Bring It On

We Can Take It!

The infamous Richard Dawkins recently spoke to a group of atheists in Washington D.C. During his speech he called for atheists to come out and openly mock Christians and Catholics for their beliefs. As is the case with other secularists, he did not address the teachings he disagrees with or why they are wrong. Instead, he made general statements and slurs against believers and rejected doctrine generally but did not substantiate any reasons for his rejection. Rather, he preferred to use a quasi-ad hominem attack and encouraged others to do the same.

So in response to his query, I do say that I firmly believe and know that the substance of bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ through the invocation of the Holy Spirit. This knowledge does not come from the puny methodology of the physical sciences but through minds much greater than his. From this, I guess he will now "ridicule" and "mock" me publicly. If that be the case, the only thing I can say is, "Bring It On!"

Speaking Up

In Favor of Morality

Melissa Moshcella may not speak for the Church but she has spoken well about Church Teaching. The linked article also appeared in the New York Daily News, a secular newspaper that often does not print favorable articles about the Church. While this article could be stronger about the place of sex within Marriage, many of the points made are excellent and, at a minimum, advance the argument into the public square that there is something inherently wrong with contraception and abortion.

For those interested, a very good series is available on YouTube from the Catholic Information Center. Here is just one segment from the larger discussion:

The Good Old Days

Where Have They Gone?

There was a time when spirited dialogue was the rule of the land. In fact, the United States was built upon and sustained by the desire to have open and true dialogue in the public square. In following the current discussions on the freedom of conscience and the HHS Mandate, it seems that few want to actually have dialogue on the questions at hand. Many of the secular articles have not represented the Church's position, especially with regard to the immorality of contraception, and the online comments attached to some articles/blogs have been downright nasty. It appears there are many who prefer to level attacks against the Church or the bishops as being out of touch or stuck in the middle ages rather than understand the Teaching.

The most interesting attack is that the Church opposes the mandate because it is anti-women. I guess there are many who have forgotten that conjugal relations and contraception involves both men and women...

And So It Is

Hard to be Truly Catholic

We are certainly at a cross road in the Church. It is very difficult to determine where the line is drawn and whether or not it is time to take action. A priest made a decision based on the facts before him to deny Holy Communion to a lesbian who had made her orientation known to him beforehand. As is the general rule, unless there is the possibility of public scandal, anyone who presents himself or herself for Holy Communion should not be denied. The sad reality is that today there are many who receive Holy Communion while in an unworthy state (i.e., not in a state of Grace) while others use the opportunity to "make a statement." Those unworthy should not come forward to receive and certainly should not put the priest in a difficult pastoral circumstance, especially if he is aware of a person's state.

Canon 915 speaks of denying Holy Communion to someone in manifest grave sin. The key here is that the sin is public and there is no equally public sign of contrition or remorse. By the same token, the sin must be "manifest," which means that it is clear and obvious to others. If it is manifest, then something need be done. The hard question is "what?"

While there is not easy way to deal with such a situation, the Church needs to take the opportunity to catechize the faithful about Sin and being in the state of Grace in order to receive Holy Communion. Generally speaking, most people who should refrain from coming forward for Holy Communion still come to receive. In these cases, the sin may not be "manifest" and thus the person should not receive on his or her own initiative. But most today do not understand this to be the case and still present themselves nonetheless.

In this regard, the U.S. bishops have prepared a document meant to teach the faithful about receiving worthily. Like so many other teachings, this particular document should be entered into the growing database of what constitutes catechetical illiteracy. In the end, the responsibility remains on priests, religious, and teachers to work toward correcting the level of illiteracy in helping people attain the Kingdom of heaven. Unfortunately, the catechetical failure has been widespread and will take a long time to correct. It has to start somewhere and maybe this situation can be a starting point for many.

Mandating Cancer

The Irony in the Mandate

Interesting how no one has yet talked about the how the HHS Mandate, which is based on delivering “health care” to women, is actually asking insurance companies to pay for treatment that can cause cancer. Although the mainstream media has failed to report on it, using the pill has been directly linked to an increased chance of breast cancer later in life.

How ironic that this supposed medical treatment that insurance companies are forced to cover has ill effects that are ignored by the medical community?

No Rush

Debate the Issues

As has been in the news, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh has launched a personal attack against the Georgetown Law student who testified regarding the mandate. In so doing, he has drawn much attention to his radio program and himself but has done serious damage to the cause at hand. For someone who has made his life’s work pointing out the error of the liberal media, he has played right into their hands. In his vitriolic attack, he has provided a victim that can be put on posters everywhere. Even before his tirade, the media was already portraying the issue as a male hierarchy versus women. Now there is a face for the woman.

It is unfortunate how the current form of debate in our country has shifted from issue based to ad hominem. Caustic caricatures of church hierarchy and celibacy have nothing to do with the moral issue underlying the mandate. A law student who wants coverage for her contraceptives has nothing to do with the moral issue underlying the mandate. The personal narratives of lives affected by the mandate fails to address the moral issue underlying the debate. The sad reality today is that no one wants to have an honest discussion on the issues but would prefer discussing stories and narratives.

Until there is a return to honest and open discussion ordered to the Truth, these situations will continue to be convoluted on a good day.

