Tuesday Ear Tickler: Obama Surrogate Michael Sean Winters Smears the US Bishops

clock December 18, 2012 01:09 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Michael Sean Winters, a critic of many of the Church’s teachings. Winters writes for the National Catholic Reporter, which officially endorsed women priests and called the Church’s teachings on the matter an “injustice”. This week, he has accused the US Bishops of playing politics and accosting them for standing up for religious liberty and against some of the nefarious initiatives of the President and his administration. (Winters’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The President should fix the HHS mandate exemptions because doing so would be good politics for the Democrats, as I argued yesterday. Today, it is necessary, sad but necessary, to consider why President Obama may have a different political calculation and why the U.S. bishops need to look in the mirror when asking how they found themselves in this mess.

The President should fix the HHS mandate because it is a direct violation of our religious freedom. Who cares about politics? If Winters thinks that politics is the primary reason to remove the draconian mandate, he has his heart in the wrong place. This isn’t about strategy, this is about serving God. If you are forced to sin, you are left with either violation of the law or violation of your faith. The bishops found themselves in this mess because 40 years of poor catechesis left 50% of the American Catholic populate with so little understanding of their faith that they voted for a man that stands directly opposed to every major moral stance of the Church.

But, ignore [the achievement of electing the first black President] the bishops did. They greeted the incoming president with a postcard campaign about…..drumroll…the Freedom of Choice Act or FOCA. It mattered little that FOCA had never passed a committee vote in any Congress since it was first devised in the early 1980s as a fundraising device. It mattered little that it was clear the incoming President had bigger fish to fry. No, the bishops wanted to set down a marker and they did. This presidency would be viewed through one lens and one lens only, the pro-life lens. It didn’t matter that in forty-five years since Roe v. Wade, the Republicans had done precious little on abortion and the pro-life movement had become a cheap date for the GOP. Obama was the enemy.

They greeted him with a postcard campaign about the Freedom of Choice Act because he promised that passing it would be his first act in office. Removing all restrictions on abortion is an enormous assault on the morality of the nation. Winters should realize this, but he is more concerned about politics is seems. The pro-life lens is the most important lens. Our society has devolved into moral decay. There are so many fronts that could be opened in the war being waged for souls, but the battle for life is the most important and the most telling of our society. If we insist on allowing the slaughter of our own children, what does that say about our nation? The Republicans have not delivered on the life issue. That we can agree on. The problem, however arises when a candidate like Obama promises to expand the killing by removing restrictions on it. The life issue is not the only issue, but it is the most important. We cannot shift focus away from it until it has been resolved.

This was followed by the bishops’ decision not to support the Affordable Care Act. There were – and are – problems with the ACA. The concern most prominently voiced by the bishops, that the ACA would provide federal funding of abortions, required a very expansive reading of the text. Mind you, sometimes judges do render expansive readings of legislative texts. But, a court in Ohio has ruled that, on its face, the ACA does not permit federal funding of abortion. The bishops were more on target, as we have since learned, in their concern about the lack of statutory conscience exemptions in the law. And, they were undoubtedly correct that the failure to include undocumented immigrants in the law’s provisions was a serious lack. Nonetheless, the bishops seemed shrill and hysterical in their opposition to the ACA.

If Winters’ view is that the bishops are “shrill and hysterical”, what does that say about him and his newspaper whining about women’s ordination? The bishops were standing their ground on religious freedom and the right to life. The NCR was railing against the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. The NCR prints shrill editorials from Obama surrogates castigating the Church for its stance on contraception. Coincidence? This article by Winters only solidifies my view that the NCR is simply a front for the Obama administration to influence wish-washy Catholics. Winters issues light criticism of the President, but like so many other Democratic apologists, he bends over backwards to minimize those criticisms and emphasize Obama’s concern for the poor and equality, even though Obama has stood by while poverty has risen and has stirred the pot of division on nearly every large politically divisive issue. Winters is losing any credibility he had left, as is the NCR. He knows why the Bishops have come out against Obama’s policies. It isn’t because he is a Democrat. It is because his policies are direct attacks on the Catholic Church. If a Republican proposed such evil policies, the Bishops would oppose them too.

The NCR has already been asked by the late Bishop of Kansas City to stop calling itself “Catholic”. They in their self-righteous arrogance have refused. They are a lie at best, and an agent for moral confusion. If you subscribe to the National Catholic Reporter, stop now. You are funding a campaign against the Catholic Church.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for December 18, 2012 to Michael Sean Winters.

Ear Tickler Award - Michael Sean Winters


Bishop Morlino Rebukes New Age Nuns

clock December 11, 2012 16:15 by author John |

Sinsinawa Dominican Nun working as an abortion clinic escortTwo Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, Lynn Lisbeth and Maureen McDonnell have wondered off the path a bit too far it seems. The bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, Robert Morlino sent a letter to priests in the diocese advising of his “grave concerns” over the work of the two nuns. He cited their views which stem from New Ageism and “indifferentism”. They “may not share an authentic view of the Catholic Church's approach to interreligious dialogue“, according to the letter. The sisters work with a group called “Wisdom’s Well”, and 2 other women connected with the group have been banned also.

Sisters Maureen McDonnell and Lynn Lisbeth, both Sinsinawa Dominicans, have diverged too far from Catholic teaching, according to a confidential memo sent Nov. 27 to priests on behalf of Morlino. A copy of the memo was leaked to the State Journal. Two other women connected to the interfaith center, called Wisdom's Well, also have been banned as part of the same action.

The memo says Morlino has "grave concerns" about the women's teachings, specifically that they "espouse certain views" flowing from such movements as "New Ageism" and "indifferentism." The latter, according to the memo, is "the belief that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another." The women "may not share an authentic view of the Catholic Church's approach to interreligious dialogue," the memo said.

The memo sent to priests says the four women "are not to be invited or allowed to preach, catechize, lead spiritual or prayer instructions or exercises, or to provide spiritual direction or guidance at churches, oratories or chapels within the Diocese of Madison." No publicity materials from Wisdom's Well are to be allowed inside parishes.

