Sunday, November 29, 2009

Caritas In Veritate, Part 8

And we're heading down the home stretch.

A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics, where the very possibility of integral human development is radically called into question. In this most delicate and critical area, the fundamental question asserts itself force-fully: is man the product of his own labours or does he depend on God?

Remarkably similar to the recent post on Clement, albeit with a modern context.

It is no coincidence that closing the door to transcendence brings one up short against a difficulty: how could being emerge from nothing, how could intelligence be born from chance?

I’ve seen a lot of comments on the encyclical. Nobody wants to touch this part. It’s weird how folks seem to take their allegiance to certain scientific concepts more seriously than to the Faith. Folks will let people get away with all sorts of blasphemous claims about Jesus not being Divine, yet mock anyone who bothers to challenge materialist views of Creation. All so they won’t be considered dumb or unenlightened.

In vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids: all this is now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp. Here we see the clearest expression of technology's supremacy. In this type of culture, the conscience is simply invited to take note of technological possibilities. Yet we must not underestimate the disturbing scenarios that threaten our future, or the powerful new instruments that the “culture of death” has at its disposal. To the tragic and widespread scourge of abortion we may well have to add in the future — indeed it is already surreptiously present — the systematic eugenic programming of births. At the other end of the spectrum, a pro-euthanasia mindset is making inroads as an equally damaging assertion of control over life that under certain circumstances is deemed no longer worth living.

Also important in all this is the use of labels. When was the last time you heard a popular outlet address these issues as eugenics? Instead, the annihilation of life deemed unsatisfactory is gets framed as helpful and protective of human dignity. More and more, our capacity for death and death-dealing is coming to define our society. How frightening.

How can we be surprised by the indifference shown towards situations of human degradation, when such indifference extends even to our attitude towards what is and is not human? What is astonishing is the arbitrary and selective determination of what to put forward today as worthy of respect. Insignificant matters are considered shocking, yet unprecedented injustices seem to be widely tolerated.

The Popes have warned about this for over a century. When you allow the masses to determine the morality of a given situation, you are left with no morality at all. With no objective grounds for determining right and wrong, there is only the shifting pleasure of the voter. Without God, such distinctions are impossible. And, as the current Holy Father has made clear in this particular work, people left to their own godless devices are going to screw up.

One aspect of the contemporary technological mindset is the tendency to consider the problems and emotions of the interior life from a purely psychological point of view, even to the point of neurological reductionism. In this way man's interiority is emptied of its meaning and gradually our awareness of the human soul's ontological depths, as probed by the saints, is lost. . . Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth, since the human person is a “unity of body and soul”, born of God's creative love and destined for eternal life. . . There cannot be holistic development and universal common good unless people's spiritual and moral welfare is taken into account, considered in their totality as body and soul.

The recurring theme: Development without the concept of salvation is not real development. It’s what separates the “authentic” from the phony.

On a side note, I wonder if any such thing has occurred to Fr. Jenkins and his bastardized notion of common good that he attempted to pass off at the ND graduation. When was the last time you saw an ad for ND that proclaimed: “Fighting for the salvation of souls!” or “Fighting for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!”

The supremacy of technology tends to prevent people from recognizing anything that cannot be explained in terms of matter alone. Yet everyone experiences the many immaterial and spiritual dimensions of life. Knowing is not simply a material act, since the object that is known always conceals something beyond the empirical datum. All our knowledge, even the most simple, is always a minor miracle, since it can never be fully explained by the material instruments that we apply to it. In every truth there is something more than we would have expected, in the love that we receive there is always an element that surprises us. We should never cease to marvel at these things. In all knowledge and in every act of love the human soul experiences something “over and above”, which seems very much like a gift that we receive, or a height to which we are raised. The development of individuals and peoples is likewise located on a height, if we consider the spiritual dimension that must be present if such development is to be authentic. It requires new eyes and a new heart, capable of rising above a materialistic vision of human events, capable of glimpsing in development the “beyond” that technology cannot give. By following this path, it is possible to pursue the integral human development that takes its direction from the driving force of charity in truth.

This might be my favorite paragraph from the whole thing. One of my pet peeves is the death of metaphysics and the unwillingness of people to harmonize what they profess with how they actually live. CaptainEclectic on NDNation made a point earlier this week about people who claim they don’t believe in forms but really do. That’s what I’m talking about.

It’s like folks who are solipsists or deny causation, yet they (for some reason) live their lives as though other people exist or that when they do something that it will lead to a specific effect. The current secularism loves to produce scientific rationales for everything and pretend that that’s all there is. But these same people will trumpet mythical “rights” and “human decency” and what-not if it serves to meet their agenda.

See above comments on murder as leading to human dignity for an illustration.

Only if we are aware of our calling, as individuals and as a community, to be part of God's family as his sons and daughters, will we be able to generate a new vision and muster new energy in the service of a truly integral humanism. The greatest service to development, then, is a Christian humanism that enkindles charity and takes its lead from truth, accepting both as a lasting gift from God.

And if the immediately preceding section is to be taken seriously, we must take heed to insure that it’s more Christian than humanistic.

Openness to God makes us open towards our brothers and sisters and towards an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in a spirit of solidarity. On the other hand, ideological rejection of God and an atheism of indifference, oblivious to the Creator and at risk of becoming equally oblivious to human values, constitute some of the chief obstacles to development today.

Associating indifference with atheism. I’m not sure we’ve seen that in a long, long time. Even when JPII was warning against indifferentism in stuff like Redemptoris Missio, he didn’t make that connection. How long ago since we’ve heard this? Pius XII? Earlier?

I wish he would have fleshed this out a bit more. The “many ways to heaven” heresy is the primary symptom of our new Pelagianism.

A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism.

It’s true, but it sounds like the tagline for a Roland Emmerich movie.

Only a humanism open to the Absolute can guide us in the promotion and building of forms of social and civic life — structures, institutions, culture and ethos — without exposing us to the risk of becoming ensnared by the fashions of the moment . . . God gives us the strength to fight and to suffer for love of the common good, because he is our All, our greatest hope.

Here we are, right at the end of the encyclical, and I still don’t get the criticism that this is an anthro-centric work. The Pope has consistently hammered on the point that man’s works are doomed without God.

Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us . . . Development requires attention to the spiritual life, a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God's providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace.

More contra-Pelagian stuff. You can’t even love without it being given to you. Then the shift to real development as requiring Christ. While there was some blurry language previously on the association of other religions in this process, the Pope here expressly affirms Christ as needed for the spiritual aspect of development to be legit.

So where does that leave us?

At the conclusion of the Pauline Year, I gladly express this hope in the Apostle's own words, taken from the Letter to the Romans: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour” (Rom 12:9-10). May the Virgin Mary — proclaimed Mater Ecclesiae by Paul VI and honoured by Christians as Speculum Iustitiae and Regina Pacis — protect us and obtain for us, through her heavenly intercession, the strength, hope and joy necessary to continue to dedicate ourselves with generosity to the task of bringing about the “development of the whole man and of all men.”

Final thoughts:

Where I've had difficulties, I don’t think I’ve sugar-coated things here, and far be it from me to criticize the teaching of the Holy Father. All I can do is look at it from the perspective of how my own pretty poor understanding of the Church goes.

There was a serious need for an editor in all this. A lot of stuff that got mixed in with the parts that seemed superfluous is what is being paraded around to claim the Pope is some sort of Marxist. Especially in this day and age, with the overwhelming media hostility to the Church, the Pope has to be very careful and very clear on how he phrases things.

That being said, there was a lot in this that needed to get out there. Continuing the Spe Salvi theme of man as lost and a cause of destruction when left to his own devices is necessary, as is the attempt to resurrect the Catholic idea of the common good. Too many of the heterodox use the banner of “social justice” as their smokescreen. Building the earthly utopia tends too often to usurp the primary purpose of the Church, namely, saving souls. Hopefully, these themes will provide reflection for the parties who have lost sight of these critical items. Finally, you’ve got the concluding reflections on the issues at the core of the culture of death, specifically, segregating the transcendent from our worldview and the materialist treatment given to life and reality in general.

Good stuff, although, I’ll admit that I still like Spe Salvi as the Pope’s best work thus far.

We Need Another John XXIII

Those comments from Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe Diocese. The problem is that Bishop Walsh seems to have absolutely no idea what sort of pope Blessed John actually was.

A Papal ban on discussing the ordination of women has been openly challenged by an Irish bishop.

The bishop, whose seat is at Ennis in County Clare, has also expressed sadness about the Catholic Church's attitudes to homosexuality and its policy of refusing the Eucharist to couples who have re-married.

The insistence on priests remaining celibate also needed to be discussed, he said.
Bishop Walsh has already challenged another Vatican rule that almost completely excludes Protestants from its Eucharist.

I think we must conclude that Bishop Walsh fits into our standard dilemma: Is he stupid, or just a liar?

Alluding to the papacy which ushered in liberal reform in the 1960s, Bishop Walsh said he wanted to see "another Pope John XXIII".

Such a pope would open up discussion, particularly the exclusion of women from the priesthood, he added.

Really? The Pope who forbade women from even lighting candles in the sanctuary would want to talk about ordaining them to the priesthood?

This is another instance where Cardinal Levada needs to get involved.

By the way, for a factual presentation of Pope John's views, check out the posts here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Haterade

Thanks to Nitschke over at NDNation for providing this link. Basically, it's a discussion of Bishop Jerome Listecki's appointment as Archbishop of Milwaukee.

Taking a look at the comments, you see that the Haterade font has been flowing rather freely among the Sconsinites over this.

Most of the hate takes this form:

Just what the Church needs- - a theological right winger predisposed to impose his particular brand of faith on everyone else both inside and outside the Church. This is not Jesus's path

Not peace, but a sword. If you don't gather with Him, you scatter. And so forth. As usual, it's very easy for such people to talk about Jesus's "path," when they have very little idea about what Jesus said or did.

What amazed me was the fact that Archbishop Weakland still has defenders out there, and zealous ones at that:

I hope you can minister as a Roman Catholic bishop and not just as a "conservative" one. You are the shepherd of ALL God's people, not just those who think like you...on this you will have to stand before the Good Shepherd. If you can serve ALL God's people and challenge ALL to live as Christ, maybe we can silence all those judgemental people who make the devil smile (their judgementalism and hatred, especially toward Archbishop Weakland, prove that the devil is gaining ground!), because the charity of Christ has been put on the back burner. Help us restore the charity that once ruled this Archdiocese by being a bishop for ALL, not just for some.

There's more, but this comment was pretty typical. For those of you who don't know about +Weakland, here's the wikipedia article. Let's ignore the liturgical abuse and doctrinal whackjobbery for just a second, and focus on the fact that the sex abuse problem in his diocese was primarily under his watch. Oh, and that he used diocesan funds to pay off his gay boyfriend who was blackmailing him. You probably could have accomplished a lot of "charity" with that $450,000.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Rowan Speaks Out On Women Playing Priest

Speaking before he meets Benedict XVI tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams told a conference in Rome that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a bar to Christian unity.

“For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women,” he said.

The Anglican provinces that ordain women had retained rather than lost their Catholic holiness and sacramentalism, he said.

Whew! Good thing he set us Catholics straight on that. I mean, where would we be without Rowan to explain the best route to Christian unity?

By the way, Rowan, how's that whole unity thing working for the TAC now since you have female ministers?

But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on women priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches.

So it must be going pretty well, right?

Dr Williams put the row over the apostolic constitution, as the Pope’s plan is known, into the context of a centuries-old debate about reuniting the Christian Churches. He questioned whether unity talks should even continue if disagreements over issues such as papal primacy had no hope ever of being resolved.

Oh, so it's our fault, then? Anglicans decide to break with a teaching going all the way back to the Apostles, trying to ordain women as priests and bishops, and it's the Church's fault that there is a controversy?

The best part in all this is that he's treating the Church's steadfastness in this like it's something new. Hey, Rowan, does this sound familiar?

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

Or how about this?

Your Grace is of course well aware of the Catholic Church’s position on this question. She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.

