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Whether or not the clash of opinions within the Catholic community in the U.S. has grown stronger or weakened over the last decade I couldn’t say; however, I do know that with some frequency we still find ourselves
at odds over what we think and where we want to head.
With that in mind, I thought that I, now serving as pastor of the
family of the Oakland Diocese, could profitably share these “Ten Rules”
with all of you. So, here they are, along with my own brief commentary
At least that's how I interpret this story coming out of the Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts:
Some parishioners at St. Luke the Evangelist are
angry their pastor was yanked from Mass and publicly scolded by the
bishop of the Worcester diocese for opposing church efforts to ban gay marriage in Massachusetts.
(Robert) McManus told us that Father George (Lange) 'made a mistake'
and 'should not have done that,'" said parishioner Cindy Hodgdon. "Our
church leaders' hands were slapped very publicly."
took over two Masses after Lange and his associate pastor, the Rev.
Stephen Labaire, printed a short item in a recent church bulletin
snubbing the Massachusetts bishops for supporting an amendment to the
state Constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a
priests of this parish do not feel that they can support this
amendment. They do not see any value to it and they see it as an attack
upon certain people in our parish, namely those who are gay," the item
in the bulletin said.
At least one parishioner, Hodgdon, was upset that the bishop had the gall to tell priests and laity (gasp! the horror!) what the Church believes about marriage:
Hodgdon said the bishop's appearance at St. Luke was a surprise to many church-goers. She called it a "sneak attack."
feel like he was trying to leverage our faith to further his political
agenda," said Hodgdon. "I think individual parishes and communities
have their own cultural norms."
The Netherlands and Belgium were the first countries to give full
marriage rights to homosexuals. In the United States some politicians
propose “civil unions” that give homosexual couples the full benefits
and responsibilities of marriage. These civil unions differ from
marriage only in name.
Meanwhile in the Netherlands polygamy has been legalised in all but name. Last Friday the first civil union of three partners
was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both
Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly
registered their civil union.
It's little surprise that polygamous "marriages" will be coming along shortly in many enlightened, progressive Western nations. After all, if marriage is merely a contracted relationship between consenting adults meant for their pleasure (as they see it) and convenience (as they define it), how could any reasonable person stop three (four, eight, twenty?) people from "marrying" one another? Of course, if marriage can be defined in any way by anybody for any reason, it means that marriage means nothing. However, Victor de Bruijn hasn't yet realized this (nor does he probably care), insisting that he and his "wives" want to take their marriage obligations seriously: “to be honest and open with each other and not philander.” Forgive us for not holding our breath or for sending a note of congratulations.
Understanding The Hierarchy of Truths | Douglas Bushman,
Catechists, evangelists, apologists and others today sometimes encounter the term "hierarchy of truths." Sometimes the term is misused to imply that some truths of the faith are negotiable or that some truths are less true than others. In fact, the hierarchy of truths is merely the principle of ordering the mysteries of faith based on the varying ways they are related one another as elements of Christian revelation, as summarized in the Creed.
Because the hierarchy of truths is so often misunderstood, it is important to examine it. What follows is an examination of the principle itself, based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, as well as a discussion of some implications of the hierarchy of truths for evangelization and apologetics. Continue reading...
To explore this issue, we divided the sample of Catholic lay persons
into three levels of church commitment -- high, medium and low. Three questions
in the interview were combined to form the identifying criterion. First,
“How important is the Catholic church to you personally?” Second,
“Aside from weddings and funerals, how often do you attend Mass?” The
third asked the respondents to place themselves on a scale from one to seven,
with one meaning that they would never leave the Catholic church, and seven
that they might do so. To be considered a high-commitment Catholic, they had to
say that the Catholic church is the most important part of their life or among
the most important parts, that they attend Mass at least once a week, and that
they would place themselves at one or two on the one-to-seven scale, indicating
that they would not leave the Catholic church. Using this criterion, 21 percent
of respondents scored high in 2005. Sixty-four percent scored medium and 15
percent scored low.
Fair enough. So what sets these "highly committed" Catholics apart? Some of the findings:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of U.S. Roman Catholics don't think it is very important to have an all-male, celibate clergy, a belief the Vatican continues to hold strongly, according to a survey published on Wednesday.
The same poll also found that less than half of those questioned placed a high importance on their church's opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion and the death penalty.
For a little perspective and common sense, you can stay here. This poll, taken under the auspices of the National Catholic Reporter, is presented to us by ABC/Reuters without telling us whether Catholics in question go to Mass every Sunday, a key factor. Of course, just attending Mass every Sunday doesn't make you a Catholic, anymore than sitting in your garage makes you a car. Catholicism is, after all is said and done, a matter of faith. But it is much more relevant to know what the 20-25 million Sunday-Mass-going Catholics think than it is to know what the merely self-identifying "Catholics" say.