In response to this news, the Sinsinawa congregation released a statement saying that the nuns in question are "respected and valued members" of the order, and that both women "have been dedicated to religious life and preaching and teaching Gospel values for nearly 50 years." The Sinsinawa Dominicans "wholeheartedly support our sisters and hold them in prayer as we continue our mission of participating in the building of a holy and just church and society," the statement said.
 
The Sinsinawa Dominicans are the same group that produced the nun who worked as an abortion clinic escort, Sister Donna Quinn. My advice: parents, don’t let your daughters grow up to be Sinsinawa Dominicans. It seems like the group is hanging to their Catholicism by the skin of their teeth.

If you are a young woman interested in joining a good Dominican community, check out the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, headquartered in Nashville, TN.

Go here to learn about the faithful Dominicans in Nashville.

Go here to read the article about the wayward Dominicans of Sinsinawa.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: National Catholic Reporter Adopts Official Heterodox Position on Ordination of Women

clock December 3, 2012 21:14 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…
 
Today’s winner is the National Catholic Reporter editorial staff. No longer pretending to be Roman Catholic, NCR has appointed themselves Pope and dispensed with the truth in favor of popular opinion. Roman Catholics follow the teachings of the Church, as guided by the Magisterium in Rome. You might recall that last week, John McCarthy from the same beleaguered organization called for the overturning of the Church's infallible teaching on contraception. This week, another liberal favorite is championed - Women's ordination. Rather than quietly undermine the dogmas of the Church in their usual nuanced manner, NCR this week has decided to officially and loudly endorse a heterodox position and call the Church's actions "unjust". (NCR’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The story from NCR makes use of over 1200 words to convey what can easily be expressed in 5 words: “We are no longer Catholic.” While most of the faithful Roman Catholic community has known the heterodox positions of this offensive publication for a long time, rarely have they been so vociferous as this article. I will pull out a few paragraphs to highlight the erroneous garbage in this article, but I will leave the majority of the piece be because it is rather redundant…

The call to the priesthood is a gift from God. It is rooted in baptism and is called forth and affirmed by the community because it is authentic and evident in the person as a charism. Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand.

The call to the priesthood is rooted in the call Jesus made to His 12 disciples – all of whom were men. Jesus had several female followers. Many of them were very close and provided great aid to Christ in His mission. They were not chosen as His priests, however. This is how Jesus saw fit to establish His earthly Church. To assume that the role Jesus gave to women is inferior or an “injustice” is an arrogant position that smacks of the magisterium of “me”, rather than the submission to the Divine Will that the saints throughout the centuries exhibited in following His example.

What do they intend to express by using the phrase “Cannot be allowed to stand”? It shows how the NCR feels it has the authority to rebuke the Catholic Church in the same manner that heretics throughout the history of the Church have done. The Church has a pretty high winning percentage against heretics. In fact, it is undefeated. Guided by the Holy Spirit, as Christ promised in giving Peter the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” and assuring him that “The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Let's review the history of Rome's response to the call of the faithful to ordain women:

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate." In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ's original intentions.

In Inter Insigniores (dated Oct. 15, 1976, but released the following January), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said: "The Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." That declaration, published with the approval of Pope Paul VI, was a relatively modest "does not consider herself authorized."

Pope John Paul II upped the ante considerably in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (May 22, 1994): "We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." John Paul had wanted to describe the ban as "irreformable," a much stronger stance than "definitively held." This met substantial resistance from high-ranking bishops who gathered at a special Vatican meeting in March 1995 to discuss the document, NCR reported at the time. Even then, bishops attuned to the pastoral needs of the church had won a concession to the possibility of changing the teaching.

Despite the certainty with which Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the responsum were issued they did not answer all the questions on the issue.

Many have pointed out that to say that the teaching is "founded on the written Word of God" completely ignored the 1976 findings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Others have noted that the doctrinal congregation did not make a claim of papal infallibility -- it said what the pope taught in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was that which "has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium." This too, however, has been called into question because at the time there were many bishops around the world who had serious reservations about the teaching, though few voiced them in public.


So what? The opinion of a handful of the bishops has never been a reliable guide in matters of the faith. Some of the most notorious heretics in history have been bishops. At the First Council of Nicaea twenty-two bishops, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia, came as supporters of the heresiarch Arius.

Our message is that we believe the sensus fidelium is that the exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale; therefore, women should be ordained. We have heard the faithful assent to this in countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings. It has been studied and prayed over individually and in groups. The brave witness of the Women's Ordination Conference, as one example, gives us assurance that the faithful have come to this conclusion after prayerful consideration and study -- yes, even study of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

NCR joins its voice with Roy Bourgeois and calls for the Catholic church to correct this unjust teaching.

Ignoring the priesthood as established by Jesus Christ and the first members of it does not provide for a sound argument. Throughout the Old Testament and the New, every priest has been male. Jesus’ example is “strong” enough evidence for faithful Catholics. Calling the dogmas of the Church unjust while still professing to be a member of it is hypocritical. I call on NCR to remove the word “Catholic” from their title.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 to the Nation Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff.

Ear Tickler Award for the National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff



Tuesday Ear Tickler – John McCarthy Spills Liberal Tripe Across the Page at the National Catholic Reporter

clock November 27, 2012 03:05 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is John McCarthy, an Obama surrogate and member of the oxymoronic group, “Catholics for Obama”. This week, McCarthy came out swinging against the bishops for defending the freedom of religion and against the magisterium as a whole for upholding the sanctity of the marital act. Leading off with the title, “Can Birth Control be Pro-Life?”, he conveys his lack of exposure to both science and the Catholic faith. Apparently, campaigning for Obama leaves little time for reading authentic Catholic teaching such as the “Theology of the Body”. (McCarthy’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released numbers that said abortion rates have dropped 5 percent between 2008 and 2009 -- an all-time low. For so many of us in the faith community, we have to ask: Why the decrease?

