Worth Revisiting: Development and negation: the struggle continues

May 7, 2011

Development and negation: the struggle continues

 

The latest installment in my “Development and Negation” series was about slavery. More specifically, the question was whether the development of Magisterial teaching on the moral status of slavery negates any previously taught doctrine that meets the Church’s own criteria for irreformability. My answer was, of course, no—as it has been in every case where dissenters of the right or the left charge the Magisterium with discrediting itself by contradicting itself over time. What I shall do here is illustrate the significance of the general topic by presenting what happened to the debate over the slavery question.
The critic against whom I have lately defended the Magisterium was theologian Joseph O’Leary, an unreconstructed prog of a kind all too familiar on ostensibly Catholic theology faculties. The original target of his criticisms was Avery Cardinal Dulles, who had addressed the slavery issue among others in his article “Development or Reversal?” In criticizing my own position on the slavery issue, which accords with Dulles’, O’Leary repeats a charge he has made in almost every debate he and I have had in the past: “Liccione has devoted huge intellectual effort to proving that the Church has never reversed its official teaching on any point of morality.” As anybody who reads my series can verify for themselves, however, that is not what I have devoted effort to proving. I have openly acknowledged cases in which Church authorities have reversed their application of moral principles to specific moral questions, such as how heretics may be punished, whether borrowers may ever be charged for loans beyond the principal, and when the death penalty can be justified. What I have instead sought to show is that no moral tenet taught by the Church in such wise as to meet her own criteria for irreformability has thereby been repudiated. Tenets that do meet such criteria are, to be sure, sometimes wrongly applied; others take time to be recognized and formulated for what they are. That is why development and refinement in Catholic moral teaching are both possible and necessary. But my thesis has been that such development and refinement do not entail negation of any tenet taught in the past with the Church’s full authority. Tenets so taught are infallibly taught and are thus “irreformable,” meaning “not to be contradicted.” So the Church does not contradict or negate them. What’s happened in my debate with O’Leary well illustrates the importance of that point.

In his last comment here on my slavery post, O’Leary proceeds in characteristic fashion by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. I had claimed, as an aside, that magisterial support in the Middle Ages for the physical punishment of heretics—such as the papal bull Ad Extirpanda—did not meet the Church’s own criteria for irreformability. I have made that claim before, and I’ve made it because AE’s subject matter was not any irreformable moral tenet, but rather a prudential judgment on the specific, very time-bound question whether the good of the body politic requires that heretics be physically coerced into confessing their heresies. Those who exercise magisterial authority, including popes, can be wrong about that without logically discrediting their own claims to teach infallibly, and thus irreformably, about “faith and morals” under certain conditions. In this case medieval ecclesiastics, including St. Thomas Aquinas, were wrong about the socio-political importance and necessity of torturing heretics. I’ve explained why before, but I don’t want to distract readers any further by getting into that again. Here, rather, is what O’Leary says in response to my claim that “Ad Extirpanda does not satisfy the Church’s own criteria for the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium”:

 

Do you refer to the papal teaching office or the universal teaching office of bishops, which is usually what people mean when they talk of the ordinary magisterium? As far as I know there are only 2 candidates for infallibility of the former, namely the dogmas of 1854 and 1950. I tend to follow G. Hallett SJ in thinking the claim of infallibility to be meaningless (thus neither true nor false), The infallibility of bishops is a Bellarminian thesis unwisely embraced, without disucssion, by the bishops at Vatican II and ruthless exploited since then to claim infallibility for Vaticanist doctrines on contraception, women’s ordination etc., at the very time as any autonomous teaching authority of bishops is beiing undercut.

Let’s leave aside the rather elementary point that the “ordinary” magisterium of the Church is not to be contrasted with the “papal” magisterium but rather with the “extraordinary” magisterium. Either the pope or the bishops can and do exercise either magisterium (though the bishops can only do so legitimately in communion with the pope). It’s bad enough that O’Leary, an ostensibly Catholic theologian, has missed that. But he’s actually suggesting that the dogma of papal infallibility is “meaningless” and asserting that the doctrine of the infallibility of bishops, authoritatively taught in Lumen Gentium 25, is “a Bellarminian thesis unwisely embraced, without disucssion [sic], by the bishops at Vatican II.” Again, let’s leave aside the irony that a theologian who signs himself “Spirit of Vatican II” is rejecting a very important ecclesiological doctrine authoritatively taught by the Fathers of Vatican II. O’Leary is out to end the game before it starts.

If the dogma of papal infallibility is “meaningless” and the infallibility of the bishops, as explained in LG §25, a mere thesis “unwisely embraced,” then the question whether the Church’s development of doctrine has ever negated an irreformably taught doctrine cannot be usefully debated. Before that question can be usefully debated, there must be some agreement among the participants both that there are infallibly taught doctrines and that there are consistently applicable criteria for identifying doctrines as such. For reasons I’ve given, the class of “infallible” doctrines is co-extensive with that of “irreformable” ones. Among Catholic theologians who care about teaching with and in the name of the Church, such agreement holds in substance, if not always at the margins. But between me and O’Leary, it does not hold in any sense at all. So, we do not even agree on the premises of the discussion. Perhaps that is why O’Leary consistently misrepresents what I aim to do.

The only useful strategy for the O’Learys of the world—and their name is legion—would be to argue that the historic development of Catholic doctrine precludes any doctrine of magisterial infallibility (ordinary or extraordinary, papal or episcopal) that could be (a) meaningful, (b) useful, and (c) definitively held. If there is no such doctrine of infallibility, then the question which tenets count as irreformable is purely a matter of opinion, and my “development and negation” project is not worth pursuing. That is roughly the tack Hans Küng took in his once-celebrated book Infallible? An Inquiry. A debate about his argumentative strategy is worth having because it can be settled by facts and logic. As I read Küng’s book and researched his sources three decades ago, my debate with him was gradually settled. I concluded his case was not compelling on either historical or logical grounds. More important, I soon realized that if he were right, then the claims of the Catholic Magisterium to be preserved from error under certain conditions are so much hot air. In that case, there would be no compelling reason to remain in full communion with Rome, other than to undermine her claims from within.

That, I suspect, is the real point of the O’Learys of the world.


Pope St. Gelasius I

November 21, 2009

Pope St. Gelasius I  (image source)

November 21

Gelasius was born in Rome, in the fifth century, the son of an African named Valerius. Later, ordained a priest, he was elected Pope on March 1st, 492.  Gelasius had a reputation for learning, justice, holiness, and charity. However, he was burdened with difficulties caused by a conflict with Euphemius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, over the Acacian heresy. He also protested the encroachments by Constantinople on Alexandria and Antioch. Gelasius was influential in setting aside Roman pagan festivals. Moreover, in opposition to the Manichaeans, he ordered reception of the Eucharist under both species. Gelasius is known to have composed liturgical Prefaces and Orations for Sacramentaries, which may be part of the Leonine Sacramentary. However, he had nothing to do with the Gelasian Sacramentary or the Gelasian Decree (listing the Canonical books of the Bible) – which have been erroneously attributed to him. He died at Rome on November 21, 496.

Source: Saints & Angels


BENEDICT XVI’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER

November 1, 2009

Ratzinger

BENEDICT XVI’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER

VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2009 (VIS) – Pope Benedict’s general prayer intention for November is: “That all the men and women in the world, especially those who have responsibilities in the field of politics and economics, may never fail in their commitment to safeguard creation”.

His mission intention is: “That believers in the different religions, through the testimony of their lives and fraternal dialogue, may clearly demonstrate that the name of God is a bearer of peace”.

BXVI-PRAYER INTENTIONS/NOVEMBER/…                         VIS 091030 (90)


All Souls Day Plenary Indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory for All Souls Day

November 1, 2009

All Souls

Plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory are  granted to the faithful who:

On All Souls Day, November 2, piously visit a church, a public oratory or — for those entitled to use it — a semipublic oratory. This is easy. There are plenty of Requiem Masses in my area, but even if that’s not true in where you are, there should also be Daily Mass as usual.

In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, according to recite “one Our Father and the Creed.” Another easy one as that’s included in Mass.

You must also pray at least one Hail Mary and one Our Father, or other appropriate prayer for the Pope’s intentions.

Communion must be received;

You must also go to Confession; and,

Have no attachment to sin, even venial sin.


Pope Benedict on Christ

September 20, 2009

Pope-Benedict-greets-the--001

CHRIST DID NOT TEACH A PHILOSOPHY BUT SHOWED US A PATH

VATICAN CITY, 13 SEP 2009 (VIS) – At midday today Benedict XVI appeared on the balcony overlooking the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered below.


Commenting on today’s Gospel text, the Pope noted how it “raises two crucial questions which I would summarise thus: ‘who is Jesus of Nazareth for you?’ and ‘is your faith translated into actions or not?'”. To the first of these questions, “Peter’s response is clear and immediate: ‘You are Christ’, in other words the Messiah. … Peter and the other Apostles, unlike most people, believed that Jesus was not only a great teacher or prophet, but much more. They had faith. They believed that God was present and worked in Him.


“However”, the Holy Father added, “immediately after this profession of faith, when for the first time Jesus openly announced that He would have to suffer and be killed, Peter opposed this prospect of torment and death. Jesus had …. to make him understand that it is not enough to believe that He is God but, impelled by charity, we have to follow Him on His journey, the journey of the cross. Jesus did not come to teach us a philosophy but to show us a path, the path that leads to life”.


Pope Benedict went on: “This path is love, which is an expression of true faith. If someone loves his neighbour with a pure and generous heart, this means he truly knows God. If on the other hand someone claims to have faith but does not love his brothers and sisters, he is not a true believer. God does not dwell in him”.

In this context the Holy Father quoted St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on the Letter of James which was the second reading of today’s Mass: “A man may have an upright faith in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, but if he does not lead an upright life, his faith will not serve him for his salvation”.

Finally, recalling that tomorrow and the day after are, respectively, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Pope said: “The Virgin Mary, who believed in the Word of the Lord, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, humiliated and placed on the cross. She stayed near Jesus, suffering and praying unto the end. And she saw the radiant dawn of His Resurrection. Let us learn from her to bear witness to our faith through a life of humble service, ready to pay personally so as to remain faithful to the Gospel of charity and truth, in the certainty that nothing of what we do will be lost”.

ANG/FAITH CHARITY/…                                                              VIS 090914


LA Times on Catholic Outreach

September 11, 2009

5 Bob to the Curt Jester, for linking to an article in the LA Times about a Catholic Outreach program in Sacramento that has had a couple of test runs.

I hope other Dioceses are paying attention. I’m acquainted with and related to many alleged Catholics and would love for them all to return to the church. Some left due to lifestyle changes, others due to changes in marital status; in one case, a man called his daughter to find out if he and his wife ever got their marriage annulled. Not that I have experience in that area, but I don’t think it’s quite that passive a process that it would’ve taken place without his knowledge or memory thereof, so if it had been annulled, he’d know.

Others have issues regarding church teaching. Nothing I can do about that but pray and tell them to shut up when they say nasty things about the Pope or the Church in my presence.

What is it, about 30% of Baptized Catholics sit in the pews each Sunday? I don’t know if that’s accurate but I think it’s close.


How Long do Catholics keep a Pope?

August 7, 2009

Pope john paul IIPope John Paul II

Today I talked to someone who commented on how much he had liked Pope John Paul II but wondered why we had him so long. When I said he was one of the longest reigning Popes ever, the guy said he thought the Pope was elected every four years, just like the President of the US.

I informed him that we keep the Pope until he dies, like the Supreme Court Justices but didn’t think to mention that he lives in our hearts forever.

And chose not to mention that in some cases, we keep them longer.

PopeGregoryVIITombPope St. Gregory VII


Pope Benedict XVI

August 3, 2009

Vacation pope cast

Have you prayed for him lately?


Speaking of Dairy Pilgrimages and The Pope

July 27, 2009

dairy cow

It belatedly occurred to me that Pope Benedict is on vacation. So what’s the point of going to Rome to see him? What were these dairy farmers thinking?


Tractor Pilgrimage to Rome

July 24, 2009

I’m not sure why these farmers would go to Rome; the one who is supposedly Catholic doesn’t practice and the others aren’t Catholic at all. How can the Pope help?

Maybe there’ll be a follow-up article somewhere.

nixon-on-tractor

TRACTOR PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

Dairy Farmers Place Faith in Pope

A quartet of German dairy farmers is on a pilgrimage to Rome — via tractor. With milk prices plummeting, the men have lost their faith in politicians. Instead they hope to gain an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Read the rest of this entry »


Pope Preaches in Public after breaking wrist

July 19, 2009

You didn’t think a little thing like a broken wrist would slow him down, did you? Please join me in praying that Pope Benedict may heal easily and remain in good health.

The pope celebrates mass with his broken wrist in plaster.

