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


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: 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.


 



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Molly Worthen Attacks the Magisterium

clock September 18, 2012 06:10 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 award goes to Molly Worthen, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Worthen breaks out the tickling feather to Joe Ferullo of the National Catholic Reporter, which has the distinction of receiving the first-ever Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Thomas Fox. Molly goes into the tired old diatribe about the domineering male hierarchy squashing “critical thinking”. Here is Worthen’s quote:

If the Democratic Party is not listening to liberal Catholics, it is partly because they are not in a position to speak very loudly. They are dodging the sights of a Roman hierarchy more preoccupied with smoking out left-leaning nuns than nurturing critical thinking. “Is liberal Catholicism dead?” Time wondered a few years back. The answer is no: in some regards, liberal Catholic intellectuals are flourishing. They are writing and teaching, running social justice initiatives at the church’s great universities, ensconced in professorships around the Ivy League. Yet a cozy academic subculture can be as isolating as it is empowering. The handful of nationally known Catholic political thinkers who might be called progressive, or at least compassionate and cosmopolitan — like the journalist-scholars Garry Wills and E. J. Dionne Jr., blogmeister Andrew Sullivan, or the feminist nun and blogger Sister Joan Chittister — are far outnumbered by the ranks of prominent Catholic conservatives in the trenches of activism and policy making.

OK, to kick things off, Worthen claims that liberal Catholics are not in a position to speak loudly due to the evil Roman hierarchy. If that was truly the case, they wouldn’t be driving around on campaign busses (nuns on a bus), or speaking at the Democratic National Convention (Sr. Simone Campbell). Sadly, very little action of any consequence will happen as a result of these loud and obnoxious displays of dissent. She then goes into the initiatives that these liberal Catholics are carrying out in the name of “social justice”. No mention is made of the confusion many of them are causing in the minds of the faithful.

I hereby grant the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, September 18, 2012 to Molly Worthen.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Thomas Fox’s Inadequate Analysis of the Sex Abuse Crisis and Cardinal Burke

clock September 4, 2012 14:32 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 award goes to Thomas Fox of the hotbed of confusion known as the National catholic Reporter. Thomas comes out with guns blazing against Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the Church’s Supreme Court). Before we dive into Fox’s award-winning piece, let us first read some of the spot-on analysis given by Cardinal Burke (originally published at Catholic Culture with my emphasis in bold): 

The years of a lack of knowledge of the Church’s discipline and even of a presumption that such discipline was no longer fitting to the nature of the Church indeed reaped gravely harmful fruits in the Church. For example, I think of the pervasive violation of the liturgical law of the Church, of the revolution in catechesis which often rendered the teaching of the faith vacuous and confused, if not erroneous; of the breakdown of the discipline of priestly formation and priestly life, of the abandonment of the essential elements of religious life and the devastating loss of fundamental direction in many congregations of religious Sisters, Brothers and priests; of the loss of the identity of charitable, educational and healthcare institutions bearing the name of Catholic; and the failure of respect for the nature of marriage and the time-proven process for judging claims of nullity of marriage in ecclesiastical tribunals.

“From the above considerations, it should be clear that the knowledge of and respect for canonical discipline is indispensable to the Church’s response to the call to a new evangelization,” he added. “Liturgical law must enjoy the primacy among canonical norms, for it safeguards the most sacred realities in the Church.”

It seems like a pretty simple and straight-forward assertion: a culture that thinks it is not subject to the laws of the Church breeds many types of sin. It should surprise no one, however that because Burke made reference to the “Spirit of Vatican II” generation’s lack of moral compass that at least one of the writers at the Nation Catholic Reporter would respond in an emotional and dismissive manner. In order to save you from wasting 5 minutes of your life, I will present to you the key points Fox tries to make. The full version is here. Prepare the violins (my emphasis in bold):

What makes the cardinal’s seemingly inadequate analysis all the more shocking is that he holds a critical position of authority within our church. As head of our church’s highest court, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, any inability – or unwillingness – to face, examine and respond to the scandal, now over a quarter century old, only adds to the crisis and feeds an already widespread pessimism that our church leaders are not up to the task.

As is generally the case the Reporter, Fox starts off with a personal attack on Cardinal Burke, claiming that he and others in the Vatican are inept. The widespread pessimism that he refers to would not be fed by an attack like that, now would it? Reengage the violins:

To start with let’s note here the obvious: preying sexually on children violates much more than canon law. More fundamentally it violates God’s laws and every notion of decent human conduct in cultures throughout the world. As one NCR commentator recently wrote: It violates “the laws of the heart and soul, laws of human love, consensual adult expressions of that love, secular laws, criminal laws, and every other law--even if canon law never existed.”

I did not see anything to the contrary in Burke’s piece. To make this point is to create a straw-man argument which Cardinal Burke did not disagree with. That does not stop Fox from making an emotional plea and creating a position to rail against out of thin air. Fox goes on to point out that bishops would ignore the problem, sweep it under the rug and perpetuate the problem. Again, Burke would agree. That of course would be a violation of Canon Law and the due care for their flock that a bishop is tasked with. The points made are against the straw man, not Burke’s argument. Fox continues:

[Burke]… might ask how church law has allowed his fellow bishops to cover up the scandal rather than bringing to public. He might examine how church law has played a role in driving many Catholics, disaffected by the scandal, from the church.

Again – was it Church Law that caused this issue or the blatant disregard for it? Fox does not seem to have read the relevant Canon law. It appears that he is under the impression that the Church codified the cover-up in Canon Law or at least did not address it. I would like to ask him for a source on that.

I can provide some points for Mr. Fox to consider. First, it should be pointed out that a majority of the cases occurred in the 1960s, 70s and 80s (Source). 100 points to anyone who can identify a major Church event that happened just prior to these years. That’s right Vatican II. Now do you think it is a coincidence that a loosening of moral standards and an increase in priests and bishops who in the words of Frank Sinatra “did it my way” had anything to do with this? Nah, that would not make for a printable article at the good old Reporter. Second, Canon 2359§2 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was in effect until the code was updated in 1983 stated:

If they engage in a delict against the sixth precept of the Decalogue with a minor below the age of sixteen, or engage in adultery, debauchery, bestiality, sodomy, pandering, incest with blood-relatives or affines in the first degree, they are suspended, declared infamous, and are deprived of any office, benefice, dignity, responsibility, if they have such, whatsoever, and in more serious cases they are to be deposed.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law states in canon 1395 §2:

A cleric who in another way has committed an offence against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the delict was committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants

Furthermore, in the motu proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, (2001), John Paul II established that violations of the sixth commandment against minors are a grave crime and subject to the investigation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith. So I ask Mr. Fox, what basis do you have for asserting that Canon Law permits the abuse of children and the concealment of that abuse?

I hereby award Thomas Fox with the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, September 4, 2012.