I'd love to say that the answer was because of our swift economic recovery and that women finally have the resources they need to bring children into the world. Unfortunately, this isn't yet the reality. The Washington Post finds an important correlation: "At the same time the abortion rate took a big drop, use of more effective contraceptives had recently increased."

Let’s make this clear since McCarthy doesn’t get it. Surgical abortions decreased because chemical abortions increased. The numbers he quotes look only at surgical abortions. They cannot however track abortions caused by the “more effective” birth control methods which cause implantation abortions. I’m going to chalk this up to ignorance, but that is an assumption on my part. I like to presume the best of people, and therefore I will not assume that he prefers one type of abortion over another.

The bishops aren't going to be moving anytime soon on the relationship between abortions and birth control -- probably because they're still fighting for religious freedom or something -- but the laity needs to start thinking more seriously about the issue.

Here we see a rather childish dig at the bishops of this country who courageously defend our religious liberty from the blatant frontal assault launched by the president and his administration. McCarthy feigns ignorance on the subject, with his “or something” remark, but the joke is on him. Clearly he doesn’t understand the issue, the rights and freedoms involved, or the enormity of the suffering inflicted on the Church and its members throughout the course of history by wicked governments. McCarthy, working for Obama of course would side with the President rather than the Catholic Church. The fact that a newspaper purportedly serving that Church would publish his liberal tripe is offensive and telling of the mentality that exists at the Reporter.

Is it more moral for a woman to use birth control than have an abortion? I certainly think most members of the laity (about 97 percent of who use birth control) would resoundingly agree. If it lowers the rate of abortions, should the church more actively advocate for prayerful use of birth control in family planning?

While these are certainly just a series of questions, the new information is important for the laity to consider as we tackle these larger issues. What are your thoughts?

Well, since he asked, I have a few thoughts on the matter. The first is that the end does not justify the means. This is not a matter of simply choosing the lesser of two evils as if one or the other of them is unavoidable. Surely McCarthy is not a moral theologian, but he should have been informed on this subject at some point by some faithful Catholic in his life. With his logic, we could simply forcibly sterilize everyone. Abortions would completely cease if that was the case. Is it more moral to sterilize than to abort? The Church is not concerned with the abortion rate. The Church is concerned with the salvation of souls. Abortion is murder. It is gravely sinful and destroys the light of Christ in the soul of the abortionist, the mother, and anyone who willingly cooperates with the abortion.

Here is the third option that liberals like McCarthy do not even acknowledge: self-control. Rather than throwing up our hands and assuming that people are unable to control their sexual impulses like rabbits, the Church in her wisdom preaches self-control. The will is not subordinate to the urges. There is a method of family planning that is both effective and moral: NFP. It requires self-control for a few days each month. Are we that devoid of willpower that we cannot control ourselves for a few days a month? Is it better that we violate the dignity of marriage and chemically abort children than we practice a little self-control?

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday November 27, 2012 to John McCarthy.

Ear Tickler Award for John McCarthy



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Terence Clarke Pens an Arrogant Hit Piece on the Catholic Church

clock November 20, 2012 01:02 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Terence Clarke, who contributed a vapid and vitriolic piece over at the Huffington Post entitled “Women vs. the Drowned Hulk”. It is incredible how poorly catechized Clarke is (or was before he left the Church). His article is very repetitive and serves no other purpose than to bash the Church, yet conveys his ignorance of the topic he writes about, namely the Catholic Church. (Clarke’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

Seventy-seven percent of the Irish population is in favor of allowing women to become priests. Democratic ideals, though, are not quite what the Church has in mind in its dealings with its flock. Indeed, the flock has no authority at all. So those Irish will just have to live with the continuing top-down male rigidity with which Catholics world-wide have had to contend for the last 2,000 years.

Like so many liberals, Clarke seems to think that truth is contingent upon the approval of the majority. He is right to recognize that “what the Church has in mind” is not a democracy. He is missing the actual objective of the Church, which is the salvation of souls. Confusing the teaching of the Church’s shepherds, who are speaking the truth taught by Christ Himself for “male rigidity”, he exposes both his ignorance of the Catholic faith and his malicious objective with this hit piece on Catholicism.

Archbishop Brown, who is an American, is no doubt aware of a similar upsurge in support for women in the priesthood in his own country. He is, one would imagine, as recalcitrant on the matter on the Lower East Side, where he was born, as he is in Dublin.

I’m not sure where he finds the “upsurge in support for women in the priesthood” in the United States. There were a handful of nuns riding around on a bus with an abundance of empty seats campaigning for Obama and a couple of women who simulated ordinations in the same manner that children simulate playing pirates or cops and robbers. Pretending to be a priest doesn’t make you one, and pretending to know what is best for the Church doesn’t make it so. Clarke pretends to understand the needs of the Church better than Christ and the successors to the apostles.

Traditions change, and faith changes, as has been made abundantly clear over the many centuries of The Church's history. The priesthood may not approve, but large social changes and important thinking have brought about tectonic shifts over the centuries, which the Church has resisted at almost every turn. Galileo, for example. Christopher Columbus. Science. Voltaire. Non-religious art (and in some case, religious art that, for whatever reason, the Church thinks comes from the devil in disguise). The French Revolution. Democratically elected governments. The Pill. Just to name a few. In response, an undemocratic bureaucracy elected by no one, with no accountability to the vast majority of the members of the organization, renders iron-clad restrictions that are based on centuries-old received wisdom and unexamined assumptions about what tradition calls for and faith would require.

Clarke apparently was reading the comment section on any one of the other articles at Huffington Post about the Catholic faith in order to find material for this poor excuse for an article. If he holds up the French Revolution as a positive movement, he will have an uphill go of it. He apparently is in favor of the looting of Churches, the forcible stripping of God from society, and the execution of priests. Nice guy, this Clarke. Don’t worry; he doesn’t give any explanation for his madness.

I will spare you the tedious whining of the rest of his hit piece, but I assure you that it is equally as bad as his drivel that I have dissected here. Clarke at least had the honesty to leave the Church that he so disagrees with. The problem is that that Church he left is not the Catholic Church. He left the Church of his imagination. His lack of understanding of the basic teachings of the Church is a clear sign that he didn’t take the time to actually learn the faith. As the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen famously said,

There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church. Which is, of course, quite a different thing.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, November 20, 2012 to Terence Clarke.



A World Without God is Hell on Earth

clock November 14, 2012 15:14 by author John |

HellThere are many people who would like nothing better than to eliminate the faith of believing Christians. Call them secular progressives, call them atheists, or call them communists. Just don’t call them prophetic or wise. These folks have been vociferous of late, as victory emboldens the brazen. It seems that the noise coming from secularists has been amplified and focused at those things which the faithful hold most dear: family, morality, and religious liberty.

They began the attack years ago by calling for tolerance and separation of Church and State. Slowly, they moved God out of the public square. They acclimated people to immoral lifestyles by showcasing them on primetime television, books, and magazines. They promoted tolerance as a virtue, when in actuality it is antithetical to the spiritual works of mercy. We are called to instruct the ignorant and rebuke the sinner. As Christians, tolerance is not an end in itself. Tolerance implies living with evil or imperfection without attempting to change it. Clearly, this is not the call Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations

We have been coaxed into accepting immorality and amorality in our world as a condition of quiet coexistence. This has led to the situation we now find ourselves in. God is slowly being pushed out of our public lives, which ultimately results in God being pushed out of our private lives. We are seeing a slow transformation of our world into a world without god.

Hell is an eternity spent in the absence of the wonder and glory of God. God does not send us to hell so much as we choose to go there ourselves by hating God and pushing Him out of our life and grace out of our soul. An eternity in hell is one spent lamenting the decisions we made that excluded God or outright rejected Him. We are collectively pushing God out of our society. In doing so, we are only bringing sadness and hardship upon ourselves. A world without God is a Hell on Earth.

In the absence of God, evil fills the vacuum. Is it a coincidence that in our society as secularism rises, with it comes the evils of abortion, sexual depravity, and recently an uptick in religious persecution? I don’t see a coincidence. I see causality. Indifference toward evil begets acceptance of it. Acceptance of evil begets commission of evil.

There is hope for us.  Jesus gave us the assurance that evil would not triumph against the Church in Matthew 16:18:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

That is not to say that times will not be difficult or that evil will never get the upper hand for a time. Quite to the contrary, being a Christian is not going to be a walk in the park. Throughout history the Church has undergone persecution. As Tertullian famously said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith.”

We have much work to do and so little time upon this earth to do it. We must transform the culture. We must bring Christ back into our society. It will not be an easy task. If you participate in it, you will be persecuted in some way, great or small. It is only through genuine love of God and with the assistance of His grace that we will be able to take up this task and bring it to fruition. Love demands sacrifice. God loves us enough to be crucified for our iniquities. Do we love Him enough to face the same fate? Do you love Him enough to transform yourself first? Conversion of the world begins with the conversion of yourself.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Jason Berry and the Festering Wound Called Women’s Ordination

clock November 13, 2012 01:20 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Jason Berry, writing at the noxious liberal commune known as the National Catholic Reporter. Berry goes all mushy for the ordination of women and promotes dissent from the magisterium in his latest piece. (Berry’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

Diane Dougherty, 67, who has short silver hair and stands barely 5 feet tall, became a fleeting media sensation Oct. 20 with her ordination in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

Don’t they all have short silver hair? What’s the point of describing her physical attributes? Does silver hair indicate wisdom? Sorry, I didn’t see her on the news or in the media at all. Must have been more fleeting than sensational. Also, let’s be accurate here – she was not ordained. An ordination was simulated, thereby excommunicating her and anyone else simulating her ordination. I must also ask the question, “If these women have so much venom for the Church and Rome, why do they associate with Rome in the name of their club?” Anyway, on to more madness…

The forces that drove Dougherty to profess priestly vows are a parable of today's church, as divided in America as in Europe, where 144 theologians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland signed a 2011 declaration defying Pope Benedict XVI in support of women's ordination. Dougherty, who spent 23 years as a nun earlier in her life, followed a pull of conscience to "the same basic calling" in violation of church law.

I guess the criteria for being counted as a “theologian” is rather flimsy these days. If this was such a noble honor, how did they only manage 144 signatures? I would also like to know the number of signatures after Big Bird, Luke Skywalker, Roger Rabbit, and Abraham Stinkin are removed from the list. Here is a prime example of why it is important to emphasize that following your conscience is only laudable if that conscience is well-formed.

Five other women, well along the road of middle life, were ordained as deacons in the same Mass held at First Metropolitan Community Church, which historically serves gays and lesbians. Bridget Mary Meehan, a bishop affiliated with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, came from her home in Virginia to preside. About 300 people attended, among them relatives of the newly ordained, a few scampering grandchildren; groups from Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana; 15 other women priests in the movement; and two women in black robes of the Episcopal clergy.

Let me translate that phrase “Well along the road of middle life” for you. It means old. Yes, old women. Bridget Mary Meehan might call herself a bishop, and the 15 other wymynprysts may call themselves priests, but the sad fact is that they are simply excommunicated women, reaching the twilight of their lives still dancing and singing that Frank Sinatra tune, “I did it my way”. I think most of us would agree that a better theme would be “I did it God’s way”.

The ceremony was the latest held by the association. Since 2004 when a male bishop, who has remained anonymous, ordained seven women on a ship in the middle of the Danube River, about 100 women have joined the movement in America and about 150 worldwide. Unlike the male hierarchy, the association is decentralized. The women hold liturgies in homes, on college campuses and in non-Catholic sacred spaces; they have small teaching and outreach ministries.