ROME, Italy (CNN) — Pope Benedict XVI preached and greeted well-wishers Sunday, three days after breaking his wrist in a fall. Read the rest of this entry »


Blessed Pope Eugene III, July 8

July 8, 2009

Blessed Pope Eugene III

Blessed Pope Eugene III

Montemegano, Pisa, Italy-July 8, 1851, Tivoli, Italy

Prominent Cistercian monk. Friend of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Abbot of the monastery of Tre Fontaine. Elected pope unanimously on day of his predecessor’s funeral; the cardinals wanted a quick election to prevent the interference of secular authorities. Promoted the disastrous Second Crusade. In 1146, the agitation of Arnold of Brescia and the republicans drove the pope from Rome. While in exile from 1146 to 1149 and again from 1150 to 1152, Eugene worked to reform clerical discipline.

Beatified December 28, 1872 by Pope Pius IX

Source: Saints


Blessed Pope Benedict XI, July 7

July 7, 2009

benedict-xi-1-sized

Blessed Pope Benedict XI

1240, Treviso, Italy-July 7, 1304, Perugia

He entered the Dominican Order at the age of fourteen. After fourteen years of study, he became lector of theology, which office he filled for several years. In 1296 he was elected Master General of the Order. As at this time hostility to Boniface VIII was becoming more pronounced, the new general issued an ordinance forbidding his subjects to favour in any way the opponents of the reigningpontiff; he also enjoined on them to defend in their sermons, when opportune, the legitimacy of the election of Boniface. This loyalty of Boccasini, which remained unshaken to the end, was recognized by Boniface, who showed him many marks of favour and confidence. Thus with the two cardinal-legates, the Dominican General formed the important embassy, the purpose of which was the concluding of an armistice between Edward I of England and Philip IV of France, then at war with each other. In the year 1298 Boccasini was elevated to the cardinalate; he was afterwards appointed Bishop of Ostia and Dean of the Sacred College. As at that time Hungary was rent by civil war, the cardinal-bishop was sent thither by the Holy See as legate a latere to labour for the restoration of peace. At the time of the return of the legate to Rome, the famous contest of Boniface VIII with Philip the Fair had reached its height. When, in 1303, the enemies of the pope had made themselves masters of the sacred palace, of all the cardinals and prelates only the two Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Sabina remained at the side of the venerable Pontiff to defend him from the violence of William of Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna.

A month after this scene of violence, Boniface having died, Boccasini was unanimously elected Pope, 22 October, taking the name of Benedict XI. The principal event of his pontificate was the restoration of peace with the French court. Immediately after his election Philip sent three ambassadors to the pope bearing the royal letter of congratulation. The king, while professing his obedience and devotion, recommended to the benevolence of the pope the Kingdom and Church of France. Benedict, judging a policy of indulgence to be necessary for the restoration of peace with the French court, absolved Philip and his subjects from the censures they had incurred and restored the king and kingdom to the rights and privileges of which they had been deprived by Boniface. The Colonna cardinals were also absolved from their censures, but not reinstated in their former dignities. This policy of leniency Benedict carried out without compromising the dignity of the Holy See or the memory of Boniface VIII. Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna and those implicated in the outrage of Anagni were declared excommunicated and summoned to appear before the pontifical tribunal. After a brief pontificate of eight months, Benedict died suddenly at Perugia. It was suspected, not altogether without reason, that his sudden death was caused by poisoning through the agency of William of Nogaret. Benedict XI was beatified in the year 1773. His feast is celebrated at Rome and throughout the Dominican Order on the 7th of July. He is the author of a volume of sermons and commentaries on a part of the Gospel of St. Matthew, on the Psalms, the Book of Job, and the Apocalypse.

Source: Catholic Encyclopedia


Who was Buried in the Apostle Paul’s Tomb?

June 29, 2009

ap-Apostle-Paul-tomb-Rome-195eng29jun09Tomb believed to be the Apostle Paul’s

The Vatican announced, at the close of the Pauline year, that analysis on bones buried in what is believed to be the tomb of the Apostle Paul, indicates the bones are from the proper time period.

You’ve got to love Catholicism; the Vatican finds all kinds of things located where tradition has put them.

Oldest St. PaulOldest portrait of St. Paul

In addition, the Vatican announced the finding of a 4th century portrait of St. Paul, which is the oldest known image of the saint.

Grace from God in this Pauline year.


President Obama to meet with Pope Benedict XVI

June 25, 2009

popePresident Obama will meet with Pope Benedict XVI next month to “discuss a range of issues, including their shared belief in the dignity of all people,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

Obama will meet with the pope while he is in Italy for the annual G8 summit, which takes place in L’Aquila July 8-10.

Among the likely topics of discussion between Obama and the pope will be the president’s support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research, which puts him at odds with the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings.

Source: Fox News

Let’s hope that the White House Protocol Office informs the President and First Lady of how to dress and behave with the pope.

And Michelle? Cover yourself. Nothing wrong with bare arms and showing your knees, just not in front of Pope Benedict.


4 Years Ago Today

April 19, 2009

Time flies!


Liturgical Reforms Arrive in Bangladesh

August 22, 2008

First Communion at Holy Cross College, Dhaka,

run by the Congregation of Holy Cross

HH Benedict XVI’s call to reform the practice of the liturgy takes root in Bangladesh. I am personally pleased to see that Holy Cross is taking a leading role in liturgical reform.

BANGLADESH Church Tries To Protect Traditional Hymns, End Loud Singing

DHAKA (UCAN) — Bangladeshi Catholic hymns are “out of control,” sometimes sung too loudly or performed by pop-style bands, so much so that some claim the deep spirituality the music is meant to inspire gets lost.The Episcopal Commission for Liturgy and Prayer (ECLP) has responded to the problem by trying to bring order to the chaos and restore a level of uniformity and a proper atmosphere for Bangla-language hymns. It did so in a six-day training program for liturgical music experts and performers that was conducted July 13-18 at the Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Dhaka. Read the rest of this entry »


Benedict to Beijing?

August 21, 2008

Benedict the Re-Gatherer may strike again soon–in China!

According to the AP:

ROME (AP) — The Beijing bishop appointed by China’s state-controlled Catholic Church said in an interview Wednesday that he hopes Pope Benedict XVI will visit his country and that relations with the Vatican are improving.

“We strongly hope that Benedict XVI will make a trip to China,” Joseph Li Shan told Italy’s RAI state TV. “Relations with the Vatican are constantly improving. We can say that there are big developments.” Read the rest of this entry »


Evangelicals: Change of Heart toward Catholics

July 28, 2008

Evangelicals have been going through a major change of heart in their view of Catholicism over the past 15 years or so. In the 80’s when I was in college I lived in the Biblebelt and had plenty of experience with Evangelicals–much of it bad experience. The 80’s was the height of the “Are you saved?” question. In Virginia, the question often popped up in the first 10 minutes of getting to know someone. As I look back, Isurmise that this was coached from the pulpit or Sunday school as it was so well coordinated and almost universally applied. It was a good tactic for putting Catholics on the defensive even before it was known that they were Catholic—“ummmm, uhhh, well no, I’m not sure, I’m Catholic.” Then a conversation about works righteousness or saint statues would ensue. Yeah, nice to meet you, too.
Thankfully, those days are pretty much over. We now have formerly rabid anti-Catholics apologizing and even praising the pope. Catholics and Evangelicals have both learned that we have much in common and need each other to face the secular culture with a solid front. But, where did this detente come from? I think there is a real history to be told here and a book should be written. Let me give my perceptions of 7 major developments since 1993, which I regard as the the watershed year for the renewal of the Catholic Church in the United States.

1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1993. When this document came out, it was uncertain that even Catholics would read it. We should have known that something was up when the French version hit the top of the bestsellers charts in France and stayed there for months. The English version did the same in the US. Catholics were reading the Catechism, forming study groups and challenging errant professors in the classroom. Read the rest of this entry »


Witness the Devotion of a New Generation

July 20, 2008

I know the music is contemporary and many traditionalists will not like it. Still, it captures the Spirit of modern youth and fits with the Holy Father’s them of the Holy Spirit for WYD 2008. When I saw these images I was truly moved.


WYD: Benedict Bedazzles at Sydney Harbor

July 20, 2008

Having been to two WYD’s (Toronto and Cologne) I can attest that they are supremely powerful experiences. To have the gospel sifted for its specific message for today’s youth by the greatest spiritual authorities on earth is just impossible to express. It is overwhelming.

But, it can be hard to convey that experience to those who were not there.

However, Benedict’s words in themselves, even without all the experiencial props to heighten the experience, have a power to clear ones thinking and set ones heart aright. He seamlessly weaves together concerns for the environment, sexual exploitation, materialism and secularism all in light of the universal spiritual hunger for the Gospel. Powerful!

Here are some of his words at Sydney Harbor on Thursday:

“…Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf. Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth. Read the rest of this entry »


June 3: Blessed Pope John XXIII, The Smiling Pope

June 3, 2008

Blessed Pope John XXIII, 1881 – 1963 Read the rest of this entry »


June 2: Pope Saint Eugene I

June 2, 2008

 

Pope Saint Eugene I, d. 657 Read the rest of this entry »


John 6 in Our Day

May 16, 2008

I have been carrying around this thought for over a decade:

As a result of this hard teaching [just pick one], many of the Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans and Evangelicals returned to their former pagan way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Read the rest of this entry »


Catholic China News

May 16, 2008

Must Read: Prager on “Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality”

May 15, 2008

Dennis Prager has written the best explanation of the essential theological-sociological nature of Catholic-Jewish teachings on human sexuality. Starting with a description of male sexuality and implicitly the necessity of social mores/boundaries on the male, he demonstrates the connections between the dignity of the human person, particularly women and children, and the sublimation of male sexuality into exclusively heterosexual outlets. In Catholic terms there is a continuum between the consistent ethic of life and heterosexual family building. It’s an absolute must read!

To a world which divided human sexuality between penetrator and penetrated, Judaism said, “You are wrong — sexuality is to be divided between male and female.” To a world which saw women as baby producers unworthy of romantic and sexual attention, Judaism said “You are wrong — women must be the sole focus of men’s erotic love.” To a world which said that sensual feelings and physical beauty were life’s supreme goods, Judaism said, “You are wrong — ethics and holiness are the supreme goods.” A thousand years before Roman emperors kept naked boys, Jewish kings were commanded to write and keep a sefer torah, a book of the Torah.

Read the rest of this entry »


What a Difference a Century Makes: The Catholic Church and Anglicanism

May 6, 2008

In 1900, one could not have guessed where Anglicanism and Catholicism would be today. Anglicanism was the chaplain to the British Empire and Catholicism was the religion of the failed Spanish Empire. Britannia ruled the waves and held a fifth of the world under its yoke. The sun never set on her majesty, Queen Victoria’s realm. What had remained of the Spanish Empire had finally just collapsed two years prior.

In 1900 the pope was still the prisoner of the Vatican, still reigning in the aftergloom of the Kulturkampf and Italian unification which “stole” the papal states. Catholics were second class citizens in English speaking countries and Anglicanism was the religion of the power elite in the most advanced society the earth had ever known. Anglicanism was busy baptizing the “white man’s burden.” Catholic countries were known to be the poorest and least educated in Europe and the Americas. No one could then have guessed the remarkable turns of affairs that would lead us to this present moment in which Catholicism would appear to all the Christian world as the bulwark of Christian morality and the last hope of a Christian West.

Read the rest of this entry »


Papal Media Coverage Evolving

May 3, 2008

From The Pilot.

As I followed the pastoral visit of the Holy Father on television, switching between EWTN and FoxNews, I could not help but contemplate how far we have come. I remember the coverage of the visits to the United States of John Paul the Great in 1979 and 1987. Then the coverage focused on dissenters. The commentators wanted to know when the Church would change its teachings of life, sexuality, marriage and women. When would the Church come into the modern age and cease to cling to ideas that everyone knew were outdated? To the media it was clear, the Church was not attracting new vocations to the priesthood and religious life; it was not engaging the younger generation and if the Church didn’t come around quickly it would soon sink into irrelevance. The dissenters assured us change would come; it was only a matter of time.

By John Paul’s third visit in 1995, the critics recognized that things would not change under his pontificate, but they still held out the hope that he was a passing phenomenon. He was ill. His death was expected and then there would be a new pope who would bring the Church into the 20th century. By 1995, the pundits grudgingly admitted that John Paul had achieved rock star status, he had stopped the decline of vocations and he had attracted the young, but they consoled themselves with the belief that his successor would not be able to match his appeal. The critics were, however, less confident than they had been.
Read the rest of this entry »


Pope left off Time’s list of influential people

May 2, 2008

Hmmm… Time Magazine’s 2008 list of the “100 Most Influential People” has quite a few familiar and not so familiar faces on it this year.  A rather interesting mix.

Conspicuous by his absesnse from the list is an octegenarian German cleric who has his own micro-state in Europe.  Not all that well known, but you might have seen brief glimpses of coverage (if you were watching closesly) of his recent visit to America.  Rumor has it, he signed up and took a White House tour when he was here. (Maybe he was in the group of Girl Scouts rumored to have also toured that day…)

I suppose it is possible that a man who has made the cover and front page of newspapers and magazines around the world who leads a church of 1.1B, and got constant coverage for a visit he made to America ranks as the 101st most influential person in the world.

(BTW, the Dalai Lama was here at the same time the Pope was… Maybe I just don’t get the cable channels his all-day coverage was on.)

I can’t say I particularly covet secular accolades for the Pope in the secular media. It doesn’t bother me that they don’t.

More to the point, I am rather embarassed for Time which is either demonstrating a great deal of ideological bias or perhaps it is the case that the writers of this magazine don’t themselves actually read Time on a regular basis… If they did, they would likely begin to notice that Benedict XVI seems to get a lot more press than such a supposedly uninfluential person would otherwise garner.

How odd.

When Pope Benedict passes unto his eternal reward, we will see what sort of TV coverage his funeral gets around the world.  And than we will compare it one day to:

I bet the next time Shinya Yamanaka & James Thomson visit Washington and New York, half a million people will try to get tickets to go to any event they hold at the nearest baseball stadium!

Oh Time, how silly and uninfluential you have made yourself look!


Post from BaghdadHope: Mar Bawai Soro

April 30, 2008

H.G. Mar Bawai Soro and H.G. Mar Sarhad Y. Jammo are currently in Rome. On Sunday, April 27th, 2008, there was an ordination of 29 men into the priesthood. Many of our parish were happy to see him at that wonderful event. The following is a blog entry written by a certain blogger named “BaghdadHope”. I have reproduced it here as it is quite informative of recent going-ons with our diocese.

Mar Bawai Soro: place of honour in Saint Peter


Catholic Answers Tract on “Papal Infallibility”

April 24, 2008

Papal Infallibility

The Catholic Church’s teaching on papal infallibility is one which is generally misunderstood by those outside the Church. In particular, Fundamentalists and other “Bible Christians” often confuse the charism of papal “infallibility” with “impeccability.” They imagine Catholics believe the pope cannot sin. Others, who avoid this elementary blunder, think the pope relies on some sort of amulet or magical incantation when an infallible definition is due.

Given these common misapprehensions regarding the basic tenets of papal infallibility, it is necessary to explain exactly what infallibility is not. Infallibility is not the absence of sin. Nor is it a charism that belongs only to the pope. Indeed, infallibility also belongs to the body of bishops as a whole, when, in doctrinal unity with the pope, they solemnly teach a doctrine as true. We have this from Jesus himself, who promised the apostles and their successors the bishops, the magisterium of the Church: “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16), and “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).

Vatican II’s Explanation

Vatican II explained the doctrine of infallibility as follows: “Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they can nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly. This is so, even when they are dispersed around the world, provided that while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with Peter’s successor, and while teaching authentically on a matter of faith or morals, they concur in a single viewpoint as the one which must be held conclusively. This authority is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church. Their definitions must then be adhered to with the submission of faith” (Lumen Gentium 25). Read the rest of this entry »


April 22: Pope Saint Soter

April 22, 2008

Pope Saint Soter, d. ca. 174


Another Biased Blogger Gets It Wrong

April 20, 2008

This cartoon showed up another blog – Pope Ratzo Protects Pedophile Bishops « – and is just one more instance of folks writing about the abuse who get it WRONG.

If Only School Boards Would Not Insist That Teachers Remain Celibate All Their Lives « Per Christum Seldom talked about are the much, much higher rates of abuse that occur in public school districts.  Many perpetrators go unpunished beyond having their resignation accepted – and then moving to another school district.  With damage caps in place (sometimes as low as $100K) most attorneys are not terribly interested in pursuing a case that could take years with a maximum payout of $33K (1/3d) for the attorney involved.  That is very little money for a case that could take years to go to trial.

Celibacy = Abuser Magnet? « Per Christum So is celebacy the issue?  Does it stand to reason that men who target teenage boys (the overwhelming demographic victimized) would want to go through 4-8 years of formation and then live in the fishbowl of the parish rectory?  Couldn’t they accomplish the same goals with Internet chat rooms while working a better paying job less in the spotlight?

The vast majority of priests are thought never to have abused any children (99.8%) Yes, that is right, abuse is NOT the norm – it isn’t even 1% of all the priests in all the US church that have been so much as accused.  Can the same or similar be said for most other professions with access to children? Sure the abuse cases out there that are the most notorious grab headlines… But does that implicate everyone?

Shedding Light On Sex Abuse Scandals « Per Christum Have Protestants in general fared any better with their married clergy?  Decidedly not.

People with a goal of actually understanding this problem would know better than to write such pedantic drivel.  But anti-Catholicism is still very acceptable… And when it comes to beating that horse, any stick will do!


Benedict XVI, Muslims, Spengler – 3 Years Later

April 19, 2008

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AsiaTimes commentator “Spengler” wrote what is below on the day of the election of Pope Benedict XVI – interestingly, it seems to have been written and gone to print just before the election was announced.

Three years on, approaching the 3d anniversary of the pontificate of B16, and the events of the past 36 months, this is proving fascinating to review.

Spengler is best described, I think, as an Evangelical who has had some prophetic visions. I have written about him before on his vision of China and the future of Christianity. He is a man (actually, is he a man?) of big thoughts. Thoughts I don’t always agree with, but thoughts I can never ignore.

Click on the title for the full article. (Emphasis mine.) Read the rest of this entry »


Holy Father, Ohio Can Top That!

April 18, 2008

45,000+ people at the papal Mass with 500,000+ people wanting tickets between DC & NY…

It occurs to this Buckeye we can top that here in Ohio, easily. With a seating capacity of 102,329 (not counting seats on the field),  plenty of lodging, great parking, and an good airport in Columbus… The Pope could stay up the street at the Pontifical College Josephinum (he literally owns the place, he does have a room there)…

Just doing the math, 5 Masses over 5 days…  That adds up. 

Maybe next time, eh? Think about it.

And Rob from AZ – you are welcome to sleep on the couch as you take in the glory of the Heartland. What are friends for?  You bring the beer.


Will This Photo Be Used In “Planned Parenthood For Pelosi” Fundraising Mailers And Websites?

April 17, 2008

I am not certain if this is going to hurt Speaker Pelosi’s Planned Parenthood support.  Being that her former chief of staff is now the President the Planned Parenthood Federation of America it may be no big deal.

Still, I doubt this one is going to make the “Planned Parenthood for Pelosi” website and newsletter. 

Sigh.

See also: Priest’s Letter to Speaker Pelosi


Prada, The Pope, Poverty & Some Questions

April 17, 2008

Apropos: And We Thought The Devil Wore Prada « MediaMyopic

Do poor people starve if the Pope wears donated shoes?

Is it odd or wrong for Catholics – considering what they believe the function of the office of priest, bishop and pope to be are – to be OK with the Pope having nice shoes?

Should the Pope wear Keds?

Should octogenarians (happy birthday, B16 – 81, and lookin’ good!) get a pass when it comes to wearing well-made donated shoes on the grounds they are older and still the job requirement is such that they are on their feet for several hours a day?

Is there much we can glean from papal footware about the office, the man or his stance on poverty and justice for the poor?

Does it matter in the end if the Pope donates his shoes to the homeless, with Minneapolis homeless sporting papal Prada?

At the end of the day, do we know Does the Pope where Prada?


Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI to America

April 9, 2008

Do You Know How Hard It Would Be For Me To Resist The Temptation To Take This Baby For A Spin If I Had This Man’s Job?

April 2, 2008

Not that the Secret Service wouldn’t have something to say about it.  It would sooooo be worth it though.

5 bob to: American Papist


French Sources: Soviets Behind Pope John Paul II Assassination Attempt

April 1, 2008

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Personally I have believed this for years… From a very interesting corner of the blogosphere we get the following story:

Soviets tried to kill Pope

31 03 2008

Agence France Presse is reporting that the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 – which almost did kill him – was ordered by the old Soviet KGB, the “Committee for State Security.” Comments Civil Commotion,SOURCE

This has been rumored for a long while, of course, and it is totally believable. It was John Paul II who went to Poland during Lech Walesa?s Solidarity uprising, defying the old Soviet Union to stop him, and kicked-off the disintegration of the USSR.

In fact, the Vatican and President Ronald Read the rest of this entry »