The Joint Commission between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church, which has been at work since 1966, is charged with presenting in due time a final report. We must regretfully recognize that a new course taken by the Anglican Communion in admitting women to the ordained priesthood cannot fail to introduce into this dialogue an element of grave difficulty which those involved will have to take seriously into account.

Pope Paul VI, Letter to Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury, November 30, 1975

So the Anglicans were told 35 years ago that this wasn't going to work on an ecumenical basis but now want to complain about it.

“I want to propose that we now need urgent clarification of whether these continuing points of tension imply in any way that the substantive theological convergence is less solid than it appears, so that we must still hold back from fuller levels of recognition of ministries or fuller sacramental fellowship,” he said.

But he went on to argue that if there was hope that such issues could be resolved, the Churches could begin to talk about converging their structures of administration and governance, and seeking “sacramental” fellowship.

Maybe I can help you out there. Convergence ain't happening. There is no convergence. There will be no convergence. It is impossible. No concord between Christ and Belial. No gates of hell prevailing. No Truth tainted by error. Blessed John XXIII was clear about that, as we discussed here. So you can pretty much flush that idea right now.

Hell, Rowan, you can't even get "convergence" among your own folks. We've got enough problems on this side of the Tiber without "converging" with the ongoing, slow-motion train wreck that is Anglicanism.

And on a side note:

Cardinal Kasper was not involved in the formulation of the Pope’s opening to disaffected Anglicans, which was drawn up by the more hardline Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and some of his staff have been dismayed by its impact on ecumenical dialogue.

Yeah, it really sucks to have all these potential converts coming in.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

JPII Used Corporal Mortification

I wonder how much publicity this is going to get.

Sister Sobodka said: "Several times he (Pope John Paul) would put himself through bodily penance.

"We would hear it – we were in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could hear the sound of the blows when he flagellate himself. He did it when he was still capable of moving on his own."

The flagellation is also confirmed by another bishop who has given testimony. Emery Kabongo was a secretary for Pope John Paul.

Of all Catholic traditions, this one is among the most misunderstood. Dan Brown's crap hasn't helped. I've already encountered talk of how this might hurt the Pope's cause, what with it showing him to be crazy and all. It brings us back to a point that we've mentioned here before. How many of the blessed in heaven would be institutionalized if they were around today?

But back to the article. Here was the most interesting part, I thought:

"He would punish himself and in particular just before he ordained bishops and priests," he said.

I've said before that John Paul II had a weakness when it came to promoting the right guys to the episcopate. Sure, there are some good ones, but boy, we sure do hear a lot about the whackjobs out there. I wonder if he acknowledged this in himself and was working to get passed it.

In case anyone is wondering, I have no real opinion on the Pope's canonization process. If it happens, it happens.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another Nugget From Clement

A lot of times you'll hear folks who are harping on the problem of evil ask questions about why God, knowing who all the bad people were going to be, would go ahead and bother creating them in the first place. Clement has an interesting response that sounded vaguely familiar to me (maybe from one of the later Fathers; I can't really remember), but it was interesting to see it in a document from so far back in history.

But you will meet me by saying, Even if it has come to this through freedom of will, was the Creator ignorant that those whom He created would fall away into evil? He ought therefore not to have created those who, He foresaw, would deviate from the path of righteousness. Now we tell those who ask such questions, that the purpose of assertions of the sort made by us is to show why the wickedness of those who as yet were not, did not prevail over the goodness of the Creator.

For if, wishing to fill up the number and measure of His creation, He had been afraid of the wickedness of those who were to be, and like one who could find no other way of remedy and cure, except only this, that He should refrain from His purpose of creating, lest the wickedness of those who were to be should be ascribed to Him; what else would this show but unworthy suffering and unseemly feebleness on the part of the Creator, who should so fear the actings of those who as yet were not, that He refrained from His purposed creation?

If you didn't get that, the point seems to be that if God lets the actions of these bad people thwart their own creation, then evil has basically already one by controlling an action of God. It's weird, but I can see how it works.

This really makes me wonder is how it might figure in for predestination arguments. If this from Clement is true, would that affect the Molinist idea of God's actions in election being based upon the foreseen merits/demerits of a given person? I'll leave this to someone else here because this kind of thinking will make my head explode.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Patrick Kennedy Banned From Receiving Communion

Per FoxNews:

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman's support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.

The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal's Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation's most famous Roman Catholic family.

"The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion," Kennedy told the paper in an interview conducted Friday.

Kennedy said the bishop had explained the penalty by telling him "that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I've taken as a public official," particularly on abortion.

In case you don't recall, Kennedy came out with a completely asinine statement that basically said that being a heretic and schismatic didn't make him any less of a Catholic. Bishop Tobin issued a response that was based in reason and simple logic. Of course, this guaranteed that Kennedy would completely reject everything His Excellency said.

Looks like this has finally come to a head. Even in reading the FoxNews report, though, it's amazing to see the complete lack of coherent thought on the side of the heterodox. Consider this gem:

Kennedy could appeal the decision to officials in the Vatican, but the hierarchy of the Catholic church is unlikely to overturn a bishop, said Michael Sean Winters, a church observer and author of "Left At the Altar: How Democrats Lost The Catholics And How Catholics Can Save The Democrats."

"It's really bad theology," said Winters, who opposes abortion. "You're turning the altar rail into a battle field, a political battlefield no less, and it does a disservice to the Eucharist."

No, Winters, the disservice to the Eucharist is the sacrilege that takes place when heretics and schismatics are allowed to approach the Body of Christ completely unrepentant, nay, defiant and obstinate in their sins.

Really, it all comes down to this exchange:

"While I greatly respect the Catholic Church and its leaders, like many Rhode Islanders, the fact that I disagree with the hierarchy of the church on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic," Kennedy wrote in a letter to Tobin, agreeing to a sitdown. "I embrace my faith which acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity."

"Sorry, you can't chalk it up to an 'imperfect humanity.' Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your Communion with the Church," Tobin wrote.

You signed up for a kingdom, Patrick. Not a democracy. Come to repentance. Let go of your pride. Nobody will think less of you except a bunch of folks who want you to remain in your sins.

Here's my question, though. If we're going to go to war, why not just go with the outright excom?

