Daily Archives: March 12, 2015
A deeply troubling questions, and some deeply troubling answers, transpire from a blog post written by Father Blake.
Father Blake quotes the message of an anonymous priest who is on record with the following statement. Emphasis in the original text.
One of my priest friends asked me during a conversation what I would do if the Church does formally approve what it previously formally condemned. I had to confess in all honesty that I’d probably have to leave priestly ministry. He admitted that he’d probably have no choice but to do the same.
I am deeply, deeply troubled by such statements.
Firstly, they sound to me as smart as to say that one would throw away his passport if his country were to engage in a war he does not approve. “I don’t like this, so I am out”. Erm, no. It is your Country, so you stay in. You have Holy Orders, so you stay in, too.
Secondly, it can only show a lack of faith in the Church that Christ found on Peter. To say “I will leave my priestly ministry if this or that happens” is tantamount as to say “if this and that happens the Church is, and always has been, a fraud; and I refuse to be one of the professional fraudsters”.
Now, the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic or it isn’t. We know it is, because it is dogma. Therefore, we can never ever act as if the Church were an organisation like any other. Not can we consider the Sacraments as if they were in any way, shape or form disposable.
Heretical Popes have been inflicted on us already, but I have never heard that St Athanasius left the priesthood when the Pope forbade the recitation of the Creed at Mass. I am absolutely sure the thought never entered his mind. The Church is the Church, a Catholic can’t get out of it more than he could jump away from his own shadow. A priest is a priest, a Catholic can’t “de-priest” himself because he doesn’t like the work of the Pope. Is the Pope heretic? Say so, then!
Athanasius did not leave the priesthood. He fought against the enemies of the Church, but remained in it at all times. He disobeyed to the Pope to the point of appointing his own bishops, but this he did because the Pope was not to be obeyed, and that was that. He did not make of himself an alternative Pope, or found an alternative Church, or said he wasn’t a bishop, or was a different type of bishop.
The Church is the Church. We stay in the Temple. If the Pope is the enemy, so be it. If the Bishops and Cardinals are the enemies, so be it. There will be plenty of Athanasiuses, and plenty of priests and faithful proudly demanding that the merchants be chased away from the Temple, rather than leaving the Temple because there are merchants in it.
But it would be very grave, extremely grave if a priest were to declare the Church a fraud; because in doing so, he would declare Christ a fraud; and may God save his soul afterwards, but I honestly do not think He will.
The Church is the Church is the Church. A priest is a priest is a priest. Whatever dirt the Lord allows to accumulate inside the Church, as lay faithful and priests we stay in and fight to our last breath to clean it up, but we do not even think of leaving the Church; because if we leave the Church, or as priests leave the priesthood, we declare Christ Himself a fraud.
Pigs have entered the temple, and are routing around at ease. The Temple is on its way to looking like a regular pigstall. Our duty is to fight for the Temple and to get it to be clean again, not to leave it to the pigs. If we leave it to the pigs we are saying that it was never a temple. If it is the Temple we will forever fight to have it clean, and free from pigs.
Concretely: if the Church issue a wannabe formal statement in which what was formally condemned is now formally approved, this statement is heretical and is to be rejected by every Catholic, and that’s that. But how do we know, then, which one is the right statement? The right statement is the one that is in line with the Depositum Fidei. The wrong statement is the one that isn’t. It’s not complicated.
There is no need to leave the priesthood for that. It is, in fact, merely a case of “the pigs are routing in the Temple. Let’s get them out”.
Let me tell you once again: it is a dogmatic statement that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic or Apostolic. No priest, no theologian (there is a troubling statement of Ronald Knox in the comments, hopefully taken out of context and making clear it is not possible to leave the Church, but still flirting with such an absurd idea) is ever authorised to leave it, not in hypothesis and not in practice, not as a joke and not as a fact. In fact, to me the very mention of “leaving” indicates the residues of a Protestant mind form.
I was born a Catholic in a (then) deeply Catholic country. To those Catholics, “leaving the Church” because this Church is not… the Church anymore sounded as absurd as “selling one’s own skin on ebay”, “getting a third arm” or “becoming a citizen of Mars”.
Never, not for one second, do we doubt the Church as Institution. Whatever the amount of dirt, we love the Church more than our life, and fight to our last breath to have it cleaned up. Not for one moment we think of ever disassociating ourselves from Her in any way, shape or form. Take a deep breath and shout it with me out loud:
Credo la Chiesa una, santa, cattolica e apostolica.
