Friday, March 30, 2007

More on politicians in the UK

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow has come out publicly, strongly urging lawmakers to follow natural law.
He said: "Moral truth is by its nature a reality which cannot be denied or deconstructed without serious consequences for the well-being of society. Indeed Pope Benedict insists on this in his new apostolic exhortation, 'Sacramentum Caritatis.'

"Recognizing the truth about humanity is, he writes, 'especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms.'

"'These values,' the Pope said, 'are not negotiable.'"

Archbishop Conti added: "This must be another way of saying that these values form the bedrock of society.

"A society which, on the other hand, builds itself on the untested ground of new ideologies or the shifting sands of liberal -- or perhaps I should say illiberal -- opinion is doomed to failure."
All I can say is this: Bravo! It's about time we have Bishops who are willing to take a stand and tell it like it is. This is a demonstration of the power of an Apostolic Exhortation. Already now the actions exhorted by the Pope are being put into action. Let us hope and pray that more of our Bishops will be willing to take such a stand.

Calling intolerance what it is

In a refreshing statement recently, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster made that point that legislating against Christian Doctrine is intolerant in and of itself.
"My fear is that, under the guise of legislating for what is said to be tolerance, we are legislating for intolerance," he said during a March 28 lecture in London a week after the government forced through new gay rights legislation with minimal debate in the House of Commons.

"Once this begins, it is hard to see where it ends," said the cardinal. "My fear is that in an attempt to clear the public square of what are seen as unacceptable intrusions, we weaken the pillars on which that public square is erected, and we will discover that the pillars of pluralism may not survive ... that is why I have sounded this note of alarm."

He said "what looks like liberality is, in reality, a radical exclusion of religion from the public sphere."
So true, so true. As it has been said, discrimination against Christianity (or Catholicism) is the last remaining accepted form of discrimination.
The cardinal said that aggressive secularism was accompanied by a cynicism of Christianity "so when Christians stand by their beliefs, they are intolerant dogmatists. When they sin, they are hypocrites.

"When they take the side of the poor, they are soft-headed liberals," he said. "When they seek to defend the family, they are right-wing reactionaries."

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said that more attacks on the place of religion in public life could be expected in the names of tolerance, equality and diversity.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't I guess.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Science is not the only way to Know

Cardinal Daly has lots of good things to say about the relationship between Faith and Science in a recent article about his upcoming book.
The extraordinary successes of science carry with them the danger of thinking that only scientific knowledge is verifiable, said Cardinal Cahal Daly.
"We live, thank God, in an age of science," the 89-year-old prelate said. But "outside of science, it is claimed, there is only irrational belief, including religion and various other kinds of superstition. One can justly use the term 'scientism' to describe this view.
Cardinal Daly explained, "French and German philosophers have been to the fore in questioning this view. Merleau-Ponty said that the philosophical mission of the 20th century is to 'explain the irrational' and to 'integrate it into an enlarged reason.'

"I reject the term 'irrational' and I suggest the term 'meta rational' as a more fitting term for what Merleau-Ponty was exploring."

The cardinal argued, "Philosophical traditions, different ways of doing philosophy, obviously have some merit, but they carry the risk of becoming self-serving. They can become closed to other ways of doing philosophy, other insights and other influences."

Concerned about the direction philosophy has taken, Cardinal Daly said: "There is great need for dialogue between the various national or linguistic traditions in philosophy.

"The Thomistic tradition, free of what Wittgenstein might call the cultural 'cramps' of modern philosophies, is now proving to be a valuable participant in contemporary philosophical dialogue."
There is but one Truth, and neither Science nor Philosophy alone can reach that Truth. Termed "Scientism" here, the idea that Science gives one all the Truth one seeks is perhaps the most irrational of all positions to hold. An honest, thoughtful scientist cannot hold the position that Science can discredit religion, and a knowledgable Catholic cannot hold the position that religion can oppose right scientific thought.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sin is the Enemy

Pope Benedict, in reflecting on this Sunday's gospel, said that Sin is the true enemy of the Human Person. Article

"If it is true that God is justice, then we should not forget that he is above all love; if he hates sin it is because he has an infinite love for all human beings," the Holy Father explained.