Happy Feast Of Christ The King

It was surely right, then, in view of the common teaching of the sacred books, that the Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, destined to be spread among all men and all nations, should with every token of veneration salute her Author and Founder in her annual liturgy as King and Lord, and as King of Kings. And, in fact, she used these titles, giving expression with wonderful variety of language to one and the same concept, both in ancient psalmody and in the Sacramentaries. She uses them daily now in the prayers publicly offered to God, and in offering the Immaculate Victim. The perfect harmony of the Eastern liturgies with our own in this continual praise of Christ the King shows once more the truth of the axiom: Legem credendi lex statuit supplicandi. The rule of faith is indicated by the law of our worship.

The foundation of this power and dignity of Our Lord is rightly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria. "Christ," he says, "has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature." His kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union. From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures. But a thought that must give us even greater joy and consolation is this that Christ is our King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he is our Redeemer.

Pius XI, Quas Primas

More From ND Prof. John Cavadini

Per Zenit, he's been named to the International Theological Commission.

Benedict XVI also appointed John C. Cavadini, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, as a member of the International Theological Commission.

Cavadini is an associate professor and chair of the theology department and McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.He specializes in Patristics and theology of the Early Middle Ages. He has studied with special interest the theology of St. Augustine and the history of biblical exegesis, both in the East as well as the West.

More awesome news for an awesome guy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thoughts From The Fathers

I've been going through The Recognitions of Clement lately. Basically, it's supposed to be Clement of Rome's account on how he came to be a Christian, along with some stuff about Peter's clashes with Simon Magus in the earliest days of the Church. The doctrinal orthodoxy of this work has been criticized in some circles, but I haven't found it anything like what I had heard.

Anyways, a particular passage stood out to me today. Stop me if this sounds familiar:

But when men, leading a life void of distress, began to think that the continuance of good things was granted them not by the divine bounty, but by the chance of things, and to accept as a debt of nature, not as a gift of God’s goodness, their enjoyment without any exertion of the delights of the divine complaisance,—men, being led by these things into contrary and impious thoughts, came at last, at the instigation of idleness, to think that the life of gods was theirs by nature, without any labours or merits on their part. Hence they go from bad to worse, to believe that neither is the world governed by the providence of God, nor is there any place for virtues, since they knew that they themselves possessed the fulness of ease and delights, without the assignment of any works previously, and without any labours were treated as the friends of God.

The more things change . . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fr. Jenkins, we're waiting for your apology.

If you've been following the health-care debate, you know that a Representative Stupak attached a modest pro-life amendment to the House bill. The White House, through mastermind David Axelrod, has declared that they will get the amendment stripped in conference. The White House whose inhabitant, Barack Obama, was given a degree honoris causa, is dead set against even the modest step of restricting public funds for abortion.

This is interesting, in a morbid way. If the President is willing to alienate the US bishops, who are his natural ally on lots of things, over abortion rights, then it is clear that he really is extreme on the issue. By the modern shibboleth "extreme" read "wrong, malicious, infanticidal."

Fr. Jenkins, we were right to protest. You would be right to resign for your craven syncophancy to the worst of men. Certainly you should drop the trespassing charges against those who had the courage to protest on campus.

But I'm just a silly single-issue partisan, so what do I know?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bishop Trautman's Last Stand For Us Idiot Laity

While we were happy to see Bishop Trautman speak out against the Obama/ND what-not, he doesn't get a free pass for his attempts to tamper with and dumb down the liturgy just because he thinks the faithful are idiots.

Per CNA, he's crossed swords with Cardinal George (again) on this same type stuff.

On Tuesday, a motion from Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Penn. to reject liturgical translations proposed by the Vatican failed to garner sufficient votes from the U.S. bishops. The prelates went on to approve the new liturgical texts which will be implemented in the U.S. beginning in 2010.

Bishop Trautman, who has headed the bishops' liturgy committee in the past and is a strong supporter of gender-neutral translations, tried to stop the vote on the new liturgical texts by arguing that handing the translation of antiphons for the Psalms to the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican was in violation of Church laws.

Is this really worth it? All in the name of the amorphous "John and Mary Moron Catholic." Antiphons?

He then suggested that Cardinal George was breaking Church laws by giving authorization to the Vatican to handle the antiphons which only a small portion of the liturgical translations being reviewed. He then proposed that the bishops insist on being given a final draft from the international translation committee in order that they be able to review it, suggest improvements, and vote on it.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the USCCB, explained that permission was given to Vatican officials after other English-speaking nations had complained that the U.S. bishops were taking too long to approve the translation.

As Bishop Trautman continued to insist, Cardinal George responded, "I feel as if we're doing guerilla warfare here."

"Maybe the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops could sue the Congregation [for Divine Worship] in the Apostolic Signatura," said Cardinal George, drawing laughter from the audience.

It is highly unlikely for an episcopate to sue a dicastery over such an issue, though it is technically possible.

So now Bishop Trautman has exposed himself to public ridicule. I'm not going to get into the nitpicks of his argument, but my recollection of SC is that translations are under the jurisdiction of the episcopal conferences but only subject to the approval of the Holy See. If that's correct, then I don't really see His Excellency's point. My main curiosity here is why he's fighting this so hard, especially given the fact that (a) he's off his rocker in his logic for these defective translations, (b) he's flirting with heresy in some cases, and (c) he's losing. Huge.

Bishop Trautman's proposal was submitted to vote, with the majority of bishops supporting Cardinal George's decision to accept the Vatican translation 194-20.

The final five groups of prayers passed each with support from at least 88 percent of the bishops.

Is this supposed to affect the Eastern churches at all? I'm not sure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh, That Wacky Damian Thompson!

Check out his ecumenical gesture for the Anglican brethren. I'm still laughing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Professor John Cavadini Has Been Knighted By The Vatican

Granted, 99% of the folks reading this blog have no idea who John Cavadini is. That's ok. I get to tell you about him, which is an honor by itself.

When you hear stuff about the theology faculty at ND, you normally are getting stuff from Richard McBrien or Hugh Page or some heretical nonsense from a lesser known name. I had classes with a few of them, Prof. Page included. A lot of souls in purgatory benefitted from my time with these folks.

Not so with Prof. Cavadini. First of all, as a human being, the man is a marvel. He is a kind and generous person who still managed to get his PhD and not lose either of those qualities (or his good sense). Second, his teaching was great in that you actually learned stuff. I took a his class "Roads to God." It was the best. Period. He had us going through everyone from Gregory the Great's biography of St. Benedict, to Dante, to St. Teresa of Avila. I'm not sure I can put into words how refreshing this was. It's not that there wasn't Catholic stuff at ND. There was.

There was also rampant liturgical abuse, the aforementioned whackjob professors, an increasing push to secularize the school, and the sowing of the seeds that would ripen into the Obama invitation. Watching a guy like Prof. Cavadini work his classroom magic without seeming to give a crap for all these other forces at work and still making stuff interesting was probably a bit like seeing Elvis in concert. It's not really miraculous or anything, but it is special. To show that I'm not just exaggerating, here's an older article about him from what looks to be Prof. Freddoso's page.

Now that you know a bit about him, you can understand why I was so pleased to find out that he'd been named to the Order of St. Gregory the Great. When you read what the Order is, you might not think it's a big deal. Personally, I think being knighted for anything is worth a mention. Being knighted by the Pope should be pretty high up there on the achievement list for any Catholic.

There are some ND folks that frequent here. If you happen to know Prof. Cavadini, tell him congratulations and that it's good to see a rep for the school getting some kind of positive publicity.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vatican II In Action: Looking At The Liturgy

Most of what follows comes from Fr. Wiltgen's account.

On October 22, 1962 (seven months before Pope John's death), Cardinal Frings mentioned to the Fathers that the Preparatory Commission had actually worked with a longer text than what had been made available. As some differences existed, he wanted the full version to be provided to those present.

At the same time this was happening, Bishop Zauner of the Commission on the Liturgy decided to air some of his criticisms of the schema. Wiltgen mentions giving the episcopal conferences greater say in implementing the vernacular in the Mass (with the approval of Rome), the use of Latin in the Divine Office, and concelebration as the main items.

The future Pope Paul VI, Cardinal Giovanni Montini, also gave an intervention at the Council where he plotted out a sort of middle course, for example, calling for Latin's preservation in the "sacramental" parts of the rite. He was immediately contradicted by Patriarch Maximos of the Melkites, who pretty much demanded vernacular for everyone.

Here, readers, I again want to bring up Veterum Sapientia. It was exactly 8 months old on that day. You'd think it would be sort of fresh on everyone's mind. Was anybody even bothering to wonder what Pope John thought? We can safely say, I think, that Cardinal Ottaviani was worried about it. This was the same day that he was publicly humiliated by Cardinal Alfrink.

This business about Latin might not seem significant for a lot of folks reading this, so let's look at it a bit deeper. First, you've got the big problem of folks ignoring stuff that was laid down by the Holy Father in an apostolic constitution less than a year ago. Second, the major impetus for consideration of the vernacular was in the mission field. Wiltgen spends a whole section (pages 35-40) of his book on this. It wasn't supposed to open up a whole can of worms for scrapping the Roman Rite and other problematic what-not, but that's what it did.

MacAffee Brown is correct in saying that "But the reform of the liturgy has even more implications than it's own inherent worth, for it opened up to the council fathers the possibility of reform in other areas of the Church's life. If something as sacred as the use of Latin in the mass could be challenged, then in principle many other things could be challenged. They were."

Just on the liturgical front, you wound up with calls (per Fr. Wiltgen) for "the shortening of the Mass prayers at the foot of the altar, ending the Mass with the Ite, Missa . . . and the blessing, using the pulpit for the Mass of the Word and the altar for the Mass of the Sacrifice, and . . . an ecumenical Mass, modeled closely upon the Last Supper, over and above the existing form of the Latin Mass."

In a nutshell, it was open season. Putting the whole issue of open defiance to the Holy Father, it might do well to take a look at some prevailing criticisms of the Roman Rite from that time period.

Blanshard called the Traditional Mass "the gobbledegook of Latin ritual" and an exercise in "obscurantism" that prevented "substituting understanding for magic." How nice.

MacEoin, who at least claimed to be Catholic, stated that the post-Reformation Church was reactionary by "limiting the laity to passive participation in the Mass and other official prayers." The desire to retain the traditional practices of the Church was something held by "small groups of Council Fathers from traditionally Catholic countries which still count on polemics to retain the allegiance of the ignorant masses."

Not only that, but "The priest isolated himself and even turned his back on the people, who developed their own private devotions in their own languages, devotions not to be condemned in themselves, but often totally unrelated to the Mass. Lay people were encouraged by the clergy to think of their presence at Mass as an opportunity to develop an isolated, personal spirituality, rather than as an expression of community worship."

Ok, let's ignore Blanshard's bigotry and MacEoin's complete ignorance of history, theology, and tradition for a moment. How are comments such as these not direct insults to every single Roman Catholic for the last millenium or so? This is an incredibly important point, given the historical revisionism that so many like to apply to the Church prior to Vatican II. If you listen to the McBriens of the world, they paint the picture of the ignorant rabble just waiting for the bells to ring. We've discussed this before. Think of your patron saint. There's a good chance (unless you're Karl) that they are a product of the Traditional Mass. Think of every relative and parishioner you grew up with. I'm willing to bet a lot of them came from the Traditional Mass.

I know a lot of old Catholics. It's weird that I don't know a single one that was dealt some kind of stunted, isolated, or immature spirituality or understanding of the Eucharist. Many of them clamor for the chance to attend an Extraordinary Form liturgy. All they get in exchange are comments on how stupid they were to attend the Traditional Mass and how stupid they are now for wanting it back.

But I digress. You get the point. Once the liturgical genie was let out of the bottle, nobody was going to get it back in. Back to the events of the Council.

The innovations being discussed got so extreme that you were basically looking at alternatives to the entire Rite altogether, including the Roman Canon. Consider the recommendations of the German-born Bishop Duschak, "My idea is to introduce an ecumenical Mass, stripped wherever possible of historical accretions . . . If men in centuries gone by were able to choose and create Mass rites, why should not the greatest of all ecumenical councils be able to do so?"