But let's suppose the survey did poll Sunday-Mass-going Catholics and found, if not similar results, at least results that saw less support for Catholic teaching regarding the priesthood than we would think should be the case. What would that mean? It would mean that thirty years of mediocre, if not dissenting catechesis, wishy-washy pastoral leadership, and liturgical monkey-business has left people confused. And it would mean that we should stop pretending that all is well and get down to the business of straightening things out.
Interview with Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli, Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware | Valerie Schmalz | September 28, 2005
Bishop Michael Saltarelli is outspoken in witnessing to the Gospel of Life to his diocese and to the politicians in the Diocese of Wilmington–particularly those who call themselves pro-choice and Catholic. In Delaware, that includes two nationally prominent figures, U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat, and U.S. Representative Michael Castle, a Republican.
Bishop Saltarelli believes in the power of prayer. During the month of October–which is Respect Life Month–he is asking Catholics in his diocese to pray for a conversion of all politicians, statesmen, and lawyers to an respect for life. He has composed a Litany to St. Thomas More, which will be distributed to all the churches in the Diocese of Wilmington for the first weekend in October. The Litany was first distributed to the diocese in October 2004. The diocese comprises 57 parishes, 19 missions, and 40 schools in the State of Delaware and the nine counties of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. There are over 220,000 Catholics in the diocese.
In June 2005, Bishop Saltarelli led several dozen Catholics in praying the Rosary outside the Delaware State House while state House lawmakers inside debated the merits of the Delaware Regenerative Medicine Act, SB 80, which had already passed the state Senate. The embryonic stem cell bill was postponed until January 2006.
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1933, Bishop Saltarelli was ordained to the priesthood in 1960. He served as a pastor in New Jersey for many years, and was appointed auxiliary bishop to the Archbishop of Newark in 1992 and bishop of Wilmington in 1995. Continue reading...
...that right-wing, knuckle-dragging, fundamentalist radical Woodrow Wilson. He also stated: "The Bible (with its individual value of the human soul) is undoubtedly the book that has made democracy and been the source of all progress." That is just one little tidbit of fascinating information found in a Christianity Today article, "The Bible in American Public Life, 1860-2005," written by Dr. Mark Noll (who I recently interviewed for IgnatiusInsight.com). Although lengthy, it's well worth the reading. Here is an excerpt:
Difficulties in the public use of the Bible caused by the multiplication of modern media and the proliferation of contemporary translations are, however, puny when compared to difficulties caused by contemporary political realities. Part of this difficulty is structural and, for traditional Christian believers, nicely ironic. The United States may be today the most religiously pluralistic nation that has ever existed on the face of the earth.5 It has become so, at least in part, because of political values encouraged by the American democratic appropriation of teachings derived from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. With the religious pluralism resulting from an explicit policy of religious freedom, it risks misunderstanding, if not also offense, for leaders to employ the Bible as if the Bible necessarily spoke to and for the citizenry as a whole.
Yet difficulties with the public use of Scripture arising from American religious pluralism are not what spring most easily to mind today. Rather, it is the clamor of partisan political polemics. Naturally in such a climate extreme voices attract the most attention. On the one side we hear rhetorical, evocative, and political use of the Bible on behalf of partisan national or political goals. Thus, in one well-reported kerfluffle from late 2003, a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence was reported as delivering speeches before local churches in which he proclaimed that the real enemy in the battle against el Qaeda and Saddam Hussein was "a spiritual enemy … called Satan," and that America as a "Christian nation" needed to "come against its enemies in the name of Jesus" in order to achieve military success.6 Such sentiments were intended to do what Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. had done with similarly biblical rhetoric, but this effort was so clearly advanced to promote a contested moral position and to combat domestic opponents of the war that its striving for biblical authority fell flat.
On the other side we hear partisan panic about how public invocation of Scripture heralds the dawning of a theocratic Dark Age. Thus, in a recent issue of The American Prospect, an author introduced a consideration of President Bush and his supporters with a fusillade of fearmongering: "History judges religious zealots harshly, particularly those wielding state power. The Crusades slaughtered millions in the name of Jesus. The Inquisition brought the torture and murder of millions more. After Luther, Christians did bloody battle with other Christians for another three centuries."7 Apart from a loose grasp of historical fact, assertions like these betray an incredible confidence in the moral power of merely secular norms, which in actual historical situations have never lived up to the claims made for them.
The farewell discourses of Jesus, as the Gospel of John presents them to us, hover in a singular way between time and eternity, between the present hour of the Passion and the new presence of Jesus that is already dawning, because the Passion itself is at the same time his "glorification" as well. On the one hand, the darkness of the betrayal, of the denial, of the abandonment of Jesus to the ultimate ignominy of the Cross weighs upon these discourses; in them, on the other hand, it seems that all of this has already been overcome and resolved into the glory that is to
come. Continue reading...
