Tag Archives: Catholic

Is the Pope a Catholic?

For a guy who loves to talk, Pope Francis sure has picked a funny time to be silent.

Pope Francis normally won’t stop talking. He’s picked a funny time to go silent

Archbishop Viganò is a distinguished churchman. He is at the end of his career. He can have no this-wordly ambition. So what is he doing and why? Others more knowledgeable may offer better explanations, but I can suggest only four: Viganò is lying; he is sincere but mentally ill; he is an innocent manipulated by others; he is telling the truth in whole or in part.

The faithful need to know which explanation is correct. Given what we already know from the McCarrick case and the Pennsylvania grand-jury report, the fourth must be granted a real possibility. If so, it may still be that Viganò’s motives are corrupt — i.e., he wants to topple a liberal Pope. But if his charges are true, they are such a serious matter that his motives are of interest mainly to God. His statement must therefore lead to serious investigations, which, since the allegations involve crimes as well as sins, will inevitably be conducted by secular authorities as well as church ones. In the next few years, therefore, we seem likely to learn a great deal more about evil in the garb of priestly virtue and episcopal authority. And that raises a question that has not yet been given the same attention as sexual abuse and its cover-up above.

In his New York Times column on the McCarrick case — a month and an age ago — Ross Douthat said of the former cardinal that after the clerical-abuse scandal in Boston broke, “the Washington archbishop became the avuncular, reassuring media point person for his fellow bishops, issuing statements of concern and condemnation that if he really feared the punishments of hell would have turned to ashes in his mouth.” Those words were striking, indeed piercing. What did McCarrick believe? What does he believe? Did the punishments of hell feature in his mind at all? What did bishops and other senior clerics think they were doing when they either passed predator priests on to other parishes after a brief psychological counseling or turned a blind eye to sex parties in the seminaries? Are they really Catholics? Or Christians of some other kind? Or men who had lost their faith almost without realizing the fact? Or men who had adapted Catholicism to other philosophies, which had promptly digested it? Or something worse?

. . .

If we are going to see a proper accounting of these things, it looks as if it will have to be delivered through the criminal-justice system. That has already happened in some of the cases revealed in the Pennsylvania report. Three hundred priests have been accused, with some convicted; a few still face trial, and many are dead. But the case that now really counts is that of McCarrick. It is unlikely that he will face prosecution for his seduction of seminarians. As one Italian religious journalist has observed indulgently, the seminarians were above the age of consent and suffered no actual violence even if they experienced pressure and distress. That’s a very worldly standard for a bishop to rely on for protection on a sex charge, even in post-Christian Italy and America, and it would play very badly with public opinion, but it’s probably enough to keep him out of court. Nor will he face human justice in the case of the minor child of family friends whom he both baptized and seduced. The statute of limitations has run out.

That is something he may now regret. It would be an opportunity of a kind, after all. If he were to plead not guilty and hire a ruthlessly brilliant lawyer to mount a scorched-earth defense on his behalf, he would be doing what any other white-collar criminal does in similar circumstances. A guilty plea, on the other hand, would be evidence of penitence, shame, and desire to make amends — far more so than retreating into a monastery for prayer and penance. And because child abusers face a hard time in prison, it would require real courage in addition to the humiliations that he would inevitably suffer. It would also tell us that McCarrick fears the punishments of the next world far more than the pains and humiliations of prison in this one.

Is the Pope a Catholic?

It’s astonishing that in the wake of an 11-page letter alleging Pope Francis enabled and empowered child predators, some have chosen to focus their attention on the accusers and not the accusations.

You’d think everyone, fan and critic alike, would be asking, demanding to hear Francis answer the allegations. You’d be wrong.

The Vatican’s sex-abuse denialists persist in their insouciance

The history of institutional governance shows that diverse voices in the “boardroom,” a range of experiences and expertise among senior leaders and overseers, and some degree of independent oversight make for healthier institutions. The Catholic Church should try it.

The Church Is Too Important to Be Left to the Clerics

Crooked Timber


The Death of Stalin

If you believe that H. sap. is only time’s favorite monkey — that man is meat — then there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the kind of behavior we’re talking about, and no need to justify it, since there is nobody to justify it to. If you believe that man ought to be better, it implies that he can be better, and that “better” means something. And here materialism fails us, which is why Marxism became an ersatz religion. Christianity is a fortunate religion in the sense that the endless moral failings of its leaders (and followers) keeps illustrating, generation after generation, the fundamental facts of the creed. The creeds based on human perfectibility, which is the romantic notion at the heart of all utopian thinking, have as their main problem the countervailing example of everybody you’ve ever met and ever will.

It is tempting to make like the Pharisee rather than the publican and say: “God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” It is unpleasant to meditate on the truth at the center of Christianity, and perhaps at the center of all wisdom: I am like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous. (I have never been guilty of collecting taxes.) We must sympathize with the victims and care for them, but we must also identify with the malefactors, who are made of the same stuff as we are, cut from the same crooked timber.

Stalin at the Movies

“The recollection of an injury is itself wrong.”

Put aside your hatred and animosity. Take pains to refrain from sharp words. If they escape your lips, do not be ashamed to let your lips produce the remedy, since they have caused the wounds. Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury is itself wrong. It adds to our anger, nurtures our sin and hates what is good. It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul. It puts all virtue to flight.

St. Francis of Paola (from Your Morning Offering)

Saints Quotes about Anger

Forgiveness

Love of the Church means living life as one continual “Thank-you” that only makes the heart larger and larger and does not rest until the Wounds of Christ, the Wounds of Love, are our own, and are equally open to all.

Five Thoughts on Loving the Church

Catholic Sexuality, Pornography

Catholics believe that sexuality has a deep, fundamental purpose, designed by God.
. . .
[M]ost Catholics and almost all Protestants do not even dimly understand the distinctive Catholic teachings on sex, such as the prohibition of contraception. But I should note that all Christian communions thought contraception was gravely sinful until 1930, when the Anglicans first allowed it in hard cases only. Thus, it is simply historic Christian teaching, not just a “Catholic thing.” It has become the latter because we are the only ones who never forsook the traditional teachings, whereas other Christians decided to reject those.
. . .
The Catholic Church teaches that it is wrong to deliberately separate sexuality from procreation, because the latter is its most fundamental purpose. It’s a natural law argument:
1) The deepest and essential purpose of sex is procreation.
2) Separating sex from procreation is a violation of this purpose and is against natural law.
3) Therefore, whatever does so is sinful and wrong.
God created sex for this purpose and also for pleasure, within its proper sphere (marriage between a man and a woman).
. . .
The Church holds that homosexual orientation itself is not sinful. It is only when these desires are acted upon or excessively dwelt upon (lust), that it becomes sinful. In that respect it’s not that different from heterosexual non-marital sexuality. Men and women after puberty have sexual desires, because God designed it that way, in order for more children to be born. These natural desires need to be controlled and delegated to the proper place and time to find fulfillment. The difference between homosexual and heterosexual sexuality is that the former (when acted upon in the usual ways) is, we believe, contrary to natural law in all circumstances, whereas the latter is sinful outside of marriage and a procreative will, but not sinful within those purviews.
. . .
Bluntly and generally expressed, the Catholic view is that male orgasm must occur within the act of vaginal intercourse with one’s spouse (of the opposite sex) that one is committed to for life, and that female orgasm must also be in conjunction with the overall act of love (intercourse), open to life and possible conception (i.e., no contraceptive devices or intent). Sexual acts that are apart from this circumstance are wrong and sinful. This is Catholic sexuality in its most basic expression, or in a “nutshell.”

Catholic Sexuality: A “Nutshell” Explanation

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography by a vote of 230-4 (and one abstention) at their November 2015 meeting in Baltimore. The document discusses Church teaching on human sexuality and chastity, specifically why the production and use of pornography is always sinful, as well as porn’s disastrous effects on individuals and society as a whole. It also suggests a pathway for those addicted to pornography who wish to break the addiction. The document is primarily addressed to Catholic leaders and parents, but is of value to anyone interested in an authentically Catholic view of the often hidden vice that, directly or indirectly, affects everyone today.

. . .

Regular porn use can destroy a person’s ability to have healthy relationships and successful marriages, the bishops state. Porn is connected to “adultery, domestic violence, the abuse of children in child pornography, and sex trafficking. It also can be implicated in contraception use and abortion, given that it promotes and even celebrates promiscuity and a view of sexuality devoid of love or openness to new life.”

Furthermore, “pornography use within marriage severely damages the spouses’ trust and intimacy both because of the pornography use itself and because of the deception and lies usually involved in one spouse hiding his or her behavior from the other. It has been identified by divorce lawyers as a major factor in over half of divorces.”

. . .

Even though we live in a world torn apart by porn addiction, there is healing or restoration. If you are held captive by this addiction, let go of your shame and reach out for help.

Porn is the new tobacco, says Catholic therapist

Marriage as a Lifetime of Joyful Suffering


Fr. Robert Barron on Marriage and Relationships

But all of the sentiments surrounding life-long commitments are just that – sentiments. They are not grounded in the most obvious reasons for life-long relationships. Rather, they belong to the genre of fairy tales: “living happily ever after.”

The classical Christian marriage belongs to the genre of martyrdom. It is a commitment to death. As Hauerwas notes: faithfulness over the course of a life-time defines what it means to “love” someone. At the end of a faithful life, we may say of someone, “He loved his wife.”

Some have begun to write about the so-called “Benedict Option,” a notion first introduced by Alasdair MacIntyre in his book, After Virtue. It compares the contemporary situation to that of the collapse of the Roman Christian Imperium in the West (i.e., the Dark Ages). Christian civilization, MacIntyre notes, was not rebuilt through a major conquering or legislating force, but through the patient endurance of small monastic communities and surrounding Christian villages. That pattern marked the spread of Christian civilization for many centuries in many places, both East and West.

Marriage as a Lifetime of Suffering


The Sweet Cross of Marriage


Fr. Robert Barron on Sexuality, Sacrifice, and Love

Fruits of the Holy Spirit


Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Fruits of the Holy Spirit, from Loyola Press

“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:17-20)

This passage in Matthew’s Gospel helps us to understand the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are the observable behaviors of people who have allowed the grace of the Holy Spirit to be effective in them. The tradition of the Church lists 12 fruits:

  • charity
  • generosity
  • joy
  • gentleness
  • peace
  • faithfulness
  • patience
  • modesty
  • kindness
  • self-control
  • goodness
  • chastity

(adapted from CCC 1832)


Fr. Robert Barron on The Holy Spirit

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Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

Corporal Works of Mercy

  • To feed the hungry
  • To give drink to the thirsty
  • To clothe the naked
  • To harbour the harbourless
  • To visit the sick
  • To ransom the captive
  • To bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • To instruct the ignorant
  • To counsel the doubtful
  • To admonish sinners
  • To bear wrongs patiently
  • To forgive offences willingly
  • To comfort the afflicted
  • To pray for the living and the dead

Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

USCCB
Corporal Works of Mercy
Spiritual Works of Mercy