Sunday, November 27, 2016

Can Catholics Subscribe to Polygenism in Evolutionary Theory?

Earlier in the week, I had gotten on the tangent of evolutionary theory, and the subject of our first parents came up. Are we actually descended from a literal Adam and Eve, two parents? Or is it possible that there was a "pool" of early humans where our species originated from? I found some great sources of information here, especially these articles written by Dr. Dennis Bonnette. Mongenism is defined as the theory that there are "two sole founders of humanity". Adam and Eve are historical figures. Polygenism is defined as "a theory of human origins positing that the human race descended from a pool of early human couples, indeterminate in number. Hence, this theory, Adam and Eve are merely symbols of Mankind. Rather than being an historical couple, they represent the human race as it emerges from the hominids that gave rise to them as they become homo sapiens, properly speaking."

Pope Pius XII also rejected polygenism in his 1950 encyclical "Humani generis", but some Catholics have held that a form of polygenism could still be considered reconcilable with the faith, for instance, author Michael Flynn, who I'll mention again in a bit. So who's right? Luckily, scientist and catholic convert Dr. Stacy Trasancos recently came out with a book entitled "Particles of Faith: A Cathoic Guide to Navigating Science", which includes a section on this very subject.
The Rebuke of Adam and Eve- Domenico Zampieri

New Article on "Following Your Heart" At Catholic365

So I've forgotten to post this here for quite some time, but I have an expanded version of this essay on "following our hearts" up on Below is a short snippet from the updated essay, with the link posted once again at the bottom of the selection.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus being adored by the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Margret Mary Alacoque

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Tridentine Latin Mass From a Young Person's View

There seems to be a lot of sparks flying around the Church in recent days, and it's sad to see so many divisions coming out between the Pope, bishops, cardinals, priests, and lay people. There is so much on my mind regarding these things, but the first I'd like to address are some comments made by the Holy Father about a week ago regarding the Extraordinary Form (EF) of the Latin Rite. A book was recently published featuring a collection of homilies and speeches given by Pope Francis when he was still archbishop of Buenos Aries. The Pope made a few remarks regarding those that have somewhat of an affinity for the Latin mass, but I'll focus on just one of those comments that was publicized. I give our Holy Father the benefit of the doubt always, and I feel that in his other comments he was talking about a specific group of people in mind, while nebulous, I assume refers to groups such as the SSPX as well as sedevacantists. The point I'd like to address is as follows:
"Other than those who are sincere and ask for this possibility out of habit or devotion, can this desire express something else? Are there dangers?" 
[Pope:] "I ask myself about this. For example, I always try to understand what is behind those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless.
I do wonder if the Holy Father ever got an answer to his question. Groups like Juventutem give a pretty good answer as to why young people have been drawn to the EF. I would like to answer his question in my own words though, especially so that people can see that many who "want" the EF of the Latin Rite in their spiritual lives, do not do so out of a misguided rigidity. Obviously, I am one of those young people that lived long after the Second Vatican Council. I'm in my late-20's now, and I only experienced my first EF Mass in my mid-20's when I was still dating my wife. I remember that first Mass. It was at St. John Cantius in Chicago. We both wanted to check it out, so we could learn a bit more about the traditions of our faith. I came in without a missal, didn't know where to grab one, and was lost for much of the Mass. I remember thinking to myself, despite liking the Gregorian chant, "Well, I'll probably never do this again. How can I possibly learn what's going on?"

Saturday, November 12, 2016

If Martin Luther Is a "Witness of the Gospel", Then What Are the Martyrs of Gorkum?

Recently, I came across a discussion on a Catholic forum that quickly changed topics to that of the recently passed Reformation Day. Of course, many of us are aware that Pope Francis traveled to help commemorate the anniversary in Sweden, leading several Internet pundits to believe that things such as open communion and the like were right around the corner. While that won't be happening, I was surprised to see the following statement from a priest in Europe on this forum, responding to an earlier comment:
" 'Yes, we agree. Luther was a heretic,' 
"No. What we would be in agreement on is exactly what was proclaimed by the Holy See in 1983: 
"Martin Luther is a 'Witness of Jesus Christ' and a "Witness of the Gospel" from the perspective and judgment of Rome in the 20th and the 21st century. 
"Since you are a faithful Catholic, I trust you are in complete and total to Pope Saint John Paul II on the conferral of those titles -- and that in all things you completely submit yourself to the superior knowledge and judgment of the Successor of Peter."

First off, I'm not surprised by the statement given by the Roman Catholic/Lutheran Joint Commission itself. This is where this priest is getting his "witness" terms from; a 1983 report from the international dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans. What I am surprised at, is that he would actually suggest that Catholics must "submit ourselves" to an opinion that was not given by the Successor of Peter with divine and Catholic faith. The main problem I have here is with calling Luther a Witness to the Gospel. I'll go much more in depth below, but first, a thought exercise. If Luther is a witness to the Gospel, then what does that make the saints the Catholic faith already recognizes? What does that make the Martyrs of Gorkum, for example. St. Leonard van Veghel and his 18 companions were martyred by Protestant Calvinists in 1572 in Holland. Their feast day is celebrated on July 9th.

I would argue that these men were witnesses to the Gospel, and much more so than Luther ever could have hoped to be. Why aren't people like the German bishops telling us more about the heroic witness to the Gospel of Jesus that these men gave in the same way we keep hearing platitudes heaped on Luther? St. Leonard and his companions were demanded to abandon their belief in papal supremacy. They did not waver in their Catholic Christian faith, even to the point of death. What amazing witnesses and intercessors we have for us in heaven! Intercessors I did not know about until researching more on this topic! Luther denied this belief that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ. How can that be truly called a witness to the Gospel, when our Lord prays fervently in that same Gospel that we " may all be one, as you, Father, are in Me and I in You"? Luther may not have wanted division, but we have seen first hands the fruits of his reform. Yes, his actions led to the Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent, but we can chalk that up to God bringing good out of a horrible situation. That situation being a fracturing in the Body of Christ that continues to break to this day. In paragraph 2473, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says:

"The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine."

We see Luther called the same thing a martyr is defined as, a witness to Christ. But these witnesses, St. Leonard and his companions, by being witnesses to Christ also bear witness to Christian doctrine, i.e. the papacy. Are we really ready to say that Luther and the Martyrs of Gorkum are both witnesses of Christ in the same way, and should be venerated as such, as this priest is suggesting?

Certainly not, especially as the actual quote from the 1983 statement reads, my bolding:

"We see on both sides a lessening of outdated, polemically colored images of Luther. He is beginning to be honored in common as a witness to the gospel, a teacher in the faith and a herald of spiritual renewal."

The Pope (or the Holy See) wasn't saying Luther was a witness to the Gospel. A few theologians are saying he is beginning to be honored as such. By whom, I cannot be sure. Certainly Lutherans, and I suppose not a few Catholics as well. But is it at the expense of forgetting those that were true witnesses to Christ? That same Christ who is inseparable from His Body, the Catholic Church? The Church which Luther and the other reformers eventually willingly separated from? I would much rather honor St. Leonard and his companions with that title. I pray for reconciliation always, just like our Lord did, but I feel that such a notion given by this priest is confused. Catholics do not have to believe that Luther was a witness to Christ when he denied the legitimacy of His Bride. Below is the rest of the conversation that was had between myself (in blue) and various others on this forum:

The Martyrs of Gorkum, St. Leonard and his Companions