I think we understand that by “decentralized”, Berry means “forbidden from befouling a Catholic church”. Their ministries are “small” because their message is empty. They are preaching self-gratitude rather than the glorification of God and obedience to the dogmas of His Church.

At least Berry had the sense to include a quote from the radiant Sr. Mary Ann Walsh…

The official church has not accepted them. "I can say I'm the queen of England and it doesn't make it so," Mercy Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have banned even the discussion of women priests. Benedict has said John Paul's prohibition on women priests is infallible teaching, though some church scholars dispute it.

I think he uses the term “church scholars” a bit loosely here.

In 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared: "One who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See."

"It means that excommunication takes place immediately," New Jersey canon lawyer Fr. Kenneth Lasch told NCR.

"There is a hitch, though," said canonist Dominican Fr. Tom Doyle. "Automatic excommunication basically means that it is not publicized. Only the excommunicated one knows it for sure and is obliged in conscience to observe the penalty. … Most of the women priests I have helped were concerned [about the excommunication] and then got to the point -- a healthy one, I think -- where it did not matter."

Fr. Tom Doyle calls their disregard of the state of their soul healthy. Healthy – like scaling the Statue of Liberty in a lightning storm. You may think you are making progress, but reality will set you straight soon enough. His statement does shed some light on the real issue here. These folks just don’t care about truth, authority, or apparently, their immortal soul. As with all of the winners of this award, I urge you to pray for them. Only prayer and the outpouring of grace will return them to the fold.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, November 13, 2012 to Jason Berry.


 



10 Things Catholics Must Do Now in the Face of the Next Great Persecution

clock November 7, 2012 14:40 by author John |

Prepare yourself. This might just be the most uncomfortable article you read today, and with the help of Divine Grace, I hope it is uncomfortable in a good way. On this day after the reelection of President Obama, the most pro-death president to govern this land, faithful Catholics are feeling defeated. On Twitter and around the Catholic blogosphere, I am witnessing despair, anger, and sadness over the results of the election, the state of our nation, and the unexpected and disappointing answer that was given to so many earnest and sincere prayers. So many masses, novenas, rosaries, and acts of sacrifice were offered for the election of a leader sympathetic if not invested in the common good. To many, it appears that those prayers have been left unanswered. They were answered, but perhaps not in the way most of us wished.

In the typical human way, people are dwelling on the problems. They are replaying the last few months in their heads. “What went wrong? How did this happen?” They are looking ahead to a future that doesn’t seem bright or welcoming. The unknown lies before us. How the President and the secular progressives will treat the faithful in the next four years is yet to be seen, but that uncertainty is part of the problem. We just don’t know what will become of us in the near future and it scares the daylights out of us.

Many of us are embodying the cliché “People spend 90% of their time worrying and 10% of their time finding solutions.” We of course need to reverse those percentages in order to solve the problems before us. I will attempt to do that as I lay out for you a roadmap to be used in reversing the avalanche of evil and ignorance that is bearing down on us and in some cases crushing us. Here are 10 steps to saving yourself, your family and your culture.

1. Identify the Problem

In the past 18 months, the elections have dominated our news coverage, conversations, and daily life. We have been inundated with statistics, talking points and negative advertising. In a sense, we have been played. We have become spectators. We have allowed the media and politicians to feed us our beliefs. Let’s face the hard reality. A man was elected yesterday who has failed in every major area of social and economic policy from an authentic Catholic perspective. He won roughly half the Catholic vote. If you are not puking right now, perhaps it is because reality hasn’t set in. Take the time now to let it sink in and grab a bucket.

Think about it. This man launched a direct attack on the Catholic Church and half of Catholics willingly and happily supported it. The Catholic citizenry of this nation is in a state of disgrace right now. Shame on those Catholics who abandoned their faith through ignorance in forming their conscience or willful disregard of it.

This is a problem, but it is not the root of the problem. The problem is not the culture. I mean it. The problem is not the culture. Sure the culture is corrupt, ignorant, intolerant of Truth and beauty, and increasingly hostile to our beliefs, but I mean it when I say that the problem is not the culture.

The problem is us, the 20% of Catholics who attend mass each week and even the 4% of Catholics who regularly attend confession. We have failed in our duties. We have not evangelized, catechized, rebuked, and prayed enough. We have let the culture dictate terms to us. We have let our fellow Catholics, Church-going or not live in ignorance and disobedience without fraternal correction. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this: “Have I done everything I possibly could to convert the culture?” I will answer that question for you: “No”. You are a human. You are not God. You are imperfect. You have failed in some way.

2. Contemplate the Problem and React Passionately to it

Now that we have identified the problem, our focus naturally shifts toward a solution. I propose that we first spend a little time dwelling on it. A little righteous indignation is useful and warranted. Allow the sting of this election, of this cultural rebuke of our faith and our God to sink in. Remember this day. Remember how you feel. Think about the choices we were given in this election. Neither man truly represented an authentic moral ethic. The man who lost was likely the lesser of two evils, but what does it say about our culture that the best two men we could produce to lead this country represent merely 2 evils? Think about the unknown that lies before us. Does it scare you? It scares me and that is alright with me.

God has given us passions. They are a gift to us that when used appropriately are powerful tools which motivate and energize us. If God didn’t intend for you to experience the emotions, He wouldn’t have given them to you. He also gave you a will and an intellect. In the perfect order of things, the passions are subordinate to the will and the intellect. That does not mean that they are useless.

We must use the will and the intellect to drive and direct the passions. Working together, the will, the intellect and the passions are the tools we use to achieve greatness. They propel us toward perfection, which is God. Channel the emotions, the passions, and the pain you may feel right now. Use those passions to drive you toward changing the culture, starting with yourself.

3. Pray for Fortitude

The task ahead of us is not easy. You may be passionate about changing the culture, but once you begin to engage the culture, you will soon meet with resistance. Immediately, in fact. When someone doesn’t like your message, they will attack you. How will you respond? People admire conviction, but they lash out when your conviction compels them to reevaluate their life.

Keep that in the back of your mind. You will need courage when facing the culture, but an even more challenging obstacle lies in your immediate path.  Before you can effectively engage the culture, you must prepare yourself by identifying your own sinfulness and failures. This is the step at which most people turn back. In this step, we perhaps see how we are not so different from those in the culture that personify the moral collapse we are witnessing around us. I am not giving in to moral equivocation here; I am simply telling you that the first step toward purification of the culture is purification of your soul, which I will address in the next item.

Fortitude is part resolve, a product of the will, and part grace, a product of the Holy Spirit. Direct your will to be resolute, unflinching in the face of adversity. Pray for fortitude. You will need it when facing the culture, but it is more warranted when facing your soul. Don’t just pray generally for courage. Pray for the infusion of the Holy Spirit’s most valuable gift: grace. Pray directly to the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, which came down upon the apostles and empowered them to carry out the same mission you now face. As He enkindled in them the fire, pray that He will ignite your heart to carry out your mission.

4. Clean your soul

The first target of a sinful culture is a hypocrite. Look at the way the culture attacks the Church over the abuse crisis. Do you think abuse is limited to the Catholic Church? No. There are plenty of organizations that have experienced the same failure. The Church was attacked because of the hypocrisy of proclaiming purity while its priests lived in defiance of that call. Do not attempt to convert the culture before you have converted yourself. You cannot give that which you do not have. If you do not have grace in your soul, you cannot work as effectively for the conversion of others. A clean conscience and a spotless soul give you the freedom to proclaim the gospel to others.

Be sure that you have prayed for fortitude because this is the most difficult step in the process. You must be forthright and examine your conscience. Clean your soul. Be ruthless. Be thorough. Many times people will confess a few sins, but out of embarrassment or pride leave out sins that they allow to linger in their lives and which weigh on their consciences. This is a burden these people carry around with them day in and day out. Confess everything. Just do it. Go to another priest for confession if you are embarrassed to confess something troubling to your priest. Go to another parish. Go to another state if you want to. Just confess everything. Make a clean start.

An earnest prayer to the Holy Spirit before a difficult confession will give you the strength you need to make a good confession. Sometimes it is only by this grace that you will be able to truly be free of your sins.

5. Learn your faith

That which you do not have cannot be given. Your knowledge of the faith will be put to the test as you engage people who do not understand Jesus and His Church. Daily reading of spiritual works in necessary to grow your faith and strengthen your understanding of the many difficult requirements of being a faithful Catholic. Do not take this as a suggestion. This is an order. Actively learn the faith daily.

When I say daily, I mean it. Just as your body needs daily nourishment to function properly, so too does your mind need daily nourishment in the ways of the faith to function properly. Without refreshment of the concepts of the faith, the demands of life begin to crowd out the light of spiritual knowledge. Knowledge begets understanding and acceptance of the Truth.

Knowledge provides the foundation upon which we can make our appeal to others. The light of truth can be made known in many ways to people, but essential in any appeal, whether to reason or the emotions, is a firm understanding of the truths of the faith. If you know the faith, its transmission will come more easily.

6. Put God and your faith first

You hear this slogan often. Take it to heart. Our culture is perfectly tuned to place entertainment and work between you and God. If you have a full-time job, it likely takes at least 8 hours – one third of your day. When you factor in a commute, preparing and eating meals, taking care of children, meeting with friends and relatives, hardly any time is left over. The demands on our time do not stop there, however. We have still to satisfy the requirements of entertainment. 

The average household has the TV on in the background for more than 7 hours per day. Where, then is the time for God? How many of us, tired from working sit down after dinner and watch television for several hours, rise exhausted from our chair and go straight to bed, repeating platitudes about just not having the time for anything? We have no time for God because we do not make time for God.

We must place God first. We must make time for Him. I’m not talking about a quick prayer before bed or grace before meals. These are the bare minimum. Make abundant time for Him each day. We must not fear the impression people get when we limit the start of our day at work so that we can go to mass. Who is more important – your boss or the omnipotent and just God? Can you not make time to go to mass at 6:00 in the morning, or during your lunch, or after work each day? It isn’t convenient if you don’t make it convenient. It doesn’t have to be convenient in the first place. God should not be a convenience. He should be the first priority.

Don’t set aside time for God after work. This is the wrong approach. Set aside every other concern and pray to Him with your family. Don’t worry about time constraints, allotting God 15 or 30 minutes each day. Pray to Him and forget about everything until you are satisfied with your prayer; that you have conversed appropriately with Him. Do spiritual reading every day. Read from the Bible, the Catechism, the writings of the Saints, the Liturgy of the Hours. Give God primacy of your time.

You don’t have to give God most of your time, but you should make the time with him first and foremost. Who cares if that means you can’t make an early morning meeting. If your employer can’t respect your time, you have the option of finding another employer who will. Don’t answer calls from work while you are praying. The matter cannot be as important as your relationship with God. Don’t structure your prayer life around work or household responsibilities. Structure your responsibilities around your time for God, leaving adequate buffer so that you don’t feel rushed in your prayer.

7. Get Used to Discomfort and Make Sacrifices

Do you love God? The answer should be yes, and if it is, then you must be willing to sacrifice for Him. Love without sacrifice is shallow. Would you claim to love your spouse, your parents, or friends but refuse to help them in need? Of course not. Love demands placing the object of your love before yourself. God asks us to do difficult things in our lives. You cannot truly love God without sacrificing for Him. A virtuous life requires the pain of sacrifice.

Take sacrifice and discomfort on yourself. Perform works of mercy regularly for others. Pray whether it is convenient or not. Give alms to help the Church and those in need. Fast on a regular basis, not just when the Church mandates it. These things strengthen the will against the urges. If our urges are disproportionate to our will, we become slaves to them. Strengthen your will by making voluntary sacrifices so that when sacrifices are demanded of us, they are but an ordinary part of our life.

