Daily Archives: May 6, 2012
A beautiful blog post from Deacon James Toner: the last letter to his sheep of a US Bishop executed in 2032.
The letter may seem absurd to you, but again sodo-marriages would have seemed absurd to absolutely everyone not later than one generation ago, and the “hate crime” argument to silence every opposition to the liberal agenda far more recently than that.
A recurring theme is the observation that every time new oppressive or de-christianising measured were introduce, “some of our fellow Catholics avidly supported these things”.
The writer is US american, of course.
Had he been a Brit, he would have written “some of our bishops were avidly nuanced”.
The Catholic News Agency has an interesting letter written from Archbishop Chaput (then of Denver) concerning Humanae Vitae. The letter was written in 1998 on occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the encyclical letter, but has lost nothing of its beauty. It is very long, but it is easy to read, well argued, and extremely clear in its content at all times. Blessedly, it is also devoid of those continuous references to V II documents so dear to modern Vaticanese.
Archbishop Chaput repeats (and explains very clearly) the arguments brought by Paul VI against contraception, but he adds a new observation: the rather cold theological character of the encyclical letter did not help its diffusion or acceptance among the Catholic masses. It is true Chaput is able to write with admirable clarity, but I allow myself to see the reason for the failure of Humanae Vitae to stem the tide of contraception in the following elements:
a) weakness from the top. To write is one thing, to bite an altogether different one. Paul VI probably thought it was brave enough to issue the encyclical in the first place. I cannot imagine the idea of aggressively following up on the letter and demanding that it be upheld by his bishop and priests ever entered his mind.
b) On the contrary, Humanae Vitae gave rise to a widespread dissent within the Church.
Therefore, the letter was not vocally defended from the Vatican, and either ignored or outright opposed by the majority of the clergy. With these premises, it would have failed to be a success even if it had been written in the most beautiful and lyrical language.
When we talk about Humanae Vitae, we should not forget the encyclical was and is largely ignored because the Church as a whole failed – with the culpable inaction of Paul VI, who could see very well what was happening but lacked the courage to oppose the trend – to stand for it in the first place.
If the Church now begins to aggressively – and I mean saying it loud and clear, rather than always hiding behind the dratted pastoral sensitivity – defend the message of Humanae Vitae, in a couple of decades much will be done, as the Sixty-Eighters go to meet their maker (or not, as the case may be) and a new generation can be raised with the right values.
Around the Catholic blogosphere there is a lot of writing about orthodoxy, and rightly so. Orthodoxy being at the very core of Catholicism, it is perfectly fitting that it should receive the first place in the discussion.
Still, I seem to notice that not every orthodoxy is born equal; that, so to speak, this beautiful quality may be found in a shiny, resplendent way, or in a more opaque one.
In my eyes there are, broadly speaking, two types of orthodox Catholics: the silent and the vocal one.
The first one does everything right; if he is a priest, he can be very conservative in his priesthood, and liturgically unexceptionable; if he is a layman, he is a credit to his religion, and at all times aware of the example he wants to be for others. He is, in a word, perfectly sound, but that’s that.
Then there is the second type, the vocal one. If he is a priest, he is one of those priest who can’t shut up, or one of those bishops who end up in the viewfinder of the IRS; if he is a layman, he is the one likely to take fire every time heresy and negation of Christianity is discussed among his circle of friends or acquaintances.
I do not make any observation here as to the personal quality of the two archetypal “orthodox catholics”; for what I know, it can be those of the first kind are, on average, better able to live a Catholic life than the representatives of the second kind. But the fact remains, the second ones probably do more to advance sound Catholicism among the masses.
I am, for example, rather impressed by the difference in public behaviour between the Society of St. Pius X and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. I do not doubt the members of the second order are perfectly orthodox Catholics, strictly obedient to the Magisterium and intent on advancing the cause of Catholicism through spotless orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Still, I notice it is rare that priests of this order are in the line of fire when something really controversial happens (like the Assisi gathering, say) and whatever the position of the one or the other of their members might be, their collective profile is far more subdued than the one of the SSPX.
The latter are, as religious orders go, a completely different animal. They do not limit themselves to talking the talk, or to walking the walk. They go beyond these very laudable traits, in that they fight the fight. You see this not only in matters concerning internal disagreements with the Vatican (disagreements on which it is to assume the members of the FSSP must often be of exactly the same mind as their cousins at the SSPX; they just don’t say so), but matters of faith and morals in general. As every blog writer, I roam the internet seeking proper events and news which might make a blog post an interesting and possibly instructive reading, and I must say the presence of the SSPX whenever controversial matters are discussed is far more noticeable than the always unexceptionable, but rather less incisive FSSP. I cannot avoid thinking those members who left the SSPX to join the newly created FSSP knew from the beginning this would be the case, and were happy to proceed on this basis.
I do not think much will change after the Vatican-SSPX reconciliation. I expect the SSPX will proceed to some small adjustment in volume, but without any change in the tone. If you ask me, they will continue pretty much the same battle they have fought up to now, limiting themselves to only those small adaptations dictated by elementary common sense and proper behaviour.
They will do this also because they will be subject to intense scrutiny from their own members, of course. But in the end, I think they will continue to do it simply because they have guts, and see their role in fighting the fight.
To a simple mind like mine, Father Guarnizo is right because he has done what every good priest, in every age of the Church, would have done in his place.
Alas, it would seem that just because Canon 915 was written in order to achieve exactly the aim the Church wanted to achieve without Canon 915 for almost two thousand years, it is now allowed or even mandatory to examine whether really, really, …
Bishop Morlino has a very interesting article about what it is required from a priest. His intervention is the more significant, because it is clearly meant to warn potential candidates what is expected from them is exactly that kind of assertiveness and courage that has been so long absent in so many priests for so long.Following a pattern I see more and more often among American bishops, he writes with a clearness I am unable to see in most European bishops. You find the article here (kudos to Father Z).
Let us see some examples (emphases mine):
the priest has a very good motive for his concern about everyone else’s reception of God’s Grace, for Jesus Christ will hold him to account for that on Judgment Day.
No trace here for the stressing of “pastoral sensitivity”, which in turn means being a wimp. The priest will have to answer for the souls entrusted to him.Also note the “judgment seat of Christ” is “fearsome”, and tambourines were unlikely to be played there.
When we look for candidates to the priesthood and as we pray for vocations, we are looking for men who are brave in their willingness to seek holiness, to speak the truth, to lay down their lives. There is no place in the priesthood today for “wimpish-ness.” There is no place for an attitude that just wants to please people, no matter what they think and no matter what they want. Today the priest has to stand up and be brave, preaching the Truth with love. He has to be willing to be unpopular. And if it comes to it, he has to be open to martyrdom.
Bishop Morlino admirably describes in just few words a vast number, I can safely say the clear majority, of today’s priests in the West. We all know this kind of priest, because we have seen so many. “Wimp” is a fitting term to describe those among them who aren’t openly subversive. There is a minority of good ones, and here and there there are still some excellent ones. But truly, I can’t say as a category they shine much these days.
It’s time for all of us to be brave in admitting what the moral truth is about artificial contraception. It’s not a time to be shy, retiring, and politically correct. Sometimes people come up to me and say, “in my parish it’s not permitted to talk about that.” How sad. Where is the sign of the brave shepherd?
Very clear words once again: retiring wallflowers need not apply. What the bishop is demanding is a u-turn in the way priests have been selected in the last decades, with the assertive, manly priests managing to become priest notwithstanding their manliness and assertiveness, and probably doing their best to hide it.
Vocations are increasing in number every year, thank God, and thanks to your good prayers, and now is the time for you to demand bravery in the priesthood. Because nothing less than that will bring Christ’s Church through the hard times to come.
Note here Bishop Morlino demands more from a priest at the same when he says vocations are increasing. He is not afraid of being left without vocations. On the contrary, he knows a good vocation is not crushed, but encouraged by an open call to courageous behaviour.
One last thing bishop Morlino has omitted, but I would like to add: unfortunately, it is still the case in the United States that when a priest is exactly as Bishop Morlino says, he is victimised by his own bishop, as the sad case of father Guarnizo abundantly proves.
The change in our priests will only get in full swing when we have a correspondent change in our bishops.
I have said many times by all his human shortcomings Bishop Williamson easily puts into shade (and into shame) every English bishop, bar none, for clarity of message and purpose, let alone orthodoxy and sincere love for the Church and the flock.
In the last days, there have been in the Catholic blogosphere some disturbing discussions about homosexuality.
Well, thinks I, let us see whether at the SSPX someone has some clear exposition on the matter, avoiding yours truly to spend an entire night with the adrenaline over the roof and the persistent suspicion of living in a world so blinded by stupidity not even the worst abominations can be seen anymore.
I have, therefore, looked and have found a letter of said Bishop Williamson which, like many other articles I have read of him (when he talks about Catholicism, that is), is simply exemplary.
The comment section will be closed, because life’s too short.
The letter is here reproduced in its entirety, with emphases and the odd comment mine. The original is here.
Regarding: “Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children”
October 8, 1997
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The Catholic bishops of the U.S.A., more precisely their Committee on Marriage and Family, have just come out with a “Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children”, which is a lamentable piece of work. Since this Pastoral Message is liable to make people, already confused, even more confused, let us re-state some Catholic principles, because the question bears directly on Faith and Morals, and on people getting to heaven or falling into hell.
Homosexuality means the misuse between man and man or between woman and woman of those functions and parts of the human body which God designed for use exclusively between a man and a woman within a lawful marriage, for the primary purpose of the reproduction of the human race. The Law of God governing use of the reproductive functions can be broken in a variety of ways even between man and woman, but these sins, e.g. fornication or adultery, are at least natural to the extent that they observe the basic duality of man and woman. On the contrary sins of homosexuality violate even this basic natural structure of the reproductive function, rendering it necessarily and utterly sterile, void of its intrinsic purpose. That is why homosexuality is sometimes called “the sin against nature”.
In fact the sin is so unnatural that Mother Church ranks it alongside murder, defrauding the worker of his just wage, and oppression of the widow or orphan, as one of the four sins “crying to Heaven for vengeance”. However, God did not wait for the founding of the Catholic Church to instill in men the horror of this sin, but he implanted in the human nature of all of us, unless or until we corrupt it, an instinct of violent repugnance for this particular sin, comparable to our instinctive repugnance for other misuses of our human frame, such as coprophagy.
That is why St. Paul in the famous passage on homosexuality in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, verses 24 to 27, lambastes the Gentiles for practising this sin even though they had no revealed religion, and he does so in terms chosen to re-awaken that natural repugnance, e.g. verse 27: “And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error”.
Therefore to speak of homosexuality as an “alternate life-style” is as perverse as equating the violation of nature with its observance. It is as foully corrupt as to make no difference between recognizing God the author of nature, and defying Him.
Therefore what is “innate”, or in-born, in human nature concerning homosexuality is a violent repugnance. Therefore to speak of homosexuality, or even just an inclination to it, as being “innate” in certain human beings, of course to excuse them, is to accuse God at least of contradiction, if not also of planting in men the cause of sin, which is implicit if not explicit blasphemy.
The very most that can be innate in a man of, for instance, homosexuality, is the raw material for his temperament which may be sensitive in one man, rough in another, but whether that sensitivity or roughness is molded into the compassion of a saint or the vice of a homosexual depends on a series of good or evil choices made by each individual. Homosexuality is a vice, or sinful habit, created by nothing other than a series of sinful acts, for each of which the individual was responsible. Homosexuality is a moral problem, which is why, fascinatingly, St. Paul in the same passage derives it from idolatry! (No space to quote, look it up!)
“Oh, but Our Lord had chawity, (unlike thumwun we know who wath tho nathty to Pwintheth Di!). Our Lord loved thinnerth, and faggotth, and tho thould we!!” So runs the objection! [this is fantastic!!]
Yes indeed Our Lord loved sinners, but not in their sirs, rather despite their sin, which he hated. When Our Lord protected the unrighteous Mary Magdalene against the righteous Pharisees in a way which can bring tears to our eyes each time we read Luke, Chapter 7, he was protecting not her sin but her repentance. God will, as He has told us in the Gospel, go to almost any lengths to help the sinner who is trying to get out of his sin, but He abominates the sinner who wallows in it, and upon these modern cities that flaunt their perversity in annual homosexual parades, He is preparing such fire and brimstone as may make what fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah look like a fall of dew, because at least those cities never knew the Gospel (cf. Mt. XI, 20-24).
Woe then to the sinner who instead of casting away his sin, hugs it to his bosom, as do a mass of today’s homosexuals, and as the Bishops’ Pastoral virtually encourages them to do. God’s patience is long, but if the sinner insists upon welding his sin to his soul, then one day God’s patience runs out, and He hates sinners with sin, crying out to both, “Depart from me, ye accursed, into everlasting fire”(Mt.XXV,41). Therefore real charity, which wishes everlasting salvation to homosexuals, will, with all due prudence, not put a cushion under their sin, but paint it to them in its true colours to help them to get out of it.
But what does our American Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family do? They dangerously down-grade the sin and dangerously up-grade the sinner, putting in effect a cushion beneath the sin.
As for the sin, they do still – to their credit – say that homosexual activity is intrinsically wrong. However, in at least two ways they diminish the wrongness. Firstly, they suggest homosexuality can be innate when they quote a Newchurch document from Rome to the effect that some homosexuals are “definitely such because of some kind of innate instinct”, and when they say that “Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen”, because “a common opinion of experts is that there are multiple factors – genetic, hormonal, psychological – that may give rise to homosexuality”. Of course whatever is innate is not sinful.
Secondly, they make a true but in this respect dangerous distinction between the habit (“orientation”) of homosexuality and the act (“activity”), saying there is nothing wrong with the orientation as long as it does not turn into activity. True, only the act and not the habit is a sin, but since when did habits (especially in this domain) not incline to acts? There may be even much virtue in resisting a bad habit, but am I helped to resist it by being told the habit is not bad? If the orientation is not so bad, why should the activity be so bad?
As for up-grading the sinner, watch how close the Committee come to saying that God loves the sinner with his sin (which is blasphemy). I quote: “… God loves every person as a unique individual. Sexual indentity helps to define the unique persons we are. One component of our sexual indentity is sexual orientation ….Human beings see the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart (I Sam XVI,7).” How is this quotation to be interpreted other than as saying that God loves the homosexual in and with his orientation to homosexuality?
And if God loves the sinner with his sins how must men love him! From start to finish the Pastoral Message drips with honeyed words to prescribe how we must behave towards homosexuals. Let me reconstruct the general idea: (my own words in the quotation marks)
“With supportive love we must accept the homosexual persons challenged by the hurtful humour and offensive discrimination directed against their kind. We must reach out with honesty and commitment to help in the overcoming of their painful tensions. We must not be exclusive or judgmental but by significant communication as caring persons we must enable them to take a fresh and healing look at their dignity as human persons so they can learn to cope with their feelings. Sensitive to their authentic needs, and unconditionally supportive of their tender self-awareness, we must reach out and embrace them in intimate community” – oops! – it’s dangerous to get in the honeyed groove!
And this stuff goes on for eight pages uninterruptedly! What other purpose or effect can such words have than to dismantle the individual’s and society’s instinctive defence mechanism against a sin stinking to high Heaven that wrecks them both? And all this in the name of the Catholic Church??
Such a false love blurring sin and sinner has nothing to do with Catholicism! As St. Paul traced homosexuality back to idolatry, i. e. the breaking of the First Commandment, so the true remedy of the sin is for those practising it to return to the true worship and love of the true God. But what chance do they have of being led back to it by churchmen who virtually promote such corruption as in this Pastoral Message? Almost none.
“Pray”, said Padre Pio, who died in 1968, “there is nothing else left”. But prayer, said the Cure of Ars, “is the powerlessness of the All-powerful, the all-powerfulness of the powerless”.
November will be the month to enlist the prayerful aid of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. A card is enclosed for you to return if you wish by November 1st to the Seminary, where it will go on the altar once a month for a sung Requiem Mass for all souls inscribed. But please send any stipends for Masses separately from the cards.
And please be supportive and compassionate towards the sensitive feelings of the Seminary’s cash-box, presently hurt by a painful sense of rejection and emptiness, always in need of fulfillment! So do let yourselves be challenged to nurture it and fill it full with a healing flow of greenbacks, and it will not stop thanking you for your co-operation.
Dear readers, forgive me, the Bishops’ Committee’s language is getting to me! On the contrary, may the Lord God sustain every one of us in the real religion!
Most sincerely yours in the month of the Holy Rosary,