No hubris there. Just a few months into a council that everyone admits isn't going to define any new teachings, and this guy has already decided that it has surpassed Nicea, Chalcedon, Trent, etc. Words cannot adequately describe how asinine such a statement is. By the way, this whole movement to return the Mass to its "primitive" state, sans historical accretions, is directly contrary to Pope Pius XII's teaching in Mediator Dei:

The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. . .

But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See . . .

Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

In other words, to use Karl Adam's metaphor, it's not a good idea to try and cram the beauty of the mature oak back into the acorn. Back to the conciliar stuff.

Just a week after this, Blessed John took up the cause of some Council Fathers to have St. Joseph's name added to the Roman Canon. This would seem to indicate more than a little affection by the Holy Father towards the Canon. Fr. Wiltgen relates that "In some quarters, Pope John was severely criticized for taking what was termed independent action whie the ecumenical council was in session." He doesn't go into any other details, but my own figuring with this is that it further demonstrates how the innovators expected Pope John to basically do whatever they said and to keep his mouth shut on other issues. On the other side, I also know that some conservative elements objected simply because they saw the Canon as untouchable.

Regardless, Amerio points out the irony in all this, "(St. Joseph's addition) was sharply and promptly criticized, either on the grounds of its probable anti-ecumenical effect, or because it seemed merely to be satisfying a personal wish of the Pope . . . In practice, St. Joseph's name was not mentioned for long, and disappeared into the Erebus of oblivion, together with those other of Pope John's doings that did not find favor with the conciliar consensus."

Think about it. When was the last time your priest used the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer #1) at Mass?

Well, the last formal vote on the schema that became known as Sacrosanctum Concilium was passed on December 4, 1963, about six months after Pope John had died. Pope Paul VI had taken over at this point. A lot of folks thought he would immediately implement the provisions of the new constitution. He disappointed them via motu proprio, saying that you had to take time to prepare the new liturgical books. He set up a new commission to accomplish this. Cardinal Lercaro was the president, and Fr. Annibale Bugnini (a name we'll become familiar with) was made secretary.

Also made a part of the commission was Archbishop Felici, the Council's General Secretary. Turns out that Fr. Bugnini had pushed for his inclusion after he had helped push the schema through some prior difficulties. What had happened was that Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani, the president of the Liturgical Prepartory Commission, had refused to sign off on the draft of the schema. Archbishop Felici was the guy who had brought this to Pope John's attention. Since the schema would have been blocked without Cicognani's approval, Pope John prevailed upon his Secretary of State, Cardinal Amleto Cicognani to convince his younger brother to sign the document. Fr. Wiltgen's account is disturbing:

On February 1, 1962, he went to this brother's office, found Archbishop Felici and Fr. Bugnini in the corridor nearby, and informed his brother of Pope John's wish. Later a peritus of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission stated that the old Cardinal was almost in tears as he waved the document in the air and said, "They want me to sign this, but I don't know if I want to." Then he laid the document on his desk, picked up a pen, and signed it. Four days later, he died.

That pretty much lays down the facts of what happened up to the promulgation of the liturgy constitution and what came immediately thereafter. At this point, we're going to give the history a rest and start plowing through the constitution itself, taking its language and footnotes and analyzing them in light of this historical backdrop, the Church's teaching, and what has really happened in its aftermath.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anybody Else Call This One?

Several folks asked me why I didn't comment on the health care bill passing. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Looks like that is happening. Obama is pulling back the reigns on the "pro-life victory" wrought by the Stupak amendment restricting abortions as part of the plan.

President Obama said today that Congress needs to change abortion-related language in the health care bill passed by the House of Representatives this weekend.

In an exclusive television interview in the Map Room of the White House, Obama told ABC News' Jake Tapper that he was confident that the final legislation will ensure that "neither side feels that it's being betrayed."

"I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test -- that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices," he said.

Common ground, I guess.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Apostolic Constitution On The Anglicans Is Out

In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately. The Apostolic See has responded favorably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches, could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization.

The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people.” Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.” Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples.

It is the Holy Spirit, the principle of unity, which establishes the Church as a communion. He is the principle of the unity of the faithful in the teaching of the Apostles, in the breaking of the bread and in prayer. The Church, however, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is not only an invisible spiritual communion, but is also visible;in fact, “the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality formed from a two-fold element, human and divine.” The communion of the baptized in the teaching of the Apostles and in the breaking of the eucharistic bread is visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff.

It's right here.

For those wondering about the doctrinal issues:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate.

Sounds simple enough, I suppose. May God be praised for bringing these separated members back to the One Fold.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vatican II And The Liturgy

In our last entry in the ongoing Vatican II series, we discussed the initial victories that gave the Rhine cadre of innovators their power positions among the other Council Fathers. Now, we need to look at how this started to play out.

Remember all those schemas (draft documents) we talked about before? Fr. Wiltgen recounts how they were initially distributed. As you read the remainder of this post, keep in mind Amerio's citation of Blessed John XXIII's comments of September 1962, which spoke of the "superabundant richness of a doctrinal and pastoral kind" that arose from the original preparatory work.

Three months before the opening of the Council, Pope John circulated the first seven schemas among the Council Fathers. Right after that, a group of 17 Dutch bishops got together at s'Hertogenbosch to talk them over. The first four dogmatic constitutions ("Sources of Revelation," "Preserving Pure the Deposit of Faith," "Christian Moral Order," and "Chastity, Matrimony, the Family, and Virginity) were all seen as inadequate. All these guys thought the the liturgy schema was a much better product.

These Dutch bishops, all firm Rhine camp folk, decided to send out a commentary to the other Fathers that bashed the first four schemas and pushed for the liturgy to be moved to the front of the conciliar agenda. The commentary was published anonymously, but you're probably familiar with its author: Fr. Ed Schillebeeckx. You know him, right? He was the whackjob Dominican whose heretical ideas on the Eucharist were condemned in Mysterium Fidei and whose Christology was formally condemned (I'm pretty sure) by John Paul II back in the early 80s.

Fr. Schillebeeckx blasted the four schemas as "representing only one school of theological thought." The liturgical schema was "an admirable piece of work." In fact, Wiltgen relates that he went so far as to suggest that it would be better that the four schemas in question be completely rewritten. Per Fr. Wiltgen, "Such complete revision was, in fact, the real aim in view."

Once this anonymous commentary was sent out to the Fathers, other bishops submitted petitions to the Holy See asking for consideration of the four schemas to be postponed and for the liturgy to be the first subject brought forward. It's no surprise that Cardinals Lienart, Alfrink, and Frings of the Rhine group were very much in favor of this. After a private audience with the Council Presidents, Blessed John acquiesced to this request.

Question: Does it give you pause to know that a guy like Fr. Schillebeeckx had this much influence on the participants at an ecumenical council of the Church?

Next time (and I sincerely hope it will be sooner than our last interval), we'll look at what went into the drafting of the liturgical constitution and what our commentators think of its contents and consequences.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Una Voce Reports On Two Years Post Summorum Pontificum

Lots of good info here. The snippet most being emphasized by others, though, is not so much a liturgical item. It's a huge, honking, glaring problem that so many have been taken in by that they don't even see it as a problem, though.

Perhaps the greatest reason for the current crisis in the Church is that too many people in the Church, particularly in senior positions, no longer accept the authority of the Pope. Where there is dissent, and where personality and self-interest are uppermost, there is decay and lapsation. Where Christ and obedience are to the fore the traditional life of the Church is allowed to flourish unhindered and the spiritual life of the Church flourishes, parish life flourishes, priestly and
religious vocations flourish, and the vitality of the faith flourishes,. The evidence for this is becoming more clear as each year passes. Those who refuse to recognise this are allowing their own human rationale and agenda to blind them to the undeniable growth that is taking place before their very eyes. They wilfully refuse to see what is becoming incontrovertible.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Caritas In Veritate, Part 7

Yeah, you thought I'd forgotten about this, didn't you? It's only been a month and a half or so. I was getting back to it. I'll explain the recent sporadic and random blogging at some point, but for now, let's get back to Pope Benedict.

If you'll recall, we had just gotten past the New World Order stuff in our last installment. The following chapter of the encyclical is entitled The Development of Peoples and Technology. The dangers of putting our hopes in progress and tech, by the way, was a main theme of Spe Salvi. Pope Benedict gives a nod to this prior teaching.

A person's development is compromised, if he claims to be solely responsible for producing what he becomes. By analogy, the development of peoples goes awry if humanity thinks it can re-create itself through the “wonders” of technology, just as economic development is exposed as a destructive sham if it relies on the “wonders” of finance in order to sustain unnatural and consumerist growth. In the face of such Promethean presumption, we must fortify our love for a freedom that is not merely arbitrary, but is rendered truly human by acknowledgment of the good that underlies it. To this end, man needs to look inside himself in order to recognize the fundamental norms of the natural moral law which God has written on our hearts.

This is a slam (that I'm sure will go unnoticed as such) on the neo-Pelagian tendencies of just about all Christians. Given his later comments about technology, you might also want to check out this old post on the Iron Man movie. Granted, he tempers it a bit at the end by focusing on the natural law, rather than revelation as a whole, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right? The criticisms of this section seem to ignore that and the fact that you can at least claim ignorance of revelation. Claiming ignorance of the natural law is a little more difficult.

He then gives some praise to technology, with some weirdness thrown in that I don't really understand.

It touches the heart of the vocation of human labour: in technology, seen as the product of his genius, man recognizes himself and forges his own humanity. Technology is the objective side of human action whose origin and raison d'etre is found in the subjective element: the worker himself. For this reason, technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations towards development, it expresses the inner tension that impels him gradually to overcome material limitations. Technology, in this sense, is a response to God's command to till and to keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15) that he has entrusted to humanity, and it must serve to reinforce the covenant between human beings and the environment, a covenant that should mirror God's creative love.

I always get headaches when I hear about stuff "revealing" man and what-not. It seems like ambiguous puffery that could mean around 1000 different things.

Technological development can give rise to the idea that technology is self-sufficient when too much attention is given to the “how” questions, and not enough to the many “why” questions underlying human activity. For this reason technology can appear ambivalent. Produced through human creativity as a tool of personal freedom, technology can be understood as a manifestation of absolute freedom, the freedom that seeks to prescind from the limits inherent in things. The process of globalization could replace ideologies with technology, allowing the latter to become an ideological power that threatens to confine us within an a priori that holds us back from encountering being and truth. Were that to happen, we would all know, evaluate and make decisions about our life situations from within a technocratic cultural perspective to which we would belong structurally, without ever being able to discover a meaning that is not of our own making. The “technical” worldview that follows from this vision is now so dominant that truth has come to be seen as coinciding with the possible. But when the sole criterion of truth is efficiency and utility, development is automatically denied. True development does not consist primarily in “doing”.

So even with all the "revelatory" power of technology, it's still prone to creating problems, which has been a huge theme for the Pope throughout this letter. Humans left to their own devices will screw things up. Technology actually spurs this habit by encouraging our own pride and self-will. We think that we can do just about anything just because we can put a man on the moon (or kill babies to harvest their parts). For an earlier discussion on similar issues, check Spe Salvi around 17-23, I think.

Since the Holy Father had already referenced Genesis above, I wish he would have stayed with it a bit and shown how this tendency brings us back to the original fall. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. Same as it was with Satan. Taking too much stock of themselves, they stepped out of line and things got screwed up.

Often the development of peoples is considered a matter of financial engineering, the freeing up of markets, the removal of tariffs, investment in production, and institutional reforms — in other words, a purely technical matter. All these factors are of great importance, but we have to ask why technical choices made thus far have yielded rather mixed results. We need to think hard about the cause. Development will never be fully guaranteed through automatic or impersonal forces, whether they derive from the market or from international politics. Development is impossible without upright men and women, without financiers and politicians whose consciences are finely attuned to the requirements of the common good. Both professional competence and moral consistency are necessary. When technology is allowed to take over, the result is confusion between ends and means, such that the sole criterion for action in business is thought to be the maximization of profit, in politics the consolidation of power, and in science the findings of research.