If you are not willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, which is your very life, you are not yet perfected in the training and strengthening of your will. Of course not everyone is at the point where they can offer their lives for God, but it should be a goal of ours to perfect our will so that we one day will have that courage necessary to offer it willingly. God loved you enough to be tortured and Crucified for your sins. You should be willing to endure the same for Him. Your reward will not be on this Earth, but in the joy of eternal happiness in Heaven among the angels and saints. Let us hope that it will not come to that in this country in our lifetimes. On the other hand, don’t think it could not happen both here and now. In every age and in every nation of the Church, men and women of faith have been persecuted for their love of God. Why should our age and our nation be any different? Cardinal George, who is a scholar of history, has said,

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

8. Be Cheerful and Optimistic

Building on the resolve which results from self-denial, we can find everyday sacrifices to be ordinary, and in time, they can even be a joy to us as we realize the benefits of grace. As we grow in virtue, we can even meet extraordinary sacrifices with peace and acceptance. Our sacrifices should never be evident on our faces. We should be cheerful and optimistic to everyone we encounter, as we bring the joy of Christ to them.

This is perhaps a bit of a superficial effort at first, as it takes time to become accustomed to it. After time, true joy will spring up in us as we feed off the reactions of others to simple things like a smile or a positive response to a difficult task.  We should seek to enjoy our reward in Heaven, and by keeping this in mind: that every good deed will be rewarded, every challenge acknowledged, and every wrong righted in this life or the next; we will be disposed to bring joy to every situation.

If given the grace, even the grim foreboding of a religious persecution can be met with composure and dignity. Using the saints as our guide, we can accept the opportunity to sacrifice for God:

Perpetua and Felicitas were exposed to a mad heifer. Perpetua was tossed first and fell on her back, but raised herself and gathered her torn tunic modestly about her; then, after fastening up her hair, lest she look as if she were in mourning, she rose and went to help Felicitas, who had been badly hurt by the animal. Side by side they stood, expecting another assault, but the sated audience cried out that it was enough. They were therefore led to the gate Sanevivaria, where victims who had not been killed in the arena were dispatched by gladiators. Here Perpetua seemed to arouse herself from an ecstasy and could not believe that she had already been exposed to a mad heifer until she saw the marks of her injuries. She then called out to her brother and to the catechumen: "Stand fast in the faith, and love one another. Do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you." By this time the fickle populace was clamoring for the women to come back into the open. This they did willingly, and after giving each other the kiss of peace, they were killed by the gladiators. Perpetua had to guide the sword of the nervous executioner to her throat. – From the book, "Lives of the saints, with excerpts from their writings: selected and illustrated" by Joseph Vann, Thomas Bernard Plassmann

9. Be a Saint

By any realistic measure, these works are difficult and fraught with failure. We are prone to error and sin. Our motivation will at times wane. We have competing desires and responsibilities. We must acknowledge our frailties, imperfections, and mistakes. We must constantly evaluate our lives and reorient ourselves toward the right path.

Frequent confession and the daily exercises of prayer, reception of the Eucharist, examination of conscience, acts of contrition, and sacrifices will help us to stay focused on Jesus and promoting His Church. In short, we must be saints. We are all called to it and we must all respond to that call.

10. Evangelize

If we ever expect our culture to improve, if we hope to prevent the next great persecution, we must evangelize the culture. John Paul II called us all to be agents of the New Evangelization. We must take this call as a serious and personal challenge. We must not be afraid to offend people by our beliefs. Their offense is not a result of the truth we convey, but of the improper disposition they maintain toward that which is right and just. We do not have to chastise at every opportunity, but we must teach, catechize and encourage virtue and truth. On an individual level, once a person understands the truth, we can charitably correct them.

This task is not easy. It is not a simple process of spewing facts of the faith and then rebuking someone. It is an iterative process whereby we are constantly teaching, encouraging, loving, and correcting with joy and truth.

Start Today

Start this process today. Do not wait for a convenient moment. Do not wait for someone to invite you. The stakes are high. You do not know what tomorrow holds for you or your ability to practice the faith. Prayer, fasting, penance, sacrifice, and evangelization are our only hope to change the culture and bring about a nation where our beliefs and freedoms are cherished and protected. No one will do this work for you. Take it upon yourself today to change the culture starting with your own soul.

The Truth will be made known to all one way or another. Throughout history, God has allowed tribulations to bring His people back into the fold. Let us work together now so that our culture does not require such stern correction and reminding of the realities of truth and justice.



Tuesday Ear Tickler Award: Catholics For Obama Confusing Consciences

clock November 6, 2012 01:02 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is a group known as “Catholics for Obama”, comprised of several politicians and shills for Obama who have either an improperly formed conscience or are outright sellouts for a quick political buck. That group’s oxymoronic title is akin to slogans such as “Vegans for Meat”, “Hamsters for Housecats”, or “Dentists for Coca Cola”. I have outlined several of the licentious claims and moral equivocation found on the website, which was designed primarily to allow people to violate their conscience in supporting the “First Gay President” as Newsweek crowned him.

Let’s get the obvious facts down first. Obama stands for unlimited abortion rights, including taxpayer funded abortion, abortion up to the last day of pregnancy, partial birth abortion, and abortifacient contraception. He is in support of homosexual marriage, which the Bible calls an “abomination”. He is also the president who has forced the Catholic Church to pay for contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacients in violation of their consciences. If a Catholic votes for Obama in accordance with their conscience, it would appear to me that they have an improperly formed conscience. If a person murdered 5 people, but gave money to 20 homeless people, would you consider them a good person? I wouldn’t. It follow then, that a person who advocates for the right to kill 1.3 million people each year could not be called a good candidate for president, no matter how much his social safety nets help people.