There you have it. Dutifully shouted. Straight from the Creed, a dogmatic statement. Straight as an arrow. In beautifully sounding Italian. What do you want more…? Now, can anyone explain to me how a priest could ever say “I believe in the Church, but I just did not think that I could continue my priestly ministry in it”?
You never ever doubt a dogmatic statement. To do so is grave matter, and to deliberately do so knowing that this is a dogmatic statement is to commit a mortal sin.
The anonymous priest quoted in Father Blake’s blog post may have good intentions, but I smell the devil in his words. It can only be diabolical deception that persuades a priest to state that he would be contemplating leaving his ministry, ipso facto indicting the Church. If the likes of Athanasius had thought in this way, we would be sacrificing goats to the Green Elephant In The Sky by now.
Do not be deceived. Pigs rout and shit around for a while. At some point they die. The Temple stays.
Whatever happens, we will stay in the church Christ founded. Stench and all.
We were never promised a pig-free Temple.
Harvesting The Fruit has an excellent post about the heretical thinking that must underlie the post V II opposition to Capital Punishment, which the people call Death Penalty. As we live in pernicious times of creeping heresy in pretty much every aspect of Catholic thinking, the appeal to correct, traditional understanding can never be too insistent.
I would like to add to the considerations linked to some words of mine about what is the most important argument in favour of the Capital Punishment you should make at your next Thanksgiving Lunch, and what reflections you might add to it. In order to make the argument, we must start from the error, that is: from the Catechism of JP II. Paragraph 2267 recites thus:
Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
You see here a typical example of V II creeping heresy: the teaching of the church is reaffirmed in principle, but immediately afterwards it is pickaxed in practice. We aren’t against, you see. But todaay, aahhh, todaaay it’s different…
No, it’s not different at all.
Firstly, paragraph 2267 refuses to address the matter of deterrence. The instinct to live being very strong, it follows that the threat of removing the good of life must, reasonably, have an effect on a number of potential situations which would, otherwise, possibly lead to a murder. To ignore the simple reality of deterrence is to ignore reality, nor can the usual excuse of “he who wants to kill kills anyway” work; because the last argument is exactly a strong argument for the justice of depriving him of his own life, once not even the threat of taking his life was inducement to not take the life of another.
This paragraph (but see below) also does not address the matter of justice, instead analysing the institute of the death penalty from the point of view of its usefulness. What is just and what is useful are not necessarily correlated. If you have any sense of justice at all, you must recognise that practical considerations may have a place, but they must most certainly not be what shapes whether justice is administered. The Church has always said that the capital punishment satisfied a need for human justice, not merely for practicality. The implied argument that the Church accepts the death penalty inasmuch as the execution of an offender is an absolute necessity is pure hogwash. It is a deification of life to think that just punishment should not extend to taking one’s life. It is also a thinking that has always been foreign to the generations before V II.
As so often, V II gives you the truth before taking the pickaxe. Look at the preceding paragraph, 2266. Emphases mine.
The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.
See? It’s all there! 1) “Punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense”. 2) Punishment as re-establishment of justice, not practical remedy. 3) Punishment as a help to the criminal to change his ways. It’s so simple, really.
Thirdly, and most importantly today, those creepy, utterly disquieting creatures of V II, the “new man” and the “new world”, rear their ugly heads.
Jails have always been very safe. Chain a murderer to the wall and you will see he will find his ability to murder again somewhat limited. Leave him in a dark cell and with a priest at hand and you will see there isn’t much more that can be done to move him to repentance. Let him see his own scaffold and you will, in fact, help him to final repentance like he never was in his life. What a blessing, such a scaffold, compared to the destiny of countless atheists of today’s stupid world, surprised by death without a second thought about their own immortal soul!
All this is happily ignored in JP II’s catechism. The argument is defended for the sake of orthodoxy, but it is immediately thereafter undermined with the usual excuse: “today it is different”. This argument can be used to go against capital punishment, ban on communion for adulterers, opposition to sodomy, literally everything.
If today is different, Jesus is obsolete. If the motives and passions, the impulses and the desires, the entire sphere of human emotions is different today than it was yesterday there is no saying to what extent Jesus’ teaching still applies, and at that point you will soon find yourself blabbering nonsense about the “god of surprises” (small “g”. The God of the Christians has, obviously, no surprises).
