Monday, December 26, 2016

Secular Media Gives More Backhanded Insults to the Church Hierarchy

I came across an article in the New York Times that talked very highly of the new Archbishop of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, while at the same time very slyly made it seem that Cardinal Tobin was different from any bishop not only in Newark, but virtually across the globe as he fancies himself a regular guy who asks others to call him "Joe" when trying to work out clandestinely at the gym.
"As the pope has made clear over the past three years, fancy lifestyles, formality and regal titles like Prince of the Church are out of style for cardinals. So is an emphasis on the divisive issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, even though the church’s underlying position on those issues has not changed.
"Instead, in the pope’s view, the church should emphasize humility and service to the poor. It should be multicultural, welcoming different styles of worship. It should reach out to other faiths and stand up for immigrants, refugees and nuns.
"And that, church experts and members of his flock say, is a close description of the priorities of Cardinal Tobin, who will be heading east just after Christmas to lead the approximately 1.5 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Newark."
Of course, we have to remember this is the same New York Times that "doesn't get religion". One commenter on the article observed how:
"The phrase 'different kind of Cardinal' seems to condemn all other cardinals as "the same" in the sense of indistinguishable from each other and lacking all of the positive characteristics this particular Cardinal exhibits. How is that not a backhanded insult to the other Cardinals, to the leadership of the Church in general and divisive purely by implication? The press certainly doesn't get religion and demonstrates that fact by pushing its own leftist views on what it is that makes Cardinals 'different' in any laudable sense."
Still other commenters, among them Catholic, praised the article as "excellent" or "splendid". Really? Let's take a closer look at this, but please be sure to read the entirety of the NYT article before going on.How this article can be called "excellent" or "splendid" is beyond me. There's some awesome bits in there about Cardinal Tobin's life and his devotion to the souls he pastors, but it's obvious the article (and its author) has an agenda to push with all its insinuations on the characters of many other prelates in the Church. So what if Cardinal Myers preferred to be called "Your Grace"? That, and they give no evidence of him preferring to be addressed as such, and even if he did I'm sure he wouldn't mind if he wasn't addressed by that title, as the article insinuates.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Differing Interpretations of Amoris Laetitia

As we get to the end of the new year, the controversey stemming from the varying interpretations of Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia grows more and more concerning. From distressing rumors to new interviews with those who submitted the dubia, it seems that our Church and our leaders need lots of prayer heading into 2017. Not too long ago, I was engaged in a discussion with someone on one Catholic apologist's Facebook wall. It was pretty amicable. I was trying to show how the varying interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, and those coming from just the U.S., are already contradictory, and prove why the dubia is definitely needed. Here is the great, original post from apologist Dave Armstrong's wall:
My Opinion as to Pope Francis Answering the Four Cardinals' "Dubia"
I stated many times in the combox for my long recent post on the topic that I think it would be good for him to answer and clarify: that it is *always* better to clarify than not to. 
I'm very reluctant to criticize the pope at all, due to my very strong Catholic reverence for the office (NOT due to some silly notion that he can never be criticized, which I have NEVER believed), but I have to call it as I see it, as an apologist who may be asked about it. 
I know from my own experience as a writer and apologist (which is a teaching function), that writers can be misinterpreted. Writing is an inexact art and we are too often insufficiently clear and precise: all the more so in proportion to the complexity of the subject matter. 
So if I am asked questions about *my* meaning and intent, I'm always quick (and glad) to clarify. In fact, I *appreciate* the opportunity, because I figure that if this one person didn't accurately understand me (either through his fault or mine, or both), chances are there are many others out there who also didn't. It helps no one, and hinders the development of a topic, to not be properly understood. 
Infinitely more so for the pope, who is the leader of all Catholics and our supreme teacher, if any one person can be said to be so . . . 
This topic (exactly who in difficult marital situations can receive Holy Communion, and why) is, of course, very complex, too. So that is a second good reason, I believe, and humbly submit, for him to clarify. 
Whether a non-answer "proves" he is a liberal or heterodox in general and/or on the disputed point, is another matter entirely. I would think not; however, it may very well make him *look* like he is, or that he is being "stubborn" or unnecessarily intransigent, or lacking pastoral and prudential wisdom, etc.. and that isn't good, especially given the wide and ever-growing "skepticism" or criticism sent his way, about this, and in general.
It's becoming increasingly inexplicable why he would not simply clarify the thing and be done with it. Again, that's not the same as denying that he may have a good reason; only to assert that it is difficult (as this thing becomes more and more controversial) to speculate as to what it might be. 
I'm not even denying that there can be any number of "hard cases" where communion for at least one party is perfectly admissible according to traditional Catholic morality and discipline. But, as the questions indicate, complexities and confusion need to be cleared up as to specifics. It's also true that those who have nefarious heterodox intent (as I believe I have already written in the past) will exploit any confusion or (rightly or wrongly) perceived "loopholes" as a license to depart from true Catholic practice, just as they did with Vatican II and the reform of the Mass. Yet another good reason to clarify with great specificity... 
I haven't reversed myself, compared to what I wrote before, because I said this many times in the comments under my post, but one might say I have considerably "developed" my opinion and have a little bit more perplexity (in terms of speculation) than I had when I wrote my piece. 
In my opinion (as a mere lay apologist), I think in the *very least* that it would be good for the Holy Father to tell us why he is *not* answering, should he definitely decide not to. But better to answer...
The conversation that followed is below, with my words in blue, Dave's in green, another person's in orange, and my interlocutor's in red:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Transgender Movement Is Not Beneficial to Our Children