The Pontiff reflected on the Gospel account of the day's liturgy. It dealt with the adulterous woman who was to be stoned to death, but who was saved and forgiven by Jesus.

Benedict XVI stated: "Jesus does not start a theological debate about the law of Moses; he is not interested in winning an academic dispute on an interpretation of the Mosaic laws. His objective is to save a soul and reveal that salvation can be found only in the love of God.

"Jesus came to tell us that he wants us all in heaven and that hell, of which so little is said in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to his love.

For one, we can note the theme common to the Benedict XVI papacy thus far, namely God is Love. Another thing he mentions is that Society has forgotten the sense of Sin. I direct you now to Sacramentum Caritatis, paragraph 20:
We know that the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin (55) and to promote a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily. (56) The loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God's love.
Surprise, the Pope even mentioned this cultural trend in his exhortation.


Monday, March 26, 2007

What's Wrong with Europe, a follow up

As I recently posted, the Vatican and the Pope have been discussing much about the state and future of the European Continent. Today, the Vatican has published a list of concerns about modern Europe.

These concerns range from environmental to economic to social. A reduction of fossil fuel usage was encouraged. There were discussions on future members of the EU as well as the economic well being of the whole of Europe. Politicians were chastised for their support of anti-life legislation.

As a comfortable American, one gets the feeling that Europe has plenty of problems, and it's a good thing we're over here. But yet, if you read through the article it is clear that almost every one of the concern noted against Europe could equally be applied to America. The fact that America is not quite as far down the road is a good thing, but that just means Europe is a foreshadowing of what's to come for us.

You can read more here, if you are interested.


The Pope, Sunday, addressed the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square before praying the Angelus about the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Sunday, March 25 is the traditional day chosen to celebrate the moment the Archangel Gabriel came down to Mary to tell her of the sacred mystery she was to participate in. A quick bit of math shows that this day is 9 months before Christmas. This year, we move the feast ahead a day, as a Sunday in Lent must be celebrated. (You may recall that in one of the last couple years the 25th was in Holy Week, and was transferred all the way past Easter)
In reality, Mary's "yes" is the reflection of Christ's own "yes" when he entered the world, as is noted in the Letter to the Hebrews in an interpretation of Psalm 39: "As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7). The Son's obedience is reflected in the Mother's and thus, by the meeting of these two "yeses," God was able to take on a human face. This is why the annunciation is also a Christological feast, because it celebrates a central mystery of Christ: his incarnation.
The Pope went on to unify the "yes" of Christ and Mary with the "yes" of the saints, and especially the Martyrs. We should take this as an example for ourselves. The prayer to remember is that of our Lord "...thy Kingdom come, thy will be done...". We must remember to submit to God.

Keep this in your heart as we celebrate this great feast of Our Lady.

As goes Europe goes the World?

Pope Benedict XVI addressed a group regarding the future of Europe, warning them that the way that Europe is heading could be a problem.
If Europe denies the existence of universal values, the continent will be an apostate from itself even before it will be an apostate from God, says Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father said this Saturday upon receiving in audience the participants of the congress "Values and Perspectives for Tomorrow's Europe -- 50 Years of the Treaty of Rome."

The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community convoked the congress to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundations for what is today the European Union.
This is an important thing to say, for Europe is tied up in a much worse form of Modernism than America, and you know how bad America can get.
Benedict XVI said: "Is it not a surprise that contemporary Europe, although it wishes to present itself as a community of values, seems more and more to contest the existence of universal and absolute values?

"Does not this unique form of 'apostasy' from itself, even prior to an apostasy from God, lead to doubts about its identity?"
Relativism. That's what we're fighting nowadays, here, there, everywhere. It feels good to say that nobody can be wrong, as long as they're "good". But, to deny that there is a universal Truth, really denys God, for God is Truth.
Benedict XVI observed that on the contrary there is an expansion in Europe of a pragmatism "that systematically justifies compromise on essential human values as if the acceptance of a presumed minor moral evil were inevitable."

He emphasized that "such a pragmatism, presented as balanced and realistic, really isn't, since it rejects that dimension of values and ideals that is inherent in human nature."

The Pope said: "Then, when atheistic and relativistic tendencies are woven into this pragmatism, in the end Christians as such are denied the very right to enter into the public discussion or, at the very least, their contribution is disqualified."
This is a mojor problem today. People are expected to accept the views of other faiths, respecting (sometimes to extreme levels) the beliefs of Muslims, Jews, and really anybody. But if you are a Christian your religious views are given little to no care. I can only guess this is because Christians have historically been a majority.
The Bishop of Rome attributed this loss of values and ideals to the demographic crisis which the countries of Europe are now facing, "a road that could carry it to bid farewell to history."

The Pontiff lamented that "one might think that the European continent is in fact losing confidence in its own future."
This is a problem. Europe has been in decline for years. If this trend continues, the major powers of the World will be America, Communist China, and the Islamic Middle East. This leaves America to be the voice of Truth to the World, and if you've been paying attention to our culture, the World may well be in trouble.

Peace to you.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Staying on the Boat

I don't generally comment on other people's commentaries, I usually restrict myself to news stories, but today I make an exception. The most recent featured commentary on CatholicCulture is about a topic near and dear to my heart, and one I was formulating a posting about myself.

The topic is fidelity with Rome and fringe groups. The article discusses the similarities between Traditionalists and Modernists. At first glance, these two groups seem diametrically opposed, one essentially focusing on bringing the Church back to pre-Vatican II times, the other focused, essentially, on a relativist view of the faith. The one thing they have most in common is rejecting the authority of the Church, and in that way, they are both moving away from the true faith.

The two groups don't like being compared, as their motives and visions seem to be diametrically opposed, however the two groups are very similar. For what it's worth, I think that both groups do considerable harm to the faith, but the modernists do more harm. At it's root, the "sin" of traditionalism is mirrored in modernism: the denial of proper authority in the Church. Both groups tend to deny the proper teachings of the Magisterial on the liturgy. On the other hand, the modernists deny many more aspects of the faith, and I believe most matters of faith and morals have been denied by some group associated with modernism. Nevermind that modernism is much larger in size, and is not opposed to society in general.

The article posted is a good start to understanding the relationship between these two fringe groups. I could hope that (at least) a traditionalist who came to see this commonality between the two groups might be made to realize the error of his ways. We could only hope. I encourage everyone to at least skim the article to see what I mean.

Peace and long life.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Episcopal Strife

This article from EWTN news outlines the growing rift in the Anglican community.

Houston, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA).- The Anglican Communion seems one step closer to a schism this week, after bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church rejected an ultimatum from the primates of the Anglican Communion to create a new pastoral initiative that would help address the ongoing disagreement in the Anglican Church.

At the end of their annual spring retreat, the bishops of the Episcopal Church issued a statement on Tuesday, stating that they decline to participate in the primates' demand for a new pastoral scheme that calls for the appointment of a primatial vicar and pastoral council. According to the London Times, this scheme would provide an enclave for those who cannot accept the leadership of a liberal bishop who had abandoned the Church’s traditional stand on such things as homosexual “marriage,” or actively homosexual clerics.

It sounds like our separated Anglican brethren are having somewhat of a power struggle. To summarize, the Anglican leaders have questioned the fidelity of some things the American church has been doing of late. The Americans have essentially snubbed the greater Anglican Communion, even trying to flaunt their independence in the leadership's face. Although the Anglican Communion has been clear on their stance on ordination of openly gay bishops, etc. the American conference of Episcopal bishops chose a very liberal Woman as their leader. And now, they seem to not care about what the greater Church has to say.
The Episcopal bishops said they could not accept the plan because it violated their Church law. As well, they questioned the “unprecedented shift of power toward the Primates,” demonstrated by the plan.
I can't make this stuff up. The bishops said that (apparently) listening to the greater Church leadership would violate their Church law. Also, they indicate that this shift of power was unprecedented. I liken this "shift of power" to the one that happened when the Anglican Church formed. The local church in England (read: Henry XIII) disagreed with the leadership of Rome, and therefore decided to shift power to local control. I wouldn't be surprised if the Anglican Church goes into schism, that the American episcopate will spin it in relation to the first founding of the Anglican Church.

