Pope Francis’ New Federation of Catholic (Reformed) Churches?

hspirit

What’s gravely wrong with this picture?

…the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” strongly limits that “authentic doctrinal authority” which Pope Francis says he wants to grant to the episcopal conferences. It prescribes that if doctrinal declarations really need to be issued, this must be done with unanimous approval and in communion with the pope and the whole Church, or at least “by a substantial majority” after review and authorization by the Holy See.

One danger warned against in the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” is that the episcopal conferences might release doctrinal declarations in contrast with each other and with the universal magisterium of the Church.

Another risk that it intends to prevent is the creation of separation and antagonism between individual national Churches and Rome, as happened in the past in France with “Gallicanism” and as takes place among the Orthodox with some of the autocephalous national Churches.

That motu proprio bears the signature of John Paul II, but it owes its framework to the one who was his highly trusted prefect of doctrine, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

And Ratzinger – as was known – had long been very critical of the superpowers that some episcopal conferences had attributed to themselves, especially in certain countries, including his native Germany.

In his bombshell interview of 1985, published with the title “The Ratzinger Report,” he had resolutely opposed the idea that the Catholic Church should become “a kind of federation of national Churches.”

Instead of a “decisive new emphasis on the role of the bishops” as desired by Vatican Council II, the national episcopal conferences – he accused – have “smothered” the bishops with their weighty bureaucratic structures.

Read more

I love this pope. He reminds me of my (now dearly departed) maiden Aunt Genevieve.

1955_Chevrolet_Bel_Air_PAS346

1955 Chevy Bel Air – Proof of God’s Abiding Love?

by Doug Lawrence

My aunt Gene (Genevieve) never married, always held down a good job, and for most of her life, lived in a modest apartment, along with her two unmarried sisters.

By the time I was two years of age there was already no doubt in my mind that aunt Gene was also a good Catholic. She never failed to attend Sunday Mass – and as further proof of God’s abiding love, she actually won a a three-speed, red and white, 1955 Chevy – at the Saint John of God Church Raffle. In Chicago, during the 1950’s you couldn’t be much more publicly Catholic than that!

She was a charitable and helpful person, willing to do just about anything for anybody. She loved little babies, she loved her family and she loved her food. Gene was also a bit “quirky” – holding to her own opinions on certain things, in spite of obvious and abundant evidence to the contrary – stubbornly clinging to certain mysterious habits, rituals and personal preferences. It wasn’t always easy figuring out precisely what she meant, when she was speaking. But she was my aunt and I loved her, without qualification or exception. That’s what family is all about.

It wasn’t until several decades later, after aunt Gene had been diagnosed with a particularly fast-growing strain of lung cancer, that I would begin to understand the true depth and utter practicality of her Catholic faith.

Learning that all available treatments had failed and she would surely die very soon, Gene remained upbeat and generally unconcerned. She certainly didn’t like what the cancer had done and was continuing to do to her body, but as a woman of faith, she always knew the end would come – whatever the circumstances – and she had always relied on Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church to keep her fully prepared for that day.

She was a true daughter of the Catholic Church who fully accepted (to the very best of her ability) all that the Catholic Church practiced and proclaimed. She had for a long, long time now, been a very close friend of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and of his Blessed Mother, so she had absolutely nothing to fear.

Aunt Gene also found great solace in this type of traditional Catholic stuff which many today – unfortunately – think is out of date. But unless and until death itself goes out of style, I must respectfully disagree!

She told me all this the day before she died. It was a life (and faith) lesson that I will never forget. I also have little doubt that her prayers were answered – both here – and in the next life. We should all pray for similar graces.

So … how does Pope Francis remind me of my “sainted” Aunt Genevieve?

Other than the physical resemblance (they could pass for brother and sister) they’re both a bit quirky and sometimes difficult to understand; neither ever married; both had a penchant for relatively unusual, minimalist living arrangements; both made extensive use of public transportation; both are well-traveled; both worked long and hard at their chosen professions; both are by virtue of baptism, undeniably Catholic and people of faith.

As such, they are both “family” to me, a fellow Catholic and adopted child of God – so I love them, without qualification or exception.

This would remain true even if it became necessary for me to go out of my way to charitably correct, defend and/or explain occasional incongruous, irrational, embarrassing conduct or “quirky” personal opinions.

Nobody’s perfect – so who am I to judge – right?

In the end, that’s what “family” – and authentic Catholicism – is all about!

Photo: Wikipedia

“New Morality” at the root of the priestly abuse crisis?

A big step in the propagandizing of the ‘new morality’ was marked by the appearance in June, 1977, of the book Human Sexuality, published under the auspices of the Catholic Theological Society of America. This book has the form of a ‘report’ to the CTSA, but its contents are intended for maximum diffusion among Catholics, as is obvious both from the manner of publication and from the admission in the Forward to the book that it is aimed “at a wider public of interested persons.”