Caroline Kennedy of Catholics for Obama

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. I believe I have found the man who could be that president – not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans”. - Caroline Kennedy

I hate to break it to you Carline, but inspiration is empty if it is devoid of goodness and grace. As a Catholic, you should know that inspiration to the good is honorable and virtuous. Inspiration is evil if it promotes evil. Barack Obama promotes the culture of death. He is eyeball deep in the blood of unborn children. Shame on you Caroline Kennedy for promoting evil.

Marcy Kaptur of Catholics for Obama

“From his time as a community organizer in eight Chicago parishes, Senator Obama has demonstrated his appreciation for the Catholic Social Tradition and its focus on the common good.” – Marcy Kaptur

Marcy Kaptur sounds so shallow. Does she really not understand that the primary social justice issue is abortion? Does she really not know that abortion is murder or is she simply ignoring the fact in order to achieve a prestigious appointment in the Obama administration and reap campaign money from Planned Parenthood? Shame on you Marcy Kaptur for abandoning your conscience whether though malformation or disregard.

Senator Bob Casey of Catholics for Obama

“He has appealed, as Abraham Lincoln asked us to do many years ago, to the better angels of our nature” – Bob Casey

Bob Casey claims that Obama has “appealed… to the better angels of our nature.” If by better angels, you mean the angel of death, then yes, I believe Senator Casey is correct. Barack Obama is the most unapologetic abortion-minded president in the history of our country. If you support that man, I find it hard to believe that you are truly “Pro-Life” as Casey claims to be. Shame on you Bob Casey for muddying the waters, confusing Catholics and promoting the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-Catholic Obama.

Douglas Kmiec of Catholics for Obama

“One of the things I kept discovering was that Obama was sounding more Catholic than most Catholics I know.” – Douglas Kmiec

Well, I can’t argue with that statement because I don’t know how many Catholics Kmiec knows. Perhaps that is an indictment of the people Kmiec associates with. Perhaps Kmiec doesn’t get out much. Perhaps Kmiec is being disingenuous. Regardless, that kind of moral equivocation is disgraceful. Kmiec received a comfy ambassador assignment as his 30 pieces of silver after providing cover for Obama-supporting Catholics in 2008. A man of his education should have a better-formed conscience than that. Shame on Douglas Kmiec for confusing the consciences of countless Catholics.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award to Caroline Kennedy, Marcy Kaptur, Bob Casey, Douglas Kmiec, and the rest of the disgraceful “Catholics for Obama” group.

 



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Bryan Cones' Promotion of the Culture of Death through Bad Theology

clock October 30, 2012 01:08 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…


Today’s winner is Bryan Cones, who showcases his bad theology in his article, “How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?”. Cones presents some typical liberal talking points while bring some of his belief into light which are very troubling.  (Cones’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?

While pundits and Democrats can't make enough political fodder of GOP Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comment that pregnancy as a result of rape is "something God intended," I have to wonder why there aren't more theologians and pastors roundly denouncing the theology behind it. I wonder if it isn't because many people hold this understanding of the way God's power works in the world, a variant of God "writing straight with crooked lines." It's just that no one wants to admit it when it comes to something as horrific as rape.

The pundits and Democrats that Cones speaks of are not quoting Mourdock word for word. They are making straw man arguments because the statement Mourdock made is not actually that shocking. Mourdock stated that every child is a gift from God regardless of how they were conceived. The reason there are not more theologians and pastors denouncing Mourdock is because what he said is in line with traditional Christian values.

Frankly, it's a big problem with the way we people of faith deal with evil: We want to insist God is in complete control--which perhaps makes our suffering a bit easier--but then we're forced to say that God has some ultimate good in mind when God "permits" terrible things to happen--think the Holocaust. But we wouldn't sanction immoral means to achieve a good end for human beings, so why would we absolve God for doing it?

Here’s the problem with Cones’ argument. What he said would be true if God were the one committing the evil action. We know that God does not commit evil actions; he only allows them as a consequence of our free will. Cones’ lack of understanding of basic Christian beliefs is rather astounding.

It seems to me sufficient to say that the rules of God's creation have made it so that, in the right conditions, when a human sperm and egg join in the right place and at the right time, human life is possible. Unfortunately, that can happen through an act of violence, which is also possible through the rules of God's creation expressed in human freedom. But to say God directly "intends" the creation of that life through such a profound perversion of human freedom is a theological step too far, and we people of faith should call out this kind of blasphemy--because that's what it is--especially when it comes from the mouth of another Christian.

If you want to get emotional, which is what Cones’ is doing here; we can take his argument to the logical conclusion. We can then say that the person created as a result of that act of violence is a person that God did not intend to exist. That of course is ridiculous because God loves us all as His children. He does not despise or regret anyone’s existence simply due to the mean by which they were conceived. Surely Cones’ is not insinuating that Mourdock thinks rape is something God intends. That would be dishonest.

That still leaves us with what Catholic tradition calls "the mystery of evil"; there is simply no good answer for the fact that something fundamentally good--human life--can result from an act of such diabolical evil--rape--which is finally why the issue of abortion in the case of rape is so fraught with moral difficulty. Some argue--and this would be most consistent with church teaching--that the objective good of the developing human life is sacrosanct, while others would respond that the pregnancy is a continuation of the objectively immoral assault on the woman who has been raped, and so an abortion in this instance would be morally permissible.

The issue of abortion in the case of rape is only fraught with moral difficulty because people like Mourdock have muddied the waters. Either an unborn child is a person or not. If abortion is not desirable for conventional pregnancies, then it cannot be desirable in cases of rape. This is essentially a failure of logic or a failure of honesty. You cannot have it any other way. So is Cones in favor of the view of the “others” who do not hold the view of the Church? Cones is basically saying that doing evil is OK as long as you have faulty logic. That is a severely morally-depraved conviction.

Those fine points of moral theology never get fair coverage in the press--we can hardly expect them to. But what Christians simply cannot allow, however, is permitting a frankly childish theological answer such as Mourdock's to stand without response.

We also cannot allow a childish rebuttal of a fundamentally sound theological statement to stand without response. I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler award for Tuesday, October 30 to Bryan Cones.