In an apparent attempt to draw heat off of themselves and instead play victim, Planned Parenthood announced that its site was hacked yesterday. The news was met with skepticism by many, and now there is computer coding proof that their site was NOT hacked.
Bishop-Elect Barron says what I was trying to say in my evaluation of "Laudato Si", but of course he says it much more precisely.
Some in the Church are labeling Pope Francis a socialist and so forth because of either passages from "Laudato Si" and/or comments he's made, whether from Rome or South America.
I don't think any Pope has to get everything right (nor does the Church) in order for papal infallibility to hold up. However, everything I've seen from the Holy Father is very much in line with a long line of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching has been condensed into a Compendium which is a fascinating read for any Catholic (and, I argue often, a MUST read for anyone who is going to preach or teach today in the name of the Church). CST (and St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict) make ALL THE SAME points Laudato Si does.
1) Capitalism (and similarly democracy) can become deranged and malformed if not buttressed by strong moral values. Isn't that precisely what we're seeing in the United States? Democracy is better than a lot of other systems, but just because you have a democracy doesn't mean everything will turn out well. The same is said by the Church's CST, St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis about capitalism - it must be governed by solid moral values or it will become diseased. Is there really any doubt that that statement is true? Saying that makes none of the above parties Communist, it makes them realists and prophets.
2) The environment deserves protection. Again, read CST. It's in there. A lot.
3) Subsidiarity is a CST principle that is clearly defined in the Catechism and is expanded upon in the Compendium of CST. The Pope saying that certain decisions should be left to a body larger than individual nations is perfectly inline with CST. Pope Benedict said it first anyway. It isn't Pope Francis (nor was it Pope Benedict) claiming a need for a world wide government. Take off the aluminum foil hats. Breathe.
I don't agree with everything Pope Francis does or says. I'm not a papal cheerleader. I get no bonuses for commenting positively on the pontiff. It is important for Catholics to know, though, that the Pope's warnings in Laudato Si are NOT new. It is very telling about a Catholics familiarity with the larger corpus of Catholic Social Teaching when a person says that what is in Laudato Si is new.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
Christ (Ph. 1, 2).
I am happy to announce to you a change in policy regarding fees
associated with the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese. Effective July 1,
2015, all fees connected with the processing of petitions for the nullity of
marriages have been eliminated. In the case of persons who have already
introduced a petition, the balance of their fees are now forgiven. This waiver
of fees applies also to the so-called “privilege of the faith” cases that must
be sent to Rome for consideration.
Until now, the Tribunal requested a fee of $675 for a formal
marriage cases, known popularly as an “annulment”. This fee was only a fraction
of the actual expenses of the process; the remainder was assumed by the
Archdiocese. What is more, it had always been possible to request a reduction,
deferment or, in some cases, a waiver of the fee. According to the
long-standing policy of the Archdiocese, a person’s ability to present a
petition did not depend on his or her ability to pay a fee.
Still, there has been a stubborn misconception that a person
could “buy” a decree of nullity. There have been equally erroneous ideas that
paying more than the requested fee or paying it all “up front” would result in
quicker process or a better chance for a successful outcome. None of these
suspicions are true. In fact, petitions are examined and decided according to
the date of their presentation. Furthermore, each case is considered on its own
merits and according to the common norms of the Catholic community.
I am confident that this change in policy will eliminate some of
these misunderstandings. I also hope that you will renew your efforts to reach
out compassionately to the faithful whose marriages have failed. Please ensure
that this change is known among the people entrusted to your pastoral care.
Finally, I ask all Catholics to pray for married couples, whom
God has called to reflect in their own love the unconditionally faithful and
self-sacrificing love that Christ has for the Church. The Archdiocese and its
ministers are committed to be both “prophetic” (to teach what Jesus taught) and
to be “pastoral” (to minister to those whose marriages, unfortunately, have
ended in a civil divorce).
May the Lord, who shared the joy of the couple at Cana of
Galilee and comforted the sorrowing and humiliated, bless and sustain your
One of my two parishes is Annunciation Catholic Church in Brazil. For 45 years, beginning in 1962, Fr. Anthony Spicuzza was the pastor of the parish here. I recently traveled to the Archdiocesan Archives to look through the history of the parish. It was fascinating and fun!
I found a survey that was sent out in the wake of the 2nd Vatican Council and one of the answers by Fr. Spicuzza caught my attention:
In Father Spicuzza's assessment, then, the thing that was a challenge for the young people of the Church was all the changes that people were adding to the Mass on their own initiative.
"I left the Church because Father so and so looked at me wrong" or "Father didn't react in the way I'd hoped he would" etc.