God have mercy on us all. That's all I can think of when I see things like this popping up in my news feeds throughout the day. National Geographic has come out fully in support of the transgender movement that believes each people (both children and adults) have the right to define their gender/sex/identity (whatever other vogue words one wants to include to talk about one's sex) as they see fit, even if it's in contradiction to the realities literally in front of them. It's pretty clear by the editor of the magazine's statement regarding the issue in question, that this is the case and wishes to "spark thoughtful conversations about how far we have come on this topic"; and in saying we've "come so far" on the subject of transgenderism, he refers to the "progress" that many in or current culture believe can only come from when we subvert objective realities and traditional thoughts in favor of a brave new world that really doesn't look so "brave" after all.
Bernardino Luini- The Christ Child and the Infant John the Baptist with a Lamb

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Is Praying Towards the East During Mass "Rubbish"?

On the ever hilarious Catholic Memes page, a new meme was posted regarding the ad orientem kerfuffle that's been going on since the Second Vatican Council... but more recently since Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Sarah, addressed a liturgical conference earlier this summer in London. Now before I go on, I get the joke that is trying to be made in this meme, pictured below with everyone's favorite green Muppet, Kermit. But not everyone does when first reading this meme. Apparently, there have been a few bishops in the US and UK who have told their priests that they should not (note, not barred) expect to perform the Ordinary Form of the Mass ad orientem, or with both priest and congregation facing the altar in prayer.

I personally do not like this meme as the meaning can be misconstrued, especially for someone who has no foreknowledge of what has been going on the past few months. At first glance, it looks like the meme is advocating that priests and laity should disobey their bishops. Do I think it's funny? Yes, but the way it was executed is pretty bad. I think there was a better way to make the joke, and to make the meme not appear as if it were giving approval to someone disobeying their bishop.

That being said, there was of course, a fiery discussion ongoing in the comments section, and one caught my eye. hence, the title of this blog post. One Latin Catholic woman (in red) said the following, with another Latin Catholic man (in green) responding to her. Many of the things she says are nonsensical, especially her assertion that since "God is in our midst", there's no reason to face the altar in a common orientation. If that were the case, then it shouldn't be a problem if, when we're about to receive Communion and the priest holds up the Eucharist saying "the Body of Christ", we turn around facing the people behind us and say "Amen"! But of course that would be a problem! Not to mention God is among us in a way that is different in the Eucharist, he is substantially there before us. Christains do not believe in a pantheistic god, that God is literally everything. God is Being itself. He is locally, and substantially present in the Eucharist, reserved in all the tabernacles throughout the world. The conversation is below. My words will be in blue:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Musings on the Dubia Regarding Amoris Laetitia

There's been a lot of rumblings not only on the interwebs lately regarding Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, but also in print and on TV. I'm really scared that something disastrous might happen, but I trust in the Holy Spirit, and I know the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. But still, souls are hanging in the balance, and hopefully none will be lost in all this confusion. 

I had posted some thoughts in regards to an essay written by apologist Scott Eric Alt on what's been going on with the five Dubia submitted by the Cardinals, and had also gotten into a little back and forth with some people on his Facebook wall. Below is a few excerpts from Alt's essay:
"So the question becomes: Are the “some cases” to which Pope Francis refers in footnote 351 the same that John Paul II mentions in Familiaris Consortio. Or are there other cases, unspecified in the text, in which couples can return to the sacrament? In one public address, Cardinal Schonborn seemed to say that 351 was merely an allusion to FC 84... 
"Well and good. Pope Francis even said that any questions about footnote 351 should make note of what Schonborn has to say, because Schonborn is a good theologian, and he gives great detail, so find what Schonborn says, what do I know, I can’t even remember footnote 351. 
"Problem is, it turns out that His Eminence Cardinal Schonborn has been a tad inconsistent about this footnote. His words above were in April. Three months later, in July, he gave an interview to Fr. Antonio Spadaro. In that interview, Schonborn says there has been “an evolution”—a “clear” one—in our understanding of factors that mitigate culpability for sin. 
"Okay, maybe so. But what are these new mitigating factors? Schonborn goes on to quote from Amoris, but that does not answer the question. The closest the text comes is this:
'A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding ‘its inherent values,’ or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to decide differently and act otherwise without further sin.' 
"That lacks—how shall I say?—precision. 
"...This is why there is a problem with Amoris Laetitia–because there are sections of it, important sections, that are vague, and which scream out for clarification; but attempts to clarify have led to further vagueness (as in Schonborn’s interview with Spadaro) and inconsistent opinions about what it was that the pope wants pastors to do, and not do, with couples in an irregular union seeking to return to the Eucharist. We have had assurances that Amoris is utterly consistent with Familiaris and yet there are two problems: 
-Schonborn’s words have been inconsistent and themselves not at all precise;
-None of these clarifications carry Magisterial weight. 
"And because they do not carry Magisterial weight, different bishops are interpreting Pope Francis to pretty much be saying what they want him to say, and doing what they want to do, and there is no uniformity or correction where there has been folly. 
"So four cardinals intervene with a series of questions asking the pope for clarification on footnote 351. 
"These strike me as fair questions. The cardinals are seeking a definitive, Magisterial answer to some people’s doubts—not answers in interviews, not private lectures, not “go listen to so-and-so.” The reason a definitive answer is needed is precisely to prevent bishops in some places from running wild and doing whatever they want to the potential harm of souls. If someone in a state of mortal sin, not disposed to receive the Eucharist, receives the Eucharist anyway, that compounds the problem. It is a harm to both the individual who receives and the priest who knowingly distributes. A definitive clarification would, potentially, forestall this."
The entire essay is worth a read, and is well written and really mirrors, I think, the feelings of many faithful Catholics. Below is my response to him, followed by another comment made by Scott on his page that set off someone who seems to not be a fan of Cardinal Burke. My comments will be in blue, with everyone else in varying colors:Great article, Scott. I think we're totally on the same page here, and you've articulated exactly what I've been feeling. I love Pope Francis, and I don't think what he's written in AL can be consistently read with Familiaris Consortio 84. But the confusion is there, and we can already see that just in dioceses in the US.
Pope Francis