Although they rejected the proposed pastoral plan, the U.S. bishops expressed their commitment “to continue working to find a way of meeting the pastoral concerns raised by the primates that are compatible with our own Church's polity and canons.”

At their meeting in Dar es Salaam, the primates had set a Sept. 30 deadline for the pastoral scheme to be set up. They also demanded a commitment not to authorize same-sex blessings or consecrate any more homosexual bishops.

It really makes me glad that we have the teaching authority of the Church on our side. There is never really a question of fidelity, or who's right; if all else fails, the Pope is an infallible authority. In this way, the faithful cannot be lead astray by crazy bishops.

It is a simple question of authority, and the authentic christian authority is the Pope in Rome. On matters of faith and morals, the Pope cannot be wrong when teaching ex cathedra, so we always know what is Truth, and there really can be no question. This is the wisdom of Christ, in leaving us an authoritative teacher in the office of Pope and the Magesterium. For this I am grateful, and I'm glad I'm not an Anglican right now.

Peace to all.


Friday, March 23, 2007

St. Justin Martyr

One of my early interests after my (re)conversion to the Catholic Church was liturgical history, as Chicago has an indult parish, and the Tridentine Rite was available to me. This is why St. Justin Martyr was one of my favorite Fathers of the Church. In his first Apology, he essentially quotes the Rite of Mass, at least in overview form, dating the Catholic Mass to the early 100s (nevermind of course, the Biblical accounts).

This is why I was excited to see an address by Pope Benedict about our great Father of antiquity. In his Wednesday audience, he discussed the philosophy of Justin, and the union he saw between Greek and Jewish history, pointing toward the truth of Christianity.
His two "Apologies" and the "Dialogue with Trypho" are the only works of his still in existence. In them, Justin aims above all to show the divine projects of creation and of salvation brought about by Christ, the "Logos," that is, the eternal Word, eternal Reason, creative Reason.

Every person, as a rational creature, participates in the "Logos," carrying within himself a "seed," and can perceive glimmers of truth. In this way, the same "Logos," who had revealed himself as a prophetic image to the Jews in the Old Covenant, had also partially revealed himself, as with "seeds of truth," in Greek philosophy.

Thus, Justin concludes, given that Christianity is a historical and personal manifestation of the "Logos" in its entirety, "all that is beautiful which has been expressed by anyone, belongs to us Christians" (II Apologia 13,4). In this way, Justin, even while contesting Greek philosophy for its contradictions, decidedly directs any philosophical truth toward the "Logos," justifying from a rational viewpoint the unusual "pretension" of truth and the universality of the Christian religion.

If the Old Testament tends toward Christ in the same way that a figure tends toward the reality which it represents, Greek philosophy also tends toward Christ and the Gospel, just as a part tends toward union with the whole.
If I had ever finished Fides et Ratio, I would have probably read about this. This connects back to my previous post, where I mentioned that there is but one Truth. I only new Justin as the Father who talked about Mass, I never realized what a philosopher he was.
In an era such as ours, marked by relativism in the debate on values and on religion -- as well as in interreligious dialogue -- this is a lesson that should not be forgotten. With this objective, and here I'll conclude, I again present to you the words of the mysterious old man that Justin found by the sea: "You, above all, pray that the doors of light will be opened for you. For, no one can see nor understand if God and his Christ do not give him understanding"


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis and the "Eucharistic Life"

Part III of Sacramentum Caritatis deals with the Eucharistic Life, and how to live your life while recognising the Eucharistic character of every aspect of the world around us. The premise is that of the entire exhortation, namely that the Eucharist is the pre-eminent sacrament and is the "source and summit of the Church's life" (paragraph 70).
71. Christianity's new worship includes and transfigures every aspect of life: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). Christians, in all their actions, are called to offer true worship to God. Here the intrinsically eucharistic nature of Christian life begins to take shape. The Eucharist, since it embraces the concrete, everyday existence of the believer, makes possible, day by day, the progressive transfiguration of all those called by grace to reflect the image of the Son of God (cf. Rom 8:29ff.). There is nothing authentically human – our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds – that does not find in the sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived to the full. Here we can see the full human import of the radical newness brought by Christ in the Eucharist: the worship of God in our lives cannot be relegated to something private and individual, but tends by its nature to permeate every aspect of our existence. Worship pleasing to God thus becomes a new way of living our whole life, each particular moment of which is lifted up, since it is lived as part of a relationship with Christ and as an offering to God. The glory of God is the living man (cf. 1 Cor 10:31). And the life of man is the vision of God. (203)
This really tells it all, and summarizes essentially the entire exhortation. The Eucharistic Life extends to all of human existence, and there is nothing we do that cannot be traced back to the Eucharist. This extends especially to our public life; the Eucharistic faith is not limited to the private, personal times in our lives.
83. Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as eucharistic consistency, a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody. Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms (230). These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature (231). There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them (232).
Normally I would have picked a couple good sentences from this statement and then summarized the rest. I must point out how important this is, as related to what was said before. We cannot simply be believers without being doers. And some of us, due to the blessings God has bestowed upon us, are in the position to affect public policy. Those who are in such a position have the obligation to act out their faith much more than anyone else. After all, to those whom much has been given, much is expected.

This leads into one of the major themes of Sacramentum Caritatis: the Radical Newness of Christianity. Under Judaism, there wasn't a universal communal sense of life (a Eucharistic sense). There was the concept of the Chosen People, but it was more a following of God's commandments, offering the necessary sacrifices, etc. that the faithful had an obligation to. The idea of the "mystical body" hadn't been developed.

So, how does the Pope suggest we live the Eucharistic Life? The first aspects that are mentioned are the participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
72. From the beginning Christians were clearly conscious of this radical newness which the Eucharist brings to human life. The faithful immediately perceived the profound influence of the eucharistic celebration on their manner of life. (...) Saint Ignatius' phrase – "living in accordance with the Lord's Day" – also emphasizes that this holy day becomes paradigmatic for every other day of the week. Indeed, it is defined by something more than the simple suspension of one's ordinary activities, a sort of parenthesis in one's usual daily rhythm. (...)

73. Conscious of this new vital principle which the Eucharist imparts to the Christian, the Synod Fathers reaffirmed the importance of the Sunday obligation for all the faithful, viewing it as a wellspring of authentic freedom enabling them to live each day in accordance with what they celebrated on "the Lord's Day." The life of faith is endangered when we lose the desire to share in the celebration of the Eucharist and its commemoration of the paschal victory. (...)
These statements reaffirm something that has been lost in recent years, the respect for Sunday and Sunday worship. My observation is that many people have lost the sense that Sunday mass is important. People will miss mass and think nothing of it. Very few people who miss mass even would consider the fact that they should go to confession before returning to the Eucharist. It is a quite important thing that needs to be restored.
74. (...) Christians, not without reference to the meaning of the Sabbath in the Jewish tradition, have seen in the Lord's Day a day of rest from their daily exertions. This is highly significant, for it relativizes work and directs it to the person: work is for man and not man for work.
This is quite an interesting statement, because it goes somewhat against what I have learned previously. I have been exposed to the teachings of Opus Dei, and one of the common statements is that man is made for work. Reading one version of the creation story in Genesis will support that idea; Adam was made to work the land. This doesn't oppose The Work, but it did make me think.
82. (...) by sharing in the sacrifice of the Cross, the Christian partakes of Christ's self-giving love and is equipped and committed to live this same charity in all his thoughts and deeds" (228). In a word, "'worship' itself, eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented"
This relates to the idea presented above, namely that the Eucharist is incomplete without a moral transformation. The Eucharist leads us to give Christian witness with our lives.
89. The union with Christ brought about by the Eucharist also brings a newness to our social relations: "this sacramental ‘mysticism' is social in character." Indeed, "union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own."(241) The relationship between the eucharistic mystery and social commitment must be made explicit. (...) In discussing the social responsibility of all Christians, the Synod Fathers noted that the sacrifice of Christ is a mystery of liberation that constantly and insistently challenges us. I therefore urge all the faithful to be true promoters of peace and justice: "All who partake of the Eucharist must commit themselves to peacemaking in our world scarred by violence and war, and today in particular, by terrorism, economic corruption and sexual exploitation."
And this is where I have been challenged in reading this document. The Eucharist points us toward social justice. I've always, for some reason, had an aversion to the social justice aspect of Christianity. I think it is because there are people who focus only on that, and I am much more an internal conversion/prayer life sort of Catholic. Those people who seem to focus on social justice, to the detriment even of true faith, really don't help the faith, just like the fundamentalist Christians don't help the cause any by insisting on a strictly evolution free 6 day creationist idea of "science".
93. At the conclusion of these reflections, in which I have taken up a number of themes raised at the Synod, I also wish to accept the proposal which the Synod Fathers advanced as a means of helping the Christian people to believe, celebrate and live ever more fully the mystery of the Eucharist. The competent offices of the Roman Curia will publish a Compendium which will assemble texts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayers, explanations of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Missal and other useful aids for a correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar (251). It is my hope that this book will help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church's life and mission. This will encourage each member of the faithful to make his or her life a true act of spiritual worship.
All I can say to this: "Awesome." I hope to be the first one on the block to have one, and hopefully will be able to get one before the first set is sold out at the store (like the first Compendium) .
97. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Holy Spirit kindle within us the same ardour experienced by the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35) and renew our "eucharistic wonder" through the splendour and beauty radiating from the liturgical rite, the efficacious sign of the infinite beauty of the holy mystery of God. (...)
There's nothing like a happy ending.