Look, folks, we deal with both actually mentally ill people, and also some who are somewhere else on the spectrum but are definitely malicious. So you might want to ask yourself if your Faith is really so shallow as to be affected by the mood of a priest at a particular moment in time.
A couple of examples:
1) I know a priest that someone anonymously went to the trouble of creating an entire website of pictures of this priest's face photoshopped onto pornographic male photos (please don't go looking for the site). People still regularly report the site to his chancery, and the chancery has to explain the situation to another distressed caller.
That's really messed up
2) I know another priest, and I am cc'd on emails to him from a person who sends rambling horrendous diatribes all the time. When I see an email from her in my inbox, of course I don't read them, and I know he doesn't either, but just knowing someone out there is that messed up...
3) Recently in my priesthood someone had fake email addresses for multiple people, fake twitter accounts etc. in order to create this narrative of how this person needed help. I spent some considerable time and energy into helping this "person" until I started noticing the story coming apart. Then, a few weeks later, I got a call from another Archdiocese letting me know "hey, that person you interacted with has played similar games with several other priests, and has tried to bring lawsuits against them saying these priests got her pregnant etc."
So when a priest doesn't smile at you in the right way, or when he is a little more cautious than you'd like him to be when he first hears about a person in distress, or when said priest doesn't skip down the aisle like Mary Poppins at a particular Mass, before you leave the Catholic Church over it, just take a breath. He may have just finished, 2 minutes earlier, dealing with a completely malicious person trying to play mind games.
"The recent assault on Archbishop Chaput is a taste of what awaits many others. The useful idiots who insist that, if the bishops of the United States would just retreat from the culture wars, all would be well, are manifesting their ignorance of the requirements of pastoral leadership while unwittingly confessing to a degree of political stupidity that is staggering. Obergefell has let loose demons, and their name is Legion. Those demons should be fought with compassion, critical intelligence, and blunt honesty about the Church’s own failings."
“The Church will become small and will have to start pretty much all over again. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to it losing an important part of its social privileges.” It will start off with small groups and movements and a minority that will make faith central to experience again. “It will be a more spiritual Church, and will not claim a political mandate flirting with the Right one minute and the Left the next. It will be poor and will become the Church of the destitute. But when all the suffering is past, a great power will emerge from a more spiritual and simple Church” - Pope Benedict XVI, 40 years ago
I'm reading a novel by a delightful former professor of philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Ralph McInerny, who passed away in 2010, is a person whose work I've admired since the seminary. Reading philosophy can be extremely tedious, but Dr. McInerny always made it lighter, more accessible, and (dare I say it) fun at times.
When I moved into my current rectory three years ago, there were about 5 items that the previous pastor didn't take with him. Three of them were books, one of which was a novel by Dr. McInerny. I'm just getting to it now, but it has been a great read. It is titled "The Priest".
That it is set around the release of the encyclical Humanae Vitae has only made it all the better. One exchange between the "liberalish" and a simple mother of 6 kids made me chuckle.
Mother: "So do you think a man and wife ought to sit down with population statistics before they go to bed?"
Father Ascue: "Well, it is a serious problem."
Mother: "In this country?"
Father: "It will be."
Mother: "Have you ever driven around this country? We're campers, so we've seen a lot of it. Do you know that most of Pennsylvania is empty countryside, woods, hills? And that's the east. People talk as if we were shoulder to shoulder. Where? In Manhattan?"
..... the conversation shifts to Humanae Vitae
Mother: "What really kills me is this talk about limiting the size of your family as if that took courage. You know, virtue. Nine times out of ten, it's pure selfishness. The day couples with one or two kids start sending checks to the starving Armenians I'll believe they're thinking of someone beside themselves."
Planned Parenthood released a presser in the wake of the reports of their trafficking in baby body parts that said the practice was "a humanitarian undertaking"
If they have thought of it as "a humanitarian undertaking" all these years...why not let your light shine, PP! They should have been getting the good word out and shouting from the roof tops about their amazing humanitarian work!
So most nerdy people like myself know that there is another Star Wars film coming down the pipeline, and will be released this December. The film is in the very capable hands of J.J. Abrams, so I am fairly confident that it won't be anything like Star Wars Episodes 1-3, some of the worst movies of all time.
Anyway, I'm glad they're making more Star Wars films
1) as a fan of the franchise, particularly episodes 4-6 (the originals)
2) because it is a solid reminder that, on this side of Heaven, evil is here to stay.
Episode 6 (The Return of the Jedi) ends with the triumphant defeat of the evil empire and the rebels dancing around a bon fire.
Not because of The Return of the Jedi, but because of stories and narratives in general, a lot of people seem to think that, if WE work hard enough WE can defeat evil for good, here on Earth.