There is no new man. There is no new reality. Redemption is open to every criminal now as it always was, as it will always be. Sinfulness and concupiscence lead men to horrible deeds now as they always did in the past and always will in the future. Faced with the reality of sin, man must recognise that he is as naked as Adam was, just as sinful, and thinking in exactly the same way. Nothing has changed in the dynamic of sin and offence, and as a result nothing must change in the dynamic of the reaction to them.
It is madness, and an arrogant madness at that, to think that any presumed “advancement” in, say, social worker’s rehabilitation techniques may add a iota to what the Church has always prescribed: prayer and repentance, fast and penance, contrition and expiation. On the contrary, it is typical of the madness of our times to think that the social worker, not the priest, may be the spark that ignites in the criminal the desire for a better life (if not condemned to death) or the desire to die at peace with God and his fellow men (if condemned to death). In both cases, the underlying thinking is either that a man today is different than the man of yesterday, or that we have… improved on Jesus in the way of dealing with his “wrong choices”.
This is the thinking of a Communist, or of a Communard. It is not the thinking of a Christian. A Christian knows that there is no new man, and as a result there can be no new recipes.
Why, then, all this modern excitement about the oh so inhuman “cruelty” of the death penalty, so cruelly endorsed by the Church these past sixty generations?
Because of fear of death, and lack of faith.
To those who do not believe in a life after death, life must truly be the most precious thing of all. Many of them would, for sure, gladly live in slavery than die free, because if they die free they have lost everything anyway. If, therefore, life is the highest good, there can be no crime that justifies the taking of it (unless it is the one of the aborted child, of course; but that doesn’t count for the atheist, because it’s convenient not to count it; and the poor baby has not even committed a crime…).
Something not very dissimilar goes on, I am sure, in the mind of the very many “I hope there is a God” rosewater faithful, whose faith is very “joyful” in words but very shaky in practice. They will say to you that they believe in eternal life, but their speaking of this earthly existence as something so incomparable and priceless will belie their very assertion. You see that mainly in their argument: “oh yes, in principle I am in favour; but what if there is a mistake?“. Again, you see here V II at work, with the pickaxe never far away.
What is truly unique and infinitely worthy in man is not his life, but his soul. God disposes of the life as he wishes, and everyone of us can be dispatched away from this vale of tears in no time when He has decreed that the time has come; but our soul, our soul will never die. It is, therefore, ultimately, nothing earth-shattering if yours truly were to be, one day, executed because of a judicial mistake. He gladly accepts the risk as the most irrelevant of the life risks. Just tell me where to sign.
The probability of yours truly to die because of a judicial mistake is so unbelievably tiny that it never ceases to amaze me that those who want to abolish the death penalty never ask for the abolition of trains, aeroplanes, cars and, most importantly, domestic stairs; all of them infinitely more dangerous than even an inefficient justice system. It just does not make sense. The figures are just not there. But no, let us obsess about the judicial mistake. It lets us feel good, and it assuages our lingering fear of death.
It’s the fear of your own death that makes you so attached to life. It is no other. In times of stronger faith this attachment was non existent. In times of little faith, life is promoted to Most Sacred Thing On Earth.
Think of your soul instead; and if you really want to focus on life, reflect that you could die the next time you go downstairs.
It puts things in perspective. Far more useful than obsessing about the tiny probability of a judicial mistake.
We must live in very strange times indeed if every hour can bring further, disquieting news from the very top of the Church.
At Rorate Caeli there is a blog post and video (which is copyrighted, so I will not re-post it here) shedding further light on what has happened yesterday besides what I have already reported about.
Please note the following:
1. the official announcement of the fact that the Pontiff washed the feet of people of
different nationalities and faiths, including at least two Muslims and two women,
I have never read in the Gospel Jesus washed the feet of heathens, but again Jesus would obviously not be taken as an example of “inclusiveness” and “dialogue” by Pope Francis (Jesus came bringing a sword, Pope Francis came bringing peace) so He doesn’t count. Perhaps Pope Francis has a different Bible than I, though. I am told in Argentina…
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And so the Pope did it and, as he regularly did during his time as an Archbishop (he seems obsessed with continuing to do everything as he did before becoming Pope; another sign of humility, or pride as the case may be) has washed the feet of at least one woman during his Maundy Thursday Mass.
Someone will correct me if I am wrong, but last time I looked the rules mandated (not suggested) the use of chosen men, viri selecti.
When I was (blessedly) scourged with Latin, there was no way Vir could be translated as “human”, and if I had done it the dreaded blue pencil of my severe teacher would not have been far away. But it was a very long time ago, or we must have been both wrong; or perhaps, who knows, Latin…
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