May the Eucharistic life spring forth within us and bring this world the peace it desperately needs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Christian Identity

In an article from the Catholic News Service, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone summarizes up very well what the Pope has been up to in his first two years of his Pontificate.
The cardinal said Pope Benedict's overall goal is to reclaim the authentic Christian identity as understood by the faithful and practiced in the world.

In the pope's view, he said, a fundamental problem for faith is relativism, which holds that there is no undeniable truth and that no one can claim to have the right answer.
This really doesn't come to a surprise to anyone who follows the Pope and his Pontificate. Looking at Deus Caritas Est (which I may post about some time) and Sacramentum Caritatis, the Pope has been trying to make clear what it means to be a Christian, specifically authentic Christian love and what it means to live a Eucharistic life.
In today's context of widespread secularism, Pope Benedict recognizes that faith needs to be explained in a way that appeals to human intelligence, said Cardinal Bertone. This recognition has brought the pope into dialogue with experts in the fields of science, philosophy and theology, he said.
The fact that the Pope is dialoging with scientists and philosophers is an interesting and important point. As Catholics, we believe that God is truth, and there is one Truth. Scientific truth, philosophical truth, and religious truth are one in the same Truth, and therefore cannot be contradicted. As scientists discover things about the Universe, we discover things about the mind of God. (Read Fides et Ratio if you think otherwise) God is one who can neither decieve nor be decieved, so the Truth we can find from science is just as real as religious truth. This is why we are Catholic and not fundamentalist Christians, we can believe in the Big Bang and Evolution, and not have any problem with believing in God, and his intervention.

This is an important point for Catholics to know, and for all Christians to believe. The image of Christ riding on a dinosaur is simply ridiculous for, really, everyone, and so Christians are, in general, ridiculed due to fundamentalist statements. I, for one, think that Christianity would be better off without these sorts of ideas associated with it. But, I might be biased.

Jesus Rides a Dinosaur

I couldn't pass this one up. Not sure if it is real, or not, but it is one of those things that reminds you of the crazies out there.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Archbishop Bans Gay Mass

This is a story from my home Diocese. A friend sent me this article about Archbishop Harry Flynn laying down the law with a fringe gay Catholic ministry group.

I will highlight some interesting notes about this story:

Archbishop Harry Flynn, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, sent a candid letter last month to New Ways, stating concern about the symposium's topics and featured speakers "who are known to have publicly contested Church teaching."

Flynn prohibited symposium participants from celebrating Holy Eucharist, saying to do so might mislead Archdiocese members into believing the speakers' views had the church's sanction.