If this government or that king is overthrown, if we win THIS war, evil will go away for ever.
Evil will go away for ever ONLY when Jesus Christ returns and sets everything right
Until then, good and evil will rise and fall, sometimes good getting the upper hand for a time, but probably more often than not, in most places throughout the world and throughout history, evil flourishes too.
Tolkien noticed this tendency to think of history as winable, evil defeatable BY US, which is why he attempted to correct the narrative by noting
"Actually I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’— though it contains (and in legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory” Here's to another Star Wars film. I hope they make 47 more!
Here's the scene. It is a piano recital for 2nd graders. Look around. The people there are the family and friends of the young pianists. You know who isn't there? Anyone else.
We certainly ought not be surprised by this - it is great to see a recital of a 2nd grade pianist if you know the child, but if you don't, you certainly aren't going to go take a 2nd grade piano recital in on your own. On an objective level, the music ain't that great.
At every Catholic parish, there are always a group of parishioners who know each other. The 10% who do 90% of the work around the parish. It was that way in my home parishes growing up, it was that way where I've been for summer seminarian assignments, and it is that way at the parishes I've been a priest at.
There are typically cantors known by the inner circle of parishioners, and those who know the cantors will cut the cantors a lot of slack.
Because they KNOW the person quite well, and are friends on some level with the person. They don't mind the music quality because of the relationship.
However, at every Mass, there are always a TON of people who DON'T know the cantor, and thus are much more likely to notice the OBJECTIVE quality of the cantoring.
The top two things that Catholic parishes are docked on are preaching and music. Are we paying attention to that?
There is an important movement that more and more dioceses are making a move on - a requirement that parishes pay their cantors. If we want to make the Mass something that speaks to people visiting, to those who are not already in the inner circle of the parish, then we do well to ask our cantors to meet some objective bench marks so that those who don't know them will not walk away having been completely distracted and put off by something so obvious as music quality.
Here's to hoping Catholic parishes figure this out sooner than later.
[God] you formed man in your own image
and set humanity over the whole world in all its wonder,
to rule in your name over all you have made
and for ever praise you in your mighty works,
through Christ our Lord.
On the US only giving foreign aid if mothers stop having children in poor countries: "Instead of
resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be
different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times,
developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic
assistance contingent on certain policies of "reproductive
health"...to blame population growth instead of extreme selective
consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues."
thought demythologized nature. While continuing to admire its grandeur and
immensity, it no longer saw nature as divine. In doing so, it emphasizes all
the more our human responsibility for nature" LS, 78
Dear those who think evolution explains the totality of how humans came to be: "Human beings,
even if we postulate a process of evolution, also possess a uniqueness which
cannot be fully explained by the evolution of other open systems....[humans
have] a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology" LS, 81
"We have only one
heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not
be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people." LS, 92
reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks
express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new
products coexists with a tedious monotony." LS, 113
"When we fail to
acknowledge the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, or a person with
disabilities, it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything
is connected" LS 117
with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others
and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism
dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence." LS, 119
is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with
the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of
concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they
may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo" LS, 120
On welfare never being permanent: "Helping the poor
financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing
needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life
through work." LS, 128
Huge irony I'd never thought of: "It is troubling
that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment,
rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they
sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a
tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is
carried out on living human embryos" LS, 136
social life can light up a seemingly undesirable environment...the feeling of
asphyxiation brought on by densely populated residential areas is countered if
close and warm relationships develop...in this way any place can turn from
being a hell on earth into the setting for a dignified life." LS, 148
"we need to grow
in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can
at times give rise to another form of progress and development." LS, 191
Dear Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Steven Hawking, et. al.: "It cannot be
maintained that empirical science provides a complete explanation of life" LS, 199
“If someone has not
learned to stop and admire something beautiful, we should not be surprised if
he or she treats everything as an object to be used and abused without scruple.” LS, 215
“Many people today
sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes
them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turns leads them to ride
rough-shod over everything around them.”
“We have had enough of
immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted
superficiality has done us no good.” LS,
“A world of
exacerbated consumption is at the same time a world which mistreats life in all
its forms.” LS, 230
“The Sacraments are a
privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of
mediating supernatural life.” LS, 235
“It is in the
Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself
tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave
himself as food for his creatures.” LS,
“The Eucharist is also
a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment,
directing us to be stewards of all creation.”
“The day of rest,
centered on the Eucharist, sheds its light on the whole week, and motivates us
to greater concern for nature and the poor.”
Awesome Conclusion: “In the heart of this
world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us
alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love
constantly impels us to find new ways forward.
Praise be to him!” LS, 245
(That's called hitting a walk off home run AND dropping the mic at the same time!)