The revolutionary character of this report is obvious from the affirmations it embodies, such as the following:

a) that no physical expression of sexuality is in itself “morally wrong or perverse” (H.S., p. 110); consequently:
b) that even those sexual practices which people have up to now considered deviant do not clearly produce evil consequences either for the individual or for society (H.S., p. 77);
c) that the use of contraceptives is “wholesome and moral” whenever it helps couples to build “a community of love” for one another (H.S., p. 127);
d) that deliberate masturbation (even after unresisted indulgence in erotic imagery) is never a serious sin and can be an act of virtue (H.S., pp. 220, 227);
e) that fornication and adultery are in themselves morally good experiences (H.S., pp. 154-158, 178-179);
f) that ‘living together,’ ‘swinging,’ and communal sex are not morally unacceptable (H.S., pp. 151-152);
g) that Jesus was indeed opposed to the exploitation of women by men, but He did not prohibit self-liberating, other-enriching forms of prostitution, fornication, or adultery, joyously performed, as long as there was genuine concern for possible third parties involved (H.S., pp. 20-22, 30-31, 96);
h) that homosexuals have a moral right to homosexual activity and to homosexual self-expression in the eyes of civil society (H.S., pp. l98, 214);
i) that it is both harmful and unprofessional to ‘moralize’ with children who have the habit of sexual intercourse with animals (H.S., pp. 229-230);
j) that fetishism and transvestism are a physiological and therefore not a moral problem (H.S., pp. 230-231);
k) that the only presently effective treatment for transsexualism is a sex-change operation coupled with hormone treatments and supportive counseling (H.S., p. 233);
1) that even hard-core pornography is not immoral for adults except to the extent that it may exploit persons by reducing them to objects to be used (H.S., pp. 235-237);
m) that obscene words formerly not used in decent conversation are now just part of the common vocabulary (H.S., p. 235).

Human Sexuality is a kind of Kinsey Report for Catholics; its aim is the overturning of traditional Catholic morality. The authors of the Report reduce all human experience to sexual experience, which is seen as the highest goal of human existence. “It is in the genital union,” says the Report, “that the intertwining of subjectivities, of human existences, has the potential for fullest realization…. The possibility of shared existence, indeed of intimacy and union, emerges on the horizon of movement toward the other. There is a call, an invitation that goes forth from bodily existence to bodily existence. It colors every transaction between the sexes, adding interest and delight, promising mystery and disclosure and delivery from loneliness. At one and the same time it realizes the self and enriches the other…. Procreation is one form of this call to creativity but by no means is it the only reason for sexual expression…. Sexuality is the creator’s ingenious way of calling people constantly out of themselves into relationship with others” (H.S., p. 85).

Read more

What was Jesus’ relationship with Mary, his mother like?

Q: What was Jesus’ relationship with Mary, his mother like?

A: Pure, perfect, and infinite love, plus total freedom, unencumbered by any fear of death or hell … which is the Christian ideal.

Catholics and the Holy Eucharist

Catholics and the Holy Eucharist

A few days back, I responded to a comment made by a protestant fellow who complained about people who go to Church on Sunday, yet don’t seem to follow through during the rest of the week.

“How can they possibly ‘know’ God, if they don’t follow him, 7 days a week?”

Knowing full well what my friend actually meant, I couldn’t help responding that Catholics who regularly attend Mass and receive Holy Communion “know” God better than any protestant ever could, simply because they regularly receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the most intimate and personal manner possible … and it doesn’t get any better than that, this side of heaven.

Of course, I got an email from him that basically said, “You mean to tell me that a Catholic who regularly receives communion is likely to fare better than somebody like Billy Graham, who studies the Bible all the time and preaches all around the world?

( … And all this time I though protestants didn’t believe in salvation by works! … )

My reply went something like this:

The eucharist IS Jesus. Jesus IS the eucharist.

The eternal one who is enthroned at the right hand of the Father in heaven is the same one who is tabernacled in my flesh, and who indwells my immortal soul.

Anybody who attempts to live a fully Christian life without properly covering both of these human dimensions is going to have a real tough time of it.

Catholics know this, because Jesus in the eucharist is the source and the very center of our existence.

Meanwhile, you protestant guys are out there thumping Bibles to 50,000 different tunes, while relying on a symbolic form of purely spiritual communion.

The two are only very remotely comparable.

Until Jesus comes again in glory at the end of the age, the authentic holy eucharist (not mere crackers and grape juice) constitutes the closest and most intimate relationship with God that any living human can have.

That’s where the real power is.

That’s the true test of faith.

Jesus said so … and the double “amen” means he wasn’t kidding.

John 6:53  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.
John 6:54  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
John 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
John 6:56  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.
John 6:57  As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

Link to a study of the Eucharist in the Catholic Catechism

Is it the same God?

Q: Is it the same God?

Would you say Christians worship the same God as Jews, and Muslims?
If no, why?
I think it’s all the same God, just different ways to worship.
This is not a question of who is right or wrong.

A: From the official Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Church and non-Christians

839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.”325

The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 “the first to hear the Word of God.”327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,328 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”329

840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”330

842 The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331