Two in One

The Issues of the Day

In recent weeks, the bishops of the United States have been mired in the conflict over conscience protection. Yesterday, in another battle lost, theUnited States senate voted against protecting the conscience rights of believers and the Catholic Church. This loss should ignite Catholics of all ages to send a message to the government that such actions and laws are not acceptable. In a country that preaches tolerance, the only acceptable intolerance is against Catholics. As anyone who understands war terminology, it is entirely possible to lose a battle but still win the war. But what is the war that is being waged? Are the battles being fought properly focused on achieving the ultimate end? In the former rite of Confirmation, the newly confirmed received a slight slap on the cheek and were sent forth as “soldiers for Christ,” a theology that remains to this day. Are all fully initiated Catholics in the United States members of Christ’s Army in these battles and war? If not, why?

There is no doubt that the real issues in the conscience protection fight are contraception and abortion, which are disordered human acts that violate Divine law and can never be supported by the Church. Digging deeper into what is at stake in this war, we must first recognize it is the beauty of human sexuality that will be ultimately compromised through the secular proliferation of abortion and contraception, which in many ways spawn from the same font of rebel human passions. Thus, as we examine the larger strategy that must be employed in this struggle, we must admit that abortion and contraception are symptoms of a much larger moral dilemma. Any battles fought on these fronts must be focused on promoting the fullness of human sexuality, which must include the fullness of what it means to be human.

Buried in the current rhetoric over conscience protection is the other public assault on human sexuality and marriage. As most of the attention centers on the mandate and violation of conscience, gay marriage continues to spread with little notice. As the bishops focus all their attention and energy on conscience rights, gay marriage continues to become the law of the land, state by state. During the time the bishops attention has been diverted, first
Washington, then New Jersey, and now Maryland, have put forward legislation that directly attacks the Sacrament of Marriage by legalizing gay marriage.

As was noted previously, the antidote to these assaults on the beauty of human sexuality and Marriage is the catechesis given by Pope John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate. This catechesis was taken from a
book written before he was elected pope but had not been published. In it, he identified the core issue in the catechetical failure in the modern world -- the lack of an adequate anthropology. It is upon this base that he builds the proper understanding of human sexuality, one that is integrated into the ontological structure of being human. Yet many Catholics do not appreciate this depth and beauty, believing instead the secular approach in which pleasure is the only reason for sex. The end of sexuality being unitive and procreative, requiring the matter to be male and female, is no longer even considered as the basis for human sexuality.

For many decades now, the Church has been forming and confirming young men and women to be “good” Christians without giving them ammunition for the battle. Rather than preparing them to be soldiers for the Truth, we ask them to be nice to each other and to make sure they keep doing good deeds without any understanding of what the True Good is. In many ways, the reason so many Catholics are not engaged in the battle is due to the catechetical failure -- they do not know what the Church Teaches and have been given a counterfeit. This failure has occurred both within and outside of our own institutions. As the battles continue, we must arm ourselves with the knowledge of what is truly at stake these days -- the dignity of what it means to be human. How true today, then, are the words of Pope Paul VI in section 17 of Humanae Vitae:

Careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife. Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions.

Take Two

There Are Some Who Speak Up…

After the previous post I came across an excellent article on the Catholic News Agency website. For those who are unfamiliar with it, this site is a great resource for Catholic News and information. On the site is an article written by Archbishop George Lucas on the Teaching with regard to contraception. Of course, just when I thought it might be an article written in a timely fashion as a corrective to what underlies the problem in the mandate, I see it was written in 1997, two years before he became a bishop. In any case, it was relevant then and it is even more relevant today.

Kudos to Catholic News Agency for posting this article and providing links to it during the upheaval caused by the mandate. As has been noted before, while we are behind the eight ball in catechesis regarding contraception (and many other moral issues), this mandate provides an excellent opportunity for the Church to Teach the faithful on this most important moral issue.

Ironically, Pope John Paul II began his pontificate with a series of presentations now known as the Theology of the Body. These presentations were his corrective for the catechetical failure of the modern world in the area of human sexuality. Rather than merely reiterate the Teaching of Humanae Vitae, the pontiff demonstrated the depth and beauty of what it means to be human, which is the basis for this Teaching. In fact, although he notes the whole presentation was to support this great encyclical, he does not refer to it directly until the 115th presentation. This is because he realized just how important it is to understand the whole picture of human sexuality in order to understand the violation contraception does to it. For those who think the Church is out of touch regarding contraception and sexuality should get to know the Theology of the Body. Here is an introduction to it from Christopher West:


The Snowball Grows

Once again, it is important to note that the recent HHS mandate has certainly crossed the line in the area of conscience violation. This violation is certainly one that must be addressed and will require great effort to have it corrected. But the underlying problem of the sin of contraception and the silence of Church leaders in this country continue to grow.

The recent testimony by a Georgetown (Jesuit run) Law student only points out how great the catechetical failure is. This student makes it clear that the university has, for all intents and purposes, become a brothel. Are the Jesuits at all concerned that a student is making a mockery of the Catholicity of their university in this testimony? Of course, this is the same university that makes news on a regular basis for betraying the Catholic Faith on campus so why would the revelation that large numbers of students are hooking up and want the university to pay for their contraception and abortifacients concern them?

The underlying fear in taking a strong stand seems to paralyze the institutions and the hierarchy. The fact of the matter is that this issue is not just a conscience issue. It is a moral issue, first and foremost, which has implications for eternal life. There are no shortage of Catholics who do not understand why mandating contraception is an issue because no one has taught them the Truth. Yet in all the rhetoric we hear each day, there is still no one talking about why contraception is immoral.

Standing up for the Truth may mean the numbers will drop, but so be it.