"Hopefully, that will at least minimize potential confusion and scandal," Flynn's letter concluded.
I first off have to applaud Archbishop Flynn for standing up for Catholic values, he's started to turn things around in the past few years, I remember back when he decided to distribute the eucharist to the Rainbow Sash crowd.
"This does seem a little harsh for a couple of reasons," DeBernardo said of Flynn's decision. "We have known Flynn as a good and pastoral man when it comes to lesbian/gay issues. So we were surprised that he made this decision. He has been willing to dialogue and compromise. He hasn't been a stone wall, as some other bishops have been."

The negotiations failed late last week.

And Tuesday, one of the bishops expected to attend the symposium left a voice message with DeBernardo saying he had "been told not to come."

"I think there was a Vatican intervention," DeBernardo said late Tuesday, saying he had yet to reach Bishop Leroy Matthiesen, of Amarillo, Texas, to get an explanation for his dropping out.

So, since there was a "Vatican Intervention" this means something is wrong with the Vatican then, not something wrong with some of the things your group says? I'm just saying...
Flynn's decision "is a betrayal of the core of our Catholic faith," Bayly said. "The church should be big and wide to support diverse opinions. For God's sake, it's Catholic — it's universal."
The "core of our Catholic faith"??

The symposium has been organized every several years on different topics relating to homosexuality and Catholicism, with an emphasis on finding common ground. The Eucharist has been celebrated in Washington, St. Louis, San Francisco, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Louisville — though the New Ways Ministry did run into problems at its most recent event in Kentucky.

There, DeBernardo said, Archbishop Thomas Kelly told New Ways Ministry that he had been told by the Vatican not to allow the Eucharist — a decision that lies with the head of the diocese under church law.

Kelly invited conference participants to instead attend Mass at his cathedral — but New Ways Ministry declined and conducted the Eucharist anyway, saying Kelly's letter fell short of forbidding the sacrament.

"We saw it as a loophole," DeBernardo said.

I'm sure that when you're knocking on those pearly gates, and St. Peter is standing there as you approach the seat of judgement, exploiting an ecclisal loophole won't help your cause any.

Peace and long life.

Sacramentum Caritatis: Initial Reflections

I have just (finally) finished reading Pope Benedict XVI's most recent publication, the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, or, On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church's Life and Mission. Light reading for the last few days.

My first impression: it's long! Not to be a discouragement, but it took me these three days and nights to finish it. That said, I probably tackled this length of document faster than I've finished any other ecclesiasitcal documents of similar length. It was a good read, worth all the hype.

I first heard reportings of it on the evening news, and was soon after sent an article from Zenit from a firend. By this point I had made it through the introduction and the beginning of the first part. I was struck at how these, and anything else I heard, tended to miss the point. The evening newspeople said "Pope discusses priestly celebacy in recent letter", and the Zenit article was about the Pope urging the use of Latin for international Masses. I realize that "Pope says the Eucharist is awesome" won't play well as a headline, but it was unmistakable that this was the point, just by reading the introduction and conclusion.

My thoughts, on the document as a whole. It was really nice, and wonderfully written. I had never took the time to try to view the whole of Christian life through the lens of the Eucharist, but that's what Pope Benedict did, and it really was an awakening. Nothing new was really said, it was just put into different terms, which made the critical reading difficult. There are a wealth of good reflections in this document, and I would not exhaust them with 100 posts (though I may try).

Interesting things to note about the document:
  • The Pope didn't diverge from Catholic teachings (shockers, I know)
  • The media seems to have missed the point, and got caught up in the details
  • Paragraph 93 promises the writing and publication of a "Eucharistic Compendium"
Each of the three parts had different feels, and I think I would encourage the interested reader to take each one separately. As I read, I wrote down some recurring themes, and they happened to each correspond to a different part. The first theme was trinitaritarian love, understanding that concept and how the eucharist tipifies it. Next, Part II hit me hard with focusing on respecting liturgical norms (like I said, different feel). Finally Part III touched me with the Radical Newness of Christianity.

And so, part one of our series on Sacramentum Caritatis is completed. Stay tuned as I try to exhaust its riches.

Peace and Eternal Life.

Introductions and Such Things

It is with much hope that I begin this weblog, hoping to share a bit of my insights about the world around me. I make no claims to be a theologian, nor do I scour the news looking for things to write about. With that, I ask you to enjoy...or not, you know, whichever.

Peace and everything good.