"The 25 candidates studying to become priests at Aquinas Institute of Theology were described as 'anxious' but not worried Monday as a Vatican team began evaluating how they are prepared intellectually, spiritually and sexually for priesthood," begins a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The story looks at the beginning of seminary visitations. Here is the rest:
There is so much to say about this story, one hardly knows where to begin. That well-known shoot-from-the-hip, self-aggrandizing organization known as SNAP--Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, in its usual shoot-from-the-hip, self-aggrandizing way, opines away--assuming the reporting is accurate in the story.
"Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, feel the probe is a simplistic and misguided effort that shifts blame for the abuse crisis to others. The support group feels the problem lies mainly with the church's response to the abuse allegations," we're told.
"Seminarians, gay or straight, didn't repeatedly shun victims, transfer predators, or deceive prosecutors ... ," declares SNAP's outreach director, Barbara Doris. "The responsibility for (the widespread sexual abuse) lies with the bishops themselves. It's shameful that they continue to blame others for their callousness."
I hope Barbara Doris has been misquoted. I don't know whether seminarians, "gay or straight," repeatedly shunned victims, but I do know that many former seminarians become priests. I know that those who created the victims in the first place were former seminarians. I know that if those seminarians had been detected and removed from the seminary before ordination they would not have victimized people under the auspices of the Catholic Church and perhaps would not have victimized anyone at all.
If Doris wants to blame bishops for their role in not dealing with the problem or covering up the problem, fine. I doubt that most orthodox Cathlics would contradict her on that subject, however "simplicistically" she and others at SNAP rail against the problem. However, to claim that the clergy sexual abuse problem has nothing to do with homosexuality or with homosexually inclined seminarians is just plain stupid or just plain dishonest.
How does assessing future priests to see if they have sexual orientation problems, including a same-sex attraction to 14, 15, 16, and 17 year-old young men (the majority of the victims), shift the blame for the abuse crisis to others? Well, aren't these the very people who caused the crisis to begin with? By pretending this isn't the case, isn't Doris and SNAP doing precisely what they criticize the bishops for doing, shifting the blame and ignoring the roots of at least part of the problem?
Ok... The routine I follow as I post sample articles on HPRweb has been to rotate out the old articles from the previous issue and post some current samples from the new issue. Something quite peculiar, however, has caused me to restore the link to John Cihak's marvelous article St. John Vianney's Pastoral Plan.
Someone at St. Meinrad Seminary's Abbey Press in Indiana has beeen loading that article (they did a search and found it I suppose) every 30 seconds or so (have they fallen asleep... nose bouncing on keyboard as they snore...or?) If anyone from there reads this please check on the guy... he's got me worried!
All in all, I think this article was popular enough to warrant keeping a link to, anyway! The spirit moves in mysterious ways sometimes...
UPDATE: I'm beginning to suspect that the unusual page loads, or report of them, may have been due to a buggy script that is being used to track the loads. I can't confirm the pages loads through another source! Still, the article is there now and does deserve more eyes...
According to this report from Catholic World News, courtesy of EWTN, Pope Benedict may be on the verge of "...allowing all priests to use the Tridentine Rite." An Excerpt:
Cardinal Medina, the former prefect of the
Congregation for Divine Worship, is a member of the Ecclesia Dei
commission, set up by Pope John Paul II to serve the needs of Catholics
who cling to the Latin Mass. In an interview with the I Media news
service, the Chilean-born prelate said that the Pope could act soon to
liberalize Church regulations, allowing all priests to use the
...but reporting incompletely. Jennifer Roback Morse provides a helpful example in her comparison of how The Washington Times and The Washington Post covered data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics about sexual behavior, habits, and patterns in the United States.
On Praise and Celebration | Fr. James V. Schall,S.J. | September 26, 2005 "For praise is given to virtue, since it makes us do fine actions, but celebrations are for successful achievement, either of body or of soul." — Aristotle (Ethics, 1101b32-33) I.
We can, if we so choose, reasonably approach what Catholicism is about from the angle of the Fall, of original sin, of the dire consequences of both natural and human disasters. Such things abide and repeat themselves over the centuries. They recur in most times and places, even under the best regimes, certainly under the worst. Continue reading...
Former Vatican Ambassador for President Clinton Raymond Flynn has graced the pages of IgnatiusInsight.com more than once as he has spoken up strongly for values traditionally associated with the Democratic Party which are now thrown aside -- pro-life and pro-marriage, Flynn is also very strongly "pro-poor" as he puts it. Flynn is best known for friendship with Pope John Paul II, two sons of dock workers who struck up a tie long before John Paul was pope.
During a recent swing through San Francisco, Flynn told folks here that his son Ed Flynn is running for Boston City Council--as a pro-life Democrat and as a veteran. For those who are interested in more info about the 36-year-old Ed Flynn, here is a good interview by a Boston weekly: