catholic institution has the obligation to tell him that he's wrong. No input he provides or comebacks he makes are legitimate. That's what needs to be made clear. I'm unsure of how that works when we're heaping accolades on him and telling him how great it is that he can get the trains running on time.

Then there's the closing:

On May 17 we will welcome the ninth President who will receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame. It will be an important opportunity to bring the leader of our nation to Notre Dame, and, I hope, a joyful day for our graduates and their families.

So no chance of rescinding the invite. "And to all you Successors of the Apostles who have a problem with it, tough $#!*" That's how it read to me, at least.

Believe it or not, President Jenkins was a very good philosophy professor. He seems to have rejected some of the discipline's core principles by agreeing to sign his name to a document backed by such pathetic arguments. Folks will sacrifice anything for the praise of the world, I guess.

Was Mary Beautiful?

I'm watching The Gospel of John on Netflix right now, and I was struck with how plain the woman was who played Mary. This is against the usual custom of having some ethereal beauty play her. In art, she is almost always painted the same way. But was she in fact beautiful? Perhaps not.

I had a thought, which may not be a good one. Nevertheless, if I censured my thoughts, I wouldn't be following the laws of the blogosphere. So, here goes: perhaps we make her beautiful because we don't really believe the Incarnation. We don't really believe that God, the infinite God, has condescended to the emptying of becoming man. All Mariology is Christology, and so by always making her have superhuman beauty, we testify that we believe Jesus was also a superhuman, not a real man at all. The Mother of God, the ever-virgin all-pure Theotokos, could have had a big nose like the actress, without any impairment, because humans sometimes have big noses. Since God has become man, everything human is now divine, even big noses.

Now For Something Completely Different: Elders of Zion to Retire

I thought this was freaking hilarious:

The Elders of Zion, the venerable and shadowy Jewish organization that controls the international banking industry, news media and Hollywood, has announced that it is disbanding so that members can retire to Florida and live out their golden years on the golf course.

“We had a good run,” said one senior Elder, reminiscing over old photographs of world leaders in his musty, wood-paneled office at an undisclosed location. “Maybe we ran the world for just a little too long. Anyway, now it’s Obama’s problem.”

After a humiliating year left most of its financial holdings, as well as the entire civilized world, on the verge of collapse, the organization has re-defined its mission in terms of bridge games and making it to restaurants for the Early Bird Special.

Catch the rest here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Bishops Continue to Line Up on the Obama/ND Flap: Bishop Listecki is Next

That makes two bishops from Wisconsin (Madison and now La Crosse). I wonder what the political atmosphere is like there for Catholics. Most stories I've heard about Sconsin don't paint what I'd cipher as a very pro-life picture.

Regardless, the fact that two shepherds from the state have come forward on this is definitely a positive. His Excellency's words:

The University of Notre Dame recently invited President Obama to give this spring's commencement address and to receive an honorary degree in law. This invitation was extended in spite of President Obama's continual offenses against the sanctity of human life through his executive actions and appointments since taking office.

Continual offenses against the sanctity of human life. I wish he would have continued and added "and God Almighty."

The decision of the President of Notre Dame to ignore the Bishops and to give both a platform and an honor to President Obama is indefensible. And so I raise my voice along with many of my brother Bishops, as well as the faithful who have been deeply scandalized.

He closes with a request that Fr. Jenkins rescind the invitation. Has ND even attempted a response since the initial press release or whatever it was? I haven't seen anything but admit that this is something I could have easily missed amongst all the loud condemnation.

Addition by Subtraction?

This was a pretty interesting LA Times article about some of our older bishops in the US and what might happen once they step down. We have a lot of pretty famous guys out there who are reaching mandatory retirement age. Probably the most famous is Cardinal Roger Mahony.

Yes, that Cardinal Mahony.

Granted, these guys are all over the map as far as fame and infamy go. You have some other familiar names like Cardinals George and Rigali, too, for examples.

Still, we're talking high-profile posts that might be a good start for the reform of the American Church. What sort of reform, you might ask. Here's what the article suggests:

Church experts say Benedict's recent appointments suggest that he is concerned more with orthodoxy than ethnicity and with putting a positive public face on the church. His aim, scholars say, is to see the church grow and move beyond the sexual abuse crisis of the last decade.

Of course, there's some negativity associated with this as a large chunk of the article is devoted to mentioning the lack of Latino bishops. That's understandable to a degree, but the lack of such bishops is going to make for a tough order to fill just given the raw numbers of Latino priests who might make for eligible candidates. That's not even considering how many might be real bishop material.