While he doesn't mention the Gospel here as he's done previously when talking about true development, it's pretty clear that's where he's going. Ginning people through the capitalist or Marxist conceptions of humanity is not going to make people better. As has been mentioned previously, you might elevate a few to the upper echelons of the respective societies, but ultimately, they will fail where it matters most, namely, their call to be godly and holy. If you are really going to push human development, you need the proper structures in place and you need good people running them who aren't going to lose sight of what the true development is. It's not money, cash, and hoes. It's love.

This goes ditto for world peace.

Even peace can run the risk of being considered a technical product, merely the outcome of agreements between governments or of initiatives aimed at ensuring effective economic aid. It is true that peace-building requires the constant interplay of diplomatic contacts, economic, technological and cultural exchanges, agreements on common projects, as well as joint strategies to curb the threat of military conflict and to root out the underlying causes of terrorism. Nevertheless, if such efforts are to have lasting effects, they must be based on values rooted in the truth of human life. That is, the voice of the peoples affected must be heard and their situation must be taken into consideration, if their expectations are to be correctly interpreted. One must align oneself, so to speak, with the unsung efforts of so many individuals deeply committed to bringing peoples together and to facilitating development on the basis of love and mutual understanding. Among them are members of the Christian faithful, involved in the great task of upholding the fully human dimension of development and peace.
This was another one of those weird bits. It starts off staying on message with how "peace through contract" is doomed to fail. The alternative presented sounds like a very secular humanist project in which the faithful have a role to play, rather than a call to convert the world to Christ (which, in light of the rest of the encyclical, is what is really needed) which must be led by the Church.

The weirdness continues as the Holy Father turns his attention to the media.

Mirroring what is required for an ethical approach to globalization and development, so too the meaning and purpose of the media must be sought within an anthropological perspective.

An anthropological perspective? All I can say is "Huh?"

This means that they can have a civilizing effect not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values.

Universal values? What are those? Double "Huh?"

Just because social communications increase the possibilities of interconnection and the dissemination of ideas, it does not follow that they promote freedom or internationalize development and democracy for all.

Since when is the Church concerned about "democracy for all"? If anything, the Church prefers monarchies.

To achieve goals of this kind, they need to focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity. In fact, human freedom is intrinsically linked with these higher values. The media can make an important contribution towards the growth in communion of the human family and the ethos of society when they are used to promote universal participation in the common search for what is just.

We finally get the supernatural addressed, but it's buried up amongst all this other stuff. This is another example of how bad the Holy Father needed an editor here. The ideas come out but you have to wade through a lot of headache to get there.

I think that will just about do it for this time around. You probably think I'm lying, but there shouldn't be more than one last entry to wrap up the entire encyclical. Hooray!

And we will be getting around to the next entry on Vatican II as well. I appreciate your patience and emails.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"A Spiritual Conversion"

Not my words. Her words.

The former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in southeast Texas says she had a "change of heart" after watching an abortion last month — and she quit her job and joined a pro-life group in praying outside the facility.

Abby Johnson, 29, used to escort women from their cars to the clinic in the eight years she volunteered and worked for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas. But she says she knew it was time to leave after she watched a fetus "crumple" as it was vacuumed out of a patient's uterus in September.

Fr. Pavone says it all the time. America won't oppose abortion until America sees abortion.

'When I was working at Planned Parenthood I was extremely pro-choice," Johnson told But after seeing the internal workings of the procedure for the first time on an ultrasound monitor, "I would say there was a definite conversion in my heart ... a spiritual conversion."

Grace is a weird thing. Anyone praying for a person's conversion should keep that in mind. A lot of folks might have given up on Ms. Johnson here. God didn't.

Marvelous as this is, let's not let the joy in where she is now lead us to forget exactly what it is that she is converting from:

Johnson said she became disillusioned with her job after her bosses pressured her for months to increase profits by performing more and more abortions, which cost patients between $505 and $695.

"Every meeting that we had was, 'We don't have enough money, we don't have enough money — we've got to keep these abortions coming,'" Johnson told "It's a very lucrative business and that's why they want to increase numbers."

To some people, this will actually be a newsflash. The Hillarys and Baracks of the world will sing us a myriad of hymns praising the virtues of Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger. When we get down to the brass tacks, though, we are talking about an organization born with a vision of genocide and now fueled by the engine of greed.

How much does a life cost? Somewhere between $505 and $695. I wonder if Michael Moore will do a movie on this aspect of capitalism. Of course, Planned Parenthood denies all this. Sort of:

"Planned Parenthood's focus is on prevention," wrote Diane Quest, the group's National Media Director. "Nationwide, more than 90% of the health care Planned Parenthood affiliates provide is preventive in nature," explaining that a "core component the organization's mission is to help women plan healthy pregnancies and prevent unintended pregnancies."

"Focus on prevention." Sounds like we're talking about a virus or some kind of infection, doesn't it? I hope that everyone realizes that this is the foundation of their opposition to any sort of ultrasound services for mothers considering abortion. Once you stop looking at the child as a bacteria and see it as a person, murder gets to be a lot harder. Interestingly enough, the same logic applies to serial killers, who see their victims as objects rather than as human beings (read any book by John Douglas for an analysis of this).

But Johnson said her bosses told her to change her "priorities" and focus on abortions, which she said made money for the office at a time when the recession has left them hurting.

"For them there's not a lot of money in education," she said. "There's as not as much money in family planning as there is abortion."

Without a doctor in residence, she said, her clinic offered abortions only two days a month, but the doctor could perform 30 to 40 procedures on each day he was there. Johnson estimated that each abortion could net the branch about $350, adding up to more than $10,000 a month.

"The majority of the money was going to the facility," she said.

Once again, it's all about the Benjamins. Not about the babies.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Let The Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them

It's All Souls Day. Go get your indulgence(s).

On All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2) a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit any parish church or public oratory and there recite one Our Father and one Credo.

II On all the days from November I though November 8 inclusive, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit a cemetery and pray even if only mentally for the departed.

Conditions for both indulgences:

1. Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.

2. It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by completion of the work.

3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)

4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.

5. Prayers must he recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed. One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.

6. A sacramental concession must he made within a week of completion of the prescribed work. (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shout Out

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us

Hebrews 12:1

Good day for post #600.