How Is a Baby Like a Rapist?

Creative Minority Report fills us in with a frankly inhuman bit of work from a Cornell Law Professor named Sherry Colb. I have long advocated that all Ivy League universities be put to the torch and the ground sown with salt. Ms. Colb provides excellent justification for my views.

One might argue, as some pro-life advocates have, that there is no meaningful difference between what Gonzalez did and what an abortion provider does, because in both cases, a fetus is killed. This argument, however, ignores one of the main premises of the right to abortion – the bodily-integrity interest of the pregnant woman. Particularly at the later stages of pregnancy, the right to abortion does not protect an interest in killing a fetus as such. What it protects instead is the woman's interest in not being physically, internally occupied by another creature against her will, the same interest that explains the right to use deadly force, if necessary, to stop a rapist. Though the fetus is innocent of any intentional wrongdoing and the rapist is not, the woman's interest in repelling an unwanted physical intrusion is quite similar.

I wouldn't advise reading the rest, and I'm not going to link it here. It is lunacy of the sort that can only be found from an Ivy Leaguer.

Maybe ND will consider her for the Laetare Medal?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More Good Bishop News (not ND related, I Promise!)

If you'll recall, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas (not to be confused with the other Sabellius) was instructed by her bishop not to receive Holy Communion. We discussed this story here. Gov. Sebelius is now up for the Cabinet post of Secretary of Health and Human Services. Should she get the job, this would place her Mass-going under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC.

According to this CNA report, Archbishop Wuerl is going to uphold his brother bishop's decision on this matter:

If Sebelius’ nomination as HHS Secretary is accepted and she moves to Washington D.C., she will face the same request to not receive Communion. According to the Washington Times, Archbishop Naumann contacted Archbishop Wuerl and informed him of the discussions he had held with Gov. Sebelius. A spokesman for Archbishop Wuerl, confirmed to the Washington Times that church officials in Washington would support Naumann’s admonition and act accordingly.

This is all very good news and will hopefully be the start of a trend.

Bishop Baker of Birmingham Joins the Contra-Obama Chorus

The email I got on this one linked me to EWTN. Makes sense what with his being the ordinary there, I guess. Striking on a issue that has only been raised by Archbishop Gomez thus far, Bishop Baker recalls the recent words of the Holy Father on what makes a Catholic university:

Nationwide astounded and upset Catholics have reacted critically to the news that Notre Dame University will host and honor President Barack Obama at its May Commencement. I also feel the need to express my deep disappointment over such an invitation, extended by one of our nation's Catholic Universities.

That a Catholic school should publicly recognize a man who unashamedly promotes values clearly opposed to the Church's teaching on the Gospel of Life is a travesty to the legacy of Catholic education. In his address at Catholic University almost one year ago, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that the identity of Catholic universities cannot be "equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith." To educate students in fundamental moral principles cannot be reconciled with subsequent bestowal of tribute to a public official who supports and promotes the values contrary to those principles.

Bishop Baker also mirrors Bishop Olmsted in calling this whole fiasco an act of disobedience by the ND administration. Moreover, adding something I didn't expect to see from any bishop, His Excellency states agreement with Prof. Charles Rice of ND, who absolutely blasted everybody involved with the commencement invitation in this letter reproduced at CatholicOnline. He even references Nazis. I advise you to read the whole thing. For the folks who think that there's nothing good associated with ND now, maybe Prof. Rice can change your mind.

Holy Cross Priests Challenge Obama Invitation

From the ND student paper, The Observer, we have the courageous voices of 10 priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross pleading for ND to reverse its course:

It is our deep conviction that Notre Dame should lead by word and deed in upholding the Church's fundamental teaching that human life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception. In so doing the University must take seriously the 2004 instruction of the U.S. Catholic Bishops that "Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

The University pursues a dangerous course when it allows itself to decide for and by itself what part of being a Catholic institution it will choose to embrace. Although undoubtedly unintended, the University administration's decision portends a distancing of Notre Dame from the Church which is its lifeblood and the source of its identity and real strength. Such a distancing puts at risk the true soul of Notre Dame.

This last bit is especially sad. ND has been on this course for some time now. You could go back to 1967 and the Land O' Lakes statement, or just fast forward to the more recent rejection of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. This is just the straw breaking the camel's back.

We regret that our position on this issue puts us at odds with our brother priest in Holy Cross, Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C. Yet, in this instance, for the good of Notre Dame and the Congregation of Holy Cross, we cannot remain silent. Notre Dame's decision has caused moral confusion and given many reason to believe that the University's stance against the terrible evil of abortion is weak and easily trumped by other considerations.

Which is, of course, exactly what is being argued. Abortion isn't so bad as long as you get health care and such.

We prayerfully request that Fr. Jenkins and the Fellows of the University, who are entrusted with responsibility for maintaining its essential character as a Catholic institution of higher learning, revisit this matter immediately. Failure to do so will damage the integrity of the institution and detract from all the good work that occurs at Notre Dame and from the impressive labors of its many faithful students and professors.

Unfortunately, it seems to be too late now. If there was going to be a change, it would have been done by now. The damage is done.

For what it's worth, the Holy Cross Superior, Fr. Hugh Cleary, wrote a letter directly to the President about all this. You can read it at CNA. Alternating between pleading, fawning, and lamenting, it's pretty long, but gives you another idea as to what some of the higher-ups are thinking.

Bishop Taylor of Little Rock: More Support for Bishop D'Arcy

This initially got posted on Bishop Taylor's Facebook page. I'm not on any of the Facebook/MySpace/Twitter/whatever pages, so I got this from The Catholic Key Blog.

On March 21, 2009 it was announced that Notre Dame University had invited President Obama to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and that they would be giving him an honorary degree, despite the fact that he is clearly a pro-abortion politician. Notre Dame is in South Bend, Indiana and so Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend is most directly responsible for addressing this problem. On March 24, 2009 Bishop D’Arcy issued the following statement in which he makes it clear that Notre Dame acted inappropriately in honoring President Obama in this way because he is a pro-abortion politician. I, along with other bishops throughout the country, fully support Bishop D’Arcy in this matter.

What does that make? 20-something bishops now?

Bishop Alexander Sample, The Nation's Youngest Bishop, Condemns Obama's ND Invitation

I'll admit that I don't know much about this guy. However, I am impressed by the fact that he's 48 and yet still willing to throw his hat into a ring that involves criticizing the most powerful man in the world.

His Excellency presides over the Diocese of Marquette in Michigan, home to another prominent Catholic university. Perhaps he sees the danger in allowing precedents like this to be set with impugnity.

CNA has the details:

Bishop Sample called the university's decision to honor Obama is "unconscionable" and "completely out of step with the Catholic Church’s teaching."

In his statement, Sample said that Obama’s "campaign rhetoric" and the "actions he has taken since becoming president" have made it clear that he intends to fuel the Culture War and continue the "destruction of innocent human life."

Bishop Sample cited Obama’s "Mexico City Policy" executive order, approval of funding embryonic stem cell research, and "his pledge to sing into law a resurrected Freedom of Choice Act."

He concluded his letter by saying that it "saddens [him] beyond words that the great university name after Our Lady" would honor a politician "who would seek to expand threats to such innocent human life."

I have a radical idea. It used to be a fairly accepted practice for the calling of local synods for the purpose of dealing with local heresies/schisms/disciplinary problems/whatever. Even in America, we've seen similar animals in events such as the Plenary Councils of Baltimore.

Yes, yes. I know. The episcopal structure of the US is way different now. The bottom line is that the USCCB (or any other national conference) is not meant to handle these sorts of things. You need something a bit more formal with less emphasis on organization and such. If the denunciations of ND's actions continue, surely some measure of really organized response is available. Any canon lawyers know how this would work?

The Hits Just Keep On Comin': Archbishop O'Brien of Baltimore and Archbishop Buechlein of Indianapolis

Chalk up two more shepherds as defending the Church's honor on this Obama invitation business.

The story on Archbishop O'Brien came to me from The Catholic Review by way of the Traditional Latin Mass in Maryland blog. Much obliged to both of those sources.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien said he is “disappointed and bewildered” by the decision of University of Notre Dame officials to honor President Barack Obama with an honorary doctorate at this year’s graduation ceremony.

In a March 26 letter, Archbishop O’Brien told Notre Dame President Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins he “fully supports” the March 24 statement of Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., that raised concerns about the decision.

To echo some more of what Karl said earlier, I am very much wondering how much of this has become personal for these guys. As the criticisms have continued to roll in, they have become more and more focused (it seems to me) on Bishop D'Arcy's role in all this. There definitely seems to be a growing notion of "This could happen to me" among our nations bishops.

“(I) regret that (Bishop D’Arcy) must bear this personal affront from a university which he has so consistently and ardently supported this last quarter century,” Archbishop O’Brien wrote.

Archbishop Buechlein's words were a bit harsher. Considering he's just down the road from ND, I can understand his being upset which such shenanigans in what amounts to his own backyard:

I join my voice to the chorus of thousands of faithful Catholics around the United States, and those of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in particular, who are appalled and embarrassed by your recent invitation to President Obama to address the 2009 graduates of Notre Dame.

I was stunned and angered upon hearing the news of the invitation; in the end, I am among the thousands of good people who are profoundly saddened by it.

There isn’t a single reason that would justify Catholic sponsorship of the president of our country, who is blatantly opposed to the Catholic Church’s doctrine on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.

You dishonor the reputation of the University of Notre Dame and, in effect, abdicate your prestigious reputation among Catholic universities everywhere.

Like other people of good faith, I await some action that indicates your regret concerning a truly wrong decision.

And the silence from under the Golden Dome continues. . .

Fresh From Firing His Diocesan Heretic, Bishop Morlino Takes On the ND/Obama Issue

I think my first post about Bishop Morlino was this one regarding his termination of a heretical layperson who refused to recant.

Now, he's taken the Obama issue and turned it against the laity. As is absolutely necessary for anyone to understand what's really going on here.

As for Obama speaking at Notre Dame, Bishop Morlino noted that President Obama is not a Catholic, and as President of Notre Dame, he would NOT have invited Obama to speak. But while Obama is not Catholic, he is still bound by the natural law of human reason, a concept that has not only escaped Obama, but the majority of Catholics in the pews who elected him President. "It's hard to hold President Obama accountable to a standard of understanding of the natural laws that most Catholics can't comprehend. We have to do a better job of teaching the natural law."

The reason we've gotten here in the first place is because Catholics have surrendered to modernity and ditched their Faith. Maybe Bishop Morlino is right and the fault belongs with the American Church for not teaching as they should have. I'd suggest that the laity bear some culpability here as well, though, since most don't seem to care even when they are being taught. How many times did JPII hammer on the issues of abortion and contraception? What percentage of American Catholics decided to take him seriously?

Of course, I guess you could say that such Catholics got that way because they weren't being taught for so long, but then you get into a sort of chicken/egg dispute. Let's all just try to do better.

The shpiel from Bishop Morlino is part of a much bigger article from Catholic Citizens of Illinois. He goes into a lot more detail regarding natural law and such, so it's worth reading the whole thing.

Two Bishops From San Antonio on Obama/ND

Archbishop Jose Gomez and Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu have stepped up to the plate of the Gospel in supporting Bishop D'Arcy in his condemnation of the Obama invite.

Their letter is addressed to Bishop D'Arcy personally and is a wonderful expression of unity. Keeping with the theme, they harp on the 2004 USCCB statement as well. Their point is simple:

President Obama has made it clear that his policies on abortion and the general protection of innocent life are in dramatic opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church. At this critical time, we cannot afford to send an ambiguous message to our leaders or our people.

What is also noteworthy is that they reference the words of the Holy Father to Catholic educators on his recent visit to America. He reminded those educators that Catholic identity "is a question of conviction."

My continuing question for ND isn't so much whether the administration has conviction. Clearly, conviction is there, as is evidenced by decades of almost 20 years of open defiance to the Holy See (eg- Ex Corde Ecclesiae) and the decision to wreak massive scandal with the Obama deal. The question for ND is if it will ever show such conviction for the Church.

Bishop Lori of Bridgeport on ND/Obama (What is the Condemnation Count Now?)

Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, CT is the latest to join the fast-growing list of bishops who are blasting ND for the Obama invite. The diocesan newsletter is here and gives his comments:

Notre Dame extended this invitation unilaterally, seemingly without regard for the consequences for the mission of the Catholic Church in the United States. It is contrary to the efforts of bishops, parish priests, and laity to resist the anti-life decisions, policies, and legislation promoted by the Obama administration.

Also of interest is that Bishop Lori has been put in a similar position to that of Bishop D'Arcy by Sacred Heart University, which has chosen to honor a pro-choice activist at its Scholarship Dinner. He's the chairman of the board and has to tolerate this? Anyways, he won't be attending. I'd really like to know who made this decision.

We, the laity, are an embarassment to God.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Obama Appoints an Anti-Catholic Moron to His Faith-Based Initiative Advisory Group

That's nice. I wonder if Fr. Jenkins got an invitation. There's a big article on the make-up of the entire board at CNS, but I'll just reproduce the relevant parts here:

President Barack Obama has named to the federal government’s faith-based initiative a gay-rights activist who, last month, described Pope Benedict XVI and certain Catholic bishops as “discredited leaders” because of their opposition to same-sex marriage.

Harry Knox, who is a newly appointed member of Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is the director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group.

In addition to his remarks about the Pope, Knox also criticized the Catholic Knights of Columbus as being “foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression” because of the Knights’ support of Proposition 8. The latter was a ballot initiative that amended California’s state constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, and passed in November 2008.

The best part was that he reiterated all this when asked about it by CNS:

Knox told that he “absolutely” stands by his criticism of the pope. "The Pope needs to start telling the truth about condom use," Knox said on Monday, Apr. 6. "We are eager to help him do that. Until he is willing to do that and able, he's doing a great deal more harm than good -- not just in Africa but around the world. It is endangering people's lives.”

Gee, Harry. Since we're talking about telling the truth and all, maybe you should educate yourself, what with your being in a position to advise the president and stuff. Maybe you could start here. Then embrace the fact that the Pope might actually be on to something.

On a more fortunate note, Knox is kind enough to let us know exactly what sort of agenda he's wanting to be this advisory board's capstone:

And, of course, we will support the President in living up to his promise that government has no place in funding bigotry against any group of people.

I wonder if that includes Catholics. From what we've seen thus far, I'm wagering that will be a no. After all, why fund "foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression"?

Bishop Murry, SJ, of Youngstown the Latest to Speak on ND/Obama

This comes from His Excellency's diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Exponent.

Mr. Obama’s policies of expanding the availability of abortion at home and exporting that availability overseas have demonstrated that he does not believe that the life of the unborn is very important. As a result, I cannot but be deeply disturbed by the decision made by the president and board of Notre Dame.

The emphasis there is mine, as it resurrects a point I made here previously. Is Obama a hypocrite or just incredibly reckless?

Notre Dame is a Catholic university. Universities are places where there is a free exchange of ideas for the purpose of learning. Notre Dame is also a Catholic university, which means that its intellectual foundation is built on fundamental moral principles. Remove those moral principles and you remove the word “Catholic” from an organization’s self-definition.

As a Catholic university and the premier Catholic university in the nation, Notre Dame should be in the forefront of protecting all human life in word and deed. It is not sufficient for the university’s administration to issue a statement that they do not agree with President Obama’s positions on life issues while at the same time giving him an opportunity to stand before the graduates and receive a prestigious honorary degree. That is the contradiction Notre Dame has failed to resolve and what, I believe, is at the heart of this controversy.

And this seems, to me at least, a nice way of calling out the ND administration for its own hypocrisy.

And Now on Obama/ND . . . Bishop Higi

LifeSite has published a snip of Bishop Higi of Lafayette, IN:

"Many people, including myself, who consider the University of Notre Dame the prestigious Catholic university in the United States, are most upset that the university has extended an invitation to President Obama to give its commencement address and receive an honorary degree," wrote Bishop Higi.

"Others have explained why so many object to this action. It need not be repeated here. In simple fact, the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who stand in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions. The sanctity of life from conception to natural death heads that list of fundamental principles."

That last bit should be branded on the foreheads of all those "proportionate reasons" voters that Karl mentioned in his rather eloquent piece of work below.

Bishop Higi also encouraged folks to join the protest sponsored by the Cardinal Newman Society here. Sign on if you haven't already.

It's a Miracle! Something Good Came From Oprah!

Naturally, it was all completely unintentional.

If you have any exposure to Oprah's every day drivel, then you've probably at least heard of her occasional guest, Dr. Mehmet Oz. This guy just achieved the rare (perhaps unprecedented) distinction of being a positive influence that has gained exposure from an Oprah appearance.

The subject of this particular episode was apparently Parkinson's, as Michael J. Fox was there as well. For those who don't know, Mr. Fox has been advocating the use of human beings as spare parts via embryonic destruction for some time now.

Josh Brahm from Science Matters gives his take of this on YouTube. I found the write-up for this on National Catholic Register. In a nutshell, Doc Oz tells Oprah and Fox that the stem cell debate is "dead." Why? Because they can amount to cancer and we are getting the big breakthroughs on adult stem cells. Here's the clip with Mr. Brahm:

Question: Does Oprah look remotely happy about Doc Oz airing this bit of wonderful news? I think she looks